Musical craftsman returns to Maui with fresh songs
Country singer Lee Brice was destined for stardom ever since he co-wrote Garth Brooks’ hit “More Than a Memory,” the first single in the history of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart to debut at No. 1.
That success continued with his own composition, “Love Like Crazy,” from his debut album, which set a record as the longest-charting song in the Billboard Country chart’s history.
In 2012, his follow-up “Hard 2 Love,” sold gold and featured three No. 1 singles, including “I Drive Your Truck,” which won song of the year at the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards.
“The best songs are the soulful and revealing ballads,” noted Taste of Country. “Brice is at his best when he pushes a man’s emotions to the limits of comfort in words he’d use to open up.”
Brice told the Baltimore Sun: “I love writing ballads. When I was a kid, and even to this day, I was a sucker for Vince Gill and the ballads. Maybe it’s because I grew up singing in church, and there’s a lot of soul and ballads sang in church.”
Then in 2014, the Grammy-nominated musician scored the year’s first platinum-selling country hit with the title track from his third album, “I Don’t Dance,” which was a gift for his wife on their wedding day. Again, he won single of the year at the ACM Awards.
Brice reported he titled the album “I Don’t Dance” as symbolic of his refusal to, “dance in the box of Nashville.”
Last year he released his fourth album, the self-titled “Lee Brice,” which included guest guitarist Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band.
“This is the best record I’ve ever made,” he told Billboard. “I set out on a mission to write a groovy record with a real band playing real stuff. This is just me singing and playing alongside my band. Real deal music about real deal things playing with real people.”
Sounds Like Nashville praised: “The best material on this disc comes from real life and appreciating your blessings of what you have in life. It’s a sentiment that comes across on such cuts as the moving ‘Songs in the Kitchen,’ as well as the masterfully-written ‘Story to Tell (Little Bird)’.”
A little rain didn’t deter folks from enjoying Willie K and his trio at Makawao’s Third Friday Town Party, enthralling all with an almost two-hour set ranging from a rousing “Born Under a Bad Sign” to his hit “Katchi Katchi Music Makwao.” Besides being an amazing musician, Willie could easily have a career as a comedian — he’s that funny. On Dec. 1, he will unleash his comedic talent at Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea in “a Haole, a Hawaiian & a Hillbilly” show from 7 to 10 p.m. Presale tickets are $20 and are available at www.mauicomedylive.com or by calling 280-6581. Tickets will also be available at the door. This is a 21 and older event.
Legendary spiritual teacher/author Ram Dass will host the 13th annual Thanksgiving Satsang program, a benefit for the Maui Food Bank, from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Makawao Union Church.
Grammy-nominated kirtan leader Krishna Das will also participate. His popular albums include “Live Ananda,” “Pilgrim Heart,” featuring Sting and “All One,” with Steely Dan’s Walter Becker.
The program will include traditional Indian music, kirtan (chanting), meditation and a dialogue between Ram Dass and Krishna Das.
Das will also lead an en“CHANTing” evening of kirtan at 7 p.m. Monday at the Makawao Union Church.
His latest album, “Peace of My Heart,” is subtitled “Chants to Calm the Mind and Ease the Heart.”
“I have a dear friend who works with children with autism and special needs, and she teaches them yoga using my CDs,” he reports. “The chanting has a soothing and relaxing effect on the kids. But when the chants sped up, the kids got anxious and became distracted. When she told me this, I offered to make longer versions of the same chants, but keeping a steady tempo and without speeding up. This recording is the result of her request.”
At the Maui events, he will be joined by Arjun Bruggeman on tabla and percussion, Genevieve Walker on violin, Mark Gorman on bass and Nina Rao on finger cymbals and backing vocals.
• Admission to each event is $40 cash in advance, and $50 cash at the door. Tickets are available from Maui Kombucha in Haiku, MacNet in Kahului, Monsoon India Restaurant in Kihei and Island Spirit Yoga in Lahaina, or online at www.
krishnadas.com. Participants to the Thanksgiving Sunday Satsang program are encouraged to bring organic boxed/canned food donations for the Maui Food Bank.
Maui’s Kaleo Phillips recently released his first solo album, “E Mama,” which he dedicated to his mother.
Featuring eight original compositions and four favorite contemporary and classic covers, the opening title track blends male and female vocals beautifully as he sings about his mother’s strength and guidance, and how he cherishes “our moments together.”
Next comes a sweet version of Uncle George Naope’s “Ka Nani A’o Ka’u” (The Beauty of Ka’u), with Aunty Waddi Kaina on piano. And so it goes with one enchanting song after another, all enhanced by exemplary instrumentation and vocals.
Standouts include the gorgeous Hawaiian originals “Noe Ke Alaula” and “Ka Lamaku,” and a fun, catchy dip into Jawaiian on “Brighter Life,” which prominently features Kapena De Lima.
Other guests on “E Mama” include Wailau Ryder and Randy Lorenzo on bass, Kamakoa Lindsey-Asing on guitar and Josh Kahula on ukulele, along with Ikaika Blackburn, Pi’ilani Arias, Damon Williams and Justin Phillips on backing vocals.
Born and raised on Maui, Phillips grew up in a musical family and has performed with many Hawaiian artists. In 2004, he formed the trio Pono with Kahula and Arias.
In the CD liner notes, Willie K says, “Kaleo Phillips brings a new refreshing sound and wakes your heart up with a smile. Music that will make your spirit jump” and “lomi lomi your mind.”
No surprise if this contemporary Hawaiian musician’s outstanding debut makes a big impression next year at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
• Phillips performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $20 and $40 (plus applicable fees). For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.
George Kahumoku Jr. has launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete a new CD and DVD. He needs to raise around $20,000 to cover production costs. The first project will be an anthology of favorite songs, “Reminiscing,” which includes performances with his son, Keoki, his brother, Moses, Norton Buffalo and Daniel Ho. The other project is Uncle George’s first slack key guitar instructional DVD. For more information or to donate, visit kck.st/2zsb8gU.
The Maui Choral Arts Association will present “Peace on Earth” — A Holiday Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at the MACC’s Castle Theater.
The concert features artistic director Gary Leavitt and pianist Lotus Dancer with a chorus of talented singers kicking off the holiday season with classics with a twist, new selections and sing-alongs.
• Tickets are $30 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting online www.mauiarts.org.
A Jimi Hendrix 76th Birthday Bash will feature more than 30 Maui musicians paying tribute to the rock legend from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea.
A four-disc 50th anniversary deluxe edition of Hendrix’s masterpiece “Electric Ladyland” has just been released. It includes demos and studio outtakes and a new 5.1 surround-sound mix of the album by Hendrix’s original engineer, Eddie Kramer. The new cover art was shot by Linda (McCartney) Eastman, who photographed the band with some children at the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York’s Central Park. It was Hendrix’s own choice for the cover.
Originally released in 1968, “Electric Ladyland” featured the classic tracks “All Along the Watchtower,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” “Crosstown Traffic” and “Burning of the Midnight Lamp.”
• The show will include a ’60s-style costume party. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and are available at: Eventbrite.com, Mulligans, Request Music in Wailuku, Bounty Music in Kahului and The Enchantress Gallery at The Shops of Wailea. For more information, call 572-1000.
Before heading to rock the MACC on Dec. 27, Steven Tyler will be heard on an upcoming CD joining Willie Nelson (with his sons Lukas and Micah), Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow singing “All You Need is Love” at the John Lennon 75th anniversary concert held in New York in 2015. Tyler also sang the Beatles’ “Come Together” and “Revolution.”
Because of scheduling issues, Lukas Nelson and Tom Johnstone will not be able to perform at the BMI Maui Festival on Dec. 4.