North South East West Festival presents Jaap Blonk

Ebb & Flow Arts will present free concerts on Friday and Saturday as part of its North South East West Festival 2013.

Friday’s concert at the Iao Congregational Church will feature avant-garde Dutch performance artist Jaap Blonk. An acclaimed composer, voice performer and sound poet, Blonk combines the music of poetry, the humor of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” and the made-up sounds of jazz scat.

Championing sound poetry for more than 30 years, in the late 1970s Blonk took up the saxophone and started to compose music. A few years later he discovered the power and flexibility of his voice.

Blonk has developed into a prolific writer/composer and a specialist in the performance of sound poetry, enhanced by a powerful stage presence and freedom of improvisation.

“The history of sound poetry as an art form goes back about 100 years,” Blonk explained in an interview. “A nice thing about sound poetry is that it can stimulate the imagination of each individual listener in a different way, as they are freed from the dictatorship of words. As I entered this no-man’s land between music and poetry about 30 years ago, I felt very much at home. I became aware of an enormous freedom to create, not hampered by any given rules.”

A Chicago Reader review noted: “As serendipitous or profound as improvised music can be, it’s not always the most scintillating thing to watch. That’s why a live show by Dutch sound artist Jaap Blonk – an extreme vocal acrobat who takes great pride in the strange expressions he can twist from his singular mug while he’s performing – is a treat.”

“Blonk’s avant-garde performances channel the provocatively pioneering nonsense of Dadaism,” praised a San Francisco Weekly review. “His work is tremendously complex, but his brilliance makes it easy to think the opposite.”

Besides his solo work, Blonk is the founder and leader of Splinks, a 15-piece orchestra playing his compositions, and Braaxtaal, an avant-rock trio with synthesizer and drums. He is also a workshop leader who has taught in many different countries, often working with children.

For his Maui show, he will recite from memory one of the first and major sound poems, “Ur Sonate” by Kurt Schwitters, a 20-minute composition. The program will also include Blonk’s original composition, “Dr. Voxoid,” and works by John Cage.

On Saturday, Ebb & Flow Arts presents a concert featuring works on flute, viola and harp at Makawao Union Church. The program includes compositions by such renowned composers as Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Scriabin, Gabriel Faure, Claude Debussy, Edgar Varese and Malcolm Arnold.

The works will be performed by Honolulu-based musicians Susan McGinn, principal flutist of Hawaii Symphony, and violist Colin Belisle of the Hawaii Symphony, along with Russian harpist Tatyana Shapiro-Leiste, who studied at St. Petersburg Conservatory, and pianist Beatrice Scorby, a graduate of Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

A central work on this program is Claude Debussy’s ground-breaking classic, “Sonate for Flute, Viola, and Harp.”

* Jaap Blonk performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Iao Congregational Church in Wailuku. He will present an “informance” about his work at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Kaunoa Senior Center in Sprecklesville, and will offer workshops to 3rd-grade students at Kihei Elementary School.

The flute, viola and harp concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Makawao Union Church. Both concerts are free.

The Willie K Blues Band plays Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei at 10 p.m. Friday ($10 admission). Willie has a new album out, “Twisted Ukulele,” which includes a bunch of great covers like U2’s “With or Without You” and Hall & Oates’ “Sarah Smile,” along with Hawaiian classics such as “Koke’e” and “Hawaiian Cowboy.”

Saturday night, reggae musician Mishka will play a dinner show. Mishka’s latest CD “Ocean is my Potion,” features Jimmy Buffet on two tracks.

The godfather of Britain’s blues-rock movement, John Mayall performs tonight in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater. Another acclaimed British blues musician, Kim Simmonds, will open the show.

Hailed by Guitar Player as “the real deal, one of British guitar’s elder statesmen,” Simmonds rose to fame as founder of the Savoy Brown band at a time when many British musicians began their celebrated careers immersed in blues.

Turned on to American blues by his older brother, Simmonds recalled: “I was listening to John Lee Hooker and Lightning Hopkins’ records. At 13, John Lee Hooker was pretty heavy, very primitive, emotional stuff.”

Hooked by the raw power of the music, Simmonds felt driven to play the blues.

“I’ve always carried the ability to translate emotion through the instrument,” he notes. “That was my main calling card in the ’60s, hammer the emotional side of it. And as the ’70s developed I got more smoother sounding, and nowadays I work harder at the emotional side.”

In the mid-to-late ’60s, a number of British groups dedicated themselves to striving for authenticity – which meant imitating the sound of the legendary bluesmen of the Mississipi Delta and Chicago. Simmonds joined such guitar luminaries as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor and Peter Green in this passionate quest.

“In England there was this build up, people were trying to get American music right, like people were trying to get American jazz right in the ’50s,” he explains. “We got the blues right, and a number of things led to it all peaking in the ’60s.”

Formed in 1966 in London, The Savoy Brown Blues Band, as they were originally known, gradually evolved from playing straight blues to more of a rock boogie-blues-based sound which earned them great success in America.

Their third album, “Blue Matter,” struck gold, featuring their signature song, the tour de force “Train to Nowhere,” with its driving buildup and pounding train-whistle climax.

After a number of group members left to form Foghat, Simmonds rebuilt Savoy Brown and “Street Corner Talking,” released in 1971, brought the band increased success with the hits “Tell Mama” and their reworking of the Motown classic, “I Can’t Get Next to You.”

In 2011, Simmonds celebrated 45 years of touring with Savoy Brown, releasing the album, “Voodoo Moon.”

“This is a great listen for anyone who enjoys classic Chicago blues married to British rock in legendary style,” praised a Seattle Post Intelligencer review.

And judging by concert reviews, Simmonds still shines on stage. “Reeling off the hottest kinds of blues licks like they were going out of style, Simmonds was superb,” praised Albany’s The Daily Gazette. “Make no mistake about it, Simmonds isn’t just up on his game, he just gets better with age.”

* The John Mayall Band will perform at 7:30 tonight at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater. Kim Simmonds opens. Tickets are $45, $50 and $55. Tickets are available by visiting the box office, calling 242-7469 or online at