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Hawaii: Oahu's steel guitar festival celebrates the iconic instrument

Hawaii: Oahu's steel guitar festival celebrates the iconic instrument
Musicians Casey Olsen, left, and Greg Sardinha demonstrate how to play a steel guitar during the 2013 Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival. The 2014 festival is July 19 in Waikiki. (Colleen Ricci)

Oahu locals and visitors will gather next month to enjoy the sounds of the steel guitar, one of Hawaii's most-revered instruments.

The Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on July 19 at Waikiki Beach Walk, a dining, lodging and shopping venue. Admission is free.

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Steel guitars are played while they are held horizontally, and their unique tone comes from sliding small steel bars over steel strings.

"There is nothing that brings Hawaii to mind like the sound of the steel guitar," musician and educator Alan Akaka said. "People tell me they associate it with tropical breezes, romance and Hawaiian moonlight."

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The festival is to feature performances by steel guitar masters including Akaka, Jeff Au Hoy, Bobby Ingano, Eddie Palama, Owana Salazar and Greg Sardinha.

Also set to appear are young musicians, ages 10 to 16 who are students at Akaka's Ke Kula Mele, a Hawaiian music school in Kailua on windward Oahu.

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