After touring Australasia and S.E. Asia, the prog rock gods of Yes bring their classic symphonic sound to Maui on Sunday evening in the Castle Theater. Hawaii musician Makana will open the show. Racking up worldwide album sales of around 50 million, Yes is currently touring with founding bassist Chris Squire and veteran members, drummer Alan White and guitarist Steve Howe, plus keyboardist Geoff Downes (who was with them in the 1980s) and a new lead singer, Jon Davison.
The lead vocalist with the Tennessee-based rock band Glass Hammer, Davison was a member of the Yes tribute band Roundabout.
"The tour's going really great," says Alan White. "Jon Davison is really doing a great job. His harmonies and everything are fantastic."
YES consists of Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Jon Davison, Alan White and Geoff Downes. They will perform at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater Sunday beginning at 7:30 p.m.
ROB SHANAHAN photo
Acclaimed as a revolutionary pioneer of progressive rock music, Yes is known for its lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, electrifying musicianship and elaborate album art and staging.
They first dazzled audiences in 1971 with "The Yes Album." Resplendent with virtuosic musicianship it combined Jon Anderson's striking falsetto vocals, complex, multipart harmonies, layered guitar and bass parts and swirling keyboards, launching classic songs such as "Starship Trooper," "I've Seen All Good People" and "Yours Is No Disgrace," which became essential in their concerts.
With the induction of flamboyant keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Yes found a wizard who employed an entire bank of upwards of a dozen instruments, including Mellotron, various synthesizers, organ, two or more pianos and electric harpsichord.
"Fragile" followed with more extended gems including "Roundabout" and "Long Distance Runaround." Rolling Stone praised its combo of "gorgeous melodies, carefully crafted, constantly surprising arrangements, concise and energetic performances and cryptic but evocative lyrics."
In 1972, the ambitious "Close to the Edge" comprised only three long tracks, including "Siberian Khatru," a rock adaptation of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and the 19-minute title track, which mixed classical, psychedelic rock, pop and jazz elements. Time magazine hailed it as "the most provocative album of the year."
A year later, the band was captured in all its glory with the amazing, triple live work "Yessongs," featuring White drumming for the first time with Yes.
Before he began his nearly 40-year career as the drummer for Yes, White had played with John Lennon in the Plastic Ono Band, with George Harrison on "All Things Must Pass," and had toured with Joe Cocker.
He remembers getting a phone call one morning from the famous Beatle, thinking it was a joke.
"I was 20-years-old and I picked the phone up and thought it was a friend of mine playing around, so I put the phone down on him," White recalls. "He called back about 10 minutes later and said, 'It really is John Lennon. I saw you play in a club and I think you'd be great for this gig I have to do in a couple of days in Toronto.' That's when I dropped the phone and fell off my chair. A limo picked me up and there was Yoko and John at the airport. And then he says, 'I forgot to tell you Eric Clapton is playing guitar.' That's when Eric walked in."
The musicians headed to Canada for a legendary concert captured on the "Live Peace in Toronto" album. "We rehearsed on the plane," White continues. "I had a pair of drum sticks and played on the back of the seat."
That gig led to the drummer playing with Lennon on the "Instant Karma" single and the "Imagine" album and one of the most famous anthems of our time.
"I didn't know it at the time, but it became the song of the millennium," he says. "The lyrics still stand up today."
White had just finished touring Europe with Joe Cocker and the Mad Dogs and Englishmen when he got a call to join Yes.
"They said we've got a gig on Monday, so you've got three days (to learn all the material). Night and day I listened to Yes' music. All of a sudden I was playing in front of 10,000 people in Dallas, Texas. And here I am 40 years later, so it must have worked."
Success continued with "Tales From Topographic Oceans," another opus of four extended tracks, which topped the British charts and rose to No. 6 in the U.S.
After a series of band member changes, it wasn't until late 1983 that Yes triumphed again with the No. 1 single "Owner of a Lonely Heart," and the "90125" album, which sold more than 6 million copies.
Last year, Yes released its latest studio album, "Fly From Here." Even with a new singer replacing Jon Anderson, it was well received and a welcome return to the classic sound that made them so popular. It was produced by Trevor Horn, who had steered the band to chart-topping success with "90125."
Paste magazine raved the CD is "their best work since the '70s, an undeniable return to form. Guitarist Steve Howe reclaims his throne as the world's greatest prog-rock guitarist." And Blurt magazine praised: "As Yes is now in its sixth decade, the prog rock band shows on 'Fly From Here' that it can still make music that is fresh and lively."
"Trevor Horn has a good angle on what Yes should be sounding like at any time," White says. "He really captured the flavor of what the band should be doing in 2011 and 2012."
The album's positive reception has inspired the musicians to begin composing songs for a follow-up.
"We've been talking about it and keeping it in kind of the same vein," he reports.
In their concerts they're featuring music from the new album along with many Yes classics.
"We obviously can't do everything, the repertoire is so huge, but we cover some of the oldies like 'I've Seen All Good People,' 'Starship Trooper,' 'Yours Is No Disgrace' and 'Your Move' and a song from 'Drama," he explains.
"And we play a lot of the new album. A lot of people are enjoying it. We play a suite which is about 35 minutes long. The Japanese loved it."
A New Zealand Herald review of their April 1 show in Auckland praised: "The first song stretches out over 20-or-so spectacular minutes. 'Yours Is No Disgrace' sets the tone for the show with sprawling, multilayered songs that come in an array of parts and grand, epic endings. Though it's Davison's first show with the band, he does original singer Jon Anderson proud. And the star of the show is guitarist Steve Howe who plays four different guitars, and a mandolin, sometimes all within one song."
* Yes plays at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. Reserved tickets are $45, $65, $75 and $85 (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Celebrating their annual tradition of performing a Lei Day concert on Maui, The Brothers Cazimero return to the Castle Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Playing acoustic bass and a 12-string guitar, Robert and Roland Cazimero have made an indelible imprint on the face of contemporary Hawaiian music. Over four decades, the Brothers have released around 40 albums and won numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
Robert's wonderful solo album "Hula," released last year, was just nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year, Hawaiian Album of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Hawaiian Language Performance.
For their Lei Day concert, Robert and Roland will perform a full spectrum of their song catalog accompanied by hula dancers.
* The Brothers Cazimero perform at the Castle Theater on at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12, $28 and $37 (plus applicable fees), available as above. Pre-show dining in the Yokouchi Pavilion Courtyard, will be served by the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel.
King Paris' debut at Stella Blues last month was such a big hit, the mysterious musician is returning to the club for another exotic show on Friday night, backed by The Hypnotics and special guest percussionist Chandu the Genie Giant (aka Mick Fleetwood).
The "West-meets-East" night will again feature belly dancers, with King Paris fusing the influences of Ravi Shankar's sitar with Johnny Cash, Martin Denny's island romance with Nat King Cole, Ustad Ali Khan's Indian sarod with Screaming Jay Hawkins and Olatunji's African drums with the Rolling Stones. Sets include unique renditions of songs like the Stones' "Paint It Black," Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" and "Ring of Fire."
Grammy-nominated musician Rick Vito will also perform. The former guitarist with Fleetwood Mac and current lead vocalist/guitarist with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, Vito was hailed by blues legend John Mayall as "a master of his instrument." Over the years he's played with an astonishing range of leading artists from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, John Fogerty and Bob Seger, to Stevie Nicks, John Mayall, Roy Orbison and Little Richard. In 1987 he replaced Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac. The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band's debut recording, "Blue Again," received a 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album.
* Tickets for King Paris/ Rick Vito at Stella Blues Friday night are only $12. Ukulule player Derek Sebastian will open the show at 9 p.m.
On Saturday night HAPA perform at Stellas with a dinner/show for $60