I used to take a guitar to sit and play some slack key at beaches around Kailua-Kona like Old Airport, Honl’s, Kahalu’u, Keauhou Bay, and La’aloa Beach Park… which is also known locally as White Sands, or Magic Sands. La’aloa Beach Park is just off Ali’i Drive a few miles South of Kailua-Kona. Often known as Magic Sands because the sand ‘disappears’ practically overnight from most of the shoreline during winter swells, only to fully ‘reappear’ in the Summer, the beach is a popular spot for residents of Kona. I often used to head over there with a cup of Kona coffee in the early morning before the crowds arrived, when it was still quiet, and sit on the picnic tables and play guitar. Here is a slack key style tune I wrote one day while hanging out with my guitar around Magic Sands. Hope you enjoy.
Here is an alternate take of Slack Key No. 1, the 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.
From the vaults, here’s a guitar instrumental called “Persistence.” All of the parts were tracked as you hear them; none of the parts were sped up and I recall that all ‘layered parts’ and harmonies were multi tracked ‘one at a time.’ While not usually a fan of excessive stereo panning and movement, I do like the interplay here of the stereo ‘back and forth’ towards the end. Persistence originally appeared on a project called Positivity that was in part a collection of demos and song ideas. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s song from the vaults is Dive In, which I recall as being inspired by Celtic and Bluegrass fiddle tunes, but it also has some distinctly guitar-ish strumming and rhythms. “Dive In” is a track from a project I had called Signs Music Has Changed Your Life. Hope you enjoy.
From the vaults, here’s an electric guitar driven song called “Sin Qua Non.” I recall writing and tracking this song over a number of months – probably all done on an Ibanez 7 string guitar. All of the parts were tracked as you hear them; none of the parts were sped up and I recall that all the lead / melodic harmonies were multi tracked with the possible exception of some parts of the ‘heavy horses’ interludes. Sin Qua Non originally appeared on a project called Positivity that was in part a collection of demos and song ideas. Hope you enjoy.
Today’s song from the vaults is Cat Nap Afternoon – a mellow, harmonic laden song with a few little strange notes sprinkled here and there to keep it interesting. Hope you enjoy.
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.
Bron-Yr-Aur is probably my favorite Led Zeppelin acoustic song. Written by Jimmy Page 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 is an alternate version recorded on my Taylor K22ce.
Like many, my first exposure to Cyril’s solo recordings came through his amazing albums recorded for the Dancing Cat label, including the “6 & 12 String Slack Key” album on which “Young Street Blues” is featured. This particular song was highlighted for me in Mark Hanson’s excellent book of slack key transcriptions, which featured this among other songs by Cyril and other slack key legends.
The liner notes to the album tell a story of Cyril writing the song at a recording studio on Young Street in 1991. I seem to recall another story, told by Cyril at a performance, about Cyril living in an apartment on Young Street and feeling kind of restless. Young Street, starts (or ends) in Honolulu’s Mo’ili’ili neighborhood, running between King Street and Beretania, through Makiki, to Thomas Square Park near the Honolulu Museum of Art. I recall Cyril talking along the lines of how Young Street was sandwiched between these prominent streets and landmarks in a kind of limbo, being neither here nor there. I think the song (and ‘that note’) speak to such a restless vibe… but also a sense of playfulness.
Unusually for his solo work, Cyril uses Taro Patch tuning – the most common slack key tuning, but not one featured as often as the C and D tunings Cyril favored. Cyril’s style is at once both muscular and nuanced, with deep tunings and sometimes the added jangle of a 12 string guitar – it’s a ‘large’ sound. I tried to capture that feel here by tuning down to a lower register. This song was fun to play and record. Hope you enjoy.
Here is another version of the Ray Kane classic “Keiki Slack Key” I recorded on my Taylor 414ce-NR nylon string guitar. Keiki Slack Key (not to be confused with the Sonny Chillingworth song of the same name) is one of the first slack key songs I transcribed, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. To me, Ray Kane is probably the best example of an ‘old style’ slack key player, and his tracks are always nahenahe. Hope you enjoy.