Archive for March, 2013

SoHo shutting down

By
March 30th, 2013



The scene at SoHo Mixed Media Bar on a recent Friday night. (Star-Advertiser File)

The scene at SoHo Mixed Media Bar on a recent Friday night. (Star-Advertiser File)

After nearly four years as a popular alternative to Hotel Street nightspots, Chinatown's SoHo Mixed Media Bar makes its last call this weekend.

When Daniel Gray reopened the space previously known as Mall Cafe in June 2009, he knew the neighborhood wasn't ready for his vision. Just as he did a few years earlier opening the Loft, Gray positioned himself to be a part of the building process from conception to execution — and at SoHo, he was able to call the shots himself instead of answering to someone else.

SoHo Mixed Media Bar owner Daniel Gray, left, and Kelia Fu. (Star-Advertiser File)

SoHo Mixed Media Bar owner Daniel Gray, left, and Kelia Fu. (Star-Advertiser File)

"Three and a half years ago, we changed how people looked at Chinatown," Gray said in December when he prematurely announced the club's closure (he did not immediately respond to a request for comment yesterday). "I think that SoHo took Chinatown to a different level."

After coming close to signing a deal with a new business partner in January — so close, in fact, that Gray signed a new five-year lease on the club before everything was finalized — negotiations broke down. On April 1, SoHo will be no more, as "new ownership takes over" with a "new name" and "new look."

"It's my baby, but it's gotten to the point where it's a little stale," Gray said of his experience running the show at SoHo. "Three years ago, it was the cool, new hot thing. A bunch of new places have opened since then.

"For me, I don't get hurt. If someone opens a club and it's better than mine, I need to step my game up. I see it as a challenge."

As spring break draws to a close, SoHo fans will have three final chances to party there this week. The University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education Student Association will host a fundraiser tonight at the club, followed by "SoHo's Last Ratchet and Bassriot" on Friday, March 29, with DJs Packo, Technique, Nightmarcher, Shift, Coondog and Sandwich Island Bass.

On Saturday, March 30, "SoHo: The Final Party" will be a 21-and-over affair with no cover and no dress code — and "no sad faces," according to the Facebook event page created for the night. DJs Revise and Tittahbyte will lead an all-star cast of local talent on the turntables for the final farewell.

While many have speculated Gray will open yet another club elsewhere in Chinatown, no official announcement has been made. The identity of the owner(s) taking over at SoHo, as well as the club's new name and opening date, remain unconfirmed as well.

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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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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VIDEO: Tavana wins Hard Rock battle

By
March 24th, 2013



Tavana performs at the Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki on Saturday, March 23. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Tavana performs at the Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki on Saturday, March 23. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Despite strong efforts by local bands M.O.J.O. and HiRiz, Oahu-based singer-songwriter Tavana will represent Hawaii in the next round of the 2013 "Hard Rock Rising" music competition.

All three acts were at the Hard Rock Waikiki on Saturday, March 23, hoping to score the $250 cash prize and $250 in Hard Rock gift cards that went to the winner. Tavana will now advance to another fan voting round, with the general public voting online for the top 25 global bands from April 22 through May 1.

Once those 25 bands are picked, an "industry panel of judges" — one that includes Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band, Live Nation Senior Vice President of Music Toby Leighton-Pope and Hard Rock Records’ Artist Relations Executives John Kirkpatrick, James Buell and Blake Smith — will choose a grand prize-winning band and two runner-up bands sometime between May 2 and May 5, with the winning band performing live on stage at "Hard Rock Calling" in London later this year.

Along with the London gig, the grand prize winner will play five more international dates arranged by Hard Rock International (suggested locations include Hard Rock Cafes in Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chicago and Honolulu) as well as record an album and film a music video via Hard Rock Records. And not only will the winning band receive new musical equipment valued at $10,000, but so will the two runner-up bands in the competition.

Visit the "Hard Rock Rising" Facebook page once voting opens on April 22 to show your support for Tavana and his quest for stage time in London.

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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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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VIDEO: Train’s ‘Mermaid’ features Hawaii

By
March 15th, 2013



Pop rock band Train has released a new music video set in Hawaii, following a trip to Oahu last month for a performance at the NFL Pro Bowl and a cameo by lead singer Pat Monahan on CBS television series "Hawaii Five-0."

"Mermaid" features appearances by a number of familiar faces, including Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Alyssa Miller as a mermaid, local ukulele virtuoso Aidan James and "Five-0" co-star Daniel Dae Kim.

A number of NFL players and cheerleaders — plus thousands of football fans — appear in the music video because Monahan and the band filmed in and around Aloha Stadium on game day. Train performed during the Pro Bowl pre-show this year.

"Mermaid" shows Monahan on stage, down on the field and in the bleachers; he's also shown amongst "Five-0" trailers in footage shot while he was on the set for his guest role on the show.

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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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Related Post:

Mermaids surface at Ko Olina this weekend

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‘Iron Bartender’ returns to Oahu

By
March 13th, 2013



<em>Jesse Greenleaf sets up his work area prior to his turn during the first round of the 2013 Bacardi "Iron Bartender" competition at The Republik on Tuesday, March 12. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

Jesse Greenleaf sets up his work area prior to his turn during the first round of the 2013 Bacardi "Iron Bartender" competition at The Republik on Tuesday, March 12. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

One of Honolulu's more prestigious bartending competitions returned for the first time in four years this week, as the 2013 Bacardi "Iron Bartender" competition got underway at The Republik on Tuesday, March 12.

The last time the contest was held was in 2009, when Titus Nakagawa took home top honors at Ryan's Bar and Grill in Ward Centre. Prior to the two years it was held there, the "Iron Bartender" contest took place at Palomino restaurant in Harbor Court before that spot closed in 2007.

<em>Competing bartenders pulled out some unique ingredients, including this bottle of banana liqueur, left. Pictured in the background is the first preliminary round winner, Ryan Sanford of The Republik. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

Competing bartenders pulled out some unique ingredients, including this bottle of banana liqueur, left. Pictured in the background is the first preliminary round winner, Ryan Sanford of The Republik. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

"We just wanted to bring it back," said Flash Hansen, The Republik's promotions manager. "It all goes back to (general manager) Rob (Ramsey) being part of 'Iron Bartender,' and I used to do bartending contests at the Wave Waikiki."

Ever since Nakagawa won in 2009, however, Hansen said the trend in Honolulu has been more towards mixology and away from the traditional skills bartenders were expected to have.

"It's slowly evolved into just the mixologist thing," he said. "And that's an important component of being a bartender. But it's not the only one.

"I mean, look at Jesse (Greenleaf) from Duke's Waikiki. He can make fancy, handcrafted cocktails that take two minutes to make all day long.

"But at Duke's, that's not gonna cut it. He has to make drinks as fast as he can, his entire shift. Not everyone can do that."

Greenleaf, along with Murphy's Bar & Grill's Brent Clem, Hilton Hotels' Christina Maffei, Indigo's Jason "J-Rod" Rod, The Republik's Ryan "Mo" Sanford and Alicia Yamachika of Pint & Jigger, Nobu Waikiki and Uncle Bo's, were the six invited competitors for the first round of the contest, which continues on March 19 and March 26 before the finals are held on April 2. Two bartenders will qualify for the finals each week.

Unlike other bartending battles, "Iron Bartender" judges were asked to evaluate each competitor on not just an original drink recipe, but also speed and accuracy, personal style/personality and a cocktail made from a list of "secret" ingredients that aren't revealed until it's time to take 10 minutes and make a drink.

<em>The Republik's Rob Ramsey, fourth from left, and Flash Hansen, fifth from left, brief contestants and judges prior to the first round of competition on Tuesday, March 12. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

The Republik's Rob Ramsey, fourth from left, and Flash Hansen, fifth from left, brief contestants and judges prior to the first round of competition on Tuesday, March 12. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

<em>Bartender Christina Maffei preps her work area. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

Bartender Christina Maffei preps her work area. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

<em>Alicia Yamachika laughs while creating her specialty cocktail for the judges. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

Alicia Yamachika laughs while creating her specialty cocktail for the judges. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

With a previous "Iron Bartender" champ (Rod) and a veteran bartender with plenty of contest experience (Greenleaf) in the mix, Tuesday's first round was no walk in the park. I was impressed by Rod, Greenleaf and Sanford's original cocktail creations, but Yamachika quickly established herself as a worthy competitor during the speed and accuracy round.

Sanford and Rod also stepped up during the personal style/personality portion of the contest, with Sanford playing "ice basketball" against judge Mark "Gooch" Noguchi of Taste Table and J-Rod showing off some of his flair bartending (and martial arts!) skills.

<em>Ryan Sanford, right, came in first during this week's preliminary round of competition. Alicia Yamachika placed second; both bartenders advance to the final round next month at The Republik. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)</em>

Ryan Sanford, right, came in first during this week's preliminary round of competition. Alicia Yamachika placed second; both bartenders advance to the final round next month at The Republik. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

And while the idea of a mystery basket of ingredients sounds good in theory, it was tough to enjoy any of the cocktails made this week. Cayenne pepper, carrot juice, apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, green tea ice cream, poha berry jelly and Cazadores tequila do not make very tasty cocktails. Trust me on this one, folks.

In the end, it was Sanford and Yamachika who scored the highest among the judges, which included yours truly and Noguchi along with Young's Market Co. Hawaii's Christa Wittmier and Joey Gottesman. It was close on my scoring sheet — only two points separated the first and second place finishers.

The 2013 "Iron Bartender" competition continues next week with Yooey Kim (The Republik), Justin Keane, Tanner Mock (Pint & Jigger), Kyle Moniz (Addiciton Nightclub/Halekulani), Roxanne Siebert (V-Lounge/Safehouse) and Marty Simjian (SoHo Mixed Media Bar). On March 26, Yukie Aizawa (53 By the Sea), Amy Greenleaf (Duke's Waikiki), Quinn Mears (Hula Grill/Pearl Ultralounge), Dave Newman (Pint & Jigger), Ricky Schneider (Tsunami), Christian Self (thirtyninehotel) and Tim Rita (Monkeypod Kitchen Ko Olina/Manifest) will compete for the last two spots in the final round.

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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 jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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