Hawaii Steel Guitar Festival

Festival Information

The Hawaii Steel Guitar Festival is presented by the Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE) and the Ke Kula Mele Hawai'i School of Hawaiian Music. The festival brings together legendary steel guitarists for a celebration of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. This free, 3-day festival includes a series of performances, presentations, instructional workshops, jam sessions and public and private school visitations that are focused on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar and its importance in the Hawaiian music genre.

The festival's goal is to revitalize the Hawaiian steel guitar among local residents, particularly young people. In addition to festival musical programs, teams of performers and music educators will visit area schools with a presentation and demonstration of the Hawaiian steel guitar. These teams will discuss with students the history of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar, demonstrate playing techniques and the importance of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar in the Hawaiian music genre and perform Hawaiian music to encourage interest and festival participation.

The Hawaii Steel Guitar Festival is one of a series of Hawaiian Steel Guitar festivals produced and presented by the Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences (HIMELE) and the Ke Kula Mele Hawai'i School of Hawaiian Music in collaboration with its partners. The Hawaii festival is made possible through collaboration with the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. The Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival is held each February in collaboration with the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapa'a, Kaua'i. The flagship Maui Steel Guitar Festival is held in the spring on Maui in collaboration with the Arts Education for Children Group (AECG) and the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel. The Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival is held in the summer at the Royal Grove performance venue (Helumoa) in collaboration with the Royal Hawaiian Center. HIMELE also produces the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festivals at local community venues on O'ahu at the Windward Mall in Kaneohe and Ka Makana Ali'i in Kapolei. All festivals are free and open to the public and are presented to increase awareness and foster interest in the Hawaiian Steel Guitar, an instrument important to Hawaiian music and culture. Please see the HIMELE Events page for actual festival dates.

These festivals are made possible through grants and contributions from corporate sponsors and private individuals, supplemented by in-kind contributions and volunteer resources. This program is supported in part by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawaii and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 2018 Hawaii Island Steel Guitar Festival

The 2018 Festival will be held at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on September. The scheduling in September is necessary to accommodate the hotel's closing for major remodeling that is scheduled to begin in October, 2018. All of this year's performances will be held indoors in the hotel's ballroom to avoid any weather-related issues affecting the performances.

Evening Ho'olaule'a programs are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with public kanikapila jam sessions following each evening's main program. Steel guitar workshops will be offered Saturday morning, and Open Stage performances are scheduled for Saturday beginning at 11 AM. Musical entertainment on the lawn offered during the Sunday brunch.

Education is a key component of the steel guitar festivals. School visitations by master steel guitarists and Next Generation steel guitar players will be scheduled with local area schools. These visitations will include an introduction to the Hawaiian steel guitar and its importance in Hawaiian music and culture. A musical demonstration will be given by the visitation team, followed by hands-on opportunities for classroom students. Local area schools will be contacted about scheduling a visitation time on Friday, and information about any workshop offered at the festival will be posted when it becomes available.

If you or your Hawaii area public or private school has not yet been contacted and would like a visitation and presentation on Friday, September 7, 2018, please see the Contact Page and fill out the form indicating your request.

Public "kanikapila" jam sessions will be held on Friday and Saturday nights. Jam sessions are open to anyone and may include steel guitar masters and other musicians. Anyone is invited to participate and play along with the featured players and festival guest musicians. Musicians are advised to bring their own instruments, amplifiers and music stands if required. The location of the kanikapila will be in the hotel's ballroom.

Open Stage sessions will be presented on Friday and Saturday afternoon. These sessions will feature steel guitar players from the United States and worldwide in half-hour playing sessions. If you are a Hawaiian Steel Guitar player or a band with a Hawaiian Steel Guitar and would like to reserve an open stage session, please submit your request by filling out the form on the Contact Page. Due to the nature of the festival, your performance should be on the Hawaiian steel guitar but incidental use of other Hawaiian instruments is permissible.

Festival T-shirts, artists' CDs and the festival poster will be available for purchase at the festival information booth. Festival posters autographed by all of the featured steel guitarists will be given free to any donation of $25 or more to HIMELE, the festival's producer.

Festival Information From Previous Festivals

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