Kapali Long’s Heartfelt Hawaiian Country | Acoustic Guitar Sessions

A self-described “Americana country bluesman,” Long is doing his part to keep the flame of Hawaiian country music burning bright.

Hawaii has a rich history full of cowboys, guitars, and stories. A history with an oversized and under-appreciated influence on American music. Indeed, long before the Gene Autry-inspired American myth of the singing cowboy riding the range with a guitar slung over his shoulder and a song at his lips swept over the mainland, natives on the Big Island of Hawaii, trained by Mexican cowboys (vaqueros), were becoming experts at roping, riding, and herding cattle, which were introduced (as a gift of six cows and one bull to King Kamehameha I from Captain James Vancouver) to the island in the 1790s.

These Hawaiian cowboys, called paniolos (derived from español), fully embraced the ranching culture, developing their own clothing and saddles, and even their own individual style of music, thinking the guitars introduced to them by the vaqueros and other travelers, and the songs they sang with them, sounded better in an open tuning. In the 1920s, Hawaiian music washed over the U.S., and its unique guitar sounds have continued to evolve and weave themselves into the fabric of American music ever since.


Today, Hawaiian singer-songwriter Kapali Long, a self-described “Americana country bluesman,” is doing his part to keep the flame of Hawaiian country music burning bright, paying homage to his forebears by putting his own stamp on the music they created.

For this Session, captured in AG’s San Anselmo, California, headquarters, Long performed a trio of songs, each showcasing a slightly different musical side. First up is the anthemic “Go Back,” which reinforces the old adage about three chords (well, four in this case) and the truth.


Next is “One More Night,” a heartfelt tribute to a lost loved one. Closing the set is a rousing slide-infused cover of Muddy Waters’ “Feel Like Going Home.”

While Kapali’s songs explore some very personal feelings of grief, longing, and pain, the personal is universal. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, who you voted for, or why your eyes are that color, or who you grandfather was . . everybody misses somebody,” Kapali says. “We all feel that hurt. And that’s why I love singing songs like ‘One More Night.’”

Each performance features a different guitar from Long’s collection of Gibsons: a 2013 J-15, a 1991 J200, and a 1934 L50. Check out the Guitar Talk video below for more on Long’s Gibson collection.

For music, livestreams, tour dates, and more, visit KapaliLong.com.

Joey Lusterman
Joey Lusterman

Opinionated creative slash beginning guitarist. Joey has worked in every department at Acoustic Guitar in the past 10+ years: front desk, ad sales, editorial, sound guy, camera man, booth babe, email coder, podcast editor, photographer, book designer…

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  1. Ya the intro to Go Back does sound like another song but I can’t think of which one.
    I enjoyed the songs and the guitar playing.