Beautiful weather embraced the 7th Annual Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival, held this year at the Royal Hawaiian Center's Royal Grove performance venue. The festival was enjoyed by a standing room-only audience, some staying for the entire program, who enjoyed a collection of Honolulu's greatest steel guitar players as well as a handful of the Next Generation steel guitar players ranging in age from 10 years old through college.
This year's festival was produced by HIMELE and presented by the Royal Hawaiian Center, which has a rich connection with Hawaiian culture because it sits on land owned and managed by Kamehameha Schools. Helumoa, where the festival was held, was once a retreat of Hawaiian nobility.
Those attendees accustomed to lawn seating at the venue were pleasantly surprised by the chair seating provided by the center for festival attendees. The venue was packed with festival-goers from the very beginning performances of the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music Next Generation steel guitarists through the final Hana Hou of the Abrigo Ohana.
Surprise guest Next Generation steel guitarist Heu'i Bandmann kicked off the festival, and was followed in quick succession by 10-year old Pono Fernandez making his festival debut. Veteran Next Gen players Malie Lyman and Alexis Tolentino completed the extended Ke Kula Mele segment and were followed by their Kumu Alan Akaka and The Islanders.
Celebrity emcee Mele Apana presided over the day's first performances which included Ke Kula Mele, Alan Akaka, Dr. Isaac Akuna and his group, the Greg Sardinha Trio, and Paul Kim. Royal Hawaiian Center Cultural Director Monte McComber filled in as emcee for Kimo Kahoano whose arrival was delayed due to his involvement with the Prince Lot Hula Festival held the same day. The program continued with performances by Jeff Au Hoy, the Bobby Ingano Trio, Eddie Palama and his group, and Timi Abrigo and the Abrigo Ohana.
Festival guests were also treated to a display of vintage and contemporary steel guitars from Alan Akaka's collection, which was presented in the center's Helumoa Hale room. Members of HIMELE's staff were on hand to answer questions, and John Troutman was also available all day to discuss and autograph his book, "Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music." Dr. Troutman was also on hand Friday to present a pre-festival talk on the History of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. His talk was followed by a reception and book signing event.
The Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival is one of a series of steel guitar festivals produced by HIMELE to promote and perpetuate Hawaiian music, culture, and the Hawaiian steel guitar. In collaboration with HIMELE's partners, the Hawaii festivals are made available free and open to the public.WSGFW
July 9-14, 2018
Monday-Thursday - Nightly Evening Performances
Friday-Saturday - Festival Ho'olaule'a Performances
Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki
Hawai'i Island Steel Guitar Festival
September 7-9, 2018 - Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawai'i
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali'i
February 16, 2019 (tentative) - Ka Makana Ali'i Shopping Center, Kapolei
Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival
March 1-2, 2019 - Courtyard Kaua'i at Coconut Beach, Kapa'a, Kaua'i
Maui Steel Guitar Camp
TBD (tentative) - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
Maui Steel Guitar Festival
TBD - Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Maui
TBD - Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 8, 2019 (tentative) - Windward Mall, Kaneohe
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.