Tag Archives: Slack Key

LIVE 039 • Henry Street Slack Key

Here is a demo of a song I wrote a while back called Henry Street Slack Key – named for what was then the still developing Henry Street, which runs between Kuakini Highway and Palani Rd in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The street had a lot of places I went to at the time – a healthfood store, a Border’s Books (with a great music selection, in the days when CD’s ruled), Wal-Mart (a place to run into people in small town Kailua-Kona), Safeway, several coffee shops, and a Korean BBQ. This is also one of the few recordings I made with my Larrivee parlor guitar – a rosewood / sitka spruce P-09, which I have since sold. 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, 8/26/07.

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Pua Lililehua – Slack Key Guitar

LIVE 038 • Punahele – Ray Kane

Here is another Ray Kane cover – this time his classic song Punahele. According to the Dancing Cat liner notes, Punahele (“favorite” or “pet”) came to Ray “one night in 1938 at Zablan’s Beach in Nanakuli. ‘Back in those days there were no cars, it was pitch black. So I sit there in the dark in the nice cool breeze and I hear the waves bouncing on the sand and see the moonlight flicker on the water. It inspired me, something so nice. So mellow. That’s what gave me my inspiration.’”
Similar to other songs Ray composed on the beach (Keiki Slack Key for example), this mellow laid back songs exemplifies Ray’s nahenahe approach that to me represents the archetype of ‘old style’ slack key. Like Keiki Slack Key, Punahele is one of the first slack key songs I learned, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. I recently improvised a few new licks into the song, and recorded a half dozen takes – some 5-6 minutes long. I think this short three and a quarter minute version gets the point across though. Hope you enjoy.

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

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Keiki Slack Key – Ray Kane

Pua Lililehua – Slack Key Guitar

Magic Sands – Original Slack Key

LIVE 036 • Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór

Here is 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 of the song is played a little on the slower side of what you normally hear, but I may record a slightly more uptempo version later on. I think the song works well both ways to be honest, one of the many interesting things about it. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, Gotoh 510 tuners, strings are Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

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Banyan (Slack Key on Nylon String Guitar)

LIVE 027 • Banyan

Banyan (a/k/a “Banyans,” or “Banyan Tree Slack Key”) is a slack key style song I wrote about 10 or 12 years ago on nylon string guitar. I used to play my gut string ‘beach’ guitar around beaches and surf spots in Kona like Magic Sands, Banyans, and Old Airport. For one, the nylon strings aren’t as affected by the salt air, and for two, it was less expensive than my other guitar at the time, a Taylor 310ce that I didn’t want to take to the beach. 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 those mystical banyan trees in general. Shortly after writing this song, I sold that nylon – an Ibanez, sort of crossover model – though I continued to rotate this and a few other related songs in and out of my set. Until recently though, it had really been a while since I played this song. Once more, owning a nylon string guitar again inspired me to go back and revisit some older material. Hope you enjoy.

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

All rights reserved to this song, however students may perform the song in public.

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Magic Sands

Pua Lililehua

LIVE 026 • Keiki Slack Key on Nylon String Guitar

Today’s song is a cover of the Ray Kane classic “Keiki Slack Key” (not to be confused with the Sonny Chillingworth song of the same name). To me, Ray Kane is probably the best example of an ‘old style’ slack key player, and his tracks are always nahenahe. I never got to take a lesson from Ray, though I did get to speak to him and his wife Elodia on the phone once, not long before he passed – a cherished memory. Keiki Slack Key is one of the first slack key songs I transcribed, and has stayed on my setlists ever since. This arrangement was inspired by my recent purchase of a nylon string guitar; I really think this song works well on nylon for a number of reasons. Hope you enjoy.

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

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Pua Lililehua – Slack Key Guitar

Magic Sands

GEAR 532 • Taylor 414ce-NR through a Fishman Loudbox Artist

Here is a video featuring a couple of relatively recent purchases for me – a Taylor 414ce-NR (nylon string, rosewood/sitka) and a Fishman Loudbox Artist. This is meant to serve as a sound demo for what the Loudbox sounds like with a nylon string guitar and what the Taylor nylon pick-up (ES-N, not the ES2) sounds like. I close miked the amp to get a truer representation, but you get a little bit more open sound when you hear it from across the room.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce nylon string) into a Fishman Loudbox Artist amp miked with a Sennheiser e906 dynamic microphone. Reverb is from the amp, not an added effect.

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Tranquility – fingerstyle on nylon string guitar

Pua Lililehua – Slack Key Guitar

LIVE 017 • Pua Lililehua

Here is a rendition of Pua Lililehua from the vaults. I always enjoyed this song because it is mostly sweet and mellow, but still has a bit of tension that creates a sense of yearning in it. I recorded this while living in an ohana unit with a large, tiled room that I kept mostly empty because I enjoyed the acoustics. (Plus, I don’t own a lot of furniture.) 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, 2/27/08.

All rights reserved to this arrangement.

SLACK 401 • Coffee Bean Slack Key – Lesson on How to Play

Coffee Bean Slack Key is a simple, slack key tinged song that I wrote so that you could have fun learning to play it. 😉 It works well at a variety of tempos: beginners can play it slow and more advanced players might have fun improvising around it. To that end, I’ve recorded several versions of the song for you to check out (links below). Feel free to play along, though I didn’t use a click track or metronome so tempo varies a little. Also note, most of the example versions are just played with an A-B-A format, however you can play longer versions of the song (i.e. A-B-A-B-A). I hope you have fun with this song.

All rights reserved to the song “Coffee Bean Slack Key,” however students are allowed to perform the song in public.

SLACK 401 • Coffee Bean Slack Key – Lesson on How to Play

SLACK 402 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Slow)

SLACK 403 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Med-Slow)

SLACK 404 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Med-Fast)

SLACK 405 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Fast, with some improv)

SLACK 402 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Slow)

Coffee Bean Slack Key played at a slow tempo. This song was written as a study piece, however it works as a fun, simple song in its own right.

The song can be played at a variety of tempos: beginners can play it slow and more advanced players might have fun improvising around it. To that end, I’ve recorded several other versions of the song for you to check out (links below). Feel free to play along to these recordings, though I didn’t use a click track or metronome so tempo varies a little. Also note, most of the example versions are just played with an A-B-A format, however you can play longer versions of the song (i.e. A-B-A-B-A). I hope you have fun with this song.

Please see the related lesson for this song (link below), as well as other lessons on my channel.

All rights reserved to the song “Coffee Bean Slack Key,” however students are allowed to perform the song in public.

SLACK 401 • Coffee Bean Slack Key – Lesson on How to Play

SLACK 402 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Slow)

SLACK 403 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Med-Slow)

SLACK 404 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Med-Fast)

SLACK 405 • Coffee Bean Slack Key (Fast, with some improv)