Ledward Ka'apana

Ledward Ka'apana

Fran Guidry

Wednesday, January 25

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm (event ends at 9:00 pm)

Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Santa Cruz, CA

$20 in advance $25 day of show

Ledward Ka'apana
Ledward Ka'apana
Led Kaapana's mastery of stringed instruments, particularly slack key guitar, and his extraordinary baritone and leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) voices, have made him a musical legend. He has been thrilling audiences for more than 40 years. With easy-going style and kolohe (rascal) charm, he has built a loyal corps of Led Heads from Brussels to his birthplace on the Big Island of Hawaii. Recognition by his peers earned Led 4 Grammy nominations in his own right and 2 wins on slack key compilations.

Like so many Hawaiians, Led grew up in a musical family. In the tiny black sand bay village of Kalapana, there were few distractions. "We didn't have electricity, no television, not even much radio," says Led. "So we entertained ourselves. You could go to any house and everybody was playing music."

Often everybody was playing music at a backyard party, many of which lasted for days. "People played in shifts, taking over when somebody went to sleep," Led recalls. "You'd fall asleep to the music, wake up....and the music was still playing. That was the best alarm clock I ever had!"

It was at these family gatherings that Led learned to play in the old style, watching, listening, then imitating. Chief among his teachers were his mother, Mama Tina Kaapana, and his uncle Fred Punahoa. "Even today when I play, I still picture all the `ohana (family) getting together and sharing their songs and their aloha."

Although isolated, outside influences did creep into Kalapana. Like most kids his age, Led loved to rock and roll and also listened to country, jazz, and Latin music. When he'd sneak a riff from a guitar hit of the day, like Pipeline or Walk Don't Run, into his music his dad would tease, "Hey, that's not slack key!" But nobody ever stopped him, they just encouraged him to "play what you feel and play with aloha."

As teenagers, Led and his twin brother Ned and cousin Dennis Pavao formed the Hui Ohana, one of the hottest groups of the 70s and 80s and now legendary among Hawaiian musicians. The 70s saw the blossoming of the Hawaiian Renaissance, and Hui Ohana was a key part of that return to traditional Hawaiian culture and music. Young Hawaii Plays Old Hawaii, the title of their first recording, was also their statement of purpose.

The group produced 14 best-selling albums and made countless hundreds of live appearances, proudly sharing Kalapana's musical traditions.

Led later formed another trio, I Kona, releasing 6 albums with that group, including Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner, Jus' Press. He has also released a number of solo albums, including two Na Hoku Hanohano Instrumental Album of the Year winners, Lima Wela and Black Sand. Ki Ho`alu, Hawaiian Slack Key, Grandmaster Slack Key and Force of Nature (with Mike Kaawa) received Grammy nominations.

While recording for Dancing Cat Records, Led produced a number of solo projects, duets, and a project with Allison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, and other bluegrass legends called Waltz of the Wind. He has worked with Dolly Parton, Chet Atkins, and many other Nashville notables. Back at home, he has shared his talents on recordings with most of Hawaii's top talents, including Aunty Genoa Keawe, Barney Isaacs, The Ho`opi`i Brothers, Melveen Leed, the Pahinui Brothers, Amy Hanaiali`i, and countless others. In 2008, Led formed his own recording company, Jus' Press Productions, and released his Force of Nature CD, with 12-string virtuoso Mike Kaawa. The album earned a Grammy nomination in 2009 and won Led and Mike the Favorite Entertainer Award at the 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Led tours the US extensively and has also appeared in Belgium, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Tahiti.

When home in Hawaii, Led can be found on Sunday evenings at Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai where local talent and visiting musicians from the four corners of the globe drop in to join the "back yard" party.
Fran Guidry
After playing old time rock'n'roll for 20 years, Fran experienced a musical rebirth when he turned on the TV in a Waikiki hotel room. He saw and heard Keola Beamer playing slack key, and he fell in love with Hawaiian music at that moment. Since then Fran has immersed himself in slack key and Hawaiian music. He has collected CDs and LPs, attended concerts, studied books and videos, taken lessons, and played slack key guitar nearly every spare minute. He has performed at various venues around the San Francisco Bay Area, in solo shows and as an opener for Hawaiian music stars like Dennis Kamakahi, Cyril Pahinui, and Patrick Landeza. He has also played with masters like Ledward Ka`apana, Mike Ka`awa, and Kevin Brown on his trips to Hawai`i.

Slack key guitar is a folk style that demonstrates the beauty and power of simplicity. Created over 150 years ago by Hawaiian cowboys herding cattle on volcanic slopes, it has endured and grown, inspiring new devotees generation after generation. Now this charming music seems to have transcended the boundaries of its island home, with slack key guitarists blossoming all across the mainland of the United States, in Japan, and in Europe.

Slack key seems to capture listeners like magic. The stresses and strains of the fast paced modern world fade as the ebb and flow of slack key transports them to that idyllic island paradise locked in their imagination. Like the traditional Hawaiian songs, Fran's originals are inspired by personal relationships, joyous life events, and the wonders of the world around us.
Venue Information:
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
320-2 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
http://kuumbwajazz.org