Archive for July, 2012

  • A Review by John Burger

    Here is a review by John Burger the original version can be read here.  These CD’s and DVD’s can be purchased in our CD section.

    “From Paradise”

    Norton Buffalo and George Kahumoku Jr. (Moon Valley Music)

    0527_mele_001An eight-minute rendition of “Amazing Grace,” sung in Hawaiian and English, is one of the musical gems in this amazing collaboration by slack key master George Kahumoku Jr., and harmonica wizard Norton Buffalo. Slack key guitar and country/blues harmonica, English lyrics and Hawaiian, are blended beautifully through a random selection of Hawaiian classics, hapa-haole standards and songs of more recent vintage. The two friends’ voices mix and match nicely as well.

    Buffalo’s harmonica adds a pleasent retro feel to “Waikiki Hula.” Slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson joins in on a imaginative arrangement of “Waipahe‘e” that redefines the song as acoustic blues. Herb Ohta Jr., Dennis Kamakahi and Keoki Kahumoku sit in on others.

    Buffalo died in 2009. This beautifully produced album is an excellent retrospective on one facet of his work.

    “The Best of The Slack Key Show Volume 1”

    George Kahumoku Jr., Da Ukulele Boys and Sterling Seaton

    0527_mele_002George Kahumoku’s long-running series weekly slack key concerts on Maui — they’re currently known as “The Slack Key Show – Masters of Hawaiian Music” — have showcased many of Hawaii’s slack key guitar masters and their peers in other genres of traditional Hawaiian music. The shows have also been a platform for his young protégés — slack key guitarist Sterling Seaton, and Garrett Probst and Peter deAquino who perform as Da Ukulele Boys. All three earn their place in this DVD anthology of recent performances.

    Kahumoku is the narrator as well as one of the featured performers. He opens the DVD with a brief history of the concert series and introduces each of the performance clips with information about the songs. The “boys” talk about their experiences as his students and as performers.

    The camera work is simple but effective. The interaction between deAquino and guest artist Herb Ohta Jr., on “Body Surfing,” an instrumental written by his father, Herb “Ohta-san Ohta, makes the number one of the highlight performances. The three “boys” talk several times about the experience of playing with master musicians but “Body Surfing” shows it happening as Ohta and deAquino trade off on lead and respond to each other.”

    “The Best of The Slack Key Show Volume 1” is available on our website

  • George Kahumoku Jr. documentary ‘A Hawaiian Life’ in production

    Here is a piece on Uncle George by the Lahaina news.  You can read the original version Here.

    “WEST MAUI – “George Kahumoku Jr. is so much more than just a musician – he’s a way of life. In truth, I was wrong when I wrote that. He is so much more. He’s an inspiration,” noted Jamie O’Brien, Celtic musician and music reviewer.

    There’s a reason he’s been called “Hawaii’s Renaissance Man.” George Kahumoku Jr. is a multiple Grammy Award and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning master slack key guitarist, songwriter, world-traveling performer, high school teacher and college professor, artist and sculptor, storyteller and writer, farmer and entrepreneur.

    His music, teaching, art and influence have reached across the ocean from Hawaii to the Mainland USA, and all the way to Europe and Japan.

    To tell Kahumoku’s story in a 90-minute movie, Maui producer Dave Berry is beginning a documentary on Uncle George entitled “A Hawaiian Life.”

    Similar to his book, this feature-length film will focus on the three main areas of Kahumoku’s public life – teaching, farming and music – and it will show how aloha and ohana connect them all.

    Funds are being raised to produce this documentary, which can then be aired on national and local Hawaiian networks, film festivals and schools in Hawaii.

    The goal of $30,000 has almost been reached. Supporters are asked to go to, George Kahumoku Jr. A Hawaiian Life and make a pledge. The $25 donation includes an autographed copy of the DVD when it’s completed.

    “George, in my opinion, is the absolute soul of Hawaiian traditional music. He has given his life to helping kids at risk and opening many searching souls to the wonders of playing Hawaiian slack key music, starting when these tunings were kept secret. George was one of the people who helped open up this wonderful tradition to the world,” remarked Sandy Miranda Robinett, a broadcaster in the San Francisco Bay area.

    Kahumoku hosts Hawaii music legends at his four-time Grammy Award-winning “Slack Key Show – Masters of Hawaiian Music” concerts held at the Napili Kai Beach Resort Pavilion each Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.”

    Seeds of Aloha DVD


    [UPDATE:  The documentary was successfully funded via KickStartr (yes, there is no “e” at the end) and the documentary completed and published under the title, “Seeds of Aloha“.  Check out the details and purchase the DVD online at… ]



  • A Review of George’s “Soulful Tribute” From Paradise

    Here is a review by Jon Woodhouse.  The original can be viewed at Here.

    “George Kahumoku Jr. first met blues harmonica virtuoso Norton Buffalo back in the early 1990s. The two musicians struck up a friendship that blossomed into playing the occasional gig together, collaborating on workshops and over the years, recording a bunch of songs.

    As a tribute to the late harmonica great, who died in 2009, George has just released “From Paradise,” a wonderful CD that seamlessly blends the talents of two masters of their instruments.

    “I met him through Jesse Colin Young,” George recalls. “I performed for Jesse’s wedding in the ’80s and helped him plant about 20 acres of mac nuts (on the Big Island). Eventually he had kids and they went to the Waldorf School I taught at in Kona. He would do fundraisers and Jesse would bring Norton over. We jammed and recorded ‘Lei Pikake’ for Dancing Cat in the ’90s (on “Hawaiian Love Songs” CD). Then we did the “Hawaiian War” chant on our (‘The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar”) album in 2008.

    “We recorded together over 15 years,” George continues. “We wanted to do some originals by each of us. I had to learn his songs and he had to learn mine. His were easy because they were in English, but he had to learn Hawaiian. He practiced ’til he got it perfect. His pronunciation was impeccable. He was really a musician’s musician. He was known for the blues, but he can play anything.”

    One of the most versatile harmonica players of our time, the acclaimed harpist is best known for his work recording and touring for decades with the Steve Miller Band. Over the years he also recorded with Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers (including the Grammy Award-winning “Minute By Minute”) Johnny Cash, Roy Rogers and Elvin Bishop.

    He was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2009.

    “He had a hard time breathing and found he had lung cancer,” George reports. “In less than a month he was gone. He didn’t smoke, but he played in a lot of bars in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, so a lot of smoking, and as a harmonica player he was breathing extra.”

    One might not expect to hear the harmonica in the context of Hawaiian slack key guitar, but Norton’s warm tone, expressive ability and empathy for the material makes this a remarkable collaboration.

    “A lot of people don’t realize Hawaiians did everything,” says George. “Like the song ‘Hi’ilawe’ was actually composed on the violin, not the guitar. My grandfather played harmonica and accordion, we had a lot of influences from different cultures.”

    Opening in paniolo territory with the country calypso of Norton’s “Another Day,” the album flows into George’s “Ku’u ‘Aina Aloha o Kahakuloa” moving tribute to his home land and winds through songs by the Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, Kui Lee, the Makaha Sons’ ‘Moon’ Kauakahi and Queen Lili’uokalani.

    Besides Norton’s wife, Lisa Flores-Buffalo, a gifted guitarist who plays on many of the songs, guests on the album include Dennis Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, Herb Ohta Jr., and Keoki Kahumoku.

    “We all jammed together at my workshops,” George notes. “But we didn’t have anything recorded together, so when they found out he passed on they all wanted to participate in some way.”

    Among the jewels on the album, the duo delivers a sublime, 8-minute version of “Amazing Grace,” sung in Hawaiian and English. Other songs range from the funky blues shuffle of “Waipahe’e” and Kamakahi’s beautiful love song “Kou Aloha Mau a Mau,” to the retro /jazzy “Waikiki Hula” and the closing, classic Neopolitan song “Torna a Surriento,” performed as an instrumental by Norton and his wife.

    “We had about 60s songs,” George says. “We tried to do stuff that gave the most soul, as a tribute.”

    Besides releasing the new CD, George is currently involved in a new documentary on his life, directed by filmmaker Dave Barry. “He’s been filming me for about the last year and half,” George explains. “Any time we did a show he would put it on YouTube and now we get about 300,000 hits a day on our web site. We’ve got to do a lot of editing, so we were trying to raise some money.”

    Funding is being sought through a KickStarter campaign to produce a 90-minute documentary. So far they’ve raised about two thirds of the funds needed.

    [UPDATE:  The documentary was successfully funded via KickStartr (yes, there is no “e” at the end) and the documentary completed and published under the title, “Seeds of Aloha“.  Check out the details and purchase the DVD online at… ]

    George Kahumoku Jr. hosts the weekly Masters of Hawaiian Music shows at the Napili Kai Beach Resort on Wednesday evenings. Led Kaapana next performs at 7:30 p.m. on July 11.”