Bluegrass Meets Pili Grass

Take five bluegrass musicians from across America, add one Grammy Award-winning Hawaiian slack key artist and you’ve got Bluegrass Meets Pili Grass. The Olowalu Outfit brought a mix of original and traditional bluegrass songs to the Big Island, where they joined Keoki Kahumoku in a week-long event featuring concerts and music workshops with all of the artists.

Imagine driving rhythm, soaring fiddling, hot picking, and sweet, tight harmonies of bluegrass music with musicians hailing from Appalachia, the West Coast, and Alaska.  Music from Olowalu Outfit’s members Tyson Alteri, Chase Christie, Kate Hamre, Katy Rexford, and Rion Schmidt honors the first generation masters while bringing a fresh new energy to bluegrass and folk music.

Fifth generation slack-key guitarist Keoki Kahumoku began performing with his father, George Kahumoku, Jr., and his uncle, Moses Kahumoku, in 1990 at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. Today, he’s a five-time Grammy winner with a passion for sharing and teaching the music of the islands.

Together on the Big Island for the first time, the Olowalu Outfit and Keoki Kahumoku presented Bluegrass Meets Pili Grass, inviting music lovers and amateur musicians to enjoy concerts at various venues around the Big Island or to participate in several workshops.  A big mahalo to all who participated in making these events possible,  including all the people who came out to support both the live shows and workshops, Penny Kamoku, Father Dick Tardiff, Patty and Drake Fujimoto, Edmond Olson III, Pahala Plantation Cottages, Larry Rappolo, LeAnn Paiva, Konabob and Shirley Stoffer, Kris Bordessa, Brad Bordessa, Brandon and Nicky Lee, and so many more it is difficult to make a list.  Know that you are loved and appreciated by all who were involved!

Stay tuned for Bluegrass Meets Piligrass II… the Ololwalu Outfit will be back in August for more great music with Keoki Kahumoku in August, 2011.  Please check back for updated information on workshops and performances.

The Band:

The Olowalu Outfit

Hailing from both Appalachia and the West Coast, the Olowalu Outfit plays a mix of original and traditional songs that honor the first generation masters while bringing afresh new energy to bluegrass and folk music. All the basic ingredients of great bluegrass are there – driving rhythm, soaring fiddling, hot picking, and sweet, tight harmonies. But what really grabs you is the passion and excitement they express through their music. All members of the Olowalu Outfit have been teaching bluegrass and folk music on Maui for the past five years, and are excited to share some of the musical traditions of the mainland with Hawaiian audiences.

Tyson Alteri -Mandolin, lead and harmony vocals

Tyson Alteri, originally from upstate New York, grew up surrounded by many kinds of music. Tyson’s extended family listened to, and played everything from delta blues to bigband swing; his Grandma Bea was an opera singer at Julliard who presented the national anthem at many a ball game (including for the Yankees.) Tyson has been playing music, specifically on the guitar since he was 12. He first fell in love with bluegrass in Alaska when he met climbers that liked to play bluegrass. His keen musical interests have led him to Spain to study Flamenco and to Cuba to learn Son Cubanos. Tyson co-founded the2009 Rockygrass band competition winners 49 Special and played the festival in 2010. Tyson now resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

Chase ChristieGuitar, lead and harmony vocals

Chase was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He grew up listening mostly to classical music and playing piano, but by time high school rolled around, he was more interested in playing rock n’ roll with his friends. For reasons still not fully understood, this developed into a love for acoustic music, and bluegrass in particular. Because his grandmother lived in Kihei all of his life, Chase developed an early love for Hawaiian culture and music and few things compare to the joy he feels playing his tenor ukulele. He now lives in the Bay Area and plays with his country band, The Whisky Richards, and enjoys traveling around the country and beyond, teaching camps and playing music.

Kate HamreBass, lead and harmony vocals

Kate grew up in Anchorage, Alaska listening to her parents and friends play bluegrass, old tyme, and folk music. At the age of 14, she joined Bearfoot, a nationally touring band, and played festival such as Merlefest, Greyfox, Wintergrass, Rockygrass,and Telluride to name a few. As a Compass recording artist, Bearfoot cut their 4th album, called “Doors and Windows” in April 2009, which quickly rose to #1 in the Billboard Bluegrass Charts. Kate is also the director of the renowned bluegrass music education program, “Bluegrass Camps for Kids”, which has taught thousands of children internationally in the last decade. Kate has a B.S. in Elementary Education through the University of Idaho and is now teaching in San Francisco after leaving Bearfoot last April.

Katy RexfordFiddle, lead and harmony vocals

Katy grew up in North Carolina and began her musical career playing violin in her public school orchestra at age 8. She played her first fiddle tune that year and won first prize in the school talent show, setting her on a path to explore as many styles of traditional fiddle music as possible, including old time, country blues, Irish, Cajun, western swing,and many more. Now residing in San Francisco, Katy plays and sings with the honky-tonk band the Whisky Richards and Misisipi Rider. She has played and toured with Boz Scaggs, Michelle Shocked, Del Williams, Jesse Jay Harris, and more.

Rion SchmidtBanjo, lead and harmony vocals

Rion Schmidt was born in Cordova, Alaska, and has traveled to the Hawaiian Islands five times to teach bluegrass music camps for kids. He likes long walks on the beach, and tiki torch dinners. Rion is a 15 year veteran of the banjo and has been teaching for 10years. His style of driving bluegrass banjo, was honed in the rugged mountains of Alaska among the glaciers and grizzlies, and although he now resides in Northern California, he dreams of someday building a lonely cabin among the towering spruce trees of his home.