Tag Archives: Hawaii

Artist Profiles: Ledward Ka’apana

Ledward Ka’apana

Ledward Ka’apana is a master of the art of Hawaiian slack-key guitar and widely regarded as one of its greatest innovators. He is also one of the Islands’ finest singers in the traditional falsetto style.

has recorded dozens of albums with his influential groups Hui Ohana and I Kona and with musicians ranging from Alison Krauss Ricky Skaggs and Sonny Landreth to his legendary Uncle Fred Punahoa.
One of the great ambassadors of Hawaiian music he has performed throughout the United States and Europe.

Ledward Ka’apana and Mike Kaawa joined forces to create one of the great collaborations in Hawaiian music.


Artist Profiles: Keola Beamer

Keola Beamer

Keola Beamer was born January 18, 1951 in Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. Keola’s ‘ohana (family) was well equipped to nurture his musical interests. One of Hawaii’s best known musical clans the Beamers trace their roots back to the 15th century. Ancient ancestors include Big Island Queen Ahiakumai Ki’eki’e and Ho’olulu one of the kapu (sacred) twins born of Kame’eiamoku favored wife of Kamehameha Nui. More recent family members include composer and hula exponent Helen Desha Beamer (Keola’s great-grandmother) composer Pono Beamer (his grandfather) master teacher Louise LeiomAlama Beamer (his grandmother) falsetto singer and pianist Mahi Beamer (his cousin) and chanter and teacher Winona Beamer (his mother). Keola cites his family as his primary musical influence and consciously seeks to maintain its legacy.

Hawaiian society has always placed a high value on sound which has led to a strong commitment to preserving traditional musical forms and an equally powerful interest in the music of other cultures. Reflecting this duality Keola has crafted his style with elements of the ancient and the modern the indigenous and the introduced. On the one hand he actively champions Hawaiian forms that predate contact with Europeans. As illustrated by the pieces The Beauty of Mauna Kea and Pele Trilogy he loves the chant form and plays traditional instruments such as ‘ohe hano ihu (bamboo nose flute) and ‘ili’ili (lava stone castanets). Says Keola “For me as for most Hawaiians hula and chant connect the generations.”

On the other hand Keola was one of the first slack key masters to experiment with electronic effects multi-track recording complex chord progressions even innovative guitar construction. Keola attributes the controversy this sometimes causes to healthy aesthetic and generational differences. “I remember at fifteen sitting at the feet of Aunty Alice Namakelua and hearing her call Gabby Pahinui a radical,” related Keola. “Now he’s considered traditional. For me that’s the beauty of slack key. Who wants to be in an art form with no room for expression left in it?

In the 196s Keola studied at the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu a hotbed of the emerging “Hawaiian Renaissance.” He also gained valuable experience performing with his mother who remains his favorite collaborator. Their most recent project a CD of stories and slack key entitled The Golden Lehua Tree (Starscape Music 96112) brings Hawaiian folklore to children and adults around the world.

In 1973 Keola released his groundbreaking solo album Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style (Music of Polynesia) and published the first slack key instruction book. In the 1970s Keola and his brother Kapono also formed The Beamer Brothers bringing slack key to the rock generation. Their mix of Hawaiiana and pop produced many Island standards including Keola’s best known original Honolulu City Lights. Through the 198s Keola continued his solo exploration of new musical territory while gaining inspiration from traditional music.

Keola’s first album on Dancing Cat Wooden Boat was released in 1994. Each of his Dancing Cat albums focuses on a different aspect of his art and is characterized by keen intelligence instrumental virtuosity and deep sensitivity to nature. “I’m pretty much a nature person,” Keola said. “Wherever we go my wife and I always pause and listen to the environment: the wind blowing through the hala leaves the water the birds. I get a lot of inspiration from those moments.” One such moment inspired Keola’s fourth album for Dancing Cat Kolonahe which centers on images of ka makani (the wind). Several songs in this recording make direct references to wind an important image in Hawaiian music while others incorporate subtle musical allusions to it.

In Hawai’i the creative impulse usually stems from a pleasurable experience. The concept for Kolonahe came to Keola one afternoon on Maui. “I was out in a distant valley sitting under some hau trees enjoying the space the quiet when all of a sudden the most beautiful refreshing breeze came through. It caressed everything in its path: the trees the grass the stones. It changed the whole complexion of that day. At a time like that how can you feel anything other than peace in your heart? Music is like that too. You can’t see the kolonahe but you can feel its presence. It brings something beautiful into our lives.”

In high school and college Beamer studied classical guitar and later when he began to teach guitar he published the first method book for his instrument. Around the same time in 1972 he recorded his first landmark solo album Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style filled with the nahenahe (soft and sweet) sound of this Hawaiian tradition. To this day this album continues to influence many guitarists.

Mutual fans of one another’s musical careers Keola Beamer and R. Carlos Nakai met when Nakai was organizing a workshop at Kalani Honua in Hawaii. Nakai wanted to include Hawaiian culture in the workshop and Beamer offered his services. Nakai who has brought the traditional Native American flute into new musical genres including jazz new age and classical constantly seeks new collaborators and new musical worlds to explore. Therefore it was natural that he would approach Beamer to see if he would be interested in doing a musical collaboration mixing disparate cultures. The result isOur Beloved Land.

Our Beloved Land features the sound of the Native American flute accompanied by the harmonies of the slack key guitar. Several songs also feature Beamer’s soulful vocal renditions of original and traditional Hawaiian songs.


Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style (1972)
Keola and Kapono Beamer (1976)
Honolulu City Lights (1978)
Sweet Maui Moon (1989)
Wooden Boat (1994)
Moe’uhane Kika – Tales from the Dream Guitar (Dancing Cat Records, 1995)
The Golden Lehua Tree (narrated by Nona Beamer) (1996)
Mauna Kea – White Mountain Journal (1997)
Kolohane – From the Gentle Wind (1999)
Island Born (2001)
Ka Leo O Loko – Soliloquy (Dancing Cat Records, 2002)
Mohala Hou – Music of the Hawaiian Renaissance (2003)
Ki Ho’alu (Loosen the Key) DVD (2003)
Our Beloved Land (with R. Carlos Nakai) (2005)
Keola Beamer & Raiatea (2010)
Kahikina O Ka Hau (The Coming of the Snow) (2011)
Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love) (2012)


Artist Profiles: Keali’i Reichel

Keali’i Reichel

Born and raised on Maui, Hawaii, Reichel spent weekends and summers at his grandmother’s house where he learned about the native songs music language and culture of Hawaii.

Reichel later founded his own halau hula (hula school) called Halau Hula o ka Makani Wili Makaha o Kaua’ula. With his knowledge of traditional Hawaiian music and songs Reichel embarked on a career in music with his debut recording Kawaipunahele (the favorite waters) in 1994. The album sold more copies than any Hawaiian music release in history and received five 1995 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaii’s version of the Grammys).

The enormous popularity of his later releases Lei Hali’a (lei of fond memories) E O Mai (to acknowledge respond) and Melelana (lullaby) confirmed his reputation as one of Hawaii’s favorite artists.

Over the years Reichel has shared the beauty of Hawaiian music with audiences around the world performing at venues throughout Japan Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl and opening for artists such as Bonnie Raitt Sting and Celine Dion.

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) presented Keali’i with gold record status for Kawaipunahele. This is the first gold record for a predominately Hawaiian-language album.

Keali’i retains his initial goal of presenting new compositions in the Hawaiian language for hula students and works to dispel long-held stereotypes of Hawaii’s living culture and her indigenous people.


Kawaipunahele (Punahele Productions, 1994)
Lei Haliʻa (Punahele Productions, 1995)
ʻE O Mai (Punahele Productions, 1997)
Melelana (Punahele Productions, 1999)
Keʻalaokamaile (Punahele Productions, 2003)
Kawaiokalena (Punahele Productions, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Cyril Pahinui

Cyril Pahinui – Photo by Chelle Pahinu


Cyril Pahinui grew up in Hawaii, in the small town of Waimanalo at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains on O’ahu’s Windward coast. His father Philip “Gabby” Pahinui was Hawaii’s best known and most influential Slack Key guitarist famous for his beautiful and innovative guitar playing his soulful vocals and his charismatic personality. ‘Dad always said “Stick to your Hawaiian music you can play other music too but stick with playing Hawaiian music.” I followed his advice and I am more and more thankful every year that I did ‘ said Cyril. ‘The things my dad did for me opened doors. He paved the road for me and that road even brought me to Carnegie Hall two times.’

Cyril played in several bands with family members including the all star group  known as The Gabby Band (comprised of Cyril and his father, brothers Bla Phillip and Martin as well as Joe Gang Kupahu, Leland “Atta” Isaacs and Sonny Chillingworth) and The Peter Moon Band that featured his brother Martin as well.

Cyril Pahinui – Photo by Chelle Pahinu


In 1992 Cyril joined his brothers Bla and Martin to record the Pahinui Brothers album The Pahinui Bros. and also began recording for Dancing Cat Records as a solo performer. His debut release on Dancing Cat 6 & 12 String Slack Key won the 1994 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Instrumental Album of the Year.

Cyril offered workshops and school programs for students of all kinds and musicians.

In 2017, Pahinui was selected a heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cyril Pahinui died on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


The Pahinui Bros. (Private Music, 1992)

6 & 12 String Slack Key (Dancing Cat Records, 1994)

Night Moon – Po Mahina (Dancing Cat Records, 1998)

Four Hands Sweet & Hot (Dancing Cat Records, 1999)

Ka Ho’oilina Mau (Tropical Music 1999)

He’eia (Dancing Cat Records, 2007)


Kalani Pe’a Wins Best Regional Roots Music Album Grammy Award

Kalani Pe’a – E Walea

E Walea (Kalani Pe’a Music) by Hawaiian artist Kalani Pe’a is the winenr of the Best Regional Roots Music Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The other finalists were:

Broken Promised Land (Swallow Records) – Barry Jean Ancelet & Sam Broussard
It’s A Cree Thing (Canyon Records) – Northern Cree
Gulfstream (Octavia Records) – Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars
I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax In The Evangeline Country (Valcour Records) – (Various Artists); Joshua Caffery & Joel Savoy, producers


Artist Profiles: Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro


Widely recognized as the world’s top ukulele player, Jake Shimabukuro (shee-ma-BOO-koo-roh) is internationally renowned for lightening-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques. He views the ukulele as an “untapped source of music with unlimited potential.” Jake’s virtuosity defies label or category. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical music, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake’s mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than only the traditional Hawaiian music many associate it with.

Jake was born November 3, 1976 in Honolulu, Hawaii. At just four years of age, Jake’s mother gave him his first ukulele lesson. “When I played my first chord I was hooked,” says Jake, “I fell in love with the instrument.” That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate. Experimenting with various techniques allows Jake to create sounds never thought possible on the tiny four-string, two-octave instrument.

A spectacular showman, his performances captivate audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads. His covers of tunes by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are interpretations that have dazzled and delighted audiences worldwide.


Jake Shimabukuro – Photo by Hisahi Ushida


From a modest beginning performing at a local Honolulu café, Jake has gone on to play famous venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles), The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), Tipitina’s (New Orleans), Joe’s Pub and B.B. King’s Nightclub (New York City), The Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), The Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) and many others. Occasional tours with Jimmy Buffett since 2005 have given Jake the experience of a lifetime, regularly exposing his virtuosity and amazing stage presence to crowds of over 50,000.

Jake toured with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (2002, 2005, 2006) and recorded on the band’s Little Worlds (2003) album. Jake is also featured on Ziggy Marley’s Grammy Award winning album Love is My Religion (2006) and contributed to the soundtrack of the Jimmy Buffett-produced film, Hoot. This was a rewarding experience for Jake and gave him the confidence to score the Japanese independent film Hula Girl.

The album Travels came out in 2015. The recording featured original compositions by Jake as well as modern interpretations of cherished Hawaiian standards and two 1970s’ pop hits, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, and “Low Rider” by War.



Also in 2015, Jake returned home to Honolulu to participate in the world premiere of Campanella, the first-ever concerto written for the ukulele. The piece was composed by Dr. Byron Yasui for Jake to perform with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. “It was a great moment for the ukulele, because it was the first time that the ukulele was presented as a classical instrument,” said Jake. “It was, by far, the most difficult piece of music I have ever performed.”

In early 2016, Jake released Live In Japan (Hitchhike Records/eOne), a two-CD set featuring career-spanning musical pieces, including a 10-minute classic reworking of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

A few months later, Jake released Nashville Sessions (2016), his first album of all original songs. what was conceived as studio jams evolved into beautifully structured compositions. The lineup incliuded Nolan Verner on bass and Evan Hutchings on drums.



* Sunday Morning (Hitchhike Records, 2002)
* Skyline (2002)
* Crosscurrrent (Hitchhike Records, 2003)
* Walking Down Rainhill (Hitchhike Records, 2004)
* Dragon (Hitchhike Records, 2005)
* Gently Weeps (Hitchhike Records, 2006)
* Haruyo Koi
* My Life (Hitchhike Records, 2007)
* Hula Girls (Hitchhike Records, 2007)
* Live (Hitchhike Records, 2009)
* Peace Love Ukulele (Hitchhike Records, 2011)
* Grand Ukulele (Hitchhike Records, 2012)
* Travels (Hitchhike Records, 2015)
* Live in Japan (Hitchhike Records, 2016)
* Nashville Sessions (Js Records , 2016)


* Play Loud Ukulele (2005)
* Million Miles Away (2005)

Web Site: www.jakeshimabukuro.com


Artist Profiles: Barney Isaacs

Barney Isaacs

Alvin Kalanikau “Barney” Isaacs, Jr. was one of Hawaii’s leading steel guitarists. Barney grew up in a musical family that included his father, composer and band leader Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs, Sr., and two brothers, slack key master Leland “Atta” Isaacs and multi-instrumentalist Norman Isaacs.

Barney remembered being exposed to music from the time he was small. “We had a big house and music was there all the time. Our dad had a dance band that rehearsed on the premises. They played all kinds of music, not just Hawaiian.” Alvin, Sr. actively encouraged his ten children to play. He taught Barney, Atta and Norman the rudiments of steel guitar while they were still in elementary school. “When my dad noticed that we were always playing together, he suggested we form a trio,” Barney recalled. When the trio was formed, they had to spread out.

As the oldest, I got to pick first, so I stayed with the steel.” Atta went to the guitar and Norman played the bass. “We could sing parts and everything. At that time Hawaiian music was very danceable fox trots, waltzes. We were always trying to keep up, learn as much as we could from the older guys and each other. Pua Almeida, Jules Ah See, the Kalimas, they were all our age. Jules’ steel playing probably had the most influence on me. He could really make it sing. He had so many styles and different tunings. He was so adept at picking things up, but he never lost his own recognizable sound.”

Alvin, Sr. was a very popular band leader and composer, and in 1948 Barney accepted a position in his father’s group, the acclaimed Royal Hawaiian Serenaders. “It couldn’t have been a better place to start – in the Monarch Room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with that group – my father, Benny Kalama, George Kainapau. They were really terrific.” From the late 194os, Barney was one of Hawaii’s most multifaceted and active performers, and a traveling ambassador of the steel guitar. He spent 25 years with the Hawaii Calls radio show and enjoyed long collaborations with Alfred Apaka, Danny Kaleikini and his own groups at various nightspots.

Also active behind the scenes, Barney served as the musical director for Waikiki Records in the 1950s and even managed his own club, The Palm Tree Inn, turning it into one of the most important musicians’ hangout. Barney’s father was well-known for the large musical gatherings he liked to hold at his house in Kalihi. Following his father’s example, Barney loved to bring musicians together to socialize and perform for their own enjoyment. He also taught and served on the governing board of the major steel guitar societies.

Barney’s recording credits number in the hundreds, including trailblazing electric steel and slack key duets in the 1950s with Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs, accompanied by a rhythm section on Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volumes 1 and 2 (Waikiki Records 319 & 320) that were the spiritual predecessors for Barney’s Dancing Cat release Hawaiian Touch. During the recording sessions, Barney said that he felt a special aloha for that project. “The acoustic steel is the instrument I started on,” he said. “Believe it or not, this was the first time I ever recorded on it.”

Barney Isaacs passed away in 1996.


Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 1 (Waikiki Records 319)
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2 (Waikiki Records 320)
E’Mau (MKH Productions, 1995)
Hawaiian Touch (Dancing Cat / Windham Hill Records, 1995)


Traditional and Modern Sounds from the Pacific

Various Artists - Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music (Arc Music, 2016)
Various Artists – Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music (Arc Music, 2016)

Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music gives the listener an opportunity to learn more about the music from the various islands of the Pacific Ocean. The compilation combines field recordings by David Fanshawe, including recordings of surf and other natural sounds as well as traditional music chants; along with contemporary studio recordings.

The best known act on the album is Te Vaka, an excellent band representing Tokelau and other Pacific Islands. They have traveled throughout the world, showcasing their mix of pop, folk and spectacular island percussion numbers.

Another familiar name is Hawaii’s Harry Kalapana, who plays the twangy traditional slack key guitar.

Islands represented include Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, and Easter Island.

The CD booklet provides additional details about each track and the islands.

Discover Music from the Pacific is a likeable exploration of the vocal and percussion styles in the Pacific Ocean island communities.

Buy Discover Music from the Pacific with ARC Music