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Jazz & Blues

Maui promoter presents seventh annual music fest on Big Island at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

The iconic Mauna Kea Beach Hotel property on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island will once again serve as host of the Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival. -- Photo courtesy the promoter

It’s official — the seventh annual Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival is sounding off through June 3 oceanfront at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast.

“We’ve had several hundred inquiries if our festival will be canceled due to the volcano eruptions on Hawaii Island,” says Maui-based promoter Ken K. Martinez Burgmaier. “Rest assured, we will be celebrating the seventh annual Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival! Please join us. Our festival is on the other side of the island, a three- hour drive away from all of the volcanic activity.”

Yet the lineup is as hot as it gets. Guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque, named the “Greatest World Music Guitarist” by Guitar Magazine, has worked with many legends including Sting, Dizzy Gillespie and Ramsey Lewis.

Others in the lineup include Grammy-winning Cajun accordionist Jo-El Sonnier, blues musician Fillmore Slim, sax player Javon Jackson, Cajun musician Michael Doucet and Grammy- and Hoku Award-winner John Keawe.

Doucet’s band, BeauSoleil, is acclaimed as the premiere traditional Cajun musical ensemble. Sonnier has been lauded in both the Cajun and country music worlds. In 2015, he won a Grammy for his Best Regional Roots Music Album. A former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, sax great Jackson has played with a number of leading jazz musicians including Freddie Hubbard and Elvin Jones. Slim (born Clarence Sims in New Orleans) has made eight CDs and has appeared at blues festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. Rappers Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Ice T have all dropped his name in their songs, according to Maui News’ music contributor Jon Woodhouse.

Grammy Award-winner Eric Marienthal plays saxophone at jazz fest last year. -- Photo courtesy the promoter

An acclaimed guitarist and singer, Hawaii’s Keawe is a Grammy-winner and he also is a Hoku Award-winner for his Slack Key Album of the Year for “Hawai’i Island . . . Is My Home.”

“While most of the events will be staged at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Thursday kicks off at the Redwater Cafe with a Jazz Fest Dinner Celebration in Waimea with chef-owner Dave Abrahams creating his award-winning cuisine with our renowned musicians who will erupt with jazz in the cafe!” Martinez Burgmaier says. It’s from 6 to 9 p.m. and dinner reservations sell out fast.

“It’s been seven years since I created the Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival for the Hawaii Island community, and we have been blessed with being sold out each year.”

On Friday, the Jazz Fest Dinner Celebration will flow from 6 to 9 p.m. oceanfront at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Copper Bar.

On Saturday, the jazz fun will continue from 5 to 9 p.m. oceanfront at Mauna Kea’s luau grounds. The gates open at 4:30 p.m. and no coolers or chairs are allowed.

“Ocean Vodka, Kula Rum and Maui Brewing Company are our official sponsors of spirts and beer,” he continues. “The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, built by Rockefeller, is truly one of the finest resorts and venues on the planet. We always tie in the Honoka’a School Children Select Jazz Band performing on the main stage with Grammy-winner Gary Washburn, educator at the school. This gives opportunities for students to meet with and talk to the musicians.”

On June 3, a special brunch will be presented at the hotel’s Manta Restaurant along with live jazz and blues from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

A la carte options for $12 per person include a cheese plate, Hirabara Farms mixed green salad, blackened mahi and steak tacos and ahi poke nachos. For special jazz-fest rates on accommodations at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Prince, call (866) 774-6236. For festival details, visit www.bigislandjazzandbluesfestival.com.

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