Steel Trappings

Spotlight ON! Feature

Spotlight ON! Sebastian Müller

November 15, 2022 • Addison ChingEntertainment

This month we shine the Spotlight ON! Sebastian Müller.

Sebastian grew up in a musical family. Says Sebastian, "My father was a Church Choir leader and my mother a good singer, so I was immersed in music when I grew up." Sebastian's father also plays instruments.

"I started out with piano at the age of six without much success. Around 10 I started playing Tenor Horn in a brass section, when I was 15 I started on classical guitar," recalls Sebastian. Inspired by a player that he met at the Boy Scouts, he started out with Classical guitar and moved to playing electric, mostly Blues, Rock and Funk in local bands.

"After school I moved to Los Angeles to study guitar at the GIT. From there I moved back to Germany and selected Berlin, because I could already see the potential of that city. It became and still is one of the most interesting cities in Europe when it comes to music and art," says Sebastian.

Sebastian started out with Dobro using Cindy Cashdollar's DVD. "It was a perfect new challenge after playing guitar since I was 15, definitely some things in common with guitar but also pretty new and exciting," says Sebastian.

His many trips to Hawai‘i inspired his interest in the Hawaiian steel guitar. "Since my parents in law used to live in Hawai‘i we traveled there on a regular basis. My first touch point with Hawaiian Music was hearing Slack key master Ledward Kaapana performing at the Kona brewery. I was quite impressed and started to play a bit of slack key, just for myself and for fun. In Hawai‘i I bought a CD called Hawaiian Steel Guitar Classics which contained mostly tricone recordings from the 20s and 30s and I was totally hooked." He then made the hard switch to Hawaiian music only.

As far as his steel guitar training goes, Sebastian says he is mostly self-taught. " Besides taking a handful of lessons from Alan Akaka and John Ely I am basically self taught. I used the Stacy Phillips book to learn some arrangements but started to transcribe steel parts from records right from the start. This is where I learn the most, carefully listening to the old masters and figuring out what is going on, how they slide into notes, when they use what kind of vibrato, and so on."

"I met Alan Akaka in Hawai‘i just after I started to play steel and it was just great. Not only he showed me some great things on the steel (he is such a great player) but also let me sit in on stage right from the start (I was so nervous!)

Alan introduced Sebastian to many great players in Hawai‘i. He remains in touch with Paul Kim, Jeff Au Hoy, Bobby Ingano, Ed Punua, Geri Valdriz, and Ken Emerson. Says Sebastian, "It is just amazing to be connected with all these awesome musicians and to jam with them at the birthplace of the steel guitar. I am very thankful for that."

This video is of Sebastian playing "Hilo March."

The video can also be seen on YouTube.

This feature is a snapshot of the complete tribute that is posted on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase website. See the complete tribute here.

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2022 Festivals and Workshops

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
December 8-11, 2022 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Kamuela, Hawai‘i Island

2022 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Livestream Broadcasts

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Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday

November 19, 2022 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Facebook LiveYouTube
Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani

December 10, 2022 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM HST

2023 Festivals and Workshops
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Ka Makana Ali‘i   
February 18, 2023 – Ka Makana Ali‘i Shopping Center, Kapolei

Kona Steel Guitar Festival   
March 24-25, 2023 – Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, Keauhou, Hawai‘i

Kaua‘i Hawaiian Steel Guitar Symposium   
May 3-4, 2023 – Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort, Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i

Kaua‘i Steel Guitar Festival   
May 4-6, 2023 – Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort, Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i
May 7, 2023 – Kukui Grove Center, Lihue, Kaua‘i
Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Windward Mall   
June 10, 2023 (tentative) – Windward Mall, Kāne‘ohe

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week   
July 10-15, 2023 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival   
July 14, 2023 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī

Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival   
July 15, 2023 – Royal Grove Stage, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikīkī

Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival Keiki Kine at Kāhala Mall   
August 19, 2023 – Kāhala Mall, Honolulu

Maui Steel Guitar Festival
October 14, 2023 – The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Maui
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
October 15, 2023 – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST

2023 Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase Livestream Broadcasts
Facebook LiveYouTube
Kona Steel Guitar Festival

March 25, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 12:00 Noon - 3 PM and 5 PM - 8 PM HST

Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival

July 14, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 4PM - 6:30PM HST


Facebook LiveYouTube
Royal Hawaiian Center Presents Waikīkī Steel Guitar Festival

July 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 11AM - 2PM and 4:30PM - 6:30PM HST
Facebook LiveYouTube
Maui Steel Guitar Festival

October 14, 2023 – The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Maui, Hawai‘i – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
October 15, 2023 – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Maui, Hawai‘i – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST

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HIMELE is a Hawai‘i non-profit corporation that supports music enrichment and education for people of all ages. Our purpose is to educate, promote, and perpetuate Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian musical instruments.