SOJA – Reggae Folk

For some, music is a limitless language and communication tool unto itself, capable of surging forth the best soundtrack of your life at any given moment. Without it, there would be plenty more awkward silences and unspoken emotions tangled beneath the surface. For this reason, it has always been hard for me to truly answer the question “what’s your favorite type of music,” because the answer has always been ALL. Different moods require different orchestrations, and good or bad, it always has the ability to make life more beautiful.

But for the last few years, it’s been easier to hone in on one particular genre that is on my playlist more than most: singer/songwriters and folk artists. Ray LaMontagne, Van Morrison, Jackson Browne, Mumford & Sons, Neko Case, and more. Mostly, I think it’s because they cut to the core, they cut through the clutter, and they blindly dig in right to the heart of things. They skip the small talk and talk story through song, and for that I appreciate them most.

Surprisingly I just learned that the Arlington, Virginia-based band SOJA (formerly known as Soldiers of Jah Army), which I would have more broadly classified as reggae, views themselves as folk artists. Why? Because “it’s timeless, it’s limitless and it crosses all boundaries. That’s what this band is striving for.” And then it made more sense to me why they’ve been on repeat for me lately. Folk goes deeper than the surface. SOJA’s songs aren’t just about the beats and the rhythm. They’re about movement. Creating change. Light in darkness. They are raw and honest and stripped of ego. They sing about things that matter. From their website, their latest Strength To Survive album makes “an impassioned call for unity and change with universally relatable songs about faith, hope and love with one central theme: hope for the world to be one family.”

The band will be touring Hawaii in August, with various opening acts including JBoog, Anuhea and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Their new album Amid the Noise and the Haste is due to be released in August. If you can help it, don’t miss the show.



Posted in Monday Music for the Soul

This Weekend: A Midsummer Night’s Gleam at Foster Botanical Gardens

Happy Aloha Friday! For a fun treat this weekend, don’t forget that the 14-acre Foster Botanical Gardens is putting on their signature Midsummer Night’s Gleam event this Saturday, July 19 (now it its 46th year). More than 2,500 luminaries will whisk visitors away into a fairy wonderland along the garden’s pathways while lion dancers, bagpipers, belly dancers, Mongolian Tribesman and fighting knights, and Sewa Fare, a West African Drum and Dance Ensemble perform under the twinkle of the night’s sky.

The event is a special part of the Foster Botanical Garden’s ongoing Twilight Summer concert series, held Thursdays throughout the season. The event is from 4 – 9 .m. and admission is free.  gleam


Posted in Aloha Friday

Two in one: Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen

Today is a two-fer Monday. Both Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen are fantastic solo, but as a duo, create something even more special.  Mraz, who filmed the music video for his 2008 hit song “I’m Yours”  on both O’ahu and Kauai, is a Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, social activist and philanthropist from San Diego. He just released a new album, YES!, this month and is on tour now.  Dennen is a humanitarian and folk  artist/songwriter who just released his fifth album, Smoke and Mirrors, in October of last year.

Together,  the two recorded “Long Road to Forgiveness” for human rights organization Survivor International’s album Songs for Survival, themed around issues faced by indigenous communities and remote tribal areas.

Posted in Monday Music for the Soul

Nau Ke Ku’i, Lohi Ka Lima – A Hawaiian Proverb


Staying on forgiveness (hoʻoponopono) again this week, one ancient Hawaiian proverb delivers many messages.  “Nau ke ku’i, lohi ka lima”  is translated to mean:  “When one grinds the teeth, the hands slow.” Essentially, anger interferes with accomplishment. Forgive and get on with life. Forgiveness is a great power that brings you freedom. Anger is fear of letting go. Let go of the past. Your highest good has no room for anger.

From the goddess Pele, we can learn that even the fiery eruptions and emotionally-charged upheavals are follwed by new life and growth.  She is a passionate and creative force that transforms and rebuilds the landscapes of our lives. Honor your anger, breathe deeply and connect with the root cause.  If managed correctly, anger can be a positive catalyst for change and eliminating sources of discomfort  to make room for a greater good.

Breath in. Breathe out. Let go.




Posted in Sunday Inspiration

Raju Rescue by Wildlife SOS – Donate to Free the Elephants

Earlier this week an elephant named Raju, who has been abused and tormented in captivity for more than 50 years, tugged at the heartstrings of people around the world when news of his rescue streamed across social media.  The wildlife conservationists and heros who freed Raju said that the elephant cried, tears flowing down his cheeks, when he was freed him from his spiked shackles.  Through years of research, scientists have proven that elephants are capable of feeling.  Regardless of proof of emotion, no animal should endure such treatment. 

The organization behind the rescue, Wildlife SOS, was established in 1995 to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forests and wildlife wealth. In addition to environment and biodiversity conservation, the  organization has active projects that work to protect bears, leopards, reptiles and other animals. The organization is also well-known for rescuing what is believed to be the last-known dancing bears from slavery.

The organization runs an Elephant Conservation and Care Center, which takes funds to support including manpower, veterinary staff and more to support.  They’ve set up a donation page called Free the Elephants at CrowdRise and I’ve joined the team.  Please consider a donation, even $5 can be enough for a mango treat for any of these animals in need!



Posted in Around the World Wednesdays

Avasa and Matty Love

What’s not to love, with love in a name? They live by one of my favorite quotes.   “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Plato

Avasa & Matty Love of Los Angeles had a happenstance encounter in 2008 that instantly bonded them through love, and a love of music. Two weeks after marrying in 2010, they released their first EP, Love is King, Love is Queen.  Blending a mixture of world pop and soulful voices, they have shared the stage with artists like  Jason Mraz, Ben Lee, MC Yogi and more. 

>>>> Click HERE to listen to one of my favorite songs by them: Sweet Sound of Music on Spotify.<<<< Their new album, The Road, should be coming out soon thanks to the support of IndieGoGo supporters.


Posted in Monday Music for the Soul

Hoʻoponopono – a practice of forgiveness

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness that is defined as a “mental cleansing,” where everyone’s feelings are acknowledged and heard, sometimes sitting in silence, until everyone in the end releases (kala) each other, letting go.  In many Polynesian cultures, it is believed that holding onto anger can bring sickness, and to remedy this one must confess or apologize to restore harmony.  On the island of Molokaʻi, , the completion of hoʻoponopono  is signified by giving the person forgiven a lei made of fruit from the hala tree.  Essentially, it’s a practice of healing and transformation.

Releasing resenttments and judgements requires that complete wholeness return to the being, putting an end to separation. A Hawaiian Kahuna Lapa’au (healer),  Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, developed the Self I-dentity through Ho’oponopono as an updated problem solving process that she presented to the United Nations and countries around the world. She was recognized as a Living Treasure by the State of Hawai’i in 1983.

“I” Am The “I”

“I” come forth from the void into light,
Pua mai au mai ka po iloko o ka malamalama,

“I” am the breath that nurtures life,
Owau no ka ha, ka mauli ola,

“I” am that emptiness, that hollowness beyond all consciousness,
Owau no ka poho, ke ka’ele mawaho a’e o no ike apau.

The “I”, the Id, the All.
Ka I, Ke Kini Iho, na Mea Apau.

“I” draw my bow of rainbows across the waters,
Ka a’e au i ku’u pi’o o na anuenue mawaho a’e o na kai a pau,

The continuum of minds with matters.
Ka ho’omaumau o na mana’o ame na mea a pau.

“I” am the incoming and outgoing of breath,
Owau no ka “Ho”, a me ka “Ha”

The invisible, untouchable breeze,
He huna ka makani nahenahe,

The undefinable atom of creation.
Ka “Hua” huna o Kumulipo.

“I” am the “I”.
Owau no ka “I”.

Posted in Sunday Inspiration

Waialua Bakery & Juice Bar


Fresh. Homemade. Local. CASH ONLY.  Rumor had it that Waialua Bakery & Juice Bar had the best banana bread pudding on the island, and after several failed attempts to stop in to try some (if it’s towards the end of the day they’re all sold out) we finally got our hands on the last three in the store. They’re big enough to share, and inexpensive ($2-3) in today’s marked up pastry world. Well worth the wait, and from what I have continued to hear, the homeade bread and farm-to-table sandwiches and smoothies are a treat as well.  I can’t wait to go back and try something else on the menu! Don’t be scared away by the line, it moves fast.

Where: 66-200 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed on Sundays
Phone:  (808) 341-2838





Posted in Savory Saturdays

Happy Aloha Friday the Fourth

For a great line-up of things to do this weekend, and every Aloha Friday on Oahu, check out Honolulu Pulse’s Pau Hana Patrol! This Aloha Friday the Fourth, I’ll be celebrating with Burn’n Love’s Darren Lee on Maui at Campbell Park’s celebration in Lahaina. Let the fireworks begin!

Posted in Aloha Friday

July 4: 1776, 1894 and 1960 in Hawaiʻi

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July — a free-from-work day of patriotic parades, fireworks, outdoor picnics, BBQs and get-togethers with loved ones to reflect on the birth of American independence from British rule in 1776, when the 13 American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. But for Hawaiʻi, July 4 is also of significance in the years 1894 and in 1960.

Following the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893, a Provisional Government in favor of annexing Hawaii to the United States was established. This ruling government had successfully negotiated an annexation treaty with then-President Harrison; however, his term came to an end before the treaty was ratified by Congress. Subsequently, the succeeding President Grover Cleveland, who commissioned the Blount Report to investigate the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, opposed its annexation and withdrew the treaty when he took office. In fear of Cleveland restoring the monarchy, the Provisional Government — a small group of native-born men fluent in the Hawaiian language but of European descent — called to order a convention to draft a constitution for a Republic of Hawaiʻi, which was proclaimed on July 4, 1894 at Aliiolani Hale. These handful of men, including Sanford B. Dole who was named the first President of Hawaiʻi, held control under this new government to “wait out” Cleveland’s term until a new President sympathetic to their lobbying effort took office. The Republic of Hawaiʻi lasted from 1894-1898.

And on July 4, 1960 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, our country’s first 50-star flag of the United States of America was hoisted above the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, MD to symbolize Hawaii’s admission as the 50th state. Under executive order of President Eisenhower, the 27th and final flag was arranged in nine rows of horizontal and 11 rows of vertical staggered stars. Ten presidents have since served under this flag: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama.

If you find yourself looking for things to do this holiday weekend, here is a good line-up of activities taking place around the islands. Happy Fourth of July!

Posted in Culture Club Thursdays