John "Keoni" Trino - Ka Hanakaua


John “Keoni”Trino was born in 1940 in Bakersfield California. He grew up in the farming community of Arvin in the San Joaquin Valley. At the age of eight, he had his first trip to the Hawaiian Islands, and it has been a continued love affair with the land and its people.

With a four-dollar guitar, bought in a pawn shop by his mother, John started playing country western music and then moved to folk music in the 50’s and 60’s.

College days at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, introduced him to Scotty Thain and John Hoxie, local boys from Kaui and Moloki and that Slack Key vamp that would haunt him for years.

On his honeymoon at Naalehu Hawaii, he had the chance to “Jam” with some locals at the Sugar Mill. There was that “sound” again.

Years would pass and the guitars would sit until John’s return in the early 80’s to help the islands with AYSO, American Youth Soccer Organization. While there, teaching and instructing referees, he met Gary Okino, whose great love of all music and especially Slack Key, moved John to pick up his guitar and follow that sound. A tape by John Keawe, a piano and months of trying to figure out the tuning----he was able to play his first song-----the passion hit!

Living so far away from the islands he loves and the soul of the music, the learning process was very difficult.

His first teacher was Ray Kane. Playing at his home in Nanakuli, with Ray’s grand children at his feet, John learned the “traditional” Slack Key, passed on in the old style.

His mentoring continued with George Kuo, who helped him meet many of the Masters.

George Kahumoku Slack Key workshop on Maui was where the Ohana {family} method of teaching brought the music and the spirit together.

Master teachers Daniel Ho, Keola Beamer, Ozzie Kotani, Cryil Pahinui, Led Kaapana, shared their aloha and knowledge of this beautiful music.

With the help of all these people, John has been invited to play in the Slack Key festivals and resorts in the islands, and continues to perform on the Mainland.

John’s first six-song first-edition CD was released in March 2000 and the full album CD was released in 2001.