LOCAL BLOG, Winner A Maui Blog Website: http://www.amauiblog.com/ Visit Liza Pierce’s blog (tagline: “talking story since 2006”) and you’ll find meandering, easygoing musings on the people, places and things that make Maui, Maui. To quote from Pierce’s own mission statement, the goal is “to promote Maui’s beautiful island, unique culture and aloha spirit.” In a place where blogging, social networking and other new forms of content delivery have yet to be widely adopted, we salute A Maui Blog for taking the plunge and contributing something meaningful to the conversation.
She’s done it again. MauiTime’s readership bows down to the Morning Goddess. Her voice taps the syrup of every wise auntie who’s ever lived, and with her M-F, 6-10am show scoring the soundtrack to our commutes, she (true to her name’s meaning) “guides” us through our AM rituals. I too know the pith of this DJ deity’s sway, and as a keiki heeded her call to “get up, brush teeth, wash face and comb your hair”—only un-gluing my ears from my boom box long enough to hotfoot it to the school bus as it came barreling down the road (KPOA piped over the bus’s speakers too, of course). Heard the world-over (I’ve even met Kansans who live-stream her), she’s a Mauian’s Mauian, with lazer beam lashes, a flair for the fabulous and a heart for all Hawaii and its music. (P.S. Dear Shaggy: C’mon. You know your audience is too blazed to win you this one. Consider it a compliment.)
AKAKU PROGRAM, Winner Channel 53 Council Hearings Address: 333 N. Dairy Rd., Kahului, HI 96732 Phone: 871-5554 Website: www.akaku.org When you hear “entertainment,” it’s possible an hours-long discussion of local government isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. But if you’ve ever caught a Maui County Council meeting—either in person or on Akaku Channel 53—you know they’re more entertaining than they have any right to be. It starts with our decidedly colorful council, populated with opinionated, outsized and contrasting personalities. You can question their loyalties—and, in some cases, competence—but there isn’t one member you can classify as boring. And we haven’t even mentioned the diverse and sundry testifiers—earnest, intelligent, indignant, belligerent—who take the lectern for a few minutes of on-the-record glory (best is when a particularly animated individual is asked to stay for follow-up questioning). Whether you’re a hard-core public-affairs junkie or just looking for an amusing way to kill a little time, this is, if not riveting, at least better than a lot of the other crap that’s on.
When hip-hop began it’s rise back in the ‘80s, DJ Blast was just getting deep into the scene, mixing video on VHS for Banana Moon. Today, visual elements are still “a very important aspect” for DJ Blast, who with his crew projects montages onto an 8-foot screen amidst swirling dance hall lights. His company ChillTown Productions has been going strong for more than 20 years, and gets the crowd hopping everywhere from late-night venues (like Best Place to Dance, South Shore Tiki Lounge, every Monday night) to private parties and special events.
Guitar wielding and high-heeling, Smith is a top-shelf concoction whose recipe for success includes equal parts chops and go-getter guts. As the femme fatal front-woman of The Throwdowns, she’s charted (and started) her ascent to stardom, alongside “the boys,” Kimo Clark (bass), Ian Hollingsworth (drums) and Ola Shaw (guitar). With their debut Don’t Slow Down, the T’downs have fast become darlings of the radio request line and earned national distribution with ADA/Warner Music Group. But lucky (if) you live Maui, because this cherub-faced Canadian with a HI-style soul is still pro at rocking it solo, and “pays the bills” by belting it out at the best bars on the Valley Isle.
EDIT PICK: Best Venue Ceiling, Winner Iao Theater Address: 68 N. Market St., Wailuku, HI 96793 Phone: 242-6969 Fax: 242-7134 Website: www.mauionstage.com Like withered, crimson chrysanthemums, the coffers at the Iao Theater speak to the cachet of this historic venue. It’s tear-worthy to think these blooming architectural adornments were nearly lost to time, as the crumbling former vaudeville house fell into disrepair. Thanks to the community’s action in the ‘80s, by Maui Community Theater, now Maui OnStage, the revitalization of Iao (built in 1928) has today reached new heights. Of any entertainment house on Maui, it is the one with the most character and has harbored the most characters within it.
EDIT PICK: Best Fundraiser That Involves Copious Beer Drinking, Winner Maui Brewers Festival Website: http://www.mauiarts.org/special_events.html The Maui Brewers Festival, held in May, just celebrated its second year bringing amazing ales to Maui. Great brews from all over the world joined ono grinds and live entertainment to make for one incredible day. Bonus: the event is a fundraiser for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, so while you’re slamming back the suds you’re also supporting the island’s art scene. We’ll drink to that.
OPEN MIC NIGHT, Winner Maui Brewing Co. Address: 4405 Honoapiilani Hwy., Lahaina, HI 96761 Contact: Phil Cyr Phone: (808) 669-3474 Fax: (808) 669-0191 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.mauibrewingco.com Check, check. One, two. I love ties. It means more winners! And, in the case of this category, more opportunities to express, well, whatever it is you’re intent on expressing (I chuckled at one vote for “anyplace you can cut the sound off, if need be”). Whether its Wednesday on the West side or Tuesday night on the North Shore, there’s an open mic waiting for you. The format for open mic night is pretty standard wherever you go, so it’s the mood of a place that makes it meritorious. Moana Bakery & Cafe is a Baldwin Avenue mainstay that’s all colorful coziness and, frankly, I need but say “brew pub” to get the point across for Maui Brew Co. Both locales lend themselves to the acts being paid attention to, with sound systems that aren’t overpowering and a welcoming, neighborhood feel.
LOCAL TWITTER FEED, Winner MauiTime Address: 33 N. Market St. #201, Wailuku, HI 96793 Contact: Tommy Russo Phone: 808-283-0512 Website: http://www.mauitime.com Aw, shucks. Basically whatever we write here will come across as either: a) false humility; or b) shameless self-congratulation. So we’ll just take this opportunity to thank our hundreds of followers, and to promise that we’ll keep striving to refine and improve the content we put out, whether through microblogging, social networking, Web or our print edition. Oh, and if you don’t follow us yet, we invite you to do so. We’ll make it worth your clicks. (OK, a wee bit of shameless self-congratulation: A shout-out to Publisher Tommy Russo—@tommyrusso to his followers—who got MauiTime and its staff on Twitter back when most people still thought it was something birds did in the morning, and who continues to be one of the most prodigious, and savvy, techies on-island.)
Address: 71 Baldwin Ave, Paia, HI 96779 Contact: Don Ritchie Phone: (808) 579-9999 Check, check. One, two. I love ties. It means more winners! And, in the case of this category, more opportunities to express, well, whatever it is you’re intent on expressing (I chuckled at one vote for “anyplace you can cut the sound off, if need be”). Whether its Wednesday on the West side or Tuesday night on the North Shore, there’s an open mic waiting for you. The format for open mic night is pretty standard wherever you go, so it’s the mood of a place that makes it meritorious. Moana Bakery & Cafe is a Baldwin Avenue mainstay that’s all colorful coziness and, frankly, I need but say “brew pub” to get the point across for Maui Brew Co. Both locales lend themselves to the acts being paid attention to, with sound systems that aren’t overpowering and a welcoming, neighborhood feel.
LOCAL RADIO STATION, Winner Native 92.5 Address: 311 Ano St., Kahului, HI 96732 Contact: Kawika Veeka Phone: (808) 877-5566 Fax: (808)-877-2888 Website: http://www.native925.com/ It was a tight race, but ultimately, “Maui’s Island Music Station,” Native 92.5 FM, prevailed as MauiTime readers’ top pick. Sure, playlists matter most, but it’s the personalities behind them that make them shine. From KawikaVeeka’s “Mahalo Morning Show” to Wailea firefighter Pito Javier to soothing-as-the-sea voiced Chisa-Lee Dizon to the antics of Tony “The Pangster” Pang to the lovely Miss Loke, “na na na na na na na na...NATIVE!” 92.5 is youthful and ultra-local. Of their style, KawikaVeeka says, “It’s the middle ground between Hawaiian Island living and today’s cutting-edge, modern-day lifestyle.”
EDIT PICK: Best Record Store (Whether or Not By Default), Winner Requests Music Address: 10 N. Market St., Wailuku, HI 96793 Phone: 808-244-9315 Website: http://www.myspace.com/requests For many of us, it is a shrine. The only legitimate record store on Maui, Requests has stood the test of time. It’s an eclectic Maui institution, with merchandise packed from floor to ceiling and curios (like the original Toda Store clock, Spock giving the Vulcan salute and neon Gwar posters, all affectionately called “Requests relics”) filling every space in between. Purveyors of audible art, it is a haven for music lovers. From vinyl to CDs, music is king; but books, DVDs, tchotchkes, stickers and shirts are also fair fare at this sensationally bizarre realm of beats and much more. Stamped on the floor and from a hanging marquee are evidence of the basement’s former incarnations—the Freaky Tiki and Malice in Wonderland—where many Maui youth spent some glory days.
Lounge in Kihei. The ex-Navy and tugboat engineer and iconoclast from Boston has some of his best artwork adorning the walls there, as well as Ambrosia, the swanky little nightclub just across the parking lot. He impressed me early on with his tugboat-themed cartoons, and soon after I asked him to illustrate Eh Brah! and, later, the cover of my book. I used to drive him nuts with my simple “Works for me” e-mail responses to his submissions, but every time I looked at his work I shook my head with wonder. His tiki-related stuff at Tiki Lounge is hilarious, but then walk over to Ambrosia and gaze into his mind-blowing rendering of John Lennon’s glasses. Or his “Rain Dancing” – it’s just a simple image of a puddle on a brick-laid sidewalk, but Pitts’ use of color and detail is elating. You can see his work each week in these pages, adding vibrant and often irreverent color to Eh Brah!, but he belongs in a gallery or Mad Magazine or both. Someday…
KARAOKE, Winner Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar Address: 1881 S. Kihei Rd., # KT-116, Kihei, HI 96753 Phone: 808) 879-0004 Website: http://www.sanseihawaii.com A few months ago, I popped my karaoke cherry at the south side Sansei—and won a $50 gift certificate to boot. My prize barely covered the liquid courage it took to earn it, but it was swell nonetheless. Maybe that’s one reason MauiTime readers voted Sansei the best place to belt it out. Because even if you’ve got poorly-calibrated pipes like mine, hosts still smile and encourage you to sing a song or five. Too, the crowd is ever-enthusiastic, and the reciprocity of happy energy between seats and stage makes for a fun atmosphere. Join them during their late night dining hours, Thursday-Sunday, 10pm-1am, and peruse books amply stocked with hits. They don’t offer prizes every night, but their half-off late-night sushi deals are winning anytime.
PLACE TO DANCE, Winner South Shore Tiki Lounge Address: 1913 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, HI 96753 Contact: Mikhail and Alma Tassi Phone: (808) 874-6444 Email: email@example.com Website: www.southshoretikilounge.com How do they get your “body movin’”? Well, Best Club DJ, DJ Blast, and Best Female Musician, Erin Smith, both frequent the Tiki Lounge—so that’s a swell start. The lights and special effects are cool but won’t trigger epilepsy. Too, dancing is cardio-intensive, so you can carbo-load with their Best Local Pizza. But that said, any beastly booty shakin’ is up to you. However, when your “spine unwinds... let your backbone flip but don’t slip a disc,” or regular @ReqB (Brendan Smith) of @RequestsHI will Tweet about it.
BAND WEB SITE/MYSPACE PAGE, Winner The Mobius Project Website: http://mobiusprojectband.com What makes The Mobius Project’s Web site the best? An updated Wordpress blog roll, a Twitter feed that makes them easy to follow, a slew of video updates to such YouTube gems as live show reel and interviews with band members (that float on the screen instead of being redirected), a Flickr feed with press and performance photos and pop-out windows for merchandise (shirts, stickers and buttons), plus band bios and links to collaborators. Tech-savvy though it may be, it’s easy to use, as accessible as the band’s sound and full of artsy fartsy fun.
BEST BAND, Winner The Throwdowns Website: http://thethrowdowns.com They’re the sizzle of Pop Rocks poured over sherbet, sweet and sour firecrackers on a musical mission for world domination. With songs like “Kihei Town” and “Stolen Car,” they’ve saturated the airwaves from here to Honolulu (and beyond), lighting up DJs’ phone lines with request after request. In just one year’s time, they’ve conquered the Battle of the Bands, opened for The Fray, Matisyahu, Bad Brains, Panic at the Disco, 311, NOFX, the English Beat (and loads of others), self-released a CD—produced and mastered by guitarist Ola Shaw, for his We Are More Productions—and then re-released it nationally with ADA/Warner Music Group. A Na Hoku Hanohano nomination for “Rock Album of the Year” (shockingly stiffed for the win, though the nod is sure to be the first of many), gigged across oceans and icebergs and, in the summer subsequent to their last CD release, are recording yet another one (full-length... stay tuned). Talent aside, the best thing about Erin Smith, Ian Hollingsworth, Kimo Clark and Shaw is their cheery candor. What you see is what you get, and what you get is good.
MALE MUSICIAN, Winner Willie K Address: PO Box 1454, Wailuku, HI 96793 Website: http://www.williek.com Catch yourself singing “Kachi Kachi Music Makawao” as you head up Haleakala Highway? Or “You Ku’uipo” when possessed by the trilling thrills of love? Thank Willie Kahaiali’i. Oh wait, you have, by again voting him best of the kane crooners. He’s the only Maui boy I know who can waltz up to a karaoke mic and take over the night with his own tunes (as I’ve luckily borne witness). Not that he needs to. Gigging regularly from Mulligan’s to the MACC, his altruistic side also places him at oodles of charity events, including his own Willie K. Celebrity Golf Tournament, a benefit for the Maui Memorial Medical Center’s Oncology Department. He’s worked with such notables as B.B. King, Santana, Willie Nelson, Prince, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and can also boast a stack of Na Hoku Hanohano awards and Grammy nominations. Too, how many Christmas albums are worth caring about? It’s a short list, but Willie’s on it.