California Festivals

Pictured is well known slack key musician Jeff Peterson

Redondo Beach, Slack Key Festival

Sunday, January 14, 2024, 2 p.m. concert

Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
$25-65 Reserved Festival Seating
$150pp VIP
Free Island Marketplace 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Biggest Hawaiian Music Event of the Year takes a Hawaiian musical journey showcasing GRAMMY-winning slack key guitarists, award-winning Hula Hālau, special guest performers and a free to the public Island Marketplace.

Taking its name from a finger-picking style of guitar playing indigenous to Hawaii (as heard on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for "The Descendants"), the Slack Key Festival brings the art of ki ho'alu guitar to Redondo Beach. This year’s Southern California Slack Key Festival’s line-up includes Kula'iwi, Hi'ikua, Jerry Santos, Jeff Peterson, Jim "Kimo" West, Sean Parks, Namaka Cosma, Leokane Pryor, and Ken Emerson.

  • Kulaiwi  have performed with countless island and national favorites. Kulaiwi received the honors of the 2022 Na Hoku Hanohano Album of the Year Award, Hawaiian Album of the Year Award, Group of the Year Award, and Hawaiian Engineering Award of the Year.
  • Hi'ikua - In a culture that honors the legacies of the past, this Hawaiian trio is comprised of Kalehua Krug, Blake Leoiki-Haili and Kamuela Kimokeo.
  • Jerry Santos - Best known for his work in the musical group Olomana, and a huge part of the 1970’s revival/ renaissance of Hawaiian music, singer/songwriter Jerry Santos has been a familiar presence on the Hawaii music scene for almost five decades.  Ku'u Home O Kahalu'u was voted #7 on the top 50 Songs of all time.
  • Jeff Peterson - Born on the Island of Maui and grew up on the slopes of Haleakala where he was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a  paniolo  (Hawaiian cowboy), on the Haleakala Ranch. Among Peterson's many awards is Slack Key Album of the Year for "Maui on My Mind".
  • Jim "Kimo" West - Regarded as one of the world's foremost Hawaiian slack key guitar artists, Kimo just wrapped up a tour of Europe playing his brand of slack key guitar music. He is a 2021 Grammy Winner.
  • Sean Parks - A talented young slack key guitarist and vocalist comes from Kaimu in the district of Kalapana.
  • Namaka Cosma is one of only a handful of women pursuing the art of slack key guitar. 
  • Leokane Pryor - Delighting audiences with his angelic falsetto vocals, his original songs tell of his home in heavenly Hana and his life-long love for Hawai'i.
  • Kenton Robert Lopaka Emerson - San Francisco born, and Hawaiian island bred Emerson helped bring in the first ever 2005 GRAMMY award for Hawaiian music.

In addition to the concert, an Island Marketplace – free and open to the public – takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. outside of the venue. Browse a variety of island themed gifts, home décor, accessories, apparel, Hawaiian food, authentic island-style shave ice and outdoor entertainment.

What is Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Music?
Played from the heart and soul through the fingers and flowing with vivid tropical images, Hawaiian ki ho'alu (slack key) is truly one of the great acoustic guitar traditions of the world. In slack key, some of the strings are "slacked" from the standard guitar tuning, with the thumb playing the bass notes while the other fingers play the melody and improvise in a finger-picked style.

Slack Key Festival Feature

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.

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 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.

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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