Sharing the beauty and complexity of their Hawaiian heritage, Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson will visit Grass Valley for a special Center for the Arts performance Wednesday.
Beamer, a musical legend, is one of Hawaii’s premier singer/ songwriters who has stretched the boundaries of the slack key guitar while remaining true to the soul of its roots.
Music by Beamer and Peterson is featured in the 2013 Grammy-nominated film, “The Descendants,” featuring actor George Clooney.
“I will be featuring many new composition and arrangements, music from “The Descendants” soundtrack, traditional slack key and collaboration with Keola and Monalani Beamer. Keola has made wonderful arrangements for two guitars that we will perform,” said Peterson.
His project, “Malama Ko Aloha,” a PBS documentary, is also nominated for a Grammy in the Regional Roots category.
Peterson is a rising star of the next generation of slack key players and uses the style’s open tunings to explore new genres.
Dancer Moanalani Beamer will bring hula and Hawaiian chants to the stage, adding musical texture with ancient Hawaiian instruments.
Beamer can trace his roots to the 14th century and comes from a long line of musicians. Among his ancestors are the Princess Manono, killed in 1819 at Kuamoo, the last battle fought in Hawaii, waged for the principle of retaining the old ways of Hawaiian religion and culture.
Beamer established himself early as a leader of the wave of contemporary Hawaiian music when he wrote the classic “Honolulu City Lights” — still considered one of the absolute all-time best-selling recordings in the history of Hawaiian music.
Born on the Island of Maui, guitarist Peterson grew up on the slopes of the Haleakala volcano and was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, on the Haleakala Ranch.
The music that he heard from his father and other paniolos as well as the slack key on classic recordings by the Gabby Pahinui Band, Leonard Kwan, and Sonny Chillingworth made a deep and lasting impression on him that he continues to draw inspiration from today.
He is recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians and has worked with a number of artists, including Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, Boz Scaggs and many more.
Besides slack key guitar, Peterson enjoys playing other styles of music including classical and jazz.
“I love finding connections between styles. There is a rich history in Hawaiian music with influences from Spanish and Mexican cowboys, Portuguese sailors, church hymns, bluegrass and Big Band swing. My music reflects this as I perform traditional Hawaiian music but also write and arrange music with influences from many sources,” said Peterson.
Peterson will release a new CD, “Slack Key Travels,” in February.