Alan Akaka has created his own sound and style through the inspiration of legendary steel guitarists like David Rogers, Benny Rogers, Jules Ah See, Billy Hew Len, David Keli'i, Jake Keli'ikoa, and his teacher Jerry Byrd. He has recorded with Genoa Keawe, Benny Kalama, Sonny Kamahele, Jerry Byrd, Barney Isaacs, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Karen Keawehawai'i, Owana and Kuana Torres Kahele as well as with Hawaiian music bands from around the world. Akaka finds joy in sharing Hawaiian music and culture with his audience. He travels throughout the world as an entertainer and a guest artist perpetuating Hawaiian music while stirring renewed interest in the unique, lilting sound of the steel guitar. Over the years, Akaka has launched Hawaiian music education programs on Oahu, Kauai and Molokai and has coordinated performances that generated more interest and brought much exposure to the Hawaiian steel guitar. In 2009, Akaka established Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, a school of Hawaiian music where creative and musical ideas can be developed, nurtured, and shared.
Greg Sardinha has the reputation as the steel guitar player who has the ability to present old Hawaii with a contemporary twist. After years of playing in the background for many of Hawaii's recording artists, Sardinha released his first solo album in 2006 entitled HAWAIIAN STEEL VOL 4 - Artistry of Greg Sardinha. The album reflects his artistry and versatility with the ukulele, guitar and Hawaiian steel guitar and creates a feel of unusual textures and interplay between all the instruments. He has showcased his Hawaiian steel guitar talent performing locally in Hawaii and on the mainland. Sardinha has recorded with many local, national and international artists including Ipo Kumukahi, Sean Na'auao, Cyril Pahinui Band, Hawaiian Style Band, Kalapana, Na Leo, Darrin Benitez, Karen Keawehawai'i, Cecilio and Kapono, Tim Coffman, Jim Messina, Renn Loa, and Richard Cheese Band and others. Sardinha has 6 "HAWAIIAN STEEL" CDs in collaboration with recording artists Alan Akaka, Casey Olsen, Bobby Ingano, Paul Kim, Duke Ching and others.
Casey Olsen — Music has been around Casey ever since he was born. With both his father (Hiram Olsen - guitarist) and maternal grandfather (Billy Hew Len - Hawaiian steel guitarist) being professional musicians, Casey was destined to grow up and follow in their footsteps. An accomplished steel guitarist, Casey has played for many years at the Halekulani Hotel's House Without A Key and at various venues throughout Hawaii, Japan and the mainland. He has performed on the Hawaii Calls Radio Show and with the likes of Nina Kealiiwahamana, Boyce Rodriques, Marlene Sai, Bill Kaiwa, Melveen Leed, Danny Kaleikini, and others. He has many recording credits with artists such as Herb Ohta Jr., Kawai Cockett, Teresa Bright, Hapa, Gary Haleamau, Kapono Beamer, Na Leo Pilimehana, as well as with young new artists such as Raiatea Helm, Anelakalani, and popular group Nakema.
Jeff Au Hoy — Largely self-taught, Au Hoy has mentored under the likes of local steel guitarist Bobby Ingano and brings an "old soul" feeling when he plays his "Frypan." His playing style reflects those of steel legends David Kelii, Billy Hew Len, Pua Almeida, and Benny Rogers. Jeff has recorded with the Brothers Cazimero, Jeff Teves Quartette, Pueo Pata, Aaron Sala and others. In 2004 he received a call to perform at Carnegie Hall with the cast of the Hawaii Calls show. Currently he performs with Cyril Pahinui at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel. Although Jeff is a trained pianist and can play in a number of genres, his interest lies primarily in Hawaiian music of the 1940s and 50s.
Bobby Ingano — A protégé of the famous steel guitarist David "Feet" Rogers (Sons of Hawaii), Bobby Ingano learned from Rogers his gentle style of guitar and humble philosophy of life. His style of lap steel guitar is melodic, understated, and distinctly Hawaiian. In high school, Bobby became immersed in playing the "blues" and joined a band. When he was 18, he met a man who was one of the most notably influential people in his life — David "Feet" Rogers, original slide steel player of the renowned Sons of Hawaii. Feet instilled in Bobby the importance of playing with discipline and love. It is this wisdom that Bobby now shares with young steel guitar players and other young musicians. Now a highly sought after studio musician, Bobby can occasionally be seen touring on the mainland or Japan with the biggest names in Hawaiian music.
Abrigo `Ohana — This band was formed in 2005 when seven year old Emily picked up the bass guitar to play along with her big brother Timi. At the age of ten, Timi became the head of the band holding the lead instrument, ukulele, and the lead vocal. Three year old Quinn handled percussion for the group. Like magic, their little band was born. Today, they have immersed themselves into traditional Hawaiian music including ki ho'alu (slack key guitar), the vocal style of falsetto, ukulele, pakini bass, and Hawaiian steel guitar. Focusing on the greats of Hawaiian music, they bring the old style back into the limelight. Together, these three young children face the future with the hope of perpetuating the music their ancestors left behind for them. They are the future of Hawaiian music.
At Ke Kula Mele Hawaii, young apprentices are learning the art of the Hawaiian steel guitar from one of the instrument's legend, Alan Akaka. Talented in their own accord, these students are closely following in their teacher's footsteps and continuing the legacy of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar for future generations:
Mark Prucha — Living in Illinois hasn't proved a barrier for this musician to learn and become proficient in the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. For the past 3 years, he has been taking lessons via Skype from teacher and mentor Alan Akaka. Today, Mark performs with a Hawaiian band from the Chicago area and is currently collaborating with Akaka to write music for steel guitar.
Malie Lyman — is the nine year-old great granddaughter of the late Auntie Genoa and is already proving her mastery of the steel guitar. With only three months of lessons under her belt, Malie is already performing her extraordinary steel guitar skills on stage.
Other Participating Ke Kula Mele Next Gen members:
Keen Ching (14), Alexis Tolentino (14), Sid Pang (15), Kalyn Aolani (15) - Skype student from Los Angeles, and Quincy Maka'awa'awa (18).