Steel Trappings

Spotlight ON! Feature

Spotlight ON! Jim Newberry

August 15, 2022 • Addison ChingEntertainment

2015 Maui Steel Guitar Camp participants remember him as a fellow camper. Festival guests saw him playing at the 2017 Maui Steel Guitar Festival kanikpila. HSGA convention guests saw him perform at the September 2018 and September 2019 HSGA conventions in Fort Collins, Colorado.

A resident of Seattle, Washington for 35 years, Jim Newberry grew up in a small rural town in southern Michigan called Coldwater. Now retired after a career as a scientific software engineer in microbiology and geosciences, Jim has a lot more time to devote to music and the instruments he loves.

Jim started playing guitar while a freshman in college at Michigan State in 1977. The area was a hotbed of traditional (Appalachian, Irish, Bluegrass, folk) music at the time.

"Elderly Instruments was a store and social center of the community then and I eventually worked there part-time," says Jim. "I started playing old time Appalachian fiddle, guitar, and banjo then, and eventually took up Louisiana Cajun French music (playing fiddle) in the 1990s in Seattle."

Jim continues, "Around 2007, I became interested in the steel guitar in Cajun dance hall music, built my first lap steel and integrated it into the Cajun band I'd been playing with."

After playing Cajun music (open G tuning; high G) for a while, Jim began to explore the 6th tunings which landed him in a Country band in 2012. Jim has played in that band on a regular basis ever since that time. His primary tuning is A6.

"My musical question has always been: 'Where did this come from?' which naturally led me to Hawaiian steel guitar," recalls Jim. "I fell in love with Hawaiian steel guitar in 2014, the year I attended my first HSGA convention in Fort Collins, Colorado."

Jim says that his historical influences are Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Tau Moe, Benny Rogers, Jules Ah See, Gabby Pahinui, and Billy Hew Len. His contemporary influences are Jeff Au Hoy, Kumu Alan Akaka, Bobby Ingano, and Dwight Tokumoto, among others.

Besides the Hawaiian steel guitar, Jim also plays a standard guitar (both acoustic and electric,) fiddle, clawhammer banjo, Cajun button accordion, and ‘ukulele.

This video is of Jim Newberry playing "Dreams of Old Hawai‘i" from a video taken by Shinichi Kakiuchi at the 2018 HSGA Convention at Fort Collins, Colorado. Jim's performance can be seen at 2:35 to 6:20.

The video can also be seen on YouTube.

This feature is a snapshot of the complete tribute that is posted on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase website. See the complete tribute here.

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Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali‘i
February 18, 2023 – Ka Makana Ali‘i Shopping Center, Kapolei

Kona Steel Guitar Festival
March 23-25, 2023 – Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, Keauhou, Hawai‘i

Kaua‘i Hawaiian Steel Guitar Symposium *
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Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
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Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
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Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival
July 15, 2023 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī

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August 19, 2023 – Kahala Mall, Honolulu

2023 Northern California Hawaiian Steel Guitar Symposium *
September 24, 2023 – Odd Fellows Lodge, Cupertino, CA

Maui Steel Guitar Festival
October 14, 2023 – The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Hawai‘i
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
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All broadcasts originate from the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. Festival broadcasts may also stream from the respective festival's Facebook Page.


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January 28, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali‘i
February 18, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Kona Steel Guitar Festival
March 25, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 12:00 Noon - 3 PM and 5 PM - 8 PM HST

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April 22, 2023 (tentative) – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

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May 6, 2023 – Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 12:00 Noon - 3 PM and 5 PM - 8 PM HST

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall
June 10, 2023 – 11:30 PM - 4:00 PM HST

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
July 14, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 4PM - 6:30PM HST


Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival
July 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 11AM - 2PM and 4:30PM - 6:30PM HST
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival Keiki Kine at Kahala Mall
August 19, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday
September 9, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival
October 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday
November 19, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST


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February 4, 2023 Facebook LiveYouTube

2023 AISGC Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival *
July 27-29, 2023 – Towne Square Community Center, Winchester, IN
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association (HSGA) 2023 Festival *
September 21-23, 2023 – Odd Fellows Lodge, Cupertino, CA
* Registration Fee Required

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