Steel Trappings

Lion Kobayashi To Appear at 2019 Waikiki Festival

Lion Kobayashi To Appear at 2019 Waikiki Festival

November 6, 2018 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

Japan steel guitar master Kiyoshi "Lion" Kobayashi will be one of the featured steel guitarists at the 2019 Waikiki Steel Guitar Week. This marks his first appearance at this HIMELE-produced event.

This will be Lion's first Honolulu festival appearance in many years. In 2013, he appeared at the HSGA biennial Honolulu convention in Waikiki, and on occasion, he has appeared as a guest steel guitarist at the former Keawe 'Ohana show at the Waikiki Beach Marriot. In recent years, he has made annual appearances at the Maui Steel Guitar Festival Open Stage and main festival programs, accompanied in some cases by his "Lion Halau" ensemble.

Lion Kobayashi at 2018 Maui Steel Guitar Festival
Lion Kobayashi and his ensemble at the 2018 Maui Steel Guitar Festival. PC-Don Touchi

According to HIMELE chairman Alan Akaka, Lion is instead coming to Waikiki in 2019 for his birthday celebration. He will turn 86 in early July.

Kobayashi is also an accomplished pianist and directs a Hawaiian music school in Tokyo, where his adult students study various Hawaiian instruments including the 'ukulele, bass, and steel guitar. Some of his students will accompany him to Waikiki and perform at the festival.

Lion Kobayashi with students
Lion Kobayashi at home with some of his students

His steel guitar performances typically include a variety of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music. He is known for his admiration of jazz, which he incorporates into his music arrangements. A recently released a CD called "Hawaiian Be Bop - Jazzy Da Bes!" includes his special arrangements of traditional Hawaiian songs such as "Little Brown Gal" and "In Your Hawaiian Way." Expect to hear some of these unique arrangements during his Waikiki performance.

Hawaiian Be Bop
Lion's new CD
"Hawaiian Be Bop - Jazzy Da Bes!"
Hawaiian Be Bop
"Hawaiian Be Bop - Jazzy Da Bes!" selections

Waikiki Steel Guitar Week includes nightly one-hour steel guitar performances Monday through Thursday at the Royal Grove stage, and complete 4-hour festival programs on Friday and Saturday. A steel guitar exhibit and hands-on opportunities will be available during Friday and Saturday evenings. Live-streaming of Friday and Saturday programs is also expected. The Royal Grove stage is located at Helumoa, once the seat of Hawaiian nobility1.

Waikiki Steel Guitar Week is presented and supported annually by the Royal Hawaiian Center. Additional funding if required is provided by the Hawaii State Foundation for Culture and The Arts. The 2019 event will be held during the week of July 15-20, 20192, immediately preceding the annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii.

1For a historical perspective about Helumoa, please see this article by Kamehameha Schools.

2The 2019 previously-published festival date was corrected to July 15-20, 2019.

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