Three of our leading female artists combine talents on Saturday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater for a unique "Three Maui Divas" concert.
Multiple Na Hoku Hanohano winners and Grammy nominees Amy Hanaiali'i, Raiatea Helm and kumu hula Napua Makua will share their exceptional artistry performing alone and in combination.
"Each of us will do a set," says Raiatea. "I will go on first, then I'll lead into Napua's set with one of her songs and introduce her. Napua will do her set and introduce Amy. Then the second half is pretty much a surprise."
This is the first time all three will perform together, though Raiatea has toured in Japan with Napua, and sang with Amy at a concert some years back at the MACC.
At the age of 26, Raiatea has been recognized twice as Female Vocalist of the Year, received two Grammy nominations and won eight Na Hoku Awards.
Last year she teamed with Keola Beamer for the wonderful CD "Keola Beamer & Raiatea," which should have earned another Grammy nomination.
Three Maui Divas - Amy Hanaiali'i, Raiatea Helm and Napua Makua perform in the MACC's Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12, $30 and $40 (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Currently compiling new music, Raiatea will record the next album in Nashville and hopes for a summer release. "I'm working on the beginning stages of my next CD," she explains. "In May I'm heading to Las Vegas to perform with the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra, and then I'll tour Japan in June."
Recently earning her fifth Grammy nomination for "Amy Hanaiali'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii," Amy has received more Na Hoku awards than any other female artist. Her 16 wins include Female Vocalist of the Year four times, Album of the Year twice and Hawaiian Album of the Year three times.
"We've been having fun meeting," says Amy. "We're going to do a lot of stuff together, and the setting is going to be really beautiful."
Looking ahead she is planning an album of music for babies, and will head in June to New Orleans to sing on a blues album produced by celebrated whale artist Wyland, featuring Taj Mahal and Robert Cray.
"Wyland writes a lot of blues songs," Amy explains. "We're starting a program to help music and arts in elementary schools here. The blues album will help with funding."
An acclaimed kumu hula of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, Napua Makua recently won the Traditional Hawaiian album award for "Mohalu" at the 15th Annual Hawaii Music Awards.
In 2008, she was honored as Female Vocalist of the Year for her lovely debut album, "Pihana," which blended Hawaiian standards like Lena Machado's "None Hula" (where she was joined by her mom, Hulu Lindsey), with new compositions including a tribute to her sister, Kahulu.
Talking about her latest CD, Napua explains: "The song selection unfolds to reveal different petals of my life. My own mele are attempts to communicate my inner most feelings in hopes that there are others who can identify with my struggles and my joys."
Iconic U.K. ska band English Beat returns to our island to ignite the Hard Rock Caf on Saturday night. Led by co-founder Dave Wakeling, with fellow vocalist Ranking Roger, the Beat (known as the English Beat in the U.S.) was one of the most popular ska revival bands to emerge from the U.K. in the late 1970s.
Formed in Birmingham, England, their exuberant sound ignited the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with catchy songs like "Mirror in the Bathroom," "Twist and Crawl," "Stand Down Margaret," and "I Confess." Along with bands like The Specials, Madness and The Selecter, the Beat was recognized as a pioneer of the innovative 2 Tone movement that meshed ska, punk, pop, soul and reggae into an irresistible concoction.
An up-tempo precursor to reggae, ska evolved in the early 1960s, pioneered by musicians like Prince Buster, The Skatalites and Desmond Dekker. Ska's infectious rhythms were first heard by Wakeling while attending soccer matches.
"A lot of it was played on the football terraces in the Midlands," he explains. "Then reggae came about with Bob Marley and Culture and Burning Spear, and punk came along, too. We had these house parties with a punk and reggae DJ, and we found if you played all punk you'd get the dance floor packed for 45 minutes, then everyone would disappear, and if it was all reggae, everyone would be leaning against the wall nodding their heads, what we called dancing on the inside. But if you mixed it up the dance floor stayed packed and the energy was wonderful."
On classic albums like "I Just Can't Stop," "Wha'ppen," and "Special Beat Service," they often tackled social and political themes, producing one of the era's greatest anti-government anthems, "Stand Down Margaret," which hammered the U.K.'s Prime Minister and her drive to privatize national assets.
When the Beat disbanded in 1983, Wakeling and Ranking Roger formed General Public, while two other members later gravitated to the Fine Young Cannibals. With General Public, Wakeling continued scoring chart hits with "Tenderness" and a cover of the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There, " which was picked up by the Bill Clinton presidential campaign.
Thirty-plus years later, the English Beat is riding a wave of renewed interest in British ska.
Wakeling feels their music provides a perfect prescription for our challenging times. "I think it suits recessionary times," he says. "There's much to be concerned about, much to get angry about, and ska and reggae gives people the opportunity to celebrate life, whilst at the same time protesting some of the harder details of it. It's upbeat, it has an uplifting effect and makes you look at things more optimistically."
Anyone lucky enough to catch their show in 2009 at the Maui Theatre will recall a nonstop, exuberant dance party. The concert was actually cut short because of security hassles, after the band encouraged so many dancers to jam the stage.
Wakeling just released a new single - the first recorded material from the band in 29 years - "The Love You Give," available on iTunes. The English Beat currently features saxophonist Matt Morrish, who used to live in Hana.
The English Beat performs at the Hard Rock Caf on Saturday evening. Alliez and the Kit Kat cabaret will open. Tickets are $34 in advance and $38 at the door, available at the Hard Rock Caf Rock Shop, Request Music or www.Groovetickets.com.
After the wonderful free entertainment at Whale Day recently, we have more no-cost music coming up Sunday at "Ulupalakua Remembers" at Maui's Winery and the Ulupalakua Ranch Store.
Big Island musician Brittni Paiva makes a rare visit to Maui, opening at 11 a.m. on the winery grounds. And then slack key master Cyril Pahinui will take the stage at 1 p.m. joined by Peter Moon, Jr. and Jeff Auhoy.
Over at the ranch store Ben Uyetake will play from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A Na Hoku Award winner for Most Promising Artist in 2005, Paiva is an accomplished ukulele, guitar and bass player as well as pianist and drummer.
Infusing her music with elements of jazz, rock, flamenco, classical and world music, her latest CD, "Four Strings: The Fire Within," includes versions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" and Santana's "Europa," alongside original compositions.
World renowned baile funk DJ Sabo makes his Maui debut on Friday at Charley's. Sabo describes his sound as "funky music that makes you feel good." XLR8R Magazine hailed his Sabo & Zeb's "Global Warmbeats" album as, "worldwide funk that will be on decks for years to come."
In demand around the globe he performed at President Obama's inaugural Huffington Post Ball with Sting, wil.i.am and Sheryl Crow. The San Francisco Weekly praised: "Few are better at global fusions than New York's DJ Sabo. Sabo's tracks evoke African, Brazilian and Latin music traditions with drum patterns, swishing shakers, rattling percussion, and rubbery bass licks that connect the dance floor idioms of London, Lagos and Lisbon."
n Sabo spins on Friday at Charley's Restaurant & Bar. Doors open at 9 p.m. It's a 21 and older show. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Advanced tickets are available at the Wine Corner, Requests Music, and Wok Star in Kihei.
One of the world's leading classical ensembles, the Takcs String Quartet, will perform in Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with guest pianist Joyce Yang.
Formed in 1975 at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Quartet's recordings include a Grammy-winning album of early and middle Beethoven quartets, and the "Late Beethoven Quartets," which won the BBC's Disc of the Year and a Japanese Record Academy Award.
"This is chamber music playing of overwhelming intensity, insight and intelligence," praised a U.K. Guardian review.
The Quartet features Edward Dusinberre (first violin) Kroly Schranz (second violin) Geraldine Walther (viola) and Andrs Fejr (cello). They will perform music by Haydn, Bartok and a Dvorak piano quintet.
Tickets are $12, $32, and $38 (plus applicable fees), available as above.