From Hawaii, Ohana Brown in concert |

From Hawaii, Ohana Brown in concert

Kevin and Ikaika Brown on slack key guitars with guest hula dancer Ka’ena Brown make up Ohana (family) Brown, from Hawaii. Together with their guest Mark Nelson, on slack key guitar and dulcimer, they will play an evening of the best of Hawaiian music on Friday.

“I am thrilled,” says Joseph Guida, executive director of St. Joseph’s Cultural Center, “to have Ohana Brown performing here, not only because I love Hawaiian music, but because Kevin Brown is an old-style musician, while his son, Kevin, is more contemporary. So we have the past and present of Hawaiian music in one concert.”

Each of the performer’s story of his or her musical journey has interesting elements. Take, for example, Kevin Brown.

As a freshman in high school he cut a math class, heard slack key guitar music being played at a class nearby, and ultimately spent four years giving up his recesses to train with that teacher. “He taught me everything he knew,” says Brown of Henry Meyer.

From that point on Brown’s course was charted. Teaming up with his brother, the duo played in Maui for 18 years, cut an album “Ho’olu” that received an award nomination, and even taught for 15 years at the same high school where he learned slack key. Now Brown plays with his son, Ikaika.

Ikaika got the slack key bug when he was only 9. By 13 he recorded his original composition “Kalo Man,” which was nominated in 1997 as Most Promising Artist and Instrumental Album of the Year.

In 2000, three generations of the Brown family men received an award for their trio endeavor, “Opiopio.”

Daughter and sister, Ka’ena, a law enforcement professional, helped make one of the Brown family’s recordings a hit with her singing. Now she joins performances when work permits.

Mark Nelson, the night’s only mainland resident, is a master of the Appalachian dulcimer and guitar, as well as the slack key guitar, about which he wrote a primer.

He also co-hosts the Aloha Music Camp, an week-long immersion into Hawaiian music and culture with Hawaii’s beloved Beamer Family, held each summer at a secluded rural retreat in the islands. Nelson’s most recent release, “The Water is Wide,” features music from islands real and imaginary.

What: Ohana Brown plays Hawaiian music

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: St. Joseph’s Cultural Center, 410 S. Church St., Grass Valley

Admission: $17 at the door; $15 in advance at BriarPatch, Grass Valley; Love Shack Records, Nevada City; and Cherry Records, Auburn.

Information: Call 272-4725 or visit

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