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.


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