Friday, April 15, 2016


I don't know anything about Hawaiian music. I know what I like, and what I don't like. I don't go in for any of that hokey stuff, big fancy bands, or much of the vocal stuff. I dig it plain. Slack key, steel or ukulele, that's it. Maybe someone beating on something. That doesn't seem to be asking for much. But you'd be surprised at how hard it is to find, at least in my cursory searches. I've had bum advice from a local Hawaiian store (glossy versions of standards, heavy on choruses), and an acquaintance that grew up in Hawaii (stuff by that big Izzy guy). Both of those were on the parameters, but not hitting the spot.

Yesterday, while looking for something else entirely, I happened on an image of Jerry Byrd, playing lap steel. I know relatively few steel players by name, lap or pedal, and fewer by face, so what the hell. I read a bio saying that he had a fondness for Hawaiian music at a very early age (he was born in 1920), but would end up in country and western bands for decades, releasing sporadic Hawaiian stuff along the way. He eventually moved to Hawaii in 1968, and that's all she wrote. He lived out his life playing Hawaiian music in Hawaii. The thought of that fulfilling some boyhood dream is almost impossible to ignore.

The first song of his I heard, right after reading the short bio, was "Hanalei Moon". This was it, the type of Hawaiian music I'd been looking for. From further searches I found other stuff, and there's much more to pour through. He has done some of the aforementioned hokey stuff, but there's a lot more grade A stuff floating around. I did run across an album, that seems to cover it all, "Hawaiian Style Guitars: Slack Key by Hui Ohana / Steel Guitar by Jerry Byrd". This had more slack key, so it was a good mix. I sampled about half the songs on it and it was added to the list. Near the top I might add. That damn list.

Jerry Byrd - Hanalei Moon mp3 at Rocky 52
Jerry Byrd - Elmer's Tune mp3
at Rocky 52
Jerry Byrd - Theme for a DJ mp3
at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
Jerry Byrd and Marty Robbins - Unknown Hula
at YouTube So cool.

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