Archive for July, 2015

Jake's 'Travels' tour will support his upcoming CD

July 23rd, 2015




Jake Shimabukuro, the ukulele sensation, will kick off his summer tour with an Aug. 6 performance at the Waikiki Aquarium.

The concert, and his tour, will support his “Travels” studio album, due for release Oct. 9.

Shimabukuro will preview selections from his new CD, which will reflect the strummer’s diverse versatility, on new compositions and interpretation of island standards. Two flashback tunes from the 1970s, the Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There” and War’s “Low Rider,” will be on the disc. The latter tune will feature rare vocals by Shimabukuro.

His artistry and music have gone the waves of Hawaii, and the tour will reflect his appeal and fan base.

The tour dates:

  • Aug. 6 — Waikiki Aquarium.
  • Aug. 7 — Palace Theatre, Hilo.
  • Aug. 14 — Red Lion Woodlake, Sacramento.
  • Aug. 15 — Performing Arts Center, San Luis Obispo, CA..
  • Aug. 16 — S.F. Jazz, Davis Symphony Hall, San Francisco.
  • Aug. 22    — The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA..
  • Aug. 23 — Rams Head on Stage, Annapolis, MD.
  • Aug 27 — Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA.
  • Aug. 28 — Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Munhall, PA.


Future dates will continue into 2016 with more Mainland gigs and stops in Britain and Japan.


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'Mele at the Moana' recalls the 'Hawaii Calls' era

July 20th, 2015

Raiatea Helm - Pink Natalie Ai Kamauu



Here’s a marvelous musical tip: “Mele at the Moana,” a monthly Hawaiiana evening, begins July 31 at the Westin Moana Surfrider’s famed Banyan Courtyard.

Raiatea Helm, left, and Natalie Ai Kamauu, above.

It’s a concept that harkens back to “Hawaii Calls,” minus the radio broadcast, where Hawaiian music-makers back in the day would engagement in kanikapila taped and beamed to listeners all over the world.

Surely, this is an update of sorts of the famed radio show (and short-lived TV version) but there must be an issue (like licensing) with  using the “Hawaii Calls” name. The concept and intent are essentially the same: share and showcase Hawaiian music.

As Larry Hanson, general manager of the Moana Surfrider says, “We often hear guests recall fondly about ‘Hawaii Calls,’ and how their parents listened to the broadcast. We hope that ‘Mele at the Moana’ helps bring back a little of that magic at sunset on Aloha Friday.

John_Cruz Promo ShotGroupSo “Mele at the Moana” it is, with Raiatea Helm at the helm to kick off this Aloha Frida endeavor — with pre-show music from 5 p.m., and mainstage performance from 7 to 9 p.m., on the last Friday of each month. Helm, of course, is the Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning songbird and a Grammy nominee for her “Sweet and Lovely” CD.

John Cruz, left, and Maunalua group, above. 

The schedule includes:

  • John Cruz, Aug. 28. Cruz is best-known for his smooth Hawaiian acoustic soul, exemplified in his “Island Style” signature hit song.
  • Natalie Ai Kamauu, Sept. 25. Kamauu is a former Miss Aloha Hula titlist in the Merrie Monarch Festival and three-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year.
  • Maunalua, Oct. 30. Maunalua is one of Hawaii’s treasured musical trios, comprised of Bobby Moderow Jr., Kahi Kaonohi and Richard Gideon, who has been rewarded with Na Hoku laurels, too — for Hawaiian Album of the Year in 2000 and “Group of the Year” in 2007.

Diners at the hotel’s Beachhouse, or folks at the hotel’s new wine bar, Vintage 1901, may soak in the music from their nearby tables and seats.

However, preferred seating also is available and can be secured by calling Mason Waugh at 923-2811 weekdays or by email at


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Leo Days: latest interpreter of Elvis’ hunk-a-hunk-a-love

July 11th, 2015





Leo Days is the latest Elvis trouper, doing the hunk-a-hunk-a-love thing, in “Burn’n Love,” a tender but mostly energetic salute to the King of  Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Tripler Hospital-born Days, 34, is making this scorching summer hotter than hell, with his highly mobile Elvis Presley antics following John Hirokawa’s “Magic of Polynesia” spectacle at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort.

The spectacle had preview performances this week and opens publicly Monday.

Physically, Days is clearly depicting a younger Elvis; his voice, however, is higher than Elvis, and his is not a sound-alike act. And his crafty, bold moves are far more frenetic and fierce than EP’s. Thus, his is not an imitation or impersonation but rather an imaginative interpretation of the rock  icon.

And yes, this is a must-see tribute.

The Las Vegas-style showroom, created for the magic show, is the perfect arena for Days’  physical romps on that large stage. Days features four sizzling musicians (bass, guitar, drums, synthesizer) and six agile and savvy dancers, who move and groove like him. And Shawna Masuda, who has an enviable list of Broadway musical creds here, is the solo voice factoring in the non-Elvis segments (and performing in higher-than-usual upper registers, unlike her theatrical norm) when Days  is doffing and donning costumes off stage.

Overall, it’s a major, marvelous maneuver of voices productions, and rock-a-hula package tracking Elvis’ enduring popularity with emphasis on his Hawaii ties.

Instead of traipsing onto the stage, Days descends from the mini-lift transporter from the ceiling, wearing a red studded Elvis jumpsuit, performing “C.C. Rider” as his first number. The evening becomes  both a recap of Elvis’ discography and a fashion show, since Days changes into a myriad of costumes: gold lame jacket for a parade of classics like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,“ “Love Me Tender,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel;” for “Jailhouse Rock,” it’s black-and-white prison-striped shirt, with black trousers, augmenting the look later with a pinstripe black and white jacket for “Hound Dog.”

For “G.I. Blues,” of course he sports Army khakis.

His moves are fierce and formidable, with leg shimmies and hip gyrations aplenty. Elvis might have been the original troubadour of the trembles; Days harbors more oomph and effort in his shenanigans.

And his corps of six wahine dancers keep pace with his smooth moves, also displaying a rainbow of costumes, from flashback dresses to “In the Mood” wartime military garb.

With Hawaii as an anchor, it’s a no-brainer that Days prominently performs “Blue Hawaii” tunes like “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love With You.” In aloha shirt and white slacks, replicating Elvis’ look in the Hawaii-filmed classic, the showroom’s mountainous sets on both sides of the stage and cavernous central walkway  provides the perfect frame for this Elvis moment.

And yes, “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is shared, without the requisite query about potential honeymooners in the house.

Days appears to be committed to the Elvis legacy of  giving (Elvis  helped raise key funds to launch the construction of the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor), so he is engaged in earmarking  a  portion of all his ticket sales to the  Aloha United Way organization.

Just when you wonder when the traditional studded white suit and cape — a handsome creation with gold-trimmed hip belt, and flared bell-bottoms with hidden red accents— might appear, it does in the show’s final segment, recreating the “Aloha From Hawaii” concert via “Suspicious Minds,” “American Trilogy,” and capped with the iconic “Space  Odyssey” film melody, aka “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Alas, a wow factor was missing for the wind up — perhaps an  overhaul and booster shot is needed for the grand finale.

Days earlier appeared in the “Legends” show across the street, so he’s familiar with Waikiki audiences, but this showcase should finally put him on the map.

While appealing and inventive, with screen glimpses of Elvis in the past with the postcrips of his love affair with Hawaii, the show is not without some minor issues.

The volume was overpowering in the opening moments, with bass and drums on full throttle, diminishing the vocals; some monitoring and tweaks would vastly improve the over-all impact.

And a rah-rah factor is sorely missing in the aforementioned finale.

Clearly, Days is a certified Elvis fan, doing the Elvis shtick since he was 15; in 2009 placed in the top five at Elvis Presley Enterprise’s Ultimate Elvis Contest in Memphis.

In “Burn’n Love,” Days as Elvis projects the humility and grace of the idol and he’s done his homework and honed his craft.

He makes the show rock!



When: 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; seating from 8 p.m.

Where:  Magic of Polynesia Showroom, Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort

Tickets: From $69; kamaaina and military discounts available through July and August; IDs required; with meet-and-greet packages also available

Reservations: 971-4321,







Ron Bright was the beloved master of Broadway musical classics

July 7th, 2015

Ronald E. Bright



“To love another person is to see the face of God.”


That Victor Hugo epiteth, from his “Les Miserables” novel and fondly encased in the beloved stage musical that  Ronald E. Bright directed two years ago, sums up Mr. B’s legacy.

God, he loved people and adored musicals. When Mr. B (as his extended ohana of loyalist actors called him) directed “Les Miz” at Paliku Theatre, it was a lifetime dream come true. Since his retirement from Castle High School, where he founded the Castle Performing Arts Company, he started to  conquer his favorite Broadway biggies: “Miss Saigon” and “Phantom of the Opera.”  “Les Miz” was the elusive one that he wanted to complete his bucket list.

I remember taking in two “Les Miz” rehearsals, chatting with cast members and with Mr. B. He was like a kid in a candy store, bursting with glee.

Mr. B died Tuesday at Castle Hospital at age 81. He had been battling vasculitous, a condition that affects the blood and the immune system, according to a source close to the family

His passing is a tremendous loss to the theater community.

I  recall how he brought up that “Les Miz” line, saying Hugo “wasn’t must being poetic. He wrapped his life in support of the common man.”

To work in a Bright musical is to experience the joy of theater. He was the master of the class — a school teacher who originally staged musicals at Benjamin Parker Elementary School’s cafetorium, expanding his posture and setting roots with high school thespians in the Castle High School theater that was named in 1994 for him.

He steered  many troubled youths into theater, changing their lives for the better, making wrongs into rights;  he influenced  wannabe actors to pursue their dreams, with a you-can-do-it-if-you-believe-in-yourself,  so the list of Castle production alums have been dotting Broadway stages and traveling in legit national tours. Truly, he was God-like, a figure of inspiration and humanity, and literally a Bright light in the stage community.

Understandably, the family has requested privacy at this time, issuing a statement that said “We are saddened to  report that our father, Ronald E. Bright, has passed away today,” his children — Clarke Bright, Jodi Bright Stein and Michael Bright  —  said in a statement.  “On behalf of his entire ohana, we kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”

Clarke Bright, always in the orchestra pit in a Bright musical, currently is director of the Royal Hawaiian Band; Michael Bright and his Castle cohort Cliffton Hall, have performed on Broadway in “Miss Saigon” and all were involved in the monumental  “Les Miz” at Paliku.

Besides grandchildren, Mr. B is survived by his wife Mo (Moira),  who was his lieutenant in command at all of his productions.

Services are pending.

Though Bright had been fragile and ill for the past few weeks, he did make a brief appearance at a fall musical revue he was to direct at Paliku. That production now may be tabled and replaced with a musical tribute saluting and remembering Mr. B’s legacy.

Bright was particularly proud of his 50-member “Les Miz” cast and the iconic show that is a tapestry of song, dance and sweeping emotions at the time of the French revolution.  Its themes of faith, war, guilt, freedom, romance, heartbreak, patriotism and honor were elements of everyday life. "We have gathered the best cast and crew I’ve ever worked with in my entire career,” he said then of his performers. His enthusiasm and creed enveloped his company — typical of his m.o. in any show he did.

We'll miss you and your shows, Mr. B, but we'll cherish the memories you've provided over the decades.

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