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Hawaii Concerts & Events


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Hawaii Concerts are not your standard concerts. As one of the best-known Polynesian islands and one of the only island entities that are part of the United States, the Hawaiian Islands are unique geographically and politically. Keep reading to discover how these factors have molded Hawaiian music and what it means for contemporary listeners.

Hawaiian culture gives insight into how music is shaped by colonial relations, which has had an immeasurable impact on music history and modern sounds.

For thousands of years, Hawaiian music consisted largely of percussive elements and native voices, including chants, melodies, harmonies, and falsetto. Over time, as foreign entities came to Hawaii, new technologies and instruments were exposed to the people. Despite the upheaval and struggle of relations with Europeans, Hawaiian music channeled the characteristically mellow, breezy sound known today. With each instrument introduced by colonists and imperialists, Hawaiians reinvented it, giving it new life and new meaning in their culture. For example, the slack guitar is Hawaii's take on the traditional guitar native Hawaiians saw Spaniards playing in the eighteen hundreds. Looser stringer and finger-plucking create smooth, soft sounds characteristic of island music.

Most people do not know that Hawaii influenced rock, blues, folk, country, and other American genres. With its stand-out inventions, Hawaii has had an imprint on rock, blues, folk, country, and more. When artists such as Gabby Pahinui reached international audiences in the 1970s, Hawaii’s styles, techniques, and instruments gain attention. Pahinui was a master of slack key, steel guitar, and many other instruments. In particular, his playing of the steel guitar had an immeasurable impact on the creation of the electric guitar.

Although Hawaii’s relationship with colonizing and ruling nations is complex, these intricacies manifest in Hawaiian sounds and been in conversation with music around the world. Listeners can take in a live concert in Hawaii to hear to roots and beginnings of some of the most popular contemporary genres.

Hawaiian music is a form of social protest, making it a kindred spirit for socially conscious listeners.

In many parts of the world, today’s listeners forget the sounds of the past. Known for its creative vitality and relevance, traditional aspects of this state's music permeate today. Traditional ceremonies feature dances like the hula and the familiar sounds of ancestors: chanting, soaring harmonies, and percussive beats. Although these types of ceremonies have been commercialized since the early 1900s, Hawaiian artists maintain the meaning of such events in private ceremonies.

Another fascinating and significant aspect of protest in Hawaii’s music history is the Hawaiian Renaissance. By the time when mainland U.S. had its Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1900s, Hawaii was part of the states. Musicians like Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Miles Davis became the voices of the American people. But, an island away in Hawaii, dominant musicians in mainstream, mainland culture did not induce the same attention. Hawaiian activism was led by other voices. Hawaiin musician George Helm suggests that Hawaiians need to be politically active, and that “Music is the easiest way… because people tune into music.” Lyrics critique social problems while backing values and strengthening solidarity. In this way, Hawaiian protest music shares a bond with virtually all protest music. For people interested in watching concerts in Hawaii, consider learning about Hawaiian social and cultural change by tapping into the artists favored by the people. Listen to their stories in song to understand how music defines struggle and makes change. This makes Hawaii a great place to watch concerts for the social conscious and historically curious listeners out there.

Hawaii has unexpected music communities, adding diversity to the island's sounds.

Hawaii is not entirely composed of relaxing hymns and flowing sounds characteristic of island music. R&B, reggae, jazz, and electronic dance music all have music communities across the Hawaiian Islands. Contemporary reggae artists like Dube, The Marley Brothers (Damian, Stephen, and Julian), The Ghetto Youth Crew with Daddigan, Capleton, and Waikiki Shell have held shows in Hawaii, met with a warm welcome. Reggae has always been connected to island music, as famous reggae artists like Jimmy Cliff come from places like Jamaica.

Despite local favorites of folk, reggae, and traditional island music, record labels such Aloha Got Soul are open to recording lesser-known music across genres.For more unexpected sounds, Waikiki street venues host singer-songwriters and R&B artists. Even soul, pop, rhythm, and blues are building bases in this state. Locals refer to these expanding trends as a movement; venues are looking for new, refreshing music gigs, attempting to appeal to niche customers and younger crowds. Hawaiian radio has yet to encapsulate this diversity of genre, so the tides are still turning. Underground performance spaces including the Secret Sound Showcase in the basement of the Honolulu Museum of Art offer a chance at growth and change for rising musicians.

Listeners can expect the mainstays in Hawaiian sounds when on its beaches, but venturing to off-the-beaten path places and beyond the tourist areas, sound diversity is on the rise. Explore the state fully by going to live concerts throughout the island, and listen to the new creative directions with which Hawaiian musicians experiment.

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