The Kaua'i 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 is an annual event immediately preceding Keola Beamer's annual Aloha Music Camp. Scheduling the festival to precede the Aloha Music Camp gives camp attendees an extra opportunity to rediscover the Hawaiian steel guitar and enjoy the nahenahe sounds of master steel guitarists from Hawai'i, while providing others a chance to enjoy the sounds of the Hawaiian steel guitar and learn more about the Aloha Music Camp.
The Kaua'i Steel Guitar Festival is the third in 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. The Kaua'i festival is made possible in collaboration with the Courtyard by Marriott Kaua'i at Coconut Beach. 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 Week and Festival is held in mid-July at the Royal Grove performance venue (Helumoa) and presented by the Royal Hawaiian Center. HIMELE also produces the community-focused Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festivals at various O'ahu shopping centers. The first annual Hawaii Island Steel Guitar Festival was presented in the Kona/Kohala Coast area on November 10-12, 2017. 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.
These festivals are made possible through grants and contributions from corporate sponsors and private individuals, supplemented by in-kind contributions and volunteer resources. Please visit our Support Us page to see how you can help support the festival.
The date for the 2019 festival is contingent on the scheduling of the 2019 Aloha Music Camp. Traditionally held in early February, the 2019 Aloha Music Camp will be rescheduled in order to avoid a conflict with the hotel's anticipated renovation project that will begin in late 2018.
A pre-festival "Kika Pila" jam session will be held at Keoki's Paradise in Poipu Beach on the Thursday preceding the festival.
The 2019 Festival will be held at the Courtyard Kaua'i at Coconut Beach immediately preceding the 2019 Aloha Music Camp dates. Open Stage performances will be held on Friday afternoon. Evening activities include Friday workshops and Saturday's main Ho'olaule'a program beginning at noon. Public kanikapila jam sessions will follow each day's main activities. An exhibit featuring vintage steel guitars will be presented. The lineup of featured performers will be posted here and on the festival's Facebook page as soon as it is finalized.
Education is a key component of the steel guitar festivals. School visitations by master steel guitarists and youth 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. In addition, a Friday evening workshop at the festival site may be offered. Local area schools have been contacted about scheduling a visitation time on Thursday and/or Friday, and information about any workshop offered at the festival will be posted when it becomes available.
If you or your Kaua'i public or private school has not yet been contacted and would like a visitation and presentation, please see the Contact Page and fill out the form indicating your request.
Open Stage sessions will be presented on Friday in the hotel's Chart Room. These sessions will feature steel guitar players 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.
The festival will also include workshops and a vintage steel guitar exhibit, and 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 lounge area.
Festival T-shirts, artists' CDs and the festival poster will be available for purchase at the festival information booth.
All festival activities will be presented at indoor venues to avoid any potential weather-related problems.