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Post new topic A Lost Hawaiian Steel Lesson
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Author Topic:  A Lost Hawaiian Steel Lesson
Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 9:22 am    
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[This message was edited by Andy Volk on 04 September 2002 at 07:15 AM.]

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Michael Johnstone


From:
Sylmar,Ca. USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 10:41 am    
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Now THAT'S a real find! BTW,Anybody know what are the best examples of Billy Hew Len's playing and where does one find such records? Does film on him exist? -MJ-
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 11:04 am    
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Thanks, Andy, for posting that.
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HENRY BOGDAN


From:
ny,ny usa
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 11:41 am    
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hey Andy could i buy a copy of this tape
from you i play A6 and i am learning Sand
henry bogdan 212 274 0752 NYC
thanks

------------------
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Maurie Junod


From:
Oak Forest, Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 11:58 am    
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Thanks much Andy,
I can't wait to get to my guitar. I definitely learned some things here. For
one I was planning to attempt to play the
Kohala March this year at the convention.
So it's written in the Key of E. That helps,
now I will Have a better shot at those open
string passages.

Thanks again Andy, Maurie

------------------
www.megsinet.net/~junod
junod@megsinet.net
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Mitch Drumm


From:
Frostbite Falls, hard by Veronica Lake
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 1:24 pm    
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Michael:

yes, film of billy exists. about 15 years ago there was a great documentary on hawaiian music called "hawaiian rainbow" that played on public broadcasting net, and i believe was also released commercially. a soundtrack from it was relased on lp format on rounder 6018. billy does a knockout version of "how'd ya do" which shows his bar slant technique with the cuff over his left wrist. elbow flying way out yet he has that precise control and wonderful tone.

you can also hear him on this cd: "steel guitar magic hawaiian style" on mountain apple 31000--steel by both billy and barney isaacs. i haven't got it yet myself, but i think it can be had at mele.com.

not sure of what all else he recorded. i think he passed away a few years ago.
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Bob Stone


From:
Gainesville, FL, USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 4:28 pm    
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Thanks for sharing this with us, Andy. Great stuff! It will take me some time to comprehend some of what Len is saying.

Lately I've been playing some A6 and B11 and there certainly is a lot to be said for A6. I know many western swing players prefer it over C6. It's nice to have the 5th on top and for my taste, a high G string just sounds too wimpy.

Thanks again.
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Brandin


From:
Newport Beach CA. USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 6:27 pm    
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Andy, thanks for the lesson.
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Jim Landers


From:
Spokane, Wash.
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 6:34 pm    
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Nice stuff Andy, thanks.

Cord International has a CD out of Lena Machado. The first half of the CD is her singing with Sol Ho'opi'i and his trio for back-up, and was recorded in 1935. The second half of the CD was recorded in 1962 with Billy Hew Lin featured on steel guitar. It's a great CD with a lot of steel.

Jim
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Mike Ihde


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 6:55 pm    
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I have a copy of the documentary on video. I didn't know the story about Billy Hen Len but I noticed the leather glove on his hand. It's good to find out more about him. If anybody wants a copy of it, e-mail me your mailing address and send me $10 to cover the cost of the tape and shipping and I'll run off copies. I haven't seen it in a while but I believe there were other players on it as well. Mostly all in live club situations, I think. I also have a Hawaiian PBS special about the Lap Steel with Jerry Byrd, Alan Akaka and Barney Issacs playing and talking about the steel and it's history. Very well done show. I'll through that on the same tape if you want it.
My e-mail is thephotodoctor@mediaone.net
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Adam


From:
Seattle,WA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 7:15 pm    
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The music shop that I work at has the VHS of "Hawaiian Rainbow" for 19.98.We ship anywhere.University Bookstore(206)634-3400 x277.It's a great documentary.I'ts got a lot of other great artists on it too,like Genoa Keawe,Andy Cummingsand more.I also recommend the documentary about Al Green made by the same director.
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Fred Layman


From:
Springfield, Missouri USA
Post  Posted 21 Mar 2000 8:55 pm    
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Fascinating post Andy. Back in '77 my wife and I spent Christmas week in Honolulu. I really expected to see several steel players, but the only steel music I heard was elevator music at the hotels, that is, until the last evening we were there. I had pretty well given up hearing any live steel. We were walking down the sidewalk on Waikiki beach when I began to hear a live band and a steel. Following the sound,we came to a hotel veranda where Billy was standing, playing a Fender 1000 pedal steel with the band and backing vocals. I got to chat with him briefly at a break. Needless to say, it was our best evening in Hawaii
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Mike Ihde


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2000 12:46 pm    
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P.S. my address is...
Mike Ihde box 446
Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St.
Boston Ma 02215
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2000 3:58 pm    
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It's interesting to learn that Jerry Byrd plays Hawaiian music wrong.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2000 7:33 pm    
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According to Tom Bradshaw "there is no true standard of authenticty for the sound of a steel guitar playing Hawaiian music."

And "Byrd so impacted the sound of traditional Hawaiian guitar delivery as to cause modern players and a listening public to deem his interpretation of it as authentic Hawaiian. He changed the perception of how the music should be delivered on a steel guitar."

Whatever he did... I love it! I've heard many other Hawaiian players over the years, but when I hear JB playing Hawaiian... I have to stop whatever else I'm doing and listen. Byrd is head and shoulders above the rest in tone, technique, taste, and overall delivery IMHO. Maybe that's why I've got 8 worn out JB albums.

dougb
www.dougbsteel.com
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Bill Stafford


From:
Gulfport,Ms. USA
Post  Posted 22 Mar 2000 8:51 pm    
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Agree whole-heartedly with you on that Doug.
When Jerry plays, we all listen. And if anyone wants to talk with George, "Keoki" Lake, I have his address and I know for a fact he would love to hear from all of you. Thanks for this good post. Very informative. Bill Stafford
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2000 5:54 am    
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I have to disagree, slightly, Doug. I'm a great fan of Byrd's playing - he's the absolute master. Nobody comes near in terms of touch, control and inhumanly perfect intonation. I enjoy listening to the many recordings of his that I own. But in terms of Hawaiian music, I hear Jerry's Hawaiian playing as Jerry Byrd-style superimposed on Hawaiian music, rather than coming from it organically. Billy's comments about breathing are right on the money, IMHO.I've never heard any non-native Hawaiian swing with the wonderful, indefinable bounce that can't be notated on paper, that many native Hawaiian steelers have. Jerry's style is fine in it's own right. But, while he has practically everything else, for my money, Jerry Byrd never, ever swings.

[This message was edited by Andy Volk on 23 March 2000 at 05:56 AM.]

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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2000 9:02 am    
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Yes, JB superimposed his own sound over over traditional Hawaiian music... and I prefer his interpretation to the more organic Hawaiian steel sound. That just me. I guess beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

dougb

[This message was edited by Doug Beaumier on 23 March 2000 at 09:03 AM.]

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Al Nixon


From:
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2000 6:32 am    
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Thanks for the story Andy. It's an inspiration to those of us with two good hands.

I was interested in Mike Ihde's response. About a year ago, I had a chance to speak to Senator Akaka. I thought he had mentioned that there was a CD with Alan Akaka, Barney Isaacs and Jerry Byrd all playing steel guitar. I have searched for this CD without any luck. I guess now Senator Akaka was actually talking about the PBS special. Thanks for clearing that up.

Since this is my first post, I'd just like to say thanks to b0b, Brad and all the contributers who make this such an excellent site.

Al Nixon

[This message was edited by Al Nixon on 24 March 2000 at 06:34 AM.]

[This message was edited by Al Nixon on 24 March 2000 at 06:31 PM.]

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Gerald Ross


From:
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2000 8:10 am    
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The Jerry Byrd, Barney Issacs, Alan Akaka CD is called 'Twilight In Hawaii'. It is available from Hawaiian Music Island http://www.mele.com
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Jason Lollar


From:
Seattle area
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2000 9:01 am    
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Back in the 60's the library of congress made a lot of instructional tapes (guitar lessons) with old blues guys like Furry Lewis and Lightning and Mance Lipscomb very hard to decipher what they say and there are little kids running around screaming and planes flying over etc it would not suprise me to find some hawiian players have a look they have extensive listings. You want to hear music by asian immigrants in tearra fuego singing about roadkill? They have it.
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Al Nixon


From:
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2000 6:36 pm    
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There really is a CD and a PBS special - even better. Thanks Gerald
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George Keoki Lake


From:
Edmonton, AB., Canada
Post  Posted 26 Mar 2000 10:39 am    
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I must commend Andy for transcribing verbatum most that was said on that tape which I sent to him so many years ago...(Billy Hew Len informal instruction in a hotel room). I still cannot recall who sent that tape to me in the first place, or when it was taped.

I had the great pleasure of jamming with Billy,(2 years prior to his passing), as we messed around on 2 steels along with Hiram Olsen on rhythm guitar at a condo party in Waikiki. I felt really intimidated by his fantastic ability, but he was the kind of guy who made one feel completely at ease and would compliment me on some dumb thing I would play. He'd throw chorus after chorus my way, and as inept as I am, he would say, "Hey, Keoki, that was great!", when I knew all along he could do 1000 times better. Sadly, Billy died on Nov. 23rd, 1987 from cancer.
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