Sharing cultural voices


POSTED: Friday, September 18, 2009

Keola Beamer received a lifetime achievement award earlier this year for his work as half of Keola & Kapono, but his career accomplishments and his contributions to Hawaiian music as a performer, composer, recording artist, record producer, author and teacher encompass so much more. The arc of his achievements began prior to his years as a member of the duo and soared ever higher during the quarter-century that followed since the partnership ended.

Consider, for example, that Beamer has received the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts Ki Ho'alu Award for his contributions to the preservation and perpetuation of slack key, and is also a Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner for his work as a recording artist and record producer. Most island residents probably know he was also an important contributor to George Winston's “;Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters”; series and that “;Ka Hikina o ka Kau,”; a project for Winston's label that Beamer didn't feel “;represented”; Hawaiian music, was a finalist for Best Hawaiian Music Album last year at the Grammys.





        'Native Voices' with Keola Beamer and R. Carlos Nakai, at right

» Where: Hawaii Theater, 1041 Nuuanu Ave.


» When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow


» Cost: $30


» Info: 528-0506 or hawaiitheatre.com




But, as with other multitalented artists, there's still more to Beamer. Honolulu gets a rare chance to sample yet another facet of his extensive repertoire tomorrow when he appears with American Indian flutist R. Carlos Nakai at the Hawaii Theatre. The show will combine the vocal and instrumental traditions of two indigenous cultures.

“;Our journey started a couple of years back when he contacted me about doing a recording with him,”; Beamer explained as we were catching up last weekend. The query led to a trip to Arizona, where Nakai “;opened the door to his world.”;

A shared tradition of flute playing became one point of reference—Nakai is a flutist, and Beamer plays ohe hano ihu (Hawaiian nose flute) as well as ki ho'alu. Others emerged as they got to know each other.

Despite cultural differences derived from environmental factors (”;When they purify themselves, they use smoke, and we use water”;), Beamer found that “;the journey into a more complex world for the two cultures is hauntingly similar.”;

In Nakai he also found a kindred soul.

“;The most beautiful thing from a musician's standpoint is to be able to work with another musician who understands space,”; he said. “;It's easy to throw a lot of notes around; (for) me, conceptualizing music involves a sort of breathing.”;

Beamer found that Nakai approached music in the same way. The result was an album for Nakai's record label and the first of a series of short concert tours that they fit in amid their busy solo careers.

“;We have our own individual adventures, and then once in a while our booking agent puts together this great series of tours and we end up with fine-arts presenters in really great concert halls working together.”;

Beamer and Nakai work together “;maybe 10 shows a year,”; he said. “;Not that many, but enough.”;

“;Our friendship continues to develop, and we're doing the stuff we love and enjoying every minute of it,”; Beamer said. “;We're very different human beings—there's a huge difference in the way we were raised, but ... when we score these landscapes-slash-seascapes, we just intuit each other on a very spiritual level.”;