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Pop Culture

Hawaii Pop

For underexposed mainlanders, Hawaiian music is mellow slack key guitar, or traditional falsetto with lots of guitar and ukulele, or maybe it’s the older hapa-haole songs — Little Grass Shack and Ukulele Lady. All that stuff has its place in the history of Hawaii’s sound, but there’s a new generation. The golden boy of the ukulele gets lots of play and it’s well deserved; Jake Shimabukuro is a remarkable musician and modest and charming in person. But even he’s not the only sound that pours out of the speakers on your rental car.

Henry Kapono is creating new rock and roll in the Hawaiian language. Nesian 9 is making reggae beat backed sweet soul with wow, those are great harmonies. And Anuhea, well, she’s kind of a big deal, it turns out, taking home two Na Hoku (Hawaiian Academy of Recording Arts) awards for her accomplishments in Hawaiian music.

If you want to get a preview of what’s making air time on the islands, here’s a guide to Hawaii’s radio dial, by island. Click through — lots of the stations are wired so you can listen to the live broadcast from wherever you are. It’s not quite the same as listening while  sitting on the H1 in traffic, but you’ll get a sense of  that new Hawaiian sound, sweet voices, reggae beats, political rhymes… it’s all there and it’s all Hawaiian.  Tiny Bubbles need not apply.

Book ‘im, Dano