WAIKIKI, OAHU, HAWAII – The 3rd annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival returns to Waikiki Beach Walk on Sunday, June 17, 2012, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Plaza Stage. Held as part of the ongoing Na Mele No Na Pua Music Heritage Program presented by Outrigger Enterprises Group, this years event is themed Pakiko Hookani, Smooth Playing, and will feature a full afternoon of performances by legendary steel guitarists plus students new to the instrument, as well as a steel guitar workshop and expo.
Joining Alan Akaka of Ke Kula Mele Hawaii will be other master steel guitarists Greg Sardinha, Ed Punua, Eddie Palama, and Pomai Brown, who will share the stage with the next generation of musicians, students ages 11 through 18 years old, including Keen Aloysius Ching, Mark Prucha, Alexis Tolentino, Raven Young and Sidney Pang.
The steel guitar community is thrilled to be back at Waikiki Beach Walk to showcase what Hawaiian Steel Guitar is all about, said Alan Akaka, renowned Hawaiian steel guitarist, music teacher, and director of Ke Kula Mele Hawaii. As the interest in the steel guitar continues to grow, it is our pleasure and privilege to be able to share this wonderful instrument and gift to all who would like to learn.
In addition to a full afternoon of musical performances, the festival will include a steel guitar workshop and an expo as follows:
- Concert Performance - Main Stage (1 pm to 7 pm) The line-up will include both master musicians as well as the newest generation of Hawaiian Steel Guitarists.
- Clinic Workshop (1 pm to 6:30 pm) Fans can take a quick lesson and learn the basics of playing the Hawaiian steel guitar. Workshop will be held in the Waikiki Beach Walk Studio on the second level.
- Steel Guitar Expo (1 pm to 6:30 pm) Visit the expo tent for a hands-on exhibit, demonstration and to learn more about the Steel Guitars history and origin.
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Masters
Alan Akaka has created his own sound and style through the inspiration of legendary steel guitarists like David Rogers, Benny Rogers, Jules Ah See, Billy Hew Len, David Kelii, Jake Keliikoa, and his teacher Jerry Byrd. He has recorded with Genoa Keawe, Benny Kalama, Sonny Kamahele, Jerry Byrd, Barney Isaacs, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Karen Keawehawaii, Owana and Kuana Torres Kahele as well as with Hawaiian music bands from around the world. Akaka finds joy in sharing Hawaiian music and culture with his audience. He travels throughout the world as an entertainer and a guest artist perpetuating Hawaiian music while stirring renewed interest in the unique, lilting sound of the steel guitar. Over the years, Akaka launched Hawaiian music education programs on Oahu, Kauai and Molokai and coordinated performances that generated more interest and brought much exposure to the Hawaiian steel guitar. In 2009, Akaka established Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, a school of Hawaiian music where creative and musical ideas can be developed, nurtured, and shared.
Greg Sardinha has the reputation as the steel guitar player who has the ability to present old Hawaii with a contemporary twist. After years of playing in the background for many of Hawaiis recording artists, Sardinha released his first solo album in 2006 entitled HAWAIIAN STEEL VOL 4 Artistry of Greg Sardinha. The album reflects his artistry and versatility with the ukulele, guitar and Hawaiian steel guitar and creates a feel of unusual textures and interplay between all the instruments. He has showcased his Hawaiian steel guitar talent performing locally in Hawaii and the mainland. Sardinha has recorded with many local, national and international artists including Ipo Kumukahi, Sean Naauao, Cyril Pahinui Band, Hawaiian Style Band, Kalapana, Na Leo, Darrin Benitez, Karen Keawehawaii, Cecilio and Kapono, Tim Coffman, Jim Messina, Renn Loa, and Richard Cheese Band and others. Sardinha has 6 HAWAIIAN STEEL CDs in collaboration with recording artists Alan Akaka, Casey Olsen, Bobby Ingano, Paul Kim, Duke Ching and others.
A self-proclaimed steel guitarist, Eddie Palama taught himself to play the steel guitar. Palama found his first guitar in the public trash and after cleaning and adding strings to the steel guitar, Palama began to teach himself. After a year of extensive everyday practice, Palama joined the Musicians Union and became a professional steel guitar player. Palama has played the steel guitar with some of Hawaiis greatest Hawaiian music legends including Gabby Pahinui, Atta Isaacs, Sonny Chillingworth, Genoa Keawe, Eddie Kamae, Danny Kaleikini, the Peter Moon Band, Olomana, Theresa Bright, Kihei Brown, Keith and Carmen Haugen, Sandwich Isle Band, Hawaii Loa and Pahinui Brothers. Palama has performed at various venues all over Hawaii and is currently playing with the band Hawaii Loa.
Pomai Brown was born and raised on Oahu. He began his musical career playing the ukulele with Ka Hale Hula O Kekoolani at the age of twelve performing regularly at Waiakea Village and Kilauea Military Camp with his Aunt Kolani. He picked up the slack key guitar and became proficient in this instrument while attending Kamehameha Schools at Kapalama. Upon graduation from high school, Brown began performing Hawaiian music as a guitarist, bassist and ukulele player traveling to various states across the U.S. mainland and internationally to Norway, Tahiti, Samoa, Guam, Japan and Mexico. In 1994 he began studying the Hawaiian steel guitar with world renowned steel guitarist Jerry Byrd. Brown currently plays a very unique, 5-Lock Lever, 10-String Steel Guitar enabling him to play 8 different tunings on a single neck with the push of these levers. His brand new CD entitled Hula Favorites features his steel guitar stylings and soothing vocals.
Edward Punua, a Certified Public Accountant by trade, is a co-coordinator of Ke Kula Meles STEEL the ONE! program on Kauai. He studied with Barney Isaacs and has been performing on Kauai as well as South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Tahiti and the U.S. mainland. Since the age of seven, his musical upbringing was encouraged and enhanced by performing in a Polynesian show with his family for the Victor Punua Polynesian Revue. It is there that he gained much experience with Polynesian music as a percussionist. Punua has instructional experience assisting his mother, Kumu Hula Kuulei Punua who taught the hula on Kauai for over forty years.
The Next Generation of Steel Guitarists
These young apprentices are learning the art of the Hawaiian steel guitar from one of the instruments masters, Alan Akaka. Talented in their own accord, these students are closely following in their teachers footsteps and are all well under way to becoming a Steel Guitar prodigy.
- Keen Aloysius Ching (Age 13) Keen Aloysius Ching, a student at Star of the Sea Elementary School, has been involved with music since learning to play the piano in the first grade. In the fifth grade, he watched a PBS television show about Hawaiian music and the group playing was Alan Akaka and the Islanders. Ching was immediately drawn to the sounds of the Hawaiian steel guitar. Now as a student of Kumu Alan Akaka at Ke Kula Mele, Ching is delighted to be playing those same sweet sounds from his own steel guitar. Ching aspires to play the Hawaiian steel guitar as a professional musician. He finds inspiration from studying with Kumu Alan Akaka, and from the music of Bobby Ingano and Eddie Palama.
- Mark Prucha (Age 18) Originally from Naperville, Illinois, Mark Prucha is self-taught in guitar, ukulele, and piano, but learning to play the Hawaiian steel guitar was different. He turned to the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association (HSGA) to seek professional help. He was surprised to learn that they have an annual convention in Joliet, Illinois, not far from where he lives. He attended a convention and it was there that he learned about Jerry Byrd, who is one of his main inspirations. Prucha has been taking lessons on Skype with Kumu Akaka for about a year and is thrilled with the results. He practices the Hawaiian steel guitar daily and enjoys the challenge. One of the things he loves most about the steel guitar is its uniqueness; no two notes sound the same and every note can be played with personality.
- Alexis Tolentino (Age 12) Alexis Tolentino has played ukulele since she was five years old. She also plays a little bit of drums, and stand up bass. She is passionate about playing the Hawaiian steel guitar and wants to learn everything about it. She draws inspiration from many of the steel guitar greats, including her teacher, Alan Akaka, as well as Bobby Ingano, Greg Sardinha, Casey Olsen, Owana Salazar, and Eddie Palama. She loves the sound that the Hawaiian steel guitar produces, and believes its sound is not like any other stringed instrument. She aspires to one day produce an album and share her love of the Hawaiian steel guitar with others.
- Raven Young (Age 11) Raven Samuel Hekilimailuna Kaumualii Mortensen Young began playing the steel guitar about a year ago after already taking ukulele lessons from Kumu Alan Akaka and falling in love with the sound of the steel. His goals are to master the steel guitar in order to teach others how to play it and to keep the Hawaiian culture alive. His main musical inspirations are Kumu Alan Akaka and Teresa Bright, whom he also takes music and voice lessons from. He loves learning about the history of the steel, the different styles of steels, and hearing the different styles or sounds from other players.
- Sidney Pang (Age 13) Sidney Pang is an eighth grade student and loves all types of music. He became interested in the steel guitar after seeing an ad in the newspaper for a demonstration held by Ke Kula Mele Hawaii. After watching Kumu Akaka and the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii students play Hawaiian music, Pang decided that he wanted to learn the steel guitar. In addition to playing the Hawaiian steel guitar, he also plays the drums, guitar, piano and saxophone. He is looking forward to joining his schools marching band next year.
The 3rd Annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival is being held in partnership with Outrigger Enterprises Group, Waikiki Beach Walk, Embassy Suites®-Waikiki Beach Walk® and Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association with support from the Ke Kula Mele Hawaii.
Valet parking for Waikiki Beach Walk is only $6.00 for up to four hours at the Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk (201 Beachwalk) and the Wyndham Vacation Ownership-Waikiki Beach Walk (227 Lewers Street) with any same-day purchase from any Waikiki Beach Walk merchant. For more information, contact the Waikiki Beach Walks management office at (808) 931-3591.