LIHUE — For Maria Muldaur, performing old hits never gets old.
“I know some people think it’s tedious, but I never get tired of singing those songs because people want to hear them,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to see the look of happy memories that flit across people’s faces as we start performing.”
The Grammy-nominated blues singer, who rose to fame in 1974 with her song “Midnight at the Oasis,” will be on the Garden Isle Friday at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club with her Red Hot Bluesiana Band.
It’s part of a statewide tour.
“The show is going to include favorites from back in the day and more recent albums. It’s going to be upbeat, funky, full of soul and uplifting,” she said.
Muldaur hopes to give the audience a sense of joy.
“I’m finding that these days, there is a dark cloud hanging over the country. Dark things are going on right now, and more than ever people want to hear some soulful music that lifts their spirits,” she said. “They don’t want to be entertained and dance, they want to come out in community and for medicine. It’s healing for them.”
In the 1960s and ’70s Muldaur immersed herself in the American roots music scene, exploring blues, bluegrass and Appalachian music.
“I got more and more addicted to that wonderful New Orleans sound,” she said. “When I come off the road from traveling, I missed sound so much. I made it a prerequisite that the musicians in my band have to be well-versed in that style of music.”
Muldaur’s passion for blues led her to create her own sound, which she dubbed “Bluesiana.”
“It’s a word I made up to describe Louisiana blues, R&B and swamp funk,” she said.
Since the release of “Midnight at the Oasis” 42 years ago, Muldaur has toured worldwide and recorded 40 solo albums, from gospel to R&B and jazz.
Of all the places she’s traveled, Hawaii will always have a special place in her heart.
“After the tour is over, I’m going to stay on the Big Island for rest, restoration and rejuvenation,” she said. “I have favorite swimming holes over there. I swim a mile a day; it keeps me sane.”
She says the size of the venue or crowd doesn’t matter.
“We can be going to the funkiest little road house, but if spirit is right and people are really happy, I don’t care,” she said. “Big or small, we play them all — that’s my motto.”
In her 52-year career, Muldaur has been nominated for several Grammys. But the nominations aren’t what drives her.
“I hear touching stories about what my music meant to people when they were going through something in their life, when one song intersected in a certain point of my life became their soundtrack,” she said. “That means more to me than any Grammy award ever could.”
Muldaur will be performing at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club ballroom Friday. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. A signed instrument auction will benefit the Kauai Lifeguard Association.
“Wear your dancing shoes and we’ll dance the blues away,” Muldaur said.
Tickets are $40. Gold Circle tickets are $55. They can be purchased at bluesbearhawaii.com or at Kauai Music and Sound, Hanalei Music and Strings, Progressive Expressions, Scotty’s Music, Big Kmart and Jacqueline on Kauai.