Years back I was working on some turnaround ideas when I wrote “Slippery Slack Key.” Also known as the “Slippery Fish Slack Key,” this is a fast paced and fun to play slack key song that saw various incarnations in my set a few years back. The slippery runs were inspired in part by the fish in the waters off Kailua-Kona. Kona’s world famous fishing was also brought to mind frequently by my landlord at the time I wrote this song, a local fish boat captain named Chuck. Hope you enjoy.
Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Sapele/Spruce, Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, 9/20/07.
For your listening pleasure here is a collection of Ki Ho’alu a/k/a Hawaiian Slack Key guitar instrumentals. This compilation includes both energetic and relaxed tunes, though I’d say the overall vibe is relaxing. I like to listen to some of those longer “relaxing music” videos while working on the computer and became inspired to produce some videos featuring my own performances. Hope you enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.