Mike and Malissa Kaawa favored us with a visit this past week, they were on a hunt for In and Out Burger and a visit to Tomi in Concord. But you know Mike brought one of his trademark 12 string Ovation guitars, and he spent at least a little time on every single guitar, `ukulele, and bass in the house. And he brought out his producer/arranger side to help me get some audio and video recordings with a new flavor. In other words, we had a blast.
Mike is often called the 12 string master in Hawaiian music and he really demonstrated that on a whole new level, using his acoustic style to orchestrate the tunes. I’ve heard him many times amplified on stage, but sitting right next to his acoustic sound gave me a totally new appreciation of Mike’s artistry.
Our first attempt was an arrangement I call my Honolulu Medley, consisting of He Aloha No O Honolulu and the chorus of Honolulu I Am Coming Back Again.
Mike came up with plenty of color on this, with chord substitutions, walking lines, harmonics, and more. I was really happy with the way the stereo mic captured the two guitars.
Besides his instrumental prowess, Mike is a band leader and vocalist as well as a composer and arranger. His records are a great resource for wonderful old songs Mike has brought back to life with his arrangements and performance. Ua Noho Au A Kupa is one example.
I added a mic to capture the vocal and got lucky with the placement. Mike was happy with the vocal sound right away and I was honored to sit there and play along.
I think Mike’s version of Aloha Kaua`i on his Hawaiian Groove CD was the first one I heard, and I’ve heard him do it a lot at his Honey’s gig.
I’ve played the song plenty of times but it never came out like it did with Mr. Kaawa laying it down.
If you find yourself on O`ahu on a Sunday afternoon, give yourself a treat and head over to the Ko`olau Golf Course where you can catch Mike Kaawa and the Hawaiian Boy Crew at Honey’s. It’s right off H3, easy to find, plenty of parking, plenty of food and drink and plenty of great Hawaiian music.
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