“Inspiration is where you find it,” wrote Wayne Harada in the Home Grown I liner notes, a Hawaiian music compilation released on KKUA Records in 1976.
In 1976, prolific radio DJ Ron Jacobs released Hawaii’s first volume in the Home Grown series. Ron had moved back home to Hawaii from San Diego and immediately fell in love with the music of the islands.
While living and working in San Diego, Ron Jacobs produced the California city’s own Home Grown LPs.
But he dreamed of a releasing Hawaii’s own Home Grown compilations. Upon returning to the islands, Ron made it his goal to bring greater recognition to Hawaii’s tremendous, upcoming talent.
Enter, Home Grown I:
“The idea is to provide a showcase, in a setting of pride and professionalism, to possibly launch a career or two or three.”
The careers of several Hawaiian artists were already shining bright when Home Grown I hit the record stores in Honolulu—the likes of Cecilio & Kapono, Olomana, Country Comfort, and The Brothers Cazimero propelled forward with success (some of these acts still perform to this day!).
The initial idea of Home Grown was thus: as an outlet for homegrown artists creating homegrown music. As Wayne Harada wrote in his liner notes for the LP:
“Hawaii is known the world over for its cosmopolitan blend, its mixing of races and cultures. In Home Grown, you get this chop suey feeling—indicative that music remains the universal language.”
Let’s listen in:
Country Living presents a perfect example of the laid-back lifestyle of Hawaii with their contribution to the LP. I’ve talked about this before, and it’s true. Country living is free and easy. It’s mellow. It’s open. It’s love of a land that gives and gives so long as you appreciate and respect it.
Another aspect I enjoy about folky, jazzy Hawaiian music is the bossa nova influence. The Brazilian-Hawaiian connection becomes apparent with the incorporation of Latin beats and acoustic guitars. “Country Living Hawaii” represents that feeling that you get while living in a tropical paradise.
Let’s stick around the countryside a little longer and visit the tune “Oh Why Leave?” by Breezin’, following in the footsteps of Kalapana and the new contemporary Hawaiian sound of the 1970s.
Loose guitars introduce the music, written by Steven Min and Robert Agno, with the beat picking up the pace at the 45 second mark. (We weren’t as talented as Breezin’, but this song reminds me of an EP I recorded with my friend back in 2007.)
Cooper’s Still. “Big Island.” Read those four words, what images stir in your mind?
This song, I hope, will fulfill those imaginations. It did for me. “Big Island” symbolizes wide open country, skies greater than God himself, and gentle blowing winds that bring the fragrance of Hawaiian flowers to your nose.
It’s blissful, it’s peaceful, and in just under four minutes, it works wonders on the human imagination.
Despite the low quality recording, “Makapuu” surprises. Burt Bascone played every single instrument for and sang every vocal track for the song—16 parts total!
A playful, upbeat tribute to the cliffs of Makapuu, Burt’s pop tune proves that one talented man can equal more than what ten men combined could achieve.
Kapono Beamer and Byl Leonard recorded “Living in Hawaii” just four hours before the deadline to enter the Home Grown contest.
Close your eyes and listen to the lyrics, the music will immediately transport you to the islands.
Hana, Maui, is one of Hawaii’s most remote towns and is often called “The Last Hawaiian Place”.
Glenn Pinho wrote this semi-autobiographical song about the highways of life (by the way , the Road to Hana is one of the world’s most scenic highways). Ups, downs, streaks of good luck and regrettable experiences fill our lives. These things shape who we are.
Singing with conviction, Glenn bares his soul, revealing his feelings for his home back in the country.
“Hana Boy” is the quintessential Home Grown composition. It’s country, it’s contemporary (check that cool conga break!), it’s music that only Hawaii can create.
“Inspiration is where you find it. Judging from the songs selected, there’s a sweeping new interest in the simple life of the country.
Unsurprisingly, the mountains, the ocean, the backyards, the frontyards, the gerenal beauty of Hawaii have tinkled the creative juices. Whatever, wherever: The Home Growners sing about life in paradise.”
For some, homegrown is a dream. Fortunately, Ron Jacobs captured those dreams and turned them into reality with the Home Grown series.