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Steel guitar legends to perform free concerts during guitar festival

By Staff | Apr 15, 2010

In 2009, Henry Kaleialoha Allen was recognized by the Hawaii State Senate as “Hawaiian Musician Extraordinare” and “Living Treasure” in recognition of his lifetime of work on the Hawaiian steel guitar.

KAANAPALI — The 2010 Maui Invitational Music Festival will present the second annual Henry Kaleialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival from Friday, April 23, to Sunday, April 25, at Kaanapali Beach Hotel.

A celebration of the music created on Hawaiian steel guitar, the weekend features free workshops and concerts. For a complete schedule, visit www.aecg.org.

The festival was created in 2003 by the nonprofit Arts Education for Children Group (AECG) to provide opportunities for students to study and play alongside accomplished instructors. It includes classes and workshops open to musicians and vocalists of all ages separated by skill levels.

“This year, the Maui Invitational Music Festival takes place over a few months beginning with the steel guitar festival in April and ending with a concert extravaganza on the Fourth of July,” said AECG Executive Director Bryant Neal.

“In between, there will be segments featuring classical music and blues and jazz.”

The 2010 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival will feature Alan Akaka and The Islanders, Danny Akaka Jr., Duke Keolani Ching with Greg Sardinha and Gordon Freitas, State Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, Aloha Kekoolani, Kiyoshi “Lion” Kobayashi, Bill Noble and special guest Dr. Neil Scott.

Also appearing is the festival’s namesake, honored teacher, author and virtuoso Henry Kaleialoha Allen. He has been recognized as “The Master Artist” of Hawaiian steel guitar and Hawaiian music by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists.

A star-studded free concert under the stars in the Tiki Courtyard at Kaanapali Beach Hotel beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, is the gala event of the festival. Henry Allen (playing Hawaiian steel guitar, ukulele and jazz guitar) and his band, “Tropical Swing,” will headline a fantastic evening of music with Hawaiian steel guitar players Ching, Kobayashi and Akaka, hula dancers and saxophonist Noble. The music continues with dancing until 10 p.m., followed by a late night jam session with festival artists.

On Friday, April 23, the schedule of free sessions begins with a presentation by Allen called “Teaching the Hawaiian Steel Guitar,” and a hands-on Hawaiian steel guitar-making class with Dr. Scott (building kits will be provided). Scott is the director of the Archimedes Project at the University of Hawaii. The multidisciplinary research project focuses on improving human/computer interaction strategies and technologies. He has developed a way to make Hawaiian steel guitars so that they are more affordable and accessible to aspiring players.

Welcoming ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with an address by Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona. Performances by festival artists — including one of the most famous Hawaiian steel guitar players from Japan, “Lion” Kobayashi — continue through the evening, ending in a jam session at 9 p.m.

The schedule for Saturday, April 24, includes a presentation by Allen on “Kila Kila” and legendary composer Lani Sang, followed by round robin-style breakout sessions with Akaka, Ching and Kobayashi.

At 12:30 p.m., Kekoolani-Simmons, M.A., will present the lecture “Na‘au Poi: Spiritual Food for Cultural Enlightenment,” which views Hawaiian-Pacific Island Studies culture through literature, art and performance narratives, identities, religion and philosophy.

On Sunday, some of the festival’s special guests will entertain at Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s famous Sunday Champagne Brunch beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Tiki Terrace Restaurant. The program will feature Hawaiian steel guitar players and hula dancers with host Galuteria.

During the festival, the hotel is offering a $109 kama‘aina rate. For hotel reservations and information, call 661-0011 or visit www.kbhmaui.com.

The 2010 Maui Music Festival is sponsored by the County of Maui, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Arts Education for Children Group (AECG). For a complete schedule and more information, visit www.aecg.org or call 669-6189.