I used to take a guitar to sit and play some slack key at beaches around Kailua-Kona like Old Airport, Honl’s, Kahalu’u, Keauhou Bay, and La’aloa Beach Park… which is also known locally as White Sands, or Magic Sands. La’aloa Beach Park is just off Ali’i Drive a few miles South of Kailua-Kona. Often known as Magic Sands because the sand ‘disappears’ practically overnight from most of the shoreline during winter swells, only to fully ‘reappear’ in the Summer, the beach is a popular spot for residents of Kona. I often used to head over there with a cup of Kona coffee in the early morning before the crowds arrived, when it was still quiet, and sit on the picnic tables and play guitar. Here is a slack key style tune I wrote one day while hanging out with my guitar around Magic Sands. Hope you enjoy.
“Hualalai Sunrise” was inspired by the morning sunrises in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Much of North Kona – from Kalaoa where I spent much of my early childhood to Holualoa where I later lived – can see the sun shining over the top ridges of Hualalai in the morning, bathing its warm light over the slopes from the summit to the ocean. This is an early version of this song, though I have improvised several slightly different versions since. Hope you enjoy.
From the vaults, here is an old recording of a slack key medley performed during an informal kanikapila at what was then the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort Hotel (it has since changed hands from Sheraton). The medley starts out with a rendition of Little Grass Shack, followed by the classic Pua Tuberose. Hope you enjoy.
“Meadows” is a slack key song I wrote during a full moon in Kailua-Kona. I think the song was influenced by the night air and night sounds – the occasional chirp of geckos, the distant sounds of traffic on Mamalahoa Highway and the waves in the ocean. Hope you enjoy.
Here is another version – this one recorded on a nylon string guitar – of my song “Slippery Slack Key.” Also known as the “Slippery Fish Slack Key,” this is a fast paced and fun to play slack key song that saw various incarnations in my set a few years back. The slippery runs were inspired in part by the fish in the waters off Kailua-Kona. Hope you enjoy.
“Meadows” is an original song I wrote during a full moon in Kailua-Kona. I think the song was influenced by the night air and night sounds – the occasional chirp of geckos, the distant sounds of traffic on Mamalahoa Highway and the waves in the ocean. This version was probably recorded within a year of when I wrote it. Hope you enjoy.
Here is an alternate take of “Makalawena,” an original song I named after a charmingly beautiful and relatively isolated beach on the Kona Coast. Makalawena is part of that long stretch of white sandy beaches you see right before landing at Kona International Airport at nearby Keahole Point. The beach is generally accessible via a short hike from the neighboring Mahaiʻula Bay section of Kekaha Kai State Park. I remember camping out at Makalawena as a kid, exploring the rare anchialine ponds with their delicate red shrimp, and swimming in the waters of the bay. Today still, the neighboring marsh is a protected nesting ground, home to rare birds such as the Hawaiian coot. The song’s bridge seems to capture the strange sense of converging energies that I feel in special places such as these. Hope you enjoy.
Years back I was working on some turnaround ideas when I wrote “Slippery Slack Key.” Also known as the “Slippery Fish Slack Key,” this is a fast paced and fun to play slack key song that saw various incarnations in my set a few years back. The slippery runs were inspired in part by the fish in the waters off Kailua-Kona. Kona’s world famous fishing was also brought to mind frequently by my landlord at the time I wrote this song, a local fish boat captain named Chuck. Hope you enjoy.
For your listening pleasure here is a collection of Ki Ho’alu a/k/a Hawaiian Slack Key guitar instrumentals. This compilation includes both energetic and relaxed tunes, though I’d say the overall vibe is relaxing. I like to listen to some of those longer “relaxing music” videos while working on the computer and became inspired to produce some videos featuring my own performances. Hope you enjoy.
Here is a demo of a song called Kuakini Slack Key, named after Kuakini Highway (which was in turn named after former governor of Hawai’i island and builder of Hulihe’e Palace, John Adams Kuakini). I wrote this in a friends’ condo which was off Kuakini, not far from Palani Road and the Kailua pier. As a kid, I also lived for several years in a home farther south that was just off Kuakini.
This is one of the few recordings done with a Larrivee parlor guitar I used to own – a rosewood / spruce P-09, which I have since sold. There’s also a fun little manual fade at the end. Hope you enjoy.