Do It! Michael Winslow, Pepper, more

Dec. 28, 2012 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition


Michael Winslow has made a career of impeccably imitating noises for films and amazed audiences using his voice and a microphone

Comedian Michael Winslow thinks we all do a little bit of his act, from little kids who imitate the VROOOOM! of their toy trucks to the woman who takes her car to the mechanic and says, “I swear, it just makes this ICKY-ICKY-ITCHY noise.”

But few have turned it into a successful showbiz career like Winslow’s, which includes memorable appearances on film, particularly the “Police Academy” series, and regular dates on the stand-up comedy circuit.

Winslow, who appears tonight at Hawaiian Brian’s, said his vocal gymnastics came early to him, just like his own personal baby talk.

“My mom was quite mystified why her baby could make jet noises,” said Winslow, who grew up around military bases and always found lots of heavy equipment to imitate.

Winslow also used his ability to invent imaginary friends, “which worked until you get in trouble and you can’t blame your imaginary friend. … Keep it out of school. It’s not a good mix.”

Winslow can make more than 1,000 sound effects with little more than his voice and a microphone. It’s an ability that gives him a lot of flexibility, on stage and on film. “Some directors do have a specific idea,” he said. “But when you’re dealing with a Mel Brooks (Winslow had a role in “Spaceballs”), you have to bring your A game and expect for anything to happen, and it does. I don’t know of many people who wear three-piece suits and tennis shoes.”

In addition to Winslow’s multitude of mechanical sounds and voices, he’s known for a killer imitation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” which effectively launched his career when he did it at a club in Colorado. He took off for Los Angeles soon afterward, giving himself one summer to try to make things happen.

“It was fraught with a lot of things,” he said. “It was a long summer. It’s been wonderful. It’s still that long summer for me.”

Where: Hawaiian Brian’s, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd.
When: 8 p.m. today
Cost: $20-$40
Info: or 855-235-2867
— Steven Mark

Rock ‘n’ roll trio Pepper returns to isles for gig

Pepper, righteous rockers who graduated from the Big Island to the big time, are back in the islands with a concert tonight at the Republik.

Bassist-vocalist Bret Bollinger, guitarist-vocalist Kaleo Wassman and drummer Yesod Williams first got together in 1997 in Kailua-Kona and have gained a following among the surf-rock crowd.

We’ve described their sound in this newspaper as a “blend of energy and mellowness, reggae-inflected and tailored to lift listeners’ spirits and adrenaline levels,” with subject matter that has the timeless adolescent appeal of surf rock: “drinking, smoking and partying with intoxicated female fans.”

Not that the band’s gone wild. Williams told TGIF the guys “get normal time in when we’re not on the road.”

Now based in San Diego, Pepper is one of the few local bands to have attained a broad mainland following, appearing regularly on the Vans Warped Tour for years. The trio’s music has been played in movies (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and on soundtracks for video games “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.”

Their albums have done well commercially as well, with their 2004 release “In with the Old” reaching No. 18 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart — a category that seems especially appropriate for a band that built its own recording studio and established its own label.

Above all, the band is known for putting on a great live show — and when surrounded by home-state crowds, Pepper pulls out all the stops.

Where: The Republik, 1349 Kapiolani Blvd.
When: 8 p.m. today
Cost: $30-$40, $25-$35 pre-sale; all ages accompanied by an adult
Info: or 855-235-2867

Songwriter John Prine’s sublime talent to grace Hawaii Theatre

Singer-songwriter John Prine is a man of profound talent and soul to the bone, with a full portfolio of classic titles to his credit. Known for his spare, warm delivery and vivid, moving portraits in song, he’s earned Grammys and gold records, and was honored at the Library of Congress by U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

Prine has collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and many others, and no, he doesn’t need a hipster seal of approval. (Neither did he need to talk to this newspaper; he turned down our request for an interview.) Nonetheless, this songwriter, one of the few who actually deserves the epithet “legendary,” remains vital in the hearts and minds of a new generation of musicians.

In 2010 The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, My Morning Jacket, Drive-By Truckers, Justin Townes Earle, Josh Ritter and the Old Crow Medicine Show, among others, contributed to a Prine tribute album, “Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine.”

The 66-year-old musician released a live album, “In Person & On Stage,” in 2010, and last year saw the release of “The Singing Mailman Delivers,” a collection of his earliest songs recorded back in 1970. After more than 40 years of putting out records, he’s still on tour. Catch him for a solo acoustic show on Saturday, with opening act Ledward Kaapana.

Where: Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $31, $45 and $61
Info: or 528-0506
— Elizabeth Kieszkowski

Hawaiian Brian’s to present a night of local comedians

Laugh your way to the end of the year at “Deck the Balls 3: Reindeer Jerky,” a roundup of comedy talent showcasing at Hawaiian Brian’s on Saturday.

The entertainment venue has been hosting comedy nights throughout the year, with about 70 stand-up acts taking the stage. For this show, “we bring in the crowd favorites,” said organizer Aaron Pughes. “The guys that got the best audiences and the best performances throughout the year, those are our headliners.”

The lineup for this year includes Jonny Sparkles, who was chosen for last year’s Deck the Balls show even though he’d just started doing stand-up, and Shawn Felipe, who opened for Anjelah Johnson earlier this year and was among the top 10 comics in the 2011 San Francisco International Comedy Competition.

Harold Wong, Jose Ver, Michael Hall, newcomer Jeremy Castillo, Kevin Tit, Cheyne Gallarde and Kaleo Naiga are also on the bill. Haz-Matt from KPOI 105.9 hosts.

The comedians will be showing off their best material, since a film crew will be there, too.

“We’ve been taping throughout the year, so we’re going to release a DVD next year of the shows,” Pughes said.

Where: Hawaiian Brian’s, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $15, $10 pre-sale from or 800-838-3006
Info: or 728-7146
— S.M.

TICKER: Rap up New Year’s Eve with hip-hop team Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at the Republik, 9 p.m. Monday; $35-$45, or 855-235-2867.

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