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Double Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Workshop

with Guitar Masters
Jim Kimo West & Ken Emerson

Saturday, January 21, 2017
1:30 - 4:00 pm

Presented by Cord International Media Group

Jim Kimo West and Ken Emerson
Jim Kimo West & Ken Emerson


Jim Kimo West & Ken Emerson are living legends in the world of Hawaiian slack key and acoustic steel guitar. This is a rare opportunity to study with both master players on the same day, up-close and personal. Played from the heart and soul through the fingers, and flowing with vivid tropical images, Hawaiian slack key is truly one of the great acoustic guitar traditions in the world. In slack key, some of the strings are slacked from the standard tuning, with the thumb playing the bass while the other fingers play the melody and improvise in a finger-picked style. Emerson and West will be coming to Ojai immediately following their performances at the biggest Hawaiian music event on the US Mainland, the 10th Annual Southern California Slack Key Festival, known as the meeting place for the world's most acclaimed and influential slack key artists.

"Slack key tunings let you play bass, chords and melody all at once. It's the most interesting acoustic guitar music in the world."

- James Kimo West


Beginning to Intermediate Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Participants will first study with Jim Kimo West who will teach songs, chords and techniques in the "Taro Patch" and "Drop C" tunings.

This will be followed by West & Emerson playing a tune together and a short break.

Extended Slack & Steel Guitar

Participants will then study with Ken Emerson who will demonstrate and teach his unique "slack & steel" signature and techniques in the "Open D" and "Wahine G" tunings.


About the Instructors

Ken Emerson is one of the world's most highly regarded traditional Hawaiian slack key & steel guitarists living today. He is a monster player of both and he switches easily between them during his performances, laying his guitar on his lap and picking up a steel bar for an instrumental interlude. This requires a special finesse and light touch because the slack key guitar has lower action than a dedicated lap steel guitar.

Emerson's unique playing style reflects the Hawaiian guitar's grassroots origins of over a century ago. He has developed his unique style through many musical genres. He has played his special blend of Blues/Jazz Hawaiian guitar for over 40 years. Born into a musical family, Emerson grew up with his fathers’ extensive record collection of jazz, swing, Hawaiian and world music styles.

Ken Emerson and Jim Kimo West Perform "Wai O Ke Aniani"

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Emerson played the folk and blues songs of the early ‘60s, a lefty learning right hand finger-style techniques that led to his development as a finger-style picker. With the explosion of the San Francisco sound of the mid-later ‘60’s Ken also immersed himself into rock and electric blues styles. He was particularly drawn to bottleneck and slide guitar.

In 1968 Ken’s family moved to Hawaii. Absorbing the Hawaiian culture, Ken began studying Hawaiian language and music emulating the players of the 1920’s and ‘30s era by listening to vintage Hawaiian 78 rpm records, zeroing in on the jazz and blues styles of Sol Ho’opi’i and Sol K. Bright. Soon Emerson was playing alongside such legendary performers as Gabby Pahinui, Genoa Keawe, Raymond Kane, Moe Keale and Auntie Alice Namakuela.

Emerson won the prestigious Kahili Award for perpetuating Hawaiian culture, and was a featured artist and composer on the first-ever National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy Award winning Best Hawaiian Album. Emerson's playing was also featured on Donald Fagen's Grammy Award winning Morph the Cat. He has many additional touring/recording credits including Jackson Brown, Boz Scaggs, Charlie Musselwhite, Taj Mahal, and Elvin Bishop.

Emerson has helped lead the way in resurrecting the traditions of vintage Hawaiian music, tapping into classic jazz & blues influences along the way. Emerson has performed on at least a dozen Cord International - Hana Ola Records compilations with five solo releases on that label. Dividing his time between Kaua’i and San Francisco, Ken plays many Hawaiian venues and festivals and frequently tours the United States as well as Europe and Asia.


Ken Emerson and Jim Kimo West Performing
Ken Emerson & Jim Kimo West Performing


Jim Kimo West is recognized as one of the world's top slack key guitarists bringing his own unique musical perspective to this great acoustic guitar tradition. Besides his solo slack key career, West is best known as the long-time guitarist on CDs and tours for the world's most famous musical satirist, "Weird Al" Yankovic whose recent CD, Mandatory Fun debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and won the Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. West is also a prolific composer with a generous output of new, exciting slack key guitar originals. In addition he writes and produces music for too numerous to mention feature films and television shows.

Jim Kimo West Discusses and Plays Slack Key Guitar

A Canadian native, West grew up in Florida and was playing professionally in various rock bands by age 16. A decade later he landed in Los Angeles and began working with "Weird Al" Yankovic. West can be heard on and seen in all of Yankovic's iconoclastic videos, albums, and concerts playing guitar.

In 1985 to decompress after a long summer Weird Al tour, Jim made his first trip to Hana, Maui. He fell in love with the culture and the physical landscape of Hawaii. As the sounds of Gabby Pahinui, the Sons of Hawaii, Sonny Chillingworth, The Sunday Manoa, and others played on the turntable, Jim jammed along for fun and relaxation. Already a long-time devotee of open tunings, he was immediately drawn to the gentle rhythms of the slack key guitar and soon began writing his own songs. West didn't concentrate on learning the standard riffs and songs but instead developed his own unique slack key vocabulary which now defines his very unique approach to this great tradition.

While always retaining the heartfelt essence of traditional slack key, Jim Kimo West brings his own musical heritage to his original slack key instrumentals. His style can best be described as nahenahe, a Hawaiian term that means soft, sweet, or of gentle voice - a fusion of old and new deeply rooted in tradition.

Besides being acknowledged by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for his work on Mandatory Fun, West is also a recipient of the Hawaii Music Awards (American Music Awards equivalent) and has been honored by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts with a Na Hoku Hanohano Award (Hawaiian Grammy) nomination, and is a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions toward the perpetuation of the Hawaiian slack key guitar.

West lives in Los Angeles and travels regularly to the islands to perform and also to relax. He also performs slack key concerts throughout the mainland US especially in the Southern California area.


About Cord International Media Group

Ojai native and resident Maryann Cord, CEO of Cord International Media Group is producing the workshop and concert for Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts cultural programming. Cord International's Hana Ola Records is known as the first name in vintage Hawaiian music, a music recording and licensing company passionately dedicated to preserving, restoring and releasing lost real Hawaiian music, with a catalog of over 2500 recordings.  


Workshop Cost:  $40 per person.

Chord Dictionary and Tabs will be provided.
Participants MUST BRING a steel or nylon 6-String Guitar and Tuner.
Video & Audio Recording is ENCOURAGED.
No experience necessary.

Reserve your space now!




Ken Emerson and Jim Kimo West - Slackers in Paradise
A Very Special Intimate Evening Performance
with Hawaiian Slack Key & Steel Guitar Legends
Ken Emerson & Jim Kimo West
Saturday January 21, 2017/ 6:30 PM- Doors open at 6:00
Logan House/Happy Valley Cultural Center
Presented by Cord International Media Group



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Tel: 805-646-3381, Email:

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