Banyan (a/k/a “Banyans,” or “Banyan Tree Slack Key”) is a slack key style song I wrote about 10 or 12 years ago on nylon string guitar. I used to play my gut string ‘beach’ guitar around beaches and surf spots in Kona like Magic Sands, Banyans, and Old Airport. For one, the nylon strings aren’t as affected by the salt air, and for two, it was less expensive than my other guitar at the time, a Taylor 310ce that I didn’t want to take to the beach. So I guess this song is partially named after the surf spot, but also after some banyan trees near Magic Sands – some of which have since been cut down – or even those mystical banyan trees in general. Shortly after writing this song, I sold that nylon – an Ibanez, sort of crossover model – though I continued to rotate this and a few other related songs in and out of my set. Until recently though, it had really been a while since I played this song. Once more, owning a nylon string guitar again inspired me to go back and revisit some older material. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s song is a cover of the Ray Kane classic “Keiki Slack Key” (not to be confused with the Sonny Chillingworth song of the same name). To me, Ray Kane is probably the best example of an ‘old style’ slack key player, and his tracks are always nahenahe. I never got to take a lesson from Ray, though I did get to speak to him and his wife Elodia on the phone once, not long before he passed – a cherished memory. Keiki Slack Key is one of the first slack key songs I transcribed, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. This arrangement was inspired by my recent purchase of a nylon string guitar; I really think this song works well on nylon for a number of reasons. Hope you enjoy.
Appearing as an interlude on The Wall, here is the guitar part from the end of Is There Anybody Out There? Originally done on a nylon string guitar, I think this song works well (and like it a little better) on steel string. This is one of the first songs I learned on guitar from one of my first guitar teachers. Years later, I taught the arrangement to some of my students – both using a pick and fingerstyle. It’s a great moody instrumental, and an arguably underappreciated acoustic piece from the classic rock canon. Hope you enjoy.
Here is my take on a Study in Em by Francisco Tárrega. This is a song I have taught in the past to students interested in learning a little fingerstyle or classical. To make the arrangement a little more fun for some students, I took some liberties and added a few flourishes here and there. This version of the study has also found its way onto some of my setlists over the years. Hope you enjoy.
Appearing as a sort of interlude on the Pink Moon album, Horn is a fascinating little study of a song in its own right. I love the simple melody and the atmosphere created by the space between the notes. I also really like the way this song works on nylon string guitar. (Apologies for the intonation in places – still getting a feel for this guitar and nylon again.) Of course, Drake apparently used really old, beat up steel strings, so his guitar work translates well to nylon. I don’t know what it is about the deceptively simple genius of his guitar parts, but they get me every time. Hope you enjoy.
Up until now, you’ve mostly heard me play steel string acoustic guitar. “Tranquility” is a song I recorded a years back on nylon string guitar. It’s a mellow, contemplative, and relaxing song. My friend Chris in Kona (no slouch on guitar himself) says it’s his favorite thing he’s heard me do. With that vote, I thought I would dig this out from the vaults for you.
Anyway, I haven’t had a nylon string guitar for going on 10 years… up until recently that is. I’ve made several recordings with it so far, and I hope to have them edited and posted before long. Meanwhile, please enjoy this song.
Here is a song from the vaults called “Sarah”. I wrote and recorded this song quite a few years ago and recently listened to it for the first time in years when I dug out an old CD. I forgot how much I was into tapping on the guitar, including trying to harmonize myself – something I hardly ever do anymore… must have been listening to a lot of Victor Wooten that year. (Show of Hands anyone?) Anyway, it’s kind of an interesting song, though I don’t plan to revive it for my setlist anytime soon. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.
Here is a strum intensive song from the vaults called “Make”. The louder strumming in this song was meant to provide a counterpoint to some of the mellower fingerstyle and slack key songs I was playing at the time. I recorded this while living in an ohana unit with a large, tiled room that I kept mostly empty because I enjoyed the acoustics. (Plus, I didn’t own a lot of furniture.) Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/19/08.
From the vaults, here is a demo of a tune I wrote some years back called Blue Bells. I think this might be the only recording I have of this song, and although it’s not fully finished there’s something I love about this take that made me want to stop working on it for a while. Sometimes you capture a feeling – for yourself alone even – well enough to leave a song be – to come back to it later, or not at all.
Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 6/18/06.
From the vaults, here is a cover of George Harrison’s wonderful song Something that I performed on ukulele. What can I say, Pattie Boyd Boyd must have been quite the muse. Something is arguably George’s greatest song with the Beatles or even his entire career, which is saying something. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/5/08.