Maui Connections

Lots of names to drop this week, and lots of help from friends telling me about events I missed as I was busy entertaining family here for a whirlwind visit.

Under stormy skies a week ago, a bolt of lightning and thunderous boom struck during a cover of the Doors classic “Riders On the Storm,” hitting very close to the Yokouchi Founders Court stage at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center during a Celebration of Life for the late Fulton Tashombe, a longtime and well-loved Maui musician.

It felt as though Fulton was there with us, friends told me. There was an outpouring of love and praise along with musical tributes by Jimmy Mac and the Kool Kats, Kelly Covington, Lenny Castellanos and The House Shakers, Maui 8-Track Players and many other singers, dancers and poets.

Kathy Collins and Jimmy Mac emceed the show; delicious food was generously provided by Beverly Gannon’s Celebrations Catering. Bev had spearheaded the heartfelt tribute with help from MACC President and CEO Art Vento.

Among the hundreds in the crowd were Cynthia Conrad and Jerry Labb, Rena Blumberg, Roan Brown, Bill Hensley, Bobbie and Bill Best, Katherine Paet, Paul Alkire, Maury King, Patricia O’Neill and Gibran Vicente.

While Fulton’s musical versatility and talents on keyboards and vocals were amazing, they were matched by the generosity of his spirit and heart, which always came with a lot of humor and a twinkle in his eye, no matter what challenges he faced himself.

*****

The MACC was the setting for thrilling glimpses into the heart and soul of Maori culture in New Zealand Thursday when the Okareka Dance Company presented “Mana Wahine” on the Castle Theater stage.

The 75-minute production surrounded five incredibly strong women dancers with indigenous chants, electronic music, projected images of nature, and powerful lighting effects. It was all watched over by a maternal visitor from the spirit world, whose powerful, benevolent presence added a sense of safety and nurturing.

The dancers evolved before our eyes, from a gaggle of birds to a group of giggling, gossipy girls. Their bodies and the stagecraft created worlds, from a natural, primal forest to a colonized, modern dance club.

The choreography ingeniously utilized everything — huge swaths of parachute fabric, mats the dancers rode like surfboards. Projected light fused magically into living bodies. While the work celebrated many dimensions of being female, beginning with giving birth to new life, its dancers seemed more like forces of nature than mere mortals.

They danced with their hair, they danced with their costumes; choreography and life itself were interchangeable, delighting the local dance crowd including Kathleen and Warren Schulz, Andre Morrisette and Karen Fischer.

*****

Island Realtors shared other talents — besides keeping the local economy rolling right along — Saturday night at the Historical Iao Theater at the RAM’s Got Talent show presented by the Realtors Association of Maui.

Emcee Lisa Teichner kept things lively, sources tell me, as she introduced the singers, musicians, actors and comedians. Jurors Dean Wong, David Ward and Kathy Collins gave inspiring comments to each participant, ultimately giving first place to the rock band “Fred’s Garage,” featuring Ray Chin, Mark Jackson, Jason Jerome and dynamite vocalist Eva Guibert, who’s sensational enough to just use her first name. Other winners were the Deb Vial and Caron Barrett band, Amber Fussle, and audience favorite Jules Trowbridge. Last year’s winner, multitalented singer, musician and dancer Moana Anderson, also performed an inspired number. Cheering on their fellow Realtors were Jim and Kathy Worley, Ken Smith, Beth Holiday, Al Chirarella, and P. Denise LaCosta, who won the prize for donating the most to RAM’s scholarship fund.

*****

Maui filmmaker and festival producer Ken Martinez Burgmaier has been busy lately. Actually, Ken’s busy all the time, but he emailed to say his HawaiiONTV crew had just filmed a segment on the grand opening of the Maui Brewing Co. restaurant in Kihei with founder Garrett Marrero and general managers Orrin Cross of Hula Grill and Noah Yamada of Duke’s Beach House in the full-house crowd that was well fed by Chef Terry Lynch.

Ken also reports that “2307: Winter’s Dream,” the futuristic sci-fi adventure he co-produced, has its world premiere on Netflix with its 95 million subscribers March 1. A winner at seven film festivals, the film has a distribution deal with Vertical Entertainment to show at theaters across the U.S., as well as international distribution in over 12 countries.

It’s viewable on major cable systems around the country along with iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Direct TV and video on demand to an audience of nearly 200 million. You can watch the trailer at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLW1vpPESQk&sns=em.

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and documentary scriptwriter/producer. Contact him at rickchatenever@gmail.com.

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