Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A little Blast From the Past...and the Barter System Is Alive and Well

Aloha Kakou!!

Another beautiful day in Hawai'i Nei, with a beautiful breeze coming down the Ko'olau range and pushing some fluffies lazily through the sky. Days like this are when I wish I worked the outdoor gigs that used to make up the majority of my schedule when I lived in South Florida...but of course not actually IN Florida...same gigs, just in Hawai'i. Most of my gigs back then were of the "tiki bar" variety, feeding a constant diet of Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Bob Marley, CS&N and the ilk to outdoorsy folks looking to escape the winters of the north, or those who had permanently escaped and lived down there. I moved to South Florida in 1997 when I left the employ of Dolphin/Premier Cruise Lines and went into music full time. I spent an interesting seven or so years there, playing to a lot of people, meeting and playing with great musicians and always fearing for my life when I drove on the highway at night..or the daytime for that matter. Here are a few pics from "back in the day":

This is how I could usually be found in SoFla...on a small stage, with the tip jar out, and Bruce Freeland playing bass with me. Bruce is one of the best musicians I know, and he was in my large band as well as being at many of my other gigs. We did a ton of work together and had a million laughs...and almost as many beers. This is from our regular Monday gig at the Aruba Beach Cafe.

Bruce and me again at a city concert from Cooper City in Florida. This was with my band, Dave Soreff and the Coral Reef Revue. We started as a tribute band to Jimmy Buffett but became a tropical party band in the end...here is our promo video that got sent to the agents around the country...we used to do a lot of corporate work around the country...Colorado, Atlantic City, Puerto Rico...lots of air miles and lots of fun. This was back in 1998...many pounds ago...the core of the band stayed, but we ended up with a different guitarist and percussionist...the wonderful Fred Weng in the video moved over to percussion and was replaced by the amazing Eddie Saez.

Here is a shot of us in Atlantic City, playing at Trump Marina...this features two of my closest friends, Robert and Mandy France. They were at the beginning of the band, all during the middle and at the end as well. Great performers and even better friends. Many a night was spent with them over sake and sushi.

Lastly is a picture of the late amazingly great Carlos Benthien. We were so lucky to have Carlos in the band for a little while. He played with many of the greats and actually played Woodstock with Santana. He brought a whole new groove to the band...he passed away a while ago from cancer...he is still missed by anyone who knew him or played with him.

Anyway, just a few pictures from the past...I will cull through the archives in the coming days and see what else I can find.

So, like many guitar players, I have played, bought, sold, traded, trashed, lost, modified countless instruments over the years. My very very very first guitar was a Madeira acoustic guitar (a less expensive division of Guild) and I have played a variety since, ranging from Alvarez to Fender to Guild to Carvin to Godin to Rickenbacker to Gibson to Ovation to Breedlove to...well, name it and I have probably played it. (This of course does not include my real love...steel guitar) Guitarists are strange in that we very rarely find one instrument that stays with us for a loooooooooooong time. There are exceptions of course, but we are mostly looking out for the next great instrument. Now and then it comes in handy...let me explain. In trying to lighten my load, I went through many of the instruments I owned last year and tried to sell or give away or just plain divest myself of many of them. One in particular never suited me, and it was this one:

I got this one to play in the Wheelhouse on the Dawn Princess, and it just never looked or felt right on stage. Into storage it went until last year when I brought it into Dan's Guitars in Honolulu, who do all the work on my steel guitars. I thought they might take it in and sell it on spec, and I guess most everyone else felt the same way as I did, and it stayed unsold...until today, sort of. I brought in my steel guitar for some work...a double neck 8 string requires a lot of patience to change all the stings...and they did some other work as well...and I thought I would throw out an idea to the owner. Straight up trade...services for the guitar...bingo! The barter system is alive and well. Mahalos to Dan and the guys at the store for doing a rush job on the steel...it plays great once again and makes me oh so happy! It got me to thinking that maybe we as a society should look a little deeper into the barter system. What do I need? Do I have something that you need? A service, an item...something I have been keeping in the garage for years that will never see the light of day again? Can you paint my house if I play your daughters wedding?

Nice pic eh? A very quaint way of looking at the barter system.

So we are now parked at beautiful Pier 2 in Honolulu and Leialoha and I are getting ready to go play Sailaway. there have been some big changes on board the Golden in regards to entertainment, and in my opinion, for the better. This means more work for us but truth be told, a better product for the passengers. So, we will be playing our tunes under the Honolulu stars as we sail off to our next stop:


Location:Kailua, Hi

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm Taking Requests!

Aloha Kakou!!

Greetings from beautiful Waiakea...otherwise known as Hilo! It is another beautiful day here, with a gentle breeze blowing through and a few clouds in the sky, promising us a little liquid sunshine later in the day. It is something that we are quite used to here...it keeps everything green and looking lush. Speaking of lush...I have caved. Many of you may know that at our house, the lawn mowing and care is my responsibility. Having not done this for a very long time, (and of course not having owned a house before) I was actually looking forward to it, as part of my "manly duties". (Please not cries of sexism...I was being sarcastic...who do you think had to remind me exactly how to mow lawn? Yes, Leialoha) It was fun for all of about two times, and then became, for lack of a better term, a pain in the ass. So, I have caved. There is a very nice young man named Bryson who now comes to our house every two weeks and mows, edges, weeds and just generally does the things that I don't really want to do. I feel I may have dropped the standard of Tool Time Tim

But, as my Mother always says, when you don't want to deal with something like this, throw money at it. So, I get an extra hour to do things I want to do, like practice, or veg out, or write a blog entry. Hooray!!

There have been a few changes on the ship in the last week or so, as the Golden Princess changes its entertainment format on board to make it more of a non-stop entertainment venue. It is actually a very good idea, and the result is that there is very little "down time" for the passengers...if they wish to avail themselves of it. It has also resulted in a little more work for Leialoha and myself, but in a positive way...if that is possible. The set times are coordinated throughout the ship with the shows and the theme parties to make a better traffic flow, and to allow guests to see ALL of the shows if they wish, and to have some form of ebtertainment going at all times in the evenings. We no longer do sets in the Piazza, but they are billed as concerts. While they are not concerts in the real definition of the word, it does make for a little different atmosphere, and the result is that I think we get a little more of a connection with the crowd, as we choose to speak a bit more then we might, and to link up our material...all in all...a good thing.

So, to todays title. Many of you are not on FB, or my friends, so you may have missed my last post regarding a new steel guitar CD. A few years back, I had the audacity, (I really wasn't thinking straight) to record a steel guitar CD after having played for all of about a year. I liked how it turned out, but three years later, I think I can do better. Now, besides Hawaiian music, I have an affinity for surf music. in particular, the sound of these two things:

These are standard issue for surf music...a Jazzmaster and a Twin Reverb...but my days of being a guitar hero are long gone, so in my twisted mind I thought, why not a surf CD done on steel guitar...dripping in reverb and tremelo. I'm very excited about it, and I have a good idea of some of the songs going on it, but I do love to please everyone wherever possible. So, if you have a moment, make sure to drop in some requests in the comment section of the blog. There are "traditional" surf tunes, but almost any rock, pop, jazz or country song can be given "the treatment"...so i ask of you all dear readers, send me some ideas. If I use yours, I will send you a free copy of the CD when it is done.

My last thought for today has to do with the upcoming holiday season...I am all for celebrating each and every one of them...and everyone should be able to do it in their own way, but for hecks sake, can we not wait until it is actually the season to do so? We are just about to insert our holiday songs in the set list, which we do each year..but I for one, will always refuse to do so until it is at least December. Sorry, no Jingle Bells before Columbus Day is done. Soreff out!!

Malama Pono,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Am In Love Again

Aloha Kakou!!

First of all, an apology for being away for so long. I had some drama with my laptop, and once it was fixed and fine, things here on the ship kind of took over...and maybe I got a teensy weensy lazy in keeping up with the blog. I promise to be better about it. I am humbled at all the people who have mailed me about the blog, and say how much they enjoy reading it and keeping up with our loves, both on the ship, and on land. So while I can't make any concrete promises, I will try my best to be more regular...some would say try bran.

So, to todays blog title..not to worry...I have not forgotten my one life love Leialoha...let me introduce you to my new love:

This is what is called a steel guitar. Some would call it a non-pedal steel guitar and this particular one is made by Fender, and is called a Stringmaster. Technically it is called a D8 which stands for Double 8 meaning that there are two necks and on this one, eight strings on each neck. For the uninitiated, steel guitars can have one, two, three or even four necks. These are used to give the player access to different tunings, which enables the player to play different kinds of chords, voicings, and to just generally expand the tonal palette. So in many peoples minds, the Stringmaster is the epitome of what a steel guitar should be. Up until now, and I have been playing for four years now, I have never laid my hands on one. But, just two weeks ago, I found out from my teacher Alan Akaka that a friend of ours Derrick Mau was thinning his heard of steels. (We steel guitarists tend to collect a bit) He had this one for sale, and he was reluctant to ship to the Mainland. Long story short, even though I have five steel guitars already, and had no intention of buying more, it was too good a deal fore too good a steal. So I got it this last Tuesday, and have been in love ever since. It plays beautifully and plays like a dream. It has been a slight adjustment to eight strings from the usual six that I use, but it is coming along. I am going to try to do a little recording with it and then I will post the samples here so you can hear for yourself just how special the sound of this classic instrument is.

The other thing that has been on my mind, is this whole issue about Christmas music playing in malls and stores as we speak. On Tuesday, while walking in Ala Moana Mall, I noticed that not only were the stores ALREADY decorated for the holidays, but there was non-stop holiday music playing. Now, granted it was local style performed by local artists, but call me old school in my belief that these things are meant to start after Thanksgiving. It just seems that each year it starts earlier...I imagine that if I live long enough, I will see holiday music start right after Labor Day...or Memorial Day...or possibly even the day after Christmas itself. Heck, why not do it year round...it would make things so much simpler...for the people who decorate the stores anyway.

So we have had a bit of change on the ship, as we had a new CD come on this past cruise. (Cruise Director) The funny thing about this business is that if you work in it long enough, chances are that you will see a lot of the same faces over and over again. Our new CD is Sammi Baker, and she is one of my oldest friends in this business. I met Sammi back in 1993 on the old Royal Majesty, when she came to take over the ship and I was just plain old newbie cruise staff. She came to us from the late lamented Sitmar cruises as well as Princess, and she was, and still is a force of nature. Lots of energy, lots of craziness, (in the best possible way) and a really good boss, as she promoted me to assistant cruise director quickly, and is one of my mentors in this business. We last worked with her back in 2009 on the Dawn Princess as part of the world cruise and were very happy to learn that she would be coming here to the Golden. It will be a wonderful rest of the season, as Sammi will be here for three months, and then our good friend David Cole will be returning. David is the CD that we developed the Hawaiian Program with back in 2008. He is similar to Sammi in many ways, not the least of which is that they are two of the hardest working CDs I have ever met.

So we are in Lahaina today, which means one thing...pedicure! And poi! Life can be filled with rituals,some good, some bad...but in Lahaina, we always go to get our feet cleaned up and buffed...this is important, as we spend much of our life in slippers here in Hawai'i and you want your feet to look presentable...and up until Leialoha introduced me to pedicures, my feet did not look presentable...I will be posting the results from todays scrubbing/sand blasting. The sound in my ears now is the anchor dropping, so it is time to fight for a seat in the tender...have a great day everyone! A hui hou!!

Aloha No

Location:Lahaina, Hi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lost In A Storm...Without My Laptop

Aloha Kakou!!!

I am as I write this, a little lost and at odds with the world. Why is that? Well, about a week ago, my Mac decided to take a vacation, get sick, go kaput, screw the pooch...whatever descriptive you may choose to use. It is at times like these that I realize how much I depend on this little wonder machine. Never mind the fact that it is my primary way of keeping in touch with family and friends around the world. Never mind that I do all of my banking and bill paying online. Never mind that it holds much of my music that gets me through two hours of lei making class. Never mind that I use it to flesh out, compose, arrange and often record the music that I perform with. Never mind all of these things and about a million other wonderful things that it does for me. If the only thing I used my computer for was to write this blog...I would still miss it a ton. So, for the next two weeks, I will be writing this blog from my iPad as I try to figure out this new app...BlogPress.

Apps and I have a strange relationship, as I am always amazed at how they make ones that are so great at increasing and refining our productivity, and I love those ones. Yet, they also have the ones that make flatulant noises and let you kill hours by flicking wadded up paper balls at trash can...and I love those ones too. But, the one thing I am consistent with, is that I usually do not get an app that needs more then a minute to figure out. So dear reader, stick with me while I figure this one out...for better or worse. For instance, I will right now, randomly try to insert a picture into this blog...heaven knows what I will find in my photo gallery...I'll be right back....

Ahhh....glad I found this one. This gentleman is named Bobby Ingano...in my estimation, one of the finest steel guitarists in the islands...or anywhere for that matter. He has a touch and a tone in his playing that I would gladly sacrifice some part of my anatomy to attain. Let's see what else is in the gallery...

This is a picture of one of the famous backyard kanikapilas that used to take place at the home of slack key legend, Gabby Pahinui...his music figures very prominently in the great movie, The Descendants. He is a revered figure in Hawaiian music, and at his home in Waimanalo, on O'ahu, there used to be famous jam sessions that would last the weekend with music, food, fun, drinking and lots of aloha. By the way, three of his sons are very well known musicians here in Hawai'i...Cyril, Martin and Blah...wonderful slack key guitarists all. Let's spin the photo wheel and see what else we have...

This is a good one, and something that we ran into when buying our home in Hilo. As some of you might know, the BI has volcanic activity. So, there has been a map made to reflect the Lava Zone of a given area, and the danger of there ever being lava flowing through your backyard...for instance, Leialoha and I live in Waiakea Heights in Hilo. Our zone is 3...it is when you get to 2 and 1 that you have some real problems getting financing and so forth. Believe it or not, there are people who live in Zone 1...they cannot get a mortgage, and I believe they cannot get insurance. In other words...one big crap shoot. That's living on the edge my friends. One more photot and we are done with random photo night...

This a great old photograph of downtown Hilo...I cannot find a year on this, but I might put it in the 20s or maybe the 30s...I have always been interested in old photos of places I know...and I am always fascinated to see how things have changed and developed. Believe it or not, you can go into Hilo today, and still see some of these buildings...not many, but enough that you can almost get a feel for what it may have looked like.

We are now a cruise and a half into the season for the Golden Princess, and I have to say, that it is looking to be one to remember. We are having a great time with the passengers, and so far, we have been overwhelmed by the aloha...especially from our repeaters. We seem to get a lot of repeaters and there is not one Sailaway that we do now that we don't have at least five or six couples or individuals come up to us to say hello and to reintroduce themselves to us. It's a very wonderful feeling to know that we have some positive impact on people's experience...all we can say is Mahalo nui!!

So...be on the lookout for more frequent updates and blogs everyone...tomorrow is Nawiliwili, and that can mean only one thing...Hamura's Saimin. ONO!!!!

Aloha Nui,

Location:Kailua, Hi

Monday, October 1, 2012

Everybody's Gone Surfin...

Aloha Kakou!!

    Well, first of all, an apology for not putting out any fresh blogginess for the last week and some change. Leialoha and I joined the Golden Princess for yet another season of Hawaiin cruises...and if you thought dial up internet was slow back int he 90’s, you have yet to exoerience ship internet...which moves at what might be generously called a “glacial pace”. I’ll get back to how internet works on the ship in a moment...but for a little while, the blog will not be appearing on a “regular” basis...but on a kind of catch as catch can basis. In other words, when I have internet that I don’t have to take out a second mortgage to use...I will post. Sorry about that everyone.

    How important is internet on a cruise ship...to those working on one? I would say that after the need to eat and sleep, it is the most important thing. (And by the look of some of these folks out here and how thin they are, maybe it is more important then the former...then again, it just might be that most of the workers out here are about 24 and have the metabolism of a hamster) For many of these workers out here, they are literally thousands of miles from home, and to keep in touch with family and friends is imperative to their mental health. This is a very hard gig, and sometimes, the one thing that can keep people on an even keep is being able to communicate with home. So, on any given port day, you see hundreds of cruise ship workers schlepping their lap tops to the nearest Starbucks or internet cafe to Skype with the Phillipines, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, South Africa or one of the remaining thirty or so different countries that workers here hail from. THE hottest piece of news to share with your fellow cruise ship worker is where to find good cheap, or free internet in a port. Sometimes it’s actually not such a hot idea to share...case in point. When Leialoha and I first started working on ships in 2005, we were on a ship that sailed to St Thomas once a week. We found, just around the corner from the ship a lovely little dive bar, with cheap drinks and free internet...as long as you bought something. (Rumrunner with a floater for me please) Anyway, for about a month and some change, along with the trombone player from the orchestra, we were pretty much the only folks in there. But, someone ratted us out, (not me or Leialoha) and before you knew it, the entire bar looked like mission control in Houston with dozens and dozens of Skypers sucking up bandwidth.

   Now, internet ON the ship is another beast entirely...as crew members, we receive a discounted rate on internet...but not that much. I will try to give you an analogy for the speed of the internet at sea. If what you are used to at home or in the office is what most people use, let’s say it is this:

 Those of us who connect to the WWW on a cruise ship are surfing on something like this:

    Yes, for those of you born in a certain era, I have name dropped the Yugo...don't laugh...my friend Billy Richmond had one...and it could go from 0-60 in an impressive two days. This is no fault of the cruise company, it is just the way it is when you are using satellite connections, and you have hundreds of people at a time trying to jump on the net...so, in other words...NOT FAST. So, since we will only be in port for 1/3 of our days, I apologize, but the blogs will not be as plentiful. Then again, I guess I should be happy...in 1990, when I worked on my first ship, this, is how we all stayed in touch with loved ones and family:

My how things have changed...for the better!

   Anyway, we are five days into the Hawaiian cruise season, and to say it is going well is an understatement. The people have been very receptive, the ukulele,hula and lei classes full and fun, and the cruise staff from top to bottom is great. The seas were VERY smooth going over and if I peek out my window right now, I can begin to make out the Hamakua Coast in the distance. It will be a day of running around and business for us and of course...renting a car. See, we do not own a car, and have not for the last seven and a half years. It can be a bit of a pain, but very freeing...at least monetarily. So I have become a little bit of an expert on renting cars...long term, short term, budget, cargo...you name it, I have rented it. Next summer though, that all comes to an end...and I will share with all of you when the time comes, the trials and tribulations of that.

   Okay, to wrap it up, I am going to drop a recipe on you all. I know that we will be having a lot of new readers in the coming months, as already, many people on board have asked about websites for us, and things like that. While we are still working on our website, Elua World will have to do. So as a welcome aboard gift for new readers, here is one of my favorite recipes...Chicken Long Rice...I do a few things differently then the recipe...for instance, I use chicken thigh meat instead...and also have extra broth on hand, as the noodles will suck up the moisture pretty quickly and you will be left with no broth...so keep an extra two cartons of chicken stock ready...JIC. Try it, I think you'll love it. Next blog..."Welcome To My World"...where I will show you my unnatural habitat on the ship.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: 8
3 pounds chicken leg quarters
3 (32 ounce) cartons low-sodium chicken
1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
1 (1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger root,
1 large Maui sweet onion, cubed
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked bean
threads (cellophane noodles)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 small head bok choy, chopped
1. Place chicken, chicken broth, salt, and ginger into a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is tender and no longer pink, about 35 minutes. Remove chicken, and strain broth into a new pot. Discard the solids.
2. Fill a bowl with hot tap water. Add the long rice noodles, and let sit for 30 minutes to soften.
3. Stir onion into the broth, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard. Roughly chop the meat and set aside. Add the noodles, chicken meat, green onion and bok choy; simmer until noodles are tender.
4. After the noodles have sat for 30 minutes, stir in the chicken meat, green onion, and bok choy. Reheat and serve.

Malama Pono,

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's My Party...

Aloha Kakou!!

    First of all, a huge mahalo to everyone who sent me birthday greeting, message, emails, songs, poems and gratuities. (Okay, no one sent a song) It was spent doing exactly what I like on my birthdays...nothing! Well, we did pack a little, have some sushi, a glass of wine or two and just relaxed. This of course is in direct contracst to how these things used to be celebrated. It got me to thinking how cyclical the whole birthday celebration thing is. When you are young, it usually looks like this:

    I think we all had one like this...then there is the next party, when you hit your early teens...

   Heck, I had pizza parties too...fabulous Greek pizza from Newton Highlands, made from only the best Land 'O Lakes cheese...but that's an inside joke...then things seem to get serious when you get into your late teens and college...a party usually ENDS looking like this:

    I see you all nodding your heads...we've ALL been there...some of us not even looking this good...then we figure out that birthdays are meant to be remembered and we may have a party that looks like this...


   Yes, this is where we are at now...and I like it. Friends, laughter, good food, presents...and always someone trying to prove they are haveing TOO much fun...(lady at the back left of the table, I'm talking to you!!)...and then as I said, it all cycles back to:

    So, in my near future, I imagine I will once again don a pointy party hat, blow out my towering inferno of candles and try to funnel some Ensure. At least that's what I am hoping for. Then again, it all may end up like this:

 Come to think of it, not a bad way to do it...

    So this will be a short one today, as we have to hit the road in a few hours and there is still much packing to do. But I want to leave you with a few things that I would like you to listen to. Many people come on the ship and they have a pre-conceived idea of Hawaii music. It usually begins with Don Ho, and ends with Iz. Now, I happen to love both of these artists, but I see one of my jobs as trying to get people to listen to some things that they may not find on their own. I certainly am no expert, but I know what I like, and I think you may like these songs/artists too. In no particular order:

These are the Brothers Cazimero, and they are legendary here in the islands, and in many other places. They have the cohesiveness that sometimes only family groups have. This is in a very casual setting:

Next up is a twofer...the singer is a young woman named Raiatea Helm and the gentleman on ukulele is my favorite local player Bryan Tolentino:


    You all know how I feel about steel guitar, so here are a few clips I think you might like...these are a few of the great steel guitarists from Hawai'i...Casey Olsen, Greg Sardinha and my kumu Alan Akaka:

    Just a note on this last one. It is a song called Whispering Lullaby, and those delicate chime like notes you hear are called harmonics. They are one of the hallmarks of Hawaiian style steel guitar, and I can tell you from experience that playing them as cleanly and as lovely as Alan does here is extremely difficult.

    And lastly, I want to throw in a hapa haole number that was the theme song for the old Hawai'i Calls radio show. This is a version featuring Casey Olsen on steel guitar, but most importantly is the vocalist, who is named Nina Keali'iwahamana. She was a featured vocalist on Hawai'i Calls,and here she brings you the song...one of my favorites:


    I suggest that you all take a few trips around YouTube and online and just see where it takes you...you may discover an artist or a song you never knew but that was waiting for you all this time.

A Hui Hou,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e...Kawika!!

     Aloha Kakou!!
     It is a beyond wonderful early evening here in Hilo, my new hometown...there are a few lazy clouds drifting along in the sky, the birds are singing merrily, there is a faint breeze coming in through the open sliders to the lanai...and the septic tank man will be here in just a few minutes to pump out all the...well...whatever it is that gets pumped out of septic tanks. LOL I am eagerly anticipating this, not because of what I am anticipating will be an overload of ripeness on my olfactory senses, but because it is another step in my, (well, our) quest and experiences as homeowners. First up, here is your little Hawaiian, (Big Island) factoid/trivia for the day. Statistics say that 75% of people on the Big Island have cesspools and the rest of us have septic systems. City sewage? Nah...forget about it. I remember cesspools well, (no pun intended) as we had one for a little while in our home in Newton...until we paid to be connected to city sewage. (I distictly remember when I was young, I always had a fear in the backyard that I would be shagging baseballs and while channeling my inner Fred Lynn, I would fall into and disappear for an eternity into the great maw that I believed the cesspool possessed.  Well, since then, I have always lived in places with connections to a sewar system...until now. So, besides learning exactly how a septic system works, I learned that the previous occupant had not emptied out the septic system since they had moved in...2001. To find out why this is a little worrisome, please take a moment to watch this film...don't worry...it's a very pleasant cartoon:

    Anyway, given this lapse in maintenance, I thought it a good idea to have someone come over and take care of the situation, before we are presented with a surprise. As it is with most things around here, the septic dude, (as I will call him) answered a phone call on a Sunday, on what is obviously his cell phone, and was so eager to make me happy that he offered to come out at that very hour to pump us out. When I asked him the guidelines for when a tank should be pumped, and is there any way to just see if there was a way to measure the fullness of the tank, he told me that if I wanted to , I could take of the cap in the front yard, and take a stick or pole and put it down...I immediately stopped him and made an appointment for today. He was very accommodating.

    So, tomorrow will be my birthday. I do not bring this up to solicit either pressies or Facebook wishes. I bring this up because I have been fortunate to live through some interesting times in my 45 years, and it got me to thinking that I have been alive to see many great events, people and developments. Just as a for instance, I was present when this invention came to prominence:

    Yes, the ATM machine. While it has been around since before I was born, the modern one came about in 1972. I got my first debit card in the 80's, and like many other, I have asked myself, (knowing the answer) "what did we do before the ATM machine?" We made sure we had enough cash for the weekend, that's what we did...we cashed our paychecks or withdrew what we though we needed...and if we ran out? Tough noogies!!

    I was alive when this next item was developed and before too long became so common, that to not have one was akin to not having indoor plumbing:

    Yes...the laptop computer... (and home computer as well). I did not have one in 1985 when I was in college, and what did we do? We typed our papers and wrote letters. Email...what was that? We knew how to use a thesaurus and actually had dictionaries made out of paper. Oh, those were the days.

    What else? Well, I do not remember this one, but I was here on this marble:

    Man traveled to the moon...and I was in high school in science class watching the first space shuttle take off to give my generation their own heroes for space exploration. Sadly I also remember where I was when Challenger exploded...in college, coming back from classes for the day. We did not leave the TV for a day...it was devastating.
    I have seen natural disasters, and unnatural disasters. (The 1986 World Series comes to mind for the later...oh to be a Red Sox fan is a hard road to hoe sometimes).  I have seen the inauguration of our first African-american president...and fully expect to be here in four years when we elect our first female president. (I'm talking to you Hillary) Great leaders in civil rights and human rights have risen and in some cases have been cut down long before it was their time to leave us. I have worn a mullet, a Members Only jacket, 501 Jeans, Crocs, aloha shirts and some other things I would rather forget.
    I was alive for Woodstock, the US Festival and LiveAid...I saw Dreamgirls before it went to Broadway...WITH Jennifer Holiday...I have seen Bruce Springsteen a number of times, and regretfully bought a ticket to see this:


For those who were not alive, no explanation will do...for those who saw it, no explanation is necessary. THE worst...
    I have been privileged and blessed to make a living at what I love to do, and to make wonderful connections and friendships with people from all around the world. I was given the great gift of the family I was born into. I grew up with a wonderful brother and two parents who never expected any more of me then to do my best and to be good to others. I have lost one of those parents many years before I should have, and am blessed to still have the love, wisdom and counsel available to me from the other. And lastly, I have been amazingly fortunate to have in my life the one person who understands and loves me unconditionally and returns all the love I send her way back to me tenfold.
    I could really list hundreds of things that have happened in my lifetime, but I really do not have the space nor the time to list all of them...sufficed to say, I am grateful to whomever or whatever it is that puts us here in the first place and that I have been here for such interesting times.

    So what is today's "Thing I Love About Living in Hawai'i"? It is this:

   Yes, it is poi. On the ship, one of the questions we ask of people is if they have ever tried poi. Most everyone who has ever been to Hawai'i has, and I would say conservatively 95% say they hate it. Fair enough. But it is a well loved thing here in the islands, and having lau lau without it is a crime...and of course, for me, a nice juicy pulehu steak is not complete without some of this starchy goodness. I'm not sure if you have ever seen poi being pounded, but I'll leave you with this:

    Have a wonderful day everyone...a hui hou!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm Expecting!! Not What You Think...

    Aloha Kakou!! E kala mai for the two day lapse in blogs, but sometime the vagueries of life catch up with you and you have to TCB...heck, who am I lying to? I didn't write because I couldn't come up with something to share/discuss/gripe about. LOL But that has changed, as in the past two days, enough has happened to keep me going for a few more days. So get out the hip waders...here we go.

    First of all, I have to give you a little background information...if you don't know me very well. I play a few different instruments. In no particular order, I have studied or learned the following instruments: violin, ukulele, guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, percussion (tympani, vibes, rudinmental drumming etc...) and voice. But if I had had my way many years ago, I may never have played any of these. The only thing I ever wanted to play when I was young was bass. For some reason, when I started to become aware of music, (which was quite early as I was surrounded by music in our house...my Dad was a professional musician for those who don't know) I was drawn to the low end...and somehow knew that it was what held almost all music together. But when I went to my father and said that I wanted to be a bass player, he told me, (and this is an exact quote...I can remember it 32 years later) "don't start on bass...start on guitar as all the best bass players started as guitarists...you can always play bass later." With that, he generously bought me my first guitar, (a Madeira acoustic...I can remember the smell of it and the case when I first opened it as if it was yesterday) and I embarked down the road that I am on now. See, when you're 12 years old, you don't really question your professional musician Dad when he tells you this. I have, of course found out that what he said was not true. (Just for the record, he was rarely wrong...about anything...which I have been finding out gradually as I get older myself) Yes, there are certainly those who started as guitarists and switched, and who are amazing talents...but there are just as many who are equally if not more amazing that started on the bass clef and never played anything else.  I can't help but feel that I should have been in the later. So, I have spent many years of my life picking up new skills and instruments, and enjoying every one of them. I make my living with the skills I acquired over this time and am very happy and blessed to have been able to do this. BUT...it is now time to circle back and maybe make up for lost time. So...I am expecting...this... to be delivered to the house today:

     I have decided to start planning for musical retirement early...it is time to get serious about bass. Yes, I have dipped my toe in before, and even played bass in a band for a short time...but I never really learned it. That is going to change. I have a teacher lined up, (the very heavy duty Mr Steve Jones) and I am determined to do it right...I will learn to read bass clef, (I can read treble clef quite well...never got around to bass clef) and most importantly, I will give myself the foundation of harmony and theory that I never did before. Also, I made the conscious decision to go with a short scale bass, as I have come to understand that with my very short arms, (think of either Cee-Lo Green or a T-Rex) and my very small hands, I needed to make an adjustment to the size of instrument that I have played in the past. So, in a few hours, the UPS truck will roll up and my birthday present to myself will come home.
     By the way, when I say musical retirement, I do not mean that I am going to stop playing Hawaiian music and playing steel guitar and singing. (Or any other kind of music for that matter) I just see a time a few years down the road when I will put myself out there as a bass player in my free time. You see, there is a maxim in music, and it is "a good bass player will always work". It seems everyone wants to be a guitar hero, but few of use want to just hold the music together and blend...look for me in a few years, in the darkened corner of a stage near you!

    So Leialoha and I are getting prepped to start the Hawai'i season once again, and once again, it is time to get clothes out of the closet, coordinate our aloha wear, and for me to actually wear shoes. Now I had mentioned this in an earlier blog, but let me expand. I spend the majority of my time wearing slippers...as do many people in Hawai'i. Slippers, if you remember are what we call flip flops here. For further clarification, you can look at this: Slippas. If given the choice, I would spend my life barefoot as having my feet ensconced in leather or some other material is my second least favorite sartorial feeling...my number one least favorite is having to wear a tie. (I shudder thinking of that one) So, given that we are very casual here in Hawai'i, I fit in fine. I wear slippers 99% of the time...and that is even when we are going out to dinner in a restaurant, the mall, Home Depot, someone's home...I only take out the sneakers when I go for a walk, or need to do yard work. (Although I have lost count of how many people around here I have seen mowing in their slippers) But, when it comes to performing on the ship, I have to cover my feet. For outside and casual, it's sneakers and for Piazza and formal night it is black shoes.

     This is the most formal that I ever get...and even this can be a bit much for me. While I eagerly look forward to this season, my feet will yearn for it to be May 2013. So, remember, when coming to Hawai'i, if you want to fit in...or at the very least if you want your feet to fit in...bring your slippers.

A Hui Hou,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Braddah Can You Spare A Dime? It's All Relative...Or Not

    Aloha Kakou!! As I write, the rain is gently starting to fall, the coquis are doing their mating thing, (well the males are calling...how much success they will have, who can say) and I am about to start looking for the bottom of a couple of glasses of wine. Just another typical night in Hilo for us. My glasses of wine have become a fairly routine part of my evenings here. This is markedly different from the way, (and the things) that I used to drink. I was never a regular wine drinker until about ten years ago. Sure, I had the occasional glass to be cordial, (and I have always loved champagne) but if I was drinking, it was going to be beer, Jack Daniels, rum, vodka and it surely would have been more than two. What has changed? Well, many things, but I'll start with being at the age where when someone tells me that two glasses of red wine a day will do my heart good, I tend to listen to them. (Of course, if they told me eating two whole heads of cabbage a day would do me good, I would not dive in as easily on that) Also, I have come to really appreciate wine, instead of just drinking it. Dig? I am by no means an expert, but I know what I like. Here are a few wines that have made an impression on me:

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
-Leialoha and I were treated to this one from our friend and A1 cruise director David Cole He was also kind enough to invite our dear friends Bruce and Sharon to share in this wonderful red. Great wine, great friends

Jay Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon
-My sister-in-law Lisa introduced this one to me, and we consumed many a bottle back when they used to live in Florida.

Ravenswood Zinfandel
-This was my go to wine when I was gigging at Aruba Beach Cafe in Ft Lauderdale, and there were many great happy hours spent playing music with my friend Bruce Freeland and looking out on the Atlantic Ocean from the stage.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne
-This is the champagne that Leialoha and I choose to celebrate special occasions with, and it is also the one we use to celebrate my mother's birthday with every year when she comes on a cruise. I am a sucker for champagne...but only good stuff.

    So let's see what the title of tonight's blog is all about, shall we? One of the nicest things about living here is the very strong concept of ohana (family) and also the extended ohana. I imagine that in many places on the mainland it is similar...but here in the islands, where the farthest neighbor island is only an hour flight away, (and hence many of your relatives not on your own island may only be an hours flight away), you tend to interact a lot with your immediate (and non-immediate) family. Family events and news are shared and spread fairly quickly and a relative dropping over unannounced for a visit is always welcome. Another thing that seems to be not all that uncommon is finding out that you, (not me, but someone born and raised here) are related to someone who you never knew you were related to, either by blood or by marriage. As an example, Leialoha did some family research a couple of years ago, and found out that she is related by marriage to the Vaughan family. Palani Vaughan is a very well known and respected performer here in Hawai'i...it also happens that I know Palani's son Kilipaki, (who lives on Kaua'i) from my steel guitar teacher Alan Akaka. It's one big circle. There is also a very interesting and lovely tradition here in Hawai'i is something called "Hānai". While I do not believe it is as prevalent to today as it once was, it is for lack of a better term, adopting a child into a family, but not really in a legal sense. From an article I found:

Hanai (v.) – to adopt, to be close; to nourish, to sustain.
Children were raised by, not only their parents, but by grandparents and other relatives. Hanai was the kanaka maoli custom whereby a family adopts a child given by someone else and raises that child as a family member. No written records were necessary. (In old Hawaii there was no writing.) No stigma was attached to being "hanai." The practice of hanai was used to ensure that the Hawaiian culture was passed on to the younger generation. The claim of the grandparents upon their grandchildren took precedence over the claim of the parents who bore them. The parents could not keep the child without the grandparents' permission. A male child was offered to the parents of the father, and a female child was offered to the mother's parents. Parents would offer their children out of respect, as a gift of the greatest possible value. If the child were not offered, the grandparents would ask for the hanai privilege; they could not be refused. This practice extended into the community so that if the biological parents were unable to adequately provide for the needs of the child, someone else would be chosen to be the hanai parents. Children were also passed on to relatives or friends who had no children.
Hanai was practiced by the alii too. Liliuokalani was the hanai child of chiefs of higher rank than her parents. In her biography she reports that hanai "is not easy to explain... to those alien to our national life, but it seems perfectly natural to us. As intelligible a reason as can be given is that this alliance by adoption cemented the ties of friendship between the chiefs."
Later on, when other nationalities took up residence on the islands, there was ready acceptance of non-blood "kin." John Young, an English boatswain of a small American fur trading vessel, and Isaac Davis, a member of the crew, were hanai into Kamehameha's family.
The custom of hanai was strongly condemned by the missionaries. They couldn't understand the looseness of natural family ties. They were influenced by their concept of the "immediate family."
Hanai exists today, but not always for the purpose of maintaining the Hawaiian culture. Kailua-Kona "Mother of the Year 2002" had five children, three adopted children, six hanai children, twelve grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. I have heard of a person who was brought into a Hawaiian family at the age of 50, a definite expression of aloha. The term "hanai" is still common today; you may hear people referring to their "hanai Mom" or their "hanai sister." Listen. Would you want to become a hanai child of a warm Hawaiian family? 

   Personally, I think this is a beautiful practice...it just opens up your family circle even wider and enhances your ohana. Now, there is also another kind of familial salutation that you will hear around Hawaiʻi and this may be one of my favorite traditions, and the one that really caught me off guard. As a sign of respect and/or deference, we will refer to someone older or someone who is to be given respect as "Aunty", or "Uncle". Blood relations have nothing really to do with this...for instance, the first time I was called Uncle, I was at Leialoha's cousin's, granddaughter's first lu'au. (I will explain Baby's First Lu'au at some later time) and a group of young 20 something's came into the yard, and greeted me with "howzit uncle?" I had to look around to see what relative they were talking to. It was me. But, by virtue of my age, or maybe my grey hair I was afforded that greeting. Leialoha to certain people is Aunty. Now, if someone is your contemporary, you can use "braddah" or "sistah"...or "cuzn". There are even performers here whse names have become synonymous with the use of Aunty or Uncle. The best known might be Genoa Keawe, who was one of the most beloved figures in Hawaiian music of the last 50 years. Nearly everyone refers to her, (with great and well deserved reverence ) as Aunty Genoa. One of my favorite performers is Aunty Nicki Hines...Here is a quick treat for you. This is a clip from Aunty Genoa. She was one of the great Hawaiian performers and known for her falsetto:

         So there you go...just another aspect of living and being in Hawai'i. Where it sometimes seems that we are all one big family...in some people's cases, quite literally.

    Lastly, for tonight, it is another of the "Why I Love living In Hawai'i" entries. I love hula...like many do all over the world. But there are two kinds of hula, (or should I say types of performances of hula) that I really love to see. They are when the kupuna (elders) dance and when someone does a kolohe (rascally) hula. If they can be combined into one dance, all the better. Here is Aunty Flo 'Iwalani Koanui doing a hula to a song called Ahulili...she is doing a kolohe interpretation of the lyrics. Quick side note...Hawaiian language lyrics very often have two meanings. The second level meaning is called the kauna which is a hidden meaning where one is speaking or singing of one thing and actually talking about something else. I believe she is only dancing two verses, so here is the english translation...

A love for `Ahulili
He might be jealous
For not always being placed on
The mist of the mountain
The mist of the mountain

Here is the cool
Heady fragrance
Your desires that caused arousal
Have satisfied the body
Have satisfied the body

    You can see and hear how the people love this...and I love living in a place where they respect and revere the elders, and where the elders can have good fun like this. Malama pono!!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Froggie Went A'Courting...

    Aloha Kakou!! It has been an action packed day for sure...well, by Hilo standards...as things tend to be very laid back here. Truthfully, here is what I did today, in no particular order...answered email, went over music for this season, practiced bass and steel guitar, bought a new bass and ukulele gig bag, went food shopping, paid my quarterly taxes, collected a few pics for tonight's blog, made dinner and last but never least, took out the trash. Pulse quickening day, right? Well, let's revisit that trash thing, because that is something to share with all of you about living here on the BI. Now, I'm not sure about all of you, but where I grew up, it was a given that there was "trash day" In Newton, Ma, it was every Tuesday, which meant every Monday night, we dragged out the barrels to the sidewalk, and by the next morning, all of our refuse was gone. Even in college, trash was never really any farther away then down the hall and down the chute. Heck, even living on the ship requires no more then padding down the hallway. So, here in Hilo, and I believe in most parts of the BI, we either pay someone to pick up our garbage, (either a company or someone who just happens to have a larger car/truck then you do) or take it to the landfill ourselves. We choose the latter. So, every other day, I pack the garbage into the trunk, and take off to the landfill. We of course recycle around here...but it is not mandatory...that's what I love about living here...want to recycle? Fantastic! Don't want to? Fantastic! No green bins, yellow bins, paper bins, tin bins...

    Now to the explanation for the title tonight...I want you all to look at this adorable little critter:

    This, if you don't know, is called a Coqui frog. I won't go into a detailed ecological and biological dissertation on this little fella, but if you want some more info then I will give, check this out: Coqui Frog. These little guys seemed to have started in the Caribbean, and in Puerto Rico especially. I can remember back a few years ago, when my band did a big corporate gig in Puerto Rico, I had never heard them, and they were right outside our hotel room window. Needless to say, there was not much sleep that night. Why is that? Well,  give this a listen:

    This is what they sound like outside of our house each night...why do they make this much noise? I'll give you a hint...only the male coqui frog makes this noise...at night...any ideas? Yes, it is all about mating. Now, one or two can be cute, but we have literally thousands of them per acre here...after a while they are so much white noise, but the first time you hear them, you'll never forget them. They were introduced to the islands apparently, from people importing plants and these guys hitched a ride. They do one good thing, which is to eat a ton of insects each night...literally...but they do not have any natural predators here, so they pretty much multiply unchecked. (There is no indigenous breed of snake here in Hawai'i which might normally keep them in check.) They are quite a topic of conversation, and it mostly revolves around why they cannot be eradicated, or why the local government won't do more. Now they seem to have spread over to O'ahu, and in my opinion, we will soon start to see some action on this over here. Once someone important enough on O'ahu is kept up at night by a throng of these little bad boys, that is when a plan will be put into action. Until then, we deal with them...we close our windows and enjoy the steady thrum that melts into the background eventually. Kaua'i has its chickens, we have our Coqui frogs...gotta love 'em.

    Now, we are heading back to work soon, and in preparation, I am going over our music for the season, as well as feeding myself a steady diet of Hawaiian music. Now no matter what, I listen to a lot of Hawaiian music, but now and then, I seem to get into some other style of music, or some particular artist and saturate my ears with that. This summer has been a bluegrass fest and a surf music fest. There were a few weeks this summer where all I listened to was Dick Dale, The Astronauts, Meshugah Beach Party, The Chantays, The Ventures and my favorites Los Straitjackets. I always maintain that I was born about 15-20 years too late, and on the wrong coast, and I would have LOVED to have been around to play this great summer/surf music the first time around. What can I say, I am a sucker for a backbeat and reverb. 

    Being born in the wrong era is why I think I am drawn mostly to older Hawaiian music. Particularly the hapa haole genre. For those who don't know what hapa haole music is, here is a very succinct and good explanation: Hapa Haole Music I think the reason I really love it, is that it contains many aspects of 30's/40's jazz and swing and I have always loved those styles. I also love it because it seems to be the style of Hawaiian music that features the steel guitar most frequently. Though Hawaiian language mele will sometimes have a steel guitar in it, hapa haole music really helped establish the steel guitar as the sound of Hawai'i. These days, ukulele and slack key are much more prevalent in local music, but there are some who remember the strains of the old Hawai'i Calls radio show and think nothing evokes the islands more then the slow glissando of a steel guitar. As a steel guitarist myself, I have to agree. So please allow me to share a little steel guitar with you...this link will take you to my Sound Cloud page where I have a few steel instrumentals that I hope you will enjoy.

    For sure, I will be doing a whole blog of my favorite artists and tracks very soon, so stay tuned. But please enjoy something else, which is tonight's "What I Love About Living In Hawai'". This is an old TV program called Island Music Island Hearts, and this was from a group called Alan Akaka and the Islanders. Alan is my steel guitar kumu  and the two other musicians are the legendary Benny Kalama and Sonny Kamahele. Please do some research on them, as they are two pillars of Hawaiian music history, and I love living here because people still appreciate and love this style of music, and still venerate the people who make this music:

    Everyone have a great night...malama pono.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Let's Play the Match Game...

Aloha kakou!! Let's start tonight with this... Aloha Wear.  I can see many of you out there wrinkling your brow as you try to figure out what I am talking about. Try this...Hawaiian shirt.  There ya go...now I know what is popping into your head...
Yes, THE infamous Magnum PI shirt. Working and living as we do in Hawai'i, Leialoha and I see literally hundreds, if not thousands of these things a year, (Not this one...but many like it) and I have come to realize that different places in the US and other countries tend to have different themes for their Aloha Shirts. (That is what they are actually called). For instance, when I was living in Florida, there seemed to be a fondness for, in no particular order...parrots, volcanoes, beer bottles, guitars, hula girls, pineapples, coconuts and some others that escape my mind right now. Truth be told, I do not know of many locals here who would wear an aloha shirt with ANY of those things on them. Does that make an aloha shirt with dolphins and parrots inferior to mine? Not at all...it is just interesting to me that different places go for different things. Truthfully, not many of us here wear aloha shirts as part of our every day attire. But when we do, it tends to be something decidedly non-grass skirty...if you know what I mean. These are a few companies that make aloha wear that is very popular here in Hawai'i:

Reyn Spooner
-This is a very popular maker of aloha wear, and they are very well known for their pullover style. In particular, they are known for their annual Christmas/Holiday design, which changes each year. I got turned onto these by my steel guitar teacher Alan Akaka. I htink he has pretty much every one dating back from when they started issuing these special runs. They have Hawaiian Santas on them, other holiday images, and in each one, is hidden the year of issue. They look like this:

I started my collection last year, and thanks to Leialoha and EBay, I have a half dozen right now.

Sig Zane
-Sig Zane is a Big Island guy, who takes his inspiration from things found here on the BI. One of his most popular designs is based on a street map of Hilo. He is also worn by one of the most popular Hawaiian bands around called Na Palapalai as well as local boy Mark Yamanaka. Leialoha has quite a few of his dresses. Like this one:

-This is without a doubt, our favorite local clothing company, and this where the title of the blog tonight comes from. See, when we are onstage, Leialoha and I like to wear matching aloha wear, and if you see musicians and bands out and about in the islands, chances are that many of them will have matching aloha wear. Manuheali'i designs are strictly loud and proud, and not what many from the mainland would think of as aloha wear. Here is an example of a pattern that they offer:
and this one is a little laid back to tell the truth. They make pullover styles, which for me, work great on stage, and Leialoha will usually pick out our outfits. At last count, I think we are somewhere north of 25 matching outfits. They have kind of become our signature look over the last few years. I love wearing aloha wear on stage...about a million times better then the suits and tuxedos that I used to have to wear when we played in the Wheelhouse. C'mon, which would you rather gig in? This:
 Or this:

Speaking for me...I'll take #2 every day, all day.

So tomorrow will be our day to go through the closets and start getting our things together for this season. Fortunately, this year, with the new house, we can keep ALL of our clothes in one place, and then go home on Hilo port day to get new clothes and fresh outfits. I may try to get a picture of our closets tomorrow...the sheer amount of aloha wear is astonishing. Oh, and here is a little tidbit for you mainlanders out there...you know the loose fitting, caftan-like thing that some women wear. What is it called? Moomoo? Nope, check it...courtesy of my friends at Wikipedia: Mu'umu'u This is one that only locals get right...I'm not sure how over the years it has been accepted as Moomoo...but when you're in the islands, you can make yourself sound very local if you drop the correct pronunciation.

Lastly, here is today's thing about living in Hawai'i that I love.

I have never been in a place where tattoos are so accepted and appreciated as in Hawai'i.  I particularly love the Polynesian style of tattoo, and many of you know that I have started to "collect" Polynesian style ink. There is something about the look and design that I just love, and there is meaning behind almost every design that is usually very personal and special to the person getting inked.

So, everyone have a great night, and I have some news to drop tomorrow. Malama Pono...

A Hui Hou,
Dave Soreff
(of Elua)