Honoka & Azita – Misirlou

So I found this video last night and it immediately jumped to the top of the TickuTalk queue. I was at my computer last night working on an entirely different TickuTalk post, and watching some other videos at the same time (multi-monitor set up for the win!). One of the suggested videos that came up was a favorite of mine by Mike Love which I posted on TickuTalk a couple years ago. I’ve watched the video many times, but for some reason it dawned on me only this evening that the “Hi” in “” stood for Hawaii (that is the official two letter abbreviation of the state). When searching for other Mike Love videos, I occasionally saw other “” videos, but never really bothered checking them out for one reason or another. However, knowing that Mike Love was from Hawaii, I figured these other videos probably featured Hawaiian artists as well. I was in Hawaii just a few months ago, and had trouble finding any live music near where we were staying. As luck would have it, the first video I clicked on after that was this one by Ukelele playing duo Honoka & Azita. It’s not reggae (one of the few non-reggae acts granted the honour of appearing in the pages of TickuTalk) but it was magic!

Almost everyone will recognize the song they are playing, though not all will recognize it by name. Misirlou is an old Middle Eastern folk song whose origins are not precisely known, although the literal translation of the word “Misirlou” means “Egyptian” in the Turkish language (as per Wikipedia) which indicates the likely source. The earliest known recording of the song is almost a hundred years old, but of course it doesn’t quite sound like the re-imagined surf rock version done by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones in 1962.

Dick Dale’s version regained popularity with the release of Pulp Fiction in 1994 and is significantly sped up compared to the old folk song:

Dale was bestowed the title of King of Surf Rock as he is credited with originating this sub-genre of rock in the early 1960’s (the primary differentiation being it’s heavy use of eastern musical scales). I’m not much of a rock fan, but I was surprised to also learn what an important figure Dale is in rock music as he is largely responsible for pushing the limits of electrical amplification to the point that his music is considered to be a direct pre-cursor to heavy metal. Both the song and Dick Dale are deserving of their own blog posts, but they are not the focus of this particular one. I would like to bring it full circle though with one last interesting fact about the relationship between this song and Dale. How exactly did an American guitarist originate a new sub-genre of rock using eastern music scales and create this now legendary interpretation of a Middle Eastern folk song? The answer: Dick’s father was from Lebanon, and he used to listen to his uncle play the song on the oud (a stringed instrument used in Persian music) at an annual Lebanese music festival in the Boston area…but I digress…as usual.

Aside from how talented these girls clearly are, I think the song choice here was fantastic. In fact, I can’t think of a better introduction to the world than playing a classic surf rock tune with the most famous instrument from what is the surfing capital of the world. Also, the joy and enthusiasm these girls play with is obvious and infectious. The main reason I have my own kids in piano lessons is not because I want them to become concert pianists, but simply to experience the sheer joy that music can bring into your life. Honoka and Azita have started touring professionally, although their appearances outside of Hawaii seem to have been pretty sparse so far, which I’m guessing is because they are still in school. I watched an interview with them taken before this performance and they are only 18 and 15 respectively. They played at Ukelele competitions in Hawaii before deciding to join creative forces to become this fabulous duo you see now. I only wish I had heard of them BEFORE my trip to Hawaii, but I suspect it won’t be long before they start touring the globe. Watch out 2CELLOS, Honoka and Azita are coming to eat your lunch! 🙂

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