In many ways, Mohala Hou: Music of the Hawaiian Renaissance is about then and now, not just one or the other. There are many memories embedded in the music, but the arrangements and the performances come from the present, and involve not just the process of looking back but also the more complicated business of going forward.
“There is an understanding in conceiving and accomplishing a project like this, that as we age, we start getting a bigger picture, as well as a better appreciation for how much of what we see is based on where we are looking from.”
Keola’s vantage point in the 1970s was very close to the center of a thriving local music scene. First as a soloist, then as half of a popular duo with his brother Kapono, Keola performed at top local venues, such as the Territorial Tavern in downtown Honolulu, the Waikiki Shell, and, of course, countless Beamer family events. He also wrote and recorded some of the top local hits of the era, such as “Honolulu City Lights”, “Only Good Times”, “This Is Our Island Home”, and the charmingly risqué “Sweet ‘Okole”.
Noted music journalist Jerry Hopkins described the Beamer brothers in 1979 for the encyclopedia Hawaiian Music and Musicians: “Two of Hawaii’s foremost exponents of the slack key guitar, they compose, arrange, play and sing their own music, perform traditional hula and chants using ancient Hawaiian instruments, and have been at the vanguard in the rise of what is called the contemporary Hawaiian sound, blending the old and the new in a way that makes their recordings and performances popular with all generations.”
This kind of prominence gave Keola wonderful access to what was going on at the time. “We’d be at the Territorial Tavern and Kalapana would be a few minutes away at the Toppe Ada Shoppe,” says Keola. “Legendary musicians like Gabby Pahinui would drop by to check us young guys out. Aunty Alice Namakelua took me under her wing and I’d go to her house and hear her stories of how she would play music for Queen Lili’uokalani when she was a little girl. Then we’d go catch Cecilio and Kapono or Country Comfort just as they were starting to take off.
“The scene was really large in the sense that it encompassed artists of all ages and a huge number of styles. But at the same time it was small enough that everybody was aware of each other’s music. We even worked together sometimes. Everyone also seemed to share a strong sense of mission to help revitalize public awareness of Hawaiian culture through music, dance, language, social awareness and respect for the kupuna mixed with just enough innovation to reflect life in the present. With everyone taking a lot of pride in the increase of appreciation and visibility for things Hawaiian in the local community, there was very little overt competition. We’d go to each other’s shows, hang out, talk story, try each other’s guitars. It was very easy and informal,” says Keola. “We never looked at each other as rivals. We were all kind of amazed by the whole thing.” In the language of the times, it was really ‘trippy’ to suddenly be playing music in front of a thousand people after years of just performing for ourselves or the aunties and uncles.”
The rising Hawaiian movement was also very controversial at the time, especially as monumental battles over land use and political disenfranchisement inspired public rallies, grassroots organizations, and other efforts to affect change. And then there was the Vietnam War, which impacted Hawai’i more directly than many places due to its proximity to Southeast Asia as well as its large military population.
On top of this came unprecedented media expansion in the islands, a booming tourist industry, rapid urbanization, and, not surprisingly, an incredible urgency that precious cultural legacies be protected, promoted, and perpetuated.With this in mind, it is no wonder that the music of that era seems so full of energy and promise, a theme Mohala Hou develops anew. “For me, this album has been a very emotional journey,” says Keola. “I honestly believe these are wonderful songs that have stood the test of time. There’s still something in each one that’s relevant for today, at least for me and I imagine for a lot of other people as well.”

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This CD can be purchased /downloaded at CD Baby.
LINER NOTES by J.W. Junker, who in the 1970s had lots of hair, was really skinny, and usually sat in the back.
Produced by:Keola Beamer
Recorded at: Different Fur Recording Studio, San Francisco, California
Audio Resources, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Starscape Recording, Lahaina, Hawai’i
Engineering: Howard Johnson, Tony Hugar, and Justin Lieberman
Mix Engineer: Mark Nelson
Mastering: Bernie Grundman, Hollywood, California
CD Design: Sueann Carter
Cover Photo:Tom Pfeiffer
Back Photo:Arna Photography
Editing: Kaliko Beamer-Trapp


Moanalani Beamer, Nona Beamer, Geoffrey Keezer, Paul Van Wageningen, Marc Van Wageningen, John Kolivas, Noel Okimoto, Ron Kuala’au, Maurice Bega, Mark Nelson, Sueann Carter, George Vincent, Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, Meg Lawson, Keola Donaghy, George Winston, Ben Churchill, Steve Grimes, Arna Johnson, Virginia Ka’ai, J.W. Junker, and Hella Kihm.

  1. Ku’u Home o Kahalu’u
  2. Look Into Your Eyes
  3. Pua ‘Ahihi
  4. Feeling Just The Way I Do (Over You)
  5. Home
  6. Sunflower
  7. Real Old Style
  8. Pretty Girl
  9. He’eia
  10. Kawika
  11. Moon and Stars
  12. Guava Tree
  13. PupuHinuhinu/Kahuli Aku/Ka Huelo ‘Opae

Steve Grimes of Grimes Guitars, P.O. Box 537, Kula, HI 96790 custom makes Keola’s guitars out of Hawaiian koa and Sitka spruce woods. email: grimes