Big Island’s Maggie Herron Turns A “Ton of Trouble” Into A Jazz Album


Life as a musician usually means committing to an itinerant lifestyle, traveling constantly to perform and reach fans.  Award-winning writer, singer, pianist Maggie Herron took a different approach early in her career. A Hawaii resident for over 40 years, she chose to focus on developing a regional identity as a performer —rather than traveling the world, she let it come to her.  Her choice has led to a lifestyle of raising children, as well as fruit trees and vegetables, swimming in the ocean and exploring Hawaii’s trails.  It also has led to a series of steady gigs, cumulating with her six-year run at Honolulu’s premier jazz club, Lewer’s Lounge located in the Halekulani Hotel, where she regularly plays for an international audience.  Herron’s commitment to staying put in paradise has given her the time and inspiration to develop her talents fully, resulting in a series of well received albums winning the 2015 and 2017 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards for Best Jazz Album of the Year.  

Her latest album, A Ton of Trouble, (released August 2018) builds on her rich career as an artist with ten original songs and two covers, including a heartfelt rendition of the Lennon/McCartney classic “In My Life,” which was also released as a single.  Accompanied by three-time Grammy nominee, guitarist-Larry Koonse and bassist-Dean Taba, “In My Life” was nominated for the 2018 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Single of the Yearaward.

The making of A Ton of Troublewas born during a year of flu, a broken arm, and the Kilauea Volcano erupting a mere eight miles from Herron’s home for three long months.  However, Herron has successfully managed to turn her troubles into lyrical creative fodder, including elements of humor, fun, contemplation, and storytelling.

Herron relied on some longtime collaborators to help with the album’s eleven other jazz pieces. Grammy award winner Bill Cunliffe arranged six of the album’s songs and accompanied Herron on piano for those tracks.  “Bill has the knack to speak for me stylistically with his arrangements after listening to my bare bones renditions at the piano,” Herron notes.  Bassist Dean Taba, who also regularly performs live with Herron at Lewer’s Lounge in Waikiki, plays on all but one of the album’s tracks.  Her daughter, Dawn Herron, wrote lyrics for five of the album’s original songs.  The album was engineered by Paul Tavenner, “a master with highly developed ears for musical balance and nuances.”

Herron shows her humorous side with the album’s title track A Ton of Trouble. The horn-driven, up-tempo piece features Grammy award-winning guitarist Grant Geissman, adding his signature edge.  “Red Hot Jazz,” “Perfect Specimen,” and “Small Stuff” also feature horns played by Brandon Fields, Bob McChesney, and Ryan DeWeese.

Two-time Grammy nominee Geoffrey Keezer and Gillian Margot arranged “There is Love,” with Keezer playing piano and Margot, along with Brandon Winbush, singing harmonies.

Herron’s two Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards, along with 3 other nominations, have been well deserved as Herron has taken a hands-on approach to all details of her albums’ productions.  “Being an independent artist and producer means working on all aspects of the recording: the writing of songs, arranging, setting up the studio time and musicians, the financing, the actual performance of the music, post production and then bringing the music to the listeners.”

Herron swims and practices daily and feels “lucky to live a life of music in Hawaii.”

To learn more about Herron’s music and pick up her new CD, visit:


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