Slack & Blues

American blues musician Taj Mahal, a two-time Grammy Award winner and nine-time nominee, is up for yet another award this year.

He and Greg Allman have been nominated for Best American Roots Performance for their rendition of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues.”

However, instead of the attending the awards ceremony Feb. 8, Mahal will be here on Kauai performing alongside the likes of Ledward Kaapana, Mike Kaawa, Pancho Graham and many more.

“I’ll do anything for Kauai,” Mahal said by phone.

He’d rather miss the Grammys — and perhaps receiving a third gold-plated trophy — than disappoint his Kauai fanbase.

Mahal is no stranger to the Garden Isle. He was a resident here for two decades, where he raised his children.

“We just came to be a family in a situation where family was highly respected, something we didn’t find on the Mainland,” Mahal said.

In 2006, however, the last of Mahal’s family moved away, which is why the 72-year-old, Harlem, New York-born singer-songwriter jumps at any opportunity to come back.

“I love the people of Kauai, man,” he said.

Mahal is among the featured artists for the SLACK & BLUES concerts, taking place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8. Both shows are at the Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapaa.

This concert-concert event will feature members of Mahal’s unforgettable Hula Blues Band, including Pancho Graham, Pat Cockett, Kester Smith, Roger Glenn and special guest lap steel player, Bobby Ingano. Joining the group will be one of one of Hawaii’s finest guitar players, The Legend and Slack key Master, Ledward Kaapana and 12-string player Mike Kaawa.

Concert promoter Ken Levine, owner of Kuleana Music in Kalaheo, said he’s been listening to Mahal’s music since 1968 and has admired both his attention to historic sources that turn his ear and dedication to audio quality for his audiences.

“He is an icon of the Blues but much more than that,” Levine said. “It has been such a pleasure working with him for the last several years as we worked out the how, when and why these slack and blues concerts should occur.”

Levine added that having this much talent performing together on one stage is “staggering.”

“This is a combination of new musicians to merge with and some amazing longtime members of his Hula Blues Band from 20 years ago,” he said. “I fully expect to be blown away at the two concerts. They will likely be unforgettable.”

Mahal said he and all the other performers are fired up for the shows and that the audiences are in for two great nights of slack and blues.

“When I fly in, it’s like I’m flying home,” he said of Kauai. “This is a home that has reached their arms out and brought me in close.”

And Mahal promises to return the love.

“I don’t disappoint Kauai,” he said.

Tickets cost $50 for general admission, $75 for Golden Circle. They can be purchased online at or, or at the following retailers: The Wine Shop, Koloa; Scotty’s Music, Lihue; Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co; Pictures Plus, Kukui Grove; Kauai Music & Sound, Kapaa; Hawaiian Music Kiosk, Coconut Market Place; Hawaiian Music Kiosk, Princeville, and from the concierge at the Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach.

Information: 332-5101 or


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