Slack Key ‘Ohana®

Slack Key ‘Ohana is a California-based Hawaiian band performing harmony-rich original songs in the Hawaiian style, along with its own interpretations of traditional Hawaiian classics.

The story began in 2020, when lifelong musician Brian Witkin recruited Hawaiian recording artist Kamaka Mullento refine his skills in the Hawaiian method of slack key guitar. They became friends and formed the first iteration of Slack Key ‘Ohana, a duo.

In 2021, they recorded their first EP, featuring pedal steel player Rand Anderson and released on Pacific Records. The self-titled EP debuted at #2 on the iTunes World Music charts and subsequently earned the group the 2022 San Diego Music Award for “Best World Music Album” and a live performance at the awards ceremony at Humphrey’s By The Bay.

Brian’s parents took notice; his dad, Joe Witkin was a former member of many bands, including Sha Na Na when it performed at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. His musician mom, Carol Witkin, was always in love with Hawaii and, immersing herself in her ukulele music during the COVID pandemic, realized that she was playing the same songs as her son. They asked to sit in at a rehearsal and, at the end of 2021, joined the band. Wonderfully ironic, as “ ‘ohana” means “family” in Hawaiian.

In August 2022, Slack Key ‘Ohana performed a 50-minute set at San Diego’s Tiki Oasis, one of the largest recurring nationwide island music and Tiki festivals. The set was recorded live and released as a full-length album, “Live at Tiki Oasis”, this time debuting at #1 on the iTunes World Music charts and garnering another SDMA nomination. Riding the wave of the increasing popularity of Hawaiian music, Slack Key ‘Ohana performed over 100 shows in 2022, and quickly gained a firm foothold in its genre. Prominent island music festivals played included PIFA (Pacific Islander Music Festival, San Diego), Alohana (Palm Springs), and the Slack Key Festival at Redondo Beach, CA.

For 2023, Slack Key ‘Ohana released an original single, “Nahenahe Ka Leo o Ka Wahine Uʻi”, earning an additional SDMA nomination. The band again performed over 100 shows, including returns to Tiki Oasis, Alohana, and the Slack Key Festival at Redondo Beach, and a new festival addition, Tiki Caliente (Palm Springs). In September, they performed at the inaugural Slack Key Festival at The Shops at Wailea, Maui, a fundraising event following the Lahaina fires. There, they appeared alongside Hawaiian slack key notables George Kahumoku, JrKevin Brown, and Anthony Fluke. Also in 2023, Romero Creations, maker of the ukuleles played by Slack Key ‘Ohana’s Carol and Kamaka, endorsed Slack Key ‘Ohana as a Romero Creations Artist.

Slack Key ‘Ohana’s latest full length studio album, “Hawaiian Cowboy” was released on April 5, 2024, and again debuted at #1 on the iTunes World Music Charts. Recorded at the state-of-the-art, invitation-only Studio 606owned by Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), this album includes guest artist performances by George Kahumoku, Jr, Brittni Paiva, and ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons. Featuring nine original songs and five Hawaiian classics, the album isavailable on all streaming platforms as well as in CD and vinyl formats.

Slack Key ‘Ohana’s instrumentation includes two guitars, ukulele, bass, lap steel and pedal steel. Brian’s brother Sean Witkin– more ‘ohana! – joins the band on drums on occasion, as do sister Hula dancers Alana and Alyssa Godoy.

Slack Key ‘Ohana’s bassist Joe Witkin was recently endorsed by KALA as a KALA U-Bass artist.