Whenever I travel to new places, I try to get a sense of the culture through things such as art, food, and music. On my first trip to Hawaii back in 1994, I became captivated by Hawaiian music, which seemed to be experiencing a Renaissance in popularity as a number of young and talented artists explored traditional Hawaiian music and energized it with a contemporary feel.
Among my earliest favorites were the half-Hawaiian, half-Caucasian duo Hapa with their amazing guitar work and soaring harmonies, Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom, a half-Hawaiian, half-Scottish singer/songwriter with a truly amazing voice, and the legendary Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, whose angelic voice is probably best know for his gorgeous cover version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World.
In 2013 I worked with producer Leona George-Davidson, a senior at Dominican University of California to create a showcase of Hawaiian music for the university’s online radio station, Penguin Radio. I called the show, Catchin’ a Wave, and in my role as DJ “Maka” (Hawaiian for Matt), I introduced listeners to the soothing sounds of the islands each week in 10 regular installments of the show, plus a special Christmas episode. As winter sets in and the stress of work or the holidays creeps in, have a listen to Catchin’ a Wave and get transported to a far-off paradise. All episodes of the program can be found by clicking on this link: Catchin’ a Wave Aloha!