Having never even seen Waikiki, Jim
“Kimo” West came right to Hana, Maui in 1985 and
spent much of his time there for many years. It was in
Hana where he first heard the music of Gabby Pahinui,
Sons Of Hawaii, Sonny Chillingworth and Atta Isaacs.
Already familiar with alternate tunings, the sound of ki
ho’alu became his favorite “soundtrack”.
Best known as long-time guitarist for the worldʻs most successful musical comedy artist, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Kimo is regarded as one of the world’s foremost “ki ho’alu” or Hawaiian “slack key” guitar artists. This warm and engaging fingerpicked guitar style has it’s roots in 1840’s Hawaii, when Mexican vaqueros first brought guitars to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you saw the Oscar-winning film, “The Decendants” you have experienced this great acoustic guitar tradition.
Kimo is a 2008 winner of the Hawaii Music Awards and three-time Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian ‘Grammy’) nominee. He is also a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his efforts in keeping this important acoustic guitar tradition alive. For his work with “Weird Al”, he has earned four Grammy’s and a Billboard #1 CD debut for 2015’s “Mandatory Fun”.
He is a veteran of Hawaii’s famed slack key festivals as well as the So Cal Slack Key Festival every year from 2008 through 2017. He has shared the stage with almost all the world’s top slack key players at one time or another.
His numerous CDʻs feature many original compositions as well as inventive arrangements of the genreʻs classic repertoire. His recent release, “Guitar Stories” goes beyond slack key, exploring other genres like West African guitar, Middle Eastern Music and Americana. His latest CD, “Slackers In Paradise” features steel guitar legend, Ken Emerson.
Kimo has also worked as a composer for film and TV for many years and maintains a sophisticated private studio in Los Angeles. He has composed music for features films, network TV shows and specials and cable shows. His slack key compositions have been used in a number of features, TV spots, cable, web and in many documentaries.