“Time Traveling” at Fort Collins
We had lots of new folks this year, and many of our members who regularly attend came back! Everyone played really well this year. Among some of the veteran and new players this year were Chris Ruppenthal and Mark Roeder. They came back this year from Madison, Wisconsin and shared with us some gypsy jazz, swing, jazz and Hawaiian. Margie Mays came up from Mesa, Arizona sharing her Hawaiian and country swing showstoppers. And Jeff Au Hoy came over to the mainland to vacation in “the fort” (Fort Collins) and brought one of his bandmates from Hawaiʻi, Joe Zayak. Joe had a mid-‘30s Epiphone arch top with him and he could play that thing! Joe has excellent rhythm chops and a great voice. He was a big part of our festival sound, providing strong acoustic rhythm all weekend. I really appreciated Jeff and Joe coming over because they ended up freely giving their time and knowledge, and playing backup for many of the artists. And they played the lūʻau show as well. Add to the stable of stellar players I already listed, Ed and Vic Punua from Kauaʻi. They, too, came back to vacation in the Rockies and visit friends. Al Nip came all the way from Maui and played some great uke. And of course, our guest artists Bobby Ingano and Alexis Tolentino were in and out of lots of lineups, dances, their own shows, and jams all weekend.
So now you might start to realize how the time machine worked. Imagine this: There’s a low light in the room, your eyes are closed, and you’re quietly listening to an original early recording of early Hawaiian steel guitar on a wind-up Victrola. Chris Ruppenthal shared some of his collection and knowledge, and brought a one hundred-year-old record player and records to do it! Fun stuff. And it was an edifying pallet cleanser, which also foreshadowed the rest of the time journey. Since a big part of our mission at HSGA is learning, it’s great to have these short historical discussions. Chris also played a selection on the Victrola during set changes, which helped the vibe of the day. And then—the next player is ready—live music fills the room, and you’re really there… You are in 1939 Honolulu and there’s a quartet on stage. You hear an acoustic guitar (arch top) player, no amp; a ‘ukulele player, no amp; a bassman on the upright, no amp; and a steel player plugged into a really small tube amp (read: Roland Mobile Cube, the official amp of the traveling professional steel player!). No other amps being used, no guitar amps, no plugged uke, just instruments singing out like they did in 1939. One microphone so the singer can be heard, and that was it! That was the sound!
I stood in the back of the room and I could hear every note, every strum, clear and distinct, and it wasn’t loud. My friend Paul Honeycutt runs the sound board for us each year and he’s a musician. It’s a huge benefit having a sound guy who can play multi-instruments, too, ‘cause Paul knows how those instruments should sound and once he’s got it set, he just sits back and lets it happen. And when I closed
my eyes I could imagine what it sounded like in a small venue in 1939 before stages were full of huge speakers and bands needed to mic everything. I could pretend I was in 1939, listening to some of the great players of Hawaiian steel live. Tony and I like to say we “build the sandbox” for the weekend and then we open the doors and let people play in it—you never know what form each weekend will take or where the music will take you, but I guarantee you’ll find some magic happening on stage, or at jams, or sitting in the front row!
Mahalo to all who helped make this past year’s Fort Collins festival another fun experience!
Chris Kennison (left) playing his frypan at Fort Collins with Book ‘em Danno cohorts Kit
Simon and Stuart Yoshida and with Jeff Au Hoy lending an able hand on upright bass.
In this issue:
| Coco Wire – News and Member Gossip | “Fort Collins 2019 Alert” from Tony Fourcroy |
| “First Time at Fort Collins” by Shinichi Kakiuchi | Weekly Steel Guitar Hotspots in the Islands |
| “Lahaina Luna” – Steel Arr. by Troy Brenningmeyer | “Remembering Herb Remington” – by John Ely |
| Hawaiian Steel Guitar Events Calendar | Member Donation Acknowledgements |
| Treasurer’s Report from Tony Fourcroy | “Alvino Rey Skit at Fort Collins” by F. Della-Penna |
| Closing Notes – Cyril Pahinui | HSGA New Member Listing |