Here is another version of the Ray Kane classic “Keiki Slack Key” I recorded on my Taylor 412ce-R steel 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.
Here’s an alternate version of my take on Gabby Pahinui’s classic instrumental simply and appropriately titled “Ki Ho’alu,” which of course is the Hawaiian term for “slack key.”I probably first heard this song on the stellar “Pure Gabby” album, 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.
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.
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.
“Hualalai Sunrise” was inspired by the morning sunrises in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i.Much of North Kona – from Kalaoa where I spent much of my early childhood to Holualoa where I later lived – can see the sun shining over the top ridges of Hualalai in the morning, bathing its warm light over the slopes from the summit to the ocean.This is an early version of this song, though I have improvised several slightly different versions since.Hope you enjoy.
From the vaults, here is an old recording of a slack key medley performed during an informal kanikapila at what was then the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort Hotel (it has since changed hands from Sheraton).The medley starts out with a rendition of Little Grass Shack, followed by the classic Pua Tuberose.Hope you enjoy.
Here is a version of the classic Johnny Noble song “Hula Blues” recorded on nylon string guitar.Hula Blues is a steel guitar and slack key staple – a quick check of my iTunes library shows over a dozen versions by everyone from Sol Ho’opi’i to Sonny Chillingworth, Led Ka’apana, Leonard Kwan, Bobby Ingano, as well as separate versions from Gabby Pahinui and his son Cyril.This song is fun to play and captures a certain energy that many find appealing.Hope you enjoy.
Here’s an isolated track that I recorded for a collaboration a few years ago.That particular collaboration didn’t end up coming together, so I thought I would release this track as a stand alone piece.Hope you enjoy.