Psychedelic Americana thrives
The lead guitarist with Grateful Dead spin-off bands, Furthur and Phil Lesh and Friends, and as the co-founder of the Dark Star Orchestra, John Kadlecik has been playing psychedelic Americana for more than 25 years. He will bring his unique blend of Grateful Dead music, assorted covers and original songs to Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia tonight.
One of the foremost interpreters of the Grateful Dead songbook, Kadlecik’s passion for the iconic band’s music was ignited in his teens. Initially enamored with heavy metal and hard rock, the Dead’s adventurous music opened him up to new frontiers.
“It had a major impact,” he recalls. “I had seen live shows –everything from Rush and The Cars to Paul McCartney and the Who. When I saw the Grateful Dead it was, ‘Oh my God, this is really the best thing going. This is it. This is my dance music.’ “
After attending about 50 Dead shows, in 1997 he helped form the Dark Star Orchestra, which was dedicated to playing the complete original set lists in order from various Dead shows.
“I had seen this book called the ‘DeadBase’ that listed set lists of every Grateful Dead show and it was cross-referenced by song,” he says. “It was a back-burner thing and I didn’t think it would be more than a once-a-month house band at the most. It just took off. By the end of our eighth show, people were lined up down the street hoping to get in.”
The Washington Post declared the Dark Star Orchestra, “the hottest Grateful Dead tribute act going,” and USA Today proclaimed the band was “channeling the Dead.”
In time, various members of the Grateful Dead including guitarist/ singer Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, and keyboardists Vince Welnick and Tom Constanten all appeared on stage with the Dark Star Orchestra.
Then in 2009, Kadlecik got a call to join a new band with Dead members Lesh and Weir called Furthur. Named after the famous touring bus used by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in the 1960s, Furthur was an improvisational jam band that performed music primarily from the extensive Grateful Dead songbook as well as new, original music.
“I was part of the brainstorm session when the (Furthur) band name was decided on,” he notes. “I had called my mom to say I got the gig, we’re going to come up with a name and my mom just says, ‘Furthur.’ She had been fascinated with Ken Kesey’s bus. I said, ‘They’re not going to go with that,’ and then it just blew my mind when we were sitting trying to come up with names and Bob Weir says, ‘How about Furthur? I rode that bus to see my first Beatles’ concert at Candlestick Park.’ That was it.”
Kadlecik’s virtuoso guitar playing was singled out in many Furthur show reviews. “There’s no disputing how electric Kadlecik is in the role formerly occupied by Jerry Garcia,” praised Vintage Rock. “His tone is eerily similar, but the execution is unparalleled by so many others who have tried. If you’re really looking for something closer to the real deal, Kadlecik is pretty much on the mark. It’s no wonder Furthur has lasted this long.”
“As one of rock’s most dangerously underrated rhythm guitarists, Weir delivered lead riffs that allow Garcia doppelganger John Kadlecik to reach stunning heights,” praised the Denver Post.
“We played Madison Square Garden and a bunch of New Year’s shows in San Francisco,” Kadlecik says “We did 60 to 70 shows a year for about five years, and I’m proud we did a whole album’s worth of brand new songs. It was very beautiful, enriching and educational.”
Kadlecik ended up collaborating with Weir, composing the hypnotic song “Desert Trance” with lyrics by Indi Riverflow, which was included on his 2014 album “Liquid Silver Live.”
“Bob had lyrics from a lyricist I had never heard of and Bob and I worked up the chorus,” he explains. “I reached out to this lyricist and we wrote a whole mess of songs together and then it fell apart in a really hard way. The guy just imploded and I couldn’t imagine singing his words anymore.”
For his Charley’s show, Kadlecik will perform solo with a repertoire, “that’s very deep in the Grateful Dead realm, but it’s very broad in the general classic psychedelic rock, soul, funk, fusion stuff,” he says. “I can start off acoustic (guitar), but I also do electric sounds and even get into drums, bass and keyboard sounds, and layer them with looping. If I don’t have a band, I can play every song I know which is somewhere north of 300 or 400 songs. I can take chances and get adventurous.”
Halloween in Lahaina will include free entertainment in the Banyan Tree Park and Campbell Park. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., DJ Serna will spin tunes in the Banyan Tree Park, followed by an announcement of the Halloween costume contest winners.
At Campbell Park, DJ Zinn will entertain from 4 to 5:45 p.m. and the band Luna Overdrive performs from 8 to 8:30 p.m.
Playing at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea last week, Eric Gilliom was blown away to hear legendary composer Burt Bacharach praise his performance. Acclaimed for many hit songs from “Walk on By” and “What the World Needs Now is Love” to “This Guy’s in Love With You,” Bacharach spent two hours enjoying Eric’s music.
“He sat right in front of me and gave me a smile,” says Eric. “He said, ‘I absolutely love your arrangements and the way you approach songs.’ “
Earlier Eric had equally impressed another music legend, Neil Diamond, who had invited him to perform at a private remembrance ceremony. Auditioning for Diamond, Eric played his lovely song “Back to Honopo.”
“He said, ‘I don’t need to hear anymore, I want you to play that song at the ceremony.’ He said, “it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.’ He wrote me this beautiful, heartfelt note.”
And another famous musician last week made it to Fleetwood’s on Front St. — Doors’ drummer John Densmore, who sat in with Mick Fleetwood, Gretchen Rhodes, Eric Gilliom, and the House Shakers.
“It was fun to play with both Mick and him together,” says Shakers’ bassist Lenny Castellanos.
Densmore joined in on Door’s classics “Riders on the Storm” and “Roadhouse Blues.”
“He sounded great,” says Lenny. “He wants to come back.”
Hailed by the Washington Post as, “a virtuoso who begins where others leave off,” acclaimed concert pianist Stephen Hough will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului.
Widely regarded as one of the most important and distinctive pianists of his generation, Hough has composed works for orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble and solo piano. Many of his Grammy-nominated albums have garnered international prizes, and he was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant.
His recording of the complete works for piano and orchestra by Saint-Saens, was named by The Times in the U.K. as the finest classical recording of the last 30 years. He is also a prize-winning poet and painter.
The Liverpool-born pianist won the Naumberg International Piano Competition in New York when he was 21. Since winning the Naumburg first prize in 1983, he has appeared regularly with most of the major American and European orchestras under a range of leading conductors.
Hough was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.
His Maui concert will include works by Debussy, Chopin and Beethoven. The Debussy pieces include “Clair de Lune,” “Images, Book II — Cloches a travers les feuilles,” “Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut,” and “Poissons d’or;” and “Images, Book I — Reflets dans l’eau,” “Hommage a Rameau” and “Mouvement.”
The concert also features Chopin’s “Sonata No. 2 in B minor. Op. 35,” and will close with Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57.”
“From the moment he walks onstage, erect and beautifully turned out in a dark Nehru jacket, he radiates a higher sense of purpose,” noted a Vanity Fair profile.
“A priest once said to me, ‘Think of a priest going to the altar as you walk out on the stage,’ “ Hough says. “I would hate to think that anyone thought I was coming to preach. But art and music open up things that you can’t put into words. It’s about bringing joy when you go out there.”
* Hough performs at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului. Tickets are $12, $45 and $65 (plus applicable fees). For more information or to purchase tickets, call 242-7469 or visit the box office or www.mauiarts.org.