Maui guitarist plans Hawaiian warmth

Published 10:22 am Tuesday, February 14, 2012

George Kahumoku Jr./Photo provided

By Kevin Coss

When George Kahumoku Jr. arrives in Austin on Sunday, he hopes people will use his show to escape the winter weather, both mentally and physically.

“The more snowy and cold it is, the more people want to listen to warm Hawaiian music,” he said.

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Kahumoku, 61, is a veteran of Hawaiian music. The five-time Grammy Award-winning musician has been playing slack key guitar since he was 9 years old, when his great-grandfather first taught him. His cousin, two years his senior, and his father have also been important instructors for him. The music, he said, has been in his family for many years.

As if to emphasize that point, Kahumoku will be joined at the Paramount Theatre by his son, who will play ukulele and guitar. His wife will dance hula. The show will be part of Kahumoku’s 17-stop tour.

“This is a totally new thing for us,” said Jennie Germain, executive director of the Paramount. The theater has never hosted Kahumoku or any other Hawaiian musician, according to Germain.

The Paramount invites audience members to wear Hawaiian shirts, and the theater plans to give each person a Hawaiian lei. The theater will host a contest for the best shirt, Germain said. Winners will receive a gift certificate for the Paramount.

There wasn’t much buzz over the show to begin with, Germain said, but the momentum is picking up as the date approaches.

Kahumoku lives in Maui, where he farms a three-acre fruit and vegetable field and tends to his goats, chickens, ducks and miniature horses. He teaches guitar, ukulele and art classes at Lahainaluna High School. Sometimes, his students join him for performances.

Tickets are still available for the Sunday, Feb. 19 show. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Student price is $5. Start time is 3 p.m., doors open at 2:30 p.m.