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Old Style VIII: a review by Carl Grindstaff

When you hear Lono sing and play a song, especially an original about Hawaii, you sense his love, his aloha for his native aina. Lono was raised on Molokai, left as a young man to explore the other islands (Oahu, Maui) and the mainland, doing many jobs but learning that music was the centre of his life. Lono is a true artist, committed to the preservation of the Hawaiian cultural tradition.


Over the years he has produced about a dozen albums, all featuring his special style on the ukulele and guitar, and many focussed on his original music of Hawaii, especially Molokai. In his early years his music was of the more popular variety, playing in various music venues (clubs, hotels) and travelling the Hawaii and mainland circuit to have his music heard.  As a seasoned musician he returned to Molokai and developed his own style of traditional Hawaiian music he calls Old Style."


He now has eight Old Style albums and each carries his imprint on the beauty of this land, especially Molokai. In the first of these albums, he played and sang a number of the well known songs of popular Hawaiian musicians and music (Johnny Alemeda, Auntie Genoa). As this series of Old Style music continued over the years, he more and more wrote and sang about Molokai; it's people, it's aina, it's stories. In these albums he sings both in Hawaiian and English, sometimes a mixture of the languages.  He writes and sings about night rainbows, travelling rocks to build heiaus, waterfalls, all the winds that cradle the island, special people who inhabit this land. If you are looking for a sweet introduction to Molokai, these eight Old Style albums are for you.


And now we have the newest Lono: Old Style 8. This album with it's perfect mixture of songs and instrumentals continues the music about Molokai, its land and its people, with the meles in both languages. And there is a special "gift" at the end for all to share. The first song, "Simple Life" sets the tone for the album, which presents the soft, sweet life of Molokai, the most Hawaiian of the islands. All of the meles feature the touch and expertise of Lono's ukulele and guitar, all have the beauty of Lono's writing, playing and singing. The CD itself is exceptionally well produced - literally every note is done with care and precision. In the last song about eagles, there is even a reference to Canada where he has many fans.


The "gift" in this album is a six-part, thirty minute story, or "Mo'olelo," about the history, myth, legend, of the world and eventually Molokai's place in it, called "Mu to Molokai." This ancient story gives not only the history, but the cultural roots of Molokai (Hawaii) which still applies to today's world. From ancient cultural roots to modern time, this story is about a possible history, but mainly it tells the way we all can learn to become good people, the philosophy of aloha, the understanding of "pono," the path of righteousness.


With an open mind, this is a powerful story of Hawaiian truth and spirituality and In Lono's telling, "pono" is the key. Whether history, myth, reality or tradition, this is an amazing story.

Lono's Latest Inspirational Listening

Todd Yamashita
Molokai Dispatch

Late afternoon light streams through the trees bathing Kalanianaole Hall with a soft glow. Standing near the stairway, the musician known as Lono stares skyward with slightly clasped hands held near his chest. From within his palms, a similar but intense light emanates and glows, as if mirroring that of the setting sun.

This is the album cover of Lono’s latest, “E Aloha E” – the sixth album in a series of Hawaiian music releases known as Old Style Hawaiian. True to the principals of the genre yet infused with Lono’s originality, “E Aloha E” is a no-brainer for fans of Hawaiian music.

For Lono followers, and those enraptured by Molokai, this album is essential – the continuation of an important journey in uncovering the spirit of Molokai and aloha. Most importantly, it is a living conduit to the ancestors of contemporary and historical Hawaiian culture, and the aumakua protectors of Molokai.

As is customary of Lono’s work, the album opens with the pahu drum beating like the slow rhythm of a heart. “Todd’s Work,” inspired by this writer, reflects Lono’s ability to traverse to the other side and translate it for the rest of us.

“Moku Kia Kahi,” or the “one-masted schooner,” has been performed by Hawaii greats including Gabby Pahinui, George Helm and Brothers Cazimero, among others. Here, Lono honors The Sunday Manoa; and anyone familiar with the group will recognize their influence on Lono’s work.

The theme of light shines in tracks “Ia ‘Oe E Ka La,” a song honoring King David Kalakaua, and “Po Anuenue Keia,” meaning “the night rainbow” and composed for dancing hula.

Lono also pays respect throughout the album to prominent Molokai figures and people who have inspired and touched his work. “Ku`u Papale,” or “my beloved lauhala hat,” tributes Aina Keawe and was inspired by her sister, Molokai’s late aunty Ku`ulei Perez. “Please oh please, bring Ho`ailona home,” tells of Molokai’s most beloved monk seal, KP2, and was inspired by Loretta Ritte. Track nine, “Ua Nani Molokai,” reflects Lono’s reverence for Molokai and the beloved kupuna who have influenced the artist’s musical career.

Lono is known for his powerful message-filled music and continues to deliver with both classic folktales and important issues. “Kalaipahoa” reminds us to makaala the greed for Molokai’s aina while the fifth track tells of Bokikumanumanu, dog god and protector of Makanalua. Visible from the air and the Kalaupapa lighthouse, the Bokikumanumanu heiau (stone temple) is the only one of its kind in the world.  The song was inspired by kumu hula John Kaimiakaua.

The musicality is far from overpowered by his crooning vocals and strong stories. Pensive chanting, bird calls, flutes and ukulele plucking bring the olelo to life in tracks “Manu Mana`o” and “Hawai`i Pono `I,” (my only lament is that the former is not at lease a minute longer). Lono also enhances the album with two slack key tracks, “Hanaikapono” and “Nanaikapono.”

“Owl’s Lullabye” is inspired by storyteller Kindy Sproat originally by Stan Jones. It is the perfect closer of the album and one of my favorites from Lono.

While the light on the cover of his album might seem to come directly from Lono’s hands, he is in fact exposing and releasing a light that has always existed. In this, his sixth album of the Old Style series, Lono truly succeeds in bringing life to the ancestors of Hawaiian music and culture. Maika`i no – good job indeed!

Lonomusic's latest: "HE MELE NEI, MOLOKA'I."

by: Auntie Hanai Makuahine
Lono has done it again!  In this new CD, HE MELE NEI, the 7th in his Old Style series, Lono continues his journey along the path of preserving Hawaii's traditional music, and once again we are blessed to travel that path with him.  The reverence and passion that master musician Lono has for his music clearly comes through.  As we accompany him while listening to O.S. VII, we are totally transfixed by his latest gift to us.
Lono is a dedicated artist . . . dedicated to his music . . .  dedicated to maintaining the Hawaiian way . . . dedicated to showing respect and aloha for the kupuna who have greatly influenced his life and his music . . . dedicated to preserving both vocally and instrumentally the Hawaiian heritage of aumakua, and legends and stories of Hawaiian culture.  His aloha for the kupuna is especially evident in the song, HE MELE HO'OMANA'O. 
Lono's inspiration for his Old Style series comes from his roots in Hawaiian music.  From his mother gathering the keiki to listen to music and sing the songs, through his growing up years on Molokai, Lono was listening to and absorbing the music of the Hawaiian greats who came before him. Through his love and passion for all things Hawaiian he is now transforming their messages into contemporary renditions of the traditional music.  Kindy Sproat, for example, inspired the music of PULUPE NEI ILI I KE ANU and of OLU O PU'ULANI heard on this CD.
It is no surprise with Lono's amazing talent and versatility that his music provides a remarkable range, based on his exceptional voice as well as his incredible instrumentals.
The vastness of Molokai's music - Lono's music - is a most beautiful expression of the human spirit.  The magic he works with his fingers as he shares his musical gifts with us, is to be forever treasured.  The instrumentals of ODE TO JAKE, E HO'I MAI, and ALOHA KAKOU show us not only Lono's dexterity in playing, but also his heart felt energy.
Once again, through his stories both vocal and instrumental, Lono has brought to life the ancient Hawaiian culture, its music, its people, and its aloha for all.
Mahalo Lono, this music, truly coming from your heart, is an inspiration forall.
Everyone should have this CD - all who appreciate Hawaiian music and Hawaiian culture must have it . . . locals and malihini alike.  This CD, the 7th in Lono's Old Style series, all of which have been recorded, mixed and mastered, and produced by Lono here on island, is an authentic Molokai product. 
Aloha Moloka'i, Auntie Hanai Makuahine.

Passage to Pono

There are entertainers and there are artists. The difference lies in the artist's dedication to the work. The difference is the art as a way of life. The difference is in the commitment of the artist to a higher purpose. Lono is such an artist. Truly gifted, he is devoted to his music which is so generously shared with the rest of us. Lono's music is his way of life. And most important, Lono's purpose is to perpetuate the Old Style Hawaiian music, stories, and the legends of Molokai.

As our ambassador for Molokai's music, Lono makes us proud to have such a talented member of our ohana so devoted to perpetuating our island heritage. With his Molokai and Old Style Hawaiian musical roots, clearly he plays from his heart. His love and knowledge of Hawaii and his intense interest in preserving the Hawaiian Way is most evident in his music.

The mother of sustainability is self sufficiency. In this age of electronic keyboards - just pushing buttons and getting the sounds of various instruments - here is a pure musician who is doing it all ...himself, with authentic instruments. He produces all of his music on island. He composes all of the music, sings and chants all the vocals, and plays every one of the 18 instruments heard on his latest CD.

Lono thinks of his music as HA - Hawaiian Acoustic "Breath of Life" music. Hawaiian slack key and homage to some of the greatest influences of Hawaiian music embrace his work. Of course basic to his Molokai roots, his music is also very spiritual and emotionally moving.

Lono's newest CD - Passage to Pono - Old Style V - represents Molokai in its most pono form, from his brilliant instrumentals especially Heaven at 131, to his beautiful voice heard on such tracks as E Ola E Molokai, Iwi Kohola, Po Anuenue Keia, Molokai O Hina, and Makua Kamiano. His inspiring words of aloha paying homage to Father Damien, the land, the sea, the people and the creatures of Molokai are especially meaningful. He ends this CD with Pule Hamau His most generous gift is shown here as he shares with us his own pule to God; mihi, noi and ho`omaika`i.

Dear Lord, forgive me, forgive me again.
Forgive me for the hewa I caused.
...for the sadness I brought, the hurt I've done.
My eyes, they see only tears.
Teach me how to love, anuhea ke aloha.
I know that your love can heal me right now.
Down on my knees, begging you please.
Dear Lord, forgive me that I may live.
Bless all the people, bless them with love.
Na Kupuna, Makua, Na Keiki O Ka `Aina.
These blessings I bear with the white of my hair.
This is it, Lord, this is my prayer.
Now I give thanks, 'cause I've felt your love.
I give thanks for the blessings from above.
The path, it is clear, the light, it shines through.
And the waters are flowing again.
Mahalo Nui Loa, Lono.

Everyone on Molokai should have this CD, locals and malihini alike - all who appreciate Hawaiian music and Hawaiian culture.

This CD is the fifth in Lono's Old Style series, all of which have been recorded, mixed and mastered, and produced here on island by Lono - thus a totally Molokai product.

Mahalo to the fine people at the Dispatch and to Todd Yamashita for his excellent review of the CD. Mahalo also to the people and businesses who support the music and heritage of Molokai and the Hawaiian culture.

Respectfully submitted,

A Molokai Auntie

Lono's latest album shines

By Todd Yamashita

The Molokai Dispatch

Most locals possess an aumakua, or ancestral guardian spirit such as a shark, turtle or lizard. However, Lono, one of Molokai's most celebrated musicians, sings his own tune when it comes to aumakua: instead of an animal spirit, Lono gives reverence to the famed musicians who defined old-style Hawaiian music.

"Our music comes from our aumakua. When we play this music, it's in honor of them," said Lono, who recently discussed the release of his latest album, "Passage to Pono - Old Style V."

Indeed, "Passage to Pono" is Lono's melodic homage to some of the greatest influences of Hawaiian music - Genoa Keawe, the first lady of Hawaiian music; Lena Machado, the songbird; Gabby Pahinui, the renaissance man; Johnny Almeida the dean; and Kindy Sproat, the story teller.

"My aumakua is all these people - the music comes from them," said Lono.

The Journey While the Old Style series started in 2002, Lono's musical journey began during his school years. One of his favorite memories is singing American Pie in the locker room at Molokai High with Walter Naki, Bill and Tommy Caster, Alfred Dudoit, and Wendell Kaupu in 1973. "That's one moment everyone remembers," he said.

A few years later, Lono moved to the west side of Oahu. He was soon performing in the band Ka Home Brew. Though still in high school, the young group played in popular places of the time including the Fog Cutter in Makaha, Chucks Cellar in Waikiki, and Top of the Shop in Ala Moana.

Although Lono went on to play a lot of rock and roll, he never forgot his roots in old-style Hawaiian music. For Lono, the Old Style series of albums has been a journey of self-discovery and careful study of old-style Hawaiian music.

The Album "Passage to Pono" is a fitting continuation of the series, but it also stands on its own as a spiritual, contemplative, and emotionally moving album. Track one fittingly begins with pahu drumming and the sound of wind as we begin down the passage to pono.

The path is soon lightened as the album transitions to E Ola E Molokai, which brings life to this album. The song tells of the glittering of kukui leaves, the reverence and healing of Lanikaula forest... "By the utterance of prayers, rain falls."

The upbeat and snazzy style of "Go to Da Pono,' track three, is certainly the catchiest song here and represents Lono's hang-loose style. If you're not swept up by this one, you probably got beer in da ear.

"Makua Kamiano" (Father Damien) is a testament to Lono's creativity and style shifting talents. Bells toll as this moody and reverent song tells of Damien's legacy in Kalaupapa. With the upcoming canonization of Father Damien, this song itself becomes the legacy of a historic event. Another signature piece of the Pono album, "Iwi Kohola," or whale bones, tells the story of fisherman Poepoe and the dying whale of Mo`omomi. Somber, moving, and pensive, this one simply needs to be heard to be understood.

You'll notice Lono wears a red palaka shirt on the cover of this album - it's a symbol of one's musical prowess in Hawaiian slack key playing. The shirt was popularized by musician Eddie Kamae, who wore it because it represented the hard-working people of his time. Lono has certainly earned the right to wear it, too.

Lono has approached this entire album with a great sense of humility. Pule Mamau completes our journey with a prayer of thanksgiving and forgiveness.

Get It Now

You can get it from Coffees of Hawaii, Molokai Mini-mart, Pu`u O Hoku Ranch,, or at the Farmers Market this Saturday. You know how it goes; once it's gone, it's gone - so if you're collecting the Old Style series, don't wait.


Old Style, by Wayne Harada

Posted on: Sunday, August 22, 2004 

By Wayne Harada
Honoulu Advertiser

Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

Distinguishing notes: Lono is a Maui-based singer, guitarist, bass guitarist and 'ukulele player with a deep, rich appreciation for the music and the masters of yesteryear - the likes of Sonny Chillingworth, Moe Keale, Gabby Pahinui, Leland "Atta" Isaacs, Johnny Almeida, Eddie Kamae, Joe Marshall and David "Feet" Rogers - and a handful of contemporary aces playing old-style guitar. This CD maintains the strumming and vocalizing style from the gloried past, making Lono sort of a bridge between generations, as he puts his imprint on "Wai O Ke Aniani," "Kalae O Kaena," "Leahi," "Hi'ilawe," "Ho'okena Keia No Beauty," "Lei Hinahina" - plus two classics, "Kanaka Waiwai" and "Hawai'i Aloha" (the latter is an instrumental). The old style acoustic manner is intended to present Island music as folk music. And it works; most tunes are in Hawaiian, but English lyrics penetrate some entries.

The outlook: This is a spirited reflection of a gentler time in Hawaiian music history.

Our take: Lono has endeared the old style and transports the listener to the past in a manner that's simple but splendid.