Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, May 27, 1999

Photo courtesy Matt Yee
Matt Yee will show his versatility in
several shows this weekend.

Welcome to
Matt’s cabaret

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Matt Yee introduced himself as a recording artist in 1990 with "Innocent Love," an unconventional collection of songs that included a tribute to Alfred Nobel (the inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel prize). Yee later explored Jawaiian music as a member of John Kahale Chang's Kahale Records stable, but says he's found his niche as a cabaret artist.

Yee introduces his third album, "Every Facet of My Heart," tonight when he appears with an eclectic bill of "gay and gay-friendly" artists in the Queer Mele at Hawaii Theatre.

"It'll be an incredible show, and the world premiere of the album, assuming we can get it of the docks," Yee says with a laugh.

QM is the opening event of the 10th Annual Adam Baran Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and third Annual Gay & Lesbian Cultural Festival. The festivals will continue through June 5.

All going well, Yee's album will be available for sale at the theater. It will be officially released and available in stores next week.

"I think it's more of the true Matt Yee. Cabaret is by definition a personal intimate medium. It's not so much the instrumentation, it's conveying the message of the songs."

Almost all the songs are originals, although he has included a few of his old-time favorites. The first seven selections were recorded as studio tracks with Pierre Grill synthesizing various additional instruments. The remainder are live souvenirs of past shows. Yee says he worked for live spontaneity throughout.

people would like to look at and I look around and hardly anybody looks like that."


Bullet Featuring: Matt Yee, writer-comedian Bruce Vilanch, Jahna Steele, Peter Rockford Espiritu and the Tau Dance Theatre, the Iona Pear Dance Theatre, Women with Guitars and Cabaret Tiki
Bullet Time: 7:30 p.m. today
Bullet Place: Hawaii Theatre
Bullet Cost: $12 general; $10 for students and members of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation
Bullet Call: 941-0424, Ext. 26



Bullet On stage: 8 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
Bullet Venue: Texas Rock and Roll Sushi Bar, Hyatt Regency Waikiki
Bullet Admission: Free
Bullet Call: 923-1234

"Pierre has a 1912 Baldwin Grand and I would go over there (and play it) and whatever came out, that's what went on. We did first takes for just about everything we released as the studio cuts. Originally, it was just going to be a down-and-dirty album, just record the show and put it out for the show audience, but I actually really want radio to play this, and even Pierre said I shouldn't do it all just voice and piano. But the whole album came from whatever came out from the heart on that particular day."

Yee got into cabaret almost by accident. He was visiting the Hawaii Public Radio studios, noticed a $150,000 Bosendorfer piano, and asked if he could play it. That was four years ago. Yee has become a popular attraction at HPR and has taken two of his shows -- "The Diva Show (A Tribute to the Strong Women in Our Lives)" and "The Co-Dependent Show (A Timeless Look At Love)" -- on successful mainland tours.

"We try to throw as much variety at the audience as they can take, both on the genres and in laughing, stories and costumes. Once you put on one fabulous costume you have to have more, and once you've done 'Auntie Matilda' once, people want to hear what else she has to say. And so it's become a show.

"We always have two acts, and an intermission for people to get to know each other, three or four costume changes depending on my mood and the piece, and I always talk about what's going on for me at the moment. The closing meditation piece on that wonderful piano also lets me show that I can play piano."

Yee steps at least partially outside his cabaret persona this weekend at the Texas Rock and Roll Sushi Bar in the Hyatt Regency. He'll spend much of June and July performing on the mainland before unveiling a new show, "Buffetwatch (My Life In Hawaii)," at HPR on July 23.

" 'Co-Dependent Show' is my take on love, at least up until you meet -- quote-unquote -- the right one. 'Buffetwatch' is about what happens when you meet somebody. We have these images of what

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