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Eddie Tanaka

Molokai music series

With a crooning voice and a guitar under his arm, local musician Eddie Tanaka has become an island crowd favorite. Whether you’ve heard him at Hotel Molokai accompanied by local fellow musicians or playing at the Maui Arts Center before hundreds, Tanaka’s songs of Molokai’s cowboys, the island’s splendor and laid-back lifestyle resonate with each listener. This week the Dispatch caught up with Eddie Tanaka on the brink of his first CD release, Mystical Molokai, for a Q & A session.

The Molokai Dispatch (TMD): How did you get started playing?
Eddie Tanaka (ET): I have been playing for 30 years, I guess. It was a family thing and involvement with church got me started playing.

TMD: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ET: I am inspired by a widespread group of people – musicians I played with in the past, kupuna of the past. I’m continuously writing in the present and projecting the future. My wife also inspires me by encouraging me to continue writing my own music.

TMD: What are three words to describe your music?
ET: Magical, mystical, Molokai.

TMD: What has been the most memorable experience in music career?
ET: Definitely the first time I played on a big stage. I played the Maui Arts Center on their 30-foot stage and my ukulele player sat 20 feet away from me! It was exciting to make the move from a small stage to sitting in front of a crowd of 1,000 people. It was a good change of pace. Also playing a short tour with Rick Schonely on the West Coast with legends Makaha Sons and Willy K.

TMD: You are coming out with a new CD – what went into the recording process?
ET: This is my first album and it was like going to school all over again. A lot of learning went into the process to understand the inside the music, not just the surface level. Like school, it was very time consuming but a great adventure and important moment for me.

TMD: How did the album come about?
ET: Three years ago my good friend Martin Vandercamp introduced me to Barry Sanders and the opportunity came when Barry invited me to record with him even before he had heard my music. All production and recording was done at Mana`o Radio on Maui with Don Lopez, the album producer, and Sander’s wife Kathy Collins, executive coordinator of

Mana`o Radio.

TMD: Who makes the lineup on your most played playlist?
ET: There is so much widespread music. I like John Mayer, the old funky stuff, Bob Marley, Average White Band, old Motown, the like.

TMD: What’s something people of the Molokai may not know about you?
ET: I grew up windward side Oahu and came over on a fishing trip. I moved here in 1979 and never moved back. I give a big thanks to the island and people that encourage me and support me through this process. It is a right and a privilege to put this album together.

TMD: What is on the horizon of your musical journey?
ET:  Music will take me many places. There are a few options coming in the near future but I am not sure which way I will go. I will go with the wind and let the music determine my path.

TMD: Where can we find your music?
ET: Check iTunes in a week or so and the physical album will be out in the next three weeks. I will also get the Facebook and a website going with more information.


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