Dave Guard and the Slack-key Influence


Dave Guard talks in this  article about producing Pure Gabby. In Dave's words:

Dave Guard is my name; my nusic with the orginal Kingston Trio may be familiar to you. I was born in Honolulu, brought up in Waikiki, and the first record I ever bought was Hi"ilawe by Gabby Pahinui. When my folks gave me my ealriest guitar, I learned to play the "G" slack key tuning first.  I would hang around the Queen's Surf night club just to hear Gabbys' trio (with Joe Diamond and Ralph Alapai). I pestered Gabby for lessons and he showed me one of his "C" tunings, but he said "It's not how you tune 'em, it's how you pluck 'em." But only recently has Gabby considered himself a teacher.  It's enougn that he plays the sweetest, cleanest, most soulful, most Hawaiian guitar music ever heard.  It's enough that he has one of the finest voices in the world. It's enough that when I hear Gabby I'm home.  Some years went by  and I continued to collect Pahinui records but was disappointed by not hearing enough of the man himself on them. They would bring his guitar forward for a short solo, then submerge him again in an ensemble of flutes, steel guitars, or whatever was commercially hot at the time.  I resolved that if I ever had the money and Gabby were still playing to try to make a "striaght" recording of his guitar and singing with just  a little bass and ukelele to ride along for company.

The opportunity came in early 1961. My trio was on the way to  the FarEast, and I asked my parents, Jack and Marjorie, to contct Bob Lang, te excellent recoding engineer who had worked with Gabby previously.  Also helping from the Waimanalo side were old friends Mike Broenlee, the sculptor, and his wife Joan, who lived near the Pahinui family.  Two great accompanists were invited :Sonny Nicholas on bass and Danny Stweart to play ukelele.  Bob Lang brought his VW bus down to Centra Union Church with a three track Ampex remote recording unit and the taping was done in the meeting hall on the Punahou Street side. Each take had to be sandwiched between rings of the church bell, every fifteen minutes. The work was done in two sessions, January and March, with Gabby perfroming to near prefection at all times in spite of not being in great demand at this point in his career.  I'm sure he enjoyed the support of his charming wife Emily especially during this effort.

Joyfully the results were submitted to the major record companies on the mainland. Uniformly the answer came back that there was no market for  record of this kind. So for seventeen years the only people to hear these tapes were my family and friends, until recently I was encouraged by my fellow musicians Cyrus Faryar and Douglas "Chip" Hatlelid (the local boys from the Modern Folk Quartet) to try once more to strike a clear note for the pride of the islands.  I came back home to Honolulu and called Don and Flip McDiarmid at Hula records Inc. and they said YES, we'll take it right now.  I also mentioned that I had interviewed Gabby at his house using a portable tape recorder during the time of these sessions so it was decided to include this spoken material to add a truly archival presentation.

Mahalo to all those above and especially to my wife Gretchen Guard. Gabby, we hope you like it!"