Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wilie K sings If I Didn't Care at 2105 Maui Fair - Fan for Life.

This is a rather strange aside from all my other posts.  I wanted to focus on travels and people and places I visited and met.  I have not yet met this man, but I will share a small story about Willie K.

in 2005, I took a trip to Maui for a class.  The class was offered at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua.  I was staying in town near the airport, so I had to commute to class.  It was my first trip to Maui.  I was able to see a few sites, but I wanted to get a feel for the local community, so I scheduled my stay to allow for an additional week beyond the class.

That second week, Kathy Collins was doing a comedy show at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.  It was walking distance from where I was staying, so I decided to attend.  She had legendary falsetto singer, Uncle Richard Hoopii open for her.  It was my first time enjoying his stylings.  He greets you with a prayer, and his voice is a beautiful deep resonating welcome.  But once he starts singing, he hits and holds notes that will shatter a wine glass.  Smooth, melodic and very high in the octave range.  I was dutifully impressed.

Kathy's concert was fun, silly and very entertaining.  She knows her audience and plays well to the crowd.   Good jokes and even better talk-story made for an intimate, warm and welcoming evening.  She broke her concert into two parts, and asked the Barefoot Natives to entertain at intermission.  At the time, this was a partnership between Eric Gilliom and Willie K.  The music they shared blew me away.

They sang a version of Watching the River Run, by Kenny Loggins.  Eric asked the audience to watch Willie K's fingers carefully as he increased the pace of the music to match the flow of water increasing from creek to rapid river.  Willie K's guitar and ukulele skills were beyond amazing.  I had never seen them play prior to this performance, but I knew I would soon be a fan.  I bought their CD and started playing it over and over.

Within six months, I had relocated, at least part time, to Maui.  I returned in time for the 2005 Maui Fair.  Willie K was performing.  Once i saw him perform, I knew I was a fan for life.  He took the audience on a musical journey from blues, to latin to opera to traditional Hawaiian.  I have since seen him more times than I can remember, and have introduced my friends and family to his live music.

At the 2015 Maui Fair, we got good seats and I decided to record the concert.  I like the footage I was able to get, so I uploaded a few songs on my YouTube channel.  But this is a song I really like.  He performed a version of, "If I Didn't Care" by the Ink Spots.  He performs it in the style of blues artist, Nina Simone.   I grew up hearing Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford make fun of the song impersonating Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots.  It was more comic relief.  Willie K infuses soul, into his rendition in a manner both unexpected and humble.  His is an homage you will appreciate again and again.  Enjoy it here.

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Thank you. 

Leroy Phoenix

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