Before he arrives on Maui, legendary rocker Sammy Hagar has been busy in the studio recording new music with the group Chickenfoot. This hard rock dream ensemble features the Red Rocker on vocals, virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani, former Van Halen buddy/bassist Michael Anthony and the Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
An instant hit with rock fans around the world, Chickenfoot was born from jams at Hagar's celebrated Cabo Wabo bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Describing the group as, "like early Led Zeppelin with a little Deep Purple and Montrose," Chickenfoot released a critically acclaimed chart-topping debut CD last summer. The quartet has a live concert DVD, "Get Your Buzz On," coming out on April 20.
Feeling enthused and inspired by the new collaboration, Hagar explained in a Billboard interview: "I just got to a point where I felt I needed to grow. I was feeling stuck and stagnant. And the whole party thing I created, I just got tired of doing that. You need to eat and feed yourself in order to grow and the best way to do it for me is to start new projects, getting together with other people for new input that stimulates and inspires you to become better. It's the best chemistry I've ever experienced, better than the Montrose chemistry, better than the Van Halen chemistry."
Not too many musicians can claim to have performed with so many great bands as Hagar, who has fronted heavy metal legends Montrose, massively popular Van Halen, and now Chickenfoot, along with pursuing a successful solo career.
And he's still playing occasional gigs with the Wabos, who back him for the Hawaii dates, pumping out a smorgasbord of rockers from his days with Montrose and Van Halen, and from his solo albums, including his 2008 studio CD, "Cosmic Universal Fashion."
The Wabos' guitarist Vic Johnson, drummer David Lauser and bassist Mona provide much of the muscle fueling the CD, while guests include ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, the Cult's Billy Duffy, Journey's Neil Schon and funk bassist Bootsy Collins.
Sammy Hagar and the Wabos perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. The Throwdowns will open. Tickets are $45, $55 and $65 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
The title track of "Cosmic Universal Fashion," had an unusual genesis - it was born from a collaboration with a young, Baghdad-based Iraqi rock musician.
"This wasn't totally an accident, but I wasn't making an album when we started," Hagar writes in the CD liner notes. "A friend gave me a basic track recorded by an Iraqi musician named Steven Lost. I'd never written online with someone I'd never met. The music really spoke to me."
Known for his good-time rockers, the latest work finds Hagar more message-orientated, particularly with environmental awareness.
"Being an activist for me was 'I Can't Drive 55,' " he told Billboard. "That was my rebel yell. I am older, more mature, how many times can I keep writing rock 'n' roll car songs? I think I need to make some more statements."
The popular hip-hop and reggae-fied contemporary rock band 311 returns to Maui on Saturday for a concert at the MACC.
Selling more than 7 million albums in the U.S., the band's varied sound has attracted a diverse fan base from jam-band to punk and reggae fans. Reflecting their eclectic approach in the last few years, their touring support acts have included Snoop Dogg, The Roots, The Wailers, Matisyahu and Ziggy Marley last year.
311 has become legendary for epic shows presented each year on March 11 in New Orleans. Billed as "the ultimate 311 concert experience," the day is often marked by marathon performances. In 2002, they played a 59-song set clocking in just shy of four hours, and in 2004, they logged a five-hour set of 68 songs.
"It's a 311-day fanatic show. We get the diehards, and the kids up front are more into 311 than 311," reported band vocalist S.A. Martinez in a previous Maui News interview. "If it wasn't for them I don't think we could play that long."
Since their formation in 1990 in Omaha, Neb., they've released nine studio albums (five Gold, one Platinum) and blanketed rock radio with hits like "Down," "Beautiful Disaster" "All Mixed Up" and more recently, "Don't Tread On Me."
Formed in a time when grunge ruled, the band's style of bright, upbeat music took a while to catch on. "It took a little time for us to catch on in radio and the great thing for us was that we were able to cultivate a fan base through live shows without the distraction of having a radio hit," he said. "So I think it was a blessing in disguise."
Helping pioneer rap-rock and fuse reggae to rock chords, they finally hit the big time with their third, self-titled "Blue" album. Selling 3 million copies worldwide, and sporting the tracks "All Mixed Up" and "Down," 311 conquered radio and MTV.
"Uplifter," 311's most recent studio album, was released last June. Produced by Bob Rock, known for his work with Metallica and Motley Crue, the album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest chart position in the U.S. to date. "This might be our most balanced record," Martinez noted. "There is something for everyone, from the rockers to the ballads, to what's in between.
* 311 plays in a show beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Events Lawn. Iration, and The Throwdowns open the show. Tickets are $35 in advance, and $40 day of show, plus applicable fees, available as above.
Grammy-nominated jazz pianist David Benoit will team again with his guitarist brother, Phil Benoit, on Saturday in Castle Theater.
A remarkably versatile artist, Benoit's eclectic path has embraced straight-ahead jazz, classical music, pop, smooth jazz and R&B. An exceptional composer and conductor, his credits include work with Leonard Bernstein, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Dresden Philharmonic. His television and film credits include themes for "All My Children" and "Sisters," and scores for "The Stars Fell on Henrietta" and "The Christmas Tree." Benoit has also devoted a number of years to composing music for the "Charlie Brown" TV specials, a spin-off from his popular cover of Vince Guaraldi's classic "Linus and Lucy."
Benoit will perform with bassist Dean Taba, drummer Noel Okimoto, percussionist Chris Dennis, Maui's Dave Choy on sax, and brother Phil on guitar. The concert will include compositions from a new album, "Earthglow" (out in late April), featuring the tracks "Botswana Bossa Nova" and "Will's Chill," influenced by the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.
Phil Benoit and his wife, Angela, will open the show, playing with Marcus Johnson on bass, Paul Marchetti on drums, Sal Godinez on keyboards, John Zangrando on horns, Chris Dennis on percussion and Steve Dubey on trumpet and harmonica. They will feature selections from their soon to be released CD, "Golden Sun."
* "An Evening with the Benoit Family" begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in the MACC's Castle Theater. Tickets are $25, $35 and $45 ($5 discount available for keiki, students, and seniors 65 years and older), plus applicable fees, available as above. A portion of proceeds will benefit Keiki Kokua.
Beginning this weekend and continuing through April, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom will serenade diners at Stella Blues Cafe's Supper Club with a mix of jazz vocal classics and standards. The Grammy-nominated and multi-Hoku-winning artist will be recording the evening shows for a live CD, backed by Sal Godinez on keyboards, Marcus Johnston on bass, and Roscoe Wright on drums.
"We're going to record every night, and for a couple I'll bring in my bassist and guitarist, Jeff Peterson," Amy explains. "I never get to be in this type of intimate setting. The ambience and crowd are so great, and the band is just kicking it. My brother and I have been playing there, and it was like comedy hour at the Gilliom house. It was just crazy. I'm like the Lucille Ball of Hawaiian music, and both of us were tap dancing."
Working with special arrangements created by Honolulu Symphony Pops conductor Matt Catingub, Amy says she will be singing, "some really old standards like 'Someone to Watch Over Me' and 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,' a lot of fast jazz, and a little Hawaiian jazz mixed in like 'Hukilau.' "
Both Sal and Marcus last backed Amy on the "Nostalgia" CD of classic hapa haole songs. She first played with the keyboardist many years back, in pre-Hoku-winning days, when she was hired to sing at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
"I played with Sal for five years. I was just out of college and all I sang was really loud," she recalls.
"The girl before me was just so suave, and here I come in just loud, and I was actually booed the first couple of weeks. They're like, 'Bring the other girl back.' And I'm, just give me a chance."
Amy's debut CD, "Native Child," included some romantic jazz tunes, and more recently she debuted an original jazz composition "In Hilo Town," on her "Generation Hawai'i" album, accompanied by Grammy-winning sax legend Ernie Watts, which she'll re-record for the new live project.
But before she releases the "Stella Blues" album, Amy has a new contemporary project in the works.
"I'm collaborating with Jamie Foxx and Fiji," she reveals. "It will definitely be an 'island album,' but it's not going to be Jawaiian. It will be out this year. I'm stoked about it."
* Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom performs at Stella Blues Cafe's Supper Club Friday and Saturday evenings through April. A four-course dinner starts around 6 p.m., with show following at 7:30 p.m. Call 874-3779 for reservations.