Here’s a recently found cover I did of Leonard Kwan’s signature tune, Opihi Moe Moe. One of the most popular songs in the slack key repetoire, this song has been covered perhaps most prominently by Led Kaapana; in fact, Chet Atkins even recorded a version after hearing it from Leonard on a visit to Hawai’i. Notably, Leonard himself recorded several versions of this song including variations such as Opihi Bounce. Opihi Moe Moe is a fun song to play that lends itself to little variations, and everyone seems to bring something different to this deceptively simple song. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s post is a performance of “Hula Medley,” which pays tribute to Gabby Pahinui’s hugely influential recordings of the same name (both the early solo verision, and the version found on Pure Gabby). Many have covered this over the years, with one of my favorite versions appearing on Sonny Chilingworth’s Sonny Solo album. Per below, my recording of the medley here includes a slightly different lineup of songs. Hope you enjoy.
Demo recording of original song Bumble Bee Slack Key, inspired in part by the nalo meli, honey bees buzzing about their business.I wanted a song that was both lively and mellow and think I achieved it.Hope you enjoy.
“Green Tea” is a fingerstyle improvisation based on the idea of toying with certain oft used open tuning tropes and seeing how they could be morphed. Listening back, I enjoy the sound of the dreadnaught guitar I recorded it on, even though I have been using predominantly smaller bodied guitars for the last 4-5 years or so. While small bodied guitars have a great balance that is perfect for many situations, sometimes there’s just something nice about the sound of a big boomy acoustic box. Hope you enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.