Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association... encouraging the study, teaching and performance of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar

HSGA Board of Directors Candidate Statements   


It’s time again, members, to vote for board members for the 2010-2012 term. The HSGA by-laws state that the maximum number of board members allowed is nine.

We asked all candidates to submit a brief summary of their history and qualifications. The stories of all the candidates who responded are included in this article. Using the ballot included with your newsletter, please review the 15 candidates and vote for the 9 names you wish to see on the Board. The top nine vote getters will make up the 2010-2012 Board. Instructions are on the ballot and to be counted ballots must be received by March 15.

All HSGA members and associate members are eligible to vote. Each newsletter contains one ballot. Associate members are allowed to make a copy of the ballot for voting purposes. Winners will be announced in the spring issue and officially take office on July 1, 2010. Send your completed ballot to: HSGA, 2434 Waioma‘o Road, Honolulu, HI 96816-3424.

Now, in no particular order, here are the summaries submitted to us.

Kamaka Tom - Honolulu (Palolo), Hawai‘i US

I am currently 57 years old and have been living in Honolulu since 1952. I have degrees in elementary education and Hawaiian studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. I served as HSGA President from 2002-2008 and currently serve as assistant to the treasurer.

Since 2002 I have managed the HSGA office in Honolulu with my wife Luz. We are responsible for keeping membership payment and donation records, accounts management, and processing of general correspondence for the membership. I also assist by setting up regular board meetings.

I served as Honolulu convention coordinator for the 2007 and 2009 conventions.

I am currently employed full time by the Honolulu municipal bus system. I am a part-time Hawaiian musician and steel guitarist. I have attended HSGA events regularly since the early 1980s and have attended and performed at all HSGA conventions from 2002 to 2009.

I would like to continue serving on the Board. I believe that I have qualifications that would allow me to contribute to maintaining HSGA as a viable, worthy organization that provides a valuable service to the community.

Mike Scott - Toronto, Ontario CA

I joined HSGA in 1980 but have been playing steel guitar since 1943. I served HSGA as membership committee chairman during the six years that Alan Akaka served as president.

I possess one of the world’s largest collections of Hawaiian recordings and have dedicated much of my time and energy promoting interest in Hawaiian music.

Prior to emigrating to Canada I had my own Hawaiian group in England from 1949 until 1954. In Canada I formed the Hawaiianaires in 1955 and it still continues to operate today.




Phil Bender - Palmetto, Florida US

My background is in engineering, but I ran my own business and managed the department I worked in. I was an aircrew member on a gunship in Vietnam and was active in politics for a period of time. I have helped Don Fullmer for a couple of years with seminars for the two clubs we belong to, and I think I could bring a fresh perspective to the Board. I have organized a jam for the last 3 years, and they have been well received.






Chris Kennison - Fort Collins, Colorado US

Aloha, all. I’ve been playing steel guitar since about 1983. Initially I started on pedal steel and then started playing Hawaiian steel about 15 years ago. I’ve been a member of HSGA since 1998. I lived in Hawai‘i in 1972 through 1976 and programmed computers for the U.S. Naval Weather Service. While there I developed a deep appreciation and love of Hawaiian music. I learned slack key guitar while living there but never even thought about steel for some reason. I did hear Jerry Byrd play in Waikīkī many times. I have been playing guitar for about 40 years and have performed for 30 years in bands and as a solo.

Currently I work in a few country bands on pedal steel and also in my own Hawaiian band called ‘Book ‘em Danno!’. During the day I manage a public radio station in Fort Collins, which is also a nonprofit corporation. I have a degree in computer science from Colorado State University and retired from the computer industry in 2005 to spend some time expanding my music and working in the community.

I’m excited to have a chance to remain on the HSGA Board of Directors and will work to support the mission of the organization and help it expand into the future.


Terry Miller - Vancouver, Washington US
I spent nearly all of my life working in engineering and retired (for the third or fourth time) about seven years ago. I decided I needed more activities to occupy my spare time which amounted to music, fly fishing and boating.

It was at that time I rediscovered the wonderful world of the Hawaiian steel guitar after “hanging it up” more than 45 years prior. At the same time I heard of HSGA and decided to attend the 2003 convention in Joliet. The wonderful
people I met and the great playing I heard convinced me I needed to return to playing and become more involved. I returned to Joliet in 2005 and have attended each convention since.

I have enjoyed serving on the Board of Directors for the past two years and am presently a member of the Schol-arship Committee.

I live with my wife Verna in Vancouver, Washington, after having moved there from the East Coast in 2001. We escape the rain by spending winters in Southern California.

Ivan Reddington - Lakeland, Florida US
I started playing steel when I was in the fourth grade. I studied under the O‘ahu system in A tuning. Later on we studied E7th and C# Minor. After three courses on the steel, I took a course on the Spanish guitar and became the chord player in some groups because no one else would do it.

I had three different bands through my high school years and played for local dances and other social events in Western Nebraska. In 1955, I started college at St. Louis University and worked on weekends with a local group that played music in Callahan’s Bar in Maplewood, Missouri. I got a degree in aeronautical engineering and a commission

in the USAF and went on active duty in the summer of 1958 to USAF pilot training. While in the USAF, I played music with some of my instructors and we played for veterans homes and hospitals that were nearby. While on active duty, I had little time to play music so I gave it a rest.

In 1966, I got a position as pilot for American Airlines and was assigned to Washington National Airport (now Regan National). I met an operations clerk who played guitar so we played together for fun and company parties for a number of years. I finally discovered HSGA and joined the association and have been attending the conventions
nearly every year since.

I have tried to promote the steel guitar at every opportunity and have tried to help others interested in learning.
I hope we can prevent the death of lap steel playing and support those people willing to teach.

Frank Della-Penna - Washington DC, US

Frank started on Hawaiian steel guitar at the Harlin Brothers Studio in Indianapolis.  In New York City, Frank studied Hawaiian guitar with vaudville artist Roy Smeck, and nose flute and other Hawaiian rhythm implements under Calvin Ho.  On Okinawa, he studied samisen under Teruya Kinyehi. 


In the mid-90’s, Frank hosted and produced a public radio show, devoted to Hawaiian music and culture.  He has a vast library of recordings, ranging from early wax Edison cylinders to CDs.  Frank initiated a visit to the University of Hawaii with Kamaka Tom on behalf of Dirk Vogel to monitor their progress on digitizing the Vogel collection.  Frank is a long-standing member of both HSGA and Aloha International.  He has served on the Board of Govenors for the Hawaii State Society and performed for several years with the Aloha Boys, the Halau O’ Aulani and has performed in the U.S. Capital for the Kamehameha Lei Drapping ceremonies. Currently, he performs at the Crème Café in Washington, DC. 


As a current HSGA board member, he has brought new members into the club, arranged for the publication of the Inaugural advertisement in the Hawaii State Society ball program, publicized HSGA outside of the U.S. by answering foreign inquiries, drafts Board minutes and serves on the Scholarship Committee.  Frank is passionately commited to expanding the reach of HSGA, to better serving its members, and to fostering HSGA collaboration with other organizations devoted to Hawaiian music and culture around the world. 


As an accomplished steel guitarist, Frank teaches steel guitar to young and older musicians alike and frequently performs at steel guitar conventions with great aclaim.  Frank’s favorite guitarists: Isaacs, Ho’opii, Ah See, Feet Rogers, Aiona, Puaonaona Almeida, Kelii, Castro, Pahinui and Bright. He served 6 years in the Marine Corps and retired after 38 years of service in state and federal law enforcement agencies.  Frank resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Stephanie Ortoleva, an attorney for Bluelaw International. 


Paul Kim - Kaneohe, Hawai‘i US
I was born and raised on O‘ahu and grew up in Kailua. The first instrument that caught my interest was the ‘ukulele. I also loved to sing and while in high school, joined the youth and Hawaiian choir at my local church, St. Anthony’s in Kailua. This was the same church that Aunty Irmgard Aluli attended.

I started taking steel guitar lessons with Jerry Byrd in 1987 and learned for a full year how to tune, read music, everything that a steel guitarist would need to and should learn. This man was so knowledgeable about the “real” music business. He taught you every single thing you needed to know to become a great steel guitar player and also a great all-around musician.

The first place that I played on the professional scene was at the ‘Ihilani Hotel on the west side of O‘ahu. It was there I met a lot of the musicians in the local scene, notably Ocean Kaowili. He mentioned that my style of playing was similar to “Feet” Rogers. I told him I used the same tuning and that I loved his style as well as the traditional folk music that Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai‘i played. He told me that he knew Eddie Kamae and that he could take me to meet him sometime. One night, Ocean told me to bring my steel to a gig in Mānoa. I agreed and showed up at the party, not realizing that it was actually to back up Eddie Kamae himself! Gradually I began to perform more and more with Eddie. In a nutshell that’s how I became a member of the Sons of Hawai‘i. I didn’t know for sure, though, until I was given my own palaka shirt!

It is amazing to see the passion that HSGA members have for our beautiful instrument. As HSGA President, I want to thank everyone for their part in making this association a successful one. I am honored to be a part of the mission to perpetuate this wonderful instrument for future generations to enjoy.

Gerald Ross - Ann Arbor, Michigan US
I have been an HSGA member since 1998 and served on the HSGA Board of Directors during the 2000-2006 term. I am currently the HSGA webmaster.

I play Hawaiian steel guitar, guitar and ‘ukulele and have released four CDs featuring Hawaiian, blues, jazz and swing music.

I feel that for the HSGA to survive we must attract new and more musically diverse members. By musically diverse, I mean steel guitarists and musicians who are not exclusively Hawaiian steel guitarists or Hawaiian-style musicians. This will accomplish many positive things. One, our current membership will be introduced to new sounds that perhaps they can incorporate into their musical palettes. Two, we can educate and expose the new members to the beauty of our music. This will accomplish our goal of promoting the Hawaiian steel guitar and it’s music. Three, our membership numbers will increase insuring the longevity of HSGA and the continuity of our yearly conventions.

Jeff Strouse - Jacksonville, Florida US
I have always been fascinated by the sound of the steel guitar. I finally got to attend my first HSGA convention in 2003. I’ve met many good friends and wonderful people through the club; HSGA is special and I enjoy being part of it. It would be an honor to serve the club as a board member.









Ian Ufton - Brampton, Ontario CA

Born in England in 1940 to the sound of Herr Hitler’s bombers overhead, I was greatly relieved when my father returned from his “tour of duty” in North Africa, replacing the drone of aircraft engines with the sounds of Hawaiian music. As most of you know, the music produced by the early, great steel guitar players like Sol Ho‘opi‘i and Dick McIntire never leaves you. It’s good music in any era and will always be good!

Well, along came rock ‘n’ roll and after mastering the steel guitar by age 11 (it’s such a simple instrument), I picked up the plectrum guitar determined to dethrone Elvis et al at the ripe old age of 16. I got a little stupid and decided to take real guitar lessons from a member of my father’s band who had played with Felix Mendelssohn’s band. I learned to read in the key of C, one flat and one sharp, and then figured the rest out myself (I think). Voila! I was employed as a big band guitarist.

After a somewhat volatile period as a professional musician, I emigrated to Canada in 1966. My whole family had gone there in 1965.

Always with the magical sounds of Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Dick McIntire, Jules Ah See, and Rudi Wairata in my head, I returned to the steel, built my own pedal steel guitar, and finally produced two albums in 1988 and 1993. They made me “filthy rich” as you are all aware, and so I would like to offer my services “free of charge” as an HSGA board member.

Dave Giegerich - Ellicott City, Maryland US
I have been playing steel guitar and dobro for over 30 years. In the early 1970s I was a fan of the dobro playing of slide guitar master Duane Allman, and when I saw a Tut Taylor record featuring dobro instrumentals I bought it and immediately fell in love with the sound of the instrument played lap style. I took an old guitar and, using a pencil to raise the strings, started learning the instrument. Soon after that I bought a real dobro and played bluegrass
and country music for the next ten years or so.

My interest in Hawaiian music was sparked by the reissue of several records in the mid-‘70s featuring the playing of Sol Ho‘opi‘i, Jim and Bob and other steel players from the ‘20s and ‘30s. I learned a couple of tunes and licks but didn’t start seriously playing Hawaiian style until I took some ethnomusicology classes from Dr. Mantle Hood in the mid 1980s. He knew Jerry Byrd and gave me some of Jerry’s tablature. I borrowed a lap steel and took some independent study classes in Hawaiian guitar, learning tunes like “Sand” and “Paradise Isle” and getting college credits for it!

In 1988 I formed The Hula Mon-sters, who play a mix of Hawaiian and other styles. We play clubs, concerts and weddings, often backing up hula dancers. The band has won the Washington Area Music Association’s WAMMIE award for Best World Music Band numerous times.

Since joining HSGA I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and listening to many outstanding steel players at the Joliet convention, and I’m honored to be nominated for the Board.

Dave Kolars - DeKalb, Illinois US

I was born in 1945 and grew up on a farm in North Central Kansas. I graduated
from Kansas State University in 1967 with a B.A. in English. I’ve been playing guitar since about 1964 and took up the dobro in about 1972. I’ve lived in the DeKalb-Sycamore, Illinois area since 1967, joined HSGA in 2004, and started playing steel in 2005.

In the early ‘70s, I played guitar and dobro with the Pleasant Street String Band. We performed at clubs and festivals around Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri, teaming up with Vassar Clements whenever he was in the area. I’ve played in three or four other bands over the years, playing at local clubs as well as regional festivals.
I’ve worked at various jobs over the years, including groundskeeping, food service, mechanic, and running a coffeehouse- restaurant in the mid-‘70s in DeKalb. During that period I helped to start the Duck Soup Coop, a nonprofit food coop that is still thriving, and served on the Board twice in following years. I also served on the Board of Directors of the DeKalb County Lamb and Wool Producers in the mid-‘80s for a three-year term. In 1995, I was one of the founders of the Northern Illinois Bluegrass Association (NIBA) and ran it for six years, published the monthly newsletter, and promoted three bluegrass festivals during that time. I worked with three other festival promoters as well as several other associations promoting bluegrass in a four-state area. The NIBA is still running strong with over 450 members.

In 2001, I retired from Northern Illinois University, where I was a computer support specialist. I handled state bid specifications and awarded bids for warehouse resale stock, maintained over 30 computers on three networks, and wrote programs for warehouse management. I now play in four groups, do woodworking, and build ‘ukuleles and guitars as well as collect, repair and sell used instruments.

I would love to see HSGA grow and share the beauty of the steel guitar. I have many years of experience serving on boards, doing promotion and publicity, as well as the knowledge that comes with being both a promoter and a performer. With promotion, HSGA can grow and attract new members. I’d like to be a part of that!

Pete Kahele - Cerritos, California US

I was born in Waimanalo, O‘ahu and later grew up in the Kapahulu-Waikīkī district. I graduated from Kaimuki High School and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Phillipines.

I graduated from Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood and eventually worked as senior consumer electronics buyer, responsible for 22 million in sales for a ten-store chain. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have three children.

I got involved with the steel guitar about 15 years ago and am self-taught. I’m very active in the Hawaiian community
playing weekly at a Hawaiian restaruant in Gardena. I am a member of “Da Hawaii Club of Cerritos” and advisor to the Southern Ukulele Festival where I chaired the steel guitar and slack key workshops. I perform annually
with three or four groups at our Ho’olaulea in Gardena and E Hulu Mau Hula Competition at the Performing Arts Theatre in Long Beach. I performed for the film premier of Lilo and Stitch, as well as at El Capitan Theater performing nine shows a day for three weeks—all of this to perpetuate “all of our aloha for the steel guitar.”

John Hattan - Lansing, Michigan US