Ken Emerson is one of the world’s most highly regarded traditional Hawaiian slack key & steel guitarists living today. He is a monster player of both and he switches easily between them during his performances, laying his guitar on his lap and picking up a steel bar for an instrumental interlude. Emerson is famous for his one-of-a-kind slack/steel style playing of vintage acoustic steel bodied National Resonator guitars.
Emerson’s unique playing style reflects the Hawaiian guitar’s grassroots origins of over a century ago. He has developed his unique style through many musical genres, and has played his special blend of Blues/Jazz Hawaiian guitar for 45+ years. Born into a musical family, Emerson grew up with his fathers’ extensive record collection of jazz, swing, Hawaiian and world music styles.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Emerson played the folk and blues songs of the early ‘60s, a lefty learning right hand finger-style techniques that led to his development as a finger-style picker. With the explosion of the San Francisco sound of the mid-later ‘60’s Ken also immersed himself into rock and electric blues styles. He was particularly drawn to bottleneck and slide guitar.
In 1968 Ken’s family moved to Hawaii. Absorbing the Hawaiian culture, Ken and his brother Phil began studying Hawaiian language and music emulating the players of the 1920’s and ‘30s era by listening to vintage Hawaiian 78 rpm records, zeroing in on the jazz and blues styles of Sol Ho’opi’i and Sol K. Bright. Ken and Phil recorded a landmark album in 1978 featuring their vintage instruments, and brought back the early Hawaiian acoustic sounds and styles that had been missing for over 50 years.
Soon the Emerson Brothers were playing alongside such legendary performers as Sol K. Bright, Gabby Pahinui, Genoa Keawe, Raymond Kane, Moe Keale and Auntie Alice Namakelua. Phil went on to deal in vintage musical instruments and Ken donated all his time to becoming a full time musician, touring Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Emerson won the prestigious Kahili Award for perpetuating Hawaiian culture, and was a featured artist and composer on the first-ever National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy Award winning Best Hawaiian Album. ‘Slack Key Guitar Vol 2’. Emerson is also an accomplished blues and jazz guitarist, his playing has been featured on Donald Fagen’s (Steely Dan) Grammy Award winning Morph the Cat. He has many additional touring/recording credits including Todd Rundgren, Jackson Brown, Boz Scaggs, Charlie Musselwhite, Taj Mahal, and Elvin Bishop.
OPTIONAL POTLUCK: 6:30-7:30pm. We put the “luck” in potluck. Please bring a DRINK and a DISH (enough to feed at least 4) to share. Joining the potluck is optional but highly encouraged.
CONCERT: 7:30pm onwards.
SUGGESTED DONATION: – $15-$20. ALL proceeds go to the musicians. Thank you for supporting LIVE music.
RESERVATIONS: – Please email, text or call:
Location info in Lake Oswego will be given when you make a reservation. We like to keep a head count so no one ends sitting in your lap 🙂