REMEMBERING THE SONGS OF OUR YOUTH:
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The Tau Moe Family
Bob's work in Hawaii
A landmark project, the 60th anniversary recording, of the legendary world circling Hawaiian musicians, The Tau Moe Family. 1929 saw the release of Tau Moe's first records, followed by 57 solid years of worldwide non-stop touring and recording. In 1989, Bob rediscovered the Moes and together they re-created the music of that 1929 recording session, bringing their incredibly long career full circle. This disc, which received the Library of Congess select list award, has the sound of a fragile yet powerful culture, as expressed through the hearts of a family which has literally eaten EVERY meal together their entire lives. Read a detailed biography of the Moes here.
Perhaps Bob's own words are the best to describe the amazing story of how this album was made:
In 1977, in a basement in San Francisco, I found the only known copy of the 1929 78rpm record "Paahana/Mai Kai No Kauai" by Mme. Riviere's Hawaiians. This record changed my life, like hearing Charley Patton's blues for the first time. I had never heard such purely Hawaiian music before - the singing of Rose and Tau Moe was heartbreaking beyond description. Eventually, I found the other three 1929 discs, hearing them repeatedly, until that haunting overall sound of the singing, rhythms, and steel were permanently imprinted in my mind. In short, these people were my heroes, even as their names were unknown to me.
In 1986, I received a letter from Mr. Tau Moe, ordering one of my own albums. Noted collector Dirk Vogel informed me that Tau was the steel-player on the Mme. Riviere discs. Naturally, I flipped and called Tau to ask if this was true. He replied, "Oh, sure! My wife sang on those records! You want to hear?" Whereupon Rose got on the phone and sang a bit of "Good-bye My Feleni" in exactly the same voice as the original 78, and in the same key! I was stunned…
I finally got to meet these heroes of mine in May 1988, spending a day playing all the old tunes. We all were very excited, Tau was flooded with memories, and I was literally choked up form hearing Rose sing in person. We decided to make HO'OMANA'O I NA MELE O KA WA U'I (REMEMBERING THE SONGS OF OUR YOUTH) to re-create the old records after sixty years, and so we did, in 8 days, in a 1920s house on the Windward side of Oahu.
Tau was extremely conscious and aware of our purpose: to get the exact instrumentation, timbre, rhythm, and harmony of the old records. To this end, he was very active during the sessions, coaching his son Lani and daughter Dorian on the stylistic nuances, watching all of us for little errors, and trying to make the truest possible rendition. Tau played rhythm guitar with a thumb-pick in his uncles' old style, and I played steel with the intent of getting Tau's 1929 sounds. Every song on this album was recorded live in under three takes. I added Harp-guitar at the end of each day for some bottom notes, but otherwise, you hear it as we played it.
Recording this album was the most rewarding musical experience I've ever had - the kind of project I have always dreamed of. Besides being great musicians, the four family members were very inspiring people, suffused with love and humor, making the "work" very light indeed.
- BOB BROZMAN