Mexican & Hawaiian music!
June 17, 2006 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Looking for artist recommendations for Mexican and Hawaiian music.

I am a big fan of instrumental surf music, and this has led to an interest in Mexican and Hawaiian music. I have two comps of ukulele based Hawaiian music from the 60s and I am looking for more stuff of that genre, as well as Mexican music that I would guess is stereotypical 'mariachi' or 'spanish guitar' type music.. you know, that high energy instrumental based stuff you might hear in a touristy mexican restaurant?

I'm looking for stuff that is preferably instrumental (or at least not centered on the vocals) and has a genuine soulful sound; so older grainier energenic live recordings are better than new slick high tech studio type stuff.

Give me some artists names that are essential to these neglected genres.
posted by The Wig to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is a style of guitar Hawaiian music called slack-key or slack-string. It is usually soulful, but often low-key instead of being very energetic.

Slack-key is authentically Hawaiian. When the original Mexicans left Hawaii, they left behind some guitars. The Hawiians didn't know how to tune the way Mexican and European guitars are tuned, so they developed thieir own tuning.
posted by tayknight at 6:16 PM on June 17, 2006

Regarding ukulele music -- be sure to check out the website of The Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum (Cranston, RI) recently profiled on WCVB's Chronicle (Boston, MA).
posted by ericb at 6:19 PM on June 17, 2006

I like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Facing Future". I realize you wanted something not centered on vocals, but it really is a great cd. Hawaii went into mourning when he died. He lay in state at the Capitol building (see wiki article). (pls forgive if I botched the grammar of the last sentence or so).

Seis Cuerdas is great. Their cd "Vivencias" is great. People that have been to Santa Monica have probably heard this duo and their spanish guitar.
posted by 6:1 at 7:04 PM on June 17, 2006

On a related note, at EMP I learned about the importance of Hawaiian music to the development of the early electric guitar. Does anyone know of any good examples of this from the earliest days of the electric guitar?
posted by caddis at 7:12 PM on June 17, 2006

Roy Smeck Plays Hawaiian Guitar, Banjo, Ukulele and Guitar is great old classic instrumental stuff. If you don't know his stuff he was a wonderful instrumentalist with vaudeville roots.

Vintage Hawaiian Music: Steel Guitar is a nice compilation of stuff from 1928 - 1934

History of Hawaiian Steel Guitar is fabulous compilation of instrumental steel players.

All the Best from Hawaii is another nice collection.

All instrumentals that I love love love.

It's not Mexican, but Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies have a lovely song on that box set I linked called Mexicali Rose, and the rest of that box set might be a nice musical segue into some classic Western Swing. Not all instrumental but a lovely collection for fans of music from an earlier time.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:19 PM on June 17, 2006

posted by caddis at 8:24 PM on June 17, 2006

Oh! And also - it's not instrumental but Los Lobos has a grand little album where they explore traditional Mexican music on La Pistola y El Corazon. Beautiful, dramatic, passionate.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:36 PM on June 17, 2006

Not quite mexican, in fact, not at all, but Buena Vista Social Club has been the best thing imported to America from Cuba since, well . . . ummm . . . yeah.
posted by marxfriedrice at 9:16 PM on June 17, 2006

Out of left field: Oowa Yoshio's soundtrack for the Japanese series NieA_7 includes some great ukelele tracks like Molokai Shores and Ukelele Blues.
posted by SPrintF at 9:35 PM on June 17, 2006

Have you already listened to Jake Shimabukuro? He's a pretty amazing ukelele player. He's won numerous Hawaiian music awards - Album of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, etc.

According to his site, the latest album was studio recorded but all the tracks were recorded live except one, which was recorded in separate tracks. So it's professionally mixed, yes, but still beautiful instrumental ukelele stuff. Many other previous albums as well.

And the man can definitely be souful.
posted by empyrean at 1:20 AM on June 18, 2006

Make that soulful*.
posted by empyrean at 1:21 AM on June 18, 2006

Dancing Cat Records is a pretty darn good place to start for slack key. Of their roster, James "Bla" Pahinui is my favorite. His style is more latin influenced than most of the current slack key players and (dare I say it?) more distinctive than most of the modern slack key crowd.

If you're into steel guitar, Jerry Byrd is the man. Despite being a Haole from the mainland, Jerry kept the flag of Hawaiian Steel guitar flying from his studio in Harry's Music in Kaimuki. Bob Brozman is the current prominant steel player, but, despite his technical prowess, his playing fails to engage me. YMMV.
posted by stet at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2006

2nd Dancing Cat. This is a great collection of slack-key guitar. For Mexican music, start with the Arhoolie Records catalog, which includes lots of classic mariachi, although I'm not sure you'd hear old recordings like that in touristy Mexican restaurants. And "Spanish guitar" to me always means flamenco, which comes from another part of the world and is pretty different.
posted by mediareport at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2006

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