Music that puts a smile on your face!
ROL JUNELL and his HAWAIIAN NOVELTY ORCHESTRA: Hot Tropical Nights in Finland
A month ago the Japanese The Sweet Hollywaiians surprised at 't Ey in Belsele (Belgium) with a warm concert of Hawaiian sounds and now I love to point you to another Hawaiian band: the Finnish Rol Junell and his Hawaiian Novelty Orchestra. A lot of people asked me why a bunch of young Japanese men like to play Hawaiian music - well, Roland Junell, Rol for friends, gets the same questions in amazement why some Finnish guys ( and one girl) started to play the Hawaiian steel guitar ..... I can't really say what has inspired me the most, is it the warm mellow sound of the steel guitar? he wonders in the liner notes of his first album Or is it just the simple reason, that it puts a smile on my face?
The acoustic National Tricone ( photo courtesy: Jan Sandvik)
Last year Rol Junell and his Hawaiian Novelty Orchestra released its first album ( RJ-01 ). The members of the band, Rol Junell leader and the one that plays numerous Hawaiian guitars, lives now in Stockholm playing and teaching the guitar; Peki Jansson, who plays guitars and mandolin; Ulrika Öhman, the woman vocalist and Egon Veevo - bass player, are all living at the Finnish west coast near Jakobstad. Rol Junell told me, that he was inspired by the great masters of the past: Sol Hoopii, Sam Ku West, Gino Bordin, Roy Smeck, Jerry Byrd but also later masters as Bob Brozman, Steve Dawson ..... I started to dig into it and I discovered that the steel playing is very natural to me. The album contains almost a dozen tracks. I liked the opening tunes, Kohala March, a traditional Hawaiian tune, that was recorded for the very first time in 1914 by Pale K. Luma and David K. Kaili. Honolulu March is another traditional from the 1910s; both became known by Frank Ferera in the 1920s. Sol Hoopii recorded both tunes in November 1952with his Novelty Four, a year before he passed away and both are uptime traditionals you don't hear often played nowadays. In tunes like On Moonlight Bay Ulrika Öhman refers to the numerous Tin-Pan Alley compositions, flavoured with a tropical sauce. In the first three numbers members of rhythm section of the Hot Club de Finlande play as guests in Kohola March, Maui No Ka 'Oi and Django's Minor Swing; it gives it that special Django rhythmic bounce.....
Like to share with you the opening tune: Kohala March as played by Rol Junell and his Hawaiian Novelty Orchestra. The guitar played by Rol is made by Ari Jukka Luomarantha of AJL-Guitars, an exact copy of the Selmer Maccaferri Hawaiian Steel model.
La Rosita and Yellow Roses are tunes that are well known from the 1950s - the later originally sung by Hank Snow, the Canada's Yodelling Ranger - sweet music that remembers me, being a Dutchmen, to the music of our Kilima Hawaiians played in the 1950s. Hawaiian music was also popular in Finland during this period, played by musicians like Oni Gideon and Ossi Runnes with his Hawaii-orkester. Maybe these Finnish icons in music will inspire Rol for his second album? Cover of the album (RJ-01) (cover design: Jan Sandvik)
The album has three bonus tracks, which contain a great documentary, titled The Making of ...... in which Rol Junell shares the rehearsals in a chapel in Pörkenäs near the sea, a dozen kilometres from Jakobstad and some shots from performances in Jakobstad and the Vaasa Doo Bop Club. The two other bonus tracks are a Scandinavian folk song Sjöman Älskar Havels Våg, a song from Åland, sung by Guy Sandvik, who is a retired local fisherman and a friend of Jol. The third bonus track contains a solo fragment of Fascinating Rhythm, as Sol Hoopii has played it in December 1938, from a live performance at the Vaasa Doo Bop Club. Rol Junell ( photo courtesy: Jan Sandvik)
The album, which was recorded in February 2009 in the Chapel of Pörkenäs, Finland, and the film fragments on the album learn that Rol Junell and his friends have a lot of fun playing this warm music. Rol, who grew up with roots music, worked for the Finnish TV and in studios, started to play the Hawaiian guitar just a few years ago ( I consider myself as a beginner) with tunes like An Orange Groove in California. He learned about the Hawaiian Steel guitar thanks to Peki Jansson, a guitar builder who is to be heard on the record too - Jol's first Hawaiian guitar was an electric Rickenbacher model B, later he found the acoustic National Tricone. The band hopes to play this summer at festivals in Finland and Sweden and of course they love to be invited to play in other festivals outside Scandinavia. I'm sure that the music of this album will help to do so, and, like Rol wishes everybody that listens to this album, it will put a smile on your face, as it has on mine .............
Cover design: Jan Sandvik.
I love to show you some fragments from the Swedish television of the rehearsals of the band at the Chapel in Pörkenäs. Fragments of this documentary are available on the album as The Making Of ....
I walked in from a freezing cold Swedish winters day, the Swedish - Irish TV presentator Paul Nutty says on the video, and heard the warm Hawaiian glow. Never was I so glad - it saved me. Rol Junell ( photo courtesy: Jan Sandvik)
Try to get your copy at Grass Skirt Records.
Hawaiian Novelty music was very popular during the 1930s in all parts of the world. It is said that the people, suffering from the effects of the depression longed for remote tropical islands with sandy beaches and palm trees, enjoyed the music of the South Sea Islands ....... I believe that, thanks to the economical crisis of the early 21st Century, this music might find a rebirth and bring some hot tropical nights in Finland. If you love to be informed about these and other contributions of the Keep Swinging blog, even during the long dark polar nights in Scandinavia, feel free to register and I'll send you the weekly news letter.