The first annual Hawai'i Island Steel Guitar Festival at Mauna Lani was met with enthusiasm, excitement, and appreciation for Hawaiian music and the Hawaiian steel guitar. Brief showers and the threat of heavier rain wasn't enough to dampen the spirits of festival guests.
The festival was kicked off earlier in the week by a steel guitar construction workshop at the hotel conducted by luthier Bob Gleason. Bob also conducts similar workshops at the annual Aloha Music Camp on Kaua'i. A handful of enthusiastic steel guitar builders sanded and finished their own personal 6-string instruments, with Bob supervising the installation of tuning machines and pickup electronics. Everyone in the workshop left the workshop with their own personal handcrafted instrument.
The Veteran's Day holiday moved school visitations to Thursday. Several area schools were visited by presentation teams that included seasoned steel guitar masters and youth steel guitar players. Students were given an introduction to the steel guitar by the presentation teams and afforded an opportunity to ask questions about the instrument. Musical selections featuring the steel guitar were performed for the students, and hands-on opportunities were offered to the students, with youth members of the presentation team working hand-in-hand with the students.
Friday and Saturday evening programs were moved to indoor locations at the last minute due to potential rain in the area. Friday's program featured Iaukea Bright, Ke Kula Mele Next Generation steel guitarists Malie Lyman and Joey Misailidis, "Konabob" Stoffer, Dave "DK" Kolars, Sonny Lim, and Alan Akaka and The Islanders. Saturday's program featured Alexis Tolentino, Dwight Tokumoto with special guest Mark Yamanaka, Maui's Geronimo "Geri" Valdriz, Greg Sardinha, Pomai Brown, and the Bobby Ingano Trio. Public kanikapila jam sessions followed each evening's programs. In all, five Hawai'i Island steel guitarists were featured.
Saturday's activities included workshops conducted by Alan Akaka, Dave Kolars, Greg Sardinha and Bobby Ingano, as well as a Hawaiian Cultural Experience featuring demonstrations of various Hawaiian cultural aspects including feather lei making and weaving and presented by cultural experts.
The Saturday open stage program was held outdoors and featured several steel guitarists and the students of the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. Performing on the open stage was Kona's Daniel Toft, Shinichi and Kumiko Kakiuchi from Japan, Jack Aldrich from Seattle, WA, and Kona's Troy Keoho and his group Na Lea Nahenahe o Kona with Addison Ching on the steel guitar.
Steel guitars from the private collections of Hawai'i Island steel guitarists were on display in the hotel?s Cultural Center.
Concluding the multiple-day festival were a select group of festival musicians who provided an unplugged musical interlude on the lawn during the hotel's Sunday Brunch at the Bay Terrace restaurant to the delight of brunch guests. Festival planners and festival staff all agreed that the first annual festival on Hawai'i island was a very enjoyable experience and all are looking forward to next year's event.HISGF
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 - Maui site
Maui Steel Guitar Festival
TBD - Maui site
TBD - Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 8, 2019 (tentative) - Windward Mall, Kaneohe
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikiki Steel Guitar Week
July 8-13, 2019 (tentative)
Monday-Thursday - Nightly Evening Performances
Friday-Saturday - Festival Ho'olaule'a Performances
Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Kahala Mall - Keiki Style
August 17, 2019 - Kahala Mall, Honolulu
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.