In the last few years some contemporary bands on Maui have emerged with the potential for appeal far beyond the islands. We can now add Maui Underground to that list based on their new album "World's in a Mess."
Describing themselves as performing a mix of Middle Eastern, blues, Latin, funk and hip-hop beats with trippy acid jazz, Maui Undergound is the brainchild of Upcountry musician Greg diPiazza.
Since landing on Maui in the late 1980s, Greg has devoted himself to creating music out of the norm in ensembles like Volcano Jones, Manchild and Twisted Fisherman. Now teamed with his wife, didgeridoo virtuoso Alana Cini, Greg has produced his most impressive work so far.
Duo Alana Cini and Greg diPiazza of Maui Underground will perform during Fleetwood’s Full Moon Party: Rocking the Roof Top at Fleetwood’s on Front St. on Wednesday.
KEVIN OLSON photo
A number of tracks are strong enough to pop up on rock radio formats like the hard driving "The Beat," which roars with echoes of the Stones, The Doors and the funky rock of INXS. And "Counting Angels" kicks with a U2 groove, while the anthemic, catchy title track, which calls for planetary transformation, could land them a hit.
"We were invited to perform at the "Playing for Change" event (on Maui) when there were concerts being done on the same day all around the world," Alana says of the song's genesis. "I asked Greg if he would write a song specifically for this event. The whole sound of the tune is very calming and hypnotic."
A video to help promote "World's in a Mess" is being produced by Douglas DeBoer, who will contribute a visual backdrop when Maui Underground performs songs from the album at a Full Moon Jam party at Fleetwood's on Front St. on Wednesday.
"Douglas is really a visual alchemist," notes Alana. "He triggers visual images live with a MIDI keyboard, so that will be behind Maui Underground as we play."
The Fleetwood's' gig will feature Greg and Alana performing as a trio with drummer Indio Kualii. And Mick Fleetwood will sit in on percussion.
"I'll get my talking drum and other bits and pieces and it will be fun," says Mick. "They're really good and I love what they do. I'm looking forward to it."
Mick had previously enjoyed seeing them perform at the Pioneer Inn. "He was impressed with Greg's style of original music and the mix of organic rock and hypnotic overtones of didgeridoo," adds Alana.
Besides composing all the tracks and playing all the lead guitar parts on the album, Greg was responsible for most of the keyboards, drums and bass. "I've been playing every instrument my whole life," he says.
Additional musicians on "World's in a Mess" include Indio on drums, saxophonist Paul Bunuan on "Hip Hop Rodeo," plus percussionist Tato Melgar, Id Thompson on keyboards on the tripped-out, jazz rock fusion of "Heart Full Of Gold" and the seductive "Sex Fantasy," and keyboardist Toby Coture on the title track.
Discussing the hopeful impact of the new album, Greg explains, "We decided to do a concept for the majority of the album to help heal the world. It sounds pretentious, but we honestly feel it's time for us to give back. We want to inspire people with this music."
His partner also views it as an expression of their love. "The album is really a combination of things, a combination of the love that Greg and I have found with each other, which includes romance, music, art and sexiness. I think the whole album is about our relationship and part of it is about healing the world. We decided to put out an album that reflected the love we share together and bring together Greg's amazing talent and the magic of the didgeridoo."
Acclaimed as one of America's leading didg players (and daughter of legendary entertainer Al Martino), Alana previously performed with the Seattle-based band Merkaba before moving to Maui. More recently she opened Aerosmith's epic concert at the War Memorial Stadium, playing with Vince Esquire.
"I get inspired by what she does and I write stuff with the didgeridoo in mind, like 'Counting Angels' was specifically written for the didgeridoo," says Greg. "I wanted to write an album that was different from any didgeridoo album ever, with the didgeridoo at the forefront of the music the whole time. It's not like a normal didgeridoo album. 'Jupiter and Mars' and 'Hummingbird' were the first songs I wrote for Alana, they're love songs written to her. And 'Razor Love' is about having pain in love and being committed. Mick Fleetwood loved it - he said, 'That song is going to be your hit.' "
Maui Undergound will perform at Fleetwood's Full Moon Party: Rocking the Roof Top at Fleetwood's on Front Street. at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. There is no charge. The evening will include tarot card readings and telescope viewing of the night sky.
Greg diPiazza performs solo from from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays at Tommy Bahama, and from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays on the Lahaina Princess Dinner Cruise. Greg and Alana perform as a duo from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays at the Pioneer Inn.
With record sales topping 100 million, including 21 Top 10 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums and five No. 1 singles, Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful U.S. rock groups, second only to the Beach Boys in terms of singles and albums sales.
Chicago will return to the MACC on Jan. 15.
Their many hits include "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "25, or 6 to 4," "Saturday In The Park," "Wishing You Were Here"and Feelin' Stronger Every Day."
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets are $45, $55, $75, and a limited number of premium seats at $125, plus applicable fees.
The Maui Historical Society will host its 11th annual fundraiser, "E Ho'oulu Aloha - To Grow in Love" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku.
The entertainment will include Uluwehi Guerrero, Richard Ho'opi'i and Lei'ohu Ryder. This celebration of Hawaiian culture will also feature Hawaiian arts and crafts vendors, food booths and a silent auction.
Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or a low-back beach chairs.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door, which includes admission to the Bailey House Museum on concert day. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with a paid adult. Tickets are available at the Bailey House Museum, by calling 244-3326 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a great day of music, head over to the North Shore on Saturday for the Paia Ukulele Festival.
This free event takes place directly behind Johnny B's Burgers at 65 Hana Hwy. from noon to 5 p.m. Enjoy the music of Paula Fuga, Richard Ho'opi'i, CJ Helekahi, Wilson Kanaka'ole, Benny Uyetake, Deason Kaohelo, The Hula Honeys, Robbie Ray Lopaka, Zenshin Daiko Taiko Drummers and the Kalama School Ukulele Band.
The fest also includes free ukulele workshops, craft booths and test rides on a Segway. No coolers or outside food will be allowed.
Besides music at the Oceanfront Stage, entertainers will also perform as part of the festival at Turnbull Art Gallery and Paia Bistro from 2 to 4 p.m. with Robbie Ray Lopaka, and at the Paia Inn from 6 to 8 p.m. with Wilson Kanaka'ole.
Plus on Friday, Kanaka'ole plays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Fatburger Pukalani, and Benny Uyetake performs at Whole Foods in Kahului from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Following the recent Led Zep tribute, it's time to pay respects to the greatest rock guitarist with a Tribute to Jimi Hendrix 70th birthday bash on Saturday at Threes Bar & Grill in Kihei.
This special "guitar showcase and 60's costume party" assembles a stellar lineup of Maui talent including Vince Esquire, Marty Dread, Avi Ronen, Don Lopez, Maui Underground, Nils Rosenblad, Gina Martinelli, Chris Sendrey, Divino, Benny Uyetake, Dave D, James Somera, Kenny Blu, Gerit Williams, Josh Greenbaum, Shawn Michaels, Paul Marchetti, Rob Wright and Lenny Francis.
Tickets are $15, available from The Wine Corner in Paia, Request Music, Maui Coffee Roasters, and Threes. Show runs from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. For more information, call 572-1000.