Singing with the Smiths

Every now and then, I find a treasure at a thrift store. My most recent might be the best yet.

“Sailing Along the Wailua River” is an album produced by Sounds of Hawaii in the 1960s. It features the music of the Smith family. The album was a little warped, but the album cover was in nice shape, with pictures of Captain Walter Smith Sr., Captain Freckles, Captain Bill, Captain John and Captain Ronald.

When I saw my friend Kamika Smith at the recent chamber luncheon, I asked if he had a copy of it, and he did. That’s his father, “Freckles” pictured on the album cover and he still to this day is a familiar sight riding in his car about the Smith Tropical Paradise luau grounds.

The musical talents and the aloha spirit run deep in the Smith family. I am fortunate to have attended luaus there several times.

Here is what Jack Williams of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote about on the inside of the album cover:

“Walter J. Smith and his son, Walter Jr. or “Freckles,” as he is better known, and together with William Kaui, have been telling the legends of the Wailua River since 1946.

Your trip up the river one one of his two big boats is one of the most pleasant experiences a visitor can have in Hawaii.

The placid river and the green, lush mountains that can be viewed from the boats, make the almost half-hour journey a lasting experience.

From the start, when the singers and dancers break into “Lazy Man Hula,” to the end at the Fern Grotto, when the famed “Ke Kali Ne Au,” or Hawaiian Wedding Song is offered, it is a journey into old Hawaii, unequaled.”

Most tourists who come to Kauai and make the boat ride are frankly unprepared for such an experience, but they leave thrilled by the awesome beauty of the sacred spot that is the Wailua River. And the music and dancing is so much icing on the cake — a typically Hawaiian-style event.”

One thing is for sure, you’ll wind up singing with the group before the trip is over.”

Some of the songs on the album include “Sailing Along the River Wailua”, “Legend of the Sister Rock”, “The Fern Grotto” and “Legend of the Menehune Rock”.

It is beautiful music.

This was a time of true aloha on Kauai, led by a family that lived it then and lives it today. I am fortunate to count Kamika Smith as a friend (and he’s a fine runner, too).

This album is a rare find and I’m glad to have it. But if it carries more meaning to others, give me a call and perhaps we’ll put it in your hands.

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