Henry Kapono & Friends
Gather for ‘Good Times Together’ playing C&K songs
One of the best local CD releases of the year requires a trip to a neighborhood First Hawaiian Bank. Available at its branches throughout the state, the newly released “The Songs of C&K” finds Henry Kapono collaborating with a bunch of award-winning younger artists to reinvent songs that have been so loved in Hawaii.
It’s an extraordinary assembly of talent with 10 guest artists adding their distinctive accent to timeless classics, which get a fresh spin from reggae and country to jazz and rock.
“There are a lot of great artists on the album and they all put their heart and soul into it,” Kapono explains. “They have a lot of respect for C&K music because they all grew up with it. I basically gave them free reign to express themselves. They brought their A-game.
“I wanted to move it forward into their generation, and mix it up with different genres. Josh (Tatofi) is more R&B, and Tavana is more bluesy; Kimie (Miner) is more contemporary reggae, and Paula Fuga just knocked it out of the park. She blew me away.”
To open the album Kapono collaborates with Maui’s Grammy-winning Kalani Pe’a for a brilliant version of Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair” (which the legendary duo featured on their “Cecilio & Kapono” album), providing Pe’a with an opportunity to spotlight his amazing soul power, and enhance it with some Hawaiian lyrics.
“I thought that song would fit his voice and his style,” Kapono says. “He knocked it out of the park too.”
Next up, Mike Love, who is known for his infectious roots rock reggae and often backs Paula Fuga, adds a fun country shuffle to “Lifetime Party.”
“I said to Mike, ‘Just have fun with it,’ and he did. At the end I had all the band sing the chorus.”
Female Vocalist of the Year Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Kimie Miner is fabulous on “Highway in the Sun,” which opens acoustically and then shifts into a beguiling reggae groove.
“She has a beautiful voice and she did a great arrangement of it,” he says. “She brought her baby in and she was singing while it was wrapped around her. Kimie said she used to go to Sandy Beach with her dad, and sit in his Bronco and listen to C&K, and her favorite song was ‘Highway in the Sun.’ “
Blayne Asing, who tours with Kapono, takes “Railway Stations” into contemporary country-hit territory, while Alx Kawakami of ManoaDNA adds a breezy Jack Johnson-style feel to “Sunflower.”
“I put a group together with Blayne, Alx and Johnny Valentine and backstage Blayne would always be playing ‘Railway Stations.’ I loved the way he played it. And Alx adds a new flavor to ‘Sunflower.’ “
Winner of a jazz Hoku for her album “Salt,” acclaimed singer Starr Kalahiki transforms “You and Me” into a passionate torch ballad.
“She took it way out,” he says. “I said, ‘As a jazz artist do it the way you feel.’ It’s way different from what it was.”
Pro-surfer/musician Landon McNamara injects his love for reggae into “Good Times Together,” which samples C&K’s original. “I told Landon, ‘I think “Good Times Together” would be the best song for you and you can add your reggae vibe.’ There was a lot of magic.”
Known as the “Polynesian Luther Vandross,” Hoku-winner Tatofi poured his heart into the beautiful ballad “About You.”
“When I sent ‘About You’ to Josh, he almost cried because that was the C&K song he really wanted to do,” Kapono notes. “He knocked it out of the park.”
Tatofi’s soulful contribution is followed by multi-instrumentalist Tavana, who reimagines “Home (And I’m Staying)” as a rousing blues rocker, which recalls Neil Young’s “Down by the River.”
Finally, Fuga brings the project to dramatic close with a stunning, six-minute version of “Song for Someone.”
“When I called her up, the thing that really sealed it for me was I asked her, ‘What is your favorite C&K song?’ She was homeless living on the beach with her mom. She said the radio was on and ‘Song for Someone’ came on. She said she couldn’t believe somebody could write a song about not being able to write a song. It really inspired her to start writing music. It was really touching.”
Most of the tracks were recorded with just one or two takes, with Kapono singing with the young artists on all the tracks save for the last one featuring Fuga.
“I could have added something, but she didn’t need me,” he says. “It was so soulful.”
In the album liner notes, the musicians pay homage to C&K’s impact and influence. Love reports “Lifetime Party” was part of the soundtrack of his youth. McNamara says, “This music makes my dad and I think of all the good times in Hawaii,” while Tatofi notes about singing “About You,” “being able to Josh-a-size it was an experience I will never forget.”
The project was produced in partnership with First Hawaiian Bank.
“I’m really grateful to First Hawaiian Bank because this couldn’t have happened without them,” Kapono explains. “They wanted to make a connection to the music community and millennials and asked if we had any ideas, and this is the result. They’ve been so supportive. I couldn’t have done an album like this without that kind of support.”
All the net proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit the new Henry Kapono Foundation. After a lifetime of support for local causes, Kapono has created a foundation, “To support and strengthen our community through music and the arts and by giving with aloha.”
The foundation will support local organizations with a primary focus on local arts, culture and music.
“We want to help keep music in schools, and help older musicians who don’t have insurance, and help kids with their dreams.”
After performing at the Waikiki Shell on Saturday, Kapono brings his “Henry Kapono & Friends” concert to Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater on Sunday.
A historic lineup of Hawaii legends includes Kalapana, Keola Beamer, Jerry Santos, Brother Noland, Na Leo Pilimehana, John Cruz and Robi Kahakalau, joined by the artists featured on the “Songs” album, aside from Tavana who is touring.
“The show is like bridging the gap between the generations,” he says. “We’ll have a couple (of legends) paired with the new artists.”
The free Concerts at The Shops at Wailea will feature popular Maui-born musician Anuhea at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Anuhea rose to prominence in the islands in 2010 with her self-titled debut album which won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Most Promising Artist.
In July, she launched Anuhea’s Aloha Always Foundation, a scholarship foundation for Hawaii students.
“Our goal for this inaugural semester is to award three cash scholarships to worthy Hawaii students heading to school in fall 2018,” she reported. “We have received dozens of applications so far, and it’s so inspiring to read their applications and see how passionate these kids are to achieve their goals.”
Lucky recipients so far include Makanahele Emmsley of Wailuku, who will attend Oregon State University.
For information on the scholarship and how to apply, email anuheajams.com/alohaalways.
Anuhea re-released her 2017 “Follow Me” album earlier in the year as “Follow Me: Deluxe Hawaii Edition,” with two new bonus tracks. She just posted a video for the song “Like the Way it Feels” from the album.
Following her Maui appearance, she heads to California for four shows at the Blue Note Napa.
Anuhea performs a free concert from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Shops at Wailea. Music events occur there every third and fifth Wednesday of the month at the main Fountain Courtyard.
Mulligans on the Blue will host something a little different at 7 p.m. Saturday with the Exiles on Maui — a tribute to the music of the Rolling Stones. They’re described as a group of Maui’s hardest rocking musicians complete with horns, backup singers and percussion, performing the best and most decadent songs by the Stones. Tickets are available for $25 online at www.eventbrite.com.
Nashville musician Jeff Dayton will present a free “Salute To Glen Campbell” concert at 5 p.m. today in the UH Maui College Student Lounge. Dayton was a guitarist, singer and bandleader for country superstar Campbell for 15 years. He also toured with Kenny Chesney, Lee Greenwood, and Sarah Darling. Campbell’s ionic hits included “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”