Michael Kollwitz | Chapman Stick from Hawaii

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Chapman Stick from Hawaii

by Michael Kollwitz

Chapman Stick Hawaiian Style! The most unique & creative Stick album- 74 minutes total!
Genre: World: Hawaiian
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Maui Songbird
3:48 $0.99
2. Surfer Girl
3:28 $0.99
3. Sugar Cane Train
3:08 $0.99
4. Huelo Morning
4:16 $0.99
5. Happy Go Lucky
3:05 $0.99
6. Puamana Sunset
3:37 $0.99
7. Front Street Stroll
5:29 $0.99
8. Rainy Day Song
3:33 $0.99
9. Meeting Carlos
3:09 $0.99
10. Submerged
3:45 $0.99
11. Banyan Tree Blues Jam
3:59 $0.99
12. Watching the Whales
4:07 $0.99
13. Little Miss Laptop
3:02 $0.99
14. Hookipa Point
4:02 $0.99
15. The Sailing Song
3:08 $0.99
16. Suntan Lady
4:00 $0.99
17. Lahaina Lullaby
5:06 $0.99
18. High Tide
4:11 $0.99
19. Ocean Pool
4:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
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In 2014 Kollwitz compiled his favorite original compositions from his 7 years on Maui into "Chapman Stick From Hawaii". He also provided an archive of photos and wrote about the inspiration and stories behind each individual track. You'll find that listed below:

"I wanted to give you a special bonus so I've written about all the stories and inspirations behind the songs on this album below. Also included are links to videos and photos to help give you an even bigger picture. Make yourself a mai tai or pour a cup of coffee and enjoy the stories. Hope this music takes you to a simple, peaceful place that you'll want to return to over and over again. Thanks for purchasing my music and mahalo for your kokua! With aloha from ~Michael Kollwitz

1. Maui Songbird:
Was recorded while living in the Huelo area of East Maui- a half mile off the famous Road To Hana on the makai (ocean) side. If you want to see what I saw out of the window while recording this song, just look at the cover of the Hawaiian Paradise album. Its a photo I took of a rainbow during the sessions. In Hawaii the temperature remains in about the same 10 degree range pretty much all the time so some homes don't even have window glass- just screens. You never have to shut the windows while you're sleeping and in the morning the birds start getting noisy at dawn so there's really no need for an alarm clock. I recorded the birds chattering early one morning and was inspired to create this song as a result. You'll hear them during the intro and outro. For this tune, I played a 10 string Alto Stick. Here is the photo from the cover of Hawaiian Paradise:

2. Surfer Girl:
The only cover song on the album. I couldn't resist this Beach Boys classic because I always loved the lyrics and, well- its groovy. I learned it from a little pink ukulele song book named Jumpin' Jim's 60's Uke-In. Bought the book at Lahaina Music when I was trying to learn to play the ukulele (had only marginal success). I asked the mixing engineer, Dave Russell, if we could add the sound of the waves to give it a more ocean-y feel. He lit up with a smile and told me the story of how one morning he went to Makena beach in the pre-dawn hours, before anyone gets there, and set up a couple of expensive microphones to capture the sound of the waves. It sounded perfect and he was kind enough to let me use it. If you listen with stereo headphones, you'll hear the waves actually move from left to right. Opening for The Beach Boys in Reno on Chapman Stick:

3. Sugar Cane Train:
Lahaina has a long history intertwined with the sugar cane industry. In the old days, sugar cane was harvested in the fields and taken for shipment to the docks by train. The sugar cane plantation shut down years ago but the smokestack in the middle of town remains as Lahainas largest and tallest landmark. One of the last steam trains was used as a rolling, chugging, tooting tourist attraction and for many years it chugged right through Lahaina. Every time it went choo choo, you could hear the whistle all over town. The audio engineer for this track, Dave Russell, told me that he was once a guitar strumming, singing 'conductor' on this train 20 years back when the factory was still open and black smoke and soot belched from the smokestack, covering the town with ash. He had some good stories to tell. Hawaiian steel guitar on this track was provided by Don McClellan and the track was recorded in Russells Paia studio. Dave was also the whistle blower on this track. Here are a few photos of the Sugar Cane Train while it was still running from Lahaina to Kaanapali:

4. Huelo Morning:
This track was recorded the day that we mixed the album Hawaiian Paradise. I thought I was all ready to go for the mixing session but the night before I counted and realized I was missing a track- I needed 12 but only had 11. Oops. I was determined to make good on my promise of a full album so I got up very early and went straight to my recording rig. After a few hours with no success, my wife Christine encouraged me to take a break and have breakfast, hoping that would clear my head and reboot my creativity. It worked! In one or two takes, Huelo Morning was done and it was still only 8:00 am. Like many of my recordings, this track has no overdubs and was recorded all at once so almost no editing was necessary. Engineer Dave Russell performed magic on the synth string tracks during mixing by manually adjusting volumes during playback. It was fun to watch him because he really gets into it using his whole body to operate just a couple of faders. Here are aerial photos of the Huelo area where the song was recorded using a 10 string Alto Stick:

5. Happy Go Lucky:
In early 2010 I bought one of Emmett's first SG-12 instruments (12 string Stick Guitar) and I instantly loved it. Took to it like a fish does to water. My 10 string Alto Stick got very lonely- I couldn't keep my hands off the new SG-12. I was trying everything on it. I found some things worked and some things didn't. The new higher range was almost too high for some songs and the teeny tiny little frets made it a challenge to play it cleanly. If the Grand Stick were a regular billiards table then the new SG-12 was a snooker table. You can't 'slop' in the ball like you can on a regular pool table. You're either right on or you're not. This song was inspired by walks down the beach with my wife Christine and our dog at all times of day and night. Every time we walked I felt "happy go lucky" so the idea morphed into a song I started recording one day after a walk. Everything on this song was recorded using 12 string SG-12 Stick Guitar. Photo taken after sunset walk:

6. Puamana Sunset:
A personal favorite that always makes me feel good, this song was inspired by sunset get togethers in the Puamana community adjacent to Puamana State Beach Park off the Honoapiilani Highway- pretty much the only road connecting West Maui with the rest of the island. People would drag lawn chairs, bring coolers and watch the sun slowly sink behind Lanai. At different times of the year the sun would set at opposite ends of Lanai. The change was almost imperceptible until one day you'd look at and realize it wasn't the same place last time you noticed. I once played this song during a Christmas Eve concert at the Puamana clubhouse. The timing was simply magical- the sun slipped behind Lanai at the precise moment the song ended! I didn't even know it until a few days later when I watched the video Christine had taped at the concert. This tune was recorded using a 12 string Grand Stick and was one continuous take with no overdubs or editing. You can watch the video Christine made at: 

7. Front Street Stroll
Front Street is a special place in Lahaina that is steeped in hundreds of years of history since the time of the whalers and the missionaries. Anything of social importance usually happened somewhere along Front Street or under the Banyan Tree in front of the courthouse and Lahaina Harbor. Today it is a touristy place with art galleries, restaurants and shops selling mostly t-shirts, sunglasses and Maui trinkets. No trip to West Maui is complete without a stroll down famous Front Street. You know what I mean- you're just going to take in the sights and maybe buy a ten dollar ice cream cone that you'll have to eat really fast (they melt quickly in Hawaii!) Front Street was also the site of parades every year on King Kamehameha Day and I played on the back of my neighbor's electric golf cart for a couple of them. This song also features Don McClellan on Hawaiian pedal steel guitar and I muted the melody strings on my 12 string Grand Stick using an old trick Emmett taught me using ordinary masking tape. You can see a video of one of the parades I played in going down Front Street at:

8. Rainy Day Song
There was once a period of almost 2 years that we had no measurable rain in Lahaina. Being on the leeward (dry) side of the island it wasn't uncommon to get only a little rain but two years ?! That's a long time to wait for liquid sunshine. One day a large thundercloud burst right over Puamana so we ran outside like half-dressed pagans and did a little dance in the rain to celebrate the much needed moisture. I grabbed a small recorder and recorded the sound of what looked like the largest drops I'd ever seen while my chimes rang wildly in the wind. It was glorious. A few months later my old friend and drummer extraordinaire Steve Hargrave from Phoenix visited on vacation so I dragged him into a Kihei recording studio for an afternoon and this was one of the songs we recorded. Only one problem- the studio air conditioner was set to Arctic Mode and my instrument refused to stay in tune because it was used to Lahaina ambient temperatures of about 75-80. My tracks were worthless as they were hopelessly out of tune but, as always, Steve's tracks (first take, no less) were perfect so I saved them and I reconstructed the entire song using Steve's drum tracks almost two years later. Used 12 string Grand Stick for this song. Here are photos of Steve and I during the recording session for this song:

9. Meeting Carlos
I'll never forget the day I met Carlos Santana under the banyan tree in Lahaina. I was playing at an art fair in front of the courthouse when I looked up and saw Santana (and his new wife drummer Cindy Blackman) looking at art. You couldn't miss him but no one seemed to notice but me. I immediately went into "don't screw up now" mode and started playing the most soulful Stick I could possibly muster. It worked. He looked up and smiled my way and a few minutes later he walked right up, pulled out his wallet and dropped a hundred dollar bill in my tip jar. He asked what I was playing and I answered that it was just an improvisation. He smiled warmly and looked me right in the eye when he said: "You have a gift from the heart. The moment I heard your music it made me- and everyone else under this tree- feel good". I was in the presence of greatness and I knew it. I asked him to sign the back of my instrument and he obliged. As soon as I got home that night I figured I better record the song I was playing or I would never remember it. Heck, Carlos Santana liked it, did he not? A few months later I met a musician on one of the cruise ships (Ron Feather of Montreal) that had anchored in Lahaina and he added all the percussion tracks with me back and forth via the Internet. Santanas autograph on the back of my instrument has long since worn off, but you can see a photo of it next to the hundred dollar bill he dropped in my tip jar here:

10. Submerged
Playing under the banyan tree for almost six years at art fairs I had to keep making it interesting so some days I would set up a small recorder by my side and just hit the record button whenever the mood struck me. Most of these tracks will never see the light of day but every now and then I'd capture something special. Sometimes the simplest things are the best and you can never recreate the feeling or soul of a once it evaporates into the atmosphere. Sometimes they just come: so I tried to be ready to grab them when they came. This song was the very first song of the day. It was about 9:00 am and there was no one in the park yet except our fellow artists. The exact moment the song ended one of my favorite artists walked by and commented how good that just sounded and gave me a big thumbs up. His name is Dan Cesere and both he and his brother are world renowned underwater photographers who live on Maui and display their work regularly at the art fairs. You can see their incredible work at: https://www.ceserebrothers.com/

11. Banyan Tree Blues Jam
This is another one of those songs that was captured under the banyan tree exactly as I described above. It's just one take with no overdubs or editing. I had recently got my first SG-12 and I was completely in love with it so I decided to hook up all kinds of effect pedals including Emmett Chapman's vintage pedal The Patch of Shades
(s/n #002). I almost forgot to use some of the pedals but remembered towards the end of the song that I had a nice distortion and I used for only a few bars. After a year of experimenting with the new SG-12 I released an album titled 'Rainbows' that was recorded entirely live under the banyan tree. It was the first record to feature the SG-12 Stick Guitar exclusively as a solo instrument. Here is a photo of me performing in a concert at Banyan Tree Park in front of the old Lahaina courthouse:

12. Watching The Whales
Every winter the whales in Alaska migrate back to warm Hawaiian waters for mating season. During the winter season, whales can be seen breaching and generally popping out of the water virtually anywhere. You can go on a great cruise to get up close but you can also see them almost anywhere from shore at all times of day. It's really spectacular to witness hundreds, if not thousands of whales just cruising along having a good time before they head back north for the summer. They return to the same spots year after year and I was always fascinated by them and they inspired this song. One day, finishing a recording session with Don McClellan on steel guitar- just as he was ready to pack up- he asked if there was anything else I wanted to try before we concluded the session. Well, yes- there is this new tune I keep playing every time I see the whales. Wanna give it a try? Don said "sure" and his one and only take was perfect! Later, while mixing this song, my friend Kris Thomas (Willie K's long time drummer) taught me some neat tricks using the MIDI pickup Emmett installed on my instrument. A way to get even more strange beautiful sounds? What more could a Stickist want! Here are photos of whales cavorting off the coast of West Maui:

13. Little Miss Laptop
In the Puamana community in Lahaina, many of the units were used as vacation rentals when the owners weren't there. One week might be loud partying surfers going until late at night and the next week it might be a very quiet family from Fargo, North Dakota. You never knew who the neighbors would be next week! One week we had a single lady who was there for an entire week and, as far as we could tell, she never left the place until she rolled her luggage out and caught the return flight. The entire week she was glued to her laptop screen morning, noon and night. I kept thinking- how odd- why on earth would someone come to Maui to spend 7 days staring at a computer? You could do that in a Kansas City Motel 6 for a fraction of the cost but, of course, the weather and scenery would not be as nice… I first started playing this tune on the little SG-12 Stick Guitar. Later I recorded it with Steve Hargrave on drums using a 12 string Grand Stick. I got little carried away with the overdubs and was using a stereo way pedal that allowed me to bounce the signal from left to right using my foot while I was playing. Hearing it through stereo headphones can mess with your brain so I wouldn't recommend it (unless you liked Jimi Hendix Electric Ladyland album). Here is a shot of Steve Hargrave recording the drum tracks:

14. Hookipa Point
This was inspired by a beautiful spot on East Maui that is the equivalent of Mecca to windsurfers from around the world. It is absolutely gorgeous and just a few miles down from the famous Jaws where waves can top 50 feet or higher during some winter. You can always see surfing action here almost every day of the year. While living in the Huelo district, it was a long drive to anything and everything, so on the way back from running errands it was always a good idea to take a swim while you could on the way home: the rocky cliffs in Huelo make beaches virtually inaccessible. Many happy memories were made here- too many to count- so I recorded this song using a 10 string Alto Stick. I wanted it make a sound like winds and birds so I pulled out my long-time best friend- a 25 year old Cross pen and I used it like a slide guitarist would. The simplest things almost always work the best. Heres a few shots of surfers at Hookipa Point:

15. The Sailing Song
During one of her stays on the island, I took my daughter on an afternoon cruise on a former Americas Cup sloop. The two man crew discouraged cameras and video recorders and asked everyone to stow them before we left port. We putted out many miles into the channel before they raised the 85 foot sails. The moment they did so, everyone knew why they asked us to stow everything. We all grabbed the lines as the ship literally took off at 45 degree angle at a high speed. We hung on for dear life but enjoyed every moment nonetheless. This short trip was the inspiration for this song which I recorded on 12 string Grand Stick using some of the MIDI tricks that Kris Thomas had taught me He added all kinds of things to the mix that I hardly thought possible before I met him. Here is a commemorative photo taken after our sailing trip:

16. Suntan Lady
During the winter seasons at Puamana there was a Canadian woman who could never get enough sun. She was as brown as any haole could possibly get. I always called her the Suntan Lady and named this song after my nickname for her. The year after the album was released I saw a young surfer who was the spitting image of the computer generated Suntan Lady that we used on the cover. I could barely believe my own eyes. The graphics that Sean Stirling created for the album were really amazing- he is very talented graphic artist and also a Stick player. On this song I used a Roland VG 88 for the great distorted way sound and at the end of the song I asked Kris Thomas to help me achieve a really wild flanging effect like Hendrix for the fade out. He succeeded nicely. Here are a couple of the graphics that Sean Stirling created for the album that were not used on the album:

17. Lahaina Lullaby
Another one take wonder recorded under the banyan tree to a mini-disc recorder. It was around 4:30 pm and things were winding down at the art fair when I felt inspired to hit the record button. I was playing the SG-12 all day and almost no one was around at the time. Just me, a really big tree and my fellow artists. Later that night during dinner, I listened to the tracks I'd recorded and kept waiting for the part where I would usually find something wrong with the track that I didn't like but it never came. I kept playing it over and over and liked it more each time I heard it. Photo of me holding the SG-12 that I recorded this song on at Banyan Tree Park:

18. High Tide
This tune was also recorded under the banyan tree using the SG-12 and a whole bunch of foot controlled stomp box effects that are so old you probably couldn't get them fixed if they failed now. 80s gear! I usually never use this stuff anymore but I go through phases where I want to try everything all over again. It was definitely high tide and all the boats docked in the harbor were at a high point that day. I still have all the pedals stored away in a box somewhere and no doubt I'll drag them out again someday. Great photo of Lahaina Harbor taken from the Expeditions ferry on the way back from a corporate job on Lanai:

19. Ocean Pool
The most amazing feature of the Puamana community was the clubhouse and an incredible Ocean (Makai) Pool. It was the first fresh water pool ever built on Maui in the 30s or 40s. It was built literally right on the waters edge with waves sometimes crashing over the sides and into the pool. It has been upgraded and maintained all these years and still there. Only two other pools in the entire State of Hawaii like this still exist as modern engineers decided that was just too close to the water. All three of these pools were grandfathered because the rules were enacted many years after they were built.The view of Lanai and the entire coastline of West Maui is breathtaking and can be seen from this swimming pool. I spent many a happy hour there and I still play this song today because, for me, it always brings back the peaceful feeling I experienced at this incredible spot. Here’s a photo of the Ocean Pool that will give you a good idea of how close this is to shore!"

One of the instrument’s earliest pioneers and one of Emmett Chapman’s first students, Michael is a Chapman Stick virtuoso with over 40 years experience. Played with both hands using a pianistic technique on a stringed instrument the Chapman Stick is extraordinary yet still uncommon. It may prove to be one of the most expressive and versatile musical instruments ever devised with almost endless possibilities. The result is full, rich music that does not sound quite like any other instrument.

Long devoted to spreading knowledge of the Chapman Stick and the beautiful music it can create, Michael has performed at over a thousand festivals, fairs & corporate events. Carlos Santana called his music “a gift from the heart” that made him feel good the moment he heard it. He’s been an opening act for The Beach Boys, The Goo Goo Dolls and has introduced many to the new instrument over the years including Mick Fleetwood and Herbie Hancock.

His albums and music have spread worldwide. His music has been featured on national radio, in television appearances and he was the subject of an award-winning short documentary entitled “Stick Man”. His musical style has been influenced by many genres including Jazz, Rock, Latin, Hawaiian and Americana. He has recorded and released 21 albums in different genres including his latest releases "Peaceful Journey" and "Serenity" which marks a change of course for his music into the New Age and Ambient genres.

Decades of references and recommendations from fans and clients can be viewed at:




to write a review

Michael Isam - program host at WFCF-FM

Fabulous!!!! I am not sure you realize just how damn good you are!

evan scott gross

Chapman Stick from Hawaii
Hello fellow listeners.....this album is a tropical audio drink from the fountains of Hawaii. I had the good fortune of meeting Michael in Maui, and was so taken by him, that I hired him to play at my son's wedding...What a treat. .. and as a wonderful followup to that, we get to listen to his latest effort on this set of selections. They are beautiful as ever and immediately whisk the listener to the Islands....buy it...and get an audiofile tan!

Annette Vierra

I love your Hawaii album
I love your Hawaii album, especially Puamana Sunset. We spent a lot of years living in Hawaii when Glenn was in the Navy. Our oldest son, Mike loved surfing and spent countless hours in the water off Waikiki. He passed away 13 days after our meeting. Even though he rarely surfed at sunset I still see him on the waves when I hear Puamana Sunset. I loved the song before he died and it’s a little painful to hear it now, but it’s such a beautiful song I hope in time it will bring me peace.

Keep making beautiful music.

Bonnie Call

Beautiful, relaxing, tropical music. Love it!
Any time I want to be immediately transported to Maui, I play your music. Even while ON Maui, we kept your CDs in the rental car, and played them nonstop. You make beautiful, relaxing, tropical music. Love it!