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Jim “Kimo”West is recognized as one of the world’s top players of ki ho’alu or Hawaiian “slack key” guitar. “Slack key” is a style of playing that evolved in the 1830’s when Spanish vaqueros, imported by King Kamehameha III to teach the Hawaiians cattle management, brought guitars to the Big Island of Hawaii . The Hawaiians were fascinated by the instrument and developed their own ways of tuning it by lowering some strings from standard tuning. Ki ho’alu literally means “loosen the key”.
Kimo is a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his contributions to the perpetuation of this great acoustic guitar tradition. He was recently awarded the Hawaii Music Award for his recent CD, “Kimo’s Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas”
which is also nominated for a Na Hoku Hanonaho award, Hawaii’s version of the Grammys. He makes his home in Los Angeles, where he composes music for film and TV, and in Hana, Maui where he first heard slack key twenty five years ago.