“A tradition is something that can’t be forced on a community—
it is built on solid acceptance and mass support.”
In a single sentence, entertainment writer Wayne Harada touched upon the success of the Home Grown series, produced by disc jockey Ron Jacobs for KKUA Records in Hawaii during the late 1970s.
“Home Grown has become an instant tradition in the Islands …
and a springboard to fame for a dozen singers, musicians, and composers.”
The first compilation of Hawaii’s Home Grown series (posts on each volume coming soon) featured artists like Cooper’s Still of Kailua, David Kawika Crowley of Peralta, Country Living, and Bart Bascone.
But I’m writing about the second volume in the series before anything else. Why?
Because Nohelani Cypriano’s “Lihue” is on this LP, and that’s about all you need to know (there’s more to learn about, though).
And the winner is, Lihue!
When Nohe and Dennis Graue submitted their song to the Home Grown contest, they won.
“Lihue” was an instant success and one of the biggest singles of the year. Nohe’s debut album (sometimes called Around Again) included hits like “Living Without You”, “Moon Of Manakoora”, and “Lihue”.
For decades, “Lihue” has captivated listeners’ imaginations, proving itself as one of Hawaii’s greatest tunes to hit the dance floors, airwaves, wax grooves, and the drum machines of sample-loving Finnish hip-hop groups. (Note: In 1995, Nohe re-recorded the song with Dennis Graue, giving it a more ‘modern’ feel, if you will. I dig it, do you?)
But like I said, there’s more to learn about the Home Grown II album.
The Home Grown series presents a unique view of Hawaii in 1977:
The country was turning not-so-country and family stores were being torn down to make way for shopping complexes, suburbs, and parking lots. Chip Hatlelid & Shave Ice sang how the “Fujimura Store” broke down because the island was changing so fast.
Brandon Bray‘s Polynesian disco music got a glimpse of sought-after recognition—the band had difficulty getting airplay before Home Grown II. “Polynesian Girl” by Brandon Bray and Brown Spice, a song about the beauty of Hawaii, featured the largest group on the album with an ensemble of twelve musicians. Hawaiian disco music had it’s own place in the local music scene during the 70s, and Brandon’s blooming career found success with Home Grown’s help.
Ron Tish, an Iowa musician who relocated to Hawaii, shares his contemporary island music in the form of “Bum-Bye”. Many mainlanders who come to Hawaii embrace the islands’ “hang loose” attitude. Ron took a “no-worry, no-hurry” approach and wrote this take on the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle.
Ray Gooliak, whose album was reissued on Cool Sound’s Cool Hawaii label by Toshi Nakada, gives us perhaps his most well-known song, “Maui On My Mind”. The song showcases Ray playing bass, guitar, percussion and, of course, singing.
Rock Custer sings his love of Hawaii after being away from home for too long. “Wave Dreams” paints the classic imagery of the islands: playful trade winds and ocean waves rolling by, worrying about nothing as a circus of colors stretch across the sky at sunset.
Na Hoapili retells the story of Hawaii with “Oh Akua!”, of a time before the Europeans arrived and disrupted the lives of native Hawaiians, a time when King Kamehameha the Great united all of the islands. As the song progresses, you can hear how Hawaii has changed to a modern-day society where Hawaiian culture must be taught to keiki, the children of Hawaii.
Why Home Grown Matters
“Content-wise, there are love songs and think songs—mirroring the complexion of Hawaii, the beautiful and the bad. One artist who was so bowled over by the beauty of Hawaii (he lived here, went away, and came back) had to get his sentiments into song. Another, alarmed about the continuing demolition of the little things in life, tapped out a dandy ecological ditty. Still another expresses his view about the Hawaiiana movement.
The point is, every song has a story.” – Wayne Harada
With Home Grown II, as with all Home Grown compilations released in Hawaii, the mix of songs gives listeners a variety of views into our islands, from Maui to Kauai to the Big Island and Oahu.
Each person experiences the land in a unique way. It just takes an effort like the Home Grown series to manifest individual perspectives into something marvelous and tangible.
Stay tuned for more posts in the Home Grown series, showcasing the Hawaiian compilations by DJ Ron Jacobs and KKUA.