Yes. You. Can. The odds of finding Hawaiian music in New Jersey is pretty small. But last April, the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival came to New Jersey (Virginia and New York.) Defying even greater odds, New Jersey came to the 33rd annual Waikiki Style Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival held at the Kapi’olani Park Bandstand in Honolulu. I was lucky to be a part of it.
“Boston was a great city to grow up in, and it probably still is. We were surrounded by two very important elements: academia and the arts. I was surrounded by theater, music, dance, museums. And I learned how to sail on the Charles River. So I had a great childhood in Boston. It was wonderful.” -Leonard Nimoy
It all started with my friend Thomas Dang Vu asking for recommended vendors in Hawaii that could ship fresh lei to New York. He explained that he was planning a wedding for his dear friends. I sent him a few names of places that friends of mine have used over the years to which he thanked me and joked, “Now I just have to find music… LOL!” My reply was where and when?!?!
It was a tremendous honor to be a part of the street naming celebration of Father Damien Way in New York City. Father Damien, the 19th-century Roman Catholic Priest from Belgium, is recognized for his work with Hansen’s disease patients in Kalaupapa on Molokaʻi. If you do not believe in small miracles, I found a free parking spot on the street just three blocks from the venue! That is divine intervention.
There is a mystique surrounding slack key guitar music – it is very personal, and can be very magical in feeling.
– Quote from Keola Beamer’s “A Brief History of Slack Key Guitar”
Three shows in three days, covering over 525 miles across 3 states, with 7 musicians. That was the East Coast swing of the 2015 Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival, and I’ll forever be pinching myself that I was a part of it. As a rabid fan of the festival for over 15 years having attended the event on Oahu, Maui, and Kaua’i, I’ll be the first to tell you to go see the show if you have the opportunity. The format is a fun one-stop-shop where you can watch guitarist after guitarist share their passion for slack key guitar, each in a different and unique way. While I may have dreamed about having a slot on the roster, the realist in me knew that it would never happen. Well, chalk one up for the dreamers because it happened.
Remember that there is no perfect life, just perfect moments. And it’s these moments you must cherish; it’s these moments that make the whole journey worthwhile. — Ritu Ghatourey
In a few days, I’ll be performing at the 2015 Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival — specifically at the New Jersey and Virginia shows — and it simply blows my mind. Seriously. I have been a fan of the festivals for at least 15 years having attended multiple shows on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. For over 30 years, the festivals have been THE place to spend a day watching all your idols play on a single stage.
You should play with real musicians; the best music comes from real people interacting with each other.
– John Fogerty
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” -Oprah
I’ve been extremely blessed to perform with HAPA on multiple occasions over the past five years. Each time is special, and I am filled with gratitude every time Barry Flanagan so generously shares his stage with me. If my solo guitar of previous years was my opportunity to share aloha, how could I amplify the aloha this year? Well, my answer was to be joined by fellow musicians Claudia Goddard and Chris Davis and the dancers of Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima o Nuioka!