The First Annual Waikiki Steel Guitar Week at Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Center presented a variety of Hawaiian steel guitar artists to standing room-only audiences at the Royal Grove Stage. Previously a single-day program, the annual event was expanded this year to steel guitar presentations for the entire week. One-hour programs were offered Monday through Thursday, and the 3 ½-hour festival hoʻolauleʻa programs were presented Friday and Saturday evenings. The Royal Grove Stage is located at Waikikiʻs Helumoa, the former playground of Hawaiian royalty, and the site of the Royal Hawaiian Center. The events were emceed by Hawaii celebrities Harry B. Soria and Kimo Kahoano.
The week started off with Alan Akakaʻs Next Generation steel guitarists from his Ke Kula Mele Hawaii School of Hawaiian Music. The guitarists, ranging in age from 11 to 18, were accompanied by other youth musicians from Ke Kula Mele playing U-bass, and adult musicians Ronald Tolentino, Addison Ching, and Alan Akaka. The hourlong program featured three selections by each of the four steel guitarists.
Greg Sardinha and Poʻokela (Zachary Castro and Kata Maduli) performed on Tuesdayʻs one hour presentation, while The Casey Olsen Trio (sometimes known as the Hiram Olsen Trio) with Casey, dad Hiram Olsen and Dennis “Bla” Keohokalole, performed on Wednesday with suprise hula dancer Kanoe Miller. Alan Akaka and The Islanders (Adam and Kaipo Asing)performed Thursday night. Steel guitarist Alexis Tolentino, also an accomplished hula dancer, provided the hula dancing for Monday through Thursday programs.
The Friday evening guests were treated to programs by Alexis Tolentino, Steve Cheney, Wayne Shishido, Geromino “Geri” Valdriz from Maui, and the Bobby Ingano Trio, while Saturday hoʻolauleʻa guests enjoyed performances by Alan Akaka and The Islanders, Paul Kim and the Waimanalo Sunset Band (Samuel and Keliʻi Makua and Keao Kamalani), Eddie Palama, The Bobby Ingano Trio (Adam and Kaipo Asing), and Greg Sardinha and Poʻokela. Adam and Kaipo Asing also assisted those steel guitarists requiring a backup band.
A vintage steel guitar exhibit featuring acoustic, lap, and console steel guitars from Alan Akakaʻs collection, was presented at Helumoa Hale, the centerʻs customer convenience center and meeting room. The exhibit provided an opportunity for festival guests to see the instruments up close and have their questions answered by exhibit clinicians.
Honolulu City and County Mayor Kirk Caldwall issued a proclamation for the event, proclaiming the week of July 9 – 15, 2017 to be HAWAIIAN STEEL GUITAR APPRECIATION WEEK.
For more information about the event and archived information and pictures from past events see the event website at www.waikikisteelguitarweek.com. The annual event is presented by Royal Hawaiian Center and produced by Hawaiian Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE). Next yearʻs Waikiki Steel Guitar Week will be held July 9-14, 2018.