13th Annual Waimea ‘Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Festival

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The 13th Annual Waimea ‘Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Festival will kick off on Thursday, Nov. 19 and run through Sunday, Nov. 22 at Kahilu Theatre.

Four main concerts will be held during the four-day festival, along with multiple youth presentations and a free Family Fun Day event.

Paula Fuga. Kahilu Theatre courtesy photo.

Paula Fuga. Kahilu Theatre courtesy photo.

Festival faculty, master musicians Raiatea Helm and Paula Fuga, Ledward Kaapana, Mike Kaawa, Bobby Ingano, Jeff Peterson, Sonny Lim, Benny Chong, Nathan Aweau, Mike Love, and the founder of the Festival, Jay Junker, will conduct school shows, concerts, classes, and workshops island wide during the Waimea festival.

The youth presentations will be held on Thursday, Nov. 19 and Friday, Nov. 20. Festival faculty will visit schools in North Kohala, Laupahoehoe, Paauilo, and Kona.

Kanikapila will jumpstart the festival on Thursday at 7 p.m. The initial performance is free and open to anyone with an instrument. The jam session will feature the assembled Festival faculty, and during the second half of the show, the audience will be invited to play along with the performers.


Benny Chong will open the Friday evening concert at 7 p.m. with a fresh jazzy set. Following Chong’s performance, slack key legend Leeward Kaapana and 12-string master Mike Kaawa will take the stage. Paul Fuga, who plays nose flute and ‘ukulele, will take the stage with singer-songwriter Mike Love to close out the evening.

The festival continues Saturday with a free Family Fun Day event hosted by Kahilu Theatre from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nathan Aweau. Kahilu Theatre courtesy photo.

Nathan Aweau. Kahilu Theatre courtesy photo.

Performances by Nathan Aweau, Benny Chong, Mike Kaawa, Sonny Lim, and Bobby Ingano will take place in the Kohala Gallery, while Halau o Po’ohala, Halau Waiau, and Alohi Dance Academy will present hula on Kahilu’s Main Stage

Saturday’s festival will also include guitar composition, ‘ukulele, and slide guitar classes.


Food will be for sale and keiki activities will be available.

On Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Grammy winner Jeff Peterson will start off the evening, with a guest performance from Nathan Aweau, who is a three-time Na Hoku Hanohano award winner for male vocals, along with Sonny Lim and Bobby Ingano on Steel.

The second half of the performance will include two-time Grammy nominee and eight-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award recipient Raiatea Helm.

On Sunday, the festival will close with a finale that will bring all the performers back on stage for a final performance.


‘Ukulele and other instruments will be displayed in the Kahilu Galleries throughout the weekend event. The exhibit, called “Luthiers!” will run through Nov. 22.

A youth show at Kahilu Theatre will be presented at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Registration for the youth show is required, online.

Tickets to the festival are as follows: Thursday ($16/free with instrument), Friday ($20/$37/$47/$68), and Sunday ($20/$37/$47/$68).

Purchase tickets online at the Kahilu Theatre website, by calling the Kahilu Theatre Box Office,  or by visiting the box office, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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