Tag Archives: slack key

Awake Again

“Awake Again” is an unfinished project I started working on in in early 2009 and only recently revisited. Now, assembled here together for the first time since it was recorded, the music in this playlist brings the project to a conclusion of sorts.

This music here was recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, on 11 different dates ranging from 2/14/09 through 6/20/09.  Rather than a finished product this is the complete ‘first draft,’ comprised of the best recordings from that time in the order I had envisioned for the completed project.  Hope you enjoy.

Track List:
1 – Intro 6/13/09
2 – Dust Yourself Off 2/24/09
3 – Ohio River Rag 3/1/09
4 – Transition I 3/1/09
5 – Straight Ahead Blues 2/26/09
6 – Hand Dancing 6/20/09
7 – Home Abroad 3/18/09
8 – Make 3/19/09
9 – Moment in the Sun 4/20/09
10 – Crossing the Field 4/20/09
11 – Morning and Night 6/20/09
12 – Brownsboro Road 4/20/09
13 – Bull By the Horns 2/14/09
14 – Kona Snow 6/20/09
15 – Transition One 3/16/09
16 – Momentum 6/8/09
17 – Outro 6/20/09

Kuakini Slack Key

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.

 

Punahoa Special

Today’s song is the joyful “Punahoa Special,” a signature showpiece of legendary slack key master Fred Punahoa.  This is a song I was fortunate enough to learn directly from Led Ka’apana, one that Led had in turn learned directly from Fred himself.  Though Fred Punahoa never made a full album under his own name, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album in addition to fostering amazing talents of the next generation such as Led and Sonny Lim.  “Punahoa Special” is an often covered song in the slack key canon, and might also be the most popular song in Mauna Loa slack key tuning.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Hilo Rag (alt take)

Here is an alternate take of Dennis Kamakahi’s song, “Hilo Rag.”  This is a super fun song to play and one of my favorites 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.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Banyan (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of my song “Banyan” (a/k/a “Banyans,” or “Banyan Tree Slack Key”), a slack key style song I wrote years ago on nylon string guitar.  I used to play my gut string ‘beach’ guitar (an old Ibanez) around beaches and surf spots in Kona like Magic Sands, Banyans, and Old Airport.  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 majestic banyan trees in general.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Jewel Ponds

This improvisation is named for the beautiful anchialine ponds you find along the leeward coast of Hawai’i Island.  These ponds are an ultra rare and pristine habitat (please do not bathe in them) that host rare tiny red shrimp – ‘ōpae ‘ula – and can have a magnificent array of turquoise and opaline colors, like jewels.  Some of these ponds are tiny indeed, almost more of a puddle than a pond, and legends tell of ponds that would mysteriously appear to someone only to vanish when visited again.  There can be no denying the strange, quiet magic of Hawai’i’s  anchialine ponds.

Ki Ho’alu

Here’s my take on Gabby Pahinui’s classic instrumental simply and appropriately titled “Ki Ho’alu,” which is course is the Hawaiian term for “slack key.”  I probably first heard this song on the stellar “Pure Gabby” album – a must own – although it has appeared on other compilations and been covered by numerous slack key artists, including Ozzie Kotani’s excellent version.  My version is inspired by Gabby, Ozzie, and also Dennis Kamakahi who was prolific in the Mauna Loa tuning.  

Mauna Loa Slack Key

Here is my cover of “Mauna Loa Slack Key,” one of the relatively few surviving original songs from legendary slack key kupuna Fred Punahoa.  Though “Uncle” Fred never made a full album, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album which features Mauna Loa Slack Key along with another of Fred’s originals, “Punahoa Special.”  Uncle Fred’s legacy also includes fostering amazing Big Island talents of the next generation such as Ledward Ka’apana and Sonny Lim.  Like the Punahoa Special, Mauna Loa Slack Key is an often covered song in the slack key world.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 10/11/07.

Opihi Moe Moe (Taylor 310ce)

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.

Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/4/2008.

Gabby Style Hula Medley

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.

Medley:
Intro / Nani Wale Li’hue
Wai’alae
U’lili E
Aloha ‘Oe

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, in fall of 2007.