Mark Nelson has been on the forefront of the contemporary acoustic music scene since the early 1970's. Growing up surrounded by the music of the Pacific and Caribbean, he blends elements of Hawaiian slack key guitar, finger-style, and Celtic influences in a recording career going back to the 1970s.
Mark and noted master musician Keola Beamer co-authored the first ever comprehensive tutorial for ki ho`alu, the wonderful Hawaiian guitar style: "Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar." (Mel Bay Publications). Mark recently wrote the best selling “Learn to Play Fingerstyle Solos for `Ukulele.”
Mark’s Hawaiian name, Kailana, was given to him by Aunty Nona Beamer. It means “gently floating on the sea,” a fitting reminder of the beauty of slack key guitar!
“Old Time Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” is a collection of solo instrumental songs and medleys featuring the lilting finger-style guitar technique Mark learned by sitting in with master players like Uncle Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Led Kaapana, John Keawe and Kevin Brown. The songs are played just as you’d hear them in a backyard kani kapila – full of interesting twists and turns, sometimes richly complex, but always nahenahe ~ “sweet!” To help students master this unique art form, Mark has written a TAB book with complete transcriptions of all 24 tunes. Visit his website to learn more.
Mark's previous release, "The Water is Wide," features 12 heartfelt instrumentals played on slack key guitar and dulcimer. The music comes from islands real and imaginary - places as far away as the South Pacific, the Irish Sea and Old California. "When I play slack key, I want to honor all of the great musicians who came before. And I want to put a little of my own experiences into the mix. As a friend once said to me: 'I don't care what notes you play, I just want to feel your aloha.'" The nahenahe strains of ki ho`alu meets the sweet sound of the dulcimer - creating music that is at once refreshingly new and timeless.
When not touring Mark maintains a small recording studio and writes about music and music technology for several national magazines. He and his wife live in Southern Oregon's rural Applegate Valley and Honokowai, Maui.