As I mentioned in a previous post (Whenceforth A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge?, Nov2013), the making of a mix disc was the trigger for my obsession with all things Tiki. My first CD, Panda’s Swinging Cocktail Lounge, was a tribute to music about drinking and introduced me to the artwork of SHAG. I’ve revisited both of these themes in many of my mix discs (I’m up to 27 now). But pandas do not live by Tiki alone.
I listen to a lot of lounge/exotica music these days. What a difference 10 years makes! As I look back over all of the mix discs I’ve made in those 10 years, 2 musical genres jump out as my favorites: Christmas and Surf.
I have always loved Christmas music. Going back to my earliest recollections of old chestnuts like Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy Christmas tunes. All year long. And the best part about this genre of music is that it spans all styles, from classical to pop, jazz to rock and roll, blues to country, and even lounge, Hawaiian and surf. Worlds colliding. Everybody plays Christmas songs, and I’ve got 5 mix CDs worth of them to show how diverse a group of musicians have gotten into the spirit!
Surf music is another musical genre I’ve appreciated for a long time. This goes back to The Ventures cover of Hawaii Five-O, and although I never really got into The Beach Boys, I have come to love Dick Dale, The Surfaris, and the rest of the classic surf bands. I’ve also embraced a new generation of surf rockers, including Red Elvises, Los Straitjackets, and my current favorites, Bethlehem’s own Great White Caps! I’ve managed to crank out 4 surf mix CDs so far. Cowabunga, dudes!
Probably the most fun I’ve had making mix CDs has involved the compilations I’ve made chronicling important periods of my life so far. It started in 2005, with the creation of Panda’s Tribute: 1965, celebrating my 40th birthday. What a wonderful history lesson that was! Since then, I’ve also crafted tributes to the golden age of television (Panda’s Pop Quiz, 1960-75), the rise of post-disco artists (Panda’s Debutantes, 1977-79), the 1980s music video boom (Panda Wants His MTV), and the grunge rock of the early 1990s (Panda’s Rock & Roll Rebirth, 1990-95). Finally, throw in some tributes to my wife, kids, lost friends, and other genres like Blues, Classical, and Zydeco, and you get the gumbo that is my life of appreciating music.
If you want to see the cover art for all 27 of my music mix CDs, check out my Facebook photo album, Andy Panda’s Album Covers. Mahalo!