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Hapa Haole Hit Parade

by Hot Steel & Cool Ukulele

Erich Sylvester sings classic hapa haole songs featuring Hawaiian steel guitar jazz played by Ken Emerson, Sean Allen, Don McClellan, and Brad Bechtel. Songs are primarily in English with some Hawaiian words, and a few novelties with a sense of humor.
Genre: World: Hawaiian
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Want to Learn to Speak Hawaiian
2:35 album only
2. When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop
3:23 album only
3. Maui No Ka Oi
3:02 album only
4. In Waikiki / Analani E
3:59 album only
5. Haole Hula
3:00 album only
6. Heat Wave
2:45 album only
7. Hula Blues
3:05 album only
8. Red Opu
3:05 album only
9. All Pau Now
3:48 album only
10. Sophisticated Hula
2:39 album only
11. Little Brown Gal
2:47 album only
12. Makin' Wicky Wacky Down in Waikiki
3:42 album only
13. I'm Pau
2:46 album only
14. Becky, I Ain't Comin' Back No More
2:16 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Erich Sylvester, singing and strumming ukulele
Sean Allen, steel guitar on tracks 1, 5, 8, 11, 13
Ken Emerson, steel guitar on tracks 3, 7, 10
Brad Bechtel, steel guitar on tracks 2, 6, 12
Don McClellan, steel guitar on tracks 4, 9, 14
Steven Strauss, bass fiddle and ukulele
Mike Billo, bass guitar on tracks 2, 6, 12
Ken Emerson and Lorin Rowan sang harmonies on Hula Blues and Lorin played mandolin.
Produced by Erich Sylvester. Mahalo nui to my collaborators.

Hapa Haole Hit Parade was recorded at The Wally Sound, Oakland, California, ( Wally McClellan recorded eight tracks on one inch tape. Stereo mixes were created using the Logic Pro 8 digital system. Wally played bongos on Becky.
The tracks featuring Ken Emerson were recorded and mixed by Lorin Rowan at his studio using a digital system. (
Ken Emerson has a page that offers all of his recordings.
Steven Strauss has a CD available at
Brad Bechtel’s web site “Brad’s Page of Steel” is at
Kazue Kurebayashi created the photographic image on the cover. See more of her work at All rights reserved by the artist.
Hot Steel & Cool Ukulele is a trademark of Schlimmer Twins Inc., San Francisco (P) 2011

A hapa haole song is primarily in English with some words and phrases in Hawaiian. But many hapa haole songs are entirely in English, or entirely in Hawaiian. Wikipedia offers nice summaries under Music of Hawaii, Hapa, and Haole.
Song lyrics can be found at and, which also offers songwriter biographies by clicking on their names on the song pages.
Sheet music covers can be viewed at arranged by year of publication.
The Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association ( provides histories of the classic steel guitar players and bands and their recordings.

1. I Want to Learn to Speak Hawaiian (1935)
Words & music: Johnny Noble

A classic example of a hapa haole song with most words in English plus a few Hawaiian words and phrases. “Aloha nui oe” means “may you be loved very much.” Kamaaina is a native Hawaiian, a local resident. “Honi kaua wikiwiki” are the first words of the 1915 hapa haole hit song “On the Beach at Waikiki.” The phrase means “kiss me quick.” The song says that wela ka hao means whoopee, but the literal meaning is “hot iron.” Pupule means crazy.

2. When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop (1938)
Words & music: Johnny Noble, Don McDiarmid & Harold Adamson

Clara Inter made the hit recording and adopted Hilo Hattie as her stage name. Humuhumu nukunuku are small fish. You often see “opu” translated as “stomach” as if it’s the place where food is digested, but its real meaning is belly or abdomen. Pau means finished or ended, but it can also imply being wrecked or destroyed. Holoku is a dress style similar to a Mother Hubbard. Lanai is a porch or balcony. Wahine is a woman and Kane is a man. Keiki are children. Oke is fermented beverage. Punee is a couch. Hoosegow is old Spanish slang for a jail.

3. Maui No Ka Oi (1897)
Words & music: Rev. Samuel Kapu

When steel guitarists play this tune as an instrumental, it is usually called “Maui Chimes” because the steel player uses harmonic or chimed octave notes. I sing the original Hawaiian lyrics, except for the “hui” or refrain which I sing in English for a hapa haole version. Haleakala is the mountain peak of Maui.

4. In Waikiki (1941) / Analani E (1941)
Words: Johnny Mercer. Music: Arthur Schwartz
English Words: Gerda M. Beilenson. Music: Alvin K. Isaacs, Sr.

Waikiki means “flowing fresh water” because mountain streams flowed into the ocean at this place. I learned “In Waikiki” from a recording by Frances Langford with the Dick McIntire band. The song originated in a Hollywood film called “Navy Blues” sung by Ann Sheridan. has a four minute clip of the song depicting a lavish luau on a beach inside a Hollywood sound stage. Search for “Ann Sheridan in Waikiki.” The film version has additional lyrics. Walter Winchell was a Hollywood gossip columnist.

Alvin K. Issacs, Sr., wrote the original “Analani E” in the Hawaiian language; the English words are not a literal translation. The orginal lyric mentions California (Kaleponi) not Hawaii. I learned the melody from a recording by the Ray Kinney band.

5. Haole Hula (1927)
Words & music: R. Alex Anderson

Written for Don Blanding’s “Hula Moon” show, Alekoki, Penei No, and Liliue are classic hula songs in the Hawaiian language.

6. Heat Wave (1933)
Words & music: Irving Berlin

The Hawaiian steel guitar bands also learned the mainland hits of their time. I learned this version from a recording by Sol K. Bright and His Hollywaiians, who transformed it into a tropical swing rhythm.

7. Hula Blues (1920)
Words: Sonny Cunha. Music: Johnny Noble

An early example of a jazzy tune, singing the praises of mellow steel guitars and hula girls singing with ukuleles.

8. Red Opu (1935)
Words & music: R. Alex Anderson

This comic song pokes fun at the haole tourist who gets a sunburned belly (opu) while practicing his ukulele on the beach.

9. All Pau Now (1941)
Words & music: William Gordon Beecher

I learned this song from the 2004 CD by the Hula Honeys ( But it required a visit to the Bishop Museum Archives in Honolulu to find that the sheet music gave the intro verse that you hear in this recording. “A Song of Old Hawaii” is Beecher’s notable hit song. A malihini is a tourist, and okolehao is alcohol.

10. Sophisticated Hula (1937)
Words & music: Sol K. Bright

Sol K. Bright may be best known for his comic novelty song Hawaiian Cowboy, but his Hollywaiians Band recorded many hapa haole songs featuring Bright’s jazzy steel guitar.

11. Little Brown Gal (1935)
Words & Music: Johnny Noble, Don McDiarmid & W. Lee Wood

One of the four songs commonly used by Matson cruise ships and Waikiki hotels to teach the hula to tourists. The song and hula were featured in the 1957 Cinerama film South Seas Adventure. The first recording by Chick Daniels and His Royal Hawaiians is the only one that contains the verse—until now. Ho’omalimali means fun-loving. Kamehameha’s Pali is the mountain ridge above Honolulu where King Kamehameha’s forces won a battle for control of Oahu.

12. Makin’ Wicky Wacky Down in Waikiki (1931)
Words & music: Burton Lane & Al Hoffman

I learned this song from the 2006 CD “Surrender” by the Moonlighters, who use the tag line “Hawaiian Steel Guitar Swing” to describe the band. ( While the Moonlighters have recorded a few hapa haole songs, most of their songs are vintage pop jazz standards and some originals sung in harmony by two female voices and backed with Hawaiian steel guitar, ukulele, guitar, and bass fiddle. I found the second verse on a 1931 recording by Sophie Tucker, “the last of the red hot mamas.”

13. I’m Pau (1939)
Words & music: Dick McIntire

This bluesy number was originated by Dick McIntire & His Harmony Hawaiians. Dick’s brother led a band called Lani McIntire and His Hawaiians. Both brothers were virtuosos of the electric steel guitar, and both led dance bands with drums, horns, and strings. The amplified electric steel guitar was invented to stand out in a big band ensemble. Both bands played the major hotel ballrooms in Waikiki, played on radio shows heard on the mainland, and produced many popular recordings. See for a gypsy jazz treatment of “I’m Pau”.

14. Becky, I Ain’t Comin’ Back No More (1925)
Words & music: Bert Carlson & Harry S. Decker

I learned this comic novelty from a night club recording “Hilo Hattie at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.” She performed in the Tapa Room for over 10 years, doing two shows nightly six days a week during the 1960s. Searching the world wide web, I found no other references to this song other than the sheet music cover shown at under 1925. The sheet music shows a photo of a singer Hazel Kennedy, but I can find no record of Hazel.



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