Phil Lesh & Friends
Great news for Deadheads with Phil Lesh & Friends heading to Maui for a concert in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater on Dec. 29.
A few years after the death of the Grateful Dead’s iconic lead guitarist/singer, Jerry Garcia, Lesh, the band’s legendary bassist, began playing with a rotating ensemble of musician friends. The concept involved bringing into the fold various rockers, soul singers, jazz artists and jam-band folks to reinterpret the Dead’s music.
“I wanted to treat the music like repertory,” Lesh told the Aspen Times. “Bring in different musicians, allow them to read these songs, bring different perspectives to them, mix it up, stretch them out, make them faster, slower. My prime directive was to take it further.”
Drawing from the Dead’s extensive repertoire, Lesh & Friends’ set lists range from standards like “China Cat Sunflower” and “Cassidy,” to “St. Stephen” and “Sugar Magnolia.” Their covers may include Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Friends on the Hawaii tour include the bassist’s son, Grahame Lesh, and Ross James, Scott Law, Alex Koford and Jason Crosby.
Hailed by the Marin Independent Journal as “Marin’s New Super Sideman,” multi-instrumentalist Crosby has previously been a member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and the Susan Tedeschi Band. He also toured with members of the Allman Brothers, and played with Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton.
Guitarist James was a founding member of the band American Jubilee, and has shared the stage with many greats including Warren Haynes, Stanley Jordan and John Mayer. He currently plays regularly with Scott Law & Ross James’ Cosmic Twang and Communion featuring Lesh.
Praised as an “esteemed flatpicker” by Acoustic Guitar, Law is equally inventive on steel strings. He has performed with an array of bluegrass, American roots, rock and jam band luminaries including Phil Lesh & Friends, The String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon.
Grahame Lesh plays guitar and sings with various Bay Area bands including the country-rock group Midnight North, the Terrapin Family Band and Communion.
And drummer Koford plays with Midnight North and his own band, Colonel & the Mermaids.
Before the formation of the Dead, Phil Lesh first played bass with Garcia’s group the Warlocks in 1964. He learned “on the job,” and credits Jefferson Airplane’s bassist Jack Casady as a primary influence. It was Lesh who conceived of one of the Dead’s key innovations – the rock-style jam.
“I like to think I was instrumental in bringing the idea in that you could stretch out these songs, that you could play ‘Midnight Hour’ for 45 minutes,” he explained to the Aspen Times. “I don’t think that occurred to the other members of the band till I played (John) Coltrane, the modal stuff, for them. I had a flash that if you could place that into a rock ‘n’ roll format, it would be revolutionary, and it turned out to be true.”
Fifty years after performing with the Byrds, David Crosby can still mesmerize an audience. Walking out to a standing ovation, the iconic artist proceeded to command the Castle Theater stage on Saturday with just a couple of acoustic guitars (masterfully played), a remarkably strong, distinctive voice and a stream of memorable songs made even more vivid by their solo context.
Promising “weird songs and strange tunings,” he drew from his entire career – ranging from the vintage “Everybody’s Been Burned” (his first decent song with the Byrds he suggested) and the “love song” “Triad,” to two warmly received new songs from forthcoming albums.
Embellished with tales of their genesis, the many highlights included a stunning, a cappela “What Are Their Names,” from his brilliant debut solo release; a magnificent, unadorned “Deja Vu”; a gorgeous “Guinevere”; “Laughing,” which he explained he composed as a tribute to George Harrison; and the encore of “Cowboy Movie,” which he revealed detailed the first breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
And of course, there was political comment with barbs directed at Donald Trump, who Crosby called a “walking intelligence-free zone,” and a reminder of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous warning in 1961 about the rise of the military-industrial complex.
After playing Hawaii, Crosby will head out on the road with his son James Raymond for an 18-date tour. His next album, “Lighthouse,” recorded with Snarky Puppy’s Michael League, will be released in October.
Musician Rickie Lee Jones has added a second show at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. She will play at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10.
Word is that she rarely goes into a show with a set list in mind and vibes the audience for inspiration, so it’s likely each night will be different.
* Tickets are available at the box office, by calling 242-6969 or online at www.mauionstage.com.
Multi-Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner Mark Yamanaka returns to George Kahumoku Jr.’s Masters of Hawaiian Music series at the Napili Kai Beach Resort on Wednesday evening.
Blessed with an exquisite falsetto voice, this Hilo-born artist was a major winner at the Hoku awards in 2011 for his exceptional debut album, “Lei Pua Kenikeni.” He took home Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year and Most Promising Artist of the Year.
Three years later, he delivered “Lei Maile,” another spectacular collection of primarily Hawaiian language compositions. It included a couple of his own original compositions, such as the romantic
hapa haole number “Maui Under Moonlight,” which was inspired by a trip here in 2012.
This album was bestowed with five Hoku awards, including Single of the Year for “Maui Under Moonlight,” Male Vocalist, Hawaiian Album and Album of the Year.
“My mission is to continue doing what I’m doing and stick to traditional Hawaiian music or music with the Hawaiian language,” he says.
* Mark Yamanaka will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Napili Kai Beach Resort’s Aloha Pavilion. George Kahumoku Jr., Peter deAquino, Sterling Seaton and Wainani Kealoha will also perform. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Tickets range from $37.99 to $95 for dinner and show. For more information, visit www.slackkeyshow.com.
The Island Reggae Summer Series continues at Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia with Princess Ilona Irvine and Mahi Crabbe at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Best known for her hit, “Island Boy,” Irvine first became known singing in the group Leahi with Loki Obrero Sasil and Mila Rose Kahahawai. She later released her Jawaiian, island-style album, “Princess.”
* Admission is $15 at the door. For more information, visit www.charleysmaui.com.
Marty Dread has released a catchy new reggae tune, “Home” (Errol Brown Remix). The track was laid by members of the legendary Soul Syndicate band and produced by bassist George “Fully” Fullwood.
It was mixed by iconic Jamaican engineer Errol Brown, who mixed such classic Bob Marley albums as “Uprising” and “Confrontation.” Brown most recently worked with Ziggy Marley and Xavier Rudd.
Concerts coming up in August at the MACC include Lisa Loeb in the McCoy Studio Theater on Aug. 6, and the country duo Thompson Square in the Castle Theater on Aug. 21.
Loeb’s popular songs include “Stay,” “I Do” and “Nine Stories Do You Sleep?” In 1994, Loeb became the first unsigned artist to top the American charts with her single “Stay (I Missed You),” from the soundtrack to the hit movie “Reality Bites.” “Stay” earned Loeb a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance.
Last year, she released the collection of lullabies, “Nursery Rhyme Parade!” on Amazon Music. Gail Swanson will open.
Named Vocal Duo of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in both 2011 and 2012, Thompson Square’s mix of classic rock, country and pop has made the group popular among country music fans.
Composed of husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson, the duo’s first top-charting single (and iTunes Country Song of the Year), “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” has since been certified double platinum.
Shawna was raised in Alabama, where she grew up listening to the likes of Alabama and Reba McEntire, while Oklahoma-born Keifer grew up listening to a diverse range of music from Merle Haggard to heavy metal.
The duo has released two albums, which have produced a combined 10 chart singles on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. Last year, they released one of their most rocking songs, the single “Trans Am.”
* Tickets to the Lisa Loeb performance are $30, $45 and $65 (plus applicable fees). Thompson Square tickets are $45, $65, $85 and $125 (plus applicable fees). For more details, visit www.mauiarts.org.