Tiki Ohana – Musicians

Standard

The Tiki lifestyle has a soundtrack, which is evocative of both the time and place of its birth. Tiki music, to me, is a blend of equal parts Exotica, Lounge, Surf, Hawaiian/Polynesian, and Space-Age Bachelor Pad. I wrote about this at length in my blog post, Galaxy of Sound, which prompted an entire series covering each of these genres. These current musicians embody the Tiki sound, as it was yesterday and continues today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brian Mr. Ho O’Neill. Brian O’Neill of Boston MA single-handedly resuscitated the Space-Age Bachelor Pad music of Juan Garcia Esquivel. Well, actually, he did it with a 23-piece band, but Brian was the driving force behind Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica. I was fortunate enough to convince the folks at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem PA to bring Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica here for a concert a few years ago, as part of the Luau at The Levitt event. What a great show! Mr. Ho has now also released a few albums by his Exotica quartet, which you can check out here: Orchestrotica.com. Aloha, Brian!

image

Jay Brooks. Clouseaux is the creation of Jay Brooks in Houston TX. This band plays a diverse mix of Exotica/Lounge/Spy music that’s evocative of Henry Mancini’s great soundtracks from the 1950s/60s/70s. Check out their music here: Clouseaux.com. In his spare time, Jay also carves Tikis and is El Presidente at Aloha Texas Tiki Co., supplier of home decor for the Tiki enthusiast. Gracias, Jay!

24808-mModernGallery6-dcfdbf17

Tony Marsico. The Martini Kings are the #1 live event band in Los Angeles. They’ve played shows for A-list celebrities in major venues, art gallery openings, Tiki events, and backyard cocktail parties. Tony Marsico and his brother Frank have been playing cool lounge music for years, often with guest singers like Kate Campbell and King Paris. Grab yourself a Martini Kings album and start the party here: MartiniKings.com. Sophisticated swing, Tony!
waitiki7_cover_hi-res

Randy WongThe Waitiki 7 is an Exotica combo from Hawaii led by the rhythm section of basis Randy Wong, percussionist Lopaka Colon, and drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr. Firmly rooted in Hawaii, Randy and the group evoke the Exotica masters of Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. Colon’s father, Augie, was the percussionist for Martin Denny and originated many of the bird and animal calls made famous in Denny’s Exotica music; Lopaka carries on that tradition in Waitiki 7. Check it out for yourself: New Sounds of Exotica. Mahalo, Randy!

image

Stephen Greaves. First The SG Sound, then Jet Set Unlimited. Stephen Greaves of Los Angeles CA makes a lot of sound for one person, and that sound captures the 1960s perfectly. A little Surf, a little Exotica, and a whole lot of Space-Age Bachelor Pad. Think Mad Men and you’ll get the idea. Take a listen: Jet Set Unlimited. Groovy, Stephen!

image

Gary Evans. One of the best Surf bands I’ve heard in a long time is The Intoxicators!, led by Gary Evans from Tallahassee FL. I saw them play live last year at The Hukilau, along with another cool Surf band, The Disasternauts, which were mostly the same guys dressed as apes in orange NASA jumpsuits. The common denominator was Gary’s guitar playing, which was, fast, tight, and loud! I hope to see them play again someday, but in the mean time, we can check them out here: Intoxicators. Cowabunga, Gary!

image

Russell Mofsky. Another band I saw live at The Hukilau was Gold Dust Lounge, led by Russell Mofsky from Miami FL. I thought they were another Surf band when they first started playing, but I was wrong. The best way to describe Gold Dust Lounge is Exotica/World, with elements of Surf, Spy and Soundtrack music mixed in. Russell’s guitar playing is hypnotic, as evidenced in the song Ensenada, which blows me away every time I hear it. Well done, Russell.

1393598494_logoLR

John Tiki Bartley. Five-Eaux is the cleverly-named creation of Jon Tiki, a/k/a John Bartley of St. Louis MO. Surf music is alive and well in the Heartland, and Jon Tiki’s music goes beyond pure Surf, delving into Lounge, Spy, and Soundtracks as well. Here’s a recent song he recreated: Pintor. He was also kind enough to write the theme music for my Podcast, A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge; it sounds like The Pink Panther meets Dick Dale, and it’s wonderful! Thank you, Jon Tiki.

Galaxy of Sound

Standard

Nothing defines A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge quite like music. Specifically, the music that became popular during the Mid-Century Modern era in America, which roughly correlates to the Baby Boomer period of 1946-64. However, the correlation begins and ends there! The wonderful music that Baby Boomers neglected, this Gen-Xer celebrates, along with the rest of my Tiki ohana. This is the soundtrack to our lifestyle.

A picture’s worth 1,000 words, so you can see for yourself the 5 musical genres that comprise my Galaxy of Sound. I plan to go into depth for each one in future posts, so for now, let’s just play a little word association, shall we? I will list each style followed by the name of the artist who created/defined that style, followed by a modern artist who revived/thrives in it. Let’s start with the center of my galaxy.

Space-Age Bachelor Pad. Esquivel. Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAesquivel_1

 

 

Exotica. Martin Denny. The Left Arm of Buddha.

Martin Denny GroupIMG_1438

 

 

Lounge. The Rat Pack. Martini Kings.

dcfdbf17efd297f33ceabf16d2f98828rat_pack

 

 

Surf. Dick Dale. Los Straitjackets.

straitjackets25371760129_54a7ba86fb_z

 

 

Polynesian. Don Ho. King Kukulele

Don-HoIMG_1365

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just my opinions of the pioneers and standard bearers for each of these 5 musical styles. You may have a different opinion on the king of the surf guitar, and I’d love to hear it! The wonderful thing about Tiki music is its diversity, and even more amazing is how many artists are performing it all across the country and around the world. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more musicians over the years, some as recently as two weeks ago at The Hukilau. I look forward to introducing you to many of these performers in my coming posts. First up will be surf music. Cowabunga!

Panda’s Musical Productions

Standard

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.

196178_10200258967786002_1593025107_n
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!

4761_1165785233944_5351844_n

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!

2358_1081691931664_7810_n

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!

2358_1081280121369_1015_n