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Big Maui Mojo The Suns do that voodoo so well A few weeks ago I was driving down

Young—She brings gentleness

The first set, Anastasia belted out groovy covers of the Beatles‚ “Come Together,” Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival” and the Bill Withers classic “Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone).” Gilliam’s deep, soulful voice—reminiscent of Lydia Pense of the ‘70s funk phenom Cold Blood, with a little Nina Simone undercurrent—could move the most repressed white boy to shake it on the dance floor. But it’s their original material that reflects the band’s vast range and potential.

Rosenblad—A lot like The Blues Brothers

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MARCH 4, 2004

COVER STORY

Nils and Anastasia began making music together in 2001, when mutual friends brought them together to jam. They clicked immediately. “We wrote four or five of the songs on our new CD that very first day,” Gilliam told me during a break at their Hard Rock show, “since the first day we met, we’ve just been on fire! Nils comes up with the basic structure, I get a feel for the mood and the melody, then we just write the story line around it. We really like to build our songs from the ground up.” It’s this elemental, ground-up style that sets the Voodoo Suns apart from other R&B-influenced bands. An authenticity and confidence springs from Nils‚ appreciation of true guitar virtuosos like Hendrix and Michael Bloomfield and his amazing interpretive skills. He brings his well-honed style to a humble Maui venue and plays like it’s the Fillmore. Anastasia describes their process as “organic... we let things happen naturally, without pushing.” Songs like “Sunday A.M.” and “Wake Up Call” resonate with personal style and confessional depth.

Anastasia Gilliam began singing before

Gilliam—”I don’t need to pay for my voice”

Pu’unene Ave. in a state of reverie only Mana’o Radio can elicit. A gal with the sweetest intimation of southern twang was hosting a little southern roots show, spinning some fairly obscure Hillbilly hoe-down and Delta Blues joints. How refreshing! A touch of American soul mid-Pacific. The gal was Anastasia Gilliam, the lead singer of the infectiously soulful local band the Voodoo Suns. She ended the radio segment with one of her band’s own recordings—a noholds-barred cover of the Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” I was hooked. This was something to look into. This woman could sing. In fact, the Voodoo Suns may just be the hottest thing to hit Maui since Madame Pele graced us with her presence. I caught up with the Voodoo Suns at Hard Rock in Lahaina. Anastasia and lead-guitarist Nils Rosenblad were really excited; they’d just added two new band members and were recording a new CD called Songs from the Haleakala Kitchen. It was a debut of sorts: drummer Bob Jones and bass player Rebecca Young would take the stage as Suns for the first time and the band would play their entire upcoming album of original material straight through. I have to admit I was a little tired. Recovering from a nasty stomach flu, and way out of the habit of staying out past midnight, I willed myself to sit upright on the barstool. Then Nils started playing some blues-y, Hendrix-y licks and the whole place caught fire. Like good gris-gris with a sazerac-chaser the Voodoo Sons lent me their mojo for a spell. I was HEALED!!

By Marnie Masuda

she could talk. Her mother claims she was creating melodies in the crib, but Gilliam remembers most vividly dancing on the kitchen table, singing along with Elvis records when she was a mere seven years old. “I grew up in a very, very poor family in Arkansas,” she said. “I really wanted a piano, but when I found out we couldn’t afford it, I thought... I don’t need to pay for my voice.” That’s when she began “vocal training” with the help of her disc-jockey father’s record collection. “I was consciously honing for this career,” she said. “I remember sitting in the car staring into oncoming headlights practicing‚ being onstage.” She left Arkansas in 1984 for the bright lights of L.A. There she married a fellow musician and hooked up with a cover band. After her marriage broke up, she visited Maui for the first time to visit a guitarist friend who’d moved here. “As soon as I got off the plane, I knew I was supposed to be here. I fell in love with it and thought I’d make a go of it.” Gilliam performed with alternative band The Missionaries for several years, but feels the Voodoo Suns is the manifestation of her artistic destiny. “I wanted to combine the funky grooves and soulful vocals that the live Motown sound was all about, along with the mojo spirit of my Hillbilly-Blues roots, but I was never able to capture that kind of feel,” Gilliam said. “After

Profile for Maui Time

07.36 Voodoo Suns, March 4, 2004, Volume 7, Issue 36, MauiTime  

MauiTime sits down with Anastasia Gilliam of local band Voodoo Suns, covers the 2004 Miss Ke ala o ka malamalama Pageant, and reviews Casano...

07.36 Voodoo Suns, March 4, 2004, Volume 7, Issue 36, MauiTime  

MauiTime sits down with Anastasia Gilliam of local band Voodoo Suns, covers the 2004 Miss Ke ala o ka malamalama Pageant, and reviews Casano...

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