Rebelution has a special fondness for Hawaii. Reggae fans in our state were some of the first in the nation to pick up the Californian band's infectious music, calling radio stations to play, "Safe and Sound," from their 2007 breakthrough album, "Courage to Grow."
Fly on Hawaiian Airlines to the Mainland today and you'll find that tune on the in-flight Hawaiian Sky Rhythms channel along with Willie K, Anuhea and The Green.
"Besides Santa Barbara where we started, Hawaii was one of the first places to pick up on our music through MySpace and the Internet," explains Rebelution's lead singer/guitarist Eric Rachmany. "When we went to Hawaii for the first time, we couldn't believe how many people knew our music and the song, 'Safe and Sound,' was like a big summer hit. It was an incredible experience, so we will always remember Hawaii. It's like a home away from home."
Rebelution will headline The Red Star Music Festival Friday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Photo courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Brother Noland wowed the Maui Jazz & Blues Festival crowd Sept. 15 with his Hawaiian-style blues, including a brilliant rendition of “Summertime” with sax player Eric Marienthal.
JON WOODHOUSE photo
Rebelution returns to our shores on Friday, headlining The Red Star Music Festival at the MACC. This time around they're touring in support of their acclaimed new album "Peace of Mind."
Besides the fact that the recording boasts a bunch of catchy new songs crafted with sterling musicianship, the band took the unusual step of releasing a triple CD all for the price of one.
There's a standard studio album, and a stripped down acoustic version of the same songs, as well as a dub remix of all 12 tracks.
"We're all inspired by different genres of music, we all listen to a wide variety of music," Rachmany says about their latest project. "I grew up listening to a lot of acoustic music and so the acoustic CD was a no-brainer. As far as the dub album, we all listened to it. Dub is such a huge part of reggae music. Reggae is definitely our foundation when we come together as a live band, but we definitely try to mix it up."
Each CD presents unique facets of the band. Listening to the acoustic set, you would probably have no idea they are fundamentally a reggae group. And even on the primary album they infuse creative elements like the acoustic guitar opening to the lovely "Route Around," and the Middle Eastern instrumentation (including an oud) on "Life on the Line."
"My parents are Persian and I grew up with this listening to a lot of Middle Eastern music as a kid," Rachmany notes. "When it came to 'Life on the Line,' I had a kind of Middle Eastern mindset writing the song. Our producer ended up finding a couple of guys in Israel when he was out there to lay the tracks over the entire song."
Guests contributing include Blues Traveler's John Popper, Zumbi of Zion-I, Jacob Hemphill from SOJA, and Jamaica's Lutan Fyah.
Many of the band's songs offer encouragement and inspiration. "We started to realize we were developing such a loyal fan base, people were leaving the shows with such a positive attitude," he says. "We are in a position where we can make a positive impact on people. Generally in our music there is an underlying message of positivity and encouragement and motivation."
Formed in 2004, while its members were attending Santa Barbara College, Rebelution also features Matt Velasquez on vocals/guitar, Rory Carey on keyboards, drummer Wesley Finley, and bassist Marley Williams.
After releasing their self-titled EP in 2006, with each successive album from "Courage to Grow" to "Bright Side of Life" their popularity has increased.
These days they are even headlining concerts that include reggae stars from Jamaica and the U.K.
"A while ago we had the Wailers play with us in Chicago and I couldn't believe we were going on after a band like them, and going on after bands you respect so much like Steel Pulse," he notes. "These are the guys we were listening to before we were even in a band. It's definitely an honor to share the stage with them no matter what." Their bright, Californian-sun-soaked style of reggae has helped inspire their young fans to explore deeper roots. "I've been fortunate to link up with Don Carlos of Black Uhuru and he said, 'thank you for helping the resurgence of my career'," Rachmany marvels. "That was such an amazing compliment as he was such a huge influence. Now young people are getting into some of the roots music that we were listening to, so it's gone full circle."
* The Red Star Music Festival is presented on Friday at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center's A&B Amphitheater. The fest features Rebelution, Collie Buddz and The Grouch. Show time is 6 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $35 general admission, and $80 for VIP (plus applicable fees). Tickets are also available from the MACC Box Office or the Hard Rock Cafe in Lahaina.
Following the marvelous grand opening of Fleetwood's on Front St., Mick Fleetwood has been occasionally sitting in with some of the regular rooftop musicians like Tom Conway. On Saturday night, he will present a special unplugged performance of the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, featuring Rick Vito and special guests on the rooftop. Music begins at 8 p.m. All free.
Last weekend Anuhea was jamming with Mishka in Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel. This weekend she's back on Maui serenading folks at Stella Blues in Kihei.
After winning Na Hoku Awards for Contemporary Album and Most Promising Artist in 2010 for her debut recording, Anuhea finally released her superb follow-up, "For Love," in March.
Avoiding over-production, relying instead on her soulful vocal talent, the direct appeal of the material and deft instrumentation, she created another winner which underscored her maturing talent.
Anuhea performs on Friday and Saturday with dinner at 6 p.m. and show at 7:30 p.m. Show only costs $30 and four-course dinner and show is $60. Call 874-3779.
Time once again to pay homage to hard rock gods Led Zeppelin with the Zeptember III event at Mulligans on the Blue from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
As in previous years, Mulligans will likely be jam packed for this latest celebration of their music. Around 40 of our musicians will play their favorite Zep rockers, with bassist Shawn Michael and drummer Josh Greenbaum helming the rhythm section. Among the female singers participating are Deborah Vial, Cherl Rae, Sebrina Barron, Jessica Rabbitt, Joy Fields, Tempa Singer and Shea Derrick. Guitarists on board include Nils Rosenblad, Phil Ellison, Chris Sendrey, John Carroll Ryan Rego, Chad Kaya, Vince Esquire and Rama Covarrubias. Also on the bill, Halemanu and Kanoa and keyboardist Darrin Lenett.
Expect the usual favorites leading to a spectacular "Stairway" finale.
Tickets are $25 at the door, and presale are available for $20 at Mulligan's, 808 Deli, Just Wing It, Requests Music, Maui Coffee Roasters, Alice in Hulaland and Westside Vibes. A portion of this year's proceeds will benefit neighborhood organizations as the Kihei Youth Center and the Pa'ia Youth & Cultural Center. It's a 21-and-over show.
Ken Martinez-Burgmaier pulled off another successful event last weekend with the 2nd Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival at the Grand Wailea. Offering a rich variety of musical styles, fest-goers were treated to a spectrum of jazz and blues from the sweet, jazz-flavored slack-key guitar of John Keawe and Brother Noland's Hawaiian-style blues (including a brilliant "Summertime" joined by sax player Eric Marienthal), to the bubbling zydeco of Cory Ledet, the funk of former Kool & the Gang vocalist Skip Martin, the hard bop of saxophonist Javon Jackson teamed with drumming legend Louis Hayes (with an extraordinary homage to John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderly), and the raw, scalding blues of Joe Louis Walker.
Once again the festival showcased the winning combo of visiting stars backed by Maui musicians. "Let's get some love up here," Skip Martin called out at one point, shining the spotlight on keyboardist Shiro Mori, bassist Danny M and drummer Paul Marchetti. Earlier in the evening Fleetwood Blues Band keyboardist Mark Johnstone also contributed to the festivities.