California Slack Key Festival

Pictured is well known slack key musician Jeff Peterson

REDONDO BEACH Slack Key Festival

Sunday, January 15, 2023, 2 p.m.

Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
$20-65; VIP available, too
Free Island Marketplace

Line Up: George Kuo, Makaha Sons, Sonny Lim, Kamuela Kimoked, Jeff Peterson, Jim "Kimo" West, Kainani Kahaunaele, Bryan Tolentino and Ka'ihi Kimoked

Kala Koa Entertainment celebrating the biggest and brightest names in Hawaiian music to the mainland
presents Southern California Slack Key Festival  and Island Marketplace

One of the most acclaimed Hawaiian concerts to ever leave the islands, the Southern California Slack Key Festival takes fans on a Hawaiian musical journey that showcases GRAMMY-winning slack key guitarists, the best hula dancers in the world, special guest performers and a free to the public Island Marketplace.

The Southern California Slack Key Festival - the first of its kind anywhere outside of Hawaii - set a major milestone for Hawaiian music events on the mainland when it debuted in 2008 and has garnered a huge loyal following - creating, cultivating, and renewing interest in Hawaii and its music.

 What is Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Music?
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (ki ho'alu) is truly one of the world's great acoustic guitar traditions, considered to be one of the oldest music traditions to still be a viable (other than just historical) part of a modern culture. Ki ho'alu, which literally means to "loosen the key," is the Hawaiian language name for the solo finger-picked style unique to Hawaii. In this tradition, the strings (or "keys") are "slacked" to produce many different tunings, which usually contain a major chord, or a chord with a major 7th note, or sometimes one with a 6th note in it. Each tuning produces a lingering sound behind the melody and has a characteristic resonance and fingering, with the thumb playing the bass while the other fingers play the melody and improvise in a finger-picked style.

In addition to the concert, an Island Marketplace - free to the public - takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., complete with Shave Ice, Hawaiian food, and great Hawaiian products and crafts.

 George Kuo - Plays in the traditional nahenahe (sweet, soothing) style, bridging today's generation with the older generations. one of the last  elders from the Hawaiian music community along with his his rare double neck guitar -

Jeff Peterson - Recognized as one of Hawaii's most versatile musicians, Jeff Peterson is at the heart of the Hawaiian music scene today. His focus on Slack Key guitar, classical, and jazz music has allowed him to develop a unique and transcendent voice on the guitar while being deeply rooted in the traditions of his Hawaiian heritage.

Jim "Kimo" West - 2021 Grammy Award winner for his CD, More Guitar Stories. One of ki ho 'alu's most unique talents. He is also the long-time guitarist for Weird Al Yankovic. 

Past Performers

  • Cyril Pahinui
  • Jeff Peterson
  • Jeff Au Hoy
  • Peter W. K. Moon
  • Ledward Kaapana
  • Kawika Kahiapo
  • John Keawe
  • Jim "Kimo" West
  • Mike Kaawa
  • Nathan Nahinu

By C. MacDonald

REDONDO BEACH, CA--The world needs additional " slack key" musicians to make it a more peaceful, less hectic, enjoyable place. Listening to the recent 7th annual Southern California Slack Key Festival seemed to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, make you more relaxed and gave the packed Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center crowd an afternoon they will never forget.


2014 Slack Key Festival performers Kawika Kahiapo (left) and Jim "Kimo" West (right) posed with three time Grammy Award singer-songwriter "Weird Al Yankovic" who came to watch.

Slack key, Hawaiian ki ho'alu, is one of the most fantastic acoustical guitar traditions in the world, dating from the 19th Century. It even was used to relax Hawaiian cattle. Some of the strings are slacked from the standard tuning, with the thumb playing bass, while the other fingers play the melody and improvise in a finger-picked style.

The festival featured terrific musicians, including Cyril Pahinui, son of the famous Hawaiian legend, the late Gabby Pahinui, Kawika Kahiapo, Jeff Peterson, Jim " Kimo"  West and Troy Fernandez. They unleashed their beautiful music while sitting on a stage set that made everyone feel they were in a friend's living room, even though hundreds watched and cheered their casual, yet perfect play. They fed off one another, in a joyful, enthusiastic manner. Their talent engulfed the theater. Their heartfelt songs about ancestors, their passion for having fun jamming together, their love of each other, Hawaii and their families, bubbled forth to the delighted crowd, who cheered them on. Even if you can' t speak a work of Hawaiian, you could feel the love in the large room, between the performers and the audience.

"The music really does lower your blood pressure," said Jim " Kimo" West. " I put slap key on in the car when I' m driving. It' s wonderful meditation wherever you listen to it," said the famed guitarist, who' s also known for playing with " Weird Al Yankovic," just one of the celebrities in the house to enjoy the festival. The friendly sound seems to really be played from the heart and soul through the fingers.

Cyril Pahinui and Jeff Peterson performed slack key with other artists in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the popular film, " The Descendants."  Some have called the Southern California slack key Festival, " the most prestigious Hawaiian music concert in the mainland United States."  Numerous volunteers, such as Chris Cole of Huntington Beach and Torie Smith, love helping the festival, produced and directed by Mitchell Chang, continue to prosper. A variety of sponsors and vendors help create the magical atmosphere. I can' t wait until next year's festival rolls around. Check it out, you'll be delighted you did. To find out about other KalaKoa events, visit

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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