R& B Mele offers a vintage blues-night menu
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer
|||6th Annual Hawaiian Islands Rhythm & Blues Mele with Savoy Brown, featuring Kim Simmonds, and Eric Sardinas
$25 general, $22 advance
7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Ali'i Room, Royal Lahaina Resort
(808) 661-3611, ext. 2395
8:30 p.m. Thursday
South Seas Village at The Hawaiian Hut
7:30 p.m. May 17
7 p.m. May 18
Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort
Tonight's Hawaiian Islands Rhythm & Blues Mele aims to serve up a menu complete with specials (co-headliners Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds and Eric Sardinas) and the six-year old festival's standard bill of fare: "Blues, Brews and B-B-Q."
The Mele has gained the loyal attendance of local blues and blues-rock fans by bringing in a respectable if only occasionally stunning selection of established, emerging or somewhere-in-the-middle acts for live performances. British blues godfather John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers dropped by in 1999, as did Muddy Waters' Chicago All-Stars (Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin and Carey Bell) at the first Mele in 1997. Relatively young 'uns with distinct rock guitar influences Eric Johnson and Chris Duarte co-headlined last year's Honolulu event, while Jesse Colin Young capped Kaua'i's very first Blues Mele.
Along with straight-ahead blues and blues rock, the Mele has offered up the unexpectedly bluesy delights of zydeco accordion (Al Rapone and Zydeco Express in 1997), country (Tracy Nelson, 1997) and soul for sending your camel to bed (Maria Muldaur in 1998).
Regardless of lineup specifics, the Mele, at the very least, always provides a rousing evening of live music. Plus, the beer is cold and the barbeque spicy.
British blues rock guitarist Kim Simmonds and his band Savoy Brown return this year for their second Mele appearance (they played at the first Mele in 1997). Never as big in its native England as in the United States, Savoy Brown has experienced a number of membership changes in its 36-year history, mostly at the hands of the mercurial and domineering Simmonds. Still, Guitar Player recently called Simmonds "the real deal ... one of British guitar's elder statesmen," while Vintage Guitar called his sound "... blues in the timeless tradition, by an endearing and ageless interpreter."
Where to start: "20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection" (2002). Cheap and recently released, this $11.98 collection offers a respectable sampling of Savoy Brown's best-known blues-rock romps.
Though only 32 years old, Eric Sardinas is one of the best slide virtuosos in current blues. As comfortable with both electric guitars and dobros as he is waxing historical on his beloved Delta blues, Sardinas has been practicing his slide since age 6. A competent vocalist, his gruff, raspy voice might be a bit too hard-edged for some blues fans, but Sardinas shines when his fingers are exploring the seemingly endless limits of his fretboard.
Where to start:"Devil's Train" (2001). Less studied and noticeably more relaxed than on his still-impressive 1999 debut "Treat Me Right," Sardinas' sophomore outing is loud, high-powered and loaded with his tremendous slide skills.