Ziggy Marley calls for a revolution on his latest CD, "Wild and Free," but he's not talking about storming the streets. This visionary reggae artist, the oldest son of Bob Marley, suggests a quieter, yet no less profound, internal revolution.
Recalling the lyrical fire of his father and driven by a martial drum beat, on one of the album's most potent songs, "Personal Revolution," Ziggy urges: "I need a revolution, my own revolution."
"It's an evolution of the idea of what revolution is," Ziggy explains, in preparation for his MACC show on Sunday.
“Why can’t this world live in peace? Why can’t we love each other? Where is that revolution that will have that effect on the word? Where is the revolution that will cause love? This is the revolution we speak about.”
Cyril Pahinui headlines Saturday’s “Ho‘omau 2012,” the 25th anniversary fundraiser for Punana Leo O Maui’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Preschool.
"It's a consciousness. Throughout history we've had revolutions, mostly political and social, like what's happening in the Middle East. But there's one revolution that seems to be not happening, and that's a personal revolution, where human beings evolve and change from within their own selves. Why can't this world live in peace? Why can't we love each other? Where is that revolution that will have that effect on the word? Where is the revolution that will cause love? This is the revolution we speak about."
This theme of heart-based inner transformation is also explored on the track "Changes."
"There's a balance between the spiritual side and the material side," Ziggy continues. "We are spiritual people who care about the physical well-being of the human family. So 'Changes' and 'Personal Revolution' are part of the political and social and economic aspect of how we're living on the earth. We have to address that, but the most important thing and the reason why we have not been able to solve the economic, social and political thing is because we haven't had that spiritual revolution that we need. There has to be a balance. We have to understand how to love each other before we can solve all the other problems in the world. Do you want us to keep on repeating history? Every few years there's another dictator, there's another greedy Wall Street tycoon and corporations who don't care for the people. We're going to keep having these problems unless human beings change."
Since his earliest days fronting the Melody Makers, in his own unique way Ziggy has furthered his father's legacy as a messenger of truth. Encouraging hope and awakening consciousness, he has increasingly sought to promote unity through spreading the uplifting message of love as a religion. And not beholden to popular trends, he continues to craft what he calls "real music that grooves" with a spiritual element.
While addressing personal revolution and the need for change on "Wild and Free," he also talks about the evolution of his life and family issues with "Roads Less Traveled."
"Now my daddy had a lot of women and my mama had a lot of grief," he sings. "And the brethrens that surrounded him became the enemies, cause greed can't be satisfied by money and jealousy's a disease."
" 'Roads Less Traveled' is a song I've been working on all my life," he explains. "I drew it from the vaults of my memory. It gives a quick view of my overall life and family stuff. I've done a lot of things outside of the box, even within my own family culture. I left Jamaica, I lived by myself and took some different roads. I think I've learned from the mistakes of my father in terms of having a lot of women. I don't follow those roads; I follow my own path."
Backed on the album by a stellar group, including legendary Jamaican drummer Santa Davis and former Miles Davis and current Rolling Stones bassist Daryl Jones, Ziggy is joined by a few guests including rapper Heavy D, his son Daniel and Maui's Oscar-nominated movie star Woody Harrelson.
Who knew Woody could sing?
The acclaimed actor proves himself a worthy collaborator with the reggae star on the album's title track, which espouses the joys of ganja and the utility of hemp.
"Everybody is talking about the green revolution and environmental awareness, but nobody is talking about cannabis as a part of that solution," he says. "I grew up with that plant in a spiritual-religious perspective and then I learned about its industrial use. So I wanted to put some energy into having people think differently about this plant rather than what has been fed to us, all the lies and the stereotypes. I think this plant is a savior."
So how did he manage to secure Woody's participation?
"It wasn't planned," says Ziggy. "He came to visit, and I was working on the song. I said, 'Woody, come sing.' I didn't know Woody could sing."
Since releasing "Wild and Free" last year, this five-time Grammy winner has been touring in support of the album, including opening for Shakira on her "Pop Festival" tour in South America, and performing at the Lovebox Festival and V Festival in the U.K., Summer Sonic in Japan and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
This year Ziggy was one of a number of leading artists from Pete Townshend and Sting to Elvis Costello and Adele, contributing to Amnesty International's benefit CD "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan." He helped promote the project by performing Dylan's classic "Blowin' in the Wind" solo on the Late Night Show with David Letterman.
"I fit well with that song because of our history, my father's legacy and my music," he notes. "It was a song I could relate to and could recreate with my own feelings in it, so it was very appropriate."
In April he will be heard on Jack Johnson's new CD, "Best of Kokua Festival Live," singing "Cry, Cry, Cry," from his "Family Time" album, joined by Jack and Paula Fuga.
And now on satellite radio he can be heard hosting his own monthly show, "Ziggy Marley's Legends of Reggae."
"I wanted to pay tribute to the unsung heroes and heroes of our music," he explains. "A lot of times everything is about Marley, Bob Marley, but there's so much in reggae music that I want people to be aware of. I feel I can shine some light on the legends."
Ziggy's dad is lauded anew in the documentary "Marley," which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Already acclaimed as the definitive biography of the reggae icon, it includes a wealth of new material with newly unearthed performance footage and home movies, and some unreleased Wailers' music like a gospel rendition of "No Woman, No Cry," with Peter Tosh on piano.
"Best of all is the music," praised a Wired review. "It positively bristles with life on the big screen. See it in a theater, and sit on the aisle so you have plenty of room to dance."
"I was at SWSX for the (U.S.) premier and people loved it," Ziggy reports. "It's a real good film. It's a good ride."
Ziggy, who was one of the doc's executive producers, says some of the material was even a revelation for him and his siblings.
"There were things I wasn't aware of especially in the early days and some stuff in the later days. Especially emotional for us was the period when he was sick and went to Germany. Us children didn't know much about that. It was definitely emotional and an eye-opening experience."
Plans this year include releasing a live album, beginning work on another studio project for 2013, "and doing some stuff outside of the box like a video game."
And of course he's looking forward to visiting our islands this week. Viewing Hawaii as an inspirational source, he included the song "Beach in Hawaii" on his "Love Is My Religion" album, and his latest work gives Maui a plug on the track "Get Out of Town."
"I've got to get out of town," he sings. "Where will I go, maybe to Maui or maybe to Fiji."
"I keep coming back to Maui and Hawaii," he concludes, chuckling.
* Ziggy Marley performs at the MACC at 5 p.m. Sunday. Also on the bill: Inner Circle and Maui's Marty Dread. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 on the day of the concert. VIP tickets are $65 in advance and $75 day of show (they include side-stage access as well as designated bars and restrooms). Applicable fees are added to the price of tickets, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Hawaiian legend Cyril Pahinui tops the bill at the "Ho'omau 2012" celebration at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens on Saturday. The event celebrates the 25th anniversary of Punana Leo O Maui's Hawaiian Language Immersion Preschool.
Other entertainers at the annual fundraising event include Peter Moon, Jeff Au Hoy, Malino, Halau Kahanilehua,Weldon Kekauoha, Rush House, Rebel Soljahs, Ho'aikane and the keiki of Punana Leo o Maui, Kula Kaiapuni O Maui and Princess Nahi'ena'ena.
* The celebration runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door. Advance tickets from Native Intelligence in Wailuku, Wai'ehu's Superstop, Uptown Chevron, Cute & Cuddly Botique, Solid Clothing Company, Pukalani Superette, Pacific Roots Tattoo, Hilo Hattie and Maui Theatre in Lahaina.
Olomana's Jerry Santos plays the MACC's Solo Sessions series at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the McCoy Studio Theater.
Initially founded as a duo featuring Santos and Robert Beaumont, Olomana captured the islands with its debut album, "Like A Seabird In The Wind." After Beaumont's death, they reorganized as a quartet with Haunani Apoliona, Wally Suenaga and Willy Paikuli joining the group.
Later solo albums by Apoliona and Santos garnered Hoku awards, as did the group's 1992 release, "E Mau Ana Ka Ha'aheo - Enduring Pride." In 2008 Santos and Apoliona (as members of Olomana) were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Santos' compositions have been recorded by many island artists including the Brothers Cazimero, Na Leo, Hapa, Don Ho, Melveen Leed, Hui Ohana and Henry Kapono.
* Tickets are $25 standard and $45 for VIP with artist meet-and-greet (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC as above.
Grammy-winning California rock band Switchfoot plays the Castle Theater at 7:30 tonight. First gaining mainstream recognition when their songs were featured in the Mandy Moore movie "A Walk to Remember," their subsequent major label debut, "The Beautiful Letdown," sold more than 2 million copies.
Their latest album, "Vice Verses," has been well received with Vox Magazine noting: "With over a decade in the music business, a double platinum album and a Grammy under its belt, it is clear from its new, innovative album 'Vice Verses,' that Switchfoot just keeps getting better and better."
* Tickets are $24.50, $29.50 and $56.50 (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC as above.
Folk-rocker Marc Black plays Makawao Union Church at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Based in Woodstock, N.Y., Black has recorded with an array of artists including Art Garfunkel, Taj Mahal, John Sebastian and Garth Hudson of The Band. His environmental songs include "No Frackin Way."
Lastly, prepared to be amazed by the phenomenally talented Raul Midon, who plays the MACC next Thursday, March 30. Hailed as a virtuoso guitarist, powerful pop/soul/jazz vocalist and remarkable composer, he's played with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock and Shakira. For proof, check out the YouTube video of India Arie teaming with Midon on "Back to the Middle" and Lennon's "Jealous Guy" at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2007.