>> Comedian Grant Cotter brings irreverent standup to stage
Standup comedian Grant Cotter brings his goofball, adventurous stories and unsettling antics to HB Social Club on Friday.
Originally from San Diego, Cotter got established through his appearances on MTV’s 2014 comedy series “Jerks With Cameras,” a candid-camera type show where he pulled stunts like running around on a street corner in a straitjacket asking people to let him loose, and trying to entice people into a van with candy. He’s got a bit of a friendly, frat-boy persona, so he managed to avoid getting the police called on him.
He’s got some great stories to tell, like the one about going to Mexico and sneaking a Mexican citizen back over the border when he was 19. Or the death of his mother, which happened on April Fool’s Day, so he didn’t believe it.
Cotter’s hijinks earned him a spot performing with Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari on the Oddball Comedy Tour, presented by the comedy channel Funny or Die. He’s also a regular at popular L.A. venues like the Hollywood Improv and the Laugh Factory.
>> Where: HB Social Club, 1680 Kapiolani Blvd., 2nd floor
>> When: 7 p.m. Friday
>> Cost: $15
>> Info: 946-1343, hbsocialclub.com
>> City Lights celebration lights up Honolulu
Make way for Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus! Honolulu City Lights, the city’s annual holiday celebration, gets started on Saturday.
The event is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with the traditional Electric Light Parade, featuring dozens of city vehicles, including firetrucks, garbage trucks and buses that have been decorated by city workers. If you want a good view of the vehicles in motion, it’s probably best to line up along King Street in Chinatown, since it gets crowded near Honolulu Hale, where the parade ends with a tree lighting ceremony.
You can get a prime viewing spot at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives, which is also offering family activities at 4 p.m. Cost is $5. Visit missionhouses.org or call 447-3926 to reserve.
Afterwards, the vehicles will be parked along Alapai and South streets for a close-up view. You can also check out entries in the city’s annual holiday wreath contest at Honolulu Hale.
In addition to games and food, opening night offers a free holiday concert near Sky Gate. Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners Hoku Zuttermeister and Sean Na‘auao will perform starting at 7:30 p.m., along with singer/songwriter Izik. Kumu Keola Dalire’s Keolalaulani Halau ‘Olapa O Laka will also grace the stage with lovely hula.
If you miss opening night, there will be some special events to add to the holiday cheer: an appearance by Celtic Pipes & Drums of Hawaii at 7 p.m. on Dec. 11, and a screening of the 2018 animated film “The Grinch,” based on the Dr. Seuss story, at 7 p.m. Dec. 14. For keiki, Santa will be on hand nightly from 7 to 9 p.m. through Christmas Eve.
HONOLULU CITY LIGHTS
>> Where: Parade route follows King Street from River Street to Kawaiahao Street; display and other events at Frank F. Fasi Civic Center Grounds near Honolulu Hale
>> When: Parade begins at 6 p.m. Saturday; tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.
>> Cost: Free
>> Info: honolulucitylights.org
>> Multitalented ensemble Invoke brings story of picture brides to stage and screen
Invoke, an inventive group that blends classical string quartet performance with jazz and folk instrumentation, comes to Orvis Auditorium this week.
The group’s program will feature “American Postcards: Picture Brides (Hawai’i, 1908-1924),” a composition by University of Hawaii-Manoa music professor Takuma Itoh. The work is based on Barbara Kawakami’s 2016 book “Picture Bride Stories,” detailing the lives of women from Japan and Okinawa who came to Hawaii to marry Japanese farmworkers, mostly single men, who came here from 1885 through 1925. Images from Kawakami’s book will accompany Invoke’s performance.
The piece was commissioned by Invoke as part of a series of works in which four composers were asked to depict a time and place in American history through music, Itoh said. As part of his research for the project, he came across Kawakami’s book, and found that “looking at these photos reminded me of looking at photos of my grandparents.” Itoh immigrated from Japan to the U.S. as a child, grew up in California and studied at Cornell University
Itoh said his piece is intended to cover the range of emotions and experiences that the picture brides underwent. “It can be interpreted in many different ways, so maybe a tinge of sadness, or triumph,” he said.
The members of Invoke — Nick Montopoli, Karl Mitze, Zachariah Matteson, and Geoff Manyin — play a variety of instruments, including standard string quartet instruments, as well as mandolin and banjo. Montopoli and Mitze learned to play ukulele for “Picture Brides.” Itoh himself had to learn how to write for the ukulele in composing the piece.
Based in Austin, Texas, Invoke has won several chamber music competitions and has held residencies at several major musical institutions in the U.S. and Europe. As in “Picture Brides,” Invoke incorporates a storytelling aspect into their programs, scheduling works with picturesque titles like the bluegrass-inspired ”Dogs,” and “Dust Bowl,” composed by Montopoli. Those works and others will be included in Tuesday’s concert.
“AMERICAN POSTCARDS: PICTURE BRIDES (HAWAI’I, 1908-1924)”
>> Where: Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawaii-Manoa
>> When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (pre-concert talk, 6:30 p.m.)
>> Cost: $20-$45
>> Info: 956-8246, honoluluchambermusicseries.org
>> Reel Big Fish honors Hawaii with new album
Ska-punk Reel Big Fish brings its satirical songs and energetic stage presence to The Republik on Wednesday.
The Southern California band will be showcasing its new album, “Life Sucks … Let’s Dance!” It forms a logical bookend for its 1995 debut album, “Everything Sucks.” The self-produced first album was a hit in Hawaii when it first came out, getting big play on Radio Free Hawaii, and became a cult favorite elsewhere, eventually landing the group a contract with a recording label.
The cover of the new album gives a nod to Hawaii, showing an erupting volcano, the proverbial “shark-infested” waters, and a smiling hula dancer.
Frontman Aaron Barrett is the sole remaining original member of the band, writing songs that provide tongue-in-cheek commentary about life and love. Despite its longtime success, the group has also written a number of songs about vagaries of the music business, such as its third album, “We’re Not Happy ‘til You’re Not Happy,” which features songs like “Don’t Start A Band,” “One Hit Wonderful,” “Last Show,” and “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em).”
The fact that these songs are all delivered with a bright, high-paced peppiness is enough to bring smiles all around and make you realize that the “ ’tude” is all a big joke. Barrett admitted as much in discussing the recording of “Life Sucks … Let’s Dance!” when he told Altpress.com, “There’s a little pissed off-ness in there and some sarcastic, funny lyrics as usual. Also, I just got married, so there might be a few sappy love songs on the album, too. Yuck!”
In addition to Barrett, the band consists of John Christianson and trumpet, Matt Appleton and saxophone and vocals, Derek Gibbs on bass and Ed Smokey Beach on drums.
“THE LIFE SUCKS … LET’S DANCE!” TOUR
With Reel Big Fish
>> Where: The Republik
>> When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
>> Cost: $29.50-$34.50
>> Info: 941-7469, jointherepublik.com