In Hawai’i 1998, Karl Zinsman Jr, Tanoa Kapana, and Marcus Malepeai formed the chart topping group Three Plus. Upon their debut album Honey Baby in 1999, they took Hawai’i’s music scene by storm receiving nominations for two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Three years of touring the west coast, Hawai’i, and various international destinations led them to have their music featured in movies such as the hit comedy movie Shallow Hal and the biographical film Chasing Mavericks. In 2002 they released their sophomore album For You which debuted at the number 3 spot on Billboard Magazine’s World Music and Pacific charts. Their music remains as gems and even standards to the island contemporary genre.
Today we listen to the title track off of their debut album, Honey Baby. Growing up as an ‘ukulele player in Hawai’i, Honey Baby was one of the songs you had to learn how to play. For it’s simple and sweet lyrics and tasteful and memorable ‘ukulele playing, it became an instant favorite for many ‘ukulele players. As in the Jawaiian tradition, we hear a “chucking” reggae inspired rhythm ‘ukulele. ‘Ukulele player of the group, Marcus Malepeai opens the 1st solo with a sweep and a bright and punchy tone. Triplets mixed in double stops, pull offs, hammer-ons make it a playful solo to listen to and a fun solo to play. The ‘ukulele slowly walks into the 2nd solo (1:19) and in the same vein he makes his way up the fretboard to a triplet pull-off run back down (1:34). In a lyrically manner he tags the end of the 1st solo again (1:41) before heading into the 3rd verse. For the final solo he does a slight variation on the 1st solo before launching into the final verse.
I also love the sparse fills (0:22 & 2:37) and when he does a run into a A9 chord (1:22 & 2:32). These are great examples of ways to tastefully embellish a song without overplaying. One of the reasons why Honey Baby is a classic.
UkePrints is a curated playlist of some essential ukulele tracks that all ukulele player should listen to. These songs have left a legacy for future players and in essence, sound impressions of the ‘ukulele or what I like to call them: UkePrints.