When I was a little girl my Dad was really into Slack Key Guitar. To be fair, most people in Hawaii are into Slack Key. We used to go to the annual Slack Key Guitar Festival in Hilo every year. Lets be clear, I was bored out of my mind, I was a little kid a guitar festival. That being said, I have a crystal clear memory of Sonny Chillingworth performing. He just seemed like 'the real deal'. Old Hawaii Charm.
Slack Key Guitar originated in Hawaii - the original phrase was: ki ho'alu (translation- loosen the tuning key). You can grab the specifics from the link above but basically, you de-tune the guitar.
You would never guess but Hawaii (and specifically Hawaii Island where I'm from) is full of cowboys. We at one time had the United State's largest privately owned ranch (up until just a few years ago!) - Mexican Cowboys brought their skills to the Islands along with their guitars and music. Paniolo - a Hawaiian Cowboy sounds an awful lot like 'espanioles'. The Hawaiians ended up taking what they learned from the Paniolo's and then developing their own style.
Sonny Chillingworth is definitely one of my favorites but, this song can't be played without connecting a few more dots.
Hi'ilawe was written by Gabby Pahinui (in fact it was Gabby's first recording) a legend. I'm sure you've all heard the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole song Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World - you know in the beginning when he says, 'kay, this one's for Gabby' - that is Gabby Pahinui! He influenced so many Hawaiian Artists.
This is old school Chillingworth. I hope you enjoy!