Saturday, August 27, 2005
"Slack Key Dreams
of the Ponomoe"
Kapono Beamer has been making important contributions to Hawaiian music as a slack key guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for more than 30 years. Beamer has been an innovator as well; he was one of the first to combine traditional ki ho'alu (slack key) with "new age" electronic music. Among his other contributions is his documentation of the Beamer family's musical legacy. "Great Grandmother, Great Grandson" celebrated the music of his great-grandmother Helen Desha Beamer and received a Hoku award in 1999. His new album includes recordings of his grandmother, the late Louise Leiomalama Walker "Dambie" Beamer.
It opens with her chanting about an ancestor who died defending the traditional religion of Hawaii against the forces of Kaahumanu during the civil war of 1819. Kapono enhances Dambie's voice with overdubbed nose flute and Hawaiian percussion. He mentions in the liner notes that within 60 years after Kaahumanu broke the kapus, "all the Kamehameha dynasty were dead."
Most of the other songs relate to Kapono's childhood on the Big Island. Most are originals; others have ties to family members. One notable exception is the song that describes a romantic interlude in rainy Nuuanu.
Noel Okimoto (drums, percussion) and Dean Taba (bass) give a slight pop feel to some of the tunes. A beautifully designed booklet adds all the necessary cultural and personal information and completes this Grammy-worthy Hawaiian album.