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The First Annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival

June 16, 2016 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

The first annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival was held at the Windward Mall in Kane'ohe on June 11, 2016, Kamehameha Day in Hawaii. The Windward Mall was selected for its community-centric location, free parking, and air-conditioned environment. As with other steel guitar festivals organized by the non-profit HIMELE, this festival, held at the mall's center stage, was free and open to the public.

The festival was hosted by celebrity emcee Kimo Kahoano who recently co-hosted the Maui Steel Guitar Festival in April. The festival, which ran from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M., featured some of Hawaii's great steel guitar masters and some Next Generation steel guitarists ranging in age from 11 years old. Backup musicians were Kaipo Asing and Adam Asing.

Ke Kula Mele Next Gen Players

The festival kicked off with performances by Next Generation steel guitar students from Alan Akaka's Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. 11-year old Joey Misailidis made her festival debut with a flawless performance, and accompanied on U-bass by her 9-year old sister Tai. 12-year old Malie Lyman followed and was accompanied on U-bass by her 10-year old brother Iosepa. Capping off the Next Generation performances was veteran Alexis Tolentino, 17. Alexis was recently featured on several Mele Mei concerts. Mele Mei is a months-long (April-June) series of presentations of Hawaii's music, hula and culture held at various venues and surrounding the annual Na Hoku Hanohano awards ceremony.

The festival continued with performance segments by steel guitar masters Alan Akaka, Eddie Palama, Jeff Au Hoy, Bobby Ingano, and Greg Sardinha, each performing their own program. Bobby Ingano surprised the audience by sitting in on Jeff Au Hoy's segment and treating festival guests to dual steel guitars. All performances were greeted by an enthusiastic and appreciative audience which varied throughout the festival. While many guests stayed for one or more performances, several guests stayed for the entire program. One surprise festival guest was Steve Cheney, steel guitarist at the Polynesian Cultural Center, who enjoyed "catching up" with the other steel guitarists.

The festival concluded with emcee Kimo Kahoano singing his signature song, "Aloha Friday, No Work Till Monday."

Photo Credits: All photos pc-Don Touchi.
Photo 1: Featured artists from 2016 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival. From left: Jeff Au Hoy, Bobby Ingano, Eddie Palama, Steve Cheney, and Alan Akaka.
Photo 2: Joey Misailidis (11) on steel guitar, Alexis Tolentino (17) and Malie Lyman (12) on 'Ukulele, Tai Misailidis (9) on U-bass, and Alan Akaka on guitar.


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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.