Music highlights 2012

Besides amazing concerts, highlights of 2012 included Mick Fleetwood finally realizing his dream of opening a restaurant/club on Maui.

In an interview in July, Fleetwood Mac’s legendary drummer explained how he hoped to rekindle the glory days of Lahaina’s entertainment scene. “This was obviously meant to be,” he said. “Lahaina was buzzing (in the past) and it just isn’t now. I’m hopeful that we can really do fun stuff here.”

And thus Fleetwood’s on Front St. opened in style in late August with Aerosmith’s charismatic lead vocalist, Steven Tyler, and blues great, Jonny Lang, joining Island Rumours Band for some major rocking.

The year opened with saxophonist Maceo Parker joyously funking the wonderful new Yokouchi Pavilion / Courtyard at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) in Kahului.

“I chose the funky side because there’s no restriction, you don’t have to be quiet and sit there and listen,” explained the former James Brown musician. “If you feel like getting your dance on and clapping your hands, and just party, party, it’s really good with that funky music.”

February opened with the angelic, sacred chanting of Snatam Kaur, who mesmerized her Makawao Union Church audience (including Oprah).

On Maui to record an album with Grammy-nominated pianist Peter Kater, she reported, “I believe you can have real and profound transformations in your life through chanting. These words are essentially positive affirmations of the divine being within you, and they can break through blocks.”

Among the reggae greats visiting our shores, Third World played the Hawaii Unite Music Festival at the MACC.

Talking about their latest album “Patriots,” featuring collaborations with veteran reggae artists and some younger musicians, Third World’s Cat Coore explained, “We see ourselves as patriots in a way because we have done 38 years of Jamaican music.

“We also saw many of the guests as patriots too, so it’s a coming together of Jamaican patriots, and with the kids, putting forward our vision of who could be the next set of Jamaican greats.”

Making her Maui debut in March, innovative classical pianist Soyeon Lee’s passion for environmental issues led her release a CD with a case made from recycled Frito-Lay chip bags.

Inspired to take up the eco cause attending a “Live Earth Concert for Climate Crisis,” she reported, “I saw how music has the power to bring people together and send important messages. I felt I could bring my own revolution in a smaller way in my concerts.”

Popular troubadour Jimmy Buffett brought his “Welcome to Fin Land Tour” to the MACC in March to jubilant applause. Talking about his ongoing series of live soundboard, destination CDs, he explained, “I never really focused on trying to have hit records. I knew my strongest asset was being a live performer, so I concentrated more on that and giving the best bang for the buck.”

Reggae star Ziggy Marley called for a revolution of consciousness on his latest CD, “Wild and Free.” “It’s an evolution of the idea of what revolution is,” Ziggy explained before his MACC show.

“There’s one revolution that seems to be not happening and that’s a personal revolution where human beings evolve and change from within their own selves. Where is the revolution that will cause love? This is the revolution we speak about.”

Phenomenally talented singer/guitarist Raul Midon enthralled a MACC crowd with his remarkable artistry. Often hailed as a genius, the blind musician noted: “It wasn’t like, you know, natural blind genius. In order to be good you have to go at it day after day, year after year. There’s been such a shift in values these days where people expect to get things quickly, they expect everything right now.”

April saw jazz trombone virtuoso Delfeayo Marsalis perform at the Grand Wailea’s Tsunami Club. He talked about growing up in a celebrated household in New Orleans with his famous brothers Branford and Wynton Marsalis. “Branford and Wynton were in the first generation of students that weren’t forcibly bused to integrated schools,” he recalled. “My parent’s generation and the generation before had struggled so much. We never missed school and always did our homework, but when we got our horns we went crazy.”

And then we saw Jack Johnson teamed with friends John Cruz and Paula Fuga playing a super cool Kokua Foundation benefit at the MACC.

Known for his extraordinary generosity, Jack said, “I can’t believe that I can actually make a living doing something I love so much. One of the best parts is being able to raise awareness and money for things you believe in. The best kind of shows are where people are coming and realizing that the tickets they bought are raising money for programs that benefit kids. What’s better than that?”

Prog rock veterans Yes brought their classic symphonic sound to the Castle Theater in April. Drummer Alan White talked about his pre-Yes days when he got a call from John Lennon. “I picked up the phone and thought it was a friend of mine playing around,” White recalled.

“He said, ‘It really is John Lennon. I think you’d be great for this gig I have in Toronto.’ A limo picked me up and there was Yoko and John at the airport. And then he says, ‘I forgot to tell you Eric Clapton is playing guitar.’ That’s when Eric walked in.”

New Zealand-born musician L.T. Smooth was among the artists playing the 21st annual Ki-ho’alu Slack Key Guitar Festival in June. An exceptional guitarist, he explained, “I just play from my soul and if I can even just touch one person, it doesn’t matter how good I can play, it’s about the message. I was fighting for so many years of my life. Now my hands are for music and love.”

Brother Noland played songs from his latest “Greatest Hits 2” CD at Duke’s Beach House in Kaanapali. Discussing his broad stylistic approach he noted, “When you pioneer and explore, you take a risk. Everything for me is Hawaiian music and it’s coming from one Hawaiian, and it’s coming from my inside not my outside.”

In July, Melissa Etheridge mightily rocked the MACC. “The live shows have become so much fun because of my new (CD) songs,” she reported. “I kept thinking for some reason I needed to settle down, but I said, no, rocking is what I do best and what I love to do and when I go out and play live that’s what I do. That was the order of the day, to just keep rocking.”

Celebrating his 30th year of sharing hula and music on Maui, kumu hula Uluwehi Guerrero presented a spectacular show in the Castle Theater in September. Reminiscing about his early days in the trio Maui O Kama with Keali’i Reichel and Onuffre Eleccion, he recalled, “We got our first gig at the Kapalua Bay Hotel. Our pay was eating brunch and $25. Then we got our first night-time gig at Piero’s (now Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli in Makawao). It was $25 and all the Coke we could drink. But it really wasn’t all about the money, it was the passion that we had and the love we had and I think that is missing (today).”

The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue delivered one of the year’s most memorable shows last October, with a teaming of Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs on their collective hits and soul classics. “One of the things I like the most is playing on Boz and Donald’s songs,” McDonald noted. “I’ve always enjoyed their music and of course playing the old stuff is one of the things I love the most.”

The unique Canadian Indo/Celtic fusion band Delhi 2 Dublin hosted an exhilarating dance party at the MACC’s Pavilion in October. “One of our M.O.s is to have a party that brings people together and it’s a bit of science now for us how we do that,” explained band co-founder Tarun Nayar.

Hawaiian slack key guitar virtuoso Keola Beamer performed music from his superb Grammy-nominated CD “Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love)” in November, alongside Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai and jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer.

“I do believe this is some of my best work,” he said before the sublime show. “This is a time in my life when I’m really trying to get it right and I feel a great responsibility to try to do work of quality. I’ve just followed my heart and tried to do what was real to me.”

Makana was also recently nominated for a Grammy for his contribution to “The Descendants” soundtrack. He presented a wonderful show in December accompanied by musicians Lono and Lopaka. “The (movie) music supervisor was looking for a piece of music for a key scene,” he reported. “They specifically wanted slack key, but everything was so happy. They found my song ‘Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest,’ which is very dark and brings up a lot of deep emotions. The director loved it.”

And finally, also notable in December, Murray Thorne presented an ambitious, solo performance of Pink Floyd’s epic, “The Wall,” at Stella Blues Cafe. Some people enthused that it felt as if they attended an actual Floyd show.

“Besides being a big fan of the album, I really like the story it tells,” Thorne said. “Roger Waters loosely based the character on himself. He grows up and rebels and becomes a rock star and builds an emotional wall to close himself off from the world and in the end he has to tear his wall down.”