Music-making in Hawaii can be an easygoing matter, with first-rate playing taking place not just on concert stages, but in living rooms, local restaurants, bars and hotel lounges. The Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival program in El Camino College's Marsee Auditorium Saturday was a fine example of how that easygoing manner transcends the setting.
Guitarist-singer George Kahumoku Jr., leading an ensemble that also included his son Keoki Kaliko Kahumoku on guitar and ukulele, Daniel Ho on guitar and percussion, and Princess Owana Salazar on vocals, guitar and steel guitar, quickly transformed Marsee into an atmosphere resembling the open-air restaurants and clambakes of Hawaii.
Tossing repartee back and forth, Kahumoku was an affable raconteur, mixing his dialogue with passionate renderings of material ranging from the Kui Lee classic "I'll Remember You" to an idiosyncratic rendering of "Amazing Grace" with Hawaiian lyrics.
Ho, perhaps best known as the former leader of the smooth jazz group Kilauea, offered flowing guitar lines, adding piquant seasoning to the evening's mostly Hawaiian program.