Michael McDonald Treats Maui to a Taste of Doobies

March 15, 2010

When it was announced that Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald would bring their co-headlining tour to Maui, some of us who grew up in the late-1970s thought: “this might be fun.”

Although Boz Scaggs’ 1976 release “Silk Degrees” never made it to my CD collection–let alone my iPod–the fact remains that the eight-track was a staple in my first car. Plus, the Michael McDonald-era of The Doobie Brothers holds a very bright spot in pop music history–similar to the Stevie Nicks-era of Fleetwood Mac.

So Friday night, March 12, armed with a notebook and my handy note-taking Flip video stick, I headed to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center to see what these staples of my youth could bring to the table.

Scaggs opened the show, playing a set that included his most well-known songs. When he launched into “Lido Shuffle,” “Georgia” and “Harbor Lights,” the youthful ex-New Yorker with indie-rock tastes sitting next to me could be heard saying, “I know this song.” Yes, Boz Scaggs’ music definitely is a mainstay of its time.

The big treat of the evening came from Michael McDonald, however. Sitting center-stage behind his keyboard, the blue-eyed-soul-man wowed the crowd with original songs and familiar cover tunes. Not long into his set, several Doobie Brothers’ songs started popping up.

Sometimes when an artist leaves a high-profile band like the Doobies, they tend to stay away from playing that music in concert. For years, Paul McCartney did not include any Beatles songs in his live repertoire. When he added them, it was magic.

McDonald’s inclusion of Doobie songs would have been magic enough to please long-time nostalgic fans, but it did not end there.

During the encore, he brought out his former band-mate Pat Simmons, who happens to live on the island. Together, the Bros rocked the audience to its feet, playing some of the band’s biggest hits.

Hearing Pat Simmons’ distinctive voice and guitar on “Black Water,” and McDonald singing “What a Fool Believes,” it was easy to remember what made the McDonald-era of the band so special.

Leaving the venue, a random vacationing stranger, who objected to me joking about the old coots leaving a lot of trash behind (I can, because I am), shared a story about being on the island several years ago. She wanted to see a popular local performer at a club, but her now-ex-husband objected. The next day, the woman read that Simmons had appeared at the club as a special guest. She was very disappointed. But in a truly Maui moment, the woman happened to be on the island this week. She snagged some last-minute tickets and not only got to see Simmons perform, but perform Doobie favorites on-stage with Michael McDonald.

A perfect example of what makes going to shows on the island no ka ‘oi (the best).

Story by Suzanne Kayian

Photos by Aubrey Hord

Party on the Pacific

March 2, 2010

Some might say nothing could be better than cruising off the coast of Maui, watching humpback whales breaching and tail-slapping in the crystal blue Pacific. What could be more fun than an afternoon filled with breathtaking views, tropical cocktails and the magnificence of Maui’s gentle giants?

For many, the answer is simple: views, cocktails, whales and music.

Pacific Whale Foundation recently came up with the same answer and enlisted the skills of Maui’s Reggae Ambassador, Marty Dread, for the launch of their Island Rhythms Sunset Cocktail Cruise. Dread hosts the weekly whale-watching party-at-sea, which features jammin’ music and an open-air dance floor in addition to food, drink and spectacular scenery.

Marty–who is a performer, recording artist and DJ–knows how to get a party started and keep it going. When Dread takes the mic, the mood lifts, toes start tapping and all of a sudden, the vessel’s dance floor is packed with whale-watching revelers.

Dread told Rhythm and Views that he has the best job in the world. “I must have been born under a lucky star,” he said. “Playing my music while whale-watching in Hawaii is like a dream.”

The Reggae Ambassador’s infectious smile and enthusiastic attitude–coupled with his flair for party music–adds a unique dimension to the already wondrous experience of watching whales frolic in the blue. Having Marty on-board simply kicks the party up a notch.

A group of vacationing Californians agree, telling R&V that on a recent whale-watch, Marty inspired people to their feet for a dance contest and helped create a party atmosphere with shout-outs to the cruisers. “He even took time to pose with us for photos,” said 21-year-old Gary Molano who is from Santa Cruz, CA.

One of Molano’s friends, 21-year-old Max Smith, won the on-board dance competition during their cruise. As a treat for Smith’s efforts, Dread chopped off the top of a coconut–Hawaiian style–and mixed up a coconut milk and rum cocktail. Both young men agreed that the Island Rhythms whale-watch cruise was one of the highlights their Hawaiian vacation.

Dread said he continues to receive great feedback from passengers who have joined him on the family-friendly musical excursion. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “People of all ages and walks of life are raving about the cruises. Folks sing-a-long and dance to the music, all while seeing lots of whales and enjoying the sunset with nice cocktails and good food. It’s a winning combination!”

The two-hour Island Rhythms Sunset Cocktail Cruise departs from Ma’alaea Harbor every Friday afternoon. To check availability or book an excursion, call Pacific Whale Foundation toll free at (800-942-5311) or locally at (808-249-8811). Reservations also can be made online at PWF’s website.

Marty Dread has been a Maui local since he was eight-years-old. He has recorded several albums including “Marty Dread Live!,” “Keiki Reggae” (featuring Maui school children and a special guest appearance by Pato Banton), and “On The Beach,” which earned the performer his second Na Hoku Hanohano Award nomination for Best Reggae Album of the Year. His latest CD, “The Best of Marty Dread 2003-2009,” is available on the Island Rhythms cruise or at Apple’s iTunes store. Marty also can be heard spinning tunes on several Maui radio stations including Mana’o Radio at 91.5 FM and Q103 FM, The Rhythm of the Islands.

John Cruz, Amy Hanaiali’i Headline 2010 BarryFest

March 2, 2010

Two award-winning artists top the bill of Mana’o Radio’s annual fund-raising fest

Joyce Chin Photography

John Cruz and Amy Hanaiali’i have been tapped to headline Mana’o Radio’s fourth-annual BarryFest concert March 7 at Keopuolani Park Amphitheater in Wailuku, Maui. The Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning artists will be joined on the bill by two of Maui’s most popular rock bands, Vince Esquire Band and The Throwdowns.

BarryFest was launched four years ago in honor of Mana’o Radio co-founder Barry Shannon, who went to the “great studio in the sky” on April 7, 2007. This year’s festival also marks the eighth anniversary of listener-supported Mana’o, which reportedly is one of the few independent free-form live radio stations in the country.

Rhythm and Views recently caught up with Cruz backstage at the annual Whale Day Celebration to chat about his upcoming appearance at BarryFest. He spoke highly about Mana’o Radio, saying he wished there was a similar type of progressive independent station on Oahu, where he lives. Cruz said even though he doesn’t live on Maui, he believes it is important to honor Shannon and to continue supporting his vision for a community-run station that features an eclectic play-list.

The annual all-day music festival also will feature an appearance by the Mana’o Radio Orchestra with special guest Jimi Lee from Austin, TX. Rounding out the eclectic bill will be Soul Concepts, The Haiku Hillbillys, Dr. Nat & Rio Ritmo, Mojo Gumbo, Jazz Cafe Regulators, Gail Swanson, Hula Honeys, DLV Trio – Dorothy, Les and Vince, and Eddie Tanaka and Friends.

Cruz said he expects to sit in with a number of other artists on the BarryFest bill, pointing out the mutually supportive nature of Maui’s music community. Cruz, who is featured on Hanaiali’i’s album “Family & Friends of Hawai’i,” has a long history of lending his talents to other artists including Jack Johnson who invited John to share the stage at the Home States Ball in Washington, D.C., during Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Locally, John joined Cecilio & Kapono on-stage at the Whale Day Celebration. He also was a member of the all-star line-up at Gail Swanson’s recent CD release party at Mulligan’s on the Blue in Wailea. Swanson, whose new album “Simple Truth” features collaborations with Cruz, Willie Nelson, Pat Simmons and Michael McDonald, told R&V when she asked John if she could record his song “Missing You” for her new album, he offered join her in the studio–and on-stage; a perfect example of Hawaii’s musicians stepping up and crossing over to support each other.

BarryFest, dubbed “Maui’s Music Extravaganza of the Year,” is a great opportunity to spread out a blanket, nibble on some “onolicious” food and spend the afternoon listening to good music for a good cause. BarryFest also will feature vendor booths and a silent auction, all presented in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.

Vince Esquire summed it up best, telling R&V simply that “BarryFest is a great family event with good FOOD, FUN and MUSIC!”

Keopuolani Park is located next to the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens on Kanaloa Avenue. Free parking will be available across the street at War Memorial Football Stadium.

Festival gates open at 10:30 a.m. and music starts at 11:00. Tickets will be available at the gate. Additional information is available at the BarryFest website. (The support acts on the bill are subject to change.)

Commercial-free Mana’o Radio (KEAO-LP) broadcasts 24/7 at 91.5 FM, and via the internet at www.ManaoRadio.com. Mana’o Radio is a non-profit (501(c)3) organization funded by listener donations and staffed by volunteers dedicated to informing, educating, and entertaining the Maui community through broadcasts of multi-cultural and community-related programming, according to a statement on the station’s website. Proceeds from BarryFest 2010 will help ensure that Maui’s indie station remains on the air.

As we say at MNKO: You do have a choice – buy local, think local and keep Maui County no ka ‘oi (the best).

A Look Back at the 2009 Maui Concert Scene

February 26, 2010

A memorable year of live music wraps-up the decade

For a small island, Maui has a big music scene.

Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow and Eddie Vedder played the Valley Isle last year; Willie Nelson and Mick Fleetwood traded Mainland arenas for island clubs; and Jimmy Buffett, Journey and Ziggy Marley filled in a few dates on the 2009 concert calender.

Those shows could be ranked for a traditional “best of” year-end list; but Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine’s Rhythm and Views scraped that idea. Instead, we’ve decided to blog about a few stand-out gigs that helped make Maui’s 2009 concert season one to remember.

The most high-profile event of the year—Aerosmith, Oct. 20th at the War Memorial Stadium–also drew one of the biggest island audiences ever.

Poster courtesy of Ryan Immegart

The size of the concert may have made it one of the most memorable of the year, but that doesn’t always equate to the most entertaining. Eddie Vedder‘s June 29 concert at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s Castle Theater arguable deserves that recognition.

The sold-out house was captivated by Vedder who performed a twenty nine -song set that included a number of Pearl Jam tunes and several songs from the solo album he recorded for the movie Into The Wild.

The Pearl Jam frontman also indulged fans with a selection of covers including fan favorites “Last Kiss” from the “No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees” compilation, and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” from the I Am Sam soundtrack.

A solo concert by a compelling entertainer like Vedder can’t be beat. However, on Aug.

Poster courtesy of MySpace Secret Shows

25, Maui resident Willie Nelson—with a variety of support acts–came very close with his “MySpace Secret Show” at Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon in Paia.

Early in the day, fans lined-up around the building, battling intense summer sun for a chance to see Willie at his neighborhood bar. By the time local favorites Gail Swanson and Tom Conway opened the show, the 220-capacity venue was packed to the rafters.

Up next was crossover blues band Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, followed by Seattle-based Band of Horses. Both acts delivered tight sets that were worthy of headlining status. Special guests Woody Harrelson and Marty Dread were icing on the cake.

The moment Willie walked on stage, the memory of the long, sweltering wait in line was vaporized. Standing close enough to touch, the country music icon lead his hand-picked band of Maui musicians through a collection of standards and hits. Once again, the 76-year-old road warrior proved he is worthy to be called a legend.

When a musician like Willie Nelson takes a step back from stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters to perform for a couple of hundred people up-close and personal, magic happens. Fortunately for locals and visitors alike, magic happens quite often on the island.

Outdoor gigs add a bright light to the 2009 concert season

The night of Sheryl Crow‘s April 28 show at the MACC’s temporary amphitheater, it was a stereotypical picturesque island evening.

Crow performed what seemed like all of her hits under a starry Maui sky, prompting huge smiles to spread across the audience like a stadium wave.

The rocker’s catchy songs and enthusiastic stage presence—experienced on a beautiful Maui evening—perfectly exemplified why going to a concert in Maui is no ka ‘oi (Hawaiian for “the best”). It also reminded cynical music fans why Crow shot to the head of the game in 1993 with her debut album, “Tuesday Night Music Club,” and stayed there.

The outdoor amphitheater at the MACC also was the site of the Steve Miller Band‘s Feb. 28 concert.

Miller’s gigs–with hits including “The Joker” and “Fly Like An Eagle”–are always a lot of fun for his fans. That specific show, however, always will be remembered because it was the last time Miller’s long time band-mate, harmonica legend Norton Buffalo, performed on the island.

Buffalo, who died from lung cancer on Oct. 30, was an astonishing harmonica player as well as a highly respected member of the musical community. Several Maui residents, including Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers and Gail Swanson, have had the pleasure of knowing and performing with the virtuoso.

Swanson told Rhythm and Views she could not take her eyes off Buffalo when he played the MACC nearly a year ago. She said he was a special musical soul who had “magic in his step” with “an almost surreal” talent and stage presence.

Maui’s live music fans were treated to some great shows last year. None, however, were more talked about—or more anticipated—than Aerosmith‘s October gig at the War Memorial.
The classic rock band had been scheduled to perform on the island in 2007 but canceled. Angry ticket-holders claimed the band unfairly cut the Maui show to play a more lucrative engagement. The fans filed a lawsuit and were victorious; Aerosmith was ordered to return to the island for a make-up date.

The night of the long-awaited gig, flamboyant frontman Steven Tyler and dynamic guitarist Joe Perry drove the band through an extended set that featured a mix of covers, album cuts and classic hits, including “Dream On,” “Walk This Way” and “Love In An Elevator.”

Despite the long-distance stadium viewing, Tyler’s occasional strained vocals–and the fact that it was a court-ordered show–the band’s ’09 concert in Maui always will be remembered for one singular, simple reason: it was Aerosmith, the epitome of a rock band.

With 2009′s concert fare ranging from classic rockers to country music legends, Maui capped the decade with something special for everyone. Thanks to all the fans, artists, promoters and venues that helped make ’09 an unforgettable year for concert-goers. Let’s do it again in 2010.


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