With a theme based on the golden era of the Matson Cruise Lines and Boat Days at Honolulu's Aloha Tower, the fourth annual Henry Kaleialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival will take place Friday through Sunday at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
The gala event of the festival on Saturday evening features Henry Allen and his band, Tropical Swing, performing a program reminiscent of a night aboard Matson's luxury liner SS Lurline. This colorful trip down memory lane features Hawaiian steel guitar players, vocalists and hula dancers.
Other highlights include a Saturday morning tribute to Maui's late Hawaiian steel guitar greats, brothers Freddie and Ernest Tavares, featuring video recollections and family members sharing their memories. Both brothers were known as virtuosos, and Freddie helped design the legendary Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Henry Allen and friends at the 2009 festival
Celebrating the music created on the Hawaiian steel guitar, the festival features free concerts, presentations and hands-on workshops all weekend.
Besides events at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, Alan Akaka & The Islanders play at 6 p.m. Friday at Son'z at Swan Court in the Hyatt Regency Maui. And the Terrace Restaurant at the Royal Lahaina Resort will host performances by the Greg Sardinha Trio from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Duke Kaleiolani Ching from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
A special event for kids on Saturday morning at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel features a reading of the book "Matson the Mouse," which precedes a presentation about Matson Line's famous white ships by author Duncan O'Brien, a leading authority on the passenger ship era in Hawaii.
Among the other steel guitarists performing during the weekend are Japan's Kiyoshi "Lion" Kobayashi, Hulu Lindsey, State Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, Gordon Freitas, Ricardo Gonzalez, the Kalama School Ukulele Band under the direction of Benny Uyetake, and Kimo Kahoano.
The schedule of free workshops includes hands-on Hawaiian steel-guitar-making classes with Dr. Neil Scott. Building kits are provided. Dr. Scott has developed a more affordable way to build the instrument making it more accessible to aspiring players, thus perpetuating Hawaiian steel guitar music. Beginner and intermediate steel guitar, ukulele, and hula lessons are also being offered.
* For a complete schedule, visit www.aecg.org.