Having never even seen Waikiki, Jim “Kimo” West came right to Hana, Maui in 1985 and spent much of his time there for many years. It was in Hana where he first heard the music of Gabby Pahinui, Sons Of Hawaii, Sonny Chillingworth and Atta Isaacs. Already familiar with alternate tunings, the sound of ki ho’alu became his favorite “soundtrack”.
Kimo is regarded as one of the world’s foremost “ki ho’alu” or Hawaiian “slack key” guitar artists. This warm and engaging acoustic guitar style has it’s roots in 1840’s Hawaii, when Mexican vaqueros first brought guitars to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you saw the Oscar-winning film, “The Decendants” you have experienced this great acoustic guitar tradition.
Kimo is a 2008 winner of the Hawaii Music Awards and two-time Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian ‘Grammy’) nominee. He is also a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his efforts in keeping this important acoustic guitar tradition alive.
He is a veteran of Hawaii’s famed slack key festivals as well as the recent So Cal Slack Key Festival in 2008,2009, 2010 and 2011. He has shared the stage with almost all the world’s top slack key players at one time or another.
Kimo has also worked as a composer for film and TV for many years and maintains a sophisticated private studio in Los Angeles. He has composed music for four features, network TV shows and specials and cable shows. His slack key compositions have been used in a number of Honda TV spots, on The Disney Channel and in many documentaries. He recently composed all the music for the Hawaii production of “Ho’okele Wa’a-Turning The Canoe”, a film for the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui, directed by Danny Miller.