Don't 'Bob Marley' it

January 31, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 

There is something that has been  bothering me for the last 20 years..... when did Reggae music become 'Hawaiian' music? I love reggae and appreciate that it speaks to us islanders; however, it seems to me using the term 'Hawaiian' (or even 'Jawaiian') music to describe reggae sung by Hawaiians is erroneous at best. 
 
Nothing can ever replace traditional Hawaiian music in my eyes, much less incorporating music that originated half the world away on another island by people not even remotely similar in heritage as the same genre of music.  
 
When I was living in Las Vegas, I bought tickets to see Keali'i Reichell, Na Leo & Kaukahi in concert at the Henderson Events Center. The tickets cost about $35, which I thought was a bargain considering the caliber of talent. The day of the show arrived and I thought that we should probably get over there early just in case every Hawaiian and lover of Hawaiian music in the Las Vegas Valley showed up. By the time the lights went down and the music began, the place was still more than half empty. My hula sisters and I all moved up at least 10 rows for a closer (and empty) seat. The show was amazing and I got to visit with Aunty Aurora Kaawa (Miss Hawaii 1971), whom I hadn't seen in over 7 years.
 
Cut to a couple of months later. Twice a year every year, Pure Aloha takes place. There is all day entertainment by local LV halau & bands, Polynesian food & merchandise for sale. Each night, a concert takes place as well (for which a separate ticket must be purchased for $25). The festival during the day is a big draw & such good fun. The concert is a much different story. One year, J Boog & Fiji were performing. Both sing a majority of Reggae songs with some R&B sounding songs, but very few traditional Polynesian songs. The place was a mad house. Apparently, no one was prepared for the onslaught of Hawaiians & Samoans trying to jam themselves into one concert venue. Doors were prematurely closed as promoters were not as organized as they should have been and they over-sold tickets. A major fight, bordering on a riot broke out and Las Vegas Metro was called to the scene. 
 
The news media made sure to emphasize that it was the HAWAIIAN festival that had a near-riot. And the HAWAIIAN people who were wielding knives. HAWAIIAN people who were drunk inciting the crowd. I thought to myself, 'THIS is Aloha?' The answer to my rhetorical question was 'NO.' That isn't Aloha. That isn't Hawaiian music, either. 

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