Review of CD “Chapman Stick meets The Beatles”

What is this Chapman Stick instrument that plays ALL of the music on this album?

It is a newer development in the string instrument world, invented in the 1970’s.  Tapped with both hands (more like a piano than a guitar), it has components of bass, guitar, keyboards and drums.  It is capable of simultaneous multi-part arrangements.  Pictures of this instrument can be found at

Michael Kollwitz was one of the inventor’s (Emmett Chapman) students and he has taken his skills with this instrument and produced an album of songs that will be recognizable to most.  The album contains 16 of the Beatles biggest hits, played unlike you have ever heard.

Opening with “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” you are immediately struck by the richness of this instrument.  The lead lines sound, on this cut, very much like a harpsichord.  As described above, there is more than one sound generated by the stick and as the lead line is played, there is also a rhythm line/second lead and the bass lines being played.

“In My Life,” seems to be made for the stick.  The ‘guitar’ part is almost spot on to the original as he layers in the rhythm and the vocal part to create a truly wonderful cover of this great song.

On some songs, it sounds as if Kollwitz has 4 or 5 hands.  On “A Hard Day’s Night” there is so much going on; a lead guitar line, a rhythm guitar line, bass, drums and the vocal areas.  It is an explosion of sounds all coming together to give you a real pleasant sound.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” will also please any Beatles fan.  Kollwitz covers the vocals and harmonies at the same time as he plays a deep bass run.  The tempo is slightly slower than the original, but the song still is fun.  He even adds a little ‘country’ flavor to the song, giving it an even different sound.  Then he breaks into a lead solo and makes notes that sound like a keyboard.

Most of the songs clock in like the originals at less than 3 minutes with two exceptions, “Hey Jude” and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

The version of “Hey Jude” is nice, but it does not contain the same richness as other songs on the album.  On the other hand, the George Harrison song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a standout on this album.  Of course it helps that the original is one of the greatest songs ever written.

Kollwitz does an extremely good job of capturing the sounds Harrison conceived.  The song swells and retreats as needed and the backing rhythm sounds are spot on.  At one point he makes the stick sound exactly like an electric guitar during a solo.  If this stick can do that…WOW.

Kollwitz’s interpretation of all the songs on the album is true to the original sounds desired by the Beatles, but with a new take that is unlike anything you have ever heard.

Is the Chapman Stick the next huge instrument?  Will bands be adding it to their arrangements?  Probably not, but would the Beatles (and Harrison specifically) added this instrument?   The feeling here is they/he would.  Harrison immersed himself in the sitar and the stick would have intrigued him and caused him to learn it.

If you are a Beatles fan, you will want to check this album out, knowing beforehand that these are different from the originals, but they are certainly worthy of a listen.

Review by Vinny “Bond” Marini

Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)

NEW CD: The Chapman Stick Meets The Beatles

Are you a Beatles fan?

I hope so because, if you are, I have a real treat in store for you!

I’ve just released a brand new CD with NOTHING BUT BEATLES.

All recorded on The Chapman Stick, of course.

Take a listen to 30 sec. previews of all 16 tracks for FREE

If you like The Beatles (or the sound of my Chapman Stick) you’ll absolutely LOVE this record.

Spring Is Almost Here!

IMG_1354Many thanks to all of you who purchased my Christmas CD “Frosty The Stickman” over the holidays last year. I enjoyed hearing from you and happy to know that my music accompanied you during those present wrapping session and holiday celebrations. The photo above is from a concert I gave during the holidays here in Lahaina. Now we are well into the new year and Spring is right around the corner. I know some of you in the colder regions are looking forward to that. Here on Maui we are blessed with good weather all year long, so anytime you need some warmth and sunshine, please pay us a visit. Just a quick update: I’m just now finishing up recording on my 11th CD release and I expect it to be available sometime in the next couple of months. If you’d like me to keep you posted, please sign up for my periodic emails below. In the meantime, I’m sending you the biggest aloha!

UPDATE – Frosty The Stickman Christmas CD Special

Frosty The StickmanMany thanks to everyone who has already ordered “Frosty The Stickman” this holiday season. Keeping up with the demand has been challenging (lots of trips to the Post Office!) My distributor, CDBaby, should now have more than enough copies to fill the orders, so if you’re waiting for your copy to ship, it should be on it’s way to you; in plenty of time for Christmas! If haven’t already ordered and you’d like a copy, you can do so here:

Here’s the original text regarding the CD special and also some reviews:

Now with Christmas right around the corner,  I thought you might like some great holiday music, so I’ve lowered the price on my Christmas CD, “Frosty the Stickman” and I’m offering additional discounts if you buy more than one copy. It’s in stock and ready to ship in time for the holidays. The special is only being offered for the folks on my email list and it’s good until December 15th. “Frosty” is a great, reasonably priced gift or stocking stuffer that you and your family or friends can enjoy for many years to come.  Wonderful gifts come in small packages! Here’s a sample of what others have said about “Frosty”:

‘Although I have listened to well over 1,000 holiday CDs over the years, I can honestly report that “Frosty The Stickman” is absolutely unique. This is my first (and only!) instrumental Christmas album played on The Chapman Stick. This music would provide the perfect backdrop for your holiday social gathering or gift-wrapping fest. If you’re looking for a broad range of lovely holiday instrumentals, get on The Stick!’ – Carol Swanson –

‘The music is stupendous! It is the kind of music you can use to relax, to wrap gifts, to do art work or crafts, to provide background music at any kind of Christmas gathering, or to get your good mood back- should you lose it somehow- and it is so peaceful. It is innovative yet remains true to the original song’ – Karen McClure

‘Michael’s Frosty works great from beginning to end. The holiday cheer I’m certain he was hoping to get across is there, clear and bright. I’m looking forward to putting this one on the stereo while I’m opening all those big boxes with my name on them on Christmas morning!’ – Jim Reilly- StickNews

Recording Session with Steve Hargrave on drums

My good friend from Phoenix, Steve Hargrave, recently made a trip to the Valley Isle, so we decided to record some tracks for an upcoming new CD of just good ol’ Stick & Drums. Some you who have followed my career as a “Stickist”, may recall Steve recorded three (3) tracks with me for my first CD, ‘Steppin’ Out’, so this was a great reunion for both of us. Let’s hope he’ll make it a point to come back and visit from time to time. The new CD is in it’s early production stages so I wouldn’t expect it to be ready until sometime in 2011. Of course, I’ll keep you posted. As always, thanks for your support of my music on The Chapman Stick- the best musical instrument you’ve never heard of! (Photo courtesy of Peter Lago Photography)
Recording Session with Steve Hargrave on drums

Mahalo to US Navy Pacific Fleet Band

Many mahalos to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet Band for performing this past weekend under the banyan tree here in Lahaina at the Banyan Tree Art Fair. These guys are great and they played all my favorite jazz tunes- the toe tappin’ kind! From left to right- 1. Dwight (trombone) 2. Tom their fearless leader (trumpet) 3. Some weird guy with a weird instrument no one could comprehend (me) 4. Joe (bass) 5. Travis (guitar- obviously…) and, last but not least 6. Ed (drummer). We all had a blast and hope you guys will come back some day with your EIGHTEEN PIECE BAND! I’ll sit in with you guys anytime.


Different Is Good!

Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for helping to make the new CD such a success. The CD Release Party at Lulu’s was a blast and I’ve received many orders for “Suntan Lady” CDs since the official release on August 1st. Everyone seems to enjoy the new music and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback on the songs and the amazing graphics. Many mahalos to all. As always, I appreciate your support of my music on The Chapman Stick and hope to see you soon.

P.S. To preview or buy the CD, just click on the icon in the right hand column or at the top of the page. The new CD is now also available at Lahaina Music, Lahaina Visitors Center and, hopefully soon- Barnes & Noble in (where else but) Lahaina.



LAHAINA — Chapman Stick® musical artist, Michael Kollwitz, will hold a CD release party where he will perform selections from Suntan Lady, his tenth CD, as well as other favorites, on Sunday, August 1st, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Lulu’s Lahaina Surf Club & Grill at the Lahaina Cannery Mall.

Suntan Lady features five new original songs on The Chapman Stick and also includes longtime standards like Aloha Oe, Puamana and Hawaiian War Chant. Additional musicians include Don McClellan (pedal steel), Mika Villaren (ukulele) and Kris Thomas (percussion).

What is a Chapman Stick you may ask? Possibly the coolest stringed instrument you’ve never seen or heard of. Invented in 1974 by Emmett Chapman, The Stick is a unique stringed instrument that combines elements of guitar, bass, piano and percussion. The strings are tapped and held onto the frets, rather than plucked or strummed, enabling both hands to play complete and expressive multi-part arrangements.

Kollwitz was one of Chapman’s first Stick students and is considered to be a top player and pioneer of the instrument and two-handed tapping technique.

Some of his previous releases include Waterfallin’ (2006), Hawaiian Paradise (2008) and Under The Banyan Tree (2009). Suntan Lady will be available for purchase at the release party.

Admission is free. A no-host bar and full menu will also be available. Come get your CD personally autographed, check out the instrument, meet the artist and enjoy some great music.

Suntan Lady CD Release Party

VIDEO: ‘Stickman of Lahaina’ in King Kamehameha Day Parade

Here’s something you don’t see every day… Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever seen a Chapman Stick in a PARADE before, on any day for that matter!

I was honored to be asked to close out the Kamehameha Day Parade here in Lahaina on June 12th as the “caboose” at the end of the parade. Here’s a quick (2:22 min.) video of the event that you might enjoy. Mahalo for your support! 🙂


Here in Hawai’i- every June 11th since 1872- Kahmehameha Day has been celebrated to commemorate the monarch, King Kamehameha. Kamehameha was considered a great statesman and a master of diplomacy who was able to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands into the Republic of Hawaii in the early 1880’s. He was also responsible for many advances and he also brought pineapples and coffee to Hawaii during his reign. Needless to say, this is an important holiday that respects his legacy and Hawaiian culture.

Chapman Stick in Parade <<<(click here to watch video)