Slack Key ‘Ohana nominated for Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award (Hawaiian Grammy®) after No. 1 album debut 

Hawaiian Cowboy” album tops the iTunes World Music chart as the band receives a  Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award nomination & releases new behind the scenes video.

SAN DIEGO (31 May 2024): Award-winning San Diego-based band Slack Key ‘Ohana’s third album, “Hawaiian Cowboy” debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Worldwide Music chart when it was released last month (April 5). The album features a storied collection depicting the rich culture of the paniolos – Hawaiian cowboys, pairing Hawaiian island sounds with country and Americana music. The collection, produced by Chris Hobson and released on Pacific Records, features nine new original songs, complemented by interpretations of four Hawaiian classics. 

Shortly after the album release, the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts announced that Slack Key ‘Ohana’s video of their original song “Nahenahe Ka Leo o Ka Wahine Uʻi” is a finalist for a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award in the category of Hawaiian Music Video of the Year. The Nā Hōkū awards are considered the Hawaiian equivalent to the Grammy Awards®. The band will be in attendance when the winners are announced at the Honolulu ceremony on August 3. 

The album’s title song “Hawaiian Cowboy” features special guest performances by ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons and four-time Grammy-winning slack key guitar master George Kahumoku Jr.  The opening song “One More Day” features Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning ukulele player Brittni Paiva. Today the band released a video documenting the recording process of the album, filmed on location, where the album was made at the invite-only recording studio owned and operated by Foo Fighters and Dave Grohol, Studio 606. 

“‘Ohana” means “family” in Hawaiian, fitting for Slack Key ‘Ohana: core members include Brian Witkin (guitar, lap steel and vocals), his mom Carol Witkin (ukulele and vocals), and his dad Joe Witkin (bass, piano and vocals), joined by “adopted son” Kamaka Mullen (guitar and vocals).  Joe performed at the original Woodstock as a member of Sha Na Na. The band is completed by brother Sean Witkin (drums and percussion) and pedal steel player Rand Anderson

Key radio outlets in both Hawaiian and country music have swiftly embraced “Hawaiian Cowboy,” with regular airplay on Hawai’i Public Radio and Nashville’s WMOT Roots Radio. Slack Key ‘Ohana won the Best World Music Albumat the San Diego Music Awards in 2022 and the Best World Music Song for “Nahenahe Ka Leo O Ka Wahine Uʻi.” last month. The local media has championed the band with a cover feature in the San Diego Union-Tribune, a review in the San Diego Troubadour, and a morning show performance on Fox 5 KSWB-TV

To support the release of “Hawaiian Cowboy,” Slack Key ‘Ohana has concert dates in the coming months that include Pono Hawaiian Grill in Santa Cruz (June 7), Humphrey’s Backstage Live in San Diego (June 26) for the Jake Shimabukuro concert after party, The Belly Up w/ Tavana In Solana Beach (July 2), and Tiki Oasis in San Diego (Aug 2). The band will play at The Shops at Wailea on Maui after attending the Nā Hōkū Awards ceremony in August, and again in September.

Reviewers at home and abroad are praising Slack Key ‘Ohana’s unique and authentic blend of Hawaiian and Americana music meshed to create the warm and welcoming sounds capturing the tradition of the paniolos, who are a vital part of the fabric of Hawaii. Below are snippets from a couple of the initial album reviews:

Hawaiian Cowboy does live up to its title in showcasing the kinship between country-and-western and Hawaiian music…Kamaka Mullen and Brian Witkin have penned some delightful fusions in this, their second Slack Key ‘Ohana album, which also shows their skills in creating sunny, harmonised delights the Beach Boys would have been proud of.” – SONGLINES 

“The album has an eclectic islands and country music vibe intersecting throughout the tracks…The album is a delightful listen.” – San Diego Troubadour

Pacific Records Festival – 1/7/2024 at the Music Box in San Diego (Photo © By Alan Hess)

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