Party with ‘Hawaii’s Renaissance Man’ at Macey Center


For an alternative to celebrating Valentine’s Day in romantic Hawaii, the Grammy-winning music of George Kahumoku Jr., known as Hawaii’s Renaissance Man, is offered at a Performing Arts Series concert at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.

To make the evening complete, make reservations for the Tech Club – Club Macey Valentine’s luau dinner, beginning with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. The cost is separate from the show.

The Hawaiian native, along with Keoki Kahumoku and Uncle Richard, plus a hula dancer, will give free workshops, open to the community, in slack-key guitar, ukulele and hula dancing at 4 p.m. Feb. 13, on the Macey Center Stage.

“There are many good reasons George Kahumoku Jr. has been called Hawaii’s Renaissance Man,” said PAS director Ronna Kalish. “He’s not only a multiple Grammy Award winner, but he’s also a recognized master slack key guitarist, songwriter, world-traveling performer, high school and college teacher, artist and sculptor, storyteller and writer, farmer and entrepreneur.

“If that doesn’t meet the definition of renaissance man, then tell me what does!” Kalish said. “George also is known for establishing a rapport with his audiences, and what better venue for that than with Macey Center’s appreciative audiences.”

Kahumoku not only is an American Grammy recipient, but also is a multiple Na HÅkÅ« Hanohano (Hawaiian Grammy) Award winner.

In February 2006, Kahumoku and fellow slack key artists and producers were thrilled to receive the 48th Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Album for their compilation recording “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 1: Live in Concert from Maui.”

As explained by Kalish, a musician in her own right, a slack key guitar is a finger-style genre of guitar music that originated in Hawaii. Most slack-key tunings can be achieved by starting with a guitar in standard tuning, and detuning or “slacking” one or more of the strings until all six strings form a single chord, frequently G major.

Kahumoku’s newest release, “Kani Wai” (Sound of Water), has been praised as his finest work to date. The duet CD with lap steel virtuoso and ethnomusicologist Bob Brozman is a selection of traditional Hawaiian songs with Brozman’s vocals and extended instrumental interludes, making for a relaxed and playful blending of Kahumoku’s signature 12-string slack key with Brozman’s vintage acoustic lap steel.

Joining Kahumoku for the PAS performance are George’s son Keoki Kahumoku and Uncle Richard Ho’opi’I, one of Hawaii’s most beloved singers.

Fifth generation slack-key guitarist Keoki Kahumoku began performing with his father and his uncle Moses Kahumoku in 1990 at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Uncle Richard Ho’opi’I, best known as one half of the popular Maui duo The Ho’opi’i Brothers, has practiced the traditional Hawaiian art of leo ki’eki’e (falsetto) for most of his life. He and his brother, Solomon (his life-long singing partner), in 1997 received the prestigious National Endowment of the Arts Folk Heritage Fellowship, America’s highest honor for traditional artists.

As a child, Richard sang while doing his chores, at church and at school. “It just came naturally,” he said. “You didn’t have to think about it, you just did it.”

Meanwhile, George Kahumoku Jr. lives on Maui with his wife, Nancy, and teaches drawing and painting, ceramics, and guitar and ukulele at the historic Lahainaluna High School.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $8 for youth 17 and under, and are available at the New Mexico Tech cashier’s office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme Drive-up or at the door.