Hawaiian Music Hot Spots

You can’t leave Hawaii without enjoying the lull of the slack key guitar, angelic lilt of ha‘i (Hawaiian falsetto) or the rhythms of the festive ukulele. Relax, order a fruity tropical drink, and sit back and get lost in the moment at these Hawaiian music spots around town.

Classics Never Go Out of Style
Travel back in time to the Hawaii’s nostalgic cruise line days with pool-side cocktails and a performance by the Keawe Ohana at the Moana Terrace on Thursday nights at 6:30. This musical group is comprised of the descendants of legendary Hawaiian singer “Aunty” Genoa Keawe, who revived the art of ha‘i in the 1940s and helped broadcast Hawaiian music to the rest of the world through her radio shows and records. Aunty Genoa died two years ago, and today her granddaughter, Pomaikai, takes center stage performing the famous songs from yesteryear. If you’ve had the privilege of hearing Aunty Genoa sing while on a previous trip to Oahu, you’ll be amazed at how closely Poimaikai’s voice resembles that of her grandmother. At Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 2552 Kalakaua Ave., 808.922.6611.

Another legendary Waikiki nightspot is
House Without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel. Set outdoors with an interrupted view of the ocean, the stage is perched under the leaves of a 100-year-old kiawe tree, where two lovely hula dancers complement each musical performance. Shows are daily from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, 2199 Kalia Rd., 808.923.2311. Just steps away from the sands of Waikiki, the open-air Banyan Courtyard is lined with lit tiki torches and protected by a canopy of branches from an ancient banyan tree. Set in the elegant, Victorian-era Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort, the ambience here exudes romance. Live music nightly from 6 to 9, 2365 Kalakaua Ave., 808.922.3111.

Although its outside of Waikiki, the
Pakele Lounge at the Ala Moana Hotel is worth the trip—you’ll experience Hawaiian music at its finest. With an ongoing lineup that includes legendary entertainers such as guitarist Keola Beamer, this concert series was designed to showcase the beauty of Hawaiian cultural traditions. A live web feed of each show is broadcast on www.pakelelive.com, which is viewed around the world and has been popular with homesick soldiers who are stationed in Iraq. Thursdays, 5 to10 pm. 410 Atkinson Dr., 808.955.4811.

New Wave
Located pool-side at the recently renovated Outrigger Reef on the Beach, Kani Ka Pila Grille has live music every night starting at 6. The name of the casual restaurant means “let’s make music” in Hawaiian, and they host everyone from slack key guitar virtuoso Cyril Pahinui to the newest in local talent, 2169 Kalia Rd., 808.924.4992. Closer to the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, LuLu’s Waikiki Surf Club has a sports-bar-meets-surf-shack atmosphere that attracts a younger crowd, where you can listen to local bands that play everything from reggae to acoustic sets. On Saturday nights, professional surfer Matty Liu hosts an ongoing concert from 10 pm to 2 am with $3 Primo beers and no cover charge, 2586 Kalakaua Ave., 808.926.5222. Tropics Bar & Grill serves a full menu of “beach cuisine” all day long, and at night musicians such as Cecilio Rodriguez, Acoustik Playground and Kailua Bay Buddies serenade you throughout the night. Live music is daily, show times daily. Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort & Spa, 2005 Kalia Road, 808.949.4321.

Family Time
Prefer not to go to a bar? Walk over to Royal Hawaiian Center on the corner of Kalakaua and Seaside Avenue and check out the free “Twlight at Helumoa” concert, where award-winning Hawaiian musicians perform Tuesday through Saturday at 6 pm in the tiki-torch illuminated Royal Grove. On Saturday nights you can watch a riveting performance of hula kahiko (the ancient style of hula). 808.922.0588. Go a few blocks west on Kalakaua Avenue until you get to Waikiki Beach Walk, and head to the Fountain Stage for free hula shows and Hawaiian musical and choral performances. Show times vary, 227 Lewers St., 808.931.3591.

To accent the island dining experience,
Kona Brewing Company offers live Hawaiian blues, jazz and slack key guitar Thursday through Sunday from 7 pm. The menu of gourmet pizzas and Hawaiian-style tapas compliments all of their locally brewed beers that are available on tap, like the Hula Hefeweizen and Black Sand Porter. Koko Marina Center, 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy., 808.394.5662. Chai’s Island Bistro is a longtime favorite with residents for celebrating special occasions, thanks to Chef Chai Chaowasaree’s innovative Hawaii Regional cuisine. The bistro is also popular for its impressive live music offerings—The Brothers Cazimero and ukulele genius Jake Shimabukuro regularly perform here. Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Dr., 808.585.0011.