k e v i n   f e l l e z s

Listen But Don't Ask Question: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Across the TransPacific (Duke University Press, 2019)

Performed on an acoustic steel-string guitar with open tunings and a finger-picking technique, Hawaiian slack key guitar music emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. Though performed on a non-Hawaiian instrument, it is widely considered to be an authentic Hawaiian tradition grounded in Hawaiian aesthetics and cultural values. In Listen But Don't Ask Question , Kevin Fellezs listens to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and non-Hawaiian slack key guitarists in Hawai'i, California, and Japan, attentive to the ways in which notions of Kanaka Maoli belonging and authenticity are negotiated and articulated in all three locations. In Hawai'i, slack key guitar functions as a sign of Kanaka Maoli cultural renewal, resilience, and resistance in the face of appropriation and occupation while in Japan it nurtures a merged Japanese-Hawaiian artistic and cultural sensibility. For diasporic Hawaiians in California, it provides a way to claim Hawaiian identity. By demonstrating how slack key guitar is a site for the articulation of Hawaiian values, Fellezs illuminates how slack key guitarists are reconfiguring notions of Hawaiian belonging, aesthetics, and politics throughout the transPacific.

"In addition to telling Hawaiian slack key guitar's remarkable history, Kevin Fellezs provides an excellent introduction to the political, social, and economic challenges endured by Hawaiians who live in a homeland dominated by people who have even appropriated the word 'aloha' to expedite material and cultural plunder. This book is a wonderful achievement and a significant intellectual feat.""
      John W. Troutman, Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music , Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934

" Listen But Don't Ask Question theorizes a 'polycultural transPacific' to highlight Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) as central participants in the cultural production of slack key guitar music while attending to the multiple lineages tradition. Kevin Fellezs illuminates the complications of cultural and material stewardship as they are bound up in the performance and perpetuation of the musical form, Hawaiian principles of reciprocity, cultural revival and the music industry, community and belonging, and aesthetics. This is bold, rich, and important work that is well-researched, robustly conceptualized, and finely written."
      J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism , Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity

Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk, and the Creation of Fusion (Duke University Press, 2011) is an analysis of the emergence, reception, and legacy of fusion, a liminal music "non-genre" that emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s as musicians combined jazz, rock, and funk. Birds of Fire is honored to be listed with the Duke University Press's Refiguring American Music series, co-edited by Ronald Radano and Josh Kun.

CO-WINNER 2012 Woody Guthrie book award (International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch)

"What a pleasure it is to read this insightful, exciting, and extremely well listened analysis of fusion music. Kevin Fellezs suggests new ways of understanding the four artists he profiles, develops a productive framework for rethinking fusion, and helps us to understand why artists and audiences were stimulated by this music even as it was dismissed by purists. Birds of Fire is a major contribution to rethinking the place of fusion within jazz studies, as well as broader questions of genre across disciplines."
      Sherrie Tucker, Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s , Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen , co-editor of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies

"More than a study of one underexplored market niche, Birds of Fire brilliantly illuminates how the market both inhibits and enables creativity, as well as how creative musicians challenge the music industry's narrowing and naturalizing of complicated, constructed, conflicted, and deeply contradictory social identities."
      George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit From Identity Politics , Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Focus of Place , Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music

I am unable to fully express the depth of my gratitude to Professor Liu Yan for translating Birds of Fire into Chinese (2017). I offer my inadequate "Thank you" here as a small way to publicly acknowledge how much I appreciate Professor Liu's hard work and tireless diligence in producing her translation.

Professor Liu's translation is available from the Central Conservatory of Music Press (Beijing) .

Heavy Metal Generations
Co-edited with Andy R. Brown, Bath Spa University, UK
Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2012


Introduction: (Re)Generating the Politics of Age, Race, and Identity in Metal Music Culture, Andy R. Brown and Kevin Fellezs
The Speeding Bullet, the Smoking Gun: Tracing Metal Trajectories, from Sabbath to Satyricon, Andy R. Brown
Exploring the Demographics of Heavy Metal Users with Social Media, Roderick Henry
Black Metal Soul Music: Stone Vengeance and the Aesthetics of Race in Heavy Metal, Kevin Fellezs
Heavy Conditions: Power Metal in Madagascar, Markus Verne
Nordic Heavy Metal as a Representation of Place, Mark Deeks
Viking Heritage: The Creation of a Personal and National Identity through History and Metal, Ashley Walsh
Too Old to Raise Horns? Gettling Older on the Metal Scene and the Politics of Intentionality: A Case Study of Second Generation Norwegian BM Bands, Karl Spracklen
Wolves in the Throne Room: Time, Autochthony and Transcendence in Contemporary (Post)-Black Metal, Amelia-Roisin Seifert and Kevin Murray
Thumb-Bangers: Exploring the Cultural Bond between Video Games and Heavy Metal, Louis-Martin Guay and Dominic Arsenault
Pleasure in Metal: What Women Fans Like about Hard Rock and Metal Music, Rosemary Lucy Hill
For other news:



k  e  v  i  n     f    e    l    l    e    z    s

k  e  v  i  n  @  f  j  a  z . c o m

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it." Karl Marx