Get ready to strum up a storm


The Waimea Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute returns to Kahilu Theatre Thursday through Nov. 17.

The institute features public concerts, both free and ticketed, school shows, workshops, master classes and movies. The institute is a meeting place for artists and the passionate audience of Hawaiian music.

A kanikapila at 6 p.m. Thursday offers a music-filled evening, a chance for advance and beginning players to come on stage and jam with the artists. The free event is open to all ages and levels and for those who just want to listen. KAPA Radio will broadcast live from the lobby, and attendees can enter a drawing to win a Kala Ukulele.

At 7 p.m. Nov. 15, slack key master Ledward Kaapana will headline and 12-string guitarist and singer Mike Kaawa will join him for several duets. The Rev. Dennis Kamakahi will perform a rare solo set highlighting many of the most beloved songs he has composed over the past four decades. Waimea’s own slack key master, Sonny Lim, will open with a multigenerational group of family and friends.

The Nov. 16 lineup includes traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music performances beginning at 7 p.m. when Cyril Pahinui and his trio make their Kahilu debut. Multiple Hoku winners Nathan Aweau and Jeff Peterson will combine forces for several duets. They will also share solos and join jazz ukulele virtuoso Benny Chong for trios. Peter Moon Jr. and Jeff Au Hoy will join in the finale. Artists are given maximum freedom to play what they want with whomever they want, so expect unique combinations.

Pahinui played on all five of his father, Gabby Pahinui’s albums, then formed and played with The Sunday Manoa, The Sandwich Isle Band, The Peter Moon Band, The Pahinui Brothers, and finally went solo. His numerous recordings have won him Grammy nominations and wins and several Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Kaapana’s mastery of slack key guitar, and his baritone to falsetto voices, have made him a musical legend. He has been entertaining audiences for more than 40 years. With easy-going style and kolohe charm, he has built a loyal corps of Led Heads from Brussels to his birthplace on the Big Islan. Recognition by his peers has earned Kaapana four individual Grammy nominations and two wins on slack key compilations.

Tickets for Nov. 15 and 16 are $20 to $64, available in advance from kahilutheatre.org. The public can also drop in at the theater or call the box office from 9 a.m. to noon at 885-6868.

Daytime workshops will be offered Nov. 16 in ukulele and slack key guitar, at 10 a.m. and noon for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Each two-hour workshop costs $30, which includes a T-shirt. Full-time students qualify for a reduced rate. At 2 p.m. there will be a free screening of the movie “Let’s Play Music!” a celebration of Gabby “Pops” Pahinui produced by Oiwi Television Network.

The musicians will visit several schools, including Waimea Elementary, Waikoloa School, Kanu o ka Aina New Century Public Charter School, Laupahoehoe High and Elementary, Hawaii Pacific Academy, Honokaa High School, Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate, Parker School, and both Kohala elementary and high schools. The theater also hosts a full schools concert, which is almost sold out, with more than 450 school children and teachers confirmed, Nov. 15.

Another free event, Na Mele O Hawaii, the final concert of the weekend, is at 1 p.m. Nov. 17. The concert offers the chance to see all the artists of the weekend playing together in an intimate event.

The 11th annual Waimea Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute is supported by Herb and Sunny Aston, Tom and Marsha Kerley and by Hawaii County through the HTA Community Product Enrichment Program.