Archive for December, 2012

Don Tiki uncorks holiday exotica with Honolulu, L.A. and Seattle

December 13th, 2012

Don Tiki uncorks its holiday tour this weekend, with an Island concert Saturday and a West Coast roadshow.
The show is themed “Hot Lava Holiday Show,” which should put an exotic jingle rock to the holiday fare.
Dec. 15 — 7:30 p.m., at Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Arts. Sold out.
Dec. 17 — 7:30 p.m., at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle. Under auspices of the Seattle Symphony.
Dec. 20 — 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles. Under auspices of the L.A. Philharmonic.
We caught up with one of the group’s co-founder, producer and host, Lloyd Kandell, for a Tiki update on the state of exotic music, the largely expanded roster for this tour, and the challenges of travel in an era of the fiendly skies — with 10 Q&As.
Listen up:

Q — Is tiki/exotica music alive and well – bigger with wider audience now — beyond the reef, so to speak?

A —YES, tiki and exotica music are definitely alive and well…especially beyond this reef. There's Tiki Central online with over 10,000 members, Tiki Magazine with 17,000 subscribers and when we played music festivals in Berlin and San Diego, fans were dancing and singing along. They knew our music and lyrics.

Q — Great gesture and idea to dedicate the tour to the late group member Fritz "Delmar deWilde" Hasenpusch. Is someone formally replacing him to fill the void?

A — Mahalo. El Del was so unique and, frankly, irreplaceable. So we decided to return to our original musical revue a la Buena Vista Social Club, if you will, where different singers step up to the mic. So to answer your question, Fritz's songs with Don Tiki will be split in two with Charles Degala singing the more loungey, crooner tunes a la Alfred Apaka and Tei Tatafu, Jr. singing our more energetic songs like "The Natives Are Restless" and "Hypnotizing Man."

Q — How did you engage such competent stage troupers/singers, like Charles Degala and Tei Tatafu Jr.?

A —They were recommended by our female lead singer/comedienne, Sherry Shaoling, who has worked with both of them in musical theater here. Both Kit and I went to check out Tei in "Young Frankenstein" and loved not only his singing, but his great dancing and comedic timing. Perfect for our wackiness!

Q — The expanded show, with the likes of Frank Orrall, Abe Lagrimas Jr., and Crazy All, must mean a higher overhead, but with terrific musical potential. What’s the reason to expand Don Tiki’s horizons?

A — The BIG venues in Seattle and Los Angeles require BIG shows! Frank and Abe have both performed with us many times. In fact, Abe was with us for our first mainland gig ever at the fabled Kahiki in Columbus, OH when he was still in high school. Musical prodigy and boy wonder, for sure! We met Crazy Al when Don Tiki headlined last year's Tiki Oasis in San Diego and just knew he had to be in our LA debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall!

Q — Is it a risk, or mostly a statement of growth, to produce an expansive production. Air fare these days are not exactly a bargain. Or did you get a break with Hawaiian Air?

A — You nailed it. That was a key issue, traveling with such a large troupe, to be able to afford going at all. Fortunately, Hawaiian Airlines came through as our sponsors…"The Official Carrier of Don Tiki." All thanks and praise to them! The tiki gods (and Fritz) must be smiling on us!

Q — How did you manage to get a Disney gig — without a Mickey or Minnie Mouse prancing to tiki tunes?

A — LOL, yup, no Mickey or Minnie in our show. The LA Phil books both the Hollywood Bowl and the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. I had met with them many moons ago, but when they received our e-blast for last year's holiday show at the Doris Duke Theatre, they revisited our website and reviewed our audio + samples and immediately contacted us and offered the December 20, 2012 date!

Q — Has your mission to preserve and expand the sounds of Marty (you know, your mentor-idol Martin Denny, who defined the musical genre) change from your cozy lounge-act beginnings?

A — Yes, Marty became almost a surrogate father to me in the last 14 years of his life. He was always very supportive of our efforts to revive the exotica genre. He often called us the Don Tiki Orchestra because he loved how large we made it, adding vocals, dancers, etc. Augie was the same way.

Q — You’re performing during the holiday season. Are you also incorporating Christmas music with a tiki twist?

A — Absolutely! Kit, er, Perry Coma, has been busy writing and arranging 6 new xmas tiki tunes for the Occasion(al Man)!

Q — Is there a moment in this production that will knock over the audience – in other words, do you have a “moment” that everyone will remember?

A —We hope that there a few…but we don't want to reveal them lest we spoil any surprises!

Q — What next, the world?

A —In the immortal words of Delmar deWilde, "We're going intergalactic, baybee!"

Dec. 15 — 7:30 p.m., at Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Arts. Sold out.
Dec. 17 — 7:30 p.m., at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle. Under auspices of the Seattle Symphony.
Dec. 20 — 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles. Under auspices of the L.A. Philharmonic.

Who’s who in the holiday Don Tiki:
* Lloyd Kandell, producer and host.
* Band leader and composer, Kit "Perry Coma" Ebersbach on keyboards
* Bassist and purring song stylist Hai-Jung
* New virile vocalists Charles Degala and Tei Tatafu, Jr.
* Vocalist, dancer and comedienne Sherry Shaoling
* Percussionist Lopaka Colón, who continues his illustrious father Augie Colon's
jungle and bird call tradition
* Tenor ace Tim Mayer on reeds
* Multi-talented Abe Lagrimas, Jr. on vibes and percussion
* Tribal drummer Jason Segler
* Ryoko Oka on keyboards and t'rung (a Vietnamese bamboo xylophone)
* Exotica dancer Violetta Beretta
* Special guest artist Frank Orrall of Thievery Corporation and Poi Dog Pondering
* Special guests for LA only include SoCal Tiki luminary Crazy Al, rising Brazilian star Tita Lima, and Brazil's legendary percussionist Carlinhos de Oliveira

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'Five-0' wins Monday timeslot, but it was a hollow victory

December 11th, 2012

While Michael Buble sang yuletide songs on NBC and “Castle” was a rerun on ABC, CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” scored a good Monday (Dec. 10) — ratings-wise, that is.
The Island procedural pulled in 10.4 million viewers (6.7/11 ratings/share), compared to “Castle’s” 5.9 million (3.9/6) and Buble’s 5..75 million (3.8/6), according to preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings.
“Five-0” also was a 2.7 winner for the 9 p.m. hour (10 p.m. Mainland), in the key 18 to 49 demos. No. 1 in numbers, No. 1 in demos.
So congrats.
Clearly, however, this was a hollow victory, that doesn’t cover up the thin plot devices and uninspired acting (and guest-actor-casting) in season three.
This latest episode entitled “Huaka’i Kula (Field Trip),” deals with an Aloha Girls troupe (think Brownies), whose expedition into the wild turns into a mayhem of murder, bloodshed and scares. For three show principals, it's a fall from grace.
Then again, in a season where scripts are tired and bland, when double-digit ratings have been scarce, and even diehard fans getting a little agitated by the deteriorating appeal of the show, you cheer when there are positives amid the negatives.
So hurrah!
But c’mon, gang, this one was predictable and lame, with ex-SEALSteve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) getting humiliated again for being captured for lack of attention to a gun-toting diamond-stealing no-gooder (Tom Arnold, in a sweaty and manic cameo), Danno (Scott Caan) taking a bullet in the arm, and Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) still hanging out and bedding down with her suspicious and should-avoid Yakuza-linked beau (Ian Anthony Dale).
Meanwhile, back at the office, Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) was the lone detective to escape peril. Lucky him.
But give brownie points for acting to Aloha Girls mentor Madeline (Lesley Boone), the little Lucy (Emily Alyn Lind) of her squad who’s held hostage, and little Gracie (Teilor Grubbs) who is, of course, Danno’s little girl.
The show was No. 1 this week. But factor in the competish, and there’s still cause for concern. Diehards should admit this and start believing that this the weakest season, compared to the first two.

Finally, the joy and jingle of yuletide, thanks to The Caz

December 8th, 2012

Let the Christmas season begin.
Honolulu City Lights might unofficially herald the arrival of the holidays, but really, it’s The Brothers Cazimero’s seasonal songs and dances at Hawaii Theatre that the formally launch of the yuletide hoopla.
The eclectic and exquisite "A Cazimero Christmas" opened Friday night (Dec. 7) and repeats at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec.8) and 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 9). If you can secure tickets, go; you’ll feel the jingle and the joy of Christmas.
The show is at once a tradition and an anachronism. I mean, it’s a requisite part of the arts community, as is the “Nutcracker” ballet productions this time of year, but who else would spend hours of rehearsals with 18 kane dancers from Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua and eight Ladies from the Royal Dance Company, programming contemporary and spiritual yuletide tunes, invite such guest artists as Starr Kalahiki (her first name unfortunately misspelled in the playbill) and good-luck-charm dancer Leinaala Kalama Heine to solo slots, for a very limited run. Add the added effort of hauling out all those decorations from last year and light them up for three shows only.
It’s like searching and then buying a Christmas tree, pruning and dressing it up, untangling the light cords and dusting off the ornaments, only to put it up for three nights.
Well, bless The Caz for caring and daring and sharing, maintaining this tentpole celebration for the community (OK, they abandoned May Day a few years ago after 25 years, but that’s a much larger endeavor — and only one night! so they're forgiven).
Over two acts and two hours (with intermission), Robert (the brain behind the song selections and choreographer, too) and Roland (the arranger of all the tunes) — with blessing from the show’s executive director, Burton White, who also is resident artistic director at the Hawaii Theatre) — propel us into the spirit of the holidays. This one will tempt you to start thinking of roasting chestnuts in an open fire. Or maybe luau pit.
Some original ditties (“Christmas Craft Fair Time,” “It’s Christmas Time”) define the Island ways and means of the holiday experience; other established tunes (“Well, Hello, Santa,” which is “Hello, Dolly,” reinvented) expand the cheer, with eight ladies appearing as St. Nicholas’ reindeer frolicking with one gent, in a sequined red coat, playing a hulaing Santa.
While the centerpieces remain Robert (singer, bassist, pianist) and Roland (guitarist, fill-in bassist when Robert fiddles with the ivories), they surely won’t mind my saying that two keiki steal the show: Miss Keiki Hula 2012 Lexi Mae Kamakanaokalani Pruse and Master Keiki Hula 2012 Alema ‘Ulaleo Ebana, the reigning kiddie hula kingpins from Halau Kekuaokala ‘Au ‘Ala ‘Iliahi, whose solo turns — particularly his frisky and feisty "Waiahole E," complete with winks — earned the most demonstrative hurrahs.
Kalahiki, seductively sensational in her glittery short dress, was every bit a “Cool Yule” hottie — and a bona fide Starr, earning a hana hou in an “Oh, Happy Day” gospel romp with The Caz and the ohana of dancers who double as singers.
I had a personal chuckle at one moment in the concert; the men of Robert’s halau, a few who’ve been in the ranks for perhaps three decades, can still belt ‘em and dance with the younger arrivals, but they warmly resembled middle-aged Honolulu Boy Choir kids, devotedly enmeshed in the music of the moment.
Though there are some brotherly bickering between the bros, providing both staged and impromptu laughs for the fans, the musicianship is solid and special. “Carol of the Bells” is that fast-paced tongue-twister that challenges any singer, especially with tempo, and Robert delivers it with bell-ringing clarity to much applause. Roland dwells in rockery, when he’s not engaged in Hawaiian music, so a thumping “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which has nothing to do with Christmas ... though it sounds like a shopper’s sad lament. Well, it helps him get his rocks off.
A Caz Christmas always ends on a note of solemnity, and this year’s medley of “It’s Christmas Time,” “Go To the Light” and “From Our House, to Your House” succinctly underlines the message of the season. Real. Spiritual. All about family.
And just when I was wondering, “Whatever happened to the holiday sing-along,” along comes the pre-final curtain audience participation “Mele Kalikimaka.”
There was a section about snow, embracing “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland” and leading up to a sparkling sung/danced “A White Christmas.”
Which prompts a cautionary note: If you’re in the central orchestra seats particularly in rows D to H, bring an umbrella if you don’t want to be showered with artificial snow. Or not. It happens but once a year, as part of the tradition with The Caz. I wasn't among those snowed but have been in the past.
Part of the Mele Kalikimaka experience.

7:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 8), 2 p.m. Sunday
Hawaii Theatre

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Season's greetings, from Ables Sayre and UH musicians

December 5th, 2012

Loretta Ables Sayre, Hawaii’s Tony-nominated Broadway star, makes a rare seasonal appearance on “A Manoa Christmas,” a holiday concert featuring University of Hawaii music students and ensemble.
Ables Sayre will headline as a special guest, on a program of orchestral and choral works of the yuletide, at 7:30 p.m. today (Dec. 5) at Kennedy Theatre on the UH Manoa campus.
The family-oriented program will bring together an array of musicians in a festive holiday concert.
Tickets: $20 adults, $10 seniors, UH students and faculty with ID.
Call 955-2697 or go to
This event marks is a rare instance for the former co-star of Broadway's and London's "South Pacfiic" musical hit to sing for the public; Ables Sayre this summer wound up her British tour of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which was earlier a Tony-winning Best Musical smash on Broadway.

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Did dueling Santas, Victoria's Secret impact 'Five-0' ratings?

December 4th, 2012

Was it the Victoria’s Secret branding that benefitted CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” Monday (Dec. 3) night, to give the Island show an edge?
Further, was the absence of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” lead-in series a factor in the so-so performance of “Castle”?
Or did the seasonal dueling Santas provide a snowball curve with NBC’s “Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas” special, complemented by the Christmas storyline on “Castle,” to give “Five-0” an unexpected holiday present?
Who’s to say? Or does it matter?
Overall, ratings were down for all, and for the 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland) hour Monday, “Five-0” did OK (down a skosh from last week) with its fashion plate of Victoria Secret models, bikini-clad wahine on the beach, and guest stars with some celebrity — both from fashion (Behati Prinsloo) and a next-generation actor (Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore), in “Five-0” guest roles. When the former looks as good as she does in a bikini or a floral ensemble, who’s to quibble about her acting? And the latter — rumor has it that she doesn’t really need to work, but who doesn’t want to break out of the shadows of rich-and-famous parents?
In the end, NBC — fueled by “The Voice,” which one of the resident judges in his own country Christmas spectacle — won the night, averaging just below 11 million and a 6.7 rating and 10 share in primetime households.
In the hour of interest, “Five-0” garnered 9.15 million viewers (6.0 rating, 10 share), the Shelton show pulling in 9 million viewers (5 rating, 6/9 share) and “Castle” attracting 8.4 million viewers (5 rating, 6/9 share), according to the preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings.
In the coveted 18 to 49 demo, Shelton’s special led with 2.8.
Perhaps the less said about “Hā’awe Make Loa (Death Wish),” one of the silliest episodes so far, the better.The embarassing product placement — or, in this instance, branding — was, in a word, ludicrous.
Except for the eye candy from the guys’ perspective, the plot — about a botched bank heist, by a suicidal thief who has terminal cancer (thus, the desire to end his misery), and distractions like a crush by Max (Masi Oka) on a bank teller (Willis) or Danno’s (Scott Caan) incredulous drools for the VS models ... this is what happens to a procedural when love fever is mixed into the formula.
And no wonder the robber Cordova (played by “The Outsider” hottie from yesteryear, C. Thomas Howell, with whom the years have not been too kind, if physical appearance is a measure) wants out — this was a silly trifle with very little validity. The brains behind the failed theft was another bank robber Rodgers (Lochlyn Munro) with a parallel terminal situation — a valid plot device, I guess — who turns out to be just another disposable piece in this unspectacular puzzle.
Through it all, McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) surely must have had reservations, keeping private his giggles. With Danno all ga-ga over the models (over the top, and out of character), McG is relegated to have car dialogue with Kono (Grace Park) when he’s not in captivity thanks to the key bank thief, with Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) pretty much resorting to running the computers and boards at H50 HQ, a task commonly left to Kono.
Where has all the brilliance gone?
Only the H50 loyalists will give this one a thumb’s up. The rest of the viewers would give it another finger... never mind. The Scrooge in me makes me want to utter, Bah Humbug.
The lone interesting element — minor, but revealing if true — was the notion of LED lights in shirts blotting out the bank robbers’ faces in those traditional bank security tapes. True?
“The Voice” was the ratings leader, without “DWTS,” and also ruled the 18 to 49 demos with 4.1.

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