Putting together an album of music is hard work. From the writing of the songs, to getting them recorded, to mixing and mastering the music, taking the photography, designing the artwork, writing liner notes; all this takes persistence, dedication and patience. But above all, what it requires is support and help from friends and family who believe in your music and what you are trying to create.
I recently completed and released my first full length solo album of original music titled “Paniolo Music”. You can find it on www.paniolomusic.com, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and CD Baby. While I could say that this project started a little over six months ago back in June when the first notes were recorded, I could really say that this project has been a long journey over the past 10 years when the first song “Cascade Love” came into my head. Over time the stories found on this album came to be through a series of songs that came to me as my own personal sound and vision unfolded. As I grew musically and my influences expanded, a certain feel started to reveal itself. It was a mix of traditional country and folk in terms of the song structure and lyrics, with a little feel of Hawaiian with the instrumentation and rhythm. It became what I call “Paniolo Music.”
And I use this term as a way of expressing this musical sound that comes out of me. I felt using the term “country” didn’t work because it is too loose and at this point in the world of music, too misconstrued. I didn’t feel what I was playing was “Hawaiian” because the songs weren’t composed in the Hawaiian language nor did it adhere to the established rhythms and melodies of traditional Hawaiian music. But like I said, I couldn’t deny that I had been influenced by both country and Hawaiian and that was reflected in my music. So what is a mix of a little country and little Hawaiian? Well in my mind it is the Hawaiian cowboy, the Paniolo.
But I also want to clarify that what I play are not “paniolo songs” per se. While in my live performances I do play many “paniolo songs” such as “Kila Kila Na Roughrider” and “Waimea Cowboy”, the songs I have written and recorded do not tell the story of the paniolo. To me there is a clear and important difference. “Paniolo songs” are about the specific experience of the paniolo, “paniolo music” is the music that comes out of the area in which the paniolo have these experiences. I just wanted to make that clear so you know where I am coming from when I call my music “Paniolo Music.”
The songs on this album express some deep and personal experiences that I have had over a period of about 15 years, starting with the first conceptions of “Cascade Love”. This song speaks directly about my return home to Hawaii on the heals of a separation from someone with whom I shared what I would call my first experiences with true love.
The remaining ten songs revealed themselves to me as I experienced various fallings in and out of love. “It Ain’t Too Hard (To Love To Love You)” relates to meeting someone and falling in love instantly, the experience of that love manifesting itself in an easy and simple way. “As the Moon Rises Over the Sea” speaks about the beautiful moment when you tell someone you love them for the first time and how that moment can sometimes happen at the perfect time, such as when you are by the water and a beautiful full moon is rising over the ocean at Laupahoehoe.
Others speak of heartbreak. “Leavin Tomorrow in the Morn” relates having to leave someone you love because they don’t want to settle down. “All I Have to Do (Is What I Have to Do)” tells of what to do once love falls apart, and that is just what you have to do. Pick it up, move on, do what is best for yourself. “I Remembered Your Eyes (When You Left Me)” digs a little deeper into the emotions involved when love comes to an end and something new comes along. It can be tricky on your emotions when you’re recovering from heartbreak. We are often afraid of “falling” back into love. But it is important to not live in fear, but rather to see what happens, experience all that life has to offer and you never know what will develop.
All of these experiences of falling and rising in and out of love are all summed up in “Only Heartache”. It can seem like all these experiences are just an endless loop of heartache and pain, but they are all collective experiences that shape you into the person that you are today. These experiences are expressed in song for me and they all have their place in this grand mosaic that we call life. We should not regret the past nor shut the door on it, simply live each day humbly and grateful for what we have.
Other songs touch on topics outside of just love and heartbreak. “I Couldn’t Turn Him Away” tells the story of getting in trouble with the law and receiving the grace of God through those trials and tribulations. It isn’t the judgement of man that determines your fate, but judgement in the eyes of God as you understand God, and when He offers his hand of salvation to you, it is best you receive this grace. And again, this God I speak of has no name and no face, it is the God that you choose to follow and that you chose to believe in. Again, man is not here to judge, but to love.
“He Can’t Suffer Fools” touches on a little of the same topic. This song speaks of the man who plays God. It is about the man who doesn’t live humbly and is stuck on his high horse, disconnected from those around him. It is only through looking into his own faults that he is able to tear down the old self and rebuild himself anew. It’s just too cold of a world to have to carry such a heavy heart. One must first trust God then clean house, and finally repeat.
One song sits a little in the middle of these two themes of love and God. “I Can Sit Still For Awhile” says to find love you must trust God. Our natural reaction when we are denied love is to sulk and want to run away. But often the case is that love just wasn’t ready for those two people. It can be better to wait patiently for true love to unfold, so you can roll together with someone into the sunlight of the spirit. Trusting in God is crucial and often the missing ingredient to true humility when our ego is involved.
And finally we have “Let the Music Play” which is my tribute to the late great Johnny Cash. Without question Johnny Cash is my truest and biggest inspiration musically and personally. His steadfast faith in God and unyielding thirst for the truth resonates strongly with me. In his final years and since his death his popularity has increased tremendously, but as an artist I realized that no one had penned a true tribute to this amazing and accomplished individual. This was a revelation for me personally and I took it as a missive to pen a tribute to Cash. “Let the Music” play is what resulted. I chose to make it the final track on the album as a form of closure to the influence he has had on me personally and musically in the creation of this album. I hope that I did him justice.
It is my intention that this blog post can give some insights into the inspiration and the creative experiences behind the songs on the album. For those that have already picked up a copy and are reading this, mahalo from the bottom of my heart. It gives me so much joy to be able to share a part of me through my music to you. For those that have yet to grab a copy, thanks for reading and hopefully this post inspires you to take a look into what my music is all about. Again use the links at the top of this post.
So mahalo to everyone who has been a part of making this album come to be. You are truly too many to mention. But it involves the many, many musicians with whom I have played music with or jammed with who helped push me or show me new ways of expressing myself musically. It is musicians whom I have never met whose music has opened up my ears to new sounds and colors. It is friends and loved ones whom have supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams and to strive towards continually making music and putting it out into the world. It is all those wonderful ones I have fallen in and out of love with who have given me experiences to help shape me into who I am today. And I gotta mention a special thanks to braddah Chris who helped record and mix the music found on the album along with his bass and vocal work.
But above all I have to thank my family who have shown unwavering and continued support in my pursuit of being not only being a musician, but being an upright individual as well. They have all shown me what true love is. I look forward to many, many more songs and albums, and God willing, more musical expressions as I journey forward in life, as I continue to ho`analu….to go beyond the known boundaries. Keep in touch and feel free to join the journey…a hui hou!!!