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.
Here is a live version of “Punahoa Special” from 2007 (apologies for the camera work :-). This is a song I was fortunate enough to learn directly from Led Ka’apana, one that Led had in turn learned directly from his uncle Fred Punahoa. Though Fred never made a full album, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album and fostered amazing talents of the next generation such as Led and Sonny Lim. This is an often covered song in the slack key world, and might also be the most popular song in Mauna Loa slack key tuning. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded live at the 25th Annual Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival “Kona Style,” at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort in Keauhou, Hawai’i 9/2/07.
Today’s demo from the vaults is Purple Orchid, a mellow slack key song played on nylon string guitar. The picture of me is in an ohana I had in Kailua Kona. Most of my recordings from this period were either done in that ohana or down by Magic Sands beach. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Kona Snow is another improvisatory piece recorded for my “Awake Again” project, which included a handful of songs that were connected by mostly shorter and improvisatory ‘transitions’ such as this. This song is named for the early spring blooming of the coffee trees on the slopes of Hualalai. People merrily dubbed the effect of white blossoms covering row after row of coffee trees “Kona Snow.” At the time I recorded this song, I was living next to a coffee orchard in Holualoa, Hawaii, just mauka of Kailua Kona. The setting amidst a wonderful agricultural tradition over a century old inspired me probably more than I knew at the time. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 6/20/09.
Here is an improvisatory piece recorded for a project I had a few years back. The idea behind the project, called “Awake Again,” was to have a handful of songs that were connected by mostly shorter and improvisatory ‘transitions’ that would act as both glue and palette cleanser between the slightly more structured songs. The wallpaper shows me with my old Taylor 310ce that I used to record this song. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/16/09.
Here is a demo of a song I wrote a while back called Henry Street Slack Key – named for what was then the still developing Henry Street, which runs between Kuakini Highway and Palani Rd in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The street had a lot of places I went to at the time – a healthfood store, a Border’s Books (with a great music selection, in the days when CD’s ruled), Wal-Mart (a place to run into people in small town Kailua-Kona), Safeway, several coffee shops, and a Korean BBQ. This is also one of the few recordings I made with my Larrivee parlor guitar – a rosewood / sitka spruce P-09, which I have since sold. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 8/26/07.
From the vaults, here is a slide guitar song I wrote called Home Abroad. I used to play a fair amount of slide guitar, but I don’t play it much anymore. I figured I’d either have to go all in on the slide or not, but couldn’t just dabble with it – so I decided to work on other areas instead. This is a fun leftover from when I dabbled with it though. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/18/09.
From the vaults, Glass Ball Slack Key is a favorite chestnut (or kukui nut) of uke players throughout the islands. Also known as “Chicken in the Straw” or “Turkey in the Straw” in Hawai’i (though different from the Bluegrass / fiddle song), this is a fun little ditty that is sure to please aunty or uncle. I learned this song watching and listening to the great Led Ka’apana (it’s also on the classic Led Live CD). Many other ukulele players have covered the song over the years as well. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/6/08.
From the vaults, here is a demo version of my tune Holualoa Blues. This song is primarily a blues piece, but with some slack key influence as well. Done in open G / taro patch tuning. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 10/11/07.