Since when did music become so much fun?
For decades a displaced Tongan has been embedded in San Diego’s nightlife. He brings his feel-good personality to gigs and is always surrounded by top-notch musicians. The songs are up-lifting and the rhythms contagious. Island styles fuse with rock, funk, reggae and jazz. It is now a family tradition. Semisi is often joined by his two sons, Keli and Tonga, both accomplished multi-instrumentalists who improvise fluidly. This CD features all original songs and captures the positive energy of the live performances.
Semisi Ma’u is from the Tonga Islands (South Pacific) where he grew up playing music with his older brothers, who were popular club musicians. He later went to study classical guitar at Wellington Polytecnic in Wellington New Zealand from 1975 to 1977, where he earned his Excutant Certificate in classical music. Semisi mostly plays guitar and sings with his band now, but he also has experience performing multiple musical instruments including trumpet, baritone, E flat horn, trombone, violin, double bass, electric bass guitar, nose flute (Fangufangu), ‘ukulele, banjo, mandolin and drums. Semisi came to San Diego in 1978 and later taught Polynesian dancing and drumming at the University of California San Diego from 1989 to 1992 and the same time taught music at Del Mar Pine Elementary School in Del Mar. Semisi formed his band, Semisi & FulaBula, in 1993.
When Semisi mixes Polynesian rhythms with any style of music he takes a liking to, he calls it Bula Music. The word “bula” is a greeting from Fiji. The San Diego-based musician feels that combining traditional elements of his native music with other styles adds new vitality and depth. So far, the songs that have undergone this transformation are diverse. Rock, Reggae, Calypso, Jazz, Latin, Hip-hop and folk songs have all been used. The idea is open to any style and, in fact, the trial and error involved in super imposing them is half the fun.