How ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Guitarist Jim West Fell in Love with Hawaiian Music – Orange County Register

The lineup for the 16th annual Southern California Slack Key Festival, which celebrates Hawaiian culture through the musical tradition known as ki ho’alu (or Slack Key), is stacked with some of the island’s finest players.

One of the most accomplished artists on the bill, however, isn’t Hawaiian, but a current Van Nuys resident whose talent has earned him a Grammy Award and led to his being recognized as one of the top names in the genre.

And Jim “Kimo” West didn’t even start with this traditional style of music.

He was in a few rock bands early on before landing a gig playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and keyboards with singer-songwriter, accordionist and parody artist “Weird Al” Yankovic.

“With ‘Weird Al’ I play to thousands of people every night and it’s a lighter key, we play festivals but it’s very different and I love both. It’s just so much fun for me,” said West, who will join dozens of other artists at the annual Slack Key Festival, which returns Jan. 15 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.

Jim “Kimo” West is the longtime guitarist for “Weird Al” Yankovic West will perform at the annual Southern California Slack Key Festival on January 15th. (Photo by Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz)

The day-long event includes hula dancers, a Hawaiian marketplace, and performances by the likes of George Kuo, Makaha Sons, Sonny Lim, and more.

“The set is always amazing. It’s just beautiful music, a beautiful stage. I think it’s the best Hawaiian show on the mainland,” said West, who has performed at the festival nearly every year since its inception in 2008.

West, who was born in Toronto, Canada and also lived in the South Bay before recently relocating to the San Fernando Valley, is a self-taught guitarist who first met Yankovic when the Southern California native became a music video and radio sensation in the US was the early 80s. How ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Guitarist Jim West Fell in Love with Hawaiian Music – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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