Slack key greats make audience part of the family at the Ritz By Jon Woodhouse, Maui Beat, Maui News…


Slack key greats make audience part of the family at the Ritz
By JON WOODHOUSE

Playing in the intimate setting of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s indoor amphitheater theater reminds slack key guitar legend LEDWARD KAAPANA of joyful times surrounded by his extended family.

“When I was growing up, we were playing music in the backyard and having all the family came over and enjoy and everybody got involved, it brings back a lot of memories of that,” he says.

Kaapana recently performed at the Master of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar concert series that showcases our best slack key, steel and ukulele players. The weekly series provides a unique opportunity to enjoy great music in a first-class facility.

“I’m so happy that we can perform at the Ritz-Carlton on Maui,” adds CYRIL PAHINUI, who played on the same night. “This is intimate, we can talk to the people and make them laugh. It’s like being with family.”

Hosted by GEORGE KAHUMOKU Jr. and sometimes by his son KEOKI KAHUMOKU, the ongoing Tuesday evening series offers both visitors and residents a rich, entertaining and informative cultural experience available nowhere else on Maui.

“I get to play with a different artist every week, different masters skilled in their art,” says George Kahumoku. “It’s unique because you get to see all these artists up close and it’s a real intimate setting. You get to delve into whom the artist is and hear family stories. It’s like being on the back porch.”

The lack of resort venues on Maui offering top Hawaiian entertainment inspired Kahumoku and partners Paul Konwiser and Wayne Wong to set up the showcase six months ago. “We do concerts all over the U.S. but when we come back here we play at some bar and nobody’s really paying attention,” he explains.

Free of the noisy distractions of a typical bar, audiences can appreciate the resort’s comfortable theater setting where a superb sound system and the room’s intimate size keeps the focus on the artists and their music.

George Kahumoku’s performance revolves as much around his engaging storytelling as it does his music. In between songs, he regaled his audience with humorous tales from an active life that would exhaust most mortals.

Obviously delighting in the intimate resort setting, Led Kaapana kept expressing his appreciation. “I’m just having fun watching my show,” he gleefully announced in the middle of a medley. An amazing guitarist, Kaapana dazzled all performing signature tunes like “Radio Hula” and “Punahoa Special.” When the two musicians later teamed, it was hard to tell who was having more fun.

Performing for audiences from around the world, the musicians easily hook folks who have never heard the beauty of Hawaiian slack key before. “A lot of them tell us it’s the most fantastic show they have experienced on Maui,” Kahumoku reports. “It’s not like a luau, it’s very personal.”

Master of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert Series

  • Concerts are held at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s indoor amphitheater every Wednesday, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. during Jan-Feb-Mar  -and-  only at 7:30p.m. during the rest of the year (Apr-Dec).
  • For reservations, call (888) 669-3858.

For more information, visit www.slackkey.com.

Copyright © 2004 — The Maui News

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