Kaleponi Liner Notes
01 - Ki Ho`alu
one of the traditional standard pieces. I learned this melody by listening to Leonard Kwan, Ledward Kaapana, and Raymond Kane, three masterful musicians. This version is played in the G Wahine tuning, with its relaxed ebb and flow and satisfying bass runs.
02 - Kui Lima
playing weddings is one of the special pleasures of being a musician. I wrote this to play as recessional at my first wedding performance. The title means "Hand in Hand.
03 - Grandfather's Clock
Leonard Kwan was one of the giants of slack key guitar. His "Opihi Moemoe" is a classic, and his style has influenced many players including myself. I competed in several Ebay auctions before I won my copy of his landmark "Slack Key" album. My excitement at hearing this vintage example of Leonard's artistry turned to amazement when I heard the familiar melody of "Grandfather's Clock" in Leonard's very personal interpretation. This famous old song, written in 1876 by Henry C. Work, has been adopted by folk and popular singers, banjo pickers, and by `ukulele players. I couldn't resist adding my version to the long chain of tick-tocks and chimes.
04 - Na Kaikaina `Eha
another wedding composition. A young lady named Maile asked me to perform for her ceremony, so I wrote this celebration of the four sisters: Maile-ha`i-wale, Maile-lau-nui, Maile-lau-li`i, and Maile-kaluhea. These sisters are famous for adventures in Hawaiian myth, their namesake plants are cherished for lei.
05 - Monorail Slack Key
Patrick Landeza was my first slack key teacher and he has always been generous in sharing his knowledge and his feelings for the music. This is one of his early compositions, one that I find irresistably fun. The title and the main theme come from an airport people-mover ... that didn't move. Patrick says that in spite of the repeated ringing of the warning bell their monorail shuttle just sat there, and he was inspired to compose a piece based on the sound of that bell.
06 - Kaula `Ili
Sonny Chillingworth had passed on before I discovered slack key, but he left behind a magnificent legacy of music. Old or new, instrumental or vocal, slack key or standard tuning, English, Hawaiian, or Portuguese, Sonny put a personal stamp on every piece he performed. This old waltz from the paniolo country of the Big Island is one of his classics, and my version is a tribute to him.
07 - Kaleponi
ties between California and Hawai`i are many, and go back to the early days of contact between the islands and the lands to the East. This old hula tells of a Hawaiian man leaving for California. He promises his fiance that when he returns they'll marry, and he asks her what he might bring her as a gift. This instrumental version is a romp through the repeated "vamp" that provides the musical setting for her list.
08 - Ka Makani `Olu`olu
of all the teachers, musicians, and composers who have influenced my slack key journey, my sweet wife, Lynn, has been the most important. She dragged me to the islands where I first heard this music, she encouraged me when I was frustrated and unable to make progress in learning, she prompted me to play for friends and relatives, and she responded so warmly that I always desired to play more and better. This tune is written, named, and played for her ... she moves through my life like the loveliest sweet, gentle breeze.
09 - No Ke Ano Ahiahi
this piece caught our ear in Keola Beamer's chicken skin instrumental version, and in the romping vocals of the Sons of Hawai`i. We love the stately rendition by Mike Ka`awa, the pride and passion Moe Keale conveys, Cyril Pahinui's plaintive vocals and 12 string orchestral guitar, Ledward Kaapana's free spirited instrumental with Bob Brozman. The celebration of the life, name, and famous California voyage of King William Lunalilo is shadowed by the knowledge that he reigned for only thirteen months before dying of tuberculosis.
10 - Salomila
a vocal song of near endless verses. Ledward Kaapana manages to capture the naughty twinkling nature of the song in his many instrumental renditions, and my version is inspired by him.
11 - Waialua Slack Key
I composed my first original slack key piece on a trip to O`ahu some years ago. The seed idea popped out of the guitar while I was noodling in the Oakland airport, and I finished the tune sitting on the lanai at our rental house, while the sound of the surf rushing ashore in Waialua Bay provided the rhythm.
12 - Isa Lei
this famous Fijian song of farewell is my humble way to pay tribute to Gabby Pahinui, without whom slack key may well have slipped away completely. The extraordinary artistry of his recordings led to a resurgence of interest in the style, and his influence is cited over and over by the musicians we follow today. Gabby recorded this song as an instrumental, along with "Aloha Oe," as a farewell medley, and his sons included a vocal version on their "Pahinui Brothers" album, where I learned it.
Kaleponi Rear Cover
Slack key guitar, or ki ho`alu, preceded both the `ukulele and the steel guitar in Hawaiian musical history. It was the music of paniolo camps and backyard parties rather than hotels and concerts. Slack key was handed down within the family, or ohana. Tunings and songs were taught by a father, mother, uncle, or aunt. In the 1970s Keola Beamer and Leonard Kwan saw that keeping the music a family secret was leading to the disappearance of slack key songs and styles. They took the first steps to document the style and provide written instruction. Others followed in their footsteps, taking on students, writing books, creating videos, and finally using the Internet to share their musical heritage with students around the world. Their generosity and vision made us all a part of the Hawaiian music ohana.
Special thanks to those who have helped me (and many others) learn this music. Keola Beamer, Ozzie Kotani, Patrick Landeza, Ledward Kaapana, Kevin Brown, Dennis Kamakahi, and Cyril Pahinui have all helped me along the way. Andy Wang provides an invaluable service with his Taropatch.net, bringing together fans of Hawaiian music from all over the world. Mahalo to you all, I'm in your debt.
With the help and guidance of all these people and many more, I've tried to learn to make the beautiful music we call slack key. I've played for friends and family and strangers, in offices and airports and hospitals, for parties and on street corners, in bars and coffee shops and concert halls. The learning and playing has been a wonderful musical adventure. I'm happy to be able to share Hawaiian slack key guitar with you.
My deepest gratitude must always go to the person who brought me to Hawai`i, who encouraged me to take up the music, allowed me to spend household funds on guitars and recording gear, and serves as inspiration for most of my original pieces, my ku`u Lina, the lovely Lynn Guidry.