Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jammin' Hawaiian Style at the Slack-Key Fest

Kalyn Aolani and Sonny Lim
A haunting chant set the scene at the Redondo Beach Performing Center for a host of brilliant musicians, singers and dancers brought in from Hawaii and parts of the mainland for your pleasure. Each of the six slack-key guitarists on stage were exceptional in their own right, but together they put on a brilliant, high energy performance. 

Reading Wai-nani at Meet and Greet

I was honored to be a guest speaker at the meet and greet kick off the night before. At this casual gathering the artist are up close and personal.  It was intimidating to be sharing the microphone with greats that ranged from Cyril  Pahuinui, son of the legendary Gabby Puhuinui the father of modern slack-key guitar, to Jeff Peterson a young artist with classical training who brings a fresh cool breeze to the traditional slack-key riffs. Still, I stood tall and did a brief reading from Wai-nani-A Voice fromOld Hawai’i and prayed this audience of authentic Hawaiian performers would fine my rendering of the “People of Old” pleasing. From all accounts it was!
The doors open at 11:00 AM on the day of the festival so that visitors can enjoy the Aloha market place where artisans share their wares. Prized hand painted gourds of artist Aunty Kanoe
Aunty Kanoe of Punahele Arts
to Hawaiian kitch are there for the taking along with CD’s from all the players. Dancers on the lawn are a warm up for what takes place in the main performance.

Jerry Santos sang old Hawaiian favorites while Kamuela Kimokeo accompanied him with some amazing slack-key solos. Kimo West and Jeff Peterson did a soulful duet in the classical style. Kayln Aolani, a bright little bird whose voice is like liquid sunshine brought tears to my eyes. My heart was full to the brimming by the end of this day of warm aloha. If you can only make one Polynesian event this is the one you don’t want to miss!
Many thanks to Mitchell Chang, producer, musical & creative director for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful event presented by Kala Koa Entertainment. 

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