Born and raised in Hawai’i, Makana is an internationally recognized master of the rare Hawaiian art of Slack Key Guitar. Not to be confused with steel (slide) guitar, slack key is older than the blues and was created by Hawaiians in the early 1800s as a way of simulating 3 guitars in one by playing bass, rhythm and melody in beautiful “open” tunings unique to the islands. A protégé of various Hawaiian slack key legends, Makana uses over a hundred tunings to fashion a massive, resonant, symphonic sound without use of loop pedals or other trickery. His repertoire is diverse and accessible- this is not the Hawaiian music from 1930s Hollywood! Out of slack key Makana has fashioned a hybrid style of slack key, blues and bluegrass he calls “Slack Rock”. He has supported acts ranging from Santana and Sting to Jason Mraz, Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Bad Company, Leon Russell, Chris Isaak, Chris Botti, Elvis Costello, Common, Gotye, Jack Johnson and many others. A former TEDx presenter, Makana recently graced the cover of Frets magazine, the acoustic companion to the world’s most popular guitar magazine Guitar Player.
His music has been featured on 3 Grammy-nominated records including the soundtrack for Academy Award-winning film The Descendants. Makana's sound ventures into the folk/ bluegrass/ acoustic rock realm. His voice is reminiscent of Tracy Chapman/ Jeff Buckley. Guitar Player magazine voted him one of the Top 3 guitarists in America in 2008, and Esquire Magazine said "Slack key guitar, indigenous to Hawai'i, is older than the blues, and Makana is considered the greatest living player."