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Do It: Chinese New Year, Brian Culbertson, more
FRIDAY, FEB. 1-SATURDAY, FEB. 2
Dance teams perform the Choy Cheng ritual in Chinatown to bring good fortune
It’s time to feed the lions, as Chinese New Year festivities continue tonight with a colorful and loud Choy Cheng ritual. The Chinese Year of the Snake begins Feb. 10.
Streets throughout Chinatown will be closed as about 10 lion dance teams perform in front of Chinatown businesses tonight, plucking fresh lettuce (Choy Cheng means “picking greens”) attached to money-filled red envelopes. In return, the lions promise to bring good luck and prosperity and the business.
The ritual dates back to the Han Dynasty (220-206 B.C.) in ancient China, said Jeff Lau, past president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the event. Lions, while not indigenous to China, had a mythical status, he said.
“While it was fierce, it was also a tame animal,” he said. “It represented courage and success and business well-being. It was a character that worked with the Chinese people to create prosperity.”
Chinatown’s lion dances used to be rather sprawling events, Lau said, with troupes going haphazardly from business to business, large crowds gathering to watch, and fireworks creating a chaotic atmosphere. In recent years, with the city’s input, the lion dances have become more organized, with each team assigned a specific route. But it’s just as much fun, with some teams having three or four lions dancing elaborately choreographed, martial arts-like routines, while businesses set off strings of firecrackers to scare off evil spirits.
The colorful costumes, most of which are imported from Asia, add to the festive mood and reflect the regional nature of Honolulu’s celebration, which reportedly is one of the largest in the country.
“The Singapore lions have little black trim, and they’re quite gorgeous,” Lau said. “The Cantonese lions are primarily red and white, and the Fukien, or Xiamen or Taiwan-type lions are more greenish in color. … Some of them have movable eyes or movable tongues.”
The Choy Cheng coincides with Chinatown’s 63rd annual Narcissus Festival and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce celebration in the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, morning through night today and Saturday, with entertainment including ethnic dance troupes, local music groups and martial arts, food vendors serving gin doi, gau, jook and other Chinese favorites, and arts and crafts booths.
Today is also First Friday, bringing additional onlookers to Chinatown. Give yourself extra time to find parking.
Where: Chinatown, Honolulu Arts District
When: Choy Cheng/Narcissus Festival, 5-9 p.m. Friday; Chinatown New Year Celebration, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. today-Saturday
SATURDAY, FEB. 2
Take to the streets for festival, parade
On Saturday the Chinatown Merchants Association presents its annual free Night in Chinatown Street Festival from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Maunakea, Smith and Pauahi streets, with music, vendors and cultural performances. The event includes four stages of entertainment throughout the day and night.
At 3:30 p.m. Saturday the annual Chinatown Parade begins its passage along Hotel Street from Richards Street through the heart of Chinatown, ending at about 5:30 at River Street.
The parade includes the Narcissus court and a colorful, 150-foot-long dragon.
When: festival, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; parade, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, FEB. 2
Smooth jazz will fill the air when award winner performs
Multitalented musician and producer Brian Culbertson brings his funky, smooth, award-winning jazz back to Honolulu on Saturday.
Culbertson, who plays keyboard, piano, trombone, drums, bass, trumpet, euphonium and percussion, has been a featured guest at Michael Paulo’s smooth-jazz festivals in recent years, selling out concerts in 2009 and 2011. Last year he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for best jazz album, and for best contemporary jazz artist by the Soul Train Awards.
His 12th album, appropriately titled “XII,” features the tune “That’s Life,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard and R&B charts in 2010. It was his 12th chart topper, along with other tunes like “So Good,” “Get It On,” “All About You” and “Always Remember.”
Paulo will join Culbertson along with local trumpeter DeShannon Higa and the Ornery Horns.
Where: Hawai’i Convention Center
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Info: TIX.com or 951-696-0184
– Steven Mark
THURSDAY, FEB. 7
Doors’ keyboardist, bluesman join forces
Classic rock meets classic blues when the Manzarek-Rogers Band hits the Irish Rose Saloon next week.
Headed by former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and slide guitar master Roy Rogers, the group formed in 2010 and produced an album, “Translucent Blues,” hailed as “tasty” and adventurous by reviewers.
Manzarek, who co-founded the Doors with singer Jim Morrison and is perhaps known best for composing the iconic intro to “Light My Fire,” still performs the band’s music with former Doors member Robbie Krieger. He also writes new works and has collaborated with artists ranging from Philip Glass to Iggy Pop, and has published several books, some concerning the Doors, as well as works of fiction and poetry.
Roy Rogers has been nominated for eight Grammys as a songwriter, producer and recording artist and had a long association with blues master John Lee Hooker. His band, the Delta Rhythm Kings, has entertained audiences worldwide for three decades.
Together, Manzarek and Rogers are known for a lush, full sound, with the brightness of Manzarek’s keyboard work pairing nicely with Roger’s guitar and with lyrics that recall the power and poetry of the Doors. Both are masters at improvisation.
Where: Irish Rose Saloon, 478 Ena Road
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Info: www.lazarbearproductions.com or 896-4845