Bluegrass Hawaii: Music’s melting pot

Beach in Makaha, Waianae Coast

Beach in Makaha, Waianae Coast

Along with the arrival of people from many lands, Hawaii has been gifted with ideas and activities that make it a melting pot of the arts.  Who would think the kind of music born in America that took European folk music, weaved into it the experience of the mountain people would become part of Hawaii’s array of music types.  But bluegrass music has its performers and fans in the islands, making it truly representative of the way Hawaii has of taking the best of every culture, then creating its own brand.

Bluegrass musicians come from Polynesian backgrounds, people of European ancestry and Asian mixed groups.  It is the music that attracts people, who meet in every area of Hawaii to enjoy jamming, and performing, together.

At the Friday gathering of ukulele players at Burger King in the Waianae Shopping Mall there are those who come to participate in music that is predominantly what is ordinarily associated with Hawaiian music, the slack key styles of guitar and the ukulele rhythms and the beauty of the Hawaiian language woven with melodies that become familiar and remain with generations of people.  Some of these folks cross over to the bluegrass groups on other days, enjoying both the traditional Hawaiian music and the adaptations of an additional style with equal enthusiasm.

The umbrella organization for the various bluegrass groups across Hawaii has a calendar of events that invite regular and new members and provide opportunities for people to gather together and share their music.  They also advertise special events where members perform.  Not only does bluegrass music bring people of many cultures together for enjoyment of this fast-paced, upbeat music style, but many seniors find themselves at home with types their parents enjoyed over the years.  That’s because the immigrants that adopted Hawaii as its home married local people, and most residents of Hawaii can list a number of cultures among their ancestors.

The following video created by the Lady of Letters and Man of the Sea offers a glimpse of that music along with a tour of the rural area of Oahu known as the Waianae Coast and those representing the economic and social cultural groups that bluegrass music claims.


Waianae Country Kisses

Well I live in the country, sharing old country ways
I live where the sunshine come in smiles many days
I walk where the ocean meets the sky with a grin
And the stars kiss the heavens, til each day comes again

The tall, shapely mountains stand in silence all around
And the birds sing their praises in sweet choral sound
And the clouds weave their garments in warm misty drifts
Where the earth drinks its raindrops, then gives back its gifts

The rooster crows to waken all of nature from rest
As the creatures stir from sleeping, offer life at its best
As the day embraces every soul, every man
In a gentle simplicity we can all understand

Down the Waianae roadways to the oceans great arms
Nature offers God’s blessing in its rainbow of charms
They are crown jewels of heaven on all life big and small
The wealth from the heavens sprinkle riches for all

We are poor, we are every man, we are earth, heaven’s dreams
We are more than our dwellings; we are more than it seems
We live in the country where God’s love shows its face
Where the love comes like kisses in a paradise place

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