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.
Banyan (a/k/a “Banyans,” or “Banyan Tree Slack Key”) is a slack key style song I wrote about 10 or 12 years ago on nylon string guitar. I used to play my gut string ‘beach’ guitar around beaches and surf spots in Kona like Magic Sands, Banyans, and Old Airport. For one, the nylon strings aren’t as affected by the salt air, and for two, it was less expensive than my other guitar at the time, a Taylor 310ce that I didn’t want to take to the beach. 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 those mystical banyan trees in general. Shortly after writing this song, I sold that nylon – an Ibanez, sort of crossover model – though I continued to rotate this and a few other related songs in and out of my set. Until recently though, it had really been a while since I played this song. Once more, owning a nylon string guitar again inspired me to go back and revisit some older material. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s song is a cover of the Ray Kane classic “Keiki Slack Key” (not to be confused with the Sonny Chillingworth song of the same name). To me, Ray Kane is probably the best example of an ‘old style’ slack key player, and his tracks are always nahenahe. I never got to take a lesson from Ray, though I did get to speak to him and his wife Elodia on the phone once, not long before he passed – a cherished memory. Keiki Slack Key is one of the first slack key songs I transcribed, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. This arrangement was inspired by my recent purchase of a nylon string guitar; I really think this song works well on nylon for a number of reasons. Hope you enjoy.
Here is my take on a Study in Em by Francisco Tárrega. This is a song I have taught in the past to students interested in learning a little fingerstyle or classical. To make the arrangement a little more fun for some students, I took some liberties and added a few flourishes here and there. This version of the study has also found its way onto some of my setlists over the years. Hope you enjoy.