DOVER-Steel Guitar performers and groups from around the country will stage the Second Annual Joseph Kekuku Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival at Dover’s historic Baker Theater located at 41 W. Blackwell Street on October 8, 2005.
            Highlighting this year’s festival will be “The Moonlighters”, a Hawaiian style band featuring music from the 20s and 30s, harmonizing to the sounds of the steel guitar, ukulele, guitar and bass.  This is a very popular group on the New York City scene.  “The Cokers” are a husband and wife duo from Texas that plays true Hawaiian guitar music learning from the master himself, Sol Hoopi.  Uke Jackson is a popular steel guitarist who has performed on television in New York City and has his own radio show on WNTI in Hackettstown, N.J..  The “Ewa Hawaiian Trio” is a group from New York City that performs the “hot” style Hawaiian music on the vintage National Steel Instruments.
            Other performers include Mike Scott, a Hawaiian guitar player from the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association.  Gene Wilson is from Mt. View, Arkansas who plays the acoustic steel guitar learning from the Oahu School of Music.  Lorene Ruymar and her husband will travel from Vancouver, B. C. Canada.  Ms. Ruymar is the author of “The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Its Great Hawaiian Musicians” which is considered the “bible” of Hawaiian Steel Guitar music.  Larry Catrone is a popular comic and playwright who has appeared on radio and television including the Joe Franklin Show.  He performs a comedy routine with his ukulele.  Dave Giegrich travels from Ellicott, Maryland and plays steel guitar with the popular “Hula Monsters” a well know group that keeps the music of the islands alive. 
            Another performer, Doctor Robert Garth of Sparta and his wife Barbara have great appreciation for Hawaiian and Country and Western music.  That appreciation is in the form of the steel guitar.  Dr. Garth’s love for the steel guitar is so great that he taught himself to play the Hawaiian Steel Guitar, became a member of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association and performs regularly at their annual convention in Joliet, Illinois and locally in Sussex County.  Now Dr. Garth, a Chiropractor from Sparta and Barbara have added to that love by assisting the Dover Renaissance Organization and the Dover Area Historical Society in organizing the annual Hawaiian Music Festival.
Mike Esposito, co-founder of the annual Joseph Kekuku Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival lives in Chester, New Jersey and plays all styles of the slide guitar.  He has been performing on the “National” steel guitar since the early 1970s and has toured Europe, appeared on national television and performed at Lincoln Center.  Esposito’s talent has gained him national recognition while performing with such groups as Asleep At The Wheel, The Ventures, Bill Monroe and John Hartford to name just a few.  He has also appeared on over 15 albums by various artists and has performed in concerts, clubs, festivals, radio and TV.
            Realizing that a truly great man who changed the entire music industry with the Hawaiian style guitar was buried in Dover, New Jersey, Mr. Esposito reached out to the Dover Area Historical Society to organize an event to honor Mr. Kekuku’s memory and raise enough money to erect a new monument at his gravesite.  The historical society together with the Dover Renaissance organization and the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association plan the one-day festival each year. 
            This year’s festival begins at 4:00 pm on October 8th with a memorial service at the gravesite of Joseph Kekuku in the Orchard Street Cemetery.  There will be two services at the cemetery; one English-style ceremony and the other Hawaiian-style with the Island’s customs, costumes, dance and chants.  At 6:00 pm there will be a social hour and a light buffet dinner at the Baker, with the stage presentation of steel guitar music and entertainment starting at 8:00 pm.  On Sunday after a morning visit to the downtown flea market, there will be a farewell ceremony at the gravesite of Joseph Kekuku starting at 12 noon.
            Joseph Kekuku invented the Hawaiian Steel Guitar at a very young age while living in Hawaii.  During his life, he traveled around the world and appeared before kings and queens demonstrating this pleasing soft sound.  Later in life, he toured the vaudeville circuit with his Hawaiian String Quintet.  In the late 1920s, he decided to settle down in Dover and gave music lessons as a means of support.  He passed away in 1932 while residing at 88 Prospect Street and was buried in the nearby Orchard Street Cemetery.  Over the years since his 1885 invention, the Hawaiian Steel Guitar sound has been adopted by other forms of music including country, the blues and most recently rock.
            Tickets are now on sale at $26 per person for the dinner and show and $10 per person for the 8 PM show only with balcony seating.  Tickets are available on-line at  For more information call (973) 366-0996.
Thank you for your support:            George Laurie/Museum Curator (973) 361-6205
For information on performers, please call Mike Esposito at (973) 879-8113