Step off the plane at the Honolulu Airport and you’ll be greeted with the sound of island music: ‘ukulele, slack key guitar, and steel guitar. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your Hawaii vacation. What you might not realize is that the state of Hawaii is home to a multitude of award-winning recording artists, and many perform regularly at venues in and around Waikiki. Bonus? You can catch many of these shows for the price of a beer or a meal.
Kona Brewing Company: If you’re a lover of craft beers you’ll want to get to the Kona Brewing Company on any day of the week, but my money’s on Sundays when Ledward Kaapana slack key guitarist extraordinaire is often on tap. Catch a variety of live music every Thursday to Sunday starting at 6:30 or 7 p.m. Located in the Koko Marina Center.
Chai’s Island Bistro: Chai’s features live music every night of the week from some of Hawaii’s top performers. The schedule changes, but expect to catch shows from the likes of the Brothers Cazimero, Sista Robi, Na Palapalai, and Hoku Zuttermeister. Music starts at 7 p.m. Located at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.
Kani Ka Pila Grille: The Hawaiian phrase Kani ka pila refers to making music, and make music they do. Located at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, this casual family dining establishment offers up entertainment nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. Catch the slack key styling of Cyril Pahinui, contemporary island music from Manoa DNA, or the traditional sounds of Weldon Kekauoha.
Duke’s Canoe Club: Get to Duke’s on Sunday (and Friday and Saturday) for live music from the likes of the Wild Hawaiian himself, Henry Kapono, Maunalua, or Beach 5. Shows are from 4 to 6 p.m. Located in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, next to the iconic pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
Pakele Live: Every Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. the Pakele Lounge in the Ala Moana Hotel presents live Hawaiian music at their Pakele Live show. Guests are invited to enjoy the free entertainment as it’s recorded for local television. Previous performances have showcased artists and bands like PALI, Herb Ohta, Jr, Kenneth Makuakane, and Brittni Paiva. You never know who will show up, but you can bet it will be a great show — or, if you’re lucky, a CD release party.
Note: Schedules usually change on a monthly basis.