All posts by Nick

Kailua Bay Blues

Today’s tune from the vaults is a recording of a slack key song I wrote and called “Kailua Bay Blues.” I spent a lot of time as a kid swimming in the waters of historic and majestic Kailua Bay, the waterfront area of ‘downtown’ Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bay is surrounded by historic residences once occupied by the Hawaiian Monarchy, hotels, restaurants, and usually someone fishing off the seawall. The area also hosts the swim and finish line for the Ironman World Championship triathlon. The waters of Kailua Bay, as well as the sky above, can have many different shades of blue – thus a double meaning for this bluesy slack key song’s title. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 9/13/07.

Hilo Rag (Dennis Kamakahi)

Hilo Rag is a super fun tune to play from Dennis Kamakahi’s oeuvre.  Better known for lyrical songs like Koke’e, Hilo Rag makes me wish I heard more of Dennis’s instrumental work.  I was fortunate enough to meet Dennis and son David years ago and see them play, both on stage and in smaller back porch style jam sessions.  I remember Dennis dressing sharp in his kind of urban paniolo style, complete with boots and cowboy hat.  Like I say, this is such a fun song to play I can never just play it once when I’m running through songs (and will be posting an alternate take on my other channel soon).  Hope you enjoy.

Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (Taylor 912ce)

Here is another version of my arrangement of Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Little Fairy, Big Fairy), reportedly the first song composed by famous 17th century bard Turlough O’Carolan.  This version was recorded on my 912ce, which I feel is a perfect guitar for this arrangement.  Hope you enjoy.

Moonglow (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of Moonglow, a song I wrote years ago while sitting outside under a full moon. I’ve played it on and off for years, most always on steel string guitar. More recently I tried it on nylon and found it worked quite well – perhaps even better. Hope you enjoy.

Waimea Ride (Slack Key Improvisation)

Today’s song from the vaults, “Waimea Ride,” is a slack key improvisation that blossoms from a familiar type of descending figure.  Though often used as part of a turnaround, this type of walk down has also been featured as a melodic device in a number of songs, most notably Leonard Kwan’s classic signature tune Opihi Moe Moe.   I also recall Ozzie Kotani using it in some of his songs.  Anyway, I thought the descending figure and overall pace of this improv might evoke the picture of a Paniolo riding downslope on horseback, ergo the title.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/11/08.

Mino’aka – Keola Beamer

Mino’aka (Smile) is a short, sweet song from slack key master Keola Beamer’s Soliloquy album. Soliloquy is one of my favorite Dancing Cat era albums from Keola and a highly recommended listen. Keola’s book is one of the first I picked up when I really delved into the slack key style years ago, and this was one of my favorite songs featured in the book. In fact, I also recommend Keola’s book for beginner to intermediate fingerstyle players who are looking to learn some slack key. Although the version I recorded here is at a slightly faster tempo, I hope it still captures the original’s relaxed feel. Hope you enjoy.

Silver Threads – Slack Key Improv

Here is an improvisation I did based on Leonard Kwan’s famous slack key arrangement of “Silver Threads Among the Gold.” This classic tune is a popular piece in the slack key repertoire and often one of the first things people learn when exploring Drop C tuning. Most listeners of modern day Hawaii radio will recognize Silver Threads as the slack key passage quoted in the intro to Country Comfort’s Waimanalo Blues, a beloved song in the islands in its own right. Hope you enjoy.