A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
his first band is credited with starting Country-Rock music.
His second band was a supergroup that debuted at Woodstock.
Not Woodstock 3. The Woodstock. His first solo album had Jimi
Hendrix and Eric Clapton as guests. He is on the list of Rolling
Stone magazine’s top 50 guitarists.
He is Stephen Stills, and he played at the intimate Hawai‘i
Theatre on August 10. The show was announced with little fanfare
or advertising but quickly sold out. The event was billed as “An
Evening with..” meaning two sets, no opening act.
Stills first rose to fame with the band Buffalo Springfield,
which had a politically charged single “For What It’s
Worth.” The band popularized a country –rock hybrid
sound that would allow bands like The Eagles to dominate the
popular music charts in the ‘70s. Stills was next involved
with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and sometimes Young, still considered
one of the great supergroups in rock. Since then he has released
many solo projects.
In Honolulu, Stills was ending a 50-city solo tour, his first
in several years. He seemed in good spirits, joking and talking
story with the audience. Gamely fighting an ear infection, his
voice was understandably ragged and off-key in several places,
but the guitar still showed flashes of a musician who once played
with the best.
And then there were the songs.
Few rock artists have a stronger songbook than Stephen Stills. In the entire
show, only three songs were covers. Stills played two hour-long sets, the first
acoustic, the second electric. He opened with “Helplessly Hoping,” with
the full band, and then sent them offstage for the rest of the set. Set highlights
included “Ballad of the Treetop Flyer,” “Change Partners,” “Johnny’s
Garden,” “Find the Cost of Freedom,” and “Suite: Judy
After an intermission “because people my age have to use the bathroom,”
Stills came back for an electric set with the full band. He started on organ
for a cover of the standard “Old Man Trouble,” then came the hits,
one after the other: a hot take of “Southern Cross” got the crowd
to their feet, followed with “Isn’t It About Time,” a cover
of “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Love the One You’re With,” “For
What It’s Worth,” and “Woodstock.” Stills returned for
an encore with a latin- rhythmed “Dark Star,” featuring his best
guitar playing of the evening.
If you missed the ‘60s, or just cannot remember them, promoter Tom Moffitt
brought you as close as you could get.