A first for Maui and maybe anywhere in the world, musician Murray Thorne will present an ambitious, solo performance of Pink Floyd's epic "The Wall," tonight and Friday evening at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei.
This special two-night musical/visual extravaganza will include 360-degree synchronized room lighting by Keith Langlois of Epic Lighting and an interactive large screen movie.
"There are a lot of different elements involved," says Thorne. "It's pretty big. It's an enormous team effort."
SEAN MICHAEL HOWER photo
A longtime fan of Pink Floyd, Thorne began thinking about performing a version of "The Wall" a couple of years ago.
"I always played a lot of Pink Floyd in my solo sets, and one slow night I ended up playing most of side one of 'The Wall,' and I thought it would be neat to do it as an entire show one day," he explains. "Then about a year ago when Scott Johnson (of Dogtowne Design) and I were organizing the Zeptember show I met Keith Langlois, and he's a huge Pink Floyd fan and has been waiting to put together a light show for something like this.
"Early this summer we decided to do it and set a date and Keith came up with the idea of doing an end of the world party with the Mayan calendar and have some fun with it."
One of the top five bestselling albums of all time (with world-wide sales of more than 23 million), Floyd's innovative rock opera "The Wall" explored the world of a troubled, alienated rock star named Pink, who had lost his father during World War II.
Thorne felt especially drawn to the project for a number of reasons.
"Besides being a big fan of the album, I really like the story it tells," he says. "Roger Waters loosely based the character on himself. He lost his father to war when he was young and I can relate to it because my father died when I was young. My parents were from the World War II era. My uncle was killed in the war and another one was injured on D-Day on the beach. And so I grew up with a lot of World War II history that was reflected in the story of 'The Wall.' I like the character development as the story unfolds. He grows up and rebels and becomes a rock star and builds an emotional wall to close himself off from the world, and in the end, he has to tear his wall down. And I think the music is amazing and it's really fun to play."
So how has he approached such a complex work as a solo artist?
"I try to cover the songs as best I can," he explains. "I don't use any pre-recorded backing tracks, but I do use effects. I try to get in as many earmark effects as possible, basically playing all the songs and layering some sound effects on top."
Floyd fans have seen the band release remastered, expanded versions of their albums this year. "The Wall" is now available as an Immersion seven-disc box set which includes two CDs of demos and a recording of the 1980-81 stage show. An Experience edition features the original album and a single CD of demos.
And once again, "The Wall" composer Roger Waters has taken his mammoth production on the road, selling out soccer stadiums and baseball parks from Santiago, Chile, to San Francisco.
"I think it strikes some chords that may be just beneath surface in most of us," Waters recently told CBS. "What it's about is the walls that exist between human beings, whether on a family level or on a global level. And I think that resonates with people."
Thorne hasn't seen the live production, and says he started thinking about his presentation before Waters announced the 2012 tour. "People might think I'm just doing it because he is, but it's just coincidental."
Adding to the uniqueness of the event, Thorne has created a movie to enhance the experience.
"We've put together a movie that's timed with the music that will be projected on a large screen behind me playing," he notes. "And Keith came up with the idea of a 360-degree interactive light show, so the lights are timed with the video and music, and the lights are all around the room, above and behind the audience."
He says he avoided watching Alan Parker's live-action/animated musical film version of the album to craft something more personal. "I'm trying to make it as personally mine as possible. Most of the images are images I searched out that are relevant to the songs and the story. Only here and there I stole tidbits of the Gerald Scarfe art work, because you can't not have that, the characters of the mother, the wife and the judge. Everything else I invented on my own."
Raised in Canada, Thorne spent the early part of his career touring with several bands before branching off as a solo artist. Playing small clubs across North America, he was later invited to play with singer Henry Small, and shortly after was hired to tour with Raymond May. After some success, which included opening for Iggy Pop and Aerosmith, Thorne eventually found his way to Hawaii.
Acclaimed Maui-based producer Bob Rock, who has steered the music of bands like Metallica and Motley Crue, was instrumental in drawing Thorne here.
"I knew Bob from Vancouver and I played in a band with his brother in law," he explains. "I also had a side job doing maintenance on Bob's house. So when they moved here and he was building his studio he said, 'Why don't you come over and help build the studio?' and I moved to Maui permanently."
Living on Maui since 1997, Thorne played briefly with Rock in the country band Silver River Rustlers, and is probably best known for his exuberant performances with the Irish music band the Celtic Tigers, who play Mulligans on the Blue on Sunday nights.
"When Mulligans first opened I met Mike (O'Dwyer), the owner, and he asked me, 'Can you play Irish music?' I basically said I'll give it a shot. It was familiar for me because of the British side of my family; my uncle owned a pub. So I just started playing with an Irish band and I've been playing with them ever since. I'm not a traditionalist, my approach is slightly punky like The Pogues and The Waterboys."
And most Thursday nights he performs solo at Mulligans, often including original songs from his solo album "Tin Can Tuesdays," on which he played most of the instruments.
Excited about presenting "The Wall" on Maui he concludes: "I really think it's going to be an amazing show. Seeing it come together with the lights and video has been so much fun. I'm very excited about it and I'm so lucky to have this team of people, because there's no way I could have done this on my own. And Stellas has been great too because we're pretty much redecorating their backroom and changing it completely. Even if you're not a Pink Floyd fan you will be entertained by it."
* Murray Thorne presents Pink Floyd's "The Wall" tonight and Friday at Stella Blues Cafe. Violinist Wenlu Duffy will open. Dinner/show seating at 6 p.m., show only at 7 p.m. Seating is limited. Tickets are $60 for show and dinner, available at Stella Blues. Show only tickets are $30, available at Request Music in Wailuku and Just Wing It in Kihei. Tickets are also available online at www.intheflesh.eventbrite.com
Mark your 2013 calendars for Jan. 12 because Mulligans will host a guaranteed memorable show when Willie K will rock the house with a "Blues on the Blue BBQ" featuring legendary guitarist Elvin Bishop, acclaimed Austin-based singer Angela Strehli (known as the "First Lady of Texas Blues") and drummer extraordinaire Mick Fleetwood sitting in.
From jamming with blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter in Chicago, to playing lead guitar alongside Mike Bloomfield with the seminal Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and later pursuing a successful solo career, Bishop still thrills audiences today. Check him out playing at this year's Voice of the Wetlands Festival: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZk4GgneBlk. Just imagine Willie and Elvin shredding together!
Opening blues acts include the Tom Conway Band, The House Shakers, Bobby Ingram and Mike Carroll.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day of show. Tickets are available at Mulligans on the Blue, Uncle Willie's Kloset in Wailuku and online at www.williekblues.eventbrite.com.
Coming up sooner at Mulligans, Makana will present a post-Christmas dinner show from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. For reservations, call 874-1131.
And finally, major congratulations to the three Maui musicians who were just nominated for a Grammy - Keola Beamer for his superb "Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love)" CD and his contribution to the "Descendants" soundtrack, plus Jeff Peterson, whose music was also featured in the film, and Peter Kater for his album "Light Body, which marks his eighth New Age nomination in 10 years.