This is a famous song both in Hawaiʻi and Japan. It has been featured on the Channel 2 Nightly News in Hawaiʻi for over 40 years. I AM NOT KIDDING. As of this writing in December 2020, they are still playing it! If you are in Hawaiʻi you can check it out. It comes on at the end of the program while Hawaiʻi people flash their shaka signs at the camera. It’s a fun way to end their nightly newscast.

In early 1978 I got a call from the Hawaiʻi Musician’s Union letting me know that Warner Brothers was looking for me to see if I might be able to go to California to record some of the score for the upcoming Warner Brothers Movie called “Big Wednesday”.

In the film, Gary Busey, Jan-Michael Vincent, and William Katt star in a story of three young surfers searching for meaning as their lives change in the ’60s and ’70s.


These three friends who share a passion and talent for surfing are separated by military service in Vietnam but return to the same beach ten years after the summer they ruled the waves.

I called my brother Kapono up and asked him to join me and we got on the plane. I did some solo stuff with Warner Brothers 85 piece orchestra (not too much pressure there!) then I did some duets with my brother and we co-wrote the lyrics for the theme of movie.

The movie theme plays over the end credits of the film and is called, “Only Good Times / The Three Friends Theme”. The composer of the film was Basil Poledouris who was totally excellent to work with. Basil also did the music for the films, “Lonesome Dove”, “Hunt For The Red October”, “Red Dawn” and “Conan the Barbarian” to name a few.

Over the course of about two months in LA, Basil and I became close friends and our friendship remained very close until he passed away in 2006.

Many people think that my brother and I wrote “Kaliponi Slack Key” but that is not true. It was Basil who actually wrote “Kaliponi Slack Key”. He wrote it on the piano.

Because Warner Brothers wanted a beach vibe for the scene, we sat with Basil in his LA studio and over the course of a few hours we had translated his piano piece into our Slack Key Style. Then we talked Basil into giving it a Hawaiian Name! After a few glasses of wine … he happily agreed.

Kaleponi is the Hawaiian name for California, but we spelled it “Kaliponi” for the Big Wednesday film piece.

What wonderful memories and joy this piece has given me. I think you will enjoy it too!

You can purchase the movie “Big Wednesday” at Warner Bros’ website.

Aloha nui,
Keola Beamer

Video Lesson

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Tuning: (DADGBD)

Tablature: PDF of Kaliponi Slack Key tabs

Audio File 1: M4A Audio of the Beamer Brothers playing Kaliponi Slack Key

Audio File 2: MP3 Audio from the video