comscore Do it: Dana Hall, Nagaoka, The Used | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Do it: Dana Hall, Nagaoka, The Used

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Jazz drummer adds his talent to top-tier trio

Jazz drummer and composer Dana Hall brings his wide-ranging talents and interests to Medici’s.

Hall is one of the big names in the jazz-happy city of Chicago, having directed the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, one of the more storied big bands in the country. He’ll be playing with pianist Tommy James, musical director of the Duke Ellington band, so this will be a rare opportunity to hear leaders of two of the country’s most illustrious big bands make music together. The excellent local bassist John Kolivas rounds out the trio.

"As a jazz drummer he’s a world-class drummer," Kolivas said. "Just working with him I enjoy because he uses a lot of dynamics. He can go really soft, with intensity. He’s never overbearing."

Hall has played with many of the top names in American jazz, including Ray Charles, Branford Marsalis, Bobby Hutcherson, Diana Krall and Betty Carter, and appeared on nearly 20 albums over two decades. He proved his mettle as a bandleader on the 2009 CD "Into the Light," praised by the Chicago Tribune for the "muscularity" of his quintet as well as the depth of his compositions.

Hall grew up in Philadelphia, where jazz artists like Stanley Turrentine and Jimmy Smith were known to frequent his family home, and in New Jersey, where he began his formal music training in drums and oboe. He eventually studied aerospace engineering as well as percussion, and has retained that academic perspective on music. He’s taught at many of the premier institutions in Chicago, including the University of Chicago, where he is pursuing a doctorate in music.

Where: Medici’s, Manoa School of Art & Music, Manoa Marketplace

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Cost: $20

Info: or 351-0901



Nagaoka to celebrate anniversary of peace

The Japanese city of Nagaoka will help celebrate 70 years of peace between the U.S. and Japan with a display of its famous fireworks at Pearl Harbor on Saturday.

In Japan, where fireworks displays are put on nearly every weekend from spring to fall, Nagaoka is famous for its explosive light show, with themed programs set to music and other entertainment.

Nagaoka fireworks have entertained crowds at Waikiki’s Honolulu Festival over the last few years, setting off rockets that could be heard for miles.

The evening also includes entertainment by multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning singer-guitarist Mark Yamanaka, the Pacific Fleet Band, Aloha Hula Club from Japan and taiko group Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko. The commemorative program begins at 7 p.m. with guest speakers, choir performances by Nagaoka Boys and Girl’s Choir and HEARTS Hawaii Choir, and a performance of the hit song "Jupiter" by Japanese pop singer Ayaka Hirahara.

The fireworks display, which begins at 8 p.m., will feature a display called Our Prayers for the Pursuit of Peace. Beginning with three shots of white chrysanthemum fireworks, the display is aimed at honoring war victims with prayers for world peace and for present and future generations.

Festivities will be held on Ford Island. Other recommended viewing locations for fireworks are the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and Neal S. Blaisdell Park in Waimalu.

Where: Ford Island. Parking available on Ford Island and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Ford Island Bridge closed from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.

When: Opens at 4 p.m. Saturday; ceremony at 7 p.m., fireworks at 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: or 473-1173



Political Punk

Come on over to the dark side with the Used, a hardcore band that rose from rough origins to become screamingly popular.

The band has its origins in the no-nonsense town of Orem, Utah. Founding members emerged from homelessness and drug abuse to release the band’s eponymous 2002 album, which went gold, while three tunes — "The Taste of Ink," "Buried Myself Alive" and "Blue and Yellow" — reached the Billboard charts. That effort earned them a spot on the Warped Tour and other music festivals.

Raspy vocalist Bert McCracken, known at one point for dating Kelly Osbourne of Osbourne family fame, guitarist Quinn Allman (on hiatus and replaced by Justin Shekoski), bassist Jeph Howard and drummer Dan Whitesides — have been railing against the machine ever since, with their 2004 album "In Love and Death" and their 2007 live album "Berth" going gold, and their 2003 CD/DVD combo release "Maybe Memories" going platinum.

With their newest album, "Imaginary Enemy," tunes like "Revolution" question authority and address geopolitical issues.

Band members now truly have a global worldview: Howard lives in Central America and McCracken in Australia. They’ve recently completed a tour of Asia, hitting Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Where: The Republik, 1349 Kapiolani Blvd.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $35-$40

Info: or 855-235-2867



Annual festival features slack-key strummings

The uniquely sweet sound of Hawaiian slack-key guitar will wash over Kapiolani Park on Sunday at the 33rd Annual Slack-Key Festival.

Organizer Milton Lau has booked some of the top names in slack key for the festival, from well-knowns George Kuo, Brother Noland and Bobby Moderow, pictured, to young star Danny Carvalho.

There will be a couple of special appearances, Lau notes: Watch for the Harmony Show Choir from New Jersey, which Lau said does show tunes a la "Glee." Lau met the group during a mainland tour with slack-key players and learned they were coming to Hawaii, so he invited them to perform. The choir sings a version of "Over the Rainbow" because members are big fans of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and will be performing it here.

A fresh face this year will be Aja Gample, a recent graduate in music at Hawaii Pacific University. "We told her we’d love to have her on the bill, we want to help her career, so that’s what we’re doing," Lau said.

Lau has been bringing slack-key guitar music around the world with his festivals, usually taking about 15 performers, and has seen the music’s popularity grow. He said that although slack key is known for its variety of tunings, it is the sound of the music itself that makes it so distinctive.

"People consider us another alternative tuning, but alternative tuning is everywhere," he said. "What differentiates us from the other guys is that slack key actually uses the thumb to play the bass part and the other fingers to play the treble and the melody. So there’s kind of like a drone sound. Nobody else does that."

Other performers on the bill are Donald Kaulia, Paul Togioka, Ian O’Sullivan, Peter Apo, Dwight Kanae, Stephen Inglis, Keale, Glen Smith, Kamuela Kimokeo and Kawika Kahiapo.

Crafts and food vendors will be on hand, and a new Taylor guitar will be given away.

Where: Kapiolani Park

When: Noon-6 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Free

Info: or 226-2697


Get a taste of local filmmaking talent at the "Ohina Short Film Showcase," Friday-Sunday at the Doris Duke Theatre. $8-$15. or 532-6097

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