Beyond the Luau

Masters of Hawaiian Music land at the Freight.


Kaawika Kahiapo

For those of us on the mainland, Hawaiian music is the ukulele, the lulling, strumming background noise to a hula dance performed on the sun-drenched Waikiki beach for a crowd of tourists in leis, Aloha shirts, and the always stylish socks-and-sandals combo. But Hawaiian music is much more than just a show for out-of-town vacationers. 

Modern Hawaiian music is a rich tradition combining the folk ballads of Mexican vaqueros who arrived on the islands in the late 1800s to help wrangle wild cattle for Hawaii’s burgeoning beef trade with traditional Polynesian chanting and dance. It is notable for the instantly recognizable slack-key guitar tuning technique popularized in so many beach movie soundtracks. Freight & Salvage hosts a concert by the Masters of Hawaiian Music, three recognized virtuosos of the kī-hō‘alu (slack key guitar) who offer the perfect chance to go beyond the luau to discover the true depths and complexities of island rhythms. George Kahumoku Jr., Nathan Aweau, and Kaawika Kahiapo have each won multiple Na Hoku (Hawaiian Grammy) awards for their music of the islands, from 19th century Hawaiian paniolo cowboys to 21st-century stages.

March 8, 8 p.m. $34 advance, $36 door. Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley.


Published online on March 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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