Spotlight ON!

Spotlight ON! Matt Kobayashi

This month we shine the Spotlight ON! Matt Kobayashi.

Masami "Matt" Kobayashi is from Tokyo, Japan, and currently resides there. He lived in Waikīkī from April, 2010, to March, 2016.

Matt recently returned to Honolulu where he participated in the first annual Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival which featured Hawaiian steel guitarists from Japan. The event, in the planning stages for several years, was held as a part of the 2022 Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week.

Yukihiko Haida and Matt Kobayashi
Yukihiko Haida and Matt Kobayashi
Matt Kobayashi
Matt Kobayashi
Matt Kobayashi
Matt Kobayashi
2022 Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
pc-Don Touchi

"My childhood era was just after World War II," says Matt. "And I enjoyed a lots of American Pops that were broadcasted through U.S. military Broadcasting Station FEN, the Far East Network."

Matt continues, "In Far East Network programs, I especially loved 'The Hawaii Calls Show' and enchanted by steel guitar sound that was played by Jules Ah See, Billy Hew Len, etc."

Matt has one favorite Japanese steel guitar player. He is Mr. Harukiko (Yukihiko) Haida, a Hawai‘i-born Japanese. Haida subsequently moved to Japan and formed a Hawaiian music group called the "Moana Glee Club." This group was the first professional Hawaiian music group in Japan. Haida passed away in 1986.

In 2012 Matt participated in what was planned to be an attempt at setting a Guinness World Record for the most steel guitarists performing at the same time. Unfortunately, Guinness did not differentiate the steel guitar from conventional guitars so the attempt was thwarted. However, a collection of 24 steel guitarists including Matt convened anyway and performed at the same time at the annual Ke Kula Mele Spring concert on May 13, 2012, playing a four-part arrangement of Nani Waimea by Alan Akaka.

In addition to playing the Hawaiian steel guitar, Matt also plays the ‘ukulele, rhythm guitar, and keyboards including the piano and electric organ. In many music circles, Matt is sell known for his ‘ukulele skills and performances, both in Hawai‘i and in Japan.When he lived in Hawai‘i, he participated in the annual ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai‘i.

Matt continues to share his music talents. In Japan, he performs with many of his friends at various venues close to Tokyo. When in Hawai‘i, Matt has performed at the Royal Grove Waikīkī and at the Barefoot Beach Cafe with an assortment of musicians including Leonard Jenkins, Charles K. Tilton, Ernest Kanoa, Steve Maii, Poki‘i Vaughan, Hovey Lambert, Ganor Kalima, Ernie Morikubo, Ronson Asuncion, and Keola Kaeo.

Matt Kobayashi and THe Barefoot Boys
Matt Kobayashi with The Barefoot Boys: Poki‘i Vaughan, Leonard Jenkins, and Robbie Burns

As an electronics engineer, Matt developed audio equipment including pickup cartridges, condenser microphones, and condenser headphones. He was a member of the CD-Recordable Standardization Committee. Now retired, Matt spends his time writing Hawai‘i-related books. During the past 15 years, he has written 16 Hawai‘i-related books including four steel guitar instruction books.

Matt Kobayashi Publications
Publications by Matt Kobayashi

Matt has also released CDs and hosts a Japanese language blog about the Basic C6th Lap Steel Guitar Method.

This video is of Matt playing "Mele of My Tutu E" at the 2022 Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival in Waikīkī. Matt is accompanied by Hovey Lambert, Leonard Jenkins, and Ernie Morikubo with hula by Caroline Alfonso and Kela Cuban.

The video can also be seen on YouTube.

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