Library of Congress inducts Hawaiian songs
By Lisa Asato
Gabby Pahinui’s 1947 recording of “Hula Medley” and Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Five’s 1938 recording of “Fascinating Rhythm” have been inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
The two songs will forever be enshrined in the registry as “cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures,” library officials said.
In a news release issued in May, the library said: “Gabby Pahinui was a master of slack-key guitar, a style originating in Hawai‘i. In slack key, one or more of a guitar’s strings are loosened or ‘slacked’ from the standard EADGBE format to create a different tuning, usually a chord that allows it to be played without using the fretboard. Often the thumb plays rhythm on the lower strings, while the fingers play the melody on the higher strings. Pahinui made some of the first modern recordings in this genre, including the lovely instrumental ‘Hula Medley’ in 1947.”
The library described Hoopii as a pioneer as well, saying: “In the 1890s, Hawaiian musicians began playing open-tuned guitars flat in their laps, fretting the strings with steel to produce distinctive sliding tones. The style soon reached the U.S. mainland, and when young Sol Hoopii arrived in California in 1924, the Hawaiian steel guitar was a mature and demanding instrument with national popularity.
“Hoopii emerged as its greatest exponent, applying it to traditional hulas, ragtime, jazz and pop. He and his peers influenced blues and country slide guitarists, and Dobros and pedal steel guitars are descended from the Hawaiian model. Hoopii switched to electric guitar in the 1930s and displays his formidable technique on this Gershwin
standard, deftly mixing tonal variations, a chord solo and bass runs into an adventurous and swinging improvisation.”
Recordings by Donna Summer, Prince and the Revolution, Dolly Parton, Bo Diddley, the Grateful Dead, interviews with former slaves and an 1888 Edison Talking Doll cylinder were also inducted. Also making the cut was the March 25, 1947, program of the long-running radio show "The Indians for Indians Hour." The weekly show, reaching an estimated 75,000 listeners in 1946, aired on the University of Oklahoma's WNAD in Normal, Oklahoma, from 1941 to 1985. The program featured guests and music from the 18 tribes within the signal's reach, including Apaches, Kiowas, Seminoles, Osages and Choctaws.
There are now 350 recordings in the registry, which annually inducts 25 sound recordings that are least a decade old.
To hear a sampling of Gabby Pahinui’s “Hula Medley,” click here. For a sampling of Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Five’s recording of “Fascinating Rhythm,” courtesy of Rounder Records, click here. A small sampling of the “Indians for Indians Hour,” courtesy of the University of Oklahoma, is available here.
In August, two music festivals on O‘ahu perpetuate the legacy of the late, great Gabby Pahinui.
Gabby Pahinui Waimānalo Kanikapila
When: Aug. 11, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Waimänalo Beach Park, Gabby Pahinui Pavilion
Cost: Free, $15 T-Shirt supports festival costs
Starring: 150 musicians, including Jerry Santos, Haunani Apoliona, Jeff Peterson, Dennis Kamakahi, Sonny Lim, Cyril Pahinui, Greg Sardinha, Peter Moon, Bla Pahinui, George Kuo, Alan Akaka, Gary Aiko, David Kahiapo, Walt Keale, Mike Kaawa, Jessie Kalima ‘Ohana.
Plus: hula, educational community organizations, cultural displays, lomilomi, and food booths with proceeds supporting athletic and community groups
Added event: Aug. 10, Friday, 1 p.m. Slack Key/‘Ukulele Workshop at pavilion
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival – “O‘ahu Style”
When: Aug. 19, Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Kapi‘olani Park, Waikïkï
Starring: Ledward Kaapana, Dennis Kamakahi, LT Smooth, Ho‘okena with Glen Smith, Nathan Aweau, John Cruz, Brother Noland, Maunalua with Bobby Moderow, Paul Togioka, Hi‘ikua, George Kuo, Stephen Inglis, Kaukahi, Patrick Landeza, Alani Yamauchi, Asa Gample, Makana
Plus: food booths, shave ice, festival T-shirts, artists’ CDs and DVDs, and a chance to win a new Taylor guitar and Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele
Info: slackkeyfestival.com. Festivals will also be held in Kona, ‘Ewa Beach and Lïhu‘e in September, October and November, respectively.