Discover Slack Key and Listen to the Sound of the IslandsBig Island
Looking for a way to relax and kick back but still enjoy the culture and aloha of Hawaii? Check out a slack key guitar concert, spotlighting a musical style that originated in and flourishes throughout the Islands.
For a bit of an introduction, imagine: It’s the late 1800s on the grassy plains of the Big Island. A paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, relaxes on his open range. All he has with him are his sturdy horse and now, thanks to Mexican cowboys brought to the island by King Kamehameha III to teach how to control the overpopulation of cattle, a classical guitar. The paniolo picks up the guitar, loosen the strings, ands starts to play. Then, he shows his fellow cowboys, and together they adapt the sound to fit the sound and flair of Hawaiian music. Meet slack key guitar.
This style spread quickly throughout Hawaii but took a side role to vocals andfamilies kept their string-tuning styles secret. Therefore, slack key guitar remained a back-porch favorite only played in Hawaii until the 1940s, when it was finally introduced to a mainstream U.S. audience.
The soulful twang of slack key guitar has been popular in the islands and throughout the world ever since. If you’re not lucky enough to stumble across any backyard kanikapila (Pigeon for an impromptu jam session), you can still check out the sound at the following places, among others:
Kona Village Resort’s Bora Bora Room
Monday, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Four Seasons Haulalai Resort’s Lava Lounge, Kailua-Kona
Tuesday and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
King’s Shops, Waikoloa
Every second Sunday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Bamboo Restaurant, Hawi
Irregular Friday or Saturday nights twice a month
Mauna Lani Hotel’s Canoe House, Kamuela
Most Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.