Among the many musicians interviewed in 2010 for the Maui Beat column, Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton summed up the appeal of classic rock bands and their ability to pack the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
"People can relate to harmony, melody, hooks and choruses," Hutton noted in November. "The songs don't have expiration dates; they're all about emotions and that doesn't get dated."
Air Supply's Russell Hitchcock echoed a similar explanation for their continuing appeal. "The songs have always deeply touched peoples' hearts," said the romantic balladeer, who thrilled fans in August. "The melodies are awesome; they touch your heart no matter who you are. I've had Hells Angels tell me how much they love my songs."
The Temptations performing at the MACC
After almost 50 years, the Beach Boys can still draw enthusiastic audiences. "Audiences are predisposed to have a good time," noted the band's leader Mike Love in February. "They join in and sing-along to songs like 'Kokomo,' 'Help Me Rhonda' and 'Barbara Ann.'"
Motown fans relived cherished memories in August with The Temptations and Four Tops. Capturing their classic sound on their latest CD, "Still Here," the Temps co-founder Otis Williams explained: "The main focus has always been to come up with great music. We wanted to hearken back to the way music used to be, because when I listen to the radio and what's happening today, I'm not impressed."
Rock legend Alice Cooper also loves celebrating classic tunes through his syndicated radio show "Nights With Alice" - heard on Maui on KAOI-FM. "I believe there was so much great music in the '60s and '70s that everyone has forgotten about," Alice enthused in a January interview after rocking in the New Year at Mala Wailea - which he will repeat on Friday. "And I hate the idea of corporate demographics taking over great music, and some guy in a suit saying, 'You're only gong to play these 40 songs because that's what makes money.' "
And then there are artists who have sought to distance themselves from their past work, like rock star Peter Frampton, who delivered an amazing three-hour show at the MACC in November. "I was liberated from being the pop star back to the musician," Frampton explained about the significance of his recent Grammy win for his brilliant instrumental album "Fingerprints." "The onus had been on the looks and pop star image. If you look too good, your talent as a musician can be put on the back burner."
Bucking harsh economic times, Pink Martini continues to tour with its large ensemble, performing on Maui in August. "It's pretty crazy, it doesn't make a lot of sense," the band's elegant singer China Forbes reported in August. "Who has a harp onstage, and these beautiful nonsynthesized instruments, played by people who are really good? Nobody's doing that. It doesn't make sense for the bottom line. That's why the whole experience is so magical. We get to spread joy, and get people to dance and sing together."
Arriving from successfully touring Australia and New Zealand, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald ignited the MACC in March with one of the year's most memorable concerts. A humble McDonald revealed in an interview that he was rather nervous when he first began pursuing a solo career. "It was very scary and awkward," he recalled. "I'd always been a piano player in a band who sang some songs. All of a sudden I was singing all the songs and supposed to somehow engage the audience. A friend from Maui, Scotty Rotten, put it best; the stage presence I have is more, please don't beat me."
And a surprising revelation came from Latin superstar Julio Iglesias. "I have never considered myself a handsome guy," the suave Spanish entertainer said in April. "I am grateful to the people who do, but I've always thought I am quite a common person physically."
After many years performing, some musicians show no signs of diminishing talent. Our representative of British rock royalty, Mick Fleetwood, still moves mountains with his thunderous drumming. Closing out 2009 and 2010 with his Maui-based Blues Band, Fleetwood reported that at the age of 62, he was playing louder and harder than ever. "I'm taking Hulk pills or something," he joked in April. "I'm really enjoying playing and it's still there. The whole ethic of getting back and playing has really been a good thing."
Leaving the world's most popular reggae band, former UB40 vocalist Ali Campbell landed at the Lahaina Civic Center and spoke about feeling liberated. "I'm flying high," said the British artist in March. "It's brilliant after being with eight people and compromising to being on my own and calling the shots. It's very emancipating."
At the beginning of July, New Zealand's Fat Freddy's Drop mesmerized their Castle Theater audience with an intoxicating mix of soul, reggae dub, techno and cosmic jazz. "A lot of bands these days are caught in the same format and are very structured," said Fat Freddy's MC Slave. "We have a structure, but there's the ability to jam and that's what keeps it interesting and fresh for everybody. I don't think there are many bands in the world that do that much anymore these days. It's a bit of a lost art form."
In June, Rickie Lee Jones talked about how she has continually evolved as an artist. "I have been about defying convention since I began, and that is still my banner," she emphasized. "I have been copied, imitated, honored and dishonored. I helped open the door to the folky singer-songwriter thing from some back alley where harder rougher stories were taking place. I was sexual, tough, and wild."
Among the comedians visiting Maui in 2010, Roseanne pulled no punches in discussing how she loves pillaring the establishment. "Part of the job of the comic is to speak truth to power," she pronounced in January. "That's the real heroine high, to get right up in their face and tell them the truth that they don't want to hear. It's fantastic; it's like being a rodeo clown. I just love that people who sit in those ivory towers know other people are aware of what's really going on and are laughing at them. I think that's awesome. They need to be laughed at, and they need to be laughed to scorn until they all disappear."
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro always impresses with his extraordinary artistry. Traveling the world he's been talking about the ukulele as a unifying, healing instrument. "The ukulele is the only instrument in the world where you can just say the name and it will make you smile," Jake noted in March. "It's an instrument that encourages people to let their guard down. Sometimes I think of the ukulele as the Facebook of musical instruments. All over the world there are ukulele orchestras and bands, and a lot of rock and pop artists are now starting to incorporate ukulele into their music."
Keola Beamer and Raiatea Helm collaborated for wonderful shows at the Maui Theatre and the MACC. Keola revealed how the teaming had helped rejuvenate him. "Working together, somehow I got my love for my craft back," he said. "I feel a pure love when I'm working and playing music with her. I'm at the point now where I don't really care so much about accomplishment, I care about love and trying to do something meaningful."
Performing solo in the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater, Robert Cazimero reflected on his love for his craft. "Not everybody gets to have a job that they love," he noted in November. "I'm in a perpetual state of gratitude. I'm just so grateful. Every show that the Bothers do, everything I do with the halau, I want to make sure it's worthwhile and enriching."
Playing at Stella Blues Supper Club in September, Hawaiian soul singer Paula Fuga expressed similar sentiments. "My life is a miracle," she emphasized. "I was homeless on the beach by the time I was 5 years old. I lived in a car, in all kinds of weird, crazy situations. I look at my life kind of like Cinderella's. I know how miraculous it is for me to be where I am."
Marty Dread was thrilled to play before thousands at Willie Nelson's annual Farm Aid benefit in October. He composed the song "Lend a Hand to the Farmers," which he sang with the country icon at the fest. "It speaks to the plight of the people," he reported. "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.' "
And finally, kirtan guru Krishna Das offered a prescription to ease the challenges of our troubled times. "People are really looking for a way to deal with the stress and the uncertainty and anxiety that destroys the quality of our lives," he noted in July. "Chanting is an easy way. As the level of stress and anxiety increases you have to find a way to deal with it."