Taking inspiration from the incendiary teaming of guitar virtuosos John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and Paco De Lucia back in the early 1980s, the Lima Wela trio is set to ignite McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Friday evening.
The combined acoustic guitar power of Willie K, Joe Cano and Avi Ronen has already generated standing ovations whenever they play, including their debut in late February opening for War, where they generated more electricity than the famous rock/funk headliners.
"The shows have been well received by those who have not seen anything like it before," notes Willie K. "We're pretty much in the embryonic stage of the John McLaughlin-Paco De Lucia-Al DiMeola routine. A lot of people here in the islands have not really seen that. They've heard about it, they probably have the CD, but not seen it live on stage. We're getting standing ovations after every tune; people are just going nuts over it."
Joe Cano (from left), Willie K and Avi Ronen
In 1980, jazz fusion legends John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola teamed with flamenco master Paco De Lucia for an extraordinary acoustic guitar summit immortalized in the recording "Friday Night in San Francisco." This fiery British/American/Spanish collaboration also produced a sequel, "The Guitar Trio."
Lima Wela draws from their cross-cultural meld fusing Willie K's Hawaiian heritage with Joe Cano's Mexican roots and Avi Ronen's Israeli tradition into what they call a Pacific Mediterranean sound.
"It's always cool to play with Joe and then combining it with the style of Avi with his influence from Israel and the Middle East, it's amazing," Willie continues.
At A Glance
WHAT: Lima Wela, in concert
WHERE: McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center
WHEN: Friday 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $36, plus applicable fees, available at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org
Willie and Jo share a musical history that reaches back almost 30 years to the days of jamming at Lahaina's old Travel Lodge. "Then I could only play 'Little Grass Shack' and 'Blue Hawaii,'" Willie jokes.
"It's been great playing with him all over again like when I first met him," adds Joe. "It's like here we go again. We've had five gigs already. We play a couple of songs that we wrote each and collaborate on ideas. It's been real fun and colorful."
All three musicians contribute equally bringing their individual strengths and varied creative influences to the mix. "These guys are awesome," Willie enthuses. "I watch and learn in our show. They're a different class of musicianship than I am."
Down the road we can expect to hear a Lima Wela CD, but before then Willie's Maui Tribe Productions company will blanket the islands with Willie K product. This remarkable artist, adept at so many styles, is currently completing a blues album and a reggae album - and - "I have a Hawaiian CD, another traditional project," he reports. "And then I have what I call the karaoke side of Willie K, doing popular classics like Jay and the Americans' 'Cara Mia.' I'm trying to get all my music out there."
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Willie K also plays a major role on a new benefit collection, the "Pink CD," designed to help the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation promote breast cancer education and awareness. Other artists, who all donated their time, involved on these new recordings include Melveen Leed, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Na Waiho'olu'u O Ke Anuenue, Lehua Kalima Heine, Namahana, Paula Fuga, Alaka'i Paleka, Keana and Ikaika Brown, and The Girlas.
Willie duets with Heine on the classic soul ballad "Try a Little Tenderness," made famous by Otis Redding, and produced Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," sung by Heine, and the standard "The Very Thought of You," sung by Keali'iwahamana.
The inspirational collection closes with a massive nine-song "Maui Medley" (including "Haleakala Hula" and "Puamana") sung by Willie and KPOA's "Morning Goddess" Alaka'i Paleka. "She wanted to do all of these songs and she said the only person who's going to make it work is Willie K," says Willie. "It was a fun project, I loved it."
Just back from serving in the Middle East, reggae musician Joshua Alo will make his Maui debut this weekend at Casanova and Giovanni's in Lahaina.
In early June Alo retired from the Unites States Air Force after serving for nine years, primarily in Iraq. A mail transportation sergeant, he made sure deployed U.S. and coalition troops received their moral-boosting correspondence from loved ones.
"I was the coordinator for the entire Iraq-Southwest Asia theater," explains Alo, who was born and raised on Oahu. "I would coordinate flights and helicopters to take mail into not the best places. We got it to them no matter what."
During this time, it was rare that he wasn't accompanied by his acoustic guitar, playing for whoever was around, the roots reggae music he loves.
"After duty hours that's when the music would start," he continues. "I felt a calling to uplift the people with music whether it be on sandbags with helos flying over or straight up in the sand. It was for circles of 10 or 20 people. I took my guitar wherever I could, though if we had a Black Hawk flight I couldn't fit my acoustic because I had to take my M-16."
Playing in hot zones like Baghdad and Mosul in Iraq and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Alo recalls a tense time in Balad when, "mortars and helicopters were flying over and sometimes my voice would die out."
Growing up in the islands absorbing reggae, Alo would often find he was introducing the infectious rhythms to troops. "People who never listened to reggae before opened to my music," he reports.
A committed Christian artist, Alo would uplift folks with his potent lyrics. "I'm not reciting something out of the Bible that I can't understand," he explains. "I let my life write songs and many people can relate to my experience."
While stationed in Italy, Alo hooked up with an Italian reggae band Zion Love, to produce the album "Answer Your Calling." Embedded in a classic deep roots foundation, songs like "Faith," "Light Over Darkness," "Paradise," and the title track reflect his spiritual conviction.
Reviewing the CD, U.K. Rock N Reel praised Alo's, "musically laid-back and lyrically inspirational acoustic based sounds." And Reggae-Reviews enjoyed his, "'hammock music,' swaying, peaceful, and gorgeous, suited for sunset on a secluded beach."
Joshua Alo performs with The Ionz band from Honolulu at Casanova on Friday night and at Giovanni's on Saturday, both at 10 p.m. He will also appear on Mana'o Radio on Friday at 8.
An article in last week's Maui News on the 2008 Na Hoku winners omitted two Maui artists, guitarist Jeff Peterson, who won Instrumental Album of The Year and the Ki Ho'alu Award, and Stacy Leong, who won the Graphics category for the "Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Presents - Na Lani Eha" CD by Ku'uipo Kumukahi.
Born and raised on Maui and now living in Honolulu, Jeff won for "Pure Slack Key." It marked his first Hoku win.
Teaching on awards day at George Kahumoku Jr.'s guitar camp in Napili, Jeff barely made it to the show on time to hear his winning announcement. "I had no idea I was even considered for the slack key award," he reports. "I had just rushed in, and had to give a speech. It was an incredible honor."
Last performing on Maui as the guitarist with the Matt Catingub Orchestra backing Boz Scaggs at his superb Castle Theater concert, Jeff will next play on our island on Aug. 6 at the Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key series at the Napili Kai Beach Resort. At the end of the month, this versatile musician will release a new collaboration, "Haleakala," with shakuhachi virtuoso Riley Lee. A member of Amy Hanaiali'i's band, (he played on her Hoku-winning Christmas collection) he will be heard playing guitar and ukulele on her forthcoming CD, "Amakua."
Ebb & Flow Arts will present a free concert with pianist Adam Tendler, performing John Cage's "Sonatas and Interludes," for prepared piano at Seabury Hall Performing Arts Studio at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Ebb & Flow Arts multimedia group including dancer Lisa Gagnon, visual artist Tony Walholm, and stage and lighting designer Todd van Amburgh will enhance the production.
Cage's groundbreaking, minimalist work was composed for a piano prepared by inserting various objects onto the strings (mostly screws and bolts, pieces of rubber and plastic, nuts and an eraser), so as to partially dampen the sound in a variety of ways, producing a percussive effect that has been compared to an Indonesian gamelan orchestra. It takes about two to three hours to prepare a piano for a performance. "Sonatas and Interludes" was inspired by Cage's study of Hindu philosophy and the concept of nine "rasa" (emotional states - "white" emotions of heroism, eroticism, mirth and wonder, and "black" emotions of fear, anger, sorrow and disgust, all tending towards tranquility).
A graduate of the Indiana University School of Music, Tendler in 2005 embarked on an ambitious "America 88x50" piano recital tour in which he lived out of his car for a year and teamed with arts organizations in all 50 states to perform free concerts of modern American music. Ebb & Flow Arts presented Tendler's Hawaii segment in October 2005, at Studio Maluhia.
Contact Jon Woodhouse at jon firstname.lastname@example.org.