For being such a small island, Maui produces epic talent. From big-wave surfers to filmmakers to designers, there is a disproportionate amount of gifted people raised on this little island.
One such person is Vince Esquire, Maui’s very own hometown guitar hero. The blues and rock musician started the Vince Esquire Band when he was just fourteen, and Maui watched the prodigy grow up, guitar in hand. He’s gained recognition from blues and rock greats for his talent, and has a solid following of Maui fans. For the past several years, Esquire has taken a break from performing to focus on production and studio work. But Maui blues fans rejoice: he’s coming back.
This week, Friday October 12, The Vince Esquire Band will perform once again at Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea. Along with Esquire as frontman, Joshua Greenbaum will perform on drums and Jason Ganis on bass. Special guest Soul Kitchen will open.
I caught up with Esquire before he headed into band practice to talk about his upcoming show. “I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It just kind of came to me one night a few months ago that I felt like doing it again. My girlfriend has been kicking me in the butt a little bit to play more guitar, and so that’s been good. It’s going to be awesome; we picked a selection of songs that the people who used to come see us play years back – a lot of the fan favorites. I think people will like it.”
With an earnest style and a heartfelt voice, Esquire turned heads early on. As a teenager, Esquire found himself playing gigs around the island and state. He left high school early to pursue music. “When I left, things got kind of crazy. I was playing a lot of gigs, put out a couple of CDs, toured with some people, went and did some stuff with Allman Brothers. It’s been kind of a crazy ride the last 10 years, so much stuff has been going on. I was doing a lot of gigs throughout the islands, and touring with pretty much any major act that came through the state.”
With his penchant for passionate guitar riffs, Esquire caught the attention of seasoned musicians, and has been featured playing with and alongside names like the Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Los Lonely Boys, as well as playing across Hawai‘i and the country, from the House of Blues to New York.
But all of his early success and touring caught up with him. “I took a sabbatical for about five years, maybe a little more,” he told me. “Honestly, I was just burnt out. I needed a break. I’ve been playing professionally in my own band since I was 14, so by the time I hit 26 I was like, ‘I need a break. I’m going to do something else for a little while.’ So I got into doing a lot of studio work in the meantime, working on the more technical side of producing music.”
Influenced by his saxophone-playing father, Esquire was drawn to the blues-rock genres early. “I was exposed to that kind of music really young,” he says. “I started playing ‘ukulele when I was 12 or 13. I picked it up pretty quickly, and while I was learning that, I saw a program on VH1 about Stevie Ray Vaughan. That guy changed my whole mind – I needed to start playing guitar. My parents got me my first Stratocaster at 15, and it just took off from there. I practiced all the time, practiced every day.”
Many fans will wonder if this signals a return of The Vince Esquire Band on a more regular basis. “I’m still not sure what’s going to happen after this show; we’re just waiting to see how this one goes. If we have a good turnout, if we do continue to do things, I’m going to try to find a venue where we can maybe put on a weekly dinner show, or some kind of blues thing somewhere on the island, but we’ll see how this one goes. If the turnout is good, and people are receptive to us coming back, then we’ll see what happens.”
Regardless of what the future holds for Esquire, he’s ready for this week’s show. “Get ready, hold on; we’re going to come back pretty hard.”
The “Return Of” The Vince Esquire Band w/ Guests Soul Kitchen
Mulligans On The Blue
100 Kaukahi St., Kihei
Friday, Oct. 12. 7:30pm – 10pm
Tickets available at Bounty Music, Mulligans, and Hitidenation.com
Photos by John Henry Photography