Honolulu Museum of Art showcases musical mix
BY GARY CHUN / firstname.lastname@example.org
Indie music and jazz have a regular slot at the Honolulu Museum of Art beginning this month.
Credit the efforts of new music programmer Schuyler Tsuda, who has a Ph.D. in music composition, has freelanced as a composer and engineer, and belongs to a continuing experimental art-music project called Brainplane with Miller Royer.
SECRET SOUND SHOWCASE
Clones of the Queen/Pink Mist/Taimane
Where: Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art
When: 8 p.m. today
Cost: $10 ($20 with 6 p.m. ARTafterDARK museum event; purchase at theater entrance, Kinau Street
Info: 532-8700 or honolulumuseum.org
Also: The next showcase is scheduled for March 29.
LAST SATURDAY ROOTS IN JAZZ
Where: Doris Duke Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (6 p.m. reception)
Info: 532-8700 or honolulumuseum.org
Also: Concerts are scheduled through June; series tickets are available for all six shows.
With support from museum director Stephan Jost and help from Royer, Tsuda has set up two monthly music programs that launch this weekend.
Secret Sound Showcase will be held the last Friday of every month in conjunction with the museum’s popular ARTafterDARK event. Tsuda says it will feature the best indie music acts in town.
Clones of the Queen, Pink Mist and Taimane (Taimane Gardner) are the first showcase artists tonight.
The Last Saturday Roots in Jazz program will spotlight top-notch local and national artists.
On Saturday, Hoku award-winning vocalist Starr Kalahiki takes the stage.
Tsuda was involved with putting on genre-blending shows in “odd spaces” as a grad student at the University of Minnesota. “It’s in that spirit that Miller (Royer) and I are putting on these showcases,” he said.
He describes Clones of the Queen and Pink Mist as two of his and Royer’s favorite local bands, and credits Taimane as “a really good ukulele player who is not just technically good, but also puts on a show.”
As she did back in October at TheVenue, Taimane will showcase songs from a musical project based on the solar system, including “Moon” and “Neptune’s Storm,” both from her new debut album, “Ukulele Dreams.” Guitarist Jazz Skurtu and Peruvian percussionist Enrique Zender will accompany her.
A regular on the club and lounge circuit, Taimane is a former Waikiki street musician and featured performer at Don Ho’s Beachcomber shows. “I prefer gigs like this one,” she said. “The audience is more focused and more appreciative of the music. I enjoy talking to the audience on a smaller stage like the museum theater’s. I will definitely focus on my more creative story-songs.”
Taimane will be playing on a custom-made five-string Kamaka tenor ukulele, painted with a flat, black lacquer and with a design inspired by her wrist tattoo.
After Taimane’s set will be Pink Mist, a trio featuring singer-guitarist Mike Pooley, bassist Kai Salus and drummer Grant Na’auao.
Pooley describes Pink Mist’s music as “a mix of Dinosaur Jr. and the Cure: heavy guitar rock with melodic songs behind the distortion.”
Pink Mist started as a solo project for Pooley, but then his other band, Painted Highways, went on hiatus. Pooley turned Pink Mist into a working band with Highways band-mate Salus and Na’auao, who used to play with local band Falcon Lord.
The band can often be found in Chinatown and at showcases at the Station Bar & Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard.
“It’ll be nice to have people sit down in comfortable seats instead of on somebody’s spilled drink,” quipped Pooley.
CLONES of the Queen are no strangers to the theater. The dream-pop trio of Ara Laylo, Matt McVickar and Paul Bajcar last did a similar showcase in 2010 (before Tsuda took the helm) on a bill with fellow indie bands Shopping List and Linus.
To whet the appetite of patrons of tonight’s social media-themed ARTafterDARK, the band will do a small preview at 6:15 p.m., during the event.
“It’s great that Schuyler is bringing more alternative music into the theater,” McVickar said. “And it’s good for us to take on shows that sometimes you don’t know what it’ll end up being like. It’s neat that we’ll be playing to a different crowd.”
Laylo said the band’s sound is relatively less effects-driven than it was originally, particularly with her vocals. “I’m not hiding behind them like before,” she said. “And I think there’s a more active dynamic between myself, Matt and Paul.”
“There’s more honesty in our songwriting,” Laylo said.
“And my technical knowledge is better, so I can accomplish more with our music,” said McVickar.
“I’ve grown a lot as a guitarist playing with them,” added Bajcar. “I’m more focused, more in tune with them. We challenge each other without our knowing it.”
Over the past three years since she stepped out as a solo artist, Kalahiki has developed a reputation as a vibrant and lively singer. Her album debut, “Salt,” was recognized at last year’s Na Hoku Hanohano awards, winning Most Promising Artist of the Year for Kalahiki and sharing the Jazz Album of the Year accolade with Benny Chong.
Pianist/arranger Kit Ebersbach and bassist Dean Taba are her usual accompanists, and she and Ebersbach say they’re excited about the added participation of drummer Bonny B (Bonny Bonaparte), who spent six years as drummer for jazz fusion favorites Spyro Gyra.
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, Bonny said he retired from the band and came to Hawaii “for the quality of life.” Over the past six months, he’s had the occasional guest gig around town.
Once Kalahiki saw him play, she knew she wanted him on board.
“I can’t wait to see what flavor he adds to the music,” she said.
“I hope I can keep up with Bonny,” added Ebersbach. “I love the intensity of his groove, and his positive attitude makes him a pleasure to play with.”
Guest musicians will sit in with Kalahiki during the gig, including Taba’s wife, Sharene, on harp, and Kalahiki’s housemate, singer Riya Davis, who works on the Star of Honolulu cruises, as Kalahiki did before going solo.
The night’s repertoire will include American and Hawaiian standards as well as originals co-written with Ebersbach.
“This concert will be all about telling my story, singing my life soundtrack,” Kalahiki said.
“I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in Hawaii.”