On Sunday, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center will present the free fifth annual Maui Ukulele Festival. It features some of our top players ranging from acclaimed masters like Herb Ohta-san and Richard Ho'opi'i and veteran Na Hoku-winning artists like Kapena's Kelly Boy De Lima, to rising stars including Maui's Da Ukulele Boyz's Peter DeAquino and Garrett Probst, and Derick Sebastian.
"It's really an honor for me to be there sharing the stage with people who inspired me like Herb Ohta, Kelly Boy De Lima and Roy Sakuma," says Derick.
This talented musician, whose debut album, "From His Heart," was nominated for a Hoku award this year, has been impressing crowds at his regular gig at Kaanapali's Hula Grill and making a name at festivals on the Mainland.
In June, he wowed 24,000 fans attending an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, performing the national anthem on ukulele.
"It was amazing; it's still hard to believe today," he says. "I played the national anthem, and then they wanted an encore. The crowd roar gave me chicken skin."
Adept at a variety of styles from Hawaiian and rock to Latin and jazz, Derick displays his versatility on "From His Heart," mixing originals like the dazzling "Eddie Bush Tribute" with some select covers including "Oye Como Va" (popularized by Carlos Santana), Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" and the opening hymn, "Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow."
Amazingly, he recorded the entire project in a 14-hour period.
"Around 80 percent of the album was first takes," he notes. "The album was not planned at all. I woke up one morning and wanted to go in the studio but had no idea what I wanted to do. I just wanted to let out what I was feeling at that time. When I was recognized with a Hoku nomination, I thought they made a mistake."
As a tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, he included an interpretation of the beloved medley "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World."
Asked about his version, Derick reveals a special connection to the Hawaiian legend.
"I went with my mentor, Sam Ellis, to one of Iz's last concerts at the MACC before he passed," Derick recalls. "It was so inspiring. Then the night before Iz passed, Mr. Ellis had a dream that he was talking to Iz about me and he was saying, 'I don't know how to guide this kid,' and Iz was saying, 'Don't worry, the boy's going to be all right.' He had the dream and woke up and Iz was gone. A couple of days later we were talking in the car about the dream and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' played on the radio."
A multi-instrumentalist who also plays guitar, bass, drums and percussion, Derick is looking forward to recording a new album. "I have some ideas and basic tracks laid," he explains. "I'll plan this one a bit and be more diverse and work with some different musicians."
* The fifth annual Maui Ukulele Festival will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. The lineup includes Kelly Boy De Lima, Herb Ohta-san with Nando Suan, Richard Ho'opi'i, Derick Sebastian, Kamakakehau Fernandez, Da Ukulele Boyz featuring Peter DeAquino and Garrett Probst, Nick Acosta, Adrian La Prete Powell, the Kalama Intermediate Ukulele Band, and the South Maui Strummers. Roy Sakuma will emcee. Admission is free.
In conjunction with the fest, a free ukulele workshop will be offered at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater. Conducted by Roy Sakuma, the workshop is open to all ages, children through adults. The only requirements are that a student can hold C, F and G7 chords, and they should bring their own ukulele, note paper and a pencil. Space is limited; register by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students will be entered in a random drawing to win a new ukulele.
Princess Ka'iulani Cleghorn's 135th birthday will be celebrated Saturday with the 2010 Lahaina Royal Ho'ike on the grounds of the historic Waiola Church. Free entertainment from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. will feature the Kahaiali'i Ohana, Richard Ho'opi'i, Na Kamali'i O Ke Akua, Hiki No, the Krueger Ohana, Tava Nui Drummers, Kahi Kolu from the Big Island, Celtic Hart, and Scottish bagpipers. At 6 p.m., a Lu'au o Ka'iulani for $35 includes Hawaiian food and entertainment by Uncle Richard, plus the Hawaii Royal Order of Guards from Oahu and the Royal Hawaiian Guard of Maui. Call 250-9196 for reservations.
Attracting more than 35,000 fans, the 25th annual Farm Aid concert, held Oct. 2 in Milwaukee, raised more than $2 million. The benefit featured performances by Willie Nelson (with Lukas Nelson), John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, and Maui's Marty Dread.
Marty wrote a new song for the event, "Lend a Hand to the Farmers," which he sang with Willie. "Thousands sang along in support," noted a review in USA Today.
"I played last before the encore," Marty reports. "I wrote the song for Willie and it speaks to the plight of the people. The last verse says, 'A bunch of rusty tractors, thousands of idle hands, a nation raised on junk food and millions of acres of wasted land.' Willie really liked that. I just came out for that one song, and Lukas played (guitar) throughout the whole set. The energy was so big; it seemed like the biggest crowd I had ever stood in front of."
Marty will play at a release party for his CD, "The Hits 2003-2010," at the Hana Ranch Restaurant on Saturday. He'll also play at the Hotel Hana Maui on Oct. 23 and 30. He has another CD, "Peace Works," coming out soon featuring some duets with Willie.
Among the groups heading to Maui soon, punk legends the Dead Kennedys play the Hard Rock Caf on Oct. 22, and Jamaican reggae star Barrington Levy performs at the MACC on Oct. 30. On Nov. 6, pop icons Three Dog Night of "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)," and "Joy to the World" fame play Castle Theater. Asian pop/jazz band Hiroshima brings its Legacy Tour, with Michael Paulo, to Castle Theater on Nov. 12; while rock legend Peter Frampton makes his Maui debut at the MACC on Nov. 17.
Three days later, the Godfather of British Blues, John Mayall returns with special guest Shemekia Copeland, daughter of the late Texas blues guitar great Johnny Clyde Copeland.
Legendary ska-punkers Sublime, with new lead singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez, rock the MACC on Nov. 21. Acclaimed Little Feat guitarists Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett perform as an acoustic duo in the McCoy Studio Theater on Dec. 3; and we'll also probably see Latin rock legends Los Lobos in December.