Tour To Another Island
Well, if you're a fan of the seven stranded castaways, you'll love an upcoming show called...appropriately enough "The 3-Hour Tour." North Hollywood is the locale, the Mayflower Club is the hut and the Tikiyaki Orchestra will be providing the tropical soundtrack. Patrons will be treated to one-of-a-kind Gilligan-themed art by some of the So Cal's best tiki artists. Among the fare on hand will be pieces by CRAZY AL • DOUG HORNE • BIG TOE • TIKI TONY • BAMBOO BEN
If that wasn't enough; the next day (Sunday, Nov. 21), the entire art works collection moves down the street to the Tonga Hut, L.A.'s oldest operational Tiki Bar. Once there, the art will be displayed for thirsty imbibers and the Tonga Hut will be hosting a Sunday evening party with custom made cocktails with such Gillianesque names as "Kona's Curse", "Mary Ann's Coconut Cream Pie", "Kupa-Kai Swizzle", "The Little Buddy" and "Professor's Dream."
Join Kirby and Tikiyaki on the latest episode of the Quiet Village podcast where we talk about Gilligan's Island and the upcoming show. Episode available now. Just click on the PODCAST button above.
We're Going To A Spookilau
So as I was slipping further and further behind my self imposed schedule to get another episode up and running, a few listeners requested a Halloween episode. My first reaction was "there aren't any Halloween tiki songs." But then I was asked to DJ at, of all things, a Tiki Halloween party!! As I was putting together the set list, I suddenly shouted (ala Young Frankenstein); "IT....COULD....WORK!!!"
So, I wound up adding another title to the "Music For..." series. I wanted this episode to be something you could actually use in the background at your halloween party. Enjoy.
Rest assured, I have many more exciting episodes coming up with some equally exciting guests!! So this episode, you're excused for not having a Mai Tai...Zombies are in order!
So to help facilitate your Zombie infused psychosis while visiting the Quiet Village, here is the original 1934 Zombie recipe. It was invented by the godfather of Tiki, Don The Beachcomber in, well....1934. Its got a ton of stuff in it and will turn you into the walking dead--seriously!!
An Important Release of Lost Vintage Exotica
Exotica guru Jeff Chenault was fortunate enough to know Marsh Padilla, a member of the original Beachcomber Trio--the house band at the Kahiki Polynesian Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. While helping Marsh move one day, he unearthed a box of reel-to-reel tapes. Those tapes contained the raw recordings of the Beachcomber Trio from 1965--recorded right in the Kahiki Restaurant during dinner hours.
Fast forward to now and the Beachcomber Trio, Live at the Kahiki is now a reality. Dionysus Records just released the vintage recordings on vinyl no less. So now we have a rare vintage exotica restaurant record that is also brand new. The recordings are a real time capsule. You can hear the patrons chatting at their tables and the faint trickle of the Kahiki's water fountain. All of this and the music of the trio creates a sonic space that is a bonafied time machine.
The cover artwork and liner notes on the LP are first rate. Holding the LP in your hand, you quickly forget this is a new release and soon begin to feel as though you scored a major find of a vintage record at a swap meet. The other exciting thing about this release is that, those who purchase the LP's (which are limited to 500 numbered copies) also get a coupon for a free digital download of a high resolution MP3 copy of the album as well. That way, you don't have to digitize it yourself in order to put it on your ipod. This release was done so well. I can't say enough good things about it. If you're a serious exotica collector, you have to have this. Listen to tracks from the new Beachcomber Trio LP on Episode 32 of the Quiet Village podcast. Also, hear the interview with Jeff Chenault on episodes 23 & 24 as he discusses rare exotica LP's and the finding of the Beachcomber Trio tapes. You will also hear a super rare extended version of the Beachcomber Trio performing "Yellow Bird."
Tucson Desert Is About To Burn A Little Brighter
Today the Kon Tiki spent a great deal of money and effort to fully restore the pyrotechnic functionality of the torches in an effort that is rare and should be applauded in today's economic climate. To commemorate the lighting of the torches, Mark and Maggie Bloom of Velvet Glass, along with the management of the Kon Tiki have created an event that is one for the record books. The event will feature the Tikiiyaki Orchestra, Thee Swank Bastards and Shrimp Chaperone. The actual lighting ceremony honor will go to Flam Chen-an acrobatic group that is famous for their use of ...you guessed it, FIRE! Vendors and a raffle will round out the event, which is also being hosted to raise money for a local Tucson no-kill animal shelter. How can you not want to support this?
I must say, that the sign of these vintage torches blazing bright again in the hot Tucson desert night will be a tiki spectacle that will have no equal. If it lives up to my expectations, I expect to feel transported back to Americana of the early 1960's for just a brief moment in time. I expect to feel like a time traveler with the sight of the flaming torches and the sounds of vintage exotica from the Tikiyaki Orchestra wafting over the mesquite-laden scent of the Arizona evening. And I'm pretty sure that it will happen, for a split second, I will actually be back there.
Mark & Maggie join me for an interview in episode 28 in which they talk about little known facts about the history of the Kon Tiki, Tucson's tiki past and their amazing artwork with Velvet Glass.mn
Ernie Menehune Live
That is exactly how I first came to know Ernie's work. I found an LP on Ebay that looked rather interesting. The title was "Hawaii's Suntanned Irishman" and I was intrigued enough to bid and won (nobody else bid against me). That was essentially it.
Fast forward to 4 years later when I became friends with two extraordinarily talented artists in the new Tiki scene Mark & Maggie Bloom of Velvet Glass. Their home hut is located in Tucson, Arizona--another island that I frequent. It turns out the Mark and Maggie, 2 transplants from New York, have become good friends and promotors of Ernie who calls Tucson home.
Ernie was a top entertainer during the 50's and 60's in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Ernie's shows were complete with music, comedy and dancers, all set against the backdrop of mid-century Polynesian Pop that constituted the original Tiki movement in America. Later in his career, Ernie's plied his trade in supper clubs and theaters in Arizona--primarily the Tucson and Phoenix areas. Ernie later retired to Old Tucson, where he built his home.("Menehune Village") complete with lagoon, stage, luau grounds and tikis.
Today, Ernie is still performing occasionally at the local vintage Tiki temple in Tucson, the Kon-Tiki. Once a year, he also holds a huge fundraiser party for the Tucson Polynesian Society which he founded. The Society is for displaced people of Polynesian descent living in the Tucson area. The luau/fundraiser is held at Ernie's Menehune Village home where he performs his Island shtick to a packed crowd of Tucsonans. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the most recent luau and performance this September. It was fun cheese-filled evening.
I hope to have some video from that performance up on the site soon. I will also be airing an interview with Ernie Menehune conducted by Exotica expert Jeff Chenault on an upcoming podcast episode.
We Chose To Go To The Moon
I was 1 year old when Apollo moon launch and landing riveted the world. I don't personally remember it, but my mother and grandparents told me stories about sitting around the black and white TV watching every moment of this historic event....of course with me sitting in their laps.
I was thrilled to find out that NASA is reliving the moon launch and landing IN REAL TIME!!. If you were young enough to remember, or want to find out what the Apollo mission was like, you can relive it moment by moment.
go to: We Chose The Moon.org
This is a wonderful web site by NASA in which they are playing ALL of the Apollo 11 and ground controller as well as showing the exact location of the space vehicle, all in real time. Not only do they let you hear the transmissions and see a ear t-to-moon mission map, the web site also features very large movies that trigger at specific times in the mission to show what exactly is happening at that particular moment, such as final stage separation and docking in orbit.
I woke up early this morning and witnessed the lift off. Its not tiki, but hey, its a major story in the history of the human race--proof that we can achieve momentous things for greater good of us all.
An Enchanting Visit to the Quiet Village
I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet and interview Diana Lai-the first VIP hostess at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland. Diana was personally selected by Walt Disney himself for the job at the Tiki Room, which was still under construction at the time in 1963. She was groomed by Disney to be the exotic "oriental" hostess who would not only operate the ride, but also escort VIPs through the attraction and down into the basement where all the magic that made the show work was housed.
We spent a lovely afternoon talking about her connection to the Tiki Room and to tiki in general as we looked through Diana's many scrapbooks--scrapbooks that were absolutely priceless I might add. She had tons of photographs, many depict her working at the Tiki Room.
Diana Lai's story is remarkable and captivating. She is a warm person with a great deal of spunk. I am so proud to have the opportunity to meet her and to interview her for the Quiet Village Podcast. So i urge you to check out episode 18 of the Quiet Village, in which I interview Diana Lai--a truley enchanting person.
The Quiet Village gets press!!
Not only that, a listing of the November, 2008 landmark concert of Les Baxter music at the University of Arizona, Tucson also lists DigiTiki.com as the go-to web site for a recap on the details of this historic Exotica music concert.
A Mahalo to Tiki Magazine!
Don the Beachcomber Returns after 30 years!
Don the Beachcomber is THE father of the exotic cocktail or tiki drinks as they are often referred to. Without Donn Beach, there would be no such thing as a Zombie, Mai Tai, Pain Killer or any of the rum-based cocktails we consider to be exotics. After a 30 year absence on the mainland, Don the Beachcomber is opening its doors once again in the Los Angeles area, Huntington Beach, right on the Pacific Coast Highway. Interestingly enough, Don the Beachcomber will takeover the well known icon Sam's Seafood, which was recently renamed Kona. Sam's itself has a colorful history that dates back to the 1930's and prohibition. With the recent economic downturn, Sam's--now Kona, has experienced hard times and was just days from closing its doors for good, when suddenly an investor who owned the Don the Beachcomber name rights stepped in.
I am writing to say that I have experienced a small preview of what is to come for the new Don the Beachcomber restaurant and bar. I was privileged enough to talk with the bar consultant and the restaurant owner, who allowed me to sample two of the drinks that will grace the new cocktail menu. I sampled the Don's Mai Tai (served to me and a guest, in a Squid original Fortune Fire Bowl) lit with flaming rum in all four chambers. The drink doesn't normally come in this bowl, but it was nice to see the presentation. The mai tai is nothing like the classic mai tai we are all accustomed to (ala Trader Vics'). However, it was an amazingly deep and complex exotic in the true sense--with hits on various citrus juices, cloves, ginger and other exotic ingredients that I could not distinguish. It was an enlightening experience.
The second cocktail that I was fortunate enough to preview was called a Cherry Blossom Punch. This fresh cherry and rum cocktail was again, deep and complex with aftertastes that hinted to spices and not just rum and juice--delicate, refreshing and yet very deep and complex.
These cocktails were on par with some of the best exotics I have ever tasted. If I had to equate them to any one place, I would say they were as good as the drinks served at the Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I want to encourage everyone who has the chance, to visit the Don the Beachcomer. Not only is it a piece of tiki history, but it is making history once again!
Squid Visits the Quiet Village
I know its been a little while since the last podcast episode & posts here on the web page, but things have been hoppin' at the Village. Just recently, one of the Tiki world's premier and proliphic artists, Squid, visited me at the Quiet Village for a recording session of the Quiet Village podcast. Episode 14 features an extended interview and guest DJ-ing by Squid, aka Dave Cohen.
For those of you who may not know Squid, you most likely know his work--and probably own a piece or two. Squid is one of the founders of Tiki Farm. Tiki Farm is the biggest tiki mug maker and many of the top collectible designs by Tiki Farm are the sculting work of Squid. Recently, a retrospective show was put together at Kona (formerly Sam's Seafood) in Huntington Beach, CA. At the show, collectors came together to present a complete showing of Squid's tiki mug career to date. The result was an impressing 270+ mugs, sketches, scupts and concepts.
Today, Squid is working with Castway Ceramics. His designs were among the first products released by this new company, and they are cool. In commemoration of Squid's visit to the Quiet Village, he and Castaway have graciously an exclusive discount to all Quiet Villagers. When you purchase a mug from Castaway Ceramics, you get 10% simply by entered promo code QV during checkout.
Enjoy & don't forget to listen to episode 14 of the Quiet Village, featuring Squid!
A New Day Dawns
Spongebob says it best:
Chihuly in the Desert
Although this topic is not tiki it is exciting...at least for me. I am A big fan of the contemporary artist Dale Chihuly. His medium is glass and his work is simply beautiful. I made a little trek recently to Arizona to see an exhibition of Chihuly's. Currently and through the Spring of 2009, Chihuly's work is on display at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Although Chihuly's work has been displayed in many diverse locations around the world and his studio is in lush forested area of Tacoma, Washington, his work seems so perfectly suited for the desert environs. As you will see in the photo album, his glass forms seem like dessert organisms that have spontaneously sprung from the dry soil alongside majestic seguaro cacti. I viewed the exhibition at night as the glass sculptures were lit against the dark Sonoran desert. This provided such a beautiful view of the colors and forms.
I highly suggest that anyone with the ability and time, visit the gardens in Scottsdale, Arizona. You will not be disappointed.
The University of Arizona, Tucson was the scene for a most extraordinary concert on November 3rd. The music of Les Baxter was performed live with an orchestra. Selections from Baxters siminal albums "Tamboo" and "Sacred Idol" were performed using the original scores for the first time since their original recordings in the late 50's. The concert also included introductions by Exotica guru Jeff Chenault, Exotica expert and regular contributor to Tiki Magazine. Additional insights into the music of Les Baxter was provided by guest artist and acomplished guitarist Skip Heller.
Keith Pawlak conducted and was responsible for bringing this music back to life. Keith overseed the music archives at the University where a large portion of the Les Baxter's personal music archives were donated.
The University's music archives holds a precious collection of vintage scores and recordings by many mid-century music luminaries including Nelson Riddle and Robert Drasnin. Specifically, a collection of Exotica scores and music is being put together by the University and Keith Pawlak.
In addition to the Les Baxter scores, was a performance of original Exotica compositions by Robert Drasnin. Drasnin's 1959 album "Voodoo" is considered to be a cornerstone of the genre. Drasnin has been performing, teaching and scoring for TV and film for the last 50 years. In 2007, he re-entered the studio to record the sequel to "Voodoo" entitled "Voodoo II."
This event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime happening. I was fortunate enough to be there to witness Les Baxter's music come alive again with a full orchestra and chorus. It is my hope that this is only the beginning of a rediscovering of this unique genre of music that was quite popular in the mid-century popular history of the United States.
Yma Sumac Passes
She was rumored to be Amy Camus (her named spelled backwards), a housewife from Brooklyn and an Inca princess who was captured and taken away from her village as a young girl. Either way, we was an extraordinary person with the most amazing voice ever heard.
Many are no doubt familiar with her haunting vocalizations in the world of Exotica. It was with the legendary Les Baxter that the genre of Exotica was created. She will be missed, but her music lives on.
Episode 10 of the Quiet Village Podcast features Yma Sumac along with Les Baxter and Robert Drasnin.
Squid's Scultures & Scribbles - A Retrospective
The Tikiyaki Orchestra provided the music for the dinner crowds. Marty Lush, the consumate cheese of the Orchestra and the vibraphonist, roasted squid too. By the time he was done, squid was well done. See the roast on YouTube here.
Don't miss Squid's new scuplts now available from his web site Squidart.com
I was fortunate enough to contact Robb about doing a painting for me just before his work load exploded. My subject was Pele (the Polynesian goddess of fire). I sent Robb some crude sketches of what I had in mind. Robb returned to me something completely different, that I had never thought of. The sketch was so beautiful that I knew it was what I wanted. As you can see, here is the final result. It is pure amazing. I could talk about it for paragraphs here, but I will let the picture speak for itself.
Robb allowed me to name the painting myself. So, I chose the title "The Drums of Lohi'au." The meaning behind the name is in the myth of Pele: After becoming a goddess she makes her home in the "Navel of the World", a crater in Diamondhead volcano. There she sleeps until one day she is awakened by the sound of drums. She stirs and emerges from her home in search of the source of the sounds. She finds that the Prince Lohi'au is pounding the pahu drum. She falls in love with the handsome prince and appears to him as a beautiful woman. The two fall in love, spending three days making rapturous love. So the painting, to me anyway, is the perfect depiction of the moment Pele emerges from her sleep and is just moments away from meeting the love of her life. Hence the name.
Robb is interviewed on Episode 8 of the Quiet Village podcast. Don't miss it.
The King Is In The Hut
The evening was complete with a special tasting of new Mahiki Rum, which was not yet available in the U.S. at the time. Beautiful hula dancers rounded out the evening. King Kukulele is the MC for many top events, such as the Hukilau and the London Luau. If you haven't yet caught his show, do so. It's an evening of real fun. All hail the King!
But the weekend of surprises wasn't over. The Hukilau always has surprises and thrills for even the most jaded tikiphile. The year, among the top notch performances from the Tikiyaki Orchestra, Laramie Dean, The Intoxicators, the Haole Kats, King Kuklele, the Martini Kings and others, there were a host of must-see things. Perhaps the most interesting moments, came on Sunday when the Mai-Kai put items locked away in the their archives on display to the public for the first time. These items include rare mementos from the restaurant's past, news clippings, photos and artifacts. But the most interesting things on display were blueprints of the Mai-Kai. Now, I know blueprints sound like the most geeked-out thing you can get excited about, but these were very special. Among the various blueprints, were plans for a large addition that included a Vegas style nightclub complete with floating bandstand. The blueprints for a proposed Mai-Kai in New York were on hand for viewing. The New York location was a complete mystery, but the plans were fully fleshed out, complete with tiki placement. Check out episode 5 of the Quiet Village podcast to hear the details of the Mai-Kai, New York and the planned, but never built Paris location!
Just days ago, the announcement was made official that the Hukilau will be no more after 2008. Sad news indeed. There are speculations abounding and I'm sure not all of the details have been exposed as to why this event that draws hundred of visitors from all over the globe is going the way of the dodo bird. But none of that really matters right now. There will be time to dissect all the rumors and realities later. Now is the time to savor the Hukilau and give it a send off that will be long remembered.
The events and side happenings that make up the Hukilau are too numerous to mention, but the highlights are the Thursday evening kick off party where all tikiphiles gather poolside at the Bahia Cabana Hotel for a night of schmoozing, bouncy Hapa Haole tunes and cocktails in the sweltering tropical heat. The Friday night event is a true extravaganza of music. The main ballroom at the Bahia Mar Hotel, just down the street from the Cabana, houses a showcase of some of the top names in exotica, surf, lounge and Hapa Haole. Saturday is the day everyone really comes for, the whole event moves a few miles away to the historic Mai-Kai. Complete with Polynesian floor show, gift shop, lush tropical gardens and every manner of Island decor from thatch matting from Tahiti to carved tikis from far away Polynesian islands, the Mai-Kai Restaurant is something whos grandure can only be understood by physically walking through the maze of dining rooms and alcoves. There is even a real shrunken head proudly displayed in a glass case for all to marvel at.
Sadly, the Hukilau is a metaphor for Tiki and Mid-Centry Modern places and things these days. Everywhere we turn, it seems our parents' environs are being erased--demolished in the name of progress and "upscale revitalization." Gradually, a major slice of American pop culture is being relegated to a few fading postcards and scratchy LP's that only a few bother to give a second glance to in a thrift store.
The Hukilau, like may of the Polynesian palaces of yesteryear, was and is an amazing phenomenon that will only be visited in the stories told over a rum cocktail somewhere else from now on. And as with anything or anyone who passes on, we remember with fondness and marvel at what once was--something that others who come later will scarcely understpersonal connections that are made at such an event.and. The sights, the sounds, the smells of rum and freshly cut bamboo and and intangible thing that is the
I raise a perfectly chilled mai tai to Tiki Kiliki and her baby, the Hukilau. Sadness doesn't begin to describe the loss, and joy does a poor job of putting a color on the memories of such a unique culmination of people, places and things.
The DigiTiki Quiet Village Postcast is here!
Click on the PODCAST button (above) to go to the Quiet Village podcast page.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Mai Kai, it is one of the last original big Polynesian supper clubs left in the country and possibly the world. Last year, the Mai Kai celebrated its 50th anniversary and its still going strong.
Public Radio Goes Tiki
The show was "Off Ramp" with John Rabe, a weekend interview/talk show featuring audio stories. It just so happened that day (Saturday, May 26th) was a show featuring several tiki segments:
The heart of Oceanic Arts is Bob Van Oosting and Leroy Schmaltz. I remember my first visit. When I stepped through that gigantic warehouse door, I literally felt as though I were stepping into another dimension. All the tiki things I had ever imagined, and many I hadn't, were there beyond that door. I was greeted by a forest of tikis. Every step I took further inside brought me deeper and deeper into the world of tiki. Visiting was a revelation and helped to solidify my passion for tiki. I remember being almost speechless. Walking around mumbling to myself, wide-eyed and amazed. Since that time, Oceanic Arts has supplied my home with countless feet of bamboo, thatching, a tiki here and there, and other artifacts. I am lucky enough to live within a 30-minute drive to Whittier, California, the home of OA and I venture out there whenever I have a free Saturday to wonder through the treasures of Polynesia.
There is a great web site that chronicles a visit to Oceanic Arts w/photos.
The Trader Has Left The Building:
In the mean time, here are some of my personal memories, in pictures, of my last visit to Vic's in early March of 2007.
See Robert Drasnin at a once in a lifetime LIVE performance of his new "VoodooII" album at this year's Hukilau in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Viewing this video requires QuickTime plugin from Apple. You can download it for free if you don't have it by going here Get QuickTime.
You can also view it on YouTube by clicking here.
Vintage Hawaiian Music Released on CD in Japan
Some of the releases include: "Lure of The Islands" by Hal Aloma, "Latin Village" by Martin Denny, "Favorite Selection of Johnny Ukulele", "Hawaiian Holiday" by Sam Makia and his Waikikians, "Around the Island in 80 Shakes" by Benny Kalama, a greatest hits of Haunani Kahalewai, some hard to find "Hawaii Calls" reissues and more.
Read the whole story in the "Music" section. Click here.
[added 2/22/07] The tiki world is abuzz with the news that recording for the upcoming "Voodoo 2" album began on Friday, February 16th, 2007 in Los Angeles. "Voodoo 2" is the sequel to "Voodoo", the 1960's release by Drasnin, and his only exotica album--until now. The original "Voodoo" might well have been lost to time had it not been for Dionysus Records and their reissue of it on CD in 1997. "Voodoo" is on the must-have list for exotica buffs and people just now discovering the genre and tiki culture.
Recording of the sequel "Voodoo 2" began with the first downbeat on Saturday, February 17thm 2007. The album was recorded live to multi-track with many tiki luminaries present to witness the historic recording, including yours truly. It was a true honor to be present and to help out as a tech on the sessions. Here are some pictures of recording
Don't miss this year's Hukilau! This is the second year that I'm involved with the world-famous tiki event in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and this year promises to pack a real tiki punch. The main attraction - for me anyways - is the debut of Robert Drasnin's "Voodoo 2" which will be performed LIVE at the Hukilau! Also on hand will be the relase of, author of "Intoxica" and "Grog Log," Beachbum Berry's new book "Sippin' Safari", exotica expert Jeff Chenault and whole list of tiki-philes. For more check out the official Hukilau website.
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