Sweet Judy blue eyes

Ethereal-voiced Collins beguiles Maui audience

Legendary songstress Judy Collins performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului. Local musician Benny Uyetake will open the show. Tickets are $40, $45, $55 and $65 (plus applicable fees). For information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the artist

Legendary songstress Judy Collins performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului. Local musician Benny Uyetake will open the show. Tickets are $40, $45, $55 and $65 (plus applicable fees). For information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the artist

Back in the late 1960s after Stephen Stills encountered Judy Collins, he immortalized their love affair in his classic song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Fifty years later the two musician friends decided to team for an album “Everybody Knows” that revives songs from their individual works.

“When we started singing together to practice this album, Stephen said, ‘We should have done this right from the beginning,’ “ says Collins. ” ‘We should have skipped the romance.’ But I said, ‘But then you wouldn’t have written ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.’ “

Along with a lovely version of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and Sandy Denny’s sublime “Who Knows Where the Times Goes,” the album includes Collins’ new original “River of Gold,” and a song Stills wrote many years ago for her, “Judy.”

In recent years, Collins has been creatively prolific earning praise for her 2015 album “Strangers Again,” which featured duets with stellar friends like Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald and Jackson Browne. And last year she was nominated for a Grammy for Best Folk Album for the acclaimed “Silver Skies Blue,” where she collaborated with singer-songwriter Ari Hest.

Performing for more than five decades, at the age of 78 Collins can still enchant audiences with her amazing voice that still sounds as ethereal and emotive as ever.

Ray Benson (from left), Dave Mason, Willie K and Michael McDonald jammed during the “Willie K Blues Fest” last weekend. Jon Woodhouse photo

Ray Benson (from left), Dave Mason, Willie K and Michael McDonald jammed during the “Willie K Blues Fest” last weekend. Jon Woodhouse photo

“When she walked on stage, it was as if she had descended from the heavens, her flowing silver hair cascading over an elegant wardrobe whose sparkle matched her smile,” noted a Napa Valley Register review.

Raised in Denver, Colo., Collins began performing in local clubs before moving to New York in the early 1960s to become a bright light in the city’s mushrooming folk scene.

“It was like a dazzling dream, there were so many talented people and so much good music,” she recalls. “I got to hear these artists when they were first writing songs. It was an amazing time.”

Bob Dylan was one of her contemporaries and by her Grammy-nominated third album in 1963, she began recording Dylan songs including a superb version of “Masters of War.”

It was another legendary composer, Leonard Cohen, who encouraged her to start writing her own songs, and she had a hit with Cohen’s signature song “Suzanne.”

Collins major breakthrough came in 1967 with Joni Mitchell’s song “Both Sides Now,” which earned her a Grammy. A version of the gospel song “Amazing Grace” brought her another hit in the early 1970s. And she then enjoyed great success with her version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.” The song earned her a Grammy nomination and Sondheim won Song of the Year.

Over the years her repertoire has expanded to range from Broadway standards and Beatles’ classics to country music.

“I’m very eclectic,” says Collins. “I’m not a folk singer. I love the material and being associated with the politics and the time and the social movement, but I sing all kinds of songs. I’m really a contemporary singer who chooses songs from every genre.”

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It was a night of classic songs when Willie K invited some special friends to perform with him and the Warehouse Blues Band last Saturday at his blues festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. From Alice Cooper singing the Door’s “Backdoor Man” and Willie with B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone,” to Dave Mason (who announced he has a home here now) with “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” other classic nuggets included Michael McDonald with a rousing version of Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789,” and Pat Simmons with Elmore James “Shake Your Moneymaker.”

Bob Seger’s saxophonist Alto Reed blazed on “Old Time Rock and Roll”; Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson took us to “Route 66”; and Gretchen Rhodes soared on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” A new member of the Warehouse Blues Band, Rhodes was one of the night’s highlights energizing every song on which she sang. Closing with a mass jam on the Beatle’s “Come Together,” the show was a tribute in a way to Willie K’s phenomenal musicianship and his ability to attract so many star friends to honor him.

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Maui’s Maoli will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special concert at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lahaina Civic Center. Helping them celebrate will be Nuff Sedd, Sly Dog and TFlatz.

Influenced by Kapena and Bob Marley, Maoli released its debut album, “Groovin,” in 2008, which featured soulful songs like “No One,” “Write Me A Letter” and the up-tempo title track.

They followed up in 2010 with “Rock Easy,” filled with memorable, original songs from the infectious title song to the sweet ballad “Whisper.” Their third album “Arise” solidified their popularity as a major island reggae talent able to attract fans beyond Hawaii. Standout tracks included “Don’t Miss Me When I’m Gone,” “Blew It” featuring Fiji, and a cool remake of James Ingram’s “One Hundred Ways.”

In 2015, Maoli released the seven-track EP “One Eighty,” packed with more winners from the tender “Fight the Rain” to the uplifting “Sun Will Shine.” Their latest, the compilation “The Best of Maoli,” was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano Award last year.

Following their Lahaina show, they will travel to New Zealand in late January for the two-day One Love Festival (along with Maui’s Anuhea), which features Shaggy, Black Uhuru, Aswad and Fiji.

* Maoli’s anniversary concert is presented at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lahaina Civic Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and are available from YNUV in Kahului and Mr. Subs in Lahaina and $35 at the show.

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Before her Castle Theater concert, Grammy-winning singer Lisa Fischer will present a free vocal workshop in the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. Fischer, who has performed with the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Sting, will lead participants in exercises designed to explore their own style as a lead singer. The class is limited to 25 students. To register, email Kahulu Maluo: kahulu@mauiarts.org or call 243-4269.

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Four-time Na Hoku Hanohano Female Vocalist of the Year winner Natalie Ai Kamau’u will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater.

Kamau’u began her career when she was a teenager, singing alongside her father, Howard Ai, for Halau Hula Olana. In time, she was awarded the title Miss Aloha Hula at the Merrie Monarch Festival.

Gifted with a beautiful voice, Kamau’u’s debut album, ” ‘E,” featured her husband Iolani on vocals and instrumentation. It included original songs and a cover of Don (“American Pie”) McLean’s “And I Love You So,” and won her Female Vocalist of the Year.

She followed that honor with two more Female Vocalist of the Year winning albums, and in 2014 she won a Hoku for Anthology Album for “Eia” (“Here”). Her most recent recording, “La La La La,” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album.

* Kamau’u performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $40 (plus applicable fees). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go to www.mauiarts.org.

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Nominated for Album of the Year Grammys in 2017 as a co-producer for both Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Justin Bieber’s “Purpose,” Grammy winning DJ Diplo returns to Maui to play the MACC’s Events Lawn at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

One of the most sought after DJs in the world, he’s packed clubs from Trinidad to Australia, and London to South Africa.

“Whether it’s Angolan kuduro, Brazilian baile funk or ‘trash ’80s music that gets your booty shaking, no one gets the party started like Diplo,” praised a U.K. Guardian review.

Diplo (aka Wesley Pentz) first found fame when he produced M.I.A’s mega-hit “Paper Planes,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. He later crafted remixes for such stars as Kanye West, Brittany Spears, Gwen Stefani, Bruno Mars and Santigold. He also co-produced Madonna’s 2015 album, “Rebel Heart.”

The co-creator and lead member of the dancehall music group Major Lazer, he formed the electronic duo Jack U with producer/DJ Skrillex. In 2016, the duo won two Grammy Awards for Best Dance Album for “Skrillex and Diplo present Jack U” and Best Dance Recording for Justin Bieber’s “Where Are U Now?”

Major Lazer’s latest EP “Know No Better,” features collaborations with Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello, soca artist Machel Montano, reggae star Sean Paul, rappers Quavo and Travis Scott, and Brazilian singer Anitta. Major Lazer’s hit “Lean On,” was proclaimed by Spotify as the most streamed song of all time, with more than one billion streams globally.

* Diplo spins at 6 p.m. Sunday at the MACC’s Events Lawn. Advance tickets are $35, $45 and $65 (plus applicable fees). Prices increase $5 on day of show. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go to www.mauiarts.org.

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