Ried Kapo Ku
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Ried Kapo Ku


Band World New Age


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Na Oli Aloha: Hawaiian Chants for a New Age

Ei Mai Ka La (Here Comes the Sun)



Aloha e na hoa aloha,

Just wanted to introduce myself, a little bit of biographical information. Thought I would write it myself. Who better? I was there! To start with, a big mahalo to all of you for your visit and for your support. This may get a little long but anyone who knows me knows that I have portagee fingers. You'll get used to it.

I am Hawaiian. Contrary to popular belief, though, I wasn't born in Hawai'i. Some people hear you singing, chanting or talking in Hawaiian and they automatically assume "Oh, must be from Keaukaha." Nice thought, but actually I was born in Eugene, Oregon. My dad wanted to try his hand at farming so we moved to the Great Northwest, where my mom is from. When the pineapple crop failed, we ended up back in Hawai'i. Papakolea is a long way from Keaukaha but still pretty Hawaiian. Just ask Auntie Genoa. We were there until 1968 at which point, we move to the LA area and Bobbie (my step-mom) joined the family. In many ways that was good 'cause, as I like to joke, had I stayed in Hawai'i, I probably wouldn't have ended up studying Hawaiian language. I probably wouldn't have ended up interested in the Hawaiian culture. I probably wouldn't have ended up dancing hula. I probably would have ended up in prison!

Arriving in LA right after the summer of love must have affected me pretty profoundly. Here is this little, dark, Hawaiian boy, no doubt speaking full on pidgin (I cant remember), used to running around barefoot all the time (especially to school), dropped right into the middle of the Laugh In culture and flower power. Put the Hawaiian music on the back burner for awhile. Of course Aunties and Dad played and sang Hawaiian music and even performed. I was exposed to it. But, as momentum for the Hawaiian Renaissance was building back in Hawai'i, I started listening to The Beatles, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, Jackson Browne and Wayne Newton (No kidding about the latter. Not by choice, of course. Dad liked Wayne Newton and since Dad controlled the stereo [along with the TV remote], oh well. So, at age 12, I started cutting my fingers (literally) on Dad's Sears Silvertone guitar (man, was the action high on that thing) and my teeth on the rock poets (Wayne Newton excluded, of course).

I graduated from Belmont High in Los Angeles as a barely marginal student and through some miracle (and through the wizardry of Robert Miller, a very kind teacher), I somehow ended up at USC as a Japanese major. See, in my early teens I saw this series on channel 28, the international channel, featuring films of Akira Kurosawa. I became infatuated with the Japanese culture and must have unconsciously vowed to major in it. There I was, my second year as an exchange student in Japan. Didn't know how I was going to pay for it all when I got back but a very corrupt coordinator at USC took care of that. Guess he was fiddling with the funds so somehow they ended up waiving our tuition that year. As Homer Simpson would say, "Woo-hoo!"

After coming back to the States I didn't have much direction so, of course, I joined the Air Force Reserves. What a waste of government money I was. All I wanted to do was get back to Japan and somehow live there. I was like a junky. I used the Air Force as much as I could to get my fix for my two weeks (or more) of active duty every year. I did manage to get a few Japan trips out of it, the last in 1987.

About that time, Le-Ann Ogawa, a dear family friend, lent me some of the vinyl records from the Panini label. Of course there was Gabby Pahinui and there was the Peter Moon Band. From that point on, I was on fire for the Hawaiian music. I wanted to be a part of that scene, that magical world. I wanted to be able to sing and understand what I was singing. As the Hawaiian repertoire began to grow, I also began trying my hand at composing non Hawaiian tunes. Was I the only one who had a Tascam Porta One four track cassette tape recorder? Those first songs were kind of corny but, eh, they're buried somewhere now and nobody's the wiser.

Meanwhile, I shuffled through various schools and ended up graduating from UCLA with a degree in Japanese. Didn't do too badly either. Made the Dean's list my last quarter. Guess I learned a thing or two about studying. How the hell I made it into graduate school though, I'll never know. I was a couple of classes away from finishing. I never did because my heart wasn't in the right place. You'd think I would try to emulate Robert Epp, a true educator, the professor I admired and respected the most. NOT!!! Instead, I chose to travel down the road not less traveled of this other professor who used his tenured job to hit on college girls. The educational system is probably better off that I became a musician.

To help pay my way through school, I worked at a natural food chain called Mrs. Gooch's. It was a great place to be and was one of the last sizable chains with the grassroots