Keola Beamer and Henry Kapono are the best of both worlds of Hawaiian music – Beamer, the traditional slack-key master, singing in Hawaiian and typically hula-accompanied, and Kapono, the plugged-in occasional rocker. These popular artists will perform at Blue Note Napa, two shows on Friday evening, Jan. 26.
Beamer has been a star since the 1970s, recording 17 albums across five decades. “Hawaiian Slack Key in the Real Old Style,” released in 1972, continues to be one of the most influential traditional Hawaiian albums ever recorded. His title cut off 1978’s “Honolulu City Lights” remains a popular island standard 40 years later.
No one ever accused Henry Kapono of being a traditional artist. His guitar is electric and he identifies himself as a folk-rocker. On the phone from Honolulu last week, he contrasted his style with Beamer’s. “I come more from a contemporary place,” he said. “Most of my songs are in English. I did do one album in Hawaiian, but it was untraditional. It was more of a rock album.”
One of Kapono’s major influences was James Taylor, and it’s evident in his guitar playing. “I love James Taylor,” he said. “I grew up listening to him. In fact, when I was with Cecilio (his former duo partner, Californian Cecilio Rodriguez), the band that was in the studio with us was James Taylor’s band and I was just totally stoked.”
While Kapono (who is generally referred to only by his last name) first became well-known in the islands as part of “Cecilio & Kapono,” he ultimately emerged as a successful solo artist, recording 17 of his own albums and winning multiple Na Hoku Hano Hano awards (the Hawaiian Grammys).
Kapono said that the performance at Blue Note will blend the two artists, apart and together. “I’ll come on and play a few songs and then I bring Keola up,” he said. “He plays some songs and then we end the first set together.
“The next set we do a bunch of our hits, and we play it out together until the end of the second half.” Beamer’s wife, Moana, known for her mastery of authentic hula, will accompany parts of the performance with traditional dance.
“I’ve been working on a new album,” Kapono added, “so I’ll probably introduce a new song and then play some of the songs that people are real familiar with, songs that we all love.”
“I feel blessed that I can perform for people and make people feel good. That’s my main objective, to make people feel good about what’s going on, about who they are, where we are, what we’re doing in life in general.”
Friday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.) and 9:30 p.m. (doors open 9 p.m.). Tickets are $15-$25. Blue Note Napa. 1030 Main St., Napa. For details, call 707-880-2300 or visit BlueNoteNapa.com.
Arlo Guthrie and Art Garfunkel return to the Uptown in April
Yes, folk music. Remember folk music? Two American folk icons, Arlo Guthrie and Art Garfunkel, are returning to the Uptown Theatre — Guthrie on Saturday, April 14 and Garfunkel on Saturday, April 21. For details, visit UptownTheatreNapa.com.