What the Heck?
Willie Nelson sings for peace
Willie and Marty:
Musician Marty Dread flew home to Maui last Monday -- after playing 28 mainland shows in 29 days. He was the opening act for his Spreckelsville neighbor, Willie Nelson. "It's unbelievable to travel with Willie, especially in the South," he says. "They adore him."
Dread appears with Nelson on a new single, to be released a few weeks before the election, called "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?"
It's a group effort, a sort of anti-war "We Are the World." Singers include Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and the Doobie Brothers' Michael McDonald and Pat Simmons. "We were in the studio, all those famous guys and me," says Dread. "And I got to sing a whole verse."
Calendar Girl: You might be surprised to learn tomorrow is Chinese Valentine's Day. It's the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, a day that celebrates a legendary emperor's daughter who defied her father to marry a cowherd.
Should you buy flowers? According to former state senator, college professor and president of the Chinatown Historical Society Anthony Chang, no Chinese group in Hawaii actually celebrates the holiday.
"Aren't you afraid your wife will find out you've been skipping Chinese Valentine's Day all these years?" I asked him.
"My wife's a Ukrainian Jew," laughed Chang, who's married to local actress Lisa Konove. "I pay attention to the Yiddish calendar."
Less Is More: New downtown wine store Simply Grape is owned by a pair of happy losers. Before they were recently married, Nick and Lael Keeler lost 111 pounds between them, hoping to bag the $50,000 grand prize on the NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser."
Unfortunately, another couple on the show managed to lose 150 pounds. The Keelers had to settle for a Jamaican honeymoon and getting in great shape.
That's not their only lifestyle change. Their original plan was to have Lael work the wine shop and Nick keep his executive job. But after opening the Queen Street store together, Nick informed his new bride that he was quitting his day job. "I couldn't let Lael have all the fun," he says.
Cherry Pop: The Queen Street side of the Davies Pacific Center has become gourmet row. Next to Simply Grape is Padovani's Chocolates. Among his other offerings, Philippe Padovani marinates "griottes" -- tart French cherries -- in cherry brandy, then covers them in chocolate. Eat them in one bite, otherwise they squirt.
If you hate chocolate, you can buy a jar of just the cherries for $12. They're the adult equivalent of candy. As Padovani reminds you as you leave the store, "Don't forget to drink the brandy when you're done."
The Nose Knows: Photographer Brad Goda's great publicity shot for the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival's "Comedy of Errors" is popping up all over town.
Five actresses, average age 22 -- Brooke Jones, Shiromi Arserio, Jessica Ciufo, Stephanie Kong, Marissa Rubello -- all look quite stunning in their black evening dresses and don't-mess-with-me looks. Except each wears a red clown nose.
The photo wasn't planned that way. But just as it was being shot, festival director Tony Pisculli raided the wardrobe for the foam clown noses. "I wanted to get across that Shakespeare's not snooty," he says.
If you hurry, you can catch the last performance of "Comedy of Errors" this afternoon. Complete with clown noses.
Becoming a Freshman: Eleven years ago, when he first played the Hawaii International Jazz Festival, Vince Johnson was a student, part of the USC jazz orchestra.
Also on the bill that year was the legendary vocal group the Four Freshman, who, Johnson notes, influenced everyone from the Beach Boys to Manhattan Transfer.
"I was a huge fan, had gone down to Record Finder on Melrose Avenue and bought all their albums," says Johnson. But it was standing backstage at the Hawaii Jazz Festival that Johnson realized that the group's original members had all retired. It might be possible to join.
Next Saturday, Johnson will be back at the festival, this time as one of the Four Freshman. "I can't tell you how great it is," he said. "The original Four Freshman played Hawaii starting in the '50s. Their popularity runs deep there."
That's true. Tickets for the Saturday night festival performance, which includes both the Four Freshman and Johnson's alma mater, the USC jazz orchestra, are selling briskly.
Cutting Edge: Actual sword fighting is on the bill for next weekend's First Friday festivities at ARTS at Marks Garage. Not actual swords. "Sharpened steel in the middle of a crowded art gallery? That would be crazy," says local swordsmith Christopher Gray Wolf. Wolf's group will demonstrate various styles of sword fighting, all right, but armed with rattan swords.
The sharp focus, says Wolf, should be the five artists displaying their work: Mat Kubo, Saint Marko, Carl F. K. Pao, Chris Reiner and his friend Anson Tsang. "Those guys are cutting-edge. Our sword fights are just going to be cosmetic ambience."
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