Welcome to paradise

Hawaiian music takes center stage this week

Acclaimed Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musician Kainani Kahaunaele delights at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets are $30 with half-price for keiki 12 and younger (plus applicable fees). For tickets and more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the MACC

Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musician Kainani Kahaunaele is acclaimed for celebrating the Hawaiian language through the art of songwriting and poetry and as a teacher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

“My passion is to perpetuate Hawaiian culture in a way that is more authentic and to promote Hawaiian language and Hawaiian composition,” reported the Kauai-born musician, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC.

Raised by her grandparents, Kahaunaele grew up surrounded by generations of talent, which was passed down from her great-great grandmother, Makaleka Na’e’a, great-grandmother Rev. Margaret Kaluahine Panui, grandmother Kanani Kahaunaele and mother Ipo Kahaunaele.

She initially played ukulele and sang. She later studied for a degree in Hawaiian Studies at the UH- Hilo and began singing professionally and composing traditional songs.

Kahaunaele’s debut CD, “Na’u ‘Oe,” earned her Hoku Awards in 2004 for Female Vocalist of the Year, Most Promising Artist and Hawaiian Language Performance. The songs reflected her love for Kauai and her family.

Eric Sardinas brings his 2019 Hawaii Tour to the McCoy Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Photo courtesy the artist

With eight nominations for her second album, ” ‘Ohai ‘Ula,” she won Hokus for Haku Mele and Hawaiian Language Performance.

Blessed with a beautiful voice, on ” ‘Ohai ‘Ula” Kahaunaele delights with a selection of mostly original Hawaiian songs, both traditional sounding and more contemporary, with subtle jazz and pop influences.

Her proficiency as a “haku mele” or “chant” composer led to artists such as Weldon Kekauoha, Aaron Sala and Na Leo Pilimehana recording her songs, while a number of hula halau have danced to her music, including kumu hula Keali’i Reichel’s Halau Ke’alaokamaile at Merrie Monarch Festival in 2009.

Last year, she was part of the Playing For Change international roster of artists, singing a medley of “Natural Mystic” and “Just a Little Bit,” along with Jack Johnson and Paula Fuga on the album “Listen to the Music.”

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Legendary musician Henry Kapono Ka’aihue continues his “Artist 2 Artist Concert Series” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theater in Kahului with a special show focusing on his latest album, “Welcome 2 My Paradise.”

For more than 45 years, this Grammy-nominated artist has captivated fans with a stream of memorable songs, and this new collection highlights his talent across genres — from the infectious island reggae of “Everything” and the Caribbean lilt of “Forever Man,” to the catchy rocker “Long Train” and the sweet ballads “Love You Forever” and “4 Ever & 4 Always.”

Composed while he was travelling and inspired by his many fans around the world, he explains: “It’s really about my travels and my love for the islands. I wrote a song called ‘Hello New York’ at the airport. I had a layover and I wrote several of the songs in New York on my way to Amsterdam.”

The album’s standout track, the anthemic, folky “America,” reflects his journeys across our nation.

“It’s a travel song about being at different places throughout my career,” he explains. “And ‘Long Train’ is about me being on this train for a long time — 40 something years and it’s still running strong.”

On the moving, closing “Celebrate,” Kapono offers gratitude for the gifts of life.

“It’s about being thankful for all the things that we take for granted like the earth, the sky and the ocean, celebrating it every day,” he says. “We live in paradise.”

“Welcome 2 My Paradise” was recorded before he released his previous album, “The Songs of C&K,” which featured collaborations with a bunch of younger, award-winning artists.

Kapono’s MACC show will range from his classic hits to his latest songs as he tells stories behind them. The series will continue with Brother Noland on March 29, and with Amy Hanaiali’i on April 20.

• Kapono presents “Welcome 2 My Paradise” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $35, $45 and $65 (plus applicable fees). Those purchasing tickets to all three of the remaining series concerts are eligible for a discount available through Feb. 28. MACC members receive a 20 percent discount and the general public receives a 10 percent discount. For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.maui arts.org.

The “Welcome 2 My Paradise” album is available at www.henrykapono.com and at www.welcometotheislands.com.

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The Hawaii-based group Brunch will headline the Maui AIDS Foundation’s annual Mardi Gras Maui fundraiser on Saturday at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. Brunch features Hoku award-nominated musicians Izik and Evan Khay, “American Idol” Season 11 contestant DeAndre Brackensick and Jen JRoQ Wright of the duo Simple Souls.

Along with Brunch, the Maui group Swing Star will serenade guests during dinner. Known for its European-style gypsy swing jazz, Swing Star comprises Marcus Johnson on bass, Mike Guzalak on clarinet, Steve Elliott and Loren Tilley on guitars.

Mardi Gras Maui will take place at the Waikapu Ballroom of the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu beginning at 5:30 p.m.

V.I.P. tickets for the event’s Kings Feast are $140, and include dinner, a silent auction, a photo booth and admission to the DJ Afterparty featuring DJs Kurt and Playfire Ono. Tickets to the Afterparty only are available for $20 in advance or $30 at the door. Tickets are on sale at www.Maui AIDS.org and in person at Maui AIDS Foundation, 1935 Main Street, Suite 101, Wailuku.

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An acclaimed musician who specializes in playing acoustic and electrified resonator guitars, Eric Sardinas is known for his incendiary blues/rock style.

“I’ve had such a deep respect for soul and funk and blues,” he says. “I was listening to ‘Blind Lemon’ Jefferson, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. It was the emotional connection and the complexity in the simplicity.”

Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars. They became popular in the late 1920s attracting blues, bluegrass and Hawaiian musicians.

“It’s a guitar that looks like it’s got a hub cap on it,” Sardinas explains. “The slide element of it is very human and emotionally packed for me. I’ve pushed it into the electric side and also use it acoustically. If you don’t have your own voice with blues, then you’re not really saying anything. I’m fortunate that I have found my own voice within the music because I definitely have something to say.”

Sardinas brings his 2019 Hawaii Tour to the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Any fans of Johnny Winter’s fiery rocking blues style should not miss Sardinas and his powerhouse trio. Playing guitar since the age of 6, his initial passion for music was sparked attending an Elvis Presley concert.

“It left a powerful impression,” he says. “He more than mesmerized me with his energy on stage. Music became a big part of my life.”

Sardinas honored the king on his “Eric Sardinas and Big Motor” CD with a cover of “Burning Love,” and transformed Presley’s 1958 blues hit, “Trouble,” on his most recent “Boomerang” album.

Over the years, this virtuoso guitarist has had opportunities to jam with idols like B.B. King, Johnny Winter (who guests on his album “Treat Me Right”) and Steve Vai, who claimed: “Eric Sardinas is revolutionary. He plays the dobro like the devil plays your mind. His intensity will possess your very soul.”

As a guest guitarist, he’s recorded with Meat Loaf and legendary blues pianist Pinetop Perkins, and he was part of the “Hey Bo Diddley — A Tribute!” collection.

“While he pays homage to the music that inspires him, Sardinas is a fiery super nova that performs with a personalized blend of soulful musicality and showmanship,” praised Vintage Guitar. “He and his band, Big Motor, unleash high-intensity blues-rock with an earthy accessibility and raw power driven by his resonator.”

• The Eric Sardinas Band plays the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $45 and $60 (plus applicable fees). For tickets and more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.

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Grammy-winning guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. just rocked “Saturday Night Live” channeling Prince on “Pearl Cadillac” from his forthcoming album “This Land” and delivering a fiery live version of the title track. He will play the Castle Theater at the MACC at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 21.

• Tickets are $44, $54, $64 and $150 for VIP (prices increase on day of show; plus applicable fees). For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.

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