Two of Maui's celebrated residents, Mick Fleetwood and Carlos Santana, rang in 2009 at Mala Wailea, playing together for the first time, on the classic Fleetwood Mac gem "Black Magic Woman," a song which later became synonymous with the Latin rock star. Fleetwood will return to the Wailea restaurant for New Year's Eve along with Alice Cooper and other surprise celebs for a benefit for the Food Bank and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Over in Haiku, Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, jammed into 2009 with a show at Voyage East in the Pauwela Cannery, which he will reprise again Friday along with The String Cheese Incident's Michael Kang, mbira virtuoso Chris Berry and bassist Patrice Blanchard, who all play in the cool Afro-beat/hip-hop band Panjea.
"It's new that I'm playing with a whole lot of different players," Kreutzmann noted last year. "I used to just be locked into the Dead. This is much healthier."
JON WOODHOUSE photo
Aersosmith and its ace guitarist Joe Perry
January saw Hawaii's most popular artist, Keali'i Reichel, performing spectacular soldout shows, teamed for the first time with the Maui Pops Orchestra, embellishing his repertoire with orchestral arrangements by Matt Catingub. Later in the year, the multitalented, Hoku-winning kumu hula and chanter competed with Halau Ke'alaokamaile for the first time at the Merrie Monarch Festival, winning Miss Aloha Hula and the Hawaiian Language Award.
Also in January, fresh from recording with classical cello legend Yo Yo Ma, and pop star Cyndi Lauper, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro dazzled all at a Castle Theater concert. And L.A.'s Ozomatli transformed the Castle into a giant dance party with an intoxicating mix of Latin rock, hip-hop and funk.
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist/vocalist and Maui resident Rick Vito played Mulligan's; David Nelson of New Riders of the Purple Sage fame, played Stella Blues and Charley's; and punk rockers NOFX played The Cellar in Lahaina. Vito, Mick Fleetwood, bassist Lenny Castellanos and keyboardist Mark Johnstone were recently nominated for a Grammy for the live album "Blue Again."
February was jam packed with great shows. The extraordinary, charismatic African singer Anglique Kidjo delivered one of the most dynamic concerts of the year. Beloved troubadour Jimmy Buffett and his superlative Coral Reefer Band, with guest Jake Shimabukuro, invoked a joyous, carnival atmosphere with thousands singing along to his tropical-inflected tunes. And rock icon Steve Miller also had fans joining in on his many hits from "Fly Like an Eagle" to "The Joker," along with playing a major dose of blues classics. Very sad to hear that Miller Band harmonica player Norton Buffalo died in October. And gifted, soulful song interpreter Kenny Rankin, who played the McCoy Theater in February, also died this year.
Also in February, Willie K unleashed his remarkable opera ability with the Hawaii Youth Symphony, Groundation played a Bob Marley Tribute at the Hard Rock Caf, acclaimed Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser teamed with cellist Natalie Haas, and Hapa returned to the MACC, joined by friends Eric Gilliom and Ernie Cruz, Jr.
In March, a few thousand fans rocked out to Journey fronted by Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who amazed all with his uncanny resemblance to Steve Perry. And acclaimed jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall enthralled a sold-out Castle Theater audience earlier in the month.
Also in March, the Maui Pops Orchestra's Spring Fest concert featured veteran jazz singer Jimmy Borges; Maui musicians Sam and Howard Ahia, Latitude 21 N and Mojo Gumbo played the McCoy; while Na Leo serenaded fans in the Castle. Many of Maui's finest including Willie K, Vince Esquire, Rick Vito, Marty Dread, Eric Gilliom and The Haiku Hillbillys all paid tribute to Mana'o Radio co-founder Barry Shannon at BarryFest '09. And Maui's Ebb & Flow Arts began presenting this year's series of adventurous multimedia programs, beginning with legendary jazz vibraphonist Emil Richards at The Studio Maui.
Having performed at the Obama Inaugural Celebration, and sung with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at a New York show in early April, Sheryl Crow rocked the A&B Amphitheater with hit-packed concert that closed with a blazing version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll."
Versatile jazz pianist David Benoit teamed for the first time in concert with his Maui resident, guitar-playing brother Phil Benoit in the Castle in April. Phil with his wife vocalist Angela Benoit, and the Benoit JazzWorks group opened. (The couple plays Caf O'Lei at The Dunes tonight). Conga king Poncho Sanchez ignited the Castle with his fiery mix of Latin jazz and classic soul. And rising reggae star Mishka played the Hard Rock Caf.
May opened with the Brothers Cazimero playing their traditional concert in Castle Theater. The Island Rumours Band headlined the inaugural Maui Brewers Festival. The annual Maui Classical Music Festival returned with concerts at churches in Makawao, Makena and Hana. Henry Kapono performed a benefit concert at the Royal Lahaina Resort, debuting a new song, "Mommy." And the month closed with the sultans of stoner humor, Cheech & Chong, drawing hearty belly laughs for their "Light Up America" comedy and music show.
It was Pearl Jam's soulful lead singer, Eddie Vedder, who delivered the show of the year. In late June, this passionate artist graced a sold-out Castle crowd with an extraordinary two-hour show that ranged from Pearl Jam nuggets, to a handful of songs from his "Into The Wild" soundtrack, along with a number of inspired covers including the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and Little Steven's superb "I Am a Patriot."
The month also featured multi-Hoku winning Hawaiian entertainer Danny Couch at the Maui Beach; '70s hits makers Pablo Cruise in concert with Yvonne Elliman and Kapono Beamer, in a show which included a rousing cover of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home;" some of our best Hawaiian slack key guitarists - including Dennis Kamakahi, George Kahumoku, Jr., Kevin and Ikaika Brown, Makana and Jeff Peterson - at the 18th Annual Ki Ho'alu Festival; and the Henry Kaleialoha Allen Steel Guitar Festival at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
June also marked the sad passage of Stella Blues co-founder Ray Ennis, a fervent Deadhead and lover of rock music, who was honored with a gathering of Maui musicians at the restaurant. In September, Mick Fleetwood and the Blues Band paid tribute to Ray with a benefit show for Hospice Maui at Stella Blues.
In July, pianist Peter Kater and Sting's long-time guitarist Dominic Miller performed compositions from their just-Grammy-nominated CD, "In a Dream." Classical Indian vocalists Pandit Jasraj and Pandita Tripti Mukherjeeperformed at The Studio Maui. And Ebb & Flow presented the free premiere of the multimedia stage composition "Keikiwai - The Water Baby" at Seabury Hall, and launched a three-island "Summer Music Hawaii" series of concerts.
Who but the great Willie Nelson would choose to host a party for the release of his latest CD, "American Classic," in Paia at Charley's in August? The jam-packed "secret" gig featured the country icon playing songs from the new album, along with performances by indie rock group Band of Horses plus Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, and Gail Swanson. Willie's backing band included Gypsy Pacific's Tom Conway. Willie returns to the club for a New Year's show tonight.
Touring in support of his latest CD, "Family Time," (which features Willie on a track), Ziggy Marley headlined a reggae festival in August at the War Memorial Stadium, with a powerful, exhilarating performance. He also presented a free show for kids at the Maui Prince Hotel. America rekindled memories, pleasing fans with an array of old hits from "A Horse with No Name" to "Ventura Highway." The combined power of The Platters, The Drifters and The Coasters celebrated the roots of rock with a "Rockin' '50s" show. Seattle-based alternative rock band Candlebox made its Maui debut at The Cellar. And new wave rockers The Fixx played the Maui Theatre.
Opening with Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," sung while gliding down a Castle Theater aisle, John Legend enthralled a sold-out audience in September with a high energy show that updated classic soul for our contemporary times.
Fresh for touring with Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood returned to Maui in September to play with his blues band at the Royal Lahaina Resort, with Hapa's Barry Flanagan sitting in. Singer/chanter Donna De Lory performed an inspiring show with tabla player Ty Burhoe, presenting songs from her latest album, "Sanctuary," at The Studio Maui.
Aerosmith totally rocked the War Memorial Stadium in October, drawing an ecstatic response from thousands attending the biggest production in Maui history. Pumping out one huge crowd pleaser after another from "Rag Doll" and "Love in an Elevator" to "Walk This Way," the legendary band played an extended show which included a surprise opening with Halau Kulia I Ka Nu'u, and Steven Tyler strumming a ukulele on a "Little Grass Shack." Did we see their last public show? "Some times things have to fall apart to put them back together in a new way and maybe we're going through that period," noted Aerosmith's bassist Tom Hamilton in an interview.
Other shows in October included the energetic, crowd-pleasing, traditional Irish band Dervish, reggae legends The Wailers and Third World and the fourth annual Maui Ukulele Festival with Richard Ho'opi'i, Ohta-san, Hula Honeys, Kamakakehau Fernandez and Kanekoa.
Closing their 2009 reunion tour in Hawaii in November, Loggins and Messina enchanted their audience with memorable hit songs. The duo was backed by a superb band that brilliantly stretched out on epic songs like "Angry Eyes" and "Vahevala."
Broadway star Lea Salonga thrilled her audience with a show that embraced all facets of her career from musical theater highlights Disney favorites to a couple of Filipino songs. Hailed by the BBC as "a national treasure," revered British musician Richard Thompson dazzled a packed McCoy Theater with his extraordinary guitar playing, riveting songs and witty banter.
Also in November, we saw the American Bluegrass Masters Tour, C&K and Amy Hanaiali'i at the MACC, plus exquisite vocalist/pianist Vienna Teng.
Performing an amazingly exuberant show at the Maui Theatre in December, legendary British ska revival band the English Beat encouraged so many dancers to jam the stage, the concert was cut short by very upset co-founder Dave Wakeling, because of security hassles.
December concerts included Kris Kristofferson, John Cruz, Krishna Das, pianist Jerry Kuderna, Willie K adorned in a tux drawing a standing ovation for a stunning version of the aria "Nessun Dorma," and soul greats The Stylistics closing out the year in the Castle Theater with a night of romantic hits.