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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is an original slack key song I named for Kaiminani Drive in Kalaoa, North Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kaiminani Drive is a main mauka-makai road that connects the Queen Kaahumanu and Mamalahoa highways (lower and upper roads, respectively). It also runs through the Kona Palisades neighborhood where I lived for a number of years as a child. Back then, the neighborhood was less developed, and my friends and I would build tree houses and play in the vacant lots. We could also watch the planes come and go at Kona International Airport at Keahole Point (KOA), and had easy access to then-uncrowded OTEC (Wawaloli) and Pine Trees (Kohanaiki) beaches. Hope you enjoy.
Moonglow is a dreamy fingerstyle 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. Recently I tried it on nylon and found it worked quite well – perhaps even better. Hope you enjoy.
I named this seemingly easygoing yet still restive song 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.
Here is a slack key style tune I wrote a while back while hanging out around Magic Sands beach in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. I originally wrote it on an old nylon string guitar. While I have a recording of this song played on steel string already posted, I wanted to go back and do a recording with my nylon string Taylor as well. There aren’t many songs I like to play on both steel and nylon, but this is one of them for some reason. Hope you enjoy.