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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 28, 2004


 •  Waimea Festival kicks off Sunday on Big Island
 •  Enjoy a little Greek in Hawai'i
 •  Temari annual art sale a place for your best creative efforts
 •  Critics can't rain on Benji fans' online parade
 •  'Lost,' 'Hawaii' can be found at Sunset on the Beach
 •  Piranha Room takes on a Brazilian flair
 •  Waikiki Shell puts on a big beat

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Eric Balfour knew what he wanted for breakfast, but he wasn't sure his interviewer could handle it.

From left, clockwise: Grady Reinagle, Eric Balfour, Tiffin "Rooster" Roley, Paul Trutner, Charmian Callon and Blair Shotts are Fredalba, a band whose sound reflects Southern California's diverse musical influences.


"I would have suggested Kim Chee II," says Balfour, who's become well acquainted with the Honolulu restaurant scene since landing the part of Detective Chris Gains in the new NBC cop drama "Hawaii."

"I dig that place," he says. "But I thought it might be too early in the day for you to eat kim chee."

Instead, Balfour has chosen Big City Diner, on the same Wai'alae Avenue block, to take care of the most important meal of the day and to talk about one of his favorite subjects — his funk-rock band Fredalba.

The band brings its unique SoCal sound to the Wave Waikiki at 11 tonight. The band also is shooting a video here to promote its debut CD, "Uptown Music for Downtown Kids."

It's a big weekend for Balfour, who also will be on hand for tomorrow's advance screening of the "Hawaii" pilot at Sunset on the Beach — three days before the show's broadcast premiere.

While Balfour's acting career has blossomed, thanks to his roles in "Can't Hardly Wait" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a regular gig on "Six Feet Under" and appearances on "NYPD Blue," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The West Wing" and other shows, his musical career has been mostly off the radar.

Still, Balfour insists that music is still his first love.

"I grew up singing," Balfour says, between bites of a dry loco moco liberally dressed with Vietnamese hot sauce. "I was a musician before I was ever an actor."

Sure, but isn't this the same tuneless tune we've heard from other actors who should have stuck to acting. Don Johnson, anyone? Bruce Willis?

Perhaps not.

Fredalba is, for starters, a band, not just just an assemblage of studio musicians rounded up for some Hollywood hot shot's vanity project. The core of Balfour (vocals), guitarist Tiffin Roley, bassist Paul Trutner and drummer Blair Shotts has been together for about four years.

Their ambitious debut album is bolstered by newer members Charmian Callon (keyboards and flute) and Grady Reinagle (turntable).

Balfour says the band's evolving sound reflects the eclecticism of Southern California's music scene.

"We wanted to make music that was representative of the place where we grew up," Balfour says. "In other parts of the country, the music is very genre-specific. But (Southern California) has so many different musical influences — Latin, rap, rock, a lot of skater-punk type stuff from the '70s and '80s. We're basically an amalgamation of all the musical styles we grew up with."

Balfour says his own vocal stylings were heavily influenced by the soul and R&B acts he worshipped as a kid — from Stevie Wonder to Prince — as well as by Faith No More's Mike Patton and fellow Cali P-funkers the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Musically, Fredalba makes intriguing sense of a broad range of elements. While Balfour's rapping often drifts between Prince-like falsetto and Mike Shinoda rapping, the rest of the band moves deftly from post-"Bitches Brew" Miles Davis to Jamaican dancehall to contemporary hip-hop.

"We have a lot of influences, but hopefully what you hear is not something specific," Balfour says. "Hopefully it becomes us, hopefully it all becomes our sound.

"People always look at Charmian and go, 'You have a flute player in your rock band?' " Balfour says. "But if you listen to the Beastie Boys' 'Root Down,' that opening riff is all flute. If you listen to Dr. Dre and Jay-Z, there's flute everywhere."

While Fredalba is still evolving as a band, there are tracks on the new album that Balfour says really capture the band's spirit and direction. Many of the songs on "Uptown Music for Downtown Kids" are also deeply personal for Balfour.

For all of its high-energy, party vibe, the song "Get Up" was actually penned by Balfour as a response to a friend's brother who was fighting a heroin addiction.


• Featuring "Hawaii" TV series star Eric Balfour

• 11 p.m., Wave Waikiki (doors open at 9 p.m.; opening act at 10 p.m.)

• Tickets are $12 at the door

• 21 and older
The album's centerpiece, "Revelation" is about a car accident Balfour was involved in years ago in which a drunk driver hit Balfour's car, forcing it on to a sidewalk where it struck a boy, severing his leg.

"It's a very personal song for me," Balfour says. "The first verse is more philosophical about what I was feeling. The second verse tells about the actual event."

Of course, not all of the songs bear such personal weight. The funky "Slide Your Breath" is Balfour's nod to a favorite Prince song.

"You know 'Darling Nikki'?" Balfour asks. "Well, I wanted to write my own 'Darling Nikki.'

I don't know if the execution was perfect, but it was a lot of fun."

So what can you expect from Fredalba's Honolulu debut?

"Energy," Balfour says.

"You know that feeling you get when you've been out all day, doing something fun like going to the beach and surfing, or jumping off a cliff, and then you come home and you're exhausted? We want people to leave with that feeling.

"Some shows you just sit down and chill, and that's cool," Balfour says. "But I want people to come out of our show sweaty and tired and happy."

• • •

Keep your day job

The bargain bins of your favorite used-record store are filled with the dubious results of actors stepping out of their comfort (and competence) zones for a go at musical recording.

From William Shatner's classically campy "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to Bruce Willis' glorified karaoke treatment of "Under the Boardwalk" to Jennifer Love Hewitt's less-than-titillating "Bare Naked," the history of Hollywood's celluloid-to-CD (or vinyl) crossovers is checkered, indeed.

For those of you collecting at home, here is our list of essentials albums and singles. And no, we're not including David Hasselhoff until his much-anticipated "Hassel the Hoff" rap collaboration with neighbor Ice-T comes out. Seriously.

"The Transformed Man" by William Shatner (1968) — "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" gets all the play, but what about the sublime melding of "Theme from Cyrano" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" from which sprung a million freaky NyQuil dreams?

"Let Her In" by John Travolta (1976): Sometime between Vinny Barbarino and Tony Manero, Travolta decided he just had to take a stab at Rex Smith. And you thought those "Look Who's Talking" movies were a low point.

"Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy (1985): Rest in peace, Rick James, rest in peace.

"The Return of Bruno" by Bruce Willis (1987): Granted, Willis' "Bruno" alter ego was a tongue-in-cheek creation, but where was the punch line? Faux bluesman doing bad Motown? Now we know why Cybill Shepherd wanted to throttle him.

"Heartbeat" by Don Johnson (1987): "Heartbeat," the former Sonny Crockett sang. "I'm looking for a heartbeat." We'd settle for a backbeat. Or a second note. Still, if you buy this one at full price, most record stores will throw in Philip Michael Thomas' "Living the Book of My Life" for free.

"She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze (1987): Frankly, we prefer Spinal Tap's "Break Like the Wind." Was this a brutal year, or what?

Happy Ending by Dogstar (2000): Who wouldn't pay $14.99 to hear Keanu Reeves play bass? Hey, Morpheus, I'll take the blue pill. No, the red pill! Ah, hell, just pass me the bottle.

— Michael Tsai,
Advertiser Staff Writer

Waimea Festival kicks off Sunday on Big Island

The first-ever Parker Ranch Center Waimea Festival is Sunday on the Big Island, featuring entertainment from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the 2004 Aloha Festivals Royal Court.

The Hilo brother-and-sister singing duo, Pomai and Loeka (pictured), headlines the entertainment, which also includes slack-key master John Keawe, Rupert Tripp Jr. and Friends and Vaughn Kalawa with Mele Ka Mana.

Admission is free. (808) 329-0833.

Enjoy a little Greek in Hawai'i

All that Olympics-watching got you hankering for Greek food? You're in luck: Head for McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park, noon-9 p.m. today and tomorrow, for the 24th annual Greek Festival.

Besides a bounty of Greek food, there's music, dancing and a whole lot of camaraderie going on. Admission is $3 general, free for kids younger than 11. It's a fund-raiser for Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Temari annual art sale a place for your best creative efforts

Crafters, take note: Temari's 22nd Trash and Treasure sale is scheduled for Nov. 7 at McKinley High School, and the organizers are looking for you!

Bring five to 10 priced samples, sketches or works in progress to the McKinley cafeteria, 2-4 p.m. tomorrow for screening.

Temari is a nonprofit organization that strives to perpetuate traditional Asian-Pacific arts. Its annual sale is a holiday gift-giver's delight.

Information: 536-4566, or write to temari@temaricenter.com.

Critics can't rain on Benji fans' online parade

"Benji: Off the Leash!" got mixed reviews at best —

Roger Ebert generously gave it three stars, Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times said it didn't live up to the original — but a visit to the film's Web site is a dog lover's treat.

Check out www.benjireturns.com, click on wallpapers and screensavers, and then go "Aaaaawwwww!" Love those shaggy dogs!

'Lost,' 'Hawaii' can be found at Sunset on the Beach

Sunset on the Beach means food booths, entertainment and movies.

This weekend, it also means television, as in two filmed-in-Hawai'i series that will be previewed at the festivals at Queen's Surf Beach in Waikiki.

Tonight, prepare yourself for two episodes of the plane-crash drama "Lost" (pictured).

Tomorrow, there's the cops series "Hawaii" (see story about one of the stars, Eric Balfour, above), followed by the hit thriller "The Bourne Identity," starring Matt Damon.

TV series cast and crew members will appear each night, too, so bring those cameras, celebrity watchers! Sunset on the Beach begins at 4 p.m. each day. Admission is free.

Piranha Room takes on a Brazilian flair

The glitz takes on a sultry sheen at tonight's Piranha Room at the Ocean Club, Restaurant Row. Themed "Destination: Brazil," the super-popular clubbing event brings on a Brazilian band, capoeira performers, samba dancers, even a bikini fashion show. Think Carnival time in Rio de Janeiro.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Cover charge is $5 before 9 p.m., $10 afterward. Yes, there is a dress code, so show up to impress.

Oh, wait, didn't Brazil kick Team USA's women's volleyball team out of medal contention at the Olympics?! Well, party on, anyway.

And if you're planning ahead, the next Piranha, Sept. 25, is themed "Destination: Italy."

Waikiki Shell puts on a big beat

Taiko, anyone? Head for the "International Stars of Taiko in Concert," 7 tonight at the Waikiki Shell. The concert, showcasing drummers from Japan, Hawai'i and the Mainland, is the culmination of the Hawaii International Taiko Convention.

Tickets are $30 for seats, $20 on the lawn. (877) 750-4400, www.hawaiitaiko.com.