Matty Wong heads for Hollywood
Tonight is your last chance to hang out with Matty Wong for a while, as the popular saxophonist and commercial actor makes his final preparations for a move to Los Angeles this week.
Even if you don't know Wong, there's a pretty good chance you'd recognize him — along with blowing his horn as part of local band The Deadbeats, he's also appeared in a variety of local television commercials for companies like Pizza Hut Hawaii, Burger King Hawaii and Oceanic Time Warner Cable.
'Bye Bye Matty Wong'
» Where: Lulu's Waikiki, 2586 Kalakaua Ave.
» When: 6 to 10 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7
» Cost: No cover
» Info: 926-5222
The 24-year-old Kalani High School graduate transitioned a few years ago from working a valet job to living solely off his income as a musician, but he realizes the next challenge he faces is in Hollywood.
"I gotta go do work on a bigger stage," Wong said by phone last weekend. "That's where the cheese is.
"I genuinely don't want to be in L.A. I want to be here. But I just know that's where I have to go. I want to go and do work, build up my name, and hopefully come home."
Describing himself as a lifelong performer, Wong started singing at the age of six and later moved into acting. He also attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and studied film, but his budding music career pulled him out of the classroom and onto the stage — first as a member of Lost at Sea, then as one of The Deadbeats after joining that band four years ago.
"I have my fingers dipped in a bunch of different things, but everything is in the entertainment industry," he said. "I've put enough good energy out there. So now I just need to let things happen."
That means packing up and moving to California, where Wong hopes to capitalize on connections he's made over the years to help get him started.
If everything goes well, he'll be able to continue doing many of the same things he's done in Hawaii — film, television, radio and music — just on a bigger stage. And despite the move, he will remain a member of The Deadbeats and join the band later this year when they embark on a mainland tour. If they get accepted to the annual South by Southwest Music Festvial, The Deadbeats will play a series of dates in and around Austin, Texas; if they don't get invited to SXSW, Wong said the band will likely tour California later this year.
"There's still more to come from The Deadbeats," said Wong. "I'm going to be back and forth. Ideally, if I can start making enough income to hold my place in L.A., I can keep coming back and forth. That way I can get my food and fishing fix!"
From 6 to 10 p.m. tonight, Wong will play one last set with former Lost at Sea bandmate Jason Laeha at Lulu's Waikiki. The pair have held down the bar's industry night there for a while; Laeha will continue as a solo act there once Wong moves to California.
Tonight, however, will provide an opportunity for friends and family to hang out one last time before he leaves.
"A bunch of my musician friends are coming down to jam," Wong said. "It's just bye bye for now, I guess. That's all it is. It's not like I'm leaving forever."
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at email@example.com.