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 of my favorites:


    I suggest that you all take a few trips around YouTube and online and just see where it takes 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'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 college, coming back from classes for the day. We did not leave the TV for a 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 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 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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' 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 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 some people's cases, quite literally.

    Lastly, for tonight, it is another of the "Why I Love living In Hawai'i" entries. I love 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 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 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 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 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 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)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Rain Isn't In Spain...It's in Hilo!!

Aloha Kakou!! Let's dive right in, shall we? Check this graph out:

What is this? It is a graph showing for the last year, the number of days in each month that rain has fallen in Hilo. Now, for those of us who live here, and those who come here often know this already, but for those of you who have never been, it's safe to say, Hilo is a wet place! It impacts our lives almost every day, and most importantly, it is the main reason the BI, (Big Island) is so lush and beautiful. Ua, as my steel guitar teacher Alan Akaka says, is the reason it is so beautiful here. And it is...lawns are green, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different plants, trees, shrubs and so forth that grow here, and give the whole area, a decidedly "green" outlook. But it can't all be roses, right? Right! Here is why...

Many of you may know that I am a new homeowner. (Well, WE are new homeowners) And with that comes some chores and jobs I haven't had for many many many years. The most obvious one is taking care of our lawn. Now, before this, the last time I pushed a mower was when I was about 12 years old. Where I grew up, not too many kids did the lawn...lawn services were very popular. But, for a period of time, my Dad had my brother Alec and myself out mowing every week. But as time went on, we stopped doing it, and eventually, my Mom got a lawn service, and all was good in the world...and our lawn looked immeasurably better. So, since then, I have not had to mow anything...until August. Here is where the rain comes in. I went out and purchased a mower....ready to go at it...and I learned a very important lesson...lots of rain, grass, and mowing don't make an ideal marriage. (Most of you know this...remember, I am still re-learning these things) I made the mistake of trying to mow after one of our regular Hilo downpours. Needless to say, I was stopping every four minutes to empty the clipping bag that weighed about 200 pounds. (Slight exaggeration) But, I slogged through and learned my lesson. I sit each day, looking out the window, waiting for some sunshine. Take yesterday for example. The lawn needs attention...I get my lawn care wardrobe together, and just as I pull on my trainers...the heavens open up. It goes on for about ten minutes...after, the lawn is alright, so I figure I can head out. Well, no sooner do I start to head out...the skies open again, and no joy...and no mowing. It goes on like this for the good part of the morning...and of course no mowing happens. be truthful, it is so beautiful around here, it doesn't really bother me. I'll take the rain any day. Upside? No car washing!! Cars around here tend to have very little bird poop on them.

So, it seems in the last few blogs, that I am not really conveying how much I love being in and living in Hawai' seems I am always bringing up some of the negative aspects of being here. So, let me list a few things that really make me happy and glad to live in Hawai'i, and the BI.

1. Slippers (or Slippahs)
For most on the mainland, (which is what we refer to the "other" part of the US as) slippers conjure up images of a newspaper, robe, pipe and furry footwear. Slippers here are what the mainland would call flip flops. We spend a lot of our lives here in slippers. Everyone has their favorites, but the most popular brand here is Locals. Peep them:
They are about $10 or less a pair, and if you go to someone's house, chances are you will see a few pair out on the lanai. (We also take off our slippers and other footwear before we enter the house) I love being casual, and there is nothing like a fresh pair of rubber slippahs on your feet.

2. The Lack of Traffic
This is about being on the BI. I love O'ahu, for many things, but the highway is not one of them. Here is a pic taken to illustrate a typical scene on the H1:
Now, I just read that Honolulu has passed LA as the most congested traffic city in the US...and for any of you have been driving at "quitting time" in Honolulu can attest to that. Her eon the BI, we do have some traffic issues, but for me, the only time I am bothered is when they are doing work on the three gulches that are on Highway sometimes you have to wait a few minutes to get going. No biggie. Speaking of traffic and driving...

3. The Courtesy of Drivers in Hawai'i
Being from Boston originally, where driving can be a contact sport, (literally) it is so great to drive in Hawai'i, and have people treat you as another human being. Yes, there are occasional slips, but for the most part, it is wonderful driving here. People let you into traffic, they don't tailgate, and using your horn is considered rude here. Here is the most used traffic signal in Boston:
Here is the most used traffic signal in Hawai'i:
I will take #2 any day of the week.

3. Early Morning PGA
Okay, this may sound silly, but because of the time difference out here, PGA golf is always on in the morning. What does that mean? It means I can get my golf on, and by the time it is done, I still have the rest of the day for whatever else I want to do. Sometimes, it's the small things.

4. The Aloha Spirit
Now, we put a lot of stock in this one here. Many on the mainland know that aloha means hello/goodbye/love...but it is also a way of living. It's hard to put a real definition on it, but maybe this will help a little...I found this online:

You have probably heard about Hawaii’s “Aloha Spirit,” but what is it exactly?  In the Hawaiian language, “aloha“ may mean love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness or grace.  These sentiments make it a lovely common greeting and expression of farewell.
Living Aloha is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.  It brings each person to the self.  Each person must think and express good feelings to others.

Akahai, kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
, unity, to be expressed with harmony;
, agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
, humility, to be expressed with modesty;
, patience, to be expressed with perseverance.
    “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha”       means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
       “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to         every other person for collective existence.
       "Aloha to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen & to know the         unknowable."
        Queen Lili‘uokalani

It is something that is in our every day lives...or should be. I am still learning and adjusting, but this might be my favorite part of being here.

Anyway, I think I will try to put in a couple of these "things I love" in each blog. Because the aim of this is not just to keep in touch, but to share information and things from where I live. So...everyone stay safe and well...spread the word about the blog, and as always, feel free to drop a comment or question.

Malama Pono,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Past Life Experience...and a New Recipe

    Aloha kakou!! First of all, glad to see that there are some people reading the blog. I know we only started this a few days ago, but I'm already getting some nice comments and spread the word everyone.

    So, let's start with this past life thing. Nothing mystical, but we all have history. With the pervasive spread of Facebook, depending on how much you, (or your "friends") wish to share or post, you cannot really hide from your past. Now, we ALL have some embarrassing things in our past, and pictures of our mistakes in fashion and hair choices or choices in boyfriends/girlfriends are on display for all to see. So, let me share a picture with you all.
    This is me. Now granted, this was a few years, and many pounds ago, but I think you can still see the resemblance. LOL. Next to me is a very good friend, and one of my mentors in the cruise business, Jim Ward. So, my past life secret, is that for a time, in the 90's, I was not a musician, but a cruise director. I know most people who read this will know what a CD is, but for lack of a better way of saying it, I was Julie McCoy. (Who by the way would have lasted 10 minutes in the real cruise industry) This picture is from the Royal Majesty, (part of the late lamented Dolphin/Majesty Cruise Line) and was taken in 1994. I was Jim's assistant, and we were up on deck of the MV Royal Majesty. I was Jim's number 2, and we had nicknames for each other. Jim was Jean-Luc, as in Jean-Luc Picard...the commander. I was a few things, Jim usually called me Wease...short for Weasel...I will not go into it. But my favorite was Rabbi. Besides being applicable pertianing to my faith, in some parlance, a Rabbi is someone who you go to to take care of business, who has connections in places. If Jim needed something done, he would turn to the Rabbi...we had a really great work relationship, and he was largely responsible for getting me bumped up to full time cruise director. There are many more pictures I could post (and probably will at some point) of this time in my life, but sufficed to say, I had an amazing time, met some great people, many of whom I am still very close with, and made connections that I still use to this day. Every now and then, I get an itch to go back into this part of the business, but a CDs job is so different then it used to be, that I don't think I could hang. It used to be 80% entertainment/20% bureaucratic and business things. Those numbers seem to have switched. No thanks.
    Tonight was a another first time attempt at cooking something local. Tonight was Chicken Long Rice. Here is the recipe:

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
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.
Fill a bowl with hot tap water. Add the long rice noodles, and let sit for 30 minutes to soften.
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.
After the noodles have sat for 30 minutes, stir in the chicken meat, green onion, and bok choy. Reheat and serve.

    And how did it turn out:
Two things to admit...I forgot the Hawaiian Sea Salt, but I subbed in Kosher Salt...go figure LOL And I couldn't find a Maui a regular one had to do. Oh, and owing to the fact that there are only two of us, I halved the recipe. Leialoha pronounced it Ono!! (Hawaiian for delicious) I may have even got a Supah-Ono!!
    So, tomorrow, my mother-in-law Jody will be coming for a few days. She lives up the coast in Honoka'a and one of the mice things about living here, is that she is free to come on down and be with us. She is a great lady, who loves singing, dancing and having a good time. As far as mother-in-laws go, I don't think I could ask for better. So I am sure she will pop up in the next few days here in the the blog.

   Lastly, I am going to start "The Countdown" tonight. This is our countdown until we head to the Golden for another great season.


A Hui Hou,


The Night That the Lights Went Out in...Waiakea-Uka

    Aloha kakou!! Well, let's start with the title...many of you will say, "but Dave, don't you live in Hilo?" Yes we do...but we also live in Waiakea-Uka, to quote Wikopedia:

    "The name comes from wai ākea in the Hawaiian Language meaning "broad waters", and sometimes what is now called Hilo Bay was called Waiākea Bay. Waiākea is home to many and has its own schools. It stretches for miles and ends at Waiākea-Uka...the area on the slopes of Mauna Loa"

    Anywho, it is a lovely that Leialoha likes to get up earlier then me to experience...usually MUCH earlier. So there I was in perfect peace, sawing logs on our VERY comfortable bed...when I was woken up by Leialoha tapping on my feet telling me:
1. "There is no power"
2. "I think someone is knocking at our door"
The first thing is no big deal...the second, not so much. Especially when I looked t the clock, (I always have a portable alarm clock next to my bed...for just such an occasion) and it read 5:45am. The Jew in me immediately think that if someone is knocking at your door, something has gone wrong or someone has died. (It is also our first reaction when the phone rings very late at night)

    So, to cut to the chase, I called HELCO (Hawaiian Electric Company), and was informed by a very pleasant, albeit prerecorded voice, that an accident had knocked over a a pole, and that we were the lucky section of Hilo to have no power. Jumping in the car, Leialoha and I drove about 1/2 mile down the street to see what used to be a fairly straight pole, (we do not have underground lines here ont he BI) leaning at a good 35 degrees. Eight trucks, two flagman and one spare pole were on the scene ready to go up. I promptly took myself back to the house, back to bed, and when I awoke at 9:00am, we had power and I was able to watch Tiger Woods not make a move at the BMW, (no surprise these days) and Vijay Singh stay on top of the leaderboard, (BIG surprise).

    The days here have taken on a lovely rhythm...working on music, working on the house, catching up on my favorite shows, (we have, to be kind, limited TV on the ships) and shopping for the house. I thought I would share a look at a typical section of Target here in Hilo. It seems that we are always on the short end of the merchandise stick out elast for some things. So, here is a look at the shcool supply/paper shelf and one of the frozen food shelves:

    Leialoha had posted a few pics last week of WalMart which was looking the same. There is a saying here "lucky you love in Hawai'i"..and indeed we are...EXCEPT when it comes to having full shelves on a regular basis. But for this small thing, I can cope...because we also get to have this:
    This is the view of Waipio Valley from the lookout...Waipio Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and we are lucky to have it here on the BI. Want to know a little bit more about it? Check it out here: Waipio Valley Leialoha's cousins Charlene and Russell actually work a taro patch in the valley. I know many of you have tried poi...and this is where that goodness starts. Working the patch is VERY hard work, and there are fewer and fewer patches these days. Do yourself a favor read this: will give you some good info. We always ask passengers on the ship, "how many of you have tried poi?" Invariably, 7/8 of the audience will raise their hands. We then ask, "how many of you actually liked it?" We may get three or four people. (Usually local transplants or people who have lived there for a while) As we always say, "good, more for us". Taro, (the plant that poi comes from) was, and still is a VERY important part of life in the islands.
     Last thing for the night...I posted something on FB today, and wanted to make sure that everyone was able to get the link. One of the great things we have on TV here is WeTV who have the good taste to run Twilight Zone episodes each day. Two of my favorite episodes happen to star Burgess Meredith, and they aired one the other day sday that I DVRd. If you have a spare 28 minutes, check it out on YouTube: The Obsolete Man It is just as topical today as it was when it was first aired, and the performances are grade A.
    Enjoy the evening all...and remember, if you ever have a question for me or Leialoha, feel free to drop an email, or a comment.

Malama Pono,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kona Road Trip...and Food Porn

Aloha Kakou!!

Today brings to light one of the few drawbacks to living in Hilo...I will start by saying that Leialoaha and I are new homeowners, so like many, we have found ourselves worshiping at the altar of Home Depot and Lowe's. Now I don't know about you all, but we much prefer Lowe's. Better customer service, better selection, the store is laid out much better...and much much much cleaner. What's the problem? Well, Home Depot is about ten minutes away...Lowe's, not so much. In my experience, it has always been that you can't go to either of these home store giants in any mainland city or town without finding the other brand no more then 1/2 mile away. Not here on the Big Island. Lowe's is in Kona...roughly 2 hours away from us. There are two ways to get there...up the beautiful Hamakua Coast and through Waimea, (although a case could be made to go the more northerly way past Waikaloa) or on Saddle Road:
Big Island Overview with Saddle Road Highlighted
We have done this route once...and once was enough. So, insiders tip...if given the choice heading to Kona from Hilo, take HWY may take ten minutes more, but the ride is sooooooooo much better. The ride takes you through North Hilo, Hamakua, North Kohala and Kona districts. The ride through Waimea is beautiful, and the animals all seem to smile and say hello. Lots of cows and horses and sheeps and goats and rams and wild pigs, (more on them at some other point) and of course my favorite:
This is the they came to Hawai'i is an interesting story, but the only two ways I ever see these guys is either flattened on the road, or as they run across said road trying to avoid being splattered. They look very cute with their two inch legs motoring a mile a minute. But I digress. For is the longer route all the way. Oh...I promised food porn.

One of the millions of perks of come along with having Leialoha in my life, is that her Auntie Susie is an outrageously great cook...with an emphasis on baking. On our way back, we had to drop some things off, (Auntie Suzy and much of Leialoha's family live in Honoka'a) to her and my mother-in-law Jody. (This is very common, as if someone is heading to Kona, it is nice to ask if anyone needs anything while over at Costco) There is a dinner tonight to honor the memory of Auntie Flora, who passed away last year. I thought I should get a few pics of the deserts, (just a few of the many I should mention) so enjoy...not 100% sure what these are, I just know they smell and taste great. Enjoy!!

 And lastly, there have been a few requests for the recipe that I used for Portuguese Bean Soup the other night. Here is is:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours 40 Minutes
Ready In: 2 Hours 50 Minutes
Servings: 12
1 ham hock
1 (10 ounce) linguica sausage, sliced
1 onion, minced
2 quarts water
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 celery rib, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
Place ham hock, linguica, onion, and water into a Dutch oven over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove meat from ham hock, chop, and return to soup. Stir in potatoes, celery, carrots, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and garlic. Cover, and continue simmering for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Stir in cabbage and kidney beans, cook until the cabbage has softened, about 10 minutes.

Give it a try and enjoy! Oh, by the way, I left out the hock, but it came out just fine. Either way will work out nicely. The Portuguese Sausage is the key of course.

We are down to two weeks before back to work time...I'll be trying to get my vocal and steel guitar chops back to acceptable levels in the coming two weeks. Tonight? Red's a start!!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

E Komo Mai

Aloha and e komo mai...this is the first, in what we hope will be many blog entries from myself and Leialoha...if you are here, chances are that you know us from either Princess Cruises, from our travels around the world...or from back home in Hawai'i. Leialoha and I decided to do this blog as a way to keep in touch, inform and to hopefully entertain. We will share pictures, videos, stories, music...almost anything is fair game. If you have any questions or comments, always feel free to leave them here, or at our email at Remember, we are at sea a bunch, so if we don't get back right away...don't be mad. And on a personal note, peep out my birthday gift from the lovely Leialoha...I needed a new ukulele for this season...and what is now mine? It is a smokin' Willie K Ukulele from Oscar Schmidt. A ton of mahalos to Ken at Hilo Guitars...the best place to find a uke in all of Hawaiʻi...tell them Elua sent you.

Many of you may know that we have just purchased a home in Hilo...Leialohaʻs first house, my first house, and of course our first house together. It is a bit overwhelming, but Leialoha has gone above and beyond to make it homey and warm in a very short time. When the house is ready to be put on display, pics will follow. Have a great night all, and check back soon. A hui hou!!