Islands. I love them. Whether they are surrounded by a vast ocean or hidden in a landlocked valley encircled by mountain peaks, I’m the most content when I feel away from the mass mess of city life. My retreats of choice, along with a part of my soul, belong to the islands of Telluride and of Maui. It’s amazing to me that although they are so different they share the same laid back inclusive culture that you feel a privilege to make your home, even if just now and then.
It does not take much to continually find lovers of both islands on each. It is why I should not have been surprised when the waiter at a street café in Maui brought my check with a pen that had the Telluride Ski Resort logo on it. He worked two seasons bartending, at the Brown Dog or the Buck (all I remember is that it started with a “B.”) Needless to say I learned some good gossip about T Town…good, gay, down-in-the-dirt gossip. But, hey, I co-produce Gay Ski Week, so have to keep up.
But, no, I’m not sharing; that would be a different article.
Speaking of B’s, “the Blues” owns a piece of the heart of more than one resident of both playgrounds, as well as my own. From blanket at a Blues and Brews Festival to a barstool on a rooftop bar in an island fishing village, inhaling the blues can turn a great day into a better night and will flip a tough day into a contented grin. No one knows this better than one who makes his home in Maui and embraces the blues like no other, Mick Fleetwood.
Yep, the legendary rocker is married to Fleetwood Mac, but spend five minutes with him and you realize his mistress is the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. He even built a getaway for those of us who are equally addicted to the haunting, blues-inspired sounds that he and his bands have been bringing us for more years than neither he nor I would want to count…Fleetwood’s on Front Street.
This multi-level palace in Lahaina houses the culture and history of one of the most popular and powerful forces in the music industry for decades. Yet Fleetwood’s projects a calm, almost humble, welcoming presence that you don’t find in other “rock” or “celeb-driven” eateries and bars. But make no mistake; this place is serious about its food, crafted spirits and the experience that Mick and his business partner, Jonathan Todd, believe every guest deserves. From Chef Maro’s Pacific Mahi Mahi or the Bangers and Fingerlings Flatbread to the Kona Coffee-Rubbed New York Strip, I was a bit surprised at how spot perfect the cuisine was here when the music and legacy alone could have carried it.
Fleetwood Mac does not have fans, they have followers, and I am a bit evangelistic about my own devotion. Hell, you can ask anyone who knows me and they would tell you I would jump that sissy fence in a heartbeat for an evening with Ms. Nicks. Don’t roll your eyes; a lot of gay guys totally worship that swirling diva.
This band has taken me through more vodka, crises, heartbreaks (and good weed) than any group should have to shoulder. So you can imagine my rush when I not only discovered Mick had opened a restaurant on “my” island, but here he was on his rooftop bar right by the seawall in Lahaina. Sitting in for a set with a local blues trio under the trellis on another Maui perfect night, Mick was as relaxed and at home as he was making everyone else feel the same. When done, his 6’6” towering frame still commanded focus as he made it a point to get to know and spend a bit of time with those who have wanted to share an evening with the Scotsman himself.
My partner and I were able to spend time with both Mick and Jonathan, and got some insight into their vision for the new venture. “We don’t need another Luau in Maui; that is already done, and done well,” stated Todd. “We wanted to share a different experience that was part Island and part Mick.” That they did. Come here at sunset and make your way to the rooftop bar and as the sky turns orange, a hot island man (a bit jaw-dropping, actually) takes his place above the crowd and tells the story of the conch as he lets the shell announce that another day is wrapped. Beautiful, but not all that unique for Maui. Then the patio doors open and you hear a familiar sound that you would never had expected, but makes all the sense in the world. Onto the roof comes full-kilted, bagpiped perfection as only a Scotland native would have created. The piper proceeds to make his way through the parting patrons as he plays Amazing Grace, and the sun takes its final bow.
Breathless. (God, I’m such a girl).
One other surprise that Mick allowed me to experience was the ultimate big “Mac,” an offering that only a select few who come to Fleetwood’s will ever call their own (although I know a Telluride resident or two who wouldn’t blink). Yes, I sampled the burger of all burgers that takes “drive thru” to a level McDonald’s might wish they could deliver…The Hog Burger. This monster boasts a full pound of pure beef, aged cheddar, grilled applewood bacon, Mick’s burger sauce, lettuce, tomato and grilled Maui onion. Mouth melting, to say the least, and no doubt worth every penny of its value price of $35,274.81. Nope, not a typo. Cheese is $1 extra, mind you.
Oh, and every burger comes with a Mick Fleetwood Custom Road King Edition Harley Davidson Motorcycle brought right to your door. Gimmick? Maybe, but they sold three in the first month of operation. Of course, I think it’s brilliant, but then again, I’m a fanatic, biased and onboard with the energy that everyone and everything brings to Mick’s house. This island is his home and he now has put his name on it.
This place is all Fleetwood. Music permeates from floor to floor (and not just Mac classics). Mick has really hit the senses here, from taste to touch to sounds that takes everyone to a different place that only they know. Every detail is more about the experience than about perfection. Most who come here have their own Fleetwood history, and there is indeed a magic here that takes you back to your time with the band, or this man. But that said, the food creations were well thought out, selected drinks were as tasteful as they were unique and you never felt like you were being “sold” on anything.
You come to Maui because you value moments, and this is one you must include in your itinerary. I always will. Both Telluride and Maui boast great restaurants and great music, and Fleetwood’s lives up to the reputation those of us who “island hop” between the two think we deserve.
The only thing that would have made Fleetwood’s total perfection to this mama’s boy would have been sharing a cocktail with one shawled rock-and-roll woman who, when the music stopped, would take my hand in hers and insist I walk her home. Imagine.
Islands. I love them.
John McGill is co-founder and partner of StraightOut Media & Marketing, which produces Telluride Gay Ski Week. He also serves as the National Marketing Director of American Mensa. Telluride Gay Ski Week begins on Friday, Feb. 22.