(EXPERIENCE MAGAZINE) — 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.
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”
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.
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.
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. Ive 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.
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, 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!