Steel guitar, Hawaii sound good together

Steel guitar, Hawaii sound good together

Aside from the ukulele and slack key guitar, Hawaiian steel guitar is one of the iconic sounds of Hawaii. But where did it come from? How did Hawaii become associated with steel guitar? What was the cultural impact of it, both in Hawaii and the rest of the world?

Professor John W. Troutman has the answers. His research was extensive and also had interviewed many talented musicians, of which we saw many of these extraordinary Kauaian musicians in our bookstore when John was here doing a book signing! John was humbled and honored by their visit to his book signing!

“Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music” is a 372-page highly-researched history that includes a bevy of black and white photographs that probably most have never seen, as well as several high-detail color images of historic (and highly influential) Hawaiian Slide Guitars.

Troutman’s writing style is so engaging that it feels as if we were privy to conversations that spanned three centuries. We get to learn about those that pioneered the instrument in Hawaii, and how the sound of the instrument transformed over the generations. It brought together peoples from all walks of life and backgrounds, sharing their sounds with each other over time. In fact, the last fourth of the book is filled with research notes and bibliography, showing how meticulous Troutman was in making sure that he was presenting the most accurate information available.

Pretty fascinating stuff, even for those of us that might only have a passing curiosity. For those that do know this art, this book is an absolute treasure and an invaluable addition to any personal library of the history of Hawaiian music and musicians.

Guaranteed, “Kika Kila” will continue to be sought after for years to come.


Ed and Cynthia Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.


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