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The Mixologists of Paradise:
Don the Beachcomber presents WAITIKI:
A Festival of Music and Cocktails, December 29-31, 2010
The scene feels straight out of a Martin Denny tune: Smiling hosts and hostesses graciously greet guests relaxing among pagodas, waterfalls, and walls of now extinct square bamboo. The music’s swinging, the drinks and food divine, the company warm and welcoming.
Partygoers will step into this slice of paradise for three nights, December 29-31, 2010. Champions of exotica WAITIKI will celebrate the year’s end at Don the Beachcomber, the restaurant haven of the great mixologist Donn Beach and all things tiki. The events will honor Beach and the stunning libations he created; exotica living legend Robert Drasnin; and leaders of the ‘90s tiki revival Combustible Edison with live music, original cocktails, and DJ sets.
The luscious mix that is exotica—the blend of tropical soundscapes, Latin dance grooves, and popular jazz—is an adventuresome and musically intricate mix. Often mistaken as kitsch, exotica flows from the vibrant postwar Hawaiian music scene and draws on everything from jazz to folk ballads, to second-generation Japanese club bands made of traditional Asian instruments, to Puerto Rican percussionists who came to the island midcentury to work.
Exotica musicians like vibraphonist Arthur Lyman (who recorded 3 gold records and whose hit single “Yellow Bird” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961) created otherworldly pieces that straddled the boundaries of jazz. Fellow vibist Lionel Hampton, for one, was so smitten with Lyman’s sound that he would follow and sit-in with him when on tour. This jazzy side of exotica—or exotic side of jazz—will be highlighted when the WAITIKI Quartet takes the stage with well-loved standards and hot originals on December 29.
Drasnin—a jazz clarinetist, exotica ghostwriter, and former Director of Music at CBS now in his 80s—will take the podium on December 30 to lead the WAITIKI 7 in a rare, live performance of his 1959 cult classic album Voodoo, a requisite for every space-age bachelor pad. WAITIKI 7 and Drasnin will be joined by vocalist Sherry Shaoling (of Honolulu’s exotica darlings Don Tiki), whose powerful voice channels forgotten exotica divas like Japanese-American Ethel Azama or Peruvian Yma Sumac. Nearby, Combustible Edison’s Brother Cleve and The Millionaire will spin everything from go-go and surf to exotica disco and big beat in their first joint DJ appearance in fifteen years.
For New Year’s Eve, the WAITIKI 7 get swanky, in a danceable homage to Combustible Edison, pioneers of the renewed interest in non-rock instrumental music from the 50s and 60s. “We were a lightning rod fans of all these vintage recordings could rally around, as we not only gave props to these styles but wrote original music in that spirit,” Brother Cleve explains. “Tiki Exotica was one aspect of what we did, and we helped revitalize it.” This lightning rod attracted big names like Quentin Tarantino and Matt Groening, as well as legions of fans.
The evening will feature the first performance of Combustible Edison’s music since the band’s demise a decade ago, with help from Brother Cleve and The Millionaire. Midnight will transform the ballroom into a full-on tiki dance party. WAITIKI and Combustible Edison will reveal their mixologist side: Original craft cocktails by Brother Cleve, Randy Wong, and others will join Beach’s creations on the drink menu.
“Donn Beach had a famous rapport with diners—to leave their worries and their fears outside. Inside the restaurant is one’s own personal paradise, whether it be from the libations, entertainment, or conversations with the hosts and hostesses,” notes WAITIKI bandleader Randy Wong, whose tiki-insipired cocktails have made it onto menus at several fine dining establishments in Boston. “This makes Don the Beachcomber very different from anyplace else. It naturally has a close-knit, family-friendly environment that’s perfect for these three evenings.”
For ticket information, see http://donthebeachcomberpresentswaitiki.com/index.php/ticket-info or call (562) 592-1321
About DON THE BEACHCOMBER
The Don the Beachcomber restaurants originated in the ‘30s in Hollywood and grew to incorporate 16 restaurants under the brand umbrella. Donn Beach was responsible for creating and spreading tiki culture around the world, including his creation of rum drinks with a tropical twist, now offered at every mainstream watering hole and bar.
Although none of the early Don the Beachcomber restaurants exist today, thousands of other establishments opened following his lead. Unfortunately, many of these were poor imitations, losing focus on tiki culture. Under the ownership of Arthur and Delia Snyder, Don the Beachcomber is experiencing a rebirth with its first new restaurant in 20 years. The goal is to replicate the experience of the original tiki restaurants made popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s throughout Southern California, and in Orange County, where Don the Beachcomber opened its doors in Corona del Mar in 1969
About The WAITIKI 7
The WAITIKI 7 are dedicated to the celebration, preservation, and resurgence of exotica music, and the related tiki culture. WAITIKI 7 is modeled after the classic groups of Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, and Gene Rains. The WAITIKI 7 is the only modern group that performs exotica completely live and acoustic—just like in the 1950s. And like their predecessors, the musicians of WAITIKI 7 all have extensive jazz, classical, and Latin training and chops.
With two critically acclaimed albums, Adventures in Paradise and New Sounds of Exotica, the group has shaken, stirred, and thrilled listeners from Boston to Hawai’i. They recently made exotica history by landing both albums on the radio charts at once (JazzWeek World chart, September 2010).
<< release: 06/07/10 >>
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