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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 18, 2002

Guitarists gathering for festival

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

 •  20th Anniversary Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival

9 a.m.-7 p.m. today

Kapi'olani Park



Also: There will be 20 food and 20 craft booths as part of "Brunch on the Beach"

Who and when

Here's the ki ho'alu timetable today:

9-9:20 a.m. — Walter Carvalho

9:30-9:50 a.m. — Ron Loo Sr., Ron Loo Jr.

10 a.m.-10:20 a.m. — Kimo Keo

10:30-10:50 a.m. — Danny Carvalho, Ozzie Kotani

11-11:20 a.m — Ocean Kaowili

11:30-11:50 a.m. — Donald Kauli'a

Noon-12:20 p.m. — Jeff Peterson

12:30-12:50 p.m. — George Kuo

1-1:20 p.m. — Raymond Kane

1:30i1:50 p.m. — David Kahiapo

2-2:20 p.m. — Mike Kaawa

2:30-2:50 p.m. — Bla Pahinui

3-3:20 p.m. — The Makaha Sons

3:30-3:50 p.m. — Barry Flanagan and Ernie Cruz Jr.

4-4:20 p.m. — Maunalua

4:30-4:50 p.m. — Haunani Apoliona and Ku'uipo Kumukahi

5-5:20 p.m. — Makana

5:30-5:50 p.m. — Cyril Pahinui

6-6:20 p.m. — Dennis and David Kamakahi

6:30-6:50 p.m. — Ledward Ka'apana

7-7:30 p.m. — Native Hawaiian Band with Melveen Leed

Guitarist Barry Flanagan, formerly of Hapa, is somewhat of a reluctant ki ho'alu artist.

Appearing at today's Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival in Waikiki for the first time since his Hapa days, Flanagan is teaming up with a more accomplished ki ho'alu artist, Ernie Cruz Jr., with whom he has been partnering recently. This doesn't mean he can't play slack key; he's simply not from the old-school ki ho'alu camp.

"We'll do 20 minutes together, but I don't consider myself a slack-key artist," said Flanagan, slightly apologetically.

What he is, he said, is an accomplished adapter "who incorporated my own noodling style, inspired by the masters of slack from Gabby (Pahinui) to Atta (Isaacs) to Uncle Ray (Kane). They are true to the tradition; the hardest working with the most beautiful styles. You must remember, with ki ho'alu, you've got two or three things happening at once — the bass notes, the melody, the chord.

"What I do and how I do it is an amalgamation of 50 guys ... country, bluegrass, blues pop ... but it's not traditional slack key," Flanagan said. "It's like when the Spanish vaqueros first brought the guitars to Hawai'i; the Hawaiians picked it up; they fiddled with it to create that (ki ho'alu) distinguishable sound. It's how I get my sound."

Milton Lau, coordinator of the annual event (now in its milestone 20th year), said audience interest has soared over the years.

"Our main mission is to preserve and perpetuate this art form, through the festival, and it's always free," he said. "Getting artists to perform is not difficult, because they all share our vision and commitment to this art form."

Of particular interest, Lau said, is the first-time showcase of two stellar budding artists, both 11: Ron Loo Jr., son of the veteran performer-educator, and Young Danny (Carvalho), a student of Ozzie Kotani, another veteran ki ho'alu specialist.

"Young Danny is really one to watch," Loo said. "I've watched him perform, and this kid is way ahead of where Makana (Matt Swalinkovich), who was earlier called The Ki ho'alu Kid, was at the same age — meaning he's very, very good."

The slack-key festival lost a title sponsor in Bank of Hawaii, which had supported the event until this year. "But we still have many sponsors who provide valuable in-kind services," he said.

Because of the anniversary year and requests from the public for a keepsake of the event, two Rhythm & Roots Records CDs are being released this weekend to coincide with the concert.

"Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festivals — Vol. I" is a "live" session culled from previous sessions with Brother Noland, Ledward Ka'apana, George Kuo, Bla Pahinui, George Kahumoku Jr., Raymond Kane, Dennis Kamakahi, Dennis Pavao, Cyril Pahinui, Makana and the Native Hawaiian Band, among others.

The second disc, "New Wave Natives On the Edge," showcases David Kahiapo, Ocean Kaowili, Donald Kaulia, Jeff Peterson, Kimo West, Florent Atem and Kapo Ku.