Steel Trappings

Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival Artists and Musicians

2016 Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival Recap

June 1, 2016 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

The first annual Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival was held at the Courtyard by Marriott Kaua'i at Coconut Beach on February 5-6, 2016. The first-of-it's kind festival on Kaua'i was scheduled to coordinate with and immediately precede Keola Beamer's annual Aloha Music Camp and provide Kaua'i residents and music campers an enhanced experience with the Hawaiian steel guitar. As with other steel guitar festivals organized by the non-profit HIMELE, this festival was free and open to the public.

The festival kicked off Friday evening with two introductory steel guitar workshops. The first was offered to Kauai school students as an alternative to normally-scheduled school visitations and presentations which could not be made due to a teacher in-service day. The second workshop was open to everyone else. Both workshops were well attended and provided participants with the history and background of the Hawaiian steel guitar. Music featuring the Hawaiian steel guitar was also performed by workshop instructors Alan Akaka and Greg Sardinha, along with the Ke Kula Mele players. A general kanikapila was held after the workshops with participants playing and enjoying traditional Hawaiian music and giving some open stage performers additional opportunities for practice and confidence building.

Some really great steel guitar performances graced the open stage beginning at 9:00 AM Saturday under bright sunshine and clear skies, and featured steel guitarists from California, Canada, Washington D.C., and Illinois, as well as local Kaua'i and Kona (Hawai'i) performers. Weissenborn-type acoustic steel guitars, as well as electric lap steels, were featured in the performances. Some performers chose to perform individually, while others included a complete ensemble with guitars, 'ukuleles, and a bass. The last open stage performance featured Ke Kula Mele Players Alan Akaka, Larry Holu and Addison Ching, with keiki steel guitarists Malie Lyman and Alexis Tolentino performing individually and together on Akaka's dual steel guitar arrangement of the Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa medley. Gale Warshawsky also sang Akaka's arrangement of Ka Wailele o 'Akaka ('Akaka Falls.)

The prediction of inclement weather didn't materialize until the evening and all open stage programs and the first few evening ho'olaule'a performances were held on the outdoor stage. Kicking off the evening's program was a surprise appearance and message from Kaua'i Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. Celebrity emcee Mele Apana presided over the evening program, beginning with Kaua'i's Kilipaki Vaughan and the Waipa Serenaders, with hula by his wife Meleana. Kaua'i steel guitarist Kirk Smart, accompanied by his son Eli, presented a program of contemporary steel guitar selections. Under threatening skies, Jeff Au Hoy gave the audience samples of both his steel guitar prowess and his vocal skills. After Jeff's performance and under the threat of rain, the program was moved to the alternate indoor venue, with sound technician Kent Tanigawa and his crew working feverishly to disassemble, move to, and reconfigure the sound system and lighting.

Once indoors, the program resumed with Greg Sardinha's selections including, as Greg described it, "Something by the Beatles" which was actually "Something" by the Beatles. This was followed by a performance by Bobby Ingano that included his signature "Sleepwalk." Ed Punua from Kaua'i showcased his and the Punua family talent, with dad Victor and steel guitarist sons Lilikalani and Kawa'iki lending support during the segment. Alan Akaka finished out the evening program with his steel guitar stylings. Alan invited Next Generation steel guitarist Alexis Tolentino to play "Wai o Minehaha" then called on program emcee Mele Apana to sing "Aloha Kaua'i" accompanied by Alexis dancing hula. Akaka then called on Next Generation steel guitarist Malie Lyman to perform then introduced special guest vocalist Pomaika'i Lyman who sang "Kane'ohe" while daughter Malie danced the hula.

The finale was a steel guitar jam session with the evening's featured steel guitarists playing "Hanohano Hanalei" in round-robin fashion (Kirk Smart chose to play 'ukulele.) Aloha 'Oe and the traditional Hawaii Aloha finished off the program. An estimated 300 standing-room only audience enjoyed the different styles and stylings of the featured steel guitar players.

Comments received from festival attendees indicated that this festival was long overdue and welcomed by many, especially Kaua'i residents who embrace Hawaiian music, culture, and the Hawaiian steel guitar. A polling of the audience indicated a large number of local (Kaua'i) attendees, as well as a good number from other Hawaii islands and the continental US. Attendees also originated from Canada, Germany, and Japan. The event's popularity, success, and how it was embraced by the Kaua'i music community ensures that it will indeed become an annual event on the island of Kaua'i.


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2023 Festivals and Workshops

Maui Steel Guitar Festival - CANCELED
October 14, 2023 – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Hawai‘i
October 15, 2023 – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
December 14-17, 2023 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Waimea, Hawai‘i Island.

2023 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Livestream Broadcasts

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All broadcasts originate from the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. Festival broadcasts may also stream from the respective festival's Facebook Page.

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday — CANCELED
September 9, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival Reprise
October 14, 2023 - 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival - CANCELED
October 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday — CANCELED
November 19, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
December 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM HST

Other Events
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association (HSGA) 2023 Festival *
September 21-23, 2023 – Odd Fellows Lodge, Cupertino, CA
* Registration Fee Required

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HIMELE is a Hawai‘i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.