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Festival to celebrate golden era of Hawaiian music

By Staff | Apr 12, 2012

Henry Kaleialoha Allen is ready to stage his fourth annual Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival in Kaanapali on April 20-22. With the theme celebrating the golden era of the Matson Cruise Lines and Boat Days at Aloha Tower, the festival will feature free concerts, presentations and hands-on workshops. Photo courtesy of the Hawaiian Music Institute.

KAANAPALI – Featuring free concerts, presentations and hands-on workshops, the 2012 Maui Invitational Music Festival and Kaanapali Beach Hotel will present the fourth annual Henry Kaleialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival on April 20-22.

The theme of this year’s festival is based on the golden era of the Matson Cruise Lines and Boat Days at Aloha Tower, which will be reflected in the performances and presentations offered throughout the weekend. For a complete schedule, visit www.aecg.org.

“Memories of Hawaii,” a free concert under the stars in the Tiki Courtyard at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. The gala event of the festival will feature Henry Allen and his band, Tropical Swing, performing a program reminiscent of a night aboard the SS Lurline, Matson’s luxury liner. This colorful trip down memory lane will feature Hawaiian steel guitar players, vocalists and hula dancers. A jam session open to all follows the concert.

The festival is expanding throughout Kaanapali Resort this year, with Alan Akaka & The Islanders performing on Friday night, April 20, at Son’z at Swan Court in the Hyatt Regency Maui. This 6 p.m. show will be followed by an informal jam session; all are invited to bring their instruments and join in.

Another new venue this year, the Terrace Restaurant at the Royal Lahaina Resort, will host the Greg Sardinha Trio on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Duke Kaleiolani Ching on Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m.

A special event for keiki, a reading of the book “Matson the Mouse,” will precede a presentation about Matson Line’s famous white ships by author Duncan O’Brien on Saturday morning at Kaanapali Beach Hotel. O’Brien is a leading authority on the history of the Matson Line passenger ship era in Hawaii. His book, “The White Ships,” is a coffee-table history of the ships that carried thousands of passengers across the Pacific in the “Grand Manner of Matson” from 1927-78.

Honoring one of “Hawaii’s Living Legends of Hawaiian Music,” Henry Kaleialoha Allen, the festival also features well-known Hawaiian steel guitar players, cultural enrichment specialists and special guests.

In addition to Allen, Hawaiian steel guitarists Ching, Sardinha and Japan’s Kiyoshi “Lion” Kobayashi will perform. Also appearing are Alan Akaka & the Islanders, Maui’s own Hulu Lindsey, Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, Gordon Freitas, Ricardo Gonzalez, Kalama School Ukulele Band under the direction of Benny Uyetake, Kimo Kahoano and others.

On Saturday morning at Kaanapali Beach Hotel, a tribute to Hawaiian steel guitar greats and Maui brothers Freddie and Ernest Tavares will feature video recollections and family members sharing their memories. Both were known as virtuosos, and Freddie designed one of the most famous instruments of all time: the Fender Stratocaster.

The schedule of free workshops includes hands-on Hawaiian steel guitar making classes with Dr. Neil Scott. Building kits will be provided. Scott has developed a more affordable way to build the instrument, making it more accessible to aspiring players and perpetuating Hawaiian steel guitar music.

Beginner and intermediate steel guitar, ukulele and hula lessons will also be offered.

For all three days, workshops and performances by festival participants, island arts and crafts, educational displays and exhibits, and Hawaiian cultural activities will be presented throughout the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.

On Sunday, April 22, the Sunday Champagne Brunch in the Tiki Terrace from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. will feature Hawaiian steel guitar trios, guest artists and a music set by Maui’s own songbird, Hulu Lindsey, at 11 a.m.

The festival’s namesake, Allen, is recognized as “The Master Artist” of the Hawaiian steel guitar and Hawaiian music by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists.

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

The Henry Kaleialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival is part of the annual Maui Invitational Music Festival created 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 that are open to musicians and vocalists of all ages.

For more information, visit www.aecg.org.