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Ben Kaili to release new music at ‘Imiloa

Slack-key master Ben Kaili, who’s played the local music circuit for more than 30 years, will unveil his new “Huanani” CD at a release party at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, with a talk-story session in the planetarium.

Tickets are $15, $12 for members, available at the front desk or by calling 969-9703 during regular business hours. Tickets are non-refundable.

Born on the Island of Hawaii, Kaili started playing Hawaiian music at the age of 8 with his ohana, including his uncle, George Naope. After listening to other local musicians, he was inspired at a young age to learn slack key. Young Ben played in the group Likelike with his good friend Ipo Kumukahi, and at the age of 17 he joined Da Blahlas of Keaukaha, together with Kuulei Ahuna and Richard “Piggy” Kaleohano.

They performed at Rosie’s Boat House and at various events around the island.

Kaili was nominated for the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Award in 2009 for Slack Key Album of the Year for his first instrumental album, “Kaowahi.”

His new project features his signature slack-key guitar stylings and rich baritone voice. “Huanani” is a culmination of years of gig experience, vocal and guitar mastery, and is reminiscent of days of old Hawaii.

He currently performs locally with Kanakapila, featuring Vic Chock, J.J. Ahuna and Dwight Tokomoto.


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