A Historically and Culturally Important Endeavor

Ho`olohe Hou. First, it was a podcast. Then it was a blog. Then it was a weekly radio program. Then a 24-hour-a-day radio station. And, now, a full-fledged record label. All of these dedicated to preserving the best in Hawaiian music of today and yesteryear.

In the collectors’ world, “out of print” means “no longer commercially available.” But it is a term that is largely misunderstood. In the non-collectors’ world, it is often assumed that anything worth listening to has been re-released in the digital era in CD or MP3 format, and many of us were encouraged to throw away our vinyl recordings and cassettes because there would someday no longer even be any equipment to play them. Conversely it is often assumed that anything that remains out of print must be from eons ago and the master tapes cannot be found.

Both of these assumptions are false.

Some of the most historically and culturally important recordings in the history of Hawaiian music remain out of print. You cannot obtain, for example, any of Lena Machado’s recordings from the 1930s with Dick McIntire, George Kainapau’s early recordings with bandleader Ray Kinney, or any of Pua Almeida’s recordings on Waikiki Records from the 1950s and 60s. But, for many, the importance of these recordings in the evolution of Hawaiian music is secondary to the reality that they are simply beautiful examples of Hawaiian music – many possibly lost forever except for those few copies in private collections.

But not all out of print recordings are quite so old. There are fabulous recordings from the digital era – as recently as the 80s and 90s – no longer available. This is not because the master tapes are missing. The reason is largely financial. Many musicians do not own their own master tapes. This is why you have not seen re-releases of important recordings by Sam Bernard or Tony Conjugacion. And the owners of the masters have little or nothing to gain financially by remastering and re-releasing them. While it may cost upwards of $25,000 to properly remaster a recording, the recording might only generate $10,000 in sales – a losing proposition (to say the least).

The aim of Ho`olohe Hou Radio is to remind the world of historically and culturally important Hawaiian music and artists by giving new life to time-ravaged recordings never before released in the digital era. But, human nature being what it is, Hawaiian music lovers want what they want when they want it, and often this means not wanting to sit by a radio or computer patiently waiting for the DJ to play your request. Thus Ho`olohe Hou Records was born with the mission of remastering and rereleasing these important albeit forgotten recordings – either by licensing the master tapes from their original owners who care little that they see the light of day again or by obtaining the rights to remaster directly from the only vinyl or shellac sources available.

Ho`olohe Hou Records. More than a record company, it is an important cultural archival project aimed at making a significant contribution to the preservation of Hawaiian music.

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