RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Keola Beamer
Soliloquy - Ka Leo O Loko
Dancing Cat Records

cd cover Coming from a family that traces its musical connections back at least five centuries, it's no surprise really that Keola Beamer has been playing traditional Hawaiian music since childhood. With noted hula dancers, chanters, falsetto singers, composers and guitarists, the Beamer family is in many ways highly representative of Hawaiian arts.

Keola, a singer and multi-instrumentalist, perhaps first came to the attention of a wider audience with the work he did with his brother Kapona as the Beamer Brothers. But for well over a decade now, he has been developing a solo career, with this album representing the latest stage.

This is a 45-minute long instrumental recording presenting Beamer's inimitable slack key style: smooth and rolling, warm and enveloping, and always with an extra depth. Typical features of slack key are there - the bass runs, the rippling progressions, the ebbing and flowing - but his arrangements delve even deeper into the melodies. He double tracks, duets with George Winston, and makes good use of both steel and nylon string guitars. Perhaps most importantly, although he uses his preferred C Wahine "Keola's C" tuning (C-G-D-G-B-E) on seven tracks, he also brings in the textures and approaches of six other slack key tunings. Each tuning has its own character, which he uses to great effect.

Nine of the tunes are his own, the remaining compositions by such notables as Queen Lili'uokalani among others. Perhaps the most familiar tune, and in many ways the most moving, is Ellen Keho'ohiwaokalani Prendergast's "Kaulana Na Pua," written to protest the illegal overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani in 1893. Beamer performs the beautiful, sad yet stirring melody on three contrasting guitars - two nylon string, one steel, tuned differently - which weave around each other, creating harmonic patterns without detracting from the melody line.

From the opening track ("Pailolo," a rushing, powerful piece with an insistent bass cascade, waves of rolling finger-picked chords and a delightful melody that springs octaves fading into harmonics) to the final ("Pua Lililehua," a gentle yet powerful love song, is soothing but leaves a trace of longing) Keola Beamer captures a wide range of moods and emotions, truly a soliloquy that reaches out and touches the listener. - Jamie O'Brien

Comment on this music or the web site.
Write a Letter to the Editor

Looking for More Information?

return to rootsworld

© 2002 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.