Waimea 'Ukulele & Slack Key Guitar Institute co-producer and talent coordinator Jay Junker talks about the event:
"I try and choose artists who satisfy the unique set of criteria for the wide variety of events. That's always a lot of fun as there are many great artists who fit the bill.The Institute has developed a great team of what I call "The Usual Suspects" who come every year and a group of other artists who come when they can or I can fit them in."
"The location is ideal for settling in together as we all stay at the same small hotel. If we were in Honolulu we'd all go home after each thing, which would also be okay but different."
"The Kahilu theater is also a great place for this kind of event . There are always some really amazing surprise musical combinations on stage and backstage - some of them come together at the last minute, which the theater is really good about. Some theaters are very strict about preplanning, but the Kahilu folks really understand how important it is to run this event a bit different from that. "
"There are charges for some events while others are free. We try to balance both sides: one to pay the artists and cover the expenses and the other to make sure that everyone in the community can participate in something. For example, after so many people came to a jam session one night at the hotel, we instituted a community Kanikapila, where anyone who wants can come up on stage and play with the artists on Thursday night. It's a lot of fun and brings back memories of what the old timers used to tell us about Waimea in the old days. We also have a talk story stage, an idea I adapted from the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife."
"Why so many accomplished artists? You'd have to ask the artists to get the real answers, but my experience is that it is a great deal of fun for them to spend time in Waimea and in the company of so many like-minded people. You'd be amazed how rare that can be for artists! I try to pick people who either already know each other well (like Benny Chong and Nathan Aweau or Aaron Mahi and Dennis Kamakahi last year) or who I guess will probably get along really well when they meet (like Jeff Peterson and the amazing mainland guitarist Muriel Anderson, again last year). We also try to respect the artists and make sure they enjoy themselves. I also find that most artists understand the importance of sharing their traditions of 'ukulele and slack key (and steel guitar) - especially as fewer opportunities arise for young people to hear this kind of music in Hawai'i."