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Star Bulletin
September 1, 2006 - John Berger
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Island Mele
Beautiful Hula Dancer

John Keawe would probably be better known if he lived on Oahu instead of the Big Island, and so his albums are always welcome reminders of the wealth of talent to be found there. This one is primarily a beautiful collection of original slack-key instruments written and performed in the traditional nahenahe (sweet, melodious) style. However, Keawe also sings on occasion, and the title song is one of several that express his love for his wife.

As with all Hawaiian albums, the annotation is essential in comprehending the songs. For instance, "Aloha Pueo," inspired by an encounter with a dying owl, is a song of farewell rather than greeting, and "Nu'unau Slack Key" was inspired by the coolness of Keawe's home on the Big Island rather than the valley on Oahu. "Hana Pipi," a title he translates as "working the cattle," is not only about contemporary paniolo, but also a tribute to the Mexican vaqueros of the 1830s who are credited with introducing the guitar to Hawaii and inspiring the development of slack-key.

Keawe honors their legacy in beautiful style here.

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