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Economy could force closure of Avex studio

By Wayne Harada

LAST UPDATED: 10:34 p.m. HST, Jan 4, 2011


» Recording studio Avex Honolulu is located at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center. An earlier version of this column said it is at the Koko Marina Shopping Center.


Avex Honolulu, the state-of-the-art recording studio located on the marina at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, faces closure, despite a hectic and fruitful year hosting a number of A-list acts. The reason: Economic conditions are forcing the studio's Japanese owners to cut back on the facilities they own outside of Japan, according to Gaylord Holomalia, the resident engineer-manager.

"Negotiations are ongoing for the studio to stay open," said Holomalia, not specifying how or when. "We'll see what the new year brings."

On a positive note, CD releases boasting Avex Honolulu credits include Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Kid Cudi's "Man on the Moon II," Rick Ross' "Teflon Don" and Eminem's "Recovery."

For West's productions, folks such as Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicky Minaj, Elton John, TI, Drake, RCA, Pusha T, Big Sean and Ross stopped by Avex for some work. And remember, Justin Bieber recorded his "Pray" vocals when he was here for his fall concert.

On a recent visit, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson laid down tracks for a song in a new movie, singing and playing ukulele.

Local troupers Jake Shimabukuro, Herb Ohta Jr., Hapa, Henry Kapono and Eddie Kamae also have been in for recording work.

Further, local musicians and engineers were tapped for gigs, too. Christian Mochizuki earned engineer credits on the West and Cudi CDs, Christopher Chorney played cello on six tracks for West, Taylor Rohrbacher (a Honolulu Community College Mele Program student) saw some engineering time, and Holomalia (widely known as a Kalapana member and one-time musician with Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) was an assistant engineer with the West project.

Let's hope this tradition will somehow continue. ...

AROUND TOWN: Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre enjoyed a quiet island Christmas after spending the past two in New York while starring in "South Pacific." So she resumed her famous cookies-and-champagne pre-Christmas celebration, baking about two dozen varieties of cookies (shortbread to brownies, chocolate chip to peanut butter, with hubby David Sayre the official taster). Invited were her pals as well as Mililani Mauka neighbors. Musicians Stephen Jones (bass) and Jim Howard (piano) provided music, and, of course, she shared Christmas and jazz favorites for the assembled. ...

Sean Jones, son of Stephen and Lee Ann Jones, was holidaying here and is looking forward to returning to his studies at Boston Conservatory this year — but aching to do Broadway theater. ...

Richard Harrison, star of the History Channel's "Pawn Stars," visited Marines and signed autographs at Marine Corps Base Hawaii a few days back. ...

PERSONALITIES: Al Harrington, the original Ben Kokua on the Jack Lord "Hawaii Five-0," finally makes his debut on the reboot in tomorrow's episode. At his birthday celebration recently at Baci Bistro in Kailua, the diners hummed the "Hawaii Five-0" theme in his honor. ...

And the current "Five-0" crew toasted Scott Caan's Golden Globe nomination with a cake, with producer Peter M. Lenkov promising a shirtless Danno in February, perhaps challenging the sex appeal of the frequently shirtless Alex O'Loughlin (McGarrett). ...

SHORTS OF SORTS: Matthew Morrison sang "Mele Kalikimaka" and strummed ukulele at a Christmas in Washington event last month (it aired on TNT). The "Glee" star (and former "South Pacific" Lt. Cable) targeted the first family, and President Barack Obama was all smiles, while Michelle, Sasha and Malia snapped fingers. They even flashed mutual shaka signs. Go to ...

Keawe Lopes earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii-Manoa in December. ...

And that's "Show Biz." ...

Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist; reach him at 266-0926 or; read his Show and Tell Hawaii blog at

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