One sunday afternoon as we approached Gian Don's, an Italian Bistro in Central Kihei, we were drawn to the door by the sweet inviting sounds of live music. This was the first time that we had the privilege of listening to Joyce Kelly and Gord Shoults, the very talented husband and wife duo, who play and sing a wide variety of music, probably best classified under easy listening with a jazz flavor.
While Joyce plays piano and sings in her own versatile style, Gord accompanies and plays solo on either double bass, sax or clarinet. (He hasn't yet figured out how to play all 3 instruments at once) Together they produce a special blend for listening, dining and dancing, and if you want an evening of nostalgia, believe me you will get one. They love to take requests from the audience, and know a plethora of songs, ranging from swing, old standards, war songs, show tunes, Hawaiian songs (sung in Hawaiian) and current M.O.R.
Joyce and Gord have been doing musical gigs on Maui since 1988, and in the early days began by playing at condo parties, private parties and dinner cruises out of Ma'alaea. It wasn't long before they were noticed by business owners and other local jazz musicians who requested their musical talents. As we chatted in their Kihei home, one theme was constantly in the foreground of their story. It seemed that they had a connection with every person in Maui's musical community.
For example it turns out that Joyce and Gord met the Eiting family when they ran the Oasis Poolside Bar at the Maui Coast Hotel. At that time Gord and Joyce performed there 3 nights a week over a 4 year period. Jerry Eiting, one of the bar tenders used to break out in song from the bar to their accompaniment and often delighted patrons by singing "If Ever I Would Leave You" and other musical theatre numbers. Debra Lynn also graced this bar with her talents before Jerry and she were an item. Read more about this couple at: Favourite Maui Entertainers.
While playing at Sir Wilfred's Coffee House (formerly in the Maui Mall) they met famous Hawaiian educator and jazz musician Henry Allen. They were invited to work with him doing educational concerts for schools and conventions.
I was also fascinated to learn of the many places they have blessed with their music, which now have changed ownership. It brought home the resounding message that nothing stays the same so enjoy it while it is here.
Point in fact, Joyce and Gord performed for three years at the Pizazz Jazz Club in Kihei (now Tip Ups). The owner later opened Yorman's, now an Indian restaurant in Menehune Shores where they did another three year stint.
In 2001, they used to perform at Bella Luna Lounge (now Capische) at the Diamond Resort in Wailea and as fate would have it the owner of Bella Luna also owned the Blue Clubhouse (now Mulligan's on the Blue) so of course he wanted them to alternate between places.
Chums, now the home of Cafe 'O Lei on South Kihei Road used to be a hot spot of entertainment and was another venue for Gord and Joyce. Of interest was that prior to Chums it was called Kihei Seas, where a popular duo Miles Yoshida and Dennis Manawaiti used to perform. (Miles or Smiles as he is also known, more recently used to perfom with Rudy Aquino in the Tiki Bar at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel)
Also way back there was a place called La Pastaria in Lipoa Centre which evolved into Hapa's Nightclub and Horhito's Cantina. They played in both for 2 seasons.
Rounding out their variety of musical venues have been many free-to-the-public performances at several Maui shopping centers, most notably, the Shops at Wailea, where they have performed regularly at WOW (Wailea on Wednesdays) since its inception in 2003.
During our visit with Gord and Joyce they shared many stories with us and we were overwhelmed by the musical history that these two multi-talented people share, starting in a well known restaurant called Bragg Creek Steak Pit, near Calgary Canada. The restaurant was built by Gord in 1961 and he has only recently sold it.
In early days Gord was a full-time musician with the Canadian Army Band (Lord Strathcona Horse) and they toured for over six years, backing such notables as Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Helen Reddy, Rich Little, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Patti Page, Moscow Circus and Disney on Parade, to mention a few.
To Joyce's credit, she has shared the stage with Tiny Tim, Vaughn Monroe and Lionel Hampton and opened for Mel Torme and Cleo Laine. She also has appeared in two movies, "Superman" and "Fourth War", as well as numerous television appearances, including her own nationally syndicated musical show which ran for two years across Canada.
Joyce and Gord are Canadians and live on Saturna Island in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. We are so fortunate that they come to Maui each winter to share their music with us but you had better catch them soon, because nothing stays the same.
At present until the end of April, they perform at Mulligan's On The Blue in Wailia on various dates. (Call Mulligan's to find out) They also still play for private parties, weddings and condo parties.
As an update to this post, please note that Gian Don's restaurant is no longer open for business.
Credit for the photo goes to Virginia RettusCredit for the title "Best Maui Jazz Band of 2005", goes to Maui Times, 07/25/05