Hawaiian music with a distinctly "cowboy/paniolo" feel, the album’s arrangement was influenced by Keale’s country upbringing in California’s San Joaquin Valley as a "seed of the dustbowl," as well as the sounds of his late uncle Moe Keale, the early Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau (with his first cousin, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, also known as Bruddah IZ), bluegrass, cumbia, and ranchera music. It includes four original songs that were either written by Keale or derived originally from chants and then put to music. Palani Vaughan’s “Kamamakakaua” and the classic “Hiʻilawe” have been arranged in a Mexican corrido style. Queen Lili’uokulani’s “Manu Kapalulu” was arranged in the bluegrass style.
Of Cherokee and Hawaiian ancestry, Keale’s recording projects are always a reflection of his latest intellectual, spiritual and ‘āina (land) stewardship pursuits. He says his #1 rule is “immersion before composition,” and that only after he feels totally present in a place will he attempt to write for it. In Aina Kaula: Motherland, he has chosen to “sing through” all the places he would call “Motherland”: Planada and the San Joaquin Valley/Indian Country; Niʻihau-connected places, and the sky & land he inhabits.
Of his decision to release Aina Kaula: Motherland on vinyl, it appeals across all age groups and demographics, and the demand for the format saw a resurgence in 2008 and has risen sharply ever since - with sales of over 9 million copies in 2014.
Produced by Keale and recorded and engineered by Chris Lau at his Rhythm and Roots studio, the album features Keale on vocals, ʻukulele, 4-string cuattro/requinto, and Cherokee flute; Bill Griffin on mandolele, mandolin and octave mando player; Chris Lau on upright bass and accordion; and Stephen Inglis on acoustic guitar. Guest vocalists are Paula Fuga and Emma Mix. Additional guest musicians include Paul Cartwright (Fiddler from the Walking Dead HBO series); Mike Witcher (dobro player from Peter Rowan's bluegrass band, Nickel Creek); Jeff Dayton (acoustic guitar out of Nashville); and Don Kaulia (slack key guitarist).
The album is available is available in both vinyl and CD format at Keale’s website .
Keale will be appearing on Pakele Live Thursday January 14th to perform songs from Aina Kaula: Motherland and talk about the vinyl release. The show will be broadcast live online from the Willows Restaurant (901 Hausten St., Honolulu) from 6:30-8:30pm HST on www.pakelelive.com.