Hawaii’s not the first of America’s 50 states you think of when considering soul music. Yes, think be-garlanded, swaying dancing girls and ukulele playing crooners…. the image portrayed by countless movies, travelogues and holiday ads … but soul?
Well, a new 16 track album on Strut Records, ‘ALOHA GOT SOUL’, may well change the traditional perception. The concise sleeve notes reveal that after the Hawaiian Islands were welcomed into the union in 1959, music (and lots of other things) began to change.
Hawaiian DJ and promoter Tom Moffat began to play rock, pop and soul on his popular radio shows as well as bringing over big names to play the club and theatre circuit. Soon a local underground music scene established itself with bands and singers trying to emulate the music they’d heard on Moffat’s shows and at his gigs. Amongst those early Hawaiian bands playing soul and jazz were the Deltones, Greenwood and Ox – who morphed into Seawind (collectors will know their CTI album).
By the mid 70s a thriving soul and jazz scene had established itself on Hawaii as ‘Aloha Got Soul’ comprehensively illustrates. Sure, traditional influences lingered –as Chucky Boy Chock’s ‘Papa Tita’ and Steve & Teresa’s ‘Kaho’olawe’ show but listen to stuff like Nova’s funky ‘I Feel Like Getting Down’, Mike Lundy’s blue-eyed soul outing ‘ Love One another’, Aura’s disco-slanted ‘Yesterday’s Love’ or Tender Leaf’s AOR swayer ‘Countryside Beauty’ and you’d be hard pushed to pin down a location…. Hawaii, certainly, wouldn’t’ be your first guess!