Tag Archives: Makaha Sons

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SLACK KEY FESTIVAL ~ 2023

(HOLLYWOOD PRESS COPRS) — The 16th Annual Slack Key fest was Sunday, January 15th, at the Redondo Beach Performance Art Center. The South Bay is lucky to have both the Performing Arts Center and The Slack Key Fest. It was such a great lineup. Fans of the soundtrack of the Decendants movie with George Clooney were in for a treat as this concert featured the top master players in Hawaiian music. This concert is the number one slack key guitar event outside of Hawaii.

Amazing line up at the Southern California Slack Key

From the smooth playing of Jeff Peterson to the harmonies of Makaha Sons, this was a great day for Hawaiian music. Slack Key guitar is named because the strings are tuned differently than standard running. Sonny Lim explained that he thought it would be easier to strum the guitar tuned open but soon found out that it’s actually much more complicated. Sonny went on to play in a style that sounded like four guitars playing at once while he sang in Hawaiian.

The Island Market Place was able to set up outside between the rain storms. Lots of cool mementos and aloha shirts, ukulele and tiki vendors. It’s been raining for the last couple of weeks. Like Kimo West said, “No rain, no rainbows” 

Bryan Tolentino (L) with George Kuo (R) Photo by Dustin Brown for thew Hollywood Press Corps 2023

The concert started with all the musicians on stage. So many legendary players on stage like a big Ohana (family) get together.  A professional set designer has fashioned an amazing set. With all the Grammy nominated and legendary players, there’s no way to rank them.

Kamuela bringing on Makaha Sons
Kamuela  Kimono at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center for the 16th Annual Slack Key Festival. Photo by Dustin Brown for the Hollywood Press Corps 2023

The event was emceed by Kamuela  Kimono. He was accompanied by his son little Ka’ihi Kimono. Kamuela is from the Grammy nominated band Hoku. He sang a number at the festival that featured Hawaiian yodelling which is very rare and hard to do. It sounded amazing and was full of aloha spirit. Kampala is a teacher at Windward University on Oahu and teaches a variety of music classes there. He has a very fun, Hawaiian personality on stage.  He pulls off the sort of corny but the style the people love in Hawaiian music. His son Ka’ihi represents the future of Slack Key guitar and he is a fine player and singer.

From left to right, Sonny Lim, Kimo West, Bryan Tolentino and Jeff Peterson

 Kimo West is know as one of the all time greats of Slack Key. Also called Ki ho’alu in Hawaiian, Kimo has all kinds of stories and songs that make you feel the aloha. Sunny Lim was on the stage quite a bit playing electric bass, and of course guitar. Sonny is from the Big Island and is sort of a living legend.

Sonny’s dad was a Paniolo or cowboy back in the day and his dad was also a well known  musician. Sonny worked on Parker Ranch on the Big Island which was a cattle farm started by John Parker in 1788. I’ve seen Sonny play in Maui in Napilikai and he always plays soulful rich tones. He can really play guitar so masterfully. He also sings in Hawaiian which is like upper level slack key. 

George Kuo(L)

The amazing and extremely talented George Kuo played a real nice set with Sonny on bass and the legendary ukulele player Bryan Tolentino. George Kuo is considered one of Hawaii’s premier slack key players. He plays naheahe style which is sweet and soothing.

George has a real upbeat way of working with other musicians. It’s really amazing to watch him play his double neck guitar. He was so happy and carefree. Everyone was having such a good time. 

Kainani Kahaunaele is a mele or a Hawaiian song enthusiast. She is such a positive force for Hawaiian history and education. Her most recent recording is called “Waipunalei” won seven awards. Jeff Peterson gave an amazing performance. I was lucky enough to see Jeff play in Maui and I always play his music when Im driving around Maui so it always takes me back. Makaha Sons are such a strong musical force for Slack Key music and Hawaiian music. Their melodies come from an era and an ancient way that has existed on Hawaii for hundreds of years.

Mitch Chang from Kala Koa

Mitch Chang, the festival producer and and creator said a few words on stage. It’s just really so amazing to have a Slack Key festival right here in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Mitch also organises the Los Angeles Guitar festival and the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival Visits www.kalakoa.com for upcoming event Information. The Hollywood Press Corps Looks forward to next years festival!

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown

I am the Senior Editor at HollywoodPressCorps.com.

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The 16th Annual Southern California 
Slack Key Festival 

Sunday, January 15, 2023 at the
Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

(HOLLYWOOD PRESS CORPS)  Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center — Friday, January 13th, 2023 — Kala Koa Entertainment celebrates 16 years of bringing the biggest and brightest names in Hawaiian music to the mainland with the 2023 Southern California Slack Key Festival returning to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday, January 15, 2023.

One of the most acclaimed Hawaiian concerts to ever leave the islands, the Southern California Slack Key Festival takes fans on a Hawaiian musical journey showcasing GRAMMY-winning slack key guitarists, the best hula dancers in the world, special guest performers and a free to the public Island Marketplace.

Since 2008, the Southern California Slack Key Festival has been the biggest Hawaiian music concert event in the mainland U.S. and features the most respected names in Hawaiian guitar music and hula today. Taking its name from a finger-picking style of guitar playing indigenous to Hawaii (as heard on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for “The Descendants”), the Slack Key Festival brings the art of ki ho’alu guitar to Redondo Beach.

George Kuo

This year’s Southern California Slack Key Festival’s line-up includes George Kuo, one of Hawaii’s premier Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar artists; Makaha Sons, one of Hawaii’s leading Hawaiian musical groups; Sonny Lim, a member of Hawaii’s famous musical Lim family; Jeff Peterson, contributed to two Grammy Award-winning recordings and a winner of eight Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards; Jim “Kimo” West, 2021 Grammy Award-winner and multiple Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards; Kainani Kahaunaele, won seven Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards in 2021; Kamuela Kimokeo, a member of the Na Hōkū Hanohano award winning group Hi’ikua; Ka’ihi Kimokeo, and Bryan Tolentino, popular ukulele player who can be heard on scores of recordings for other artists as well as his own Grammy nominated CD’s.

What is Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Music?
Played from the heart and soul through the fingers and flowing with vivid tropical images, Hawaiian ki ho’alu (slack key) is truly one of the great acoustic guitar traditions of the world. In slack key, some of the strings are “slacked” from the standard guitar tuning, with the thumb playing the bass notes while the other fingers play the melody and improvise in a finger-picked style.

How does the distinctive sound of slack key music fit into the fabric of Hawaiian music and culture? Watch this video and learn more about this beautiful generations-old art form – https://vimeo.com/155399448.

About the Artists

George Kuo is known as one of Hawaii’s premier Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar artists playing in the traditional nahenahe (sweet, soothing) style, bridging today’s generation with the older generations. George has been twice recognized with excellence in recording achievement by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts, Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, for Instrumental Album of the year in 1995 for Hawaiian Touch and 1996 for “Aloha No Na Kupuna – Love for the Elders.” In 1986 Eddie Kamae asked George to join his group THE SONS OF HAWAII and in 2000 performed and recorded with Dennis & David Kamakahi & Martin Pahinui as the HUI ALOHA group. Highlights of George’s performing career are playing on the Garrison Keillor Prairie Home Companion Show with Chet Atkins and Johnny Gimble in 1993 and performing at the Hollywood Bowl with the Honolulu Symphony in 1997. 

For 40 years, the Makaha Sons have committed themselves to perpetuating traditional Hawaiian music throughout Hawaiʻi and around the globe, considered to be one of Hawai’i’s premiere Hawaiian musical groups. They continue to perpetuate that vibrant sound, full and rich, with harmonies that only they can create. Their incomparable vocal arrangements and delightful stage presence is filled with comical antics which have won the hearts of thousands of fans worldwide. Their performances have taken them to such prestigious places as Carnegie Hall in New York City, Washington, D.C., and have performed for both the President and Vice-President of the United States.

Makaha Sons

A member of Hawai`i’s famous musical Lim family, Sonny Lim was born and raised in the heart of Hawaiian cowboy country on Hawai`i Island. Sonny was introduced to ki ho`alu as a child watching Gabby Pahinui perform at a lu`au in Kohala, his professional career began as a teenager when he commuted to Oahu from Hawai`i Island to perform with the Makaha Sons of Ni`ihau. Sonny’s first solo album in 2006, Slack Key Guitar: The Artistry of Sonny Lim, was a 48th GRAMMY® nominee in the Hawaiian Music category. One year prior to this nomination, he performed with 6 other solo artists on Hawai`i’s first GRAMMY® award-winning CD, Slack Key Guitar Volume 2. Sonny helped accept this inaugural Hawaiian GRAMMY® award on stage and his speech marked the first time the Hawaiian language had ever been spoken on the GRAMMY® stage.

Jeff Peterson was born on the Island of Maui and grew up on the slopes of Haleakala where he was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a “paniolo” (Hawaiian cowboy), on the Haleakala Ranch. Recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians, Jeff Peterson is at the heart of the Hawaiian music scene today, having contributed to two Grammy Award-winning recordings and winner of eight Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards in Hawaii including Slack Key Album of the Year for “Maui on My Mind” in 2010, “Slack Key Travels” in 2014 and “O’ahu” in 2016 which also earned him Instrumental Song of the Year for the song “Old Pali”. His latest release “Wahi Pana” is a full-length performance and documentary film and CD soundtrack.

Dr. Kamuela Kimokeo is a member of the Nā Hōku Hanohano award winning group Hiʻikua and is the head of the Music Department at Windward Community College where he teaches a variety of classes from ‘ukulele to music theory and history. He is also the driving force behind the Hawaiian Music Certificate Kaohekani. He started playing music professionally with his Dad in Waikiki when he was 14 years old and has toured with the likes of Hawaiian music Hall-of-Famer, Jerry Santos, five time Grammy Nominee, Amy Hanaiali’i, and Raiatea Helm. As a recording artist, Kamuela was part of the Grammy Nominated and Hōkū award winning guitar album Slack Key Kings Vol. II where he played a solo original composition “Holumoana” and also recorded as part of the group Pilioha which was nominated for multiple awards. In addition, Dr. Kimokeo’s son Ka’ihi Kimokeo will make his Southern California Slack Key Festival debut.

Jim “Kimo” West is recognized as one of the world’s top “slack key” guitarists and brings his own unique musical perspective to this great acoustic guitar tradition. He is a 2021 Grammy® Award winner for his CD, “More Guitar Stories” and a 2019 Grammy® nominee for “Moku Maluhia-Peaceful Island”. He is also a winner of the 2008 Hawaii Music Awards, a three-time Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian “Grammy”) nominee and a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of ki ho’alu. Kimo’s film and TV credits include work for 20th Century Fox, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and Marvel. 

Jim “Kimo” West

Kainani Kahaunaele is a mele (Hawaiian song) enthusiast, singer, songwriter, teacher, and musician. She was born and raised in Anahola, Kauaʻi and has lived in Hilo, Hawaiʻi for 27 years as an advocate for Hawaiian language revitalization and the perpetuation of Hawaiian music through education and performance. Her third and most recent recording, “Waipunalei,” won seven awards in six categories at the 2021 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, including album of the year, female vocalist, Hawaiian music album, song of the year, haku mele and Hawaiian language performance. https://www.staradvertiser.com/2021/10/07/features/kainani-kahaunaele-wins-big-at-2021-na-hoku-hanohano-awards-view-the-list-of-winners/

Ukulele player Bryan Tolentino has been known for the past forty plus years as an accompanist for some of Hawaiʻi’s most well-known and accomplished Hawaiian music artists and hula hālau. Bryan’s unique “fairy dusting” (as he calls it) can be heard on scores of recordings for other artists as well as his own Nā Hōkū Hanohano and Grammy nominated CD’s.

In addition to the concert, an Island Marketplace – free and open to the public – takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. outside of the venue. Browse a variety of island themed gifts, home décor, accessories, apparel, Hawaiian food, authentic island-style shave ice and outdoor entertainment.

When:  Sunday, January 15, 2023;
Concert 2:00 p.m.; Free Island Marketplace 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown

I am the Senior Editor at HollywoodPressCorps.com.

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