Focus on the
Economy - July 6,
By Hawaii Island Economic Development Board
Following is the Focus on the Economy column that is scheduled to appear in Sunday's West Hawaii Today and has appeared in Thursdayıs Hawaii Tribune Herald business section. You are receiving this column today due to the 4th of July Holiday on Friday. If you prefer to be taken off this e-mail list, please reply to this e-mail with your request.
For publication Thursday, July 3 and Sunday, July 6, 2003
Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Paula Helfrich President
Hawaiian Music Festival in Tune with the Times
Here in Hawaii we are fortunate to have the opportunity to experience performances that focus on three unique musicalities closely associated with the islands slack key, steel guitar and ukulele. Usually these modes of music and entertainment are presented on an individual basis. The Big Island Hawaiian Music Festival on July 19 and 20 will reward admirers of each with slack key, steel guitar and ukulele in one festival.
Responding to popular demand, the Slack Key Guitar Festival is transforming itself into a two-day event called The Big Island Hawaiian Music Festival. The festival will include ukulele and steel guitar performances on Saturday, July 19 and slack key performances on Sunday, July 20 and will be held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Stadium in Hilo.
King Kalakaua, Queen Emma and other alii including Queen Liliuokalani, Prince Leleiohoku and Princess Likelike revived and upheld Hawaiiıs unique acoustic traditions by lending royal patronage to slack key guitar music as well as to the ukulele. Nearly a century later, Dr. George Kanahele established the Hawaiian Music Foundation and his signature Slack Key Guitar Music Concert in the early 1970ıs. Often referred to as the twentieth century Hawaiian renaissance, the 1970ıs began a long period of increasing popularity for Hawaiian music locally and around the world.
The East Hawaii Cultural Center (EHCC) recognized that the examples set by the alii and later by Dr. Kanahele were consistent with the organizationıs own mission to preserve and perpetuate the arts and culture of our island community. EHCC established the tradition of hosting the Big Island Slack Key Guitar Music Festival in Hilo the past fourteen years. The festival has attracted master musicians like Blah and Cyril Pahinui, Ray Kane and Sonny Chillingsworth. Young talent like Ledward Kaapana participated in this significant musical event. EHCC feels that transitioning the Slack Key Guitar Music Festival to the more inclusive Big Island Hawaiian Music Festival will result in all three types of uniquely-Hawaiian music reaching a larger audience and finding new supporters for Hawaiian music overall.
As with the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, The Big Island Slack Key Guitar Festival began with small attendance and free concerts. The venue early on was Coconut Island. With Hiloıs uncertain weather, the slack key festival was later moved to the Civic Auditorium. Calendars worldwide now mark the date and enthusiastic visitors arrive from points south, north, east and west including Australia, Finland, Japan, the US mainland, and many points in between. And because slack key is so uniquely Hawaiian, local residents vigorously support the festival. As popularity of the festival has increased, the event expanded from one to two days.
Painting portrayals of unforgettable tropical images with their fingers dancing across the instrumentıs strings, each musician plays with heart and soul. The convivial interactions between musicians and audience create a lighthearted atmosphere for enjoyment. Sometimes, an elderly uncle will climb on stage to play with the masters while auntie dances to an old favorite tune. This "only-in-Hawaii" style of concert creates a unique and valuable memory for visitors and vividly demonstrates the Aloha spirit of our island.
The Big Island Music Festival enlivens Hilo town and boosts the entire islandıs economy as it attracts musicians from throughout the state along with many visitors and community members who come to support the event. Festival attendance creates more business for island hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, galleries, and for those small businesses that operate food, arts and crafts booths during the festival. Festival tee shirts and posters have been collectorsı items since the festivalıs first debut and this year will be no exception.
Ticket prices are only $7 for each event or $10 for both days. To encourage family participation and perpetuation of these unique music traditions to youngsters, children 12 and under are free. The festival is partially funded by the State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, the Hawaii Tourism Authority and contributions from businesses and individuals. Tickets can be purchased at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, 141 Kalakaua St., at Hilo Guitars on 114 Ponahawai St. or by calling 935-9085.
Volunteer: Downtown Hilo clean-up volunteers sought. Take pride in Hilo. Join in to wash the walks, weed, fertilize and clean Kamehameha Avenue and beyond. Contact Susan Hamilton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Focus on the Economy is written for Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Roberta Chu, chair / Paula Helfrich, president. Readers with comments, questions or suggestions should check the web site, www.hiedb.org <http://www.hiedb.org/>, e-mail email@example.com or call HIEDB, 966-5416. An archive of Focus on the Economy columns is available on the web site.
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