Hello World! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this site with fresh content, but here is another blog. This time it’s about what I’ve been doing to spread the beautiful sounds of slack key around the San Diego County area. I started this year’s gigs with some freebies. First I had my CD release on May 3rd featuring Ke Au Hou for sale to my friends and family and anyone who got the word about my free CD release concert. The CD’s and food were not free but the music and live entertainment were free. It was held at Kaisen Sushi in 1906 Oceanside Blvd. Oceanside, CA 92054. As a side note I used to play there every Tuesday night from 6:30-9:00pm for free but I got a job and I no longer play at restaurants without pay. But thank you Kaisen’s for allowing me to use your stage and spread my stories and music of San Diego Slack Key Guitar.

In that same week I played a free concert at ‘Ohana’s Island Creations on the Carlsbad Village Street Fair day (it’s the biggest street fair in the County of San Diego). There I got to spread the word about Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in San Diego to those who had no idea what Slack Key even was. I also got to sell some of my CD’s there.

Next in my opening week I played for my beloved “Hui o Hawai’i” at the Kapuna luncheon. I got to play with my dear friend and fellow musician Auntie Maelani. She is also the blood relative Auntie to the Cazimero Brothers for those of you who know them. Then I was able to sell my CD’s Ke Au Hou to the Kapuna in this San Diego based Hawaiian club “Hui o Hawai’i”. When that concert was finished I got a free meal and got to talk story with the Kapuna and hear how each song I sang them reminded them of specific experiences of their rich Hawaiian lives. If anybody knows me I love to talk story with the Kapuna about the Old Hawai’i and I imagine and wish I lived in Hawai’i during those generations.

After that I got to play at my Grandpa and Grandma Bray’s 60th wedding anniversary party. I got to play my music to the most attentive ears and critics of Hawaiian music. To my surprise they all loved it! Some of the most reputable Kumu’s (teachers of Hawaiian music, dance, and culture) actually bought my Cds Ke Au Hou and wanted me to sign them. This was the greatest honor to have such prestigious individuals purchase my album.

Then in that same opening week, I played for a charity event and donated my time and music performance so that the air pollution would be as beautiful as the art that was being created and sold at this event. They gave me the largest time slot in the center stage with 4 hours to play. Again I had the opportunity to sell Ke Au Hou and pass out business cards this time. Many people saw on the set list menu that I played Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, so I got a lot of questions along the lines of “what is Slack Key Guitar?” And I had the opportunity to educate and inform and play some of my most favorite songs. I played some songs as emotionally and as beautifully as I could possibly muster and delivered a unique performance that can’t be recreated. This was an opportunity for me to see the value in tailoring each concert to the event and atmosphere that I play in. I had many great compliments from artists, musicians, and patrons alike. That kind of stuff just melts my heart.

As you might imagine I was very busy my first week of being in the music business for myself after my CD release. Though fatigued I was inspired to practice Slack Key Guitar and ‘ukulele even more than I was already committing. At the end of this week I had a pinched nerve at the end of my middle finger, but I kept playing.

I had a few wedding gigs and backyard birthday parties that I had the honor of performing at. The first was at the famous “Bali Hai” restaurant where I got to see how they beautifully remodeled this Hawaiian themed venue since the last time I played Slack Key there. The next was a Hawaiian themed 80th birthday party at a large house in Escondido. I played for 4 hours and got to showcase a wide range of my vocal and instrumental skills to those who share my love for Hawaiian music. Next I was able to squeeze a last minute gig in with some Hawaiians I met at my Grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. I was hired to play in a home near QUALCOMM Stadium until the KGB light show went off for a surprise birthday party. It was comforting to see my 90 year old Auntie Helena Wood there offering me food. I also sold 2 CDs. It was just an all around feel good concert.

Then the next week was my last concert to date. It was in the majestic Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach. I have never been there before, and the bride was a Hapa Haole like me so there were many Hawaiians at this wedding imported to San Diego. I got to fill the Ocean Breeze and Sun Kissed air with Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. And of course after the couple walked down the aisle as man and wife I played the Hawaiian Wedding Song (Ke Kali Nei) for them. It was just a beautiful moment for a beautiful sunny day at the Beach when it was supposed to rain. It rained the next day thank God. The reception was at the groom’s Mom’s house a block away from the ceremony and I got to play to my heart’s content for their cocktail hour. My only regret was how short it seemed even though I was there for 4 hours. And the week before the Couple went to Kaisen Sushi to hear me live and so the lady could hear me and pick out a song to walk down the aisle to. They were a great and energetic young couple may they have many years together.

Though I am busier now with work than gigging at the moment, I still have time to practice and I might have a few more students from my new job. And to say with great appreciation to those that supported my along the way and those who have contributed or yet to contribute to my career as a San Diego Slack Key Guitarist, “I love you and may you always share my love for Slack Key and Hawaiian music in general.” For Lessons , or music performances contact me or email me. To purchase my new album click on Ke Au Hou anywhere on this page or visit my listen page.

Thank you for taking time out of your lives to read this and may you have luck down the path of searching for Slack Key Guitarist music.
-Kevin Kamaka Mullen



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.