Jim Kimo Wes

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - November 21, 2008
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The 411

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, that means holiday sales and shopping have already begun.

Fun for some, a bah humbug for others. But no matter what your holiday mood is, there’s no denying that Christmas songs can make holiday shopping a whole lot more enjoyable.

This year, Jim Kimo West decided to add to the list of holiday tunes with his CD, Kimo’s Hawaiian Slack Key Christmas. The album is a combination of traditional and contemporary covers, and one original, Mauna Kea Sleigh Ride.

“That title makes me laugh,” says West. “I’m not sure if anyone really has ever gone on an old-fashioned sleigh ride up on Mauna Kea,but it would make a good Christmas card!”

This is album No.4 for West,who moved to Hana,Maui, in 1985 from L.A. and has considered it home ever since.

“I was invited by a musician friend of mine to come to Hana and spend time with an old friend of his,” says West, who is currently residing in L.A.“It was idyllic and one of the best times ever.I had never even been to Waikiki, so I thought Hawaii was all like Hana. I ended up falling in love there and thus began my relationship with the Hana Coast. Although I have many favorite places in Hawaii, Hana will always have a special place in my heart.”

Four years after moving to Hawaii, West released his first album, Coconut Hat. Then in 2005 he released Slack key West, followed by Hawaiian Slack Key-Kimo Style in 2007. And also on his resume are a couple tribute CDs for CMH Records - Livin’s EZ, which is a collection sublime songs done with slack key, ukulele, steel guitar, etc., and another called Hotel Honolulu, which is an Eagles tribute.

To find out more about West, visit his website at http://www.jimkimowest.com.

Jim Kimo Wes



Why did you decide to do a Christmas album?

Back in 2001, I started recording a Christmas song each year to send out to my friends and ohana. I started getting a lot of good feedback, and a lot of people were asking me when I was going to put out a whole CD of Christmas songs. Last Christmas I had some time, so I decided to record enough songs to complete the Christmas CD while I was in the spirit of the season. I’m not sure if I could have really captured the feeling if I had tried doing that in the summer.

What is your favorite song on the album and why?

On this CD, I guess my favorite is Winter Wonderland. It’s a nice, happy, uptempo song and a bit of a challenge to play in slack-key style. But then again, I love challenges.

In a nutshell, how would you describe your sound?

I would say I’m best known for nahenahe sound. I love the sound of ki ho’alu when it’s gentle and sweet - when you can hear all the beautiful resonances from the ringing open strings.

Do you perform anywhere regularly?

Yes, in my living room. I play concerts and festivals and some small acoustic venues in the Southern California area. I will be at the second annual Southern California Slack Key Festival on Jan. 18 in Redondo Beach, Calif., which will be an awesome show. Other performers will be Cyril Pahinui, John Keawe, Makana, Maunalua, Jeff Peterson and Barry Flanagan. You can get more info on that at the website: http://www.socalslackkeyfest.com.

Where do you hope music takes you?

You know, it’s such an open door - that’s what I love about music. There are endless possibilities not just in what notes you play or what chords you put together, but in where the music takes you - sonically, physically, spiritually. There is so much beauty in life’s total unpredictability.

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