LIVE 069 • Kailua Bay Blues

Today’s tune from the vaults is a recording of a slack key song I wrote and called “Kailua Bay Blues.” I spent a lot of time as a kid swimming in the waters of historic and majestic Kailua Bay, the waterfront area of ‘downtown’ Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. The bay is surrounded by historic residences once occupied by the Hawaiian Monarchy, hotels, restaurants, and usually someone fishing off the seawall. The area also hosts the swim and finish line for the Ironman World Championship triathlon. The waters of Kailua Bay, as well as the sky above, can have many different shades of blue – thus a double meaning for this bluesy slack key song’s title. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM 141 microphones in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 9/13/07.  


LIVE 093 • Hilo Rag (Dennis Kamakahi)

Hilo Rag is a super fun tune to play from Dennis Kamakahi’s oeuvre.  Better known for lyrical songs like Koke’e, Hilo Rag makes me wish I heard more of Dennis’s instrumental work.  I was fortunate enough to meet Dennis and son David years ago and see them play, both on stage and in smaller back porch style jam sessions.  I remember Dennis dressing sharp in his kind of urban paniolo style, complete with boots and cowboy hat.  Like I say, this is such a fun song to play I can never just play it once when I’m running through songs (and will be posting an alternate take on my other channel soon).  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and an Ear Trumpet Labs “Edwina” microphone.  


LIVE 096 • Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (Taylor 912ce)

Here is another version of my arrangement of Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Little Fairy, Big Fairy), reportedly the first song composed by famous 17th century bard Turlough O’Carolan.  This version was recorded on my 912ce, which I feel is a perfect guitar for this arrangement.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.  

LIVE 090 • Moonglow (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of Moonglow, a song I wrote years ago while sitting outside under a full moon. I’ve played it on and off for years, most always on steel string guitar. More recently I tried it on nylon and found it worked quite well – perhaps even better. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and an Ear Trumpet Labs “Edwina” microphone.

LIVE 067 • Waimea Ride (Slack Key Improvisation)

Today’s song from the vaults, “Waimea Ride,” is a slack key improvisation that blossoms from a familiar type of descending figure.  Though often used as part of a turnaround, this type of walk down has also been featured as a melodic device in a number of songs, most notably Leonard Kwan’s classic signature tune Opihi Moe Moe.   I also recall Ozzie Kotani using it in some of his songs.  Anyway, I thought the descending figure and overall pace of this improv might evoke the picture of a Paniolo riding downslope on horseback, ergo the title.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM 141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/11/08.

GEAR 516 • Koa as a Tonewood

Today we explore the use of Hawaiian koa as a tonewood, also discussing the wood’s origins in mauka forests in Hawai’i, its historical uses in native Hawaiian culture to modern day usage, and forestry stewardship.  Koa is a bright, relatively dry tonewood with punchy low-mids; clear, sparkly highs; and sweet chiming overtones.  Not only is koa a good sounding wood with a strong heritage, but it is also a beautiful wood that can exhibit stunning figuring.  Koa guitars are excellent for jazz, folk and rootsy fingerstyle, and slack key among other applications.

Recorded with a Taylor K22ce (solid koa grand concert with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

GEAR 515 • Taylor Koa Series Guitars (feat Taylor K22ce)

This video provides an overview on Taylor’s Koa Series guitars, featuring a Taylor K22ce with solid koa top, back, & sides.  Though Taylor uses koa on various models throughout its line, the Koa Series is Taylor’s dedicated koa line and features solid koa back & sides on all models in the series.  In recent years, Taylor has moved to a more organic look with solid wood appointments and earthy edge burst finishes.  The guitars are bright, but in a good way – the note separation is great for complex chords, making it a good fit for jazz; the punchy low-mids are good for folk and rootsy fingerstyle; and the sweet overtones make the guitar perfect for slack key among other applications.   

Recorded with a Taylor K22ce (solid koa grand concert with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 068 • Louisville Rag

Here is a demo from the vaults of a song called “Louisville Rag” that I recorded a few years back. The idea behind the tune was to write an uptempo instrumental with a similar feel to the Nashville Skyline Rag from the eponymous Bob Dylan album. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310 in Louisville, Ky 9/28/12.