That a New York City-born man is the founder of the internationally lauded, contemporary Hawaiian music group called HAPA is no surprise.
‘Hapa’ is Hawaiian for a part or portion of something. For a group blending traditional Hawaiian music with modern influences, Hawaiian chant and storytelling, HAPA is an apt name, especially when one considers the influences Barry Flanagan, the founder, brings to the islands’ iconic, traditional music.
Although listeners might hear American folk influences in the music of HAPA, the tightly locked two-part harmonies and slack-key guitar immediately recall the serenity and warmth of traditional Hawaiian music.
Slack-key guitar, known in Hawaii as ‘Kiho Alu,’ is a difficult-to-master technique in which players use their fingers (sans guitar pick) to pluck the strings and loosen one of them until the strings form a chord.
HAPA’s influences range from Hawaiian pride to honoring American troops fighting overseas and even getting busy on the beach.
Nathan Kawai Aweau, bass player and vocalist said about one song: ‘I was walking along the beach with a full moon