Something weird is about to happen at Mala Wailea on New Year's Eve.
In fact, ever since restaurant partner Shep Gordon started putting on what some call "Maui's party of the year," it's always been full of fun surprises.
You just never know who you may rub elbows with in the famous oceanfront restaurant that is lobby level at Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
“Weird Al” Yankovic is in the all-star lineup New Year’s Eve at Mala Wailea in the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The benefit for Maui Food Bank and Maui Arts & Cultural Center includes gourmet dinner and beverages at a cost of $500 per person. Call 875-9394.
SUZANNE YANKOVIC photo
No egrets — “Weird Al” Yankovic sips a cuppa and gives some attitude toward a curious cattle egret, inching closer to him on the fence across the street from the Travaasa Hana hotel. The entertainer lives part time in East Maui.
SUZANNE YANKOVIC photo
On Saturday, "Weird Al" Yankovic will join the star-studded music lineup that features Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper and his band, Pat Simmons and Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers, and Bob Rock.
Comedian Tom Arnold will once again return as emcee. In the past, legendary artists such as Carlos Santana, John Mayall, Mick Fleetwood, Michael Bolton and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger have also graced the stage in the intimate venue.
"I would like to thank all of the artists for sharing their New Year's Eve to help the beneficiaries of this event, the Maui Food Bank and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center," says Gordon, a Maui resident, impresario of concerts and other ventures, and friend to Hollywood's "A listers" - some who will be in the house, tucked away in the private VIP Buddha Room. Others, like acclaimed Chef Wolfgang Puck, have preferred to sit in the main dining room.
Before the music starts, guests will savor a sit-down feast beginning at 8 p.m., which includes three courses of gourmet fare by chef partner Mark Ellman as well as beer, wine, soda and a midnight champagne toast. Sip and enjoy the fireworks.
"Chef Mark Ellman will be recreating a variety of dishes from his old Avalon days," says Mala President Moki Chong Kee, talking about Ellman's Lahaina restaurant that helped to put Hawaii Regional Cuisine on the world food map.
"We'll serve everything from Snake River Farms Kobe New York steaks to fresh, local opakapaka. Mark's even doing his famous caramel Miranda for dessert. It's all for two great Maui causes."
When the plates are cleared and the show gets into full swing, Weird Al, "the biggest selling comedy recording artist of all time," according to a biography provided by his manager, Jay Levey, will be right in the thick of it. "I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen!" says Yankovic, a part-time East Maui resident.
"As far as I know, I'm supposed to be performing two of my songs, 'CNR' and 'Canadian Idiot,' with Alice Cooper's band, which obviously I'm thrilled about. Other than that - I guess my family and I will be going crazy celebrating New Year's Eve like everybody else!"
"I've met Alice several times over the years and have done a couple of his charity shows," Yankovic continues. "If you're being generous, I guess you could say we're old friends, and I've certainly been a fan of his forever."
Speaking of the old days, Yankovic broke into fame earlier in his career doing parodies of pop songs that focused on food, and weird consumption habits.
"I definitely went through a phase in the '80s where I wrote a lot of songs about food 'Eat It,' 'Fat,' 'Lasagna,' 'Spam,' 'Addicted To Spuds' I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe I was food-obsessed because I had been a starving artist for so long? Or maybe I thought I could write off my grocery bills as a business expense if I wrote a lot of songs about food? Or maybe I just thought food was funny?"
This is the Yankovic many of us know and remember. But his career started much earlier. According to his bio, "He was an "awkward, accordion-playing teenager, who got his start sending in homemade tapes to the Dr. Demento Radio Show." But how the heck did he get that name? Is it because he really is weird?
"I think somebody started calling me Weird Al when I was in my freshman year at college, and instead of being offended by it, I wore the name as a badge of honor," Yankovic says.
"When I started doing college radio the next year, I chose 'Weird Al' as my air name, and it just kind of stuck after that. As far as my actual persona goes, I'm certainly not 'weird' all the time - in fact, when I'm not in front of a camera or a microphone, I've been told I'm actually a little bit shy. But make no mistake, there's definitely something wrong with me!"
Wrongs apparently do make rights. With four decades of performing under his belt, he's won three Grammys (14 nominations), and has 31 Gold and Platinum albums, as well as countless awards and accolades for classics such as "Like a Surgeon" (cut for the very first time!).
He's done a cult-hit feature film, "UHF" (1989), a Saturday morning CBS series, and numerous AL-TV specials that he made for MTV and VH1 over the years. His previous album, "Straight Outta Lynwood" (2006), spawned the Billboard Top 10 single "White & Nerdy." The video reportedly spent two months at No. 1 on iTunes and garnered over 100 million hits on the internet.
In recent years, "Yankovic has performed 240 concerts in North America, Australia and Europe, including more recently at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in England," his bio continues.
He's even recently written a New York Times best-selling children's book called "When I Grow Up."
But his latest effort is "Alpocalypse," a full-length studio album, that was released on DVD and Blu-ray in October. It features parodies of Lady Gaga hits, such as "Polka Face" and "Perform this Way." Somehow, in the middle of all of this, he and his family have made a home for themselves outside of Hana on a part-time basis.
"My guitar player, Jim 'Kimo' West, who is an amazing slack key player, as you may know - introduced me to the area a couple decades ago," says Yankovic. "I fell in love with it, and kept coming back over the years.
"I would inevitably get mildly depressed every time I had to leave to go back to Los Angeles. Finally, several years ago, my wife and I decided to buy a place here and live in Maui part time. Basically, any time our family doesn't have school or work commitments on the Mainland, we're here."
"East Maui has always seemed like such a magical place to me. It's where I go to completely unplug, but it's also where I go to get creatively recharged - some of my biggest hits over the last decade have been written here! "
"The beauty of Maui is beyond description and the local residents have always made us feel completely at home."
In Hana, there aren't very many "Weird Al" sightings, I found out on a recent visit to that remote town with my sister. It may be because Yankovic prefers to eat a particular diet at home.
"Well, I'm vegetarian, so there are a lot of local dishes that I can't partake of. But I'm a big fan of the incredible avocados and pomelos that drop off the trees in my own back yard. We're also trying to grow more exotic things like mangosteens and black sapote fruit now, and I'm very excited that my miracle berry plants are finally starting to take off."
Occasionally, the performer does head out and about.
"As far as dining out goes, there really aren't a whole lot of options in our neck of the woods," he says. "But in Hana, we're big fans of Caf Romantica, and we love the plate lunches at Bruddah Hutt's and the delicious Thai cuisine at Pranee's Place."
These days, Yankovic enjoys East Maui, and his "Alpocalypse" charted at No. 9 on the Billboard after it was released this summer - the highest debut of his career. He also launched a concert tour right afterwards.
"To date, I've performed concerts in every single state in this country, with the notable exception of Hawaii," he says.
"I certainly hope to correct that one of these days - but in the meantime, I'm looking forward to rocking the house with Alice on New Year's Eve!"