Tag Archives: big island

LIVE 089 • Bumble Bee Slack Key

Demo recording of original song Bumble Bee Slack Key, inspired in part by the nalo meli, honey bees buzzing about their business. I wanted a song that was both lively and mellow and think I achieved it. 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, 12/16/07.

LIVE 071 • Green Tea (Fingerstyle Improv)

“Green Tea” is a fingerstyle improvisation based on the idea of toying with certain oft used open tuning tropes and seeing how they could be morphed. Listening back, I enjoy the sound of the dreadnaught guitar I recorded it on, even though I have been using predominantly smaller bodied guitars for the last 4-5 years or so. While small bodied guitars have a great balance that is perfect for many situations, sometimes there’s just something nice about the sound of a big boomy acoustic box. 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, 12/14/07.

LIVE 070 • Sunny Afternoon In My Ohana (Koaloha Pineapple Soprano)

Today’s song from the vaults is an ukulele improvisation dubbed “Sunny Afternoon in My Ohana,” after the ohana unit where I recorded it. The unit centered on a large tile floored room with great acoustics that I kept mostly empty of furniture for recording purposes. People think of tile as producing a bright, harsh sound, but I never found the room to be that way at all. At any rate, it complemented the sound of ukulele nicely and though I only have a handful of uke recordings from that time, I recall playing uke a lot while living there. Anyway, this is one of those recordings; I hope you enjoy this music.

Recorded with a Koaloha pineapple soprano ukulele and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 3/1/08.

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 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.

LIVE 086 • Silver Threads – Slack Key Improv

Here is an improvisation I did based on Leonard Kwan’s famous slack key arrangement of “Silver Threads Among the Gold.” This classic tune is a popular piece in the slack key repertoire and often one of the first things people learn when exploring Drop C tuning. Most listeners of modern day Hawaii radio will recognize Silver Threads as the slack key passage quoted in the intro to Country Comfort’s Waimanalo Blues, a beloved song in the islands in its own right. Hope you enjoy.

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

LIVE 084 • Kaiminani Slack Key

Here is an original slack key song I 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 079 • Moment in the Sun & Crossing the Field

“Moment in the Sun” and it’s companion song “Crossing the Field” were recorded as a pair of songs to set the stage for the second half of my “Awake Again” album. Following the dramatic strumming of “Make” that closed the first half of the album, “Moment” & “Field” frame the mellower vibe of the album’s remaining songs. 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, 4/20/09.