Home of Slack-Key Master Keola Beamer

Island Born Liner Notes

Son of the legendary Nona Beamer, descended from an illustrious line of Hawaiian musicians and dancers, Keolamaikalani Breckenridge Desha Beamer was born February 18, 1951 on the island of Oʻahu. He spent his childhood alternating between the urban energy of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi’s largest, most dynamic city, and the slower, more culturally rooted serenity of the Beamer family’s ancestral home at Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Similarly, Keola’s beautiful music has always expressed an inspired blending of the urban and the rural, the modern and the ancient. He crafts his art from equal parts tradition and innovation.

 

“In our family we’re taught to respect our kūpuna (elders and ancestors) and their legacy, but that it’s also important to look to the future,” says Keola. “I never look at this as burdensome. It’s a natural state of affairs. Having these two perspectives increases my appreciation of life. They’re constant sources of inspiration.”

 

Keola's appreciation for Hawai'i's beauty inspired this recording. “There’s a radiant feeling,” he says, “at least once a day when the curtain of every day activity lifts, when you stop whatever you’re doing, and see this place for its amazing beauty. The sun coming up, a gentle breeze, the mountains at sunset; it really can’t be expressed in words, but in one’s heart there’s a feeling of thankfulness and pride. There’s a haunting sense of gratitude that you feel to be a part of this. It seems to me that this is what Hawaiian music is all about. It is what I would like this album to express.”

 

Keola’s last several albums have been largely solo projects. For Island Born, he invited a number of friends to join him. “They’re island born, too,” he says, “ and feel that same special connection to Hawaiʻi.”

 

Farmer, sculptor, teacher and slack key guitar master, George Kahumoku Jr. has been described by Nona Beamer as Hawaiʻi’s renaissance man. Like Keola, George comes from a long line of Hawaiian musicians and dancers. He began his recording career with ʻohana (family members), including his brother, Moses, and the legendary Aunty Edith Kanakaʻole.  As Keola says, “George and I have toured together frequently and have a warm, personal friendship dating back more than 30 years.” He appears on this recording courtesy of Dancing Cat Records.

 

A leading composer and performer since the 1970s, Jerry Santos has enjoyed a long, productive career based on traditional Hawaiian ideals, often sensitively blended with subtle pop music influences. His heartfelt music, which has proved widely influential on the local scene, reflects a firm dedication to environmental, political and social causes. Classmates at The Kamehameha Schools, Jerry and Keola met in the seventh grade and continue their friendship.

 

Born into a diverse musical family, John Kolivas was raised in Honolulu listening to Hawaiian, jazz, and classical music. In the 1970s, while still a teenager, he served as Musical Director for Keola and Kapono Beamer’s popular Waikïkï show. Relocating to New York City at the age of 21, John performed widely on Broadway and at leading jazz venues. Recently returned to the islands, John currently performs with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra as well as with jazz great George Benson. He says he counts it a privilege to be reunited with Keola after nearly 18 years.

 

Eighteen year old daughter of the late Hawaiʻi Island singer “G. Girl” Keliʻihoʻomalu, Princess Pahepuaokalani Keliʻihoʻomalu grew up at Kaimü, in the culturally rich district of Puna, surrounded by the music of her ʻohana (family). This is her debut recording, the first, we hope, of many.

 

Kam Lan Kapukalaniokalä Kapuaʻala has performed in Japan and the U.S and has been featured as a dancer in concerts with Keola. She has had a successful modeling career and won the title of Mrs. Hawaiʻi in 1985. Since that time she has been involved in the study of lomilomi and is the happy mother of three children in Wailuku, Maui.

 

Moanalani Beamer began her training at the age of four. Her primary source of inspiration was the famed Kumu Hula, Robert Kalani. Moana has performed in many venues at home in Hawaiʻi and abroad. Currently Moana continues hula studies with Nona Beamer and tours with husband Keola in the U.S.A., Canada, Europe and Japan.

 

 

Island Born - Keola Beamer

Guitars, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Female Vocal: Princess Keliʻihoʻomalu

Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Bb (Bb,Eb,Bb,F,Bb,D)

 

Driving my car in the evening air, cruising down the road

I hear a voice on the radio, singing music sweet and low.

Winding through the valley, to the windward side

Seems like everything I see, is somehow a part of me, and I am proud to

be, Island Born.

I don’t know where I’m going, and I got no place to be

Feeling grateful in my soul, for this land called home, and so proud to be

Island Born.

Chorus: Island Born. From the Mountain, to the sea, so proud to be, Island Born,

Island Born. From the Mountain, to the sea, so proud to be, Island Born.

Sunrise on the mountain, moving o'er the trees, and I will lift my eyes to

see, this day you’ve given and I am proud to be to be, Island Born.

Chorus

 

Na Ka Pueo - Traditional

Guitars, Vocal, Percussion: Keola Beamer

Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Double Slack (D G D F# B D) Tuned 1/2 step lower to the key of Gb

 

Na Ka Pueo describes a ship’s arrival at Māmala (Honolulu Harbor) with its Hawaiian flag waving. It also expresses the joyful anticipation of someone on the dock preparing to greet the arrival of a loved one. The high percussion parts are played up by the head-stock of the guitar, where the strings meet the tuning mechanisms. “I was intrigued with the movement of this piece,” Keola says. “It’s about a boat but I wanted it to sail like a great bird.”

 

ʻOlapa Ka Uila i Kāneʻohe - Abby Kong

Guitars, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Female Vocal: Princess Keliʻihoʻomalu

Acoustic Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Bb Major (Bb F D F Bb D)

 

This Abby Kong classic from the 1930s celebrates the arrival of electricity in the city of Kāneʻohe on Oÿahu’s windward side, but for Keola, it brings back more personal memories. “When grandpa Pono’s ranch first got hooked up to the power line, we gathered for the great event,” Keola recalls. “When he flicked the switch, it really was a celebration. I imagine it must have been something like that for the people of Kāneʻohe.”

 

Kāhuli Aku – Nona Beamer

Guitars, Vocal, ʻOhe Hanu Ihu, Oeoe, Native Percussion: Keola Beamer

Female Vocal: Princess Keliʻihoʻomalu

Tuning: Taro Patch (D G D G B D)

 

With music by Keola’s mother, Kähuli Aku is a mele hula for the land shell. It also describes the pink-tipped ʻākālea fern, kōlea birds and other images of the forest. On vocal, Keola is joined by Princess Keliʻihoʻomalu. She first learned Kāhuli Aku in elementary school and says “I feel so honored to sing it with the son of the writer. Mahalo to Keola and Moana and Auntie Nona and everybody.”

 

Lē’ahi - Mary Robins

Guitar, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Percussion, Harmony Vocal: George Kahumoku Jr.

Acoustic Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Double Slack (D G D F# B D)

 

A Mary Robins party favorite, Lëÿahi takes its title from the Hawaiian name for the crater known around the world as Diamond Head. The light-hearted nature of the song is reinforced by the repetition of the vocable “ʻuheʻuhene” after each line, which represents laughing. The text plays on the words poe pele, buoy with a bell or bellboy, and there is also a notable section about a carriage ride to which fellow slack key artist George Kahumoku Jr. adds his talents and mischievous aloha.

 

Old Man Pueo - Keola Beamer

Guitar, Vocal, Wind ‘Ohe: Keola Beamer

Tuning: C Maunaloa (C G E G A E)

 

Inspired by a trip to South Point on the Island of Hawaiʻi, “Old Man Pueo” represents, for Keola, an expression of Hawaiian spirituality. “In most Hawaiian lives, there is an ʻaumakua level of existence, where our ancestors and protective spirits, like the pueo, reside,” he says. “At the same time, there is Christianity. One day driving down to the cliffs to fish, I saw this beautiful old owl just sitting there waiting for me. It was almost as if he had come to share something. I sat with him for quite a while then he flew off, circling slowly upwards to the heavens.” The sound of the wind through the pueo’s wings was created with a combination of Hawaiian nature recordings and the silky trail of Keola’s ʻohe hanu ihu (nose flute).

 

Ke ʻOni Nei Ka Huila - Mary Robins

Guitar, Vocal: Keola Beamer

ʻUkulele, Harmony Vocal: George Kahumoku Jr.

Acoustic Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Double Slack (D G D F# B D) tuned 1/2 step down to Gb

 

A popular party song by Mary Robins, Ke ÿOni Nei Ka Huila (The Wheels Are Turning) celebrates the joys of ʻokolehao (home brew), poke dipped in gravy, ʻinamona (candlenut relish), lāwalu (mullet cooked in leaves) and, not surprisingly, getting a little fuzzy.

 

Makee ʻAilana - James ʻĪʻī

Guitar, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Tuning: Keola’s C (C G D G B E)

 

By James ʻĪʻī, Makee ʻAilana celebrates good times on Makee island. It used to lie at the mouth of a fresh water stream offshore from the present site of Kapiʻolani Park in Honolulu. The song describes Makee ʻAilana as māhiehie, delightful or charming. Keola uses unique tapping techniques in combination with hammer-ons to create the dynamics of this piece. He also “scratches” the strings by sliding the index and middle fingers of the right hand across the wound bass strings toward the bridge of his double holed guitar.

 

True Hawaiian Way - Keola Beamer

Guitars, ʻUkulele, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Harmony Vocal: Jerry Santos

Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Double Slack (D G D F# B D) 1/2 step down to the key of Gb

 

Keola wrote this for his mother, teacher, scholar and artist Winona Beamer. Following Hawaiian tradition, he gave it to her as a gift on her 76th birthday, August 15, 2000. “It’s difficult to express so much depth of feeling,” he says, “but I admire her for so many things; her sense of what’s fair, her way of dealing with life, and how she keeps her love and holds on to her beliefs no matter how the world may change.” Jerry Santos adds his distinctive harmony. “Auntie Nona is an inspiration to me,” Jerry says, “and to perform this song with Keola was a great joy.”

 

 

Hula O Makee - Traditional

Guitar, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Harmony Vocal: George Kahumoku Jr.

Acoustic Bass: John Kolivas

Tuning: Bb (Bb,Eb,Bb,F,Bb,D)

 

In this popular mele hula, a ship named for the famous Kāpena (captain) Makee, runs aground on a reef off Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi. Another ship, The Malulani, comes looking for it. As in many Hawaiian songs, there is kaona (hidden meaning), the full extent of which is known only to the composer and the subject. At the end of this song, you can hear in the distance the low boom of ocean waves being buffered by the reef into a delightful wash recorded on the shoreline of Punaluʻu Beach, Oʻahu.

 

Sweet River - Keola Beamer

Guitar, Vocal: Keola Beamer

Tuning: Bb (Bb,Eb,Bb,F,Bb,D)

 

Keola wrote “Sweet River” after a visit with his long time friend, fellow musician and writer Pat Cockett, of the group Nā Pali. “We were playing guitars in Hanalei and talking about how hard it can be to find some space in our busy lives to write,” Keola says. The words and the melody came to Keola on the road home, as he was looking down at the valley in Hanalei.

 

 

Kuʻu Hoa – Francis Kealiʻinohopono Beamer

Guitars, Vocal, Washboard Percussion: Keola Beamer

Acoustic Bass: John Kolivas

Vintage Primo Beer Bottle, Hand Claps: Mark Nelson

Tuning: Bb (Bb,Eb,Bb,F,Bb,D)

 

Written by Keola’s grandfather, Pono, for his wife, Louise Leiomalama Beamer, Kuÿu Hoa describes a beautiful girl with sparkling eyes who lives in the uplands. What distinguishes it from most mele hoʻoipoipo (love songs) set underneath the enchanting Hawaiian moon is the kolohe (rascal) spirit. “In our family this has always been one of our favorites,” Keola says. “It comes out towards the end of the evening, when everybody is really warmed up. This version celebrates all those great times, with uncles and aunties joining in with whatever was at hand.”

 

Medley: Wao Lipo– Keola Beamer / Ke Ao Nani - Mary Kawena Pūkuʻi

Guitars, Vocal, ʻOhe Hanu Ihu,: Keola Beamer

Female Vocal: Kam Lan Kapukalaniokalä Kapua’ala and Moanalani Beamer

Native Percussion: Moanalani Beamer

Nature Recording of rain in hau forest, Wailua Valley, Kauaʻi: Kit Ebersbach

Tuning: Leonard’s F (C F C G C E)

 

Wao Lipo (Inland) is an original piece that Keola wrote as a setting to reinforce the nature imagery in Mary Kawena Pūkuʻi’s evocative “Ke Ao Nani”. It features the distinctive tones of ʻohe hanu ihu, Hawaiian bamboo nose flute. From the beginning of his career, Keola has always sought to blend slack key with traditional Hawaiian instruments. “When I hold native instruments in my hands, I feel so proud to be Hawaiian. You can feel the connection to the eons. It’s not only the sound, which I love, it’s everything the instruments represent.” While Keola enjoys expanding his music horizons, he is careful to stay within the bounds of tradition when using native instruments. “One must always be respectful. What you do has to be pono with the culture,” he says.

 

Translated by its author as “the beautiful world”, Ke Ao Nani was composed by the illustrious Hawaiian scholar and composer Mary Kawena Pükuÿi. Conceived as a hula noho hoʻokani (seated hula with percussion), it is traditionally performed in the olioli chant style. The text celebrates nature and is offered, as the ending dedication “he inoa no nā kamaliʻi” expresses it, for the children. “Adults often dismiss children’s songs as simple,” says Keola. “But most writers understand that simple things are often the most complex. Below the surface, this is such a celebration of life. It addresses some very deep thoughts in a very straightforward way.”

 

Produced by Keola Beamer

Recording and Mixing: Mark Nelson

Additional Engineering: Kit Ebersbach

Mastering: Bernie Grundman, Hollywood, California

Artwork and Cover Concept: Smith, Miyasaki and Davis

Photography: Matthew Thayer

Liner notes: J.W. Junker

Editing: Kaliko Beamer-Trapp

Production Coordinator: Leilehua Yuen

 

Credits

Keola Beamer’s Guitars are custom “Beamer” models made out of specially selected Hawaiian koa woods by Steve Grimes, Grimes Guitars, P.O. Box 537, Kula, Maui, HI 96790. Keola Beamer’s native instruments are custom made for him by Calvin Hoe and Family, 48-140 Kamehameha Hwy, Kāneʻohe. HI 96744. These instruments include ʻohe hanu ihu, kāʻekeʻeke, oeoe, kālāʻau, and ʻūkēkē.

The beautiful and authentic nature sounds of this CD were recorded by Kit Ebersbach, Pacific Music Productions, 928 Nuÿuanu, Suite 111, Nuʻuanu, HI 96717.

 

Mahalo

Moanalani Beamer, Nona Beamer, Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, Marty Kirkman, Keola Donaghy, George Winston, Ben Churchill, Calvin Hoe, Steve Grimes, Hella Kihm, Takeo Sakurai.

©2001 ‘Ohe Records - All rights Reserved.