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Hawaiian Steel Guitars Abound at Helumoa

July 18, 2017 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

The First Annual Waikiki Steel Guitar Week at Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian Center presented a variety of Hawaiian steel guitar artists to standing room-only audiences at the Royal Grove Stage. Previously a single-day program, the annual event was expanded this year to steel guitar presentations for the entire week. One-hour programs were offered Monday through Thursday, and the 3½-hour festival ho'olaule'a programs were presented Friday and Saturday evenings. The Royal Grove Stage is located at Waikiki's Helumoa, the former playground of Hawaiian royalty, and the site of the Royal Hawaiian Center. The events were emceed by Hawaii celebrities Harry B. Soria and Kimo Kahoano.

The week started off with Alan Akaka's Next Generation steel guitarists from his Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. The guitarists, ranging in age from 11 to 18, were accompanied by other youth musicians from Ke Kula Mele playing U-bass, and adult musicians Ronald Tolentino, Addison Ching, and Alan Akaka. The hourlong program featured three selections by each of the four steel guitarists.

Greg Sardinha and Po'okela (Zachary Castro and Kata Maduli) performed on Tuesday's one hour presentation, while The Casey Olsen Trio (sometimes known as the Hiram Olsen Trio) with Casey, dad Hiram Olsen and Dennis "Bla" Keohokalole, performed on Wednesday with suprise hula dancer Kanoe Miller. Alan Akaka and The Islanders (Adam and Kaipo Asing) performed Thursday night. Steel guitarist Alexis Tolentino, also an accomplished hula dancer, provided the hula dancing for Monday through Thursday programs.

Festival Audience

The Friday evening guests were treated to programs by Alexis Tolentino, Steve Cheney, Wayne Shishido, Geromino "Geri" Valdriz from Maui, and the Bobby Ingano Trio, while Saturday ho'olaule'a guests enjoyed performances by Alan Akaka and The Islanders, Paul Kim and the Waimanalo Sunset Band (Samuel and Keli'i Makua and Keao Kamalani), Eddie Palama, The Bobby Ingano Trio (Adam and Kaipo Asing), and Greg Sardinha and Po'okela. Adam and Kaipo Asing also assisted those steel guitarists requiring a backup band.

A vintage steel guitar exhibit featuring acoustic, lap, and console steel guitars from Alan Akaka's collection, was presented at Helumoa Hale, the center's customer convenience center and meeting room. The exhibit provided an opportunity for festival guests to see the instruments up close and have their questions answered by exhibit clinicians.

Festival Scenes

Honolulu City and County Mayor Kirk Caldwall issued a proclamation for the event, proclaiming the week of July 9 - 15, 2017 to be HAWAIIAN STEEL GUITAR APPRECIATION WEEK.

For more information about the event and archived information and pictures from past events see the event website at The annual event is presented by Royal Hawaiian Center and produced by Hawaiian Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE). Next year's Waikiki Steel Guitar Week will be held July 9-14, 2018.

Photo Credits:
Photo 1 - Saturday Ho'olaule'a Audience. pc-Addison Ching
Photo 2 - Left: Proclamation by Honolulu City and County Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Middle: Ke Kula Mele Next Gen musicians. Right: Eddie Palama. pc-Don Touchi.



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Festivals and Conventions
Instruments and Luthiers



Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikiki Steel Guitar Week
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

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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.