Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Review: Memories aplenty in John Rowles' Honolulu homecoming

October 25th, 2014

Haumea Ho, widow of Don Ho, did a hula to “I’ll Remember You” while John Rowles sang the Kui Lee tune last night (Oct. 24) at Blaisdell Concert Hall. johnrowles

It was one of those special moments in Rowles’ first return engagement here in more than 30 years. He was in his 20s at the time.

Rowles, of course, performed at Ho’s hangout, Duke Kahanamoku’s, in the heyday of Waikiki celebrityhood.

Now 67, Rowles, the Maori sensation who also gigged at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Monarch Room and the Outrigger Hotel Main Showroom,  has matured gracefully. He sports white hair now, just like the snows of Mauna Kea at wintertime; his baritone has the essence of aged wine at its best.

He still has vigor and versatility and he revisited his Waikiki days with a clutch of songs associated with his then-budding career. Of course, “Cheryl Moana Marie,” penned for the youngest of his five sisters, became his signature and the tune, with Rowles’ still-powerful pipes, earned hurrahs and cheers when he sang it.

Rowles, happily, has not forgotten his island ties. He credited composer-poet Jay Larrin for one of his other popular adopted tunes, “The Snows of Mauna Kea,” bringing his deep baritone notes to new altitudes of bliss.

Backed by the Elvis Presley TCB (Taking Care of Business) Band, much of Rowles’ repertoire included a string of Presley hits, but he often put his own vocal imprint on the tune. Like, “Love Me Tender” was perfectly delivered in a subdued, unflashy mode, with Rowles accompanying himself on guitar. With the right exposure at the right moment, it’s a version that could easily connect with today’s younger audience, who many not (yikes, there are many of ‘em) know the EP original.

The TCB Band  is comprised of James Burton, guitar; Ronnie Tutt, drums; Glen D. Hardin, piano; and Norbert “Put” Putnam; they backed The King in the historic “Aloha From Hawaii” concert at Blaisdell Arena (then the Hawaii International Center),  and they’ve been an essential and under-appreciated combo in the annals of rock music.

So it was a no-brainer that the group provided the Presley-quality backup on titles such as “Hound Dog,” “In the Ghetto,” “The Wonder of You,”  “That’s All Right” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”

In a touching moment, “How Great Thou Art,” a secular favorite from the Presley library, Rowles mixed in Maori lyrics without sacrificing sentiment, projecting the universality of the hymn.

No, his was not a tribute –to-Elvis show. It was accentuating the bandsmanship of a historic backup band, with the vocalry of a prevailing Kiwi star, in an out-of-town “opening” preceding a planned tour of New Zealand and Australia in the months ahead.

Rowles was relaxed and playful with the sparse  but loyal audience. And happily, he didn’t forget the fabulous formative years of his launch in the islands. He dropped a few names, like Coronado Aquino, who was the longtime maître d’ at the Monarch Room; he acknowledge his then-peers in the house, from Melveen Leed to Al Harrington; he even shared an original composition, “The Girl in White,” about a fan he regularly spotted in the Pink Palace showroom. And yes, he remembered Kimo McVay, the late entrepreneur who was a mover-and-shaker in Rowles’ Hawaii presence.

Of course, his homage to Ho was expected. After all, he guested in Ho’s palace in the International Market Place. The invitation for Haumea, the entertainer’s wife, was a natural link to the past — and a passage to the present.

He said he’ll never forget his Hawaii ties; he even did a quick haka move, complete with tongue action and staccato body moves.

Clearly, he and his fans mutually had a grand time. Rowles was sure to widen his appeal with potent ballads like “If I Only Had Time” and “My Way.”

It sounded like if he had his way, he’d return to his island paradise someday.

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Rowles presenting preview at Hard Rock Cafe Wednesday

October 22nd, 2014


johnrowlesNew Zealand singer John Rowles will give a free preview concert at 7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday, Oct. 22) at the Hard Rock Café, 28 Beach Walk, in Waikiki.

For inquiries, call 955-7383.

The sneak peak precedes his scheduled performance, with the Elvis Presley TCB Band,  at 7:30 p.m. this Friday (Oct. 24) at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

A free ticket offer also has been announced for all military and veterans in Hawaii for the Blaisdell show.  GIs should present their IDs at the box office, or at the door on the performance night, for free admission. Their spouses and family members will need to secure their own paid-admission tickets.

“We felt that nobody deserves to join us more than these amazing human beings (who) have done so much for the country,” said show presenter Simon Kemp-Roberts in a statement.


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Wednesday show set for canceled ‘Hairspray’

October 20th, 2014



Here’s a hair-raiser:

Because of the soggy rains of Hurricane Ana, the University of Hawaii canceled a Saturday night performance of the hit musical of “Hairspray” at Paliku Theatre on the Windward Community College campus, a sellout house that couldn’t see the show,

The Sunday performance — supposedly, the finale for the extended show — went on as scheduled.

So now theater manager Tom Holowach is frantically getting word out that the yanked performance, which will be the finale, has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday (Oct. 22) at Paliku.

If you have tickets to this performance, you can attend and sit in your same seats.

Some exchanges/refunds are expected, so perhaps 150 “good” seats will emerge from this rescheduling.

Further, each performance has had 36 temporary seats sold prior to curtain, so those who really want to see “Hairspray” should be accommodated.

Tickets are available at 235-7310 or

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Radio's Spam and eggs duo, of Hawaii morning drive

October 10th, 2014


Michael W. Perry and Larry Price have prevailed as the Spam and eggs combo of Hawaii’s wake-up radio audience for three decades — and counting.

Yet they are as different as guava and pineapple, an odd couple balancing each other’s strengths.

Perry on the left and Price on the right — their position when they’re broadcasting — inherited the morning radio slot, after Hal Lewis, whose broadcast handle was J. Akuhead Pupule, died. Aku was allegedly the highest paid deejay in the nation at the time and clearly the No. 1 powerhouse on KGMB radio.

How P&P approached the throne, maintained the reign, and talked and championed their way to radio history, is the subject of “Perry & Price — Voices of Hawaii,” premiering at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 on KHNL (repeating at 7 p.m. Oct. 26, KHNL). It’s one of those infrequent but relevant TV glimpses of island personalities, by the prolific and pioneering director Phil Arnone.

Originating in the glory days of KGMB-TV (now consolidated with KHNL as Hawaii News Now), Arnone — now a freelancer — has been the backbone of local specials on Hawaii newsmakers.   But for the first time ever, this one’s bypassing KGMB, the longtime CBS affiliate, and airing solely on sister station KHNL, the NBC outlet.

Two guys, 30 years, one helluva track record. That’s the best way to describe the legacy that is Perry & Price.

Their show has always been part talk, part music, part fun, part news — and wholly spontaneous whenever there’s a hurricane or tsunami brewing locally.  The  tragedy of  9/11, when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, compelled Perry and Pric  to rise the occasion to cover, analyze and explore the tragic events of that day. While network TV offered video as well as audio, not all folks had access to the tube, so the jocks became news reporters  seeking reaction and information with a local slant with extended broadcast shifts beyond morning drive.

Since then, and even earlier, Perry and Price became the go-to dudes in media and often are known as the “Masters of Disasters” or “Deans of Doom.”

Narrated by Linda Coble, who once read the news on the P&P show, and scripted by Larry Fleece, an early and still chronicler of local specials produced by Arnone, “Voices of Hawaii” is a revealing and entertaining portrait of unshowbizzy guys who have become the envied and invincible one-two punch of morning radio.

It was an unexpected coupling; Perry had wanted to do radio since he was 10, served in the Navy, wound up in broadcasting on a local rock station; Price was a football coach, then worked security at a Waikiki hotel, and did a brief investigative reporter stint on TV before they were both summoned by then-manager Earl McDaniel (and station owner Cec Heftel) to form the morning team on KGMB radio (now KSSK) a month after the unexpected death of Lewis in July 1983.

Yes, they were green; but like a marriage, they soon anticipated the moves and manners of each other to maintain Aku’s No. 1 perch on the Arbitron radio ratings from the get-go, astounding the naysayers.

“Long hours but not hard work,” Price says of the gig.

“Grueling,” retorts  Perry.

Depends on the day and the events of the world, naturally.

While they dutifully maintained their positions at the microphone to cover such island catastrophes like Hurricane Iniki, it was 9/11 that changed their lives and methods. As Perry says, “We became brokers — brokering the news.”  They watched TV feeds along with the rest of the world, found local ties, added Hawaii sidebars to the reporting.

And folks responded, in great numbers. And the brand was solidified.

They had borrowed tricks from Aku, an innovator in his own right. He played old music of his own preference, interpreted the news but peppered it with  lots of opinion, and did something few competitors were doing at the time —  “he was the first guy to put phone calls on the radio,” says Perry.

It was the crude origin of social media at a time when cell phones and Twitter were not yet invented.

The call-ins also later established a Perry & Price tradition: the creation of a radio posse, which provided the eyes and voices particularly in reporting crimes or providing clues on prevailing incidents, like a stolen car spotted by a listener after the victim reported a license plate number. Thus was born the catch phrase, “Nevah feah, da posse’s heah.”

Other jocks, including Kamasami Kong, Dave Lancaster and Dan Cooke, were competitors — as well as fans — who praise P&P’s power and accomplishments.

And ex-Kalihi boy Price provided budding comic  and fellow Kalihian Augie T scholarship funding to finance college — one local supporting a needy local.
The special also notes another P&P phenom: the continuing popularity of a Saturday morning radio brunch show before a live audience enjoying a leisurely brunch.  The format was “invented” when the duo needed to pump up usually boring Saturday mornings, when folks aren’t driving to work. Akin to a TV talk and variety show but minus the precious visuals of the tube, P&P assemble live performances and guests peddling a book or a charity walk,  to fuel the imagination. The venues have changed over time; it started  at the Top of the Ilikai and now it’s Jade Dynasty at Ala Moana Center.

It all comes down to the power of patter and chatter — or what Aku used to call “the coconut wireless” — with Perry on the left, Price on the right.




7 p.m. Oct. 12 and 26





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Something old, something new as 'Five-0' wins time slot

September 27th, 2014




The season five premiere episode of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” “A’Ohe Kahi e Pe’e Ai (Nowhere to Hide)” won its 8 p.m. (9 p.m. Mainland) time slot, with 8.90 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the coveted 18 to 49 demographics.

The figures, courtesy Nielsen Media Research, include live plus same day numbers that were down from season four’s premiere, when the Hawaii-based show logged 1.6 adults in the preferred demos. Final numbers are subject  to change, with live+7 day figures are factored in.

The evening’s demo champ was ABC’s two-hour “Shark Tank,” with a 1.8 scorecard in the 18 to 49 demo and 7.10 million in the 7 to 8 p.m. hours (8 to10 p.m. Mainland).

And CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” with 10.60 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18 to 49 demo, was the night’s most-watched series in the 9 p.m. hour (10 p.m. Mainland).

Overall, CBS had the most viewers (8.36 million) for the night, and ABC copped the night’s 18 to 49 demo with a 1.7 rating.

So the race is on for the 2014-15 TV fall season…

Promising change and tweaking this year, “Five-0” offered a mix of old and new. It was a lively and engaging episode, but you needed to suspend  credibility.




  • The bickering banter between  Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno Williams (Scott Caan), in a longish give-and-take reflecting on their nearly four years on the H50 task force, during psychoanalysis with an unseen therapist; also later in the usual race to the crime scene car.  The aural see-saw has become smooth and satisfying ride, though as McG admits, it’s all about the ‘ohana. It was cutesy when Lilo told Stitch, in Disney’s Hawaii-set kiddie com, but McG?
  • The season’s first utterance of “Book ‘em, Danno” from McG to Danno. More to come, of course. It’s been the trademark quote for years, the lasting notable quotable from the original Jack Lord-James MacArthur team.
  • The rekindled romance between Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and her reunited beau Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Hall). Will they hitch, or will they part?
  • The presence of Jerry Ortega (Jerry Garcia), the conspiracy theorist, a crime solver with quirky and quizzical but effective means. The small screen lights up when he’s front and center,
  • The residencuy of Lou Grover (Chi McBride), the displaced Chicago SWAT guy, who now makes the task force truy Five-0.  Will he spar occasionally with McG, which had sizzle and fire, or will they remain best buddies?
  • The past continues to haunt Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), who confronts imprisoned Gabriel (Christopher Sean), resulting in the restoration of Chin’s dubious past. Does he or doesn’t he have missing moolah? Surely, a bone to dig up in the future.


  • Max Bergman (Masi Oka), the medical examiner, has a new assistant, Dr. Mindy Shaw (Amanda Sutton). Only time will tell if she’ll have the kind of repartee and relation like the dudes on “NCIS.” And we’ll have to wait to see what evolves in the lab.
  • The lockdown of the city — with a focus on Waikiki — magnifies the issue of terrorism. In this case, the murder of a couple atop the Diamond Head lookout by a combat drone with a deadly machine-gun precision, is fresh, fierce and formidable. But a plane landing on Kalakaua? Where was the aerial backup security to prevent this?  And abandoned cars on the freeway, instead of totally empty roads? Mark this one a fantasy — and check in your disbelief. Would you abandon your car and walk to safety? Not logical.


  • Final thought: who needs Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), when the terrorist is Marco Reyes (Anthony Ruivivar), who doesn’t come to the party till very late in the show. In his short scene, he was  threatening, menacing, and terrifying — TNT! — and he’ll recur in an ongoing story arc in two more episodes, including the next installment, “Ka Makuakane (Family Man). A villain in every sense of a procedural, with nerve and verve. And happily, he’s a local though now lives in California.

 The verdict:

Good start to a new season, with expectations higher than ever. And your reaction?