By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and a blues guitarist whose slide riffs, according to USA Today “could peel a crawfish,” will rock the Honokaa People’s Theater on Saturday night.
Ray Manzarek, legendary keyboardist of The Doors, and Roy Rogers, who produced and played with blues great John Lee Hooker, will feature songs from their second Manzarek-Rogers Band CD “Translucent Blues” — and “a couple of Doors songs,” both musicians told the Tribune-Herald.
“We started it as a duet, playing for a few years with just a two of us, but we had to take it to a band to rock it a bit,” said Rogers, an eight-time Grammy nominee who’s toured for three decades with his Delta Rhythm Kings. “It was about achieving a sound. He’s obviously a rock legend from the Doors fame and he still tours with (Doors guitarist) Robbie Kreiger, as well he should. But this is a different a sound and we’re both happy with how it’s different and how it’s collaborative in the truest sense of the word.”
Manzarek promised concertgoers “a rockin’, smashin’, smokin’ night.”
“This is a great band and we have fun onstage,” he said. “Occasionally, it hits that runaway train speed and intensity, roaring down the tracks.” Rounding out the band are bassist Steve Evans, who played with Elvin Bishop, and drummer Kevin Hayes, who played with Robert Cray.
The Big Island show is the final concert of a four-island jaunt, and both Manzarek and Rogers are happy to be in Hawaii. Both have played the islands before, Rogers with the late blues harmonica player Norton Buffalo and Manzarek with The Doors, who played the Honolulu International Center Arena — now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center — on July 20, 1968.
“That was a cool gig; the audience was great,” Manzarek recalled. He added that a more recent show with Krieger for a group of Japanese tourists at the Waikiki Shell wasn’t as well received.
“We played with Jake Shimabukuro; they adored him,” Manzarek said. “We came up next, and little by little, the people were just kind of standing up and going to get something to eat and drink. And we’re like, ‘Hey, were playing here. We’re gonna do a little something called “Light My Fire.” You ever hear of it?’” Asked what he thought of ukulele whiz Shimabukuro, Manzarek replied: “He’s brilliant, just unbelievable.”
Rogers has his own island connections, as well. His friend and sometimes collaborator, Taj Mahal, lives part-time in Hawaii. He also knows slack key master George Kahumoku, and said he loves the genre, mentioning a couple of bygone greats, Raymond Kane and Gabby Pahinui.
“It’s very similar to the open tuning of Delta blues,” he said. “That was definitely influential on a lot of blues guys, going back to the 1920s and (steel guitarist) Sol Hoopii and those guys. Those records were very widely distributed. It’s kind of a gray area as to who was first there, but I don’t care, as long as the music is cool.”
Doors open at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8. Tickets are $35 general, $55 gold circle. Tickets are available at CD Wizard, Hilo; Music Exchange, Hilo and Waimea; Taro Gifts, Honokaa; Sound Wave Music and Kiernan Music, Kona; by phone at 896-4845 and online at www.lazarbear.com.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.