Music of Hawaii

Jim "Kimo" West is one of the leading Slack Key guitarists in the world.  His music evokes the scent of the sea and the endless calm of the setting sun.  The best of Hawaii is captured in his music.  We invite you to sample a few of his works here, and sink into the essence of the Hawaiian experience.

"Maria Elena" by Jim Kimo West

'"Akaka Falls" by Jim Kimo West

"My Little Grass Shack" by Jim Kimo West

"Ku'u Lei 'Awapuhi" by Jack Kimo West

"The Hawaiian Wedding Song" by Jim Kimo

Slack-key guitar is a fingerstyle genre of guitar music that originated in Hawaii. Its name refers to its characteristic open tunings: the English term is a translation of the Hawaiian kī hōʻalu, which means "loosen the [tuning] key". Most slack-key tunings can be achieved by starting with a classically tuned guitar and detuning or "slacking" one or more of the strings until the six strings form a single chord, frequently G major.

In the oral-history account, the style originated from Mexican cowboys "vaqueros" in the late 19th century. These explorers provided guitars, taught the Hawaiians the rudiments of playing, and then left, allowing the Hawaiians to develop the style on their own.

The music did not develop a mainland audience during the Hawaiian music craze of the early 20th century, during which Hawaiian music came to be identified outside of Islands with the steel guitar and the ʻukulele. Slack key remained private and family entertainment, and it was not even recorded until 1946-47, when Gabby Pahinui cut a series of records that brought the tradition into public view.  During the 1960s and particularly during the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the 1970s, slack key experienced a surge in popularity and came to be seen as one of the most genuine expressions of Hawaiian spirit, principally thanks to Gabby Pahinui, Leonard Kwan, Sonny Chillingworth, Raymond Kāne, and the more modern styles of younger players such as Keola Beamer, his brother Kapono Beamer, Peter Moon, and Haunani Apoliona.
--From the Wikipedia entry on Slack Key Guitar