World this is Kevin Kamaka Mullen and I just created this website Monday April
18th 2011. I am a young Hawaiian slack key guitarist breaking into the music
scene. Ever since I was a child I would write new songs or add more melodies to
established songs. I grew up in a Hawaiian family listening to Hawaiian music
never knowing that someday I would be playing it. At the time I thought that
Hawaiian music was the most beautiful music that anyone could ever hear, and I
thought it would be impossible for me to play. Never in a thousand years did I
think I could play guitar. I grew up wishing I could play guitar like the
Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. For 9 years I played violin and viola thinking I
would be in the San Diego Symphony. But one day my friend Darshan (who is now a Slack Key Student of mine) gave my friend Jason his old beat up electric guitar
and Jason said here play this. And I sat for hours playing it and realized I
need to buy one NOW!

So I started taking lessons from Robert Andrew Szajkowski in classic rock and
roll, punk, classical guitar (where I learned finger picking), and Jazz (not
smooth jazz). But all the while when I played these songs my Grandma and
Grandpa Bray (yes I’m related to Daddy Bray) keep saying to me “That’s
nice, but when are you going to play Slack Key?” And it didn’t matter how
good the songs I played were, my Grandparents kept asking me, “When are
you going to play Slack Key?” As a result, I desperately wanted to hear
slack key, so I stole my Mom’s cd “Nahenahe. Hawaiian Slack Key
Guitar” by George Kuo. After listening I thought it would be impossible to
play that kind of music. Yet it was some of the most beautiful music I could
ever listen to.

Later down the road my mother bought me an instructional book by Keola Beamer
“How to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar”. And I learned all the songs
in it on my own. So I bought more books, and learned and learned and listened
to all the slack key I could find. Then I saw an ad in the Hui o Hawai’i news
letter saying group workshop from Patrick Landeza. My Grandma Bray said that
she’ll pay for my entry so I figured what is there to lose? Since there were
only 2 of us in the group workshop it turned out to be private lessons instead.
Patrick Landeza said that I reminded him of himself when he was my age. He also
said that I had “it” and he was very impressed with how fast I
learned Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. At the time he said if I spent 3 months with
him in intensive lessons he would take me on the road with him. I thought I
need a steady job with benefits before I make a decision like that. He inspired
me to devote all my practice time to nothing but slack key.

Eventually I had the honor of playing at the Slack Key Festival in O’ahu. I never thought I would be on stage in Kapiolani Park Waikiki playing in front of about 2
thousand people. Patrick Landeza invited me and many of his other students to
perform 2 songs with him in August 2010 at the slack key festival. At this
visit I had the honor of taking workshops from George Kuo, Cyril Pahinui, and
Dennis Kamakahi. I am still friends with these Legendary Masters of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar. In another blog I’ll share the stories of meeting these
individuals. But everyone I played slack key for kept saying when are you going
to cut a cd. Even George Kuo said he wanted my cd after playing my original
song “No Ka Wahine I Ka Hale ‘Aina Ke Aloha”.

So I made a CD! After recording for 6 months, and hours of polishing it up,
getting copyrights, and writing new music along the way, I made a CD. I called
it “Ke Au Hou” which means a new stage in life, a new era, and a new
day that symbolizes a progression. Also one of my own instrumental slack key
compositions on the cd is titled “Ke Au Hou“. It is being released
May 3rd 2011! So to sum up the lesson of this story. If you want to learn
something and you think it is intangible. You are wrong! There are always
resources out there and if you really want something you can absolutely achieve
it. Take it from me, a Hapa Haole boy from San Diego who is now perpetuating
the culture and Hawaiian music in the community on the mainland, and in
Hawai’i. Now as a result of seeing my heritage and culture dying out in
youngsters in both Hawai’i and San Diego I see a need to pass on my knowledge
and music. So now I am offering You, and anyone who is interested in learning
this music, a chance to learn Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in private

I don’t want this music to die, and you can be an integral part in reviving it
and passing it on to future generations to come. For lessons or group
workshops, send me an email.