KAANAPALI - The sixth annual Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival will be held April 11-13 at Kaanapali Beach Hotel. Presented by the nonprofit Arts Education for Children Group and produced by Ke Kula Mele Hawaiian School of Music, this three-day event brings together master steel guitar players and aficionados from around the world for a celebration of the music created on the Hawaiian steel guitar.
The festival is free and open to the public. It features performances, presentations, workshops and kani ka pila (jam sessions) focused on the Hawaiian steel guitar and its importance in the Hawaiian music genre. In addition, an ongoing series of cultural activities - such as hula, lei-making and ukulele playing - take place throughout the weekend.
This year's festival lineup includes professional and master steel guitarists Alan Akaka, Jeff Au Hoy, Ross Ka'a'a, Joel Katz, Lion Kobayashi, Tony Locke, Patti Maxine, Ed Punua, Owana Salazar, Greg Sardinha, Geronimo Valdriz and The Next Generation Steel Guitarists.
From left, Gary Aiko, Addison Ching, Alan Akaka, Kaipo Asing and Bobby Ingano perform at the 2013 festival. PHOTOS BY COLLEEN RICCI.
The list of entertainers also includes amateur and professional steel guitarists from Hawaii, the Mainland, Japan and Germany.
On Friday and Saturday nights, a different lineup of players performs on stage. Maui actress, comedienne, storyteller and radio personality Kathy Collins will serve as emcee for both of these star-studded events.
Evening performances are followed by jam sessions hosted by the master players, providing opportunities for guest musicians, students and aspiring young Maui artists to share their talents and learn from the best. Bring your own instruments.
Daytime workshops are conducted by a team of Hawaiian music educators headed by Ke Kula Mele Hawaiian School of Music master player Alan Akaka.
Open to all interested students and musicians, workshop topics include introduction to steel guitar, playing techniques and styles, recording methods, Hawaiian songs and Hawaiian-style singing.
Open stage entertainment takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and features festival students, performers and special guests.
Kaanapali Beach Hotel's award-winning Sunday Brunch is a special part of the festival and features entertainment by some of the festival performers. This is the only event during the festival that is not free.
The hotel is offering special rates for the festival, such as packages that include room, breakfast and car. Reservations may be made through the festival's website at www.mauisteelguitarfestival.com.
Throughout the weekend, a variety of arts and craft booths, cultural demonstrations and exhibits are presented, such as a display of vintage Hawaiian steel guitars, a booth featuring historical artwork associated with the instrument, CDs by the participating artists and promotional information for musical instruments.
Supporters for the sixth annual Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival include the Maui County Office of Economic Development, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Hawaiian Airlines and Budget Rent-A-Car.