Touring the Mainland extensively, as well as internationally in Germany, Canada and Belgium, Led has built a devoted group of “Led Heads” all the way from Brussels to his birthplace on Hawai‘i Island. And, now the Deadhead-inspired digs of Stella Blues is thrilled to present his timeless appeal during a special Supper Club showcase on Saturday, Aug. 14, in Kīhei.
“Musical legend” is a well-deserved designation when referring to Led, a master of stringed instruments, especially slack key guitar, and his exceptional baritone and leo ki‘eki‘e (falsetto) voices bring pure aloha to you ears.
With his relaxed island verve and that “kolohe (rascal) charm”—on top of his performance skills—Led has exhilarated audiences for more than 40 years. He’s been honored with the esteemed recognition of Grammy nominations in 2006, 2007 and 2009, and due to his eclectic style, he’s had the opportunity to grace stages with bluegrass greats such as Allison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, and has worked with “Nashville notables” including Dolly Parton and Chet Atkins.
Ledward Ka‘apana is considered one of Hawai‘i’s most influential slack key guitarists and one heckuva guy.
Music has been flowing through Led’s veins as long as he can remember. Growing up in a musical family—in the small, black sand bay village of Kalapana on Hawai‘i Island—there was always music emanating throughout the homes. “We didn’t have electricity, no television—not even much radio,” says Led on this Website, www.ledkaapana.com. “So we entertained ourselves… you could go to any house and everybody was playing music.”
Life included family-style, backyard parties that often lasted for days at a time, with music performances resting at the centerpiece of the celebration. “People played in shifts, taking over when somebody went to sleep,” Led said. “You’d fall asleep to the music, wake up... and the music was still playing. That was the best alarm clock I ever had!”
Led and his twin brother Ned, along with their cousin Dennis Pavao, formed the Hui ‘Ohana as young men, and became one of the “hottest groups of the ’70s and ’80s,” producing a remarkable 14 best-selling albums. That era of music enjoyed a “blossoming of the Hawaiian Renaissance,” and Hui ‘Ohana was a vital part of the restoration of traditional Hawaiian culture and music.
Whether solo or among friends, Led has continued to make wonderful music, earning a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Jus’ Press—one of six albums from his trio, I Kona—and two solo Hōkū for “Instrumental Album of the Year” for Lima Wela and Black Sand. Led’s last album, Force of Nature, with his record company, Jus’ Press Productions, included 12-string virtuoso Mike Kaawa, and earned the pair a Grammy nomination and a Hōkū Award in 2009.