The 2nd Annual Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival was held under beautiful Kaua'i weather on February 3-4, 2017, immediately preceding the annual Keola Beamer Aloha Music Camp. The event was held at the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapa'a, Kaua'i, and this year's sunny weather permitted the outdoor program to be presented without problem. The festival was presented by HIMELE, the Hawaiian Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences, and underwritten by private donations and support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Community Enrichment Program. The festival was well-received by the almost-300 festival guests, and HIMELE executive director Alan Akaka declared the festival a huge success.
The festival activities kicked off on Thursday morning and afternoon with teams of steel guitarists and Next Generation players visiting local Kaua'i schools to give presentations about the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. These presentations are designed to encourage interest, and in some cases, introduce the instrument to the future generation of players. After a brief introduction to the instrument and a musical interlude by the visiting performers, students were encouraged to ask questions and participate in "hands-on" experiences with the instrument with guidance provided by the Next Generation keiki steel guitar students of Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. Presentations were given in Lihue at Kaua'i High School and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. A festival kick-off kanikapila was held at the Sheraton Kaua'i Resort in Poipo Beach on Thursday. The late afternoon event was well attended by local guests and many festival and Aloha Music Camp participants playing on a variety of instruments.
Friday festival activities were kicked off by the first of two Open Stage sessions featuring a variety of steel guitar performers and steel guitar groups. The indoors sessions were well-received by festival and hotel guests. Evening workshops featured a presentation by Dave "DK" Kolars on steel guitar construction and a question-and-answer session moderated by steel guitarists Alan Akaka and Greg Sardinha.
Saturday festival activities included the second series of Open Stage sessions with a different set of performers, all students of the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. The evening ho'olaule'a program featured seven steel guitarists — Kaua'i steel guitarists Kilipaki Vaughan and Ed Punua, Maui steel guitarist Geronimo "Geri" Valdriz, and O'ahu steel guitarists Eddie Palama, Greg Sardinha, Bobby Ingano, and Alan Akaka, in separate programs. In addition, the ho'olaule'a also featured Next Generation steel guitarists Alexis Tolentino and Malie Lyman in separate programs and accompanied by the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School ukulele band under the direction of Elias Gonzales.
The ho'olaule'a concluded with a round-robin jam session featuring the main steel guitar players.
A highlight of the ho'olaule'a was an appearance by Kaua'i Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. The mayor recited a proclamation declaring February 3 and 4 as Kaua'i Steel Guitar Appreciation Days, and also offered a musical selection to the delight of festival attendees.
Both Friday and Saturday evening activities were followed by a public kanikapila in the hotel's Makai Lounge where festival guests (and Aloha Music Camp participants) brought their instruments and jammed together.
The 2018 Festival will again be held at the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach, immediately preceding the 2018 Aloha Music Camp, and is tentatively scheduled for February 2-3, 2018, pending confirmation of the 2018 AMC dates.
Photo Credits: All photos pc-Don Touchi.
Photo 1 - The Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival Musicians and Producers. pc-Don Touchi Photo 2 - Malie Lyman with the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School 'Ukulele Band.
Photo 3 - Ho'olaule'a finale with all featured players.
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.