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Petty Booka

Petty Booka embraced musical multiculturalism with a fervor and ingenuity matched by few of their peers; a female duo formed in Tokyo, their records initially reinterpreted contemporary pop via traditional Hawaiian ukulele arrangements, but over time the twosome also tackled bluegrass, jazz, and even punk. Satomi Asano ("Petty") and Miyuki Matsubara ("Booka") first teamed during the early '90s as members of the similarly eclectic Japanese garage punk band Flamenco a-Go-Go before founding Petty Booka in 1995; their debut LP, Toconut's Hawaii, featured covers of everything from the Bacharach/David chestnut "Baby, It's You" to Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon," all translated by means of traditional Hawaiian instruments and arrangements. For the follow-up, 1996's Fujiyama Mama, the duo -- now crediting themselves Petty Booka from Texas -- tackled country, rockabilly, and bluegrass material like Patsy Cline's "Seven Lonely Days" and the Wanda Jackson title cut; that same year saw the release of Christmas Everywhere, featuring both seasonal classics ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus") and cult favorites ("Christmas in Prison"). 1997's Hawaiian Pure Heart returned Petty Booka to their roots, although their source material remained eclectic -- there was another Culture Club cover ("Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?") as well as a superb reading of the bubblegum classic "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini." That same year, the duo circled back once again to country with Sweethearts of the Radio, which also featured non-traditional country & western fare like Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" and Madonna's "Material Girl." For 1998's Blue Lagoon of Petty Booka, the duo recorded their first-ever original, "Petty Booka-Loo," as well as Polynesian-styled renditions of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze." They also welcomed guests the Modern Folk Quartet and -- perhaps the ultimate seal of approval -- exotica luminary Martin Denny. With 2000's Singin' in the Rain, Petty Booka created their first collection of thematically linked material, covering songs about inclement weather. Matsubara gave birth to her first child in late 2002, and with the duo's first-ever American release, Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian, scheduled for release early the following year, a projected U.S. tour was nearly canceled; instead, Matsubara remained in Japan, with Candy Eyeslugger frontwoman Maiko temporary filling her spot on-stage alongside Asano. ~ Jason Ankeny
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