LAHAINA - Featuring headliners Michael Paulo and Melveen Leed and a unique concert at the Old Lahaina Prison, the Front Street Jazz and Blues Walk returns Friday and Saturday, April 5-6.
This annual event is the Maui Jazz Society's scholarship fundraiser celebrating America's original musical art forms, jazz and blues.
Bill Burton, president of the Maui Jazz Society, said, "We're very excited about this event. We've been endorsed by the LahainaTown Action Committee and Lahaina Historical Foundation.
"The Front Street Jazz and Blues Walk also celebrates the beauty and excitement of Front Street and the wide variety of restaurants, clubs, shops and vendors who make up the unique character of the former capital of Hawaii."
In the works for three months, the event will feature free admission shows at venues along Front Street, including Captain Jacks, Hard Rock Caf, Kimo's, Longhi's and the Pioneer Inn.
The "Hawaiian Country Girl," Melveen Leed, will perform at the Pioneer Inn from 6:30 to 9 p.m. both days.
Born and raised on Molokai, Leed is one of Hawaii's premier performers. She released her first album in 1966 and began a career that took her on stage to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and abroad.
In 1978, she won the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for "Best Female Vocalist of the Year."
With over 27 recordings to her credit, Leed was part of the group known as the Local Divas, which included Carol Kai, Loyal Garner and Nohelani Cypriano.
Friday's lineup also includes Gordie Robell playing from 6 to 8 p.m. on the patio and Michael Powers from 9:30 p.m. to midnight at Hard Rock Cafe; Ellen Bellerose from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and the R.E. Metoyer Blues Rock & Soul Revue from 9 to 11:30 p.m. at Longhi's; Phil Smith and the Gentlemen of Jazz from 5 to 7 p.m. and Blue Job featuring Vince Esquire from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Captain Jacks; and the Benny Uyetake Trio from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kimo's.
On Saturday, the concert at the Old Lahaina Prison will feature Emil Richards with Paul Marchetti, Shiro Mori and Danny M. from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and Paulo with Gene Argel, Michael Kennedy and Jay Molina from 4 to 6 p.m.
The donation is $13; advance tickets are available at Sir Wilfred's on Front Street.
One of the most versatile and sophisticated saxophonists in pop, soul and contemporary jazz for nearly two decades, Paulo has contributed his distinct "saxpertise" to music with Al Jarreau, James Ingram, Rick Braun and Peter White, Oleta Adams, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Carl Anderson, Bobby Caldwell, Johnny Mathis and many more top artists.
Also on Saturday, Bilongo will play from 9:30 p.m. to midnight at Hard Rock Cafe, along with Michael Powers from 9 to 11:30 p.m. at Longhi's; The WMD Band featuring Doug White, Paul Marchetti and George Tavy from 5 to 7 p.m. and Benoit Jazz Works from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Captain Jacks; and Sam Ahia, Marve Belew and Brian Coumo from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kimo's.
Burton credited LahainaTown Action Committee, Lahaina Historical Foundation, Pioneer Inn and the County of Maui as major event supporters.
Burton, the owner of Sir Wilfred's, said "there's not much happening in Lahaina at night." He wants to see more events and excitement in town.
"I'm also trying to help Lahaina Historical Foundation change the image of Lahaina locally - increase the prestige of Lahaina," he added, noting the history and cultural significance of the area.
The Maui Jazz Society produced The Maui Jazz Festival for ten years, as well as the Jazz Legends in Concert Series at both Kaanapali Resort and the Maui Prince.
Volunteers are needed. For information, contact Burton or Ron Metoyer at Sir Wilfred's at 661-0202 or find The Front Street Jazz And Blues Walk on Facebook.