Ledward Kaapana brings ‘Jus’ Bes’’ to Palace Theater

  • Courtesy photo Ledward Kaapana

Renowned slack-key guitar and ‘ukulele artist Ledward Kaapana will be in concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo.

Kaapana is coming off a 2018 Na Hoku Hanohano award for Best Anthology, with a concert featuring selections from that anthology album, titled “Jus’ Bes’.”

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Opening is the Kalapana Awa Band featuring Glenwood Tolentino on lead vocals and ‘ukulele, Sam Keli‘iho‘omalu on ‘ukulele, Robert Keli‘iho‘omalu Jr. and Ikaika Marzo on guitar, Ipo Quihano on bass and backing vocals and Ka‘ulu Tolentino on drums.

Making guest appearances are Ledward’s sister, Rhoda, and hula dancer Noe Noe Kekaualua.

Uncle Led, who also is a baritone and falsetto vocalist, is a Hawaiian treasure, having grown up in a musical family in Kalapana, where distractions were few.

“We didn’t have electricity, not television, not even much radio, so we entertained ourselves. You could go to any house and everybody was playing music,” Kaapana said.

He was already performing professionally at age 14 with his mother, “Mama” Tina Kaapana, and his uncle, the revered but rarely recorded slack-key master Uncle Fred Punahoa.

Led’s professional breakthrough came a few years later as a third of the renowned trio “Hui ‘Ohana” with his twin brother, Nedward, and his cousin, falsetto great Dennis Pavao, both of whom are now deceased.

He also has performed on the national stage, opening for Bob Dylan at the request of Dylan’s band, and for Alison Krauss, with whom he also recorded. The late, great Nashville guitarist and record producer Chet Atkins was so impressed with Led’s playing, he gave Led one of his own guitars.

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Advance tickets to the show are $25 general and $30 and $35 for front center or side reserved seating. They can be purchased at the Palace box office or by calling 934-7010 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.

Admission is $5 more the day of show.