Here is a more recent version of my song “Fair Wind.” The song is named for a boat of the same name that ran snorkel / dive cruises to Kealakekua Bay out of Keauhou Bay – still does – and my parents took me and my friends for a cruise on it for a number of my birthdays.
This song was born of my desire to improvise around some familiar ideas and possibly discover some new ones. Using familiar shapes and runs, perhaps I would come to appreciate them from a new angle, or juxtapose them in a way that I hadn’t before. I wanted to explore textures, try to accent some of the notes in a different way, give the strings a staccato strum or two, play some lush harmonics. Sometimes rather than trying to come up with something totally new, you want to explore the familiar ground of existing templates, maybe change them just a little – not to the point they’re unrecognizable, but to explore how they can be tweaked and see if it suits.
In addition to trying out some musical ideas, I wanted to see how they would sound with a microphone I hadn’t used lately, recording with a different sound. The mic I chose sounds crisp, picking up all the harmonic details and giving clear note separation. It’s quiet, and also good at gathering room ambiance. The bass is not as bold and the mid-scooped rosewood sound isn’t as prominent as another mic I had been using lately, but this mic would provide a nice, hi-fi, detailed sound – one I might now want to explore even more. Anyway, sometimes it’s important to try something a little different with your sound, to record an improvisation and see what happens. Hope you enjoy.
The Bantry Girl’s Lament is a traditional Celtic song which dates back to the early 1800’s. The ‘lament’ is for the soldiers who were called off to fight in the Napoleonic wars, but I find the melody is more wistful than maudlin. My fingerstyle version is based on Martin Simpson’s version from his fine album “Leaves of Life.” While Martin used a Drop D tuning for the song (or rather its equivalent on Baritone guitar), I play it here in open G6: (D-G-D-G-B-E). To me, this is a peaceful, meditative song that gives pause. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.
This video features a collection of Ki Ho’alu a/k/a Hawaiian Slack Key guitar instrumental covers I have performed, recorded, and assembled here for your listening pleasure. These are songs by various slack key legends such as Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Leonard Kwan, Keola Beamer, Fred Punahoa, Sonny Chillingworth, Atta Isaacs, Dennis Kamakahi, and Ledward Ka’apana – all slack key guitar masters who have been influential to me as well as many others. This compilation includes both energetic and relaxed tunes, though I’d say the overall vibe is relaxing. I like to listen to some of those longer “relaxing music” videos while working on the computer and became inspired to produce some videos featuring my own performances. Hope you enjoy.
“Meadows” is a slack key song I wrote during a full moon in Kailua-Kona. I think the song was influenced by the night air and night sounds – the occasional chirp of geckos, the distant sounds of traffic on Mamalahoa Highway and the waves in the ocean. Hope you enjoy.
Here is an alternate take of the Bach Cello Prelude (BWV 1007) on guitar. I fell in love with the Pablo Casals recordings of the Bach cello suites a few years back. The prelude to the first suite is oft adapted for guitar, but it’s still a great piece to play. Hope you enjoy.
Here’s an alternate take of Keola Beamer’s Mino’aka (Smile), from his awesome 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.
Here is an original fingerstyle tinged slack key song I wrote a number of years ago called “Lily.” Hope you enjoy.
I fell in love with the Pablo Casals recordings of the Bach cello suites a few years back. The prelude to the first suite is oft adapted for guitar, but it’s still a great piece to play. Hope you enjoy.
Bron-Yr-Aur is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin acoustic song. Written about a tranquil cottage in the Welsh countryside, the song is meditative and bucolic; it always puts me in a different place whenever I hear it or play it. This version was recorded on my Taylor 912ce.