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Groove to the return of reggae favorite Rebelution

Rory Carey (from left), Marley Williams, Eric Rachmany and Wes Finley are Rebelution, which performs at 6 p.m. Friday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater in Kahului. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tribal Seeds and Hirie open the show. Tickets for general admission are $29.50, $39.50 and $49.50, with a limited number of $89.50 VIP tickets. Prices will increase day-of-show. VIP tickets offer access to premium viewing locations and separate restrooms and beverage areas. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the artists

One of the most popular reggae bands to play in Hawaii, Rebelution returns at 6 p.m. Friday to Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater in Kahului touring in support of its latest album, “Free Rein,” hailed as one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. The Pier Magazine noted Rebelution is at the pinnacle of reggae-rock.

“Celebrate,” the album’s first single, captures their wide appeal with righteous, positive lyrics buoyed by a chilled reggae groove. “Keep it together, live stronger,” sings the band’s lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Rachmany. “Mentally strong to live longer.”

“I want people to stand tall and stand proud and think positively because no matter what, things can get better,” Rachmany reports. “I want people to play this song and feel good about their lives and who they are in their own skin. That’s what I want people to feel.”

Formed in 2004 while its members were attending University of California, Santa Barbara, Rebelution includes Rory Carey on keyboards, drummer Wesley Finley, bassist Marley Williams and Zach Meyerowitz, who tours with them on trumpet.

Hawaii quickly caught on to their bright sound, with reggae fans in our state calling radio stations to play “Safe and Sound” from their 2007 breakthrough album, “Courage to Grow.”

Catch Kanekoa on Friday evening at the main entertainment stage at the Maui Fair. Photo courtesy the artists.

“When we went to Hawaii for the first time, we couldn’t believe how many people knew our music, and ‘Safe and Sound’ was like a big summer hit,” Rachmany explained. “It was an incredible experience.”

With each successive album, from “Courage to Grow” to “Bright Side of Life,” their popularity increased leading to major festival dates at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Glastonbury in the UK.

Despite giving away half of the album to their fans during the six weeks leading up to its release, the band’s third album, “Peace of Mind,” became their most popular. A triple CD priced as a single album, “Peace of Mind” featured a standard studio album, a stripped-down acoustic version of the same songs and a dub remix of the 12 tracks.

In 2014, they released “Count Me In,” an infectious recording that highlighted the band’s desire to inspire their fans to have a positive impact in their lives. The album featured a couple of special guest appearances — dancehall singer Collie Buddz on the track “Hate To Be the One” and legendary reggae vocalist Don Carlos on “Roots Reggae Music.”

Routinely topping the Billboard Reggae Chart, the band is now tied with UB40 and Beenie Man for the third-most No. 1s on the chart, following Bob Marley and Matisyahu.

“We are in a position where we can make a positive impact on people,” Rachmany says. “Generally in our music there is an underlying message of positivity and encouragement and motivation.”

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With two albums now released, Maui’s Kalani Pe’a has proved himself as one of our most innovative contemporary Hawaiian artists. A Grammy- and Na Hoku Hanohano-award winner for his acclaimed debut album, Pe’a returns to the MACC on Saturday to celebrate the release of his impressive “No ‘Ane’i” recording.

Likely to earn him more awards, Pe’a’s latest CD raises the bar once again as he skillfully blends musical influences to enhance his Hawaiian songs.

“It’s Hawaiian contemporary soul,” he says. “It’s who I am as an artist. I’m evolving, and I stay true to my roots and values.”

In February last year, he became the first Hawaiian artist to win the Best Regional Roots Grammy award since the category was created in 2012. With a Hoku win a few months later for his debut album, “E Walea,” it marked the first time a Hawaii recording artist had won both a Grammy and a Hoku award for the same album.

Born in Hilo, music became a form of therapy for him. Diagnosed with a speech impediment at the age of 4, conventional speech therapy didn’t seem to work for Pe’a, so his mother suggested he start singing to help him pronounce words.

“I got into music because of the love and passion that my parents gave me,” he recalls.

Fluent in Hawaiian, Pe’a views himself as a modern “kanaka maoli,” or “Native Hawaiian,” who can cite Genoa Keawe, Helen Desha Beamer, the Lim Family and Kekuhi Kanahele as inspirations, while idolizing Luther Vandross and Luciano Pavarotti. 

He last performed at the MACC on Sept. 16, joining Henry Kapono on stage for a thrilling version of Stevie Wonder’s “All in Love is Fair,” which is featured on the “Songs of C&K” benefit album.

* Pe’a performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC with special guest, Na Wai ‘Eha. Tickets are $30 and $45 (plus applicable fees). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.

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The annual BMI Maui Songwriters Festival returns to the MACC on Dec. 1 with country superstar Miranda Lambert as the headliner. The first country artist to see each of her five albums debut at the top of the Billboard charts, Lambert will not only perform as a solo act, but also with the country supergroup the Pistol Annies, which also features Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley.

Lambert’s most recent recording, the platinum-selling double-disc “The Weight of These Wings,” was widely acclaimed.

Saving Country Music praised: “How rare it is for a top tier country music artist to release a double record in the modern era. Miranda Lambert has wrestled back the attention of the mainstream country consciousness with her ambitious and forward-thinking project.”

While PopMatters noted, “Lambert has delivered some of the best work of her career. ‘The Weight of These Wings’ is destined to be not only a classic country album but is one of the best, most personal artistic statements by a major artist and public figure, done with class and grace.”

On Nov. 2, Lambert and the Pistol Annies will release their latest album, “Interstate Gospel.”

Other artists appearing at the festival include Jessi Alexander, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Luke Combs, Dallas Davidson, Randy Houser, Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers, Lukas Nelson, Lily Meola, Jon Randall and The Warren Brothers.

Performances will also be presented at Fleetwood’s on Front St. and at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.

* Tickets are $49, $69, $89 and $129, with a limited number of $149 Gold Circle premium seating. The premium seats have access to the Yokouchi Courtyard with dedicated bars and restrooms. Tickets go on sale Saturday for the MACC (members only) and for other venues. For more information and tickets, visit www.mauisongwritersfestival.com.

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The annual Maui Fair can always be counted on to provide an array of great musical talent, beginning tonight at 7:30 with Hawaiian legends the Makaha Sons. Friday evening will kick off with the ukulele reggae rock of Kanekoa at 6:30, followed by The Exiles on Maui, a tribute to the music of the Rolling Stones at 8 and the Trance & Mackie Karaoke Showdown at 10.

Kaina Kountry will open Saturday’s music at 11 am. In the evening, Ekolu will play at 7, and Blayne Asing at 9:30.

Finally on Sunday, Ahumanu opens at 11:00 a.m., followed by Kaleo Phillips at 1 p.m. Grammy-nominee Josh Tatofi opens the evening lineup at 6,

with Homestead performing at 8, and Uncle Willie K drawing fair entertainment to a close at 9:30.

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The 2018 Festivals of Aloha will present a number of cultural events in Hana, beginning on Saturday with a parade and celebration featuring Hawaiian entertainment and crafts in Hana Ball Park between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Festivities will conclude on Oct. 13 with an “Aloha Ho’olaule’a” at Hana Bay from 6 to 10 p.m. with local cuisine and entertainment. For more information, visit www.festivalsofaloha.com.

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Coming up at 9 p.m. Oct. 12, Portland’s Dancehall Days band will play Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia. The versatile band features twin lead singers Christie and Darcy Bradley. They previously performed on Maui at Fleetwood’s on Front St. presenting a tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” album. The band will return to the Lahaina club at 9 p.m. Oct. 13 performing Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits.

* Tickets at the door for Charley’s are $10. For more information, call 579-8085. Tickets for Fleetwood’s start at $20. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 669-6425 or visit www.fleetwoodsonfrontst.com.

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