Grammy and multi-Na Hoku Award-winning Hawaiian musician Cyril Pahinui will make a rare visit to Maui fronting the Pahinui Hawaiian Band on Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater.
One of Hawaii's leading slack key guitarists, over the years Cyril's accomplishments include performing with his legendary father, Gabby Pahinui, and the Peter Moon Band, and releasing a number of acclaimed recordings for the Dancing Cat label including the Grammy nominated "He'eia" in 2008.
For the MACC show Cyril will be accompanied by his nephew Kunia Galdeira on slack key, steel guitarist Greg Sardinha, bassist Sonny Lim, and Peter Moon (son of the legend) on ukulele. Older brother Bla Pahinui may make a guest appearance.
Cyril Pahinui (in beret) plays with Sonny Lim (from left), Kunia Galdeira and Greg Sardinha.
"We're doing some material from when I was playing with my dad and when I was playing with the Peter Moon Band, from the '60s to now," Cyril reports. "I just want to keep the old traditional Hawaiian music. Hawaiian music has taken me all over the world and to Carnegie Hall twice. I want to keep the legacy alive."
In the next month or so Cyril will release a new CD featuring his band and his brother Bla. "He will be featured on the album," says Cyril. "We will probably call it the 'Cyril Pahinui Hawaiian Band.' "
As the son of one of Hawaii's greatest musical legends Cyril feels grateful for all he learned from his father. He grew up in a rich musical environment learning the traditional way, with no formal training, just watching and listening.
* The Pahinui Hawaiian Band performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $20 plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
"My dad and mom were awesome, I learned a lot," he notes. "I helped my dad arrange his music, and wherever I perform I feel dad's presence. He's guiding me. If you listen to my brother Martin or Bla or me, we all have daddy's style. It will always be with me."
In 1968, Cyril made his first groundbreaking record with Palani Vaughan and The Sunday Manoa. After time in Vietnam he returned to the islands to join the legendary Gabby Band featuring his father, brothers Bla, Phillip and Martin, bassist Joe Gang Kupahu and slack key legends Atta Isaacs and Sonny Chillingworth. Cyril played on all five of Gabby's classic Panini label albums.
In 1975, he formed The Sandwich Isle Band, and then joined the influential Peter Moon Band, with brother Martin, playing and singing on four albums, including the Hoku Award-winning "Cane Fire" in 1983.
"That was one of a kind," he recalls about the Moon Band days. "I was just with Bobby Hall at the airport and we were talking about 'Cane Fire' and all the good times. We tried everything."
A few years later, as a solo artist his self-titled album won the Hoku for Best Contemporary Hawaiian Album and Best Male Vocalist. Then in 1992, accompanied by renowned musicians Ry Cooder, David Lindley, and John Lennon band drummer Jim Keltner, Cyril joined his brothers Martin and Bla for the historic "Pahinui Brothers" album. Recorded on Maui, highlights included two traditional songs associated with their father, "Henehene Ko Aka" and "Panini Pua Kea" and a catchy cover of Lennon's classic "Jealous Guy."
The same year he began recording for George Winston's Dancing Cat label as a solo performer. His debut release "6 & 12 String Slack Key" won the 1994 Hoku Award for Instrumental Album of the Year.
In recent years he has contributed to three Hawaiian Grammy-winning slack key guitar compilations, all recorded at the "Masters Series" at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, and he was nominated in 2008 for his solo album "He'eia."
"Whatever I can do to support Hawaiian music I'm there," he concludes. "I started when I was 7 or 8 years old and I'm 60 now, and I've got six daughters and 17 grandkids. I thank the Lord I'm still here doing my thing. I've retired and I just enjoy life and my music."
Classical Indian musician Kala Ramnath has been hailed as one of the greatest violinists in the world. Lauded as "The Sultana of Strings" by The Times of India, a Jazzwise review of one of her CDs proclaimed: "Ramnath is a musician of giant-like qualities. If Mozart had been transported to the South Asian subcontinent this is what he and improvised Western classical music might have sounded like."
A stunning virtuoso, Ramnath has revolutionized the technique of playing the violin developing a unique "singing" style which imitates the human voice. "I play vocal music in totality on the violin," she simply states.
Like all the exceptional musicians who have mastered Indian classical music, Ramnath devoted her life to her art from an early age. She began playing the violin at the age of 3 and performed her first concert at 7.
"I was born in a family steeped in music for six generations, mebeing the seventh in line," she explains. "The atmosphereat home was totally musical and so I loved what I did."
Initially under the strict tutelage of her grandfather, she studied with an aunt, and for 15 years under legendary Hindustani vocalist Pandit Jasraj.
"To become a great musician, one needs the almighty's blessings, which comes with talent and luck and we need to add discipline, dedication and extreme hard work," she continues. "I haveheard of musicians who have worked10 to 12 hours a day for 20 years. I personally have done an average of six to eight hours a day for 20 years."
Few women attain the highest ranks of Indian classical music, and fewer still can claim mastery of the violin.
"There are not many women in general in classical Indian music," she notes. "And I am one of the few women who have taken up music and a very difficult instrument, the violin."
Ramnath's exquisite playing can be heard on albums like "Nectar" and "Kala." She has also recorded and performed with a diverse array of musicians from tabla legend Zakir Hussain to Ray Manzarek of The Doors.
In recent years she has enjoyed a number of world fusion collaborations including teaming with some well-known African musicians in the unique group Raga Afrika (fusing Indian and Afro jazz). She has worked with Spanish flamenco guitarist Eduardo Niebla and Frank Zappa/Jeff Beck drummer Terry Bozzio as well as playing jazz-influenced ragas in the fusion ensemble Global Conversation with saxophonist George Brooks and Kai Eckhart, bassist with the John McLaughlin Trio.
"I enjoy playing with different musicians as it's wonderful to hear their perspective through their music," she says. "For example, my progression or thought process towards aparticular rhythm or improvising on a phrase would be totally different from another. And after all, music is music. It has no barriers or bounds."
For her Maui performance Ramnath will be accompanied by Ty Burhoe on tabla, a student of Zakir Hussain, who has worked with a number of notable musicians across the spectrum including banjo virtuoso Bla Fleck, Steely Dan's Walter Becker, former Journey drummer Steve Smith, and popular New Age artist Kitaro.
Ty has just released the new CD "Illumination," a collaboration with Steve Gorn and Manose on Indian bansuri flute.
"My wish is that the audience experiences the joy of listening to music and forgets everything around them and reaches a different zone of calm and peace within themselves," Ramnath concludes.
"When I play music, it's a prayer to me. Anything can happen around me, but nothing disturbs me. I may be very disturbed in my mind but when I take my violin out and play,within minutes I am lost in my music and thatis my greatest joy as it keeps me in sync with nature."
A sign of the times, Wailuku's Cafe Marc Aurel will sadly present its last evening of live music from 7:30 to 10:30 Friday with an expanded version of the Haiku Hillbillys.The cafe will change to a coffee shop only, closing at 6 p.m.
Guest musicians joining lead vocalist/guitarist Randall Rospond will be Tom Conway of Gypsy Pacific, who has just released the excellent CD "El Tigre' "; jazz bassist Bob Harrison; and drummer Kerry Sofaly, who plays with Mojo Gumbo and theMana'o Radio Orchestra.
To mark the occasion the band will perform an eclectic set ranging from the early rock of Elvis and the reggae of Jimmy Cliff, to the jamming of the Grateful Dead and the blues of Elmore James.
Mulligan's on the Blue will host a "Battle of the Bands" contest at 7 p.m. Saturday. The grand prize includes a three-song EPat the We Are More Studios, a CD cover design by Hoku-nominated Scott Johnson at Dogtowne Design,a photo shoot with Justin Orr Photography,and a chance to open for The Throwdowns on the Maui date oftheir Kona Brew Co./Surfrider Foundation tour on June 12.
Ten selected bands such as Mobius Project, Sebrina Baron, Soul Package, Stef Lomeli, Cane Fire, I-nology, Sounds of Addiction and Coma will compete. The panel of judges includes Tommy Russo, Vince Esquire, Scott Johnson and Erin Smith of The Throwdowns. Tickets are $10 only available at the door.
Maui filmmaker Kenneth Martinez Burgmaier is featured on Edgy Lee's "Local Ventures" series on KGMB9-TV airing at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The show will include footage of U2's Bono and the Edge performing with B.B. King in L.A., scenes from his Na Hoku Hanohano-nominated documentary on Raiatea Helm, and a glimpse at a work in progress on Brother Noland.