Waikiki visitors have myriad entertainment options, and face no shortage of kitschy, charming ensembles warbling out classic Hawaiian songs or slogging through classic rock standards. But if you’re looking for something more unique than aloha-clad elevator music or the billionth cover of “Margaritaville,” there are four solo singer/songwriters that play regularly, at a variety of locations, and who prove that true musical artistry and innovation is alive and thriving in Waikiki.
With these artists, nothing more is needed, even at Waikiki’s most popular mainstream venues such as Rumfire in the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Hard Rock Café, and Duke’s Waikiki.
One man, one guitar.
With a soulfully raspy but technically flawless voice and a virtuoso’s mastery of his instrument, Johnny Helm has forged a career that has taken him from Waikiki to the Big Apple and back. While in New York he earned a spot alongside the late Bud Cerio at the legendary Bitterend. Johnny explores themes of love and loss and of finding one’s way over guitar melodies that range from thoughtful and lilting to downright funky.His original music has garnered him three Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, which the Hawaii equivalent of a Grammy Award. Johnny Helm plays regularly at multiple locations in Waikiki. Find his schedule at www.johnnyhelm.com.
Kamuela is a multi-talented and often muti-tasking singer/songwriter/producer with a handful of successful albums to his credit. His solo album Stream Dreams won him a Na Hoku Hanohano Best Rock Album Award (the Hawaii music equivalent of a Grammy Award) in 2011.Equally at home playing traditional slack key guitar and Hawaiian favorites, countless dozens of popular classics and alternative hits, or his own thoughtful and sometimes whimsical songs, Kamuela has taken his music all over the U.S. mainland, Australia, and New Zealand. Kamuela Kahoano plays regularly at multiple venues in Waikiki. Find his schedule at www.kamuelamusic.com
Known to his fans as simply “Tavana,” Tavana McMoore has developed a well-earned niche in Waikiki’s nightlife with a tireless work ethic, contagious energy that sometimes whips into a frenzy, and amazing acoustic blues attack. He has toured extensively on the mainland and been feature at the international SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. He was invited to perform an encore with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder at the historic Hawaii Theater during Vedder’s two-night stint.They chose the iconic song Hawaii ’78 by Israel “Brudda Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, and that song was later released as a single by Pearl Jam for 10,000 fans. Tavana has chops and street cred for days. Tavana McMoore plays regularly at multiple venues in Waikiki. Find his schedule at www.tavana808.com
Stephen began his career as a rock guitarist, and still has those chops today, but his career has blossomed, or skyrocketed with his development as a virtuoso of the Hawaiian slack key guitar. Able to sing movingly in Hawaiian-style falsetto or more earthy octaves, his music has been nominated for a Grammy Award and won an Na Hoku Hanohano Award. (He’s won another Na Hoku with the rock group Piranha Brothers)Born and raised on O’ahu, Stephen has been embraced by the Hawaiian music community and performed with the likes of the Makaha Sons and Dennis Kamakahi. His performances often include brilliant slack key interpretations of Bob Dylan and other folk greats. Presented with the opportunity to tour regularly and often, Stephen opts instead to spend most of time in Hawaii with his wife and child, touring just a few times per year.
Stephen Inglis plays regularly at multiple locations in Waikiki. Find his schedule at www.stepheninglis.com