Category Archives: Slack Key

Awake Again

“Awake Again” is an unfinished project I started working on in in early 2009 and only recently revisited. Now, assembled here together for the first time since it was recorded, the music in this playlist brings the project to a conclusion of sorts.

This music here was recorded in Holualoa, Hawai’i, on 11 different dates ranging from 2/14/09 through 6/20/09.  Rather than a finished product this is the complete ‘first draft,’ comprised of the best recordings from that time in the order I had envisioned for the completed project.  Hope you enjoy.

Track List:
1 – Intro 6/13/09
2 – Dust Yourself Off 2/24/09
3 – Ohio River Rag 3/1/09
4 – Transition I 3/1/09
5 – Straight Ahead Blues 2/26/09
6 – Hand Dancing 6/20/09
7 – Home Abroad 3/18/09
8 – Make 3/19/09
9 – Moment in the Sun 4/20/09
10 – Crossing the Field 4/20/09
11 – Morning and Night 6/20/09
12 – Brownsboro Road 4/20/09
13 – Bull By the Horns 2/14/09
14 – Kona Snow 6/20/09
15 – Transition One 3/16/09
16 – Momentum 6/8/09
17 – Outro 6/20/09

LIVE 107 • Kuakini Slack Key

Here is a demo of a song called Kuakini Slack Key, named after Kuakini Highway (which was in turn named after former governor of Hawai’i island and builder of Hulihe’e Palace, John Adams Kuakini).  I wrote this in a friends’ condo which was off Kuakini, not far from Palani Road and the Kailua pier.  As a kid, I also lived for several years in a home farther south that was just off Kuakini. 

This is one of the few recordings done with a Larrivee parlor guitar I used to own – a rosewood / spruce P-09, which I have since sold.  There’s also a fun little manual fade at the end.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Larrivée P-09 Parlor guitar (Rosewood / Sitka Spruce) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM 141 microphones in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 8/27/07.   

LIVE 110 • Punahoa Special

Today’s song is the joyful “Punahoa Special,” a signature showpiece of legendary slack key master Fred Punahoa. This is a song I was fortunate enough to learn directly from Led Ka’apana, one that Led had in turn learned directly from Fred himself. Though Fred Punahoa never made a full album under his own name, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album in addition to fostering amazing talents of the next generation such as Led and Sonny Lim. “Punahoa Special” is an often covered song in the slack key canon, and might also be the most popular song in Mauna Loa slack key tuning. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 105 • Hilo Rag (alt take)

Here is an alternate take of Dennis Kamakahi’s song, “Hilo Rag.”  This is a super fun song to play and one of my favorites 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.  Hope you enjoy.

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

LIVE 109 • Banyan (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of my song “Banyan” (a/k/a “Banyans,” or “Banyan Tree Slack Key”), a slack key style song I wrote years ago on nylon string guitar.  I used to play my gut string ‘beach’ guitar (an old Ibanez) around beaches and surf spots in Kona like Magic Sands, Banyans, and Old Airport.  So I guess this song is partially named after the surf spot, but also after some banyan trees near Magic Sands – some of which have since been cut down – or even majestic banyan trees in general.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 104 • Ki Ho’alu

Here’s my take on Gabby Pahinui’s classic instrumental simply and appropriately titled “Ki Ho’alu,” which is course is the Hawaiian term for “slack key.”  I probably first heard this song on the stellar “Pure Gabby” album – a must own – although it has appeared on other compilations and been covered by numerous slack key artists, including Ozzie Kotani’s excellent version.  My version is inspired by Gabby, Ozzie, and also Dennis Kamakahi who was prolific in the Mauna Loa tuning.  

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 099 • Mauna Loa Slack Key

Here is my cover of “Mauna Loa Slack Key,” one of the relatively few surviving original songs from legendary slack key kupuna Fred Punahoa.  Though “Uncle” Fred never made a full album, he did make a notable appearance on the Waimea Music Festival album which features Mauna Loa Slack Key along with another of Fred’s originals, “Punahoa Special.”  Uncle Fred’s legacy also includes fostering amazing Big Island talents of the next generation such as Ledward Ka’apana and Sonny Lim.  Like the Punahoa Special, Mauna Loa Slack Key is an often covered song in the slack key world.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 10/11/07.

LIVE 092 • Opihi Moe Moe (Taylor 310ce)

Here’s a recently found cover I did of Leonard Kwan’s signature tune, Opihi Moe Moe. One of the most popular songs in the slack key repetoire, this song has been covered perhaps most prominently by Led Kaapana; in fact, Chet Atkins even recorded a version after hearing it from Leonard on a visit to Hawai’i. Notably, Leonard himself recorded several versions of this song including variations such as Opihi Bounce. Opihi Moe Moe is a fun song to play that lends itself to little variations, and everyone seems to bring something different to this deceptively simple song. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/4/2008.

LIVE 097 • Kaiminani Slack Key (Alt Take)

Here is an alternate take of my original slack key song, “Kaiminani Slack Key.”  The song is named for Kaiminani Drive in Kalaoa, North Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Kaiminani Drive is a main mauka-makai road that connects the Queen Kaahumanu and Mamalahoa highways (lower and upper roads, respectively).  It also runs through the Kona Palisades neighborhood where I lived for a number of years as  a child.  Back then, the neighborhood was less developed, and my friends and I would build tree houses and play in the vacant lots.  We could also watch the planes come and go at Kona International Airport at Keahole Point (KOA), and had easy access to then-uncrowded OTEC (Wawaloli) and Pine Trees (Kohanaiki) beaches.  Hope you enjoy.

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

LIVE 094 • Gabby Style Hula Medley

Today’s post is a performance of “Hula Medley,” which pays tribute to Gabby Pahinui’s hugely influential recordings of the same name (both the early solo verision, and the version found on Pure Gabby).  Many have covered this over the years, with one of my favorite versions appearing on Sonny Chilingworth’s Sonny Solo album.  Per below, my recording of the medley here includes a slightly different lineup of songs.  Hope you enjoy.

Medley:
Intro / Nani Wale Li’hue
Wai’alae
U’lili E
Aloha ‘Oe

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, in fall of 2007.