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Island guitar

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Hawaiian guitarist Jeff Peterson has worked with acclaimed artists Eric Clapton, James Galway, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Aaron Neville and others.Photo courtesy of St. Clair Prod
 Posted: 2:00 AM January 10, 2013

Born on Maui, Hawaii, solo guitarist Jeff Peterson grew up on the large, scenic Haleakala Ranch, where his father worked as a paniolo, a Hawaiian cowboy, and where he was introduced to the slack-key tradition.

Vaqueros, Spanish cowboys, introduced the guitar to Hawaii in the 1830s, and the Hawaiians experimented with the tunings, "adding the spirit of aloha to the music," Peterson explains. Slack-key guitar is a style of acoustic, fingerstyle guitar with open tunings, he says.

The style was influenced further in the late 1800s by Hawaiian royalty, Portuguese sailors, Asian migrant workers, the church and, in the early 1900s, by swing music.

If you go

Who: Jeff Peterson

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11

Where: Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland

Tickets: $20 in advance, $22 at the door, $10 for youths 12 to 17, and free for children 11 and younger

Call: 541-535-3562

"All these elements came together to make the very unique sound we have here in Hawaii, so when I do a concert, I like to explore the different sounds and influences that have come to the island," Peterson says.

Peterson will premiere songs from his forthcoming album, "Slack Key Travels," and present a time line of slack-key music with songs from each era at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland. Hula dancers from Ashland's Ka Pi'o O Ke Anuenue, directed by Andrea Luchese, will accompany three of the songs.

The new instrumental album, due out in February, was inspired by Peterson's recent experiences in China, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, United States, Australia and other parts of the world.

In 2005 and in 2010, Peterson contributed to Grammy Award-winning recordings, "Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2" and "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2." His solo album, "Maui on My Mind," was recognized as Slack Key Album of the Year at Hawaii's 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, and in 2011, he wrote and performed five songs for the Academy Award-winning film "The Descendants."

Tickets to the Ashland concert cost $20 in advance and are available at Music Coop in Ashland and or by calling 541-535-3562. Tickets will cost $22 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17. Kids 11 and younger get in free.

— Teresa Thomas

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