A Homie in Paradise
A vacation turns into a music discovery
Being one of the few lucky people in my circle of friends, I was privileged to visit the beautiful Islands of Hawaii recently for nine days in paradise.
Published on LatinoLA: April 27, 2003
Being a large, dark skinned, tatooed , white haired, ponytail and goatee-wearing Chicano from the mainland, I was mistaken several times as a "brudda fum da islands" by the Hawaiian homies on three different islands. A better group of people you never met, I swear to God. They reminded me of my beloved Raza, into family and the land, friendly amd hospitable.
They saved me hundreds of my hard earned tourist dollars by hooking me up to some of the best swimming, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, eating and sightseeing locations known mostly to the locals that avoid the tourist crowds, most of them free. I practically had a family of tour guides that were proud to show me "their Island." As in "mi tierra." Sound familiar?.
My advise to future travelers: Lose the tour package, rent a vehicle, which are plentiful, and explore paradise on your terms, your time. If you are lucky, show some respect and a good attitude, you will be priviliged to meet some of the local Hawaiian people who will show you how to enjoy paradise as it should be enjoyed, and save you some serious bucks!
Sadly, I didn't encounter many other Latinos enjoying what I was enjoying, and Blacks were even fewer. The majority of tourists I encountered were middle-aged to elderly Caucasians from the U.S., Canada and Europe. All of the major hotels and tourist businesses are white-owned, leaving the local Hawaiians, not unlike the Raza, doing the landscaping and wiping the tables. Noting the similarities of our cultures, I appreciated Hawaii more for its people, and partied accordingly! It didn't hurt to have family already living there.
I encourage all the Raza to check Hawaii out!
Like me, my Hawaiian hosts did not party without music. The radio stations on the islands offer a surpisingly wide variety of music. As a DJ from L.A., I had to check out the music my "bruddas" partied to. Should some opportunity arise...tu sabes!
The most popular music I was exposed to was something called "Ja-waiian", which is a mix of Jamaican style reggea with Hawaiian style island folk music, doing renditions of popular mainland music, along with other original tunes.
Can you imagine my pleasant surprise when I heard the Island version of "Land of 1000 Dances" and other songs by Cannibal & the Headhunters? I heard many versions of my beloved Oldies but Goodies -- "Tears On My Pillow", "In the Still of the Night", "My Girl" -- done "Island style". They were surprised that I knew all the words to what they perceived as new music.
As I usually do in my travels, I take copies of my shows to give out as business cards. I easily gave out over 20 tapes to my new homies, a couple of them telling me they were involved with music groups who were looking for new tunes to cover.
Can you imagine how Hawaii will rock when they start covering tunes by Thee Midniters, Tierra, El Chicano, The Carlos Brothers and other Latino artists from the mainland?
I plan to return someday soon to paradise, and I won't have to take my music with me...it'll be there waiting for me!
Frankie Firme hosts "the 2nd Time Around Show" this and every Thursday, live at 6:00 pm on www.KCLAFM.com, the most listened to Oldies show on the world Wide Web. He is also actively looking for a time share on Hawaii.