We Go Jam: Celebrating Our Music, Our Soundscape, Our Hawai‘i

This new book is a collection of stories about Hawai‘i’s rich and diverse musical heritage. Inside, you will find the “voices” of many of the islands’ leading writers and musicians such as poet Lee Tanouchi aka Da Pidgin Guerilla; teacher and writer Marie Hara; singer-songwriter Jerry Santos, best-known for his work in the music group Olomana; Aaron J. Salā, assistant professor of Hawaiian music, ethnomusicology, at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; among many others. We Go Jam will serve as the centerpiece for a series of our statewide public programs and teacher workshops in the months ahead.

The 118-page soft cover book sells at Native Books/Nā Mea Hawai‘ionline or in the store (Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., Ste. 1000, Hon., HI 96814)–for $14.95.  Copies may also be purchased though the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities.

For more information about related programming or purchasing a book, please contact our director of grants and special projects, Stacy Hoshino, at (808) 469-4551 or shoshino@hihumanities.org.

Excerpts from We Go Jam

One day, when I was about eight years old, I attended a lū‘au with both my grandparents. Upon our return home that evening, we found the house empty. I distinctly remember the smell of rain on the breeze. The three of us walked into the house and, rather than go straightaway to her bedroom to change into “stayhome” clothes as Gram would normally have done, she went to the piano. I actually expected her to call me over to play something for her but instead, after sounding a few individual notes here and there on the keyboard, she started to play—and I mean play. I can still hear exactly what she did today and every time I think about that evening, tears fill my eyes and run down my cheeks, and I am sitting there again all those years ago, awestruck. “Kalama‘ula” was the song Gram played that night and it changed my life. Up until that evening, I had had such a great interest in the minuets of Bach, in the sonatas of Beethoven, in the nocturnes of Chopin, but there was something so special in that moment, that evening for me.

I knew a few things about Elvis Presley. I had seen him on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” I watched the Mainland girls go all out nutz when he appeared. Howling with laughter, my friends from Washington Intermediate School and I acted out his electric moves when no one was looking. I had heard that Elvis really rocked out the crowd at Honolulu Stadium. They screamed and went from wild to crazy when he moved into action as Elvis the Pelvis. The crooner. Since then he had come back to Hawai‘i to make movies. There was even a big fan club that had the best “in” with Elvis. They always sang his songs for him from the sandy beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel and wouldn’t stop until he’d come out on his lanai to wave at them. No one was cynical or insulting about him then. Movie star magazines told about his growing fame, his military service in Germany, his sweetheart Priscilla. Like everyone else I learned that his favorite colors were pink and black. That’s what some of the girls in the local Elvis Fan Club always wore.

Photo at right by John Titchen, 1961