Music fills the air

Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival deftly slides into Lahaina and Kahului

Alan Akaka (shown in photo), Bobby Ingano and Geronimo “Geri” Valdriz are three of the headliners featured at the Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival taking place April 12 through 13 at Lahaina’s Outlets of Maui and April 14 at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center in Kahului. Admission is free. For more information, visit Don Touchi photos

The annual Maui Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival will feature some of our state’s most gifted musicians performing free on April 12 and 13 at Lahaina’s Outlets of Maui, and then at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center on April 14.

Created to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian steel guitar, the festival features some of the world’s best players participating in performances, workshops and jam sessions along with presentations, exhibits and cultural activities. 

Headliners performing during the festival’s events include Alan Akaka, Bobby Ingano, Greg Sardinha, Geronimo “Geri” Valdriz, Kapono Lopes and Konapiliahi Lau, along with Adam Asing and Kaipo Asing. Radio personality Kathy Collins will emcee.

Evening “hoolaulea,” or “celebration,” performances will take place from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on April 12 and 13 at the Outlets of Maui, with Grammy-award winner George Kahumoku Jr. joining Ingano as a special guest on April 12. A kanikapila jam session will follow the evening concerts at Pi Artisan Pizzeria. Open to all, folks are invited to bring their instruments and join in.

Daytime entertainment takes place on the Outlets main stage from 2 to 3 p.m. on April 12 featuring a performance by Kuikawa, singers and musicians who met as students at the University of  Hawaii Maui College Institute of Hawaiian Music. On April 13, Joel Katz takes the stage at 1:30 p.m. followed by Ke Kula Mele Hawaii’s NextGen artists. Hawaiian crafts, cultural activities and demonstrations are presented on both days starting at noon.

Bobby Ingano

Steel guitar workshops are scheduled for April 13, at the Story of Hawaii Museum. Conducted by master players Akaka and Ingano, topics include “What Tuning to Use” and “Chiming.”

Festival events on April 14 at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring all the performers including the NextGen youth steel ensemble.

Throughout the weekend, a collection of vintage steel guitars, curated by Valdriz, will be displayed at the Story of Hawaii Museum at the Outlets of Maui.

• Admission is free. For more information, visit www


Geronimo “Geri” Valdriz

The closing of Longhi’s in Lahaina marks the end of an era. The iconic restaurant was home to many great music nights and a mecca for legends. George Benson, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Taj Mahal, Santana, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins and the Doobie Brothers all performed there.

“Jimmy Buffett played several times,” recalls Charlie Longhi. “One time he forgot the words to ‘Margaritaville.’ “

Stars hanging out included Prince, Elton John and Marvin Gaye.

“I hung out with Marvin Gaye,” says Charlie. “He said it was the best salad he had ever eaten.”

A gifted guitarist who played his first gig at his dad’s restaurant, Charlie later packed the beautiful koa wood dance floor fronting bands like Art Beat.

I can remember interviewing Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson over a Longhi’s lunch and catching some jazz one evening joined by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker.

Former Nahiku resident George Harrison dedicated his song “Soft-Hearted Hana” on his 1979 “George Harrison” album to Bob Longhi.

“My father always supported music,” says Charlie, who currently plays weekly at the Hard Rock Cafe on Oahu. “It was happening.”

“We had jazz right up to the end on Sunday nights,” adds Peter Longhi. “It was a great run.”

Lahaina will never be the same.


Long known for its innovative musical fusion and exuberant live shows, the iconic L.A.-based band Ozomatli will ignite Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia on April 11 at 10 p.m.

Blending funk, hip-hop, salsa, jazz, reggae and worldbeat into its intoxicating sound, on its most recent album, “Nonstop: Mexico to Jamaica,” Ozomatli brilliantly reimagines classic and contemporary Mexican hits through the filter of reggae.

Ritchie Valens’ classic “La Bamba” was transformed into a “reggaefied” party jam enhanced with help from Slightly Stoopid. Selena’s iconic “Como la Flor” was revamped with a seductive ska/rocksteady vibe and they reinvigorated Santana’s “Evil Ways,” with a bass heavy, pumping dub groove.

“With an unending devotion to the power of rhythm, Ozomatli is like a dozen bands fused into one,” raved a Napa Valley Register review.

• Tickets are $40 and are available from Call Charley’s at 579-8085 for more information.


Also coming up at Charley’s is the return of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Lukas co-composed seven songs for the Oscar-nominated movie, “A Star is Born,” collaborating with the film’s stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Performing cameos in the movie and playing the distinctive guitar solo on the Oscar-winning hit song “Shallow,” Lukas was the inspiration for Cooper’s character in the film.

“Since Jackson Maine is a character that is sort of based on me and other influences, I just wrote a bunch of songs that are based upon my own life,” he told Screen Daily.

The soundtrack topped the charts in more than 15 countries, and sold four million copies worldwide.

The band has completed work on a new recording, “Turn Off the News and Build a Garden,” which will be released later in the year.

“It’s a little more rock ‘n’ roll than the last record, plus some soul, Stax R & B and country-soul,” Lukas told Australia’s The Age.

After the Paia shows, Promise of the Real will head to Australia for the Byron Bay Bluesfest. And in May, they will hit the road for a few shows backing Neil Young.

On Monday, Charley’s will host the “Southwest Airlines Community Appreciation Social” featuring Lily Meola, at 7 p.m. with no cover.

• Tickets for Promise of the Real are $45 and are available at


The queen of the ukulele, Taimane, delivered a stunning, sold-out show at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului on Saturday. A mesmerizing artist who commands the stage with a sensually soulful presence, she invoked the gods in passionate tributes to the planets and elements, managed to fuse Beethoven’s 5th Symphony with Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and played an electrifying version of Bizet’s “Carmen,” which segued into “The Phantom of the Opera” theme song.

Adding Hawaiian and Maori chants to songs, Taimane took her audience on a trip around the world singing snippets of tunes in Hebrew, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Samoan and Tahitian, and she even tossed in some furiously strummed surf music.

For an encore, while beautifully singing the traditional English folk song “Scarborough Fair,” popularized by Simon and Garfunkel, she conjured the mysterious depths of Neptune with a Middle Eastern-flavored, neo-psychedelic jam.


Seabury Hall graduate Conner Snow returns to Maui at 7:30 p.m. April 11 in the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater to perform songs from his debut album, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.”

Currently residing in Los Angeles, this Maui-born artist co-produced his album with fellow Maui musician, Inna Vision drummer Calvin Canha. It reflects wide ranging musical influences, including contemporary pop, R&B and reggae.

“I wanted the name of this album to be something that intimates growth and progression, and I love that it invokes a different meaning to every person who reads it,” he says.

The first video from the album for the song “Going Down” was directed by Seabury graduate Sebastian Sayegh, and features various Maui scenes at the beach, Polipoli, Olinda and Haleakala.

First picking up the ukulele at the age of 14, he learned to play by watching YouTube videos of Jake Shimabukuro, and later taught himself guitar and piano.

Pat Simmons Jr. will open.

• Tickets are $25 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go to