A TITLE SPONSOR FOR UKE FEST

A few changes are forthcoming, when the 52nd Annual Ukulele Festival – a summertime attraction and destination for locals and visitors alike – unfolds at 7 p.m. July 17 as a virtual event.

New: a title sponsor, Tony Group Autoplex, will strum in this year, making the event possible. Thus, the annual event will be formally known as the Tony Group Autoplex Annual Ukulele Festival.

Unchanged: Through retired, Roy and Kathy Sakuma, co-founders of the world’s largest and most popular uke activity, are returning to jump-start this year’s attraction with plans to keep alive the spirit of the festival’s success.

The Sakumas earlier retired as co-founders of the ukulele festival, when another couple expressed interest in keeping the fest alive, but clearly, the deal fell through, reasons unexplained.

So Sakuma will be aboard, hosting the event along with Hawaii’s most famous and versatile uke man, Jake Shimabukuro.

What’s also new: a free virtual ukulele workshop on July 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Hawaii time, a week ahead of the virtual festival.

Roy and Kathy Sakuma, back in the uke saddle.

The Sakumas continue their year-round work to train and instruct ukulele students at their Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studios. “That’s what I enjoy most – working with the young kids who want to learn to play the ukulele,” said Roy Sakuma, who, in recent years, returned to host in-person classes himself, becoming part of his studio’s teaching staff. And yes, the kids love him. “It’s so much fun…like the old days,” said Roy.

Jake Shimabukuro

“We wholeheartedly would like to thank all of the ‘ukulele manufacturers, performers, entertainers, international groups, students, sponsors, volunteers, and the entire community of residents and visitors who came out to Kapi‘olani Park year after year to support the festival,” the Sakumas said in a joint statement.

“The ukulele, so small and seemingly ordinary, touches lives in extraordinary ways, and we will continue to spread the joy of the ukulele,” said Kathy.

Shimabukuro, who earned his chops as an early learner, now serves on the board of directors of the Ukulele Festival Hawaii. “It is because of Roy and Kathy’s work that the ‘ukulele is embraced and enjoyed worldwide today with other ukulele festivals throughout the world, and I salute them for their efforts,” said Shimabukuro. …

A Lightbulb Concerto

Streetlight Cadence, the acoustic group from Hawaii, have a reputation of thinking and playing outside the box, which make ‘em truly refreshing.

Ensconced in a room at Sunset Beach in Pupukea recently, the band had a couple of hours to kill following a concert, so they decided to create something special, and impromptu, and recorded a beaut and posted it online.

Streetlight Cadence, with lone “ghost” light, in impromptu video filming at Pupukea.

If the footage — promptly dubbed “A Lightbulb Concerto” –seems unusually dark, clearly it’s intentional: a simple “ghost light,” that single-bulb lamp traditionally left on overnight, a common practice on a Broadway stage, provided the illumination, as Jonathan Franklin performed on violin, Brian Webb on cello, and Ben Chai on banjo, with friend Clara Stegall guesting on guitar . No word on the whereabouts of Jesse Shiroma, the group’s accordionist, but  maybe he was the cameraman?  Looks and sounds like a winnah! …

Friday filler

So who and what will replace  Jay Hernandez and the “Magnum P.I.” crew on Friday nights this fall, on CBS? Taking over the slot: Max  Thieriot, from “SWAT Team,” heading up an inmates-and-firefighter drama, “Fire Country,” tucked in between “SWAT Team” and “Blue Bloods.” ….

And that’s Show Biz. …

LOOKS LIKE IT’S MOMOA, THE MERRIER

Seems like Hawaii’s keiki o ka ‘aina Jason Momoa is all over the movie map.

The Honolulu native, who is part Hawaiian, will write, star in and executive-produce a straight-to-series, “Chief of War,” for Apple TV+.

The eight-episode project will deal with the colonization of Hawaii, from an indigenous viewpoint, with production likely to begin in the late summer or fall this year.

A general plot outline has not been mentioned, nor cast details revealed yet, but according to Variety, “Chief of War” is a creation of Momoa, and will be produced by Endeavor Content and Chernin Entertainment. Doug Jung will be showrunner, with negotiations under way for Justin Chon (“Blue Bayou”) to direct the first two episodes.

Jason Momoa

The producing team also includes Thomas Pa‘a Sibbett, Francis Lawrence, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and Erik Holmberg.

With its island-roots orientation, hope Momoa can encourage his film-making partners to hire more locals, and some with secondary roles, to truly make this a “made-in-Hawaii” success.

Further, Momoa’s schedule includes:

  • Momoa’s Apple TV series, “See,” in which he portrays Baba Voss. The unique show, still streaming episodes, is set in the distant future where a deadly virus has decimated and impacted humans, who are blind or with low vision. Voss has twins born centuries later – with eyesight.
  • A  spec project entitled “Shots! Shots! Shots!,” a Universal Pictures acquisition which will star Momoa. It’s described as a family-centric adventure-comedy flick, with Momoa one of the exec producers, along with his partner, Jeff Fierson. Details are lacking, but among the Hollywood names attached to the project are Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich. Matt Mider and Kevin Burrows wrote the spec script.

Momoa, in disguise.
  • Momoa now is in Italy, filming “Fast & Furious 10,” the Vin Diesel franchise (also known as “Fast X,” in which he’s playing a villain. In an online post, Momoa says, “Gonna be fun; I get to play the bad guy, which I haven’t gotten to do for awhile. A very flamboyant bad boy. A little panache.” To minimize getting recognized, Momoa has fashioned his own disguise – sun glasses shielding his eyes and face, plus a scarf around his head, a la the pic he posted himself.
  • His sequel to “Aquaman” is in the can, and that project, dubbed “Aquaman and the Lost Frontier,” will be on screens in March 2023. FYI, the sequel features Amber Heard, Johnny Depp’s ex now engaged in court battles with the actor; she’s blaming media coverage that her role of Mera, intended as a three-flick project, is being downplayed because of the she-said, he-said court fight.

Smooth as silk

That Silk Sonic name is absolutely perfect for Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, whose vocal strokes of rhythm and blues and funk and soul have never been better.

Bruno Mars, appearing in his Silk Sonic video.

And the silky and smooth harmonies, demonstrated by Mars and .Paak, have once again boosted the emblematic, retro and reflective aura of the smooth soul grooves of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Love’s Train” is choo-choo charming, a cover of Con Funk Shun’s 1989 recording that Silk Sonic now owns, thanks to the group’s performance of the tune on the recent Billboard Awards show.

From costumes with bell bottoms and choreography reminiscent of all those soul dudes of the past, the delivery of “Love Train” was as good as it comes. “Love’s Train” currently tops Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay Chart, and is destined to emerge as another No.1 hit for Mars and .Paak. Silk Sonic is a nominee in the BET Awards 2022 show airing June 26 on BET-TV. …

Casey comes to bat in ‘Chicago Fire’ finale

Jesse Spencer

For the finale of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” on Wednesday, Jesse Spencer – firefighter Matt Casey on the show – will return to attend the wedding of Taylor Kinney (Severide) and Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo).

Thus, the windup one of TV’s favorite series will be somewhat sentimental; in the context of the show, Casey exited the show last October to relocate to Oregon to help the Darden’s (a firefighter buddy who was previously killed in action) sons complete high school in three years.

But he’s also making good on his promise to support his Firehouse 51 buddies when they get hitched – and a permanent homecoming is not in the cards since the three-year commitment is not yet over. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

LARRIN HAS A RARE WAIKIKI GIG

Note: this column has been updated; Jay Larrin’s show times were incorrect in earlier postings.

Jay Larrin, tapped as a Lifetime Achievement Award inductee by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts earlier this year, will make a rare concert appearance at Na Kupuna Nights May 28 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Waikiki.

Larrin, a singer, pianist, composer and poet, will be the featured entertainer, in an event produced by the Hawaiian Music Perpetuation Society, celebrating Na Kupuna of Mele Hawaii. He also is a seasoned Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner, known for a body of work that includes “The Snows of Maunakea,” “The Ko’olaus Are Sleeping,” “Molokai Lullaby”  and “Little Lei Lady.”

Jay Larrin

The event also will feature Halehaku Seabury and Bryan Tolentino, singers and ukulele artists, who also are previous Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners.

There are daytime and nighttime components for the event, celebrating island music, food and arts and crafts.

The schedule:

  • 3 to 8 p.m. – E Ku’ai Kakou, “We Shop,” with Hawaiian inspired vendors.
  • 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. – Kani Ka Pila, with Kuuipo Kumukahi, at the rooftop breeze way.
  • 5:30 p.m. – Doors open for dinner, with a 6 p.m. opening protocol.
Halehaku Seabury, Bryan Tolentino
  • 6:15 p.m. – Dinner service, featuring Hawaiian food.
  • 6:15 p.m. – Performance by Halehaku Seabury and Bryan Tolentino.
  • 7 to 7:30 p.m. – Raffle drawing and a silent auction.
  • 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. —  Jay Larrin performance on piano.

Tickets: $79, includes concert, dinner and parking; visit www.hawaiianmusicperpetuationsociety.com  …

‘Sunshine’ postponed again

For the third time in as many years, “The Sunshine Boys,” featuring Joe Moore and Pat Sajak, has been postponed again until June 2023, due to the enduring pandemic crisis that will elevate some protocols, like face masking and crowd controls, in the weeks ahead.

The show has been on the summer slate at the Hawaii Theatre throughout the prevailing health concerns; it was to run from June 16 through June 26 this year. Clearly, the development of another rescheduling is a whirl of misfortune, yet again.

“With COVID cases rising for eight consecutive weeks and the Health Department predicting the numbers will continue to rise for an undermined amount of time before they go down, we felt the only responsible and sensible thing to do in the interest of public safety was to postpone,” said Moore, veteran KHON-2 news anchor, who has regularly staged theatrical productions co-starring his one-time Army buddy, Sajak, the longtime host of “Wheel of Fortune.”

Joe Moore, Pat Sajak

“Big disappoint for all of us,” said Moore about pushing back the Neil Simon comedy for another year. “Three strikes and we’re out,” he shared in an email, and Moore was to announce the postponement in the 6 p.m. newcast on Channel 2 today (May 19).

“We’ll try to get out from under the cloud of COVID or whatever new virus might emerge,” he said. The uncertainty of restrictions of attendance numbers of large groups also was factor in the postponement.

Moore also revealed that the Hawaii Theatre had $50,000 worth of tickets sold a month before the “Sunshine” launching, when the decision was made earlier this morning to wait another year. “It wasn’t ticket sales I was worried about, it was the safety of theater-goers with so much COVID in the community,” said Moore.

Thus, it was the right call to postpone now, to enable ticket holders to plan ahead and also avoid possible COVID infections when huge numbers are in the same space amid the uncertainty of the virus.

Those with tickets for the scheduled June playdates may hold onto their tickets for next year’s performance, or accept a Hawaii Theatre gift card to enjoy another show.

“It’s been a tough time for the non-profit theater and folks’ support now is more important than ever,” said Moore.

The rescheduling for 2023 means another year of long-distance phone rehearsals and Zoom sessions for Moore and Sajak, which has become a routine for the two buddies in the past, and another delay is, indeed, frustrating.

The theater’s website, www.hawaiitheatre.com, should provide other specifics, though had not been updated to reflect the postponement yet when we checked midday. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

JAZZ QUARTET AIMS ‘STRAIGHT AHEAD’

It’s been two decades since John Kolivas, the celebrated jazz bassist, established the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. It was formed a few months prior of the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the combo’s  milestone 20th anniversary arrives in the midst of the Covid pandemic.

Not to worry. In-between two global distractions to everyday life, the HJQ has survived with its soothing, improvisational vibe and a consistent repertoire that provides a persistent and perpetual forward thrust.

So to mark its 20th birthday, HJQ takes the spotlight at 7 p.m. Sunday (May 22) at Blue Note Hawaii to continue its jazz roller coaster ride and launch a melodic anniversary CD, dubbed “Straight Ahead,” which will be available for purchase at the Blue Note gift shop in the lobby of the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

Besides Kolivas, the trusty foursome includes saxophonist Tim Tsukiyama, pianist Dan Del Negro, and drummer Noel Okimoto on the CD as well as in live gigs like the Blue Note one.

Honolulu Jazz Quartet: Noel Okimoto, John Kolivas, Dan Del Negro and Tim Tsukiyama.

The disc is a breath of fresh air and perhaps a few notable pegs of influence from the membership. The result: contemporary melodics of some pop treasures that retain the group’s jazz roots and foundation, but opening the welcome mat a bit wider to embrace the ears and hearts of a newer, younger generation of fans. After all, all members have their own brand of musicianship, with audiences familiar with their work as desirable instrumentalists for known vocalists in live gigs in the past two decades. These stellar vets are also notable  bandsmen in club and concert appearances with a retinue of hall of famers, including Jimmy Borges, Betty Loo Taylor, Gabe Baltazar, Shari Lynn, and Loretta Ables Sayre.

Cover of HJQ’s “Straight Ahead” CD.

Surely, Kolivas and crew will share some of the newly recorded tunes on “Straight Ahead” in current and future concerts. The musical journey includes a lilting update of “Scarborough Fair,” the tune associated with Simon and Garfunkel, with Kolivas’ jazz influence defining a bouncy three-quarter-waltz trait that is intoxicating and soothing.

Del Negro, with roots in the south side of the Windy City Chicago, engages a coaxing Jawaiian aura on “Wes’ Side, Brah,” an homage not to “West Side Story” but to Oahu’s westside.

Okimoto pumps up a jazzified “In My Room,” giving the early Beach Boys chart hit, that blues undercoat without sacrificing the familiar melody, reidentifying a pop hit to lure in a modern audience.

Okimoto is A-OK, too, giving the countrified “Wichita Lineman” ballad, composed by Jimmy Webb and popularized  by Glenn Campbell, an airy, improvisational posture. And what’s jazz, without improv?

And while the Great American Songbook legacy generally refers to vocalists who adopt and reinterpret tunes with lasting appeal, Kolivas embraces a few titles to make him eligible to the GAS club. Two George and Ira Gershwin favorites, “Fascinating Rhythm” (arranged by Del Negro) and “Bess You Is My Woman Now” (arrangedby Tsukiyama) are straight ahead winners for loyal older fans.

Kolivas’ composition, “They Grow Up Too Fast,” refers to the blurring passage of time (though specifically, to how quickly his kids have grown up while he’s been creating jazz jive), but that’s the essence of life and music. The process can age you, yet define you, whatever the speed, but in the end, it’s all about the fun. Think a swirl of funk, blues and soul amid the riveting roots of traditional jazz — resulting in a pot luck of comforting, reflective musical nourishment.

And that equates to joy and pleasure, unexpected or anticipated, on “Straight Ahead;” whatever your age and your speed limit, the road leads to fun…

Here, there, everywhere

Augie T.

Comedian Augie T (for Tulba), a City Council member who’s a graduate of Farrington High School, is staging a benefit concert at  8 p.m. May 20 (Friday) at the Farrington High School auditorium.  Mike Tulba also will be featured. It’s a benefit for Student Activities at Farrington — part of Augie’s give-back-to-Farrington posture. Tickets: $10, available at the door. Details: www.augiet.net  …

Robert Cazimero performs at 7 p.m. May 21 (Saturday) at Kahilu Theatre, on the Big Island. It’s a longstanding tradition for him to reconnect, following the pandemic shutdowns, with his Waimea fans. Tickets: www.kahilutheatre.org

John Cruz, on a 25th anniversary tour, also has two playdates at Kahilu Theatre, at 3 and 7 p.m. May 28. Tickets: www.kahilutheatre.org

And that’s Show Biz. …

HTY, TAG REVEAL FALL SLATES

Two more island theater groups – the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and The Actors Group – have finalized their fall stage seasons.

HTY has embraced a title/theme for its 2022-2023 slate of shows: “E Ho‘i Hou: Return Anew,” a celebratory notion following virtual stagings during the height of the pandemic, anticipating “our return to live gatherings with laughter, stories, culture and learning,” according to Eric Johnson, HTY artistic director.

At TAG, five of its six shows will be Hawaiii premieres – newbies are hot here.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

The HTY slate, at Tenney Theatre:

  • “The Royal School,” by Lee Cataluna and Moses Goods.
  • “The Pa‘akai We Bring,” by Moses Goods and the HTY Ensemble.
  • “In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson,” adapted by Mark Branner, based on the book by Bette Bao Lord, which will tour more than 20 U.S. cities before a staging at Tenney.
  • “Step by Step,” by Reiko Ho and the HTY Ensemble.
  • “Happy, Sad, Sad, Happy,” by Annie Cusick Wood and the The Ensemble.
  • “Peter Pop Pan,” a musical adaption of Peter Pan, by Mattea Mazzella, Eric Johnson and the HTY Ensemble.

Show descriptions, precise performing dates and other details have not yet been announced. For details, visit www.htyweb.org

The Actors Group

TAG shows at the Brad Powell Theatre at the Shops at Dole Cannery will feature fresh and new works; five of the season’s six titles are Hawaii premieres:

  • “The God Committee,” by Mark St. Germain, Sept. 23 through Oct. 16. A medical drama about three patients angling to receive a heart transplant, exploring moral and ethical questions surrounding organ transplants.
  • “Painting TJ,” by Nancy Moss, Nov. 25 through Dec. 18. A tale about a high school junior, whose mother is the school’s headmaster, painting a penis on a statue of Thomas Jefferson, with themes of racism and familial conflicts.
  • “A Soldier’s Play,” by Charles H. Fuller, Jan. 20 through Feb. 12, 2023. A drama set at a Louisiana military base that is racially segregated, where a black soldier is murdered, with tensions of racism.
  • “The Demon of the Burning Boy,” by David West Read, March 24 through April 16, 2023. A teacher’s favorite student is murdered, creating conflicted emotions, including the power to move on.
  • “Uncle Vanya,” by Anton Chekhov, May 26 through June 18, 2023. A powerful literary classic, about the struggles within a family that is timeless and tormenting.
  • “Rotterdam,” by Jon Brittain, July 28 through Aug. 20, 2023. A comedy that raises tough questions about gender, sexuality, love, and how they connect.

Information: (808) 741-4699 or www.taghawaii.net

Honoring dads

Kuana Torres Kahele and Robert Cazimero will do Father’s Day shows at Chef Chai’s.

Father’s Day – Sunday June 19 — will have a Hawaiian vibe at Chef Chai’s, on Kapiolani Boulevard.

You can do an all-you-can-eat lobster tail  buffet at either a brunch or dinner outing.

Kuana Torres Kahele, with the 2000 Miss Aloha Hula winner Tehani Gonzado, headlines the brunch session, with reservations being taken from 9 a.m.to 9:30 a.m. and also from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Robert Cazimero, a monthly Chai’s performer, will reign over the dinner show, with reservations being taken from 4 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. Cazimero willf feature hula regulars Sky Perkins Gora and Bully Keola Makaiau.

Cost is $125 per person, for the entertainment and special buffet including a gamut of appetizers, soup and salads, plus entree and dessert options.

There is a pre-Father’s Day dinner, on Saturday, June 18, without entertainment, also with a $25 tariff including the lobster tail buffet.

Reservations: (808) 585-0011 or www.chefchai.com

Clublicity notes

Blue Note Hawaii, at the Outrigger Waikiki resort, features these troupers in the nights ahead:

  • Tito Jackson, formerly of the Jackson 5 with his siblings, performs at 6:30 and 9 p.m. May 20 and 21. Tickets: $45 and $55.
  • The Honolulu Jazz Quartet, led by John Kolivas, marks its 20th anniversary with a CD release launch, at 7 p.m. May 22. Tickets: $25 and $35.
Felix Cavaliere of Young Rascals
  • Kuana Torres Kahele teams up with Robert Cazimero, for another Hawaiian collaboration, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 8. Tickets:  $45 and $55.
  • Felix Cavaliere,  formerly of The Young Rascals (aka The Rascals), takes the stage at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 10, 11 and 12. Tickets: $45 and $55.
  • Who’s Bad 20/10, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 17 and 18. Tickets: $35 and $45.
  • Beat-Lele, a Tribute to the Beatles, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. June 19. Tickets: $25 and $35.

Tickets: (808) 777-4890 or www.bluenotehawaii.com

And that’s Show Biz. …