Tag Archives: waimea cowboy

Waimea Ride (Slack Key Improvisation)

Today’s song from the vaults, “Waimea Ride,” is a slack key improvisation that blossoms from a familiar type of descending figure.  Though often used as part of a turnaround, this type of walk down has also been featured as a melodic device in a number of songs, most notably Leonard Kwan’s classic signature tune Opihi Moe Moe.   I also recall Ozzie Kotani using it in some of his songs.  Anyway, I thought the descending figure and overall pace of this improv might evoke the picture of a Paniolo riding downslope on horseback, ergo the title.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/11/08.

Slack Key #1 by Sonny Chillingworth

Slack Key No. 1 is a classic showpiece of slack key master Sonny Chillingworth. I first heard it on the Dancing Cat release “Endlessly,” and it also appears on his 1964 solo release “Waimea Cowboy.” The Waimea Cowboy version sounds like it was recorded on an electric guitar, while the version on Endlessly was recorded on acoustic guitar. Both versions are very similar, though with some slight differences. I have incorporated elements from both versions in the arrangement I play. Hope you enjoy.