Marc Rossi keeping Kaua‘i’s toes tapping

Marc Rossi is understated — by choice. No CDs, no fanfare, just full-on Hawaiian music,

“I’m not an entertainer; I’m not a performer,” he said. “I’m just somebody that enjoys playing Hawaiian music.

“I’m a backyard musician.”

Rossi and friends Nalani Kauuwai Brun and Beverly Kauanui will be presenters on Monday, at the Garden Island Arts Council’s E Kanikapila Kakou program at Island School behind the Kaua‘i Community College campus in Puhi. Loosely translated, EKK means “Let’s play a stringed instrument.”

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Rossi and Brun will teach a few songs to persons who bring instruments. The general audience gathers at 7 p.m. to sing along to Hawaiian music.

The musical evening is rich — all for a donation in the calabash at the door to help defray expenses.

Rossi’s first guitar teacher was Peter Moon, “We were friends,” said Rossi. “He used to show me things — tunings, chord work, theory, songs.”

Although pretty much self-taught after that, Rossi said, “One of my main influences is Malaki Kanahele.”

Rossi apprenticed to guitar virtuoso Malaki Kanahele through the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Also, Rossi, Malaki and Malaki’s brother, Moses, formed a trio and played for a while. Rossi, who sees Malaki Kanahele weekly, hoped to play with him at EKK, but Rossi says the man is not “well enough.”

Rossi said his guitar playing is of the “old school.” He has a repertoire of about 700 to 800 songs that he plays in the old style.

“When we used to play with Malaki, we had to know how to play every single song in every key,” he said. “Everything I do, I play in multiple keys — I don’t change tunings and I don’t change guitars.

“That’s something that’s special to me. The reason I’m able to do that is I spend a lot of time at home, playing for myself.”

GIAC programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawai’i.

Promotional efforts are funded in part by the Atherton Family Foundation.

The E Kanikapila Kakou Hawaiian music program is funded in part by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority and the county of Kaua’i.

For more information, contact the Garden Island Arts Council at giac@hawaiilink.net; visit online at www.gardenislandarts.org; or call 245-2733.

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