Tag Archives: Hawaii

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 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 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 087 • Mino’aka – Keola Beamer

Mino’aka (Smile) is a short, sweet song from slack key master Keola Beamer’s Soliloquy album. Soliloquy is one of my favorite Dancing Cat era albums from Keola and a highly recommended listen. Keola’s book is one of the first I picked up when I really delved into the slack key style years ago, and this was one of my favorite songs featured in the book. In fact, I also recommend Keola’s book for beginner to intermediate fingerstyle players who are looking to learn some slack key. Although the version I recorded here is at a slightly faster tempo, I hope it still captures the original’s relaxed feel. 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 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.