Entries in the 'Music' Category

July 23, 2011

South Seas Adventure—A Description of the Lost Cinerama Film

Filed under: History,Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 4:36 pm
South Seas Adventure soundtrack
South Seas Adventure soundtrack

I had a spot of terrific luck today. My weekly trip to the local Goodwill yielded a special treasure: the soundtrack to South Seas Adventure, the sadly lost 1958 three-strip Cinerama film. The soundtrack is a mix of sweeping orchestral stereophonic spectacle and more grounded and familiar sounds of the Pacific (with sweet, silly little sheep-shearing ditty thrown in for good measure).

It’s heartbreaking that the print appears to be lost. The three-strip Cinerama films are fantastically immersive color-saturated extravaganzas, and getting a travel tour of the Pacific islands in that format, from that era, would just send me. I’ve long been curious about the film. Some description can be found in this contemporary New York Times review. Here is the description found in the notes on the LP jacket:

Cinerama takes you on a South Seas Adventure to tropical islands set like sparkling jewels in dreamy cerulean waters. Thrill to the lure of sunbrowned, luscious maidens and a paradise of coconut palms, coral strand and blue lagoons. Enchanted South Pacific archipelagos beckon with all the beauty and color of a painter’s palette. Stepping stones in the vast expanse of far-away seas, they promise romance, adventure, excitement—an irresistible blend of fascinating people and exotic places.

[...puffery about the stereo recording...]

The adventure begins with the blast of a cruise ship whistle as the luxury liner sets sail for Hawaii, our first stop. Like the other passengers, our excitement is at high pitch, and we find ourselves busy learning the hula dance even before the ship reaches the high seas. Young and old, old and reserved sing and sway to the accompaniment of traditionally favorite melodies like “Little Brown Gal,” “Little Grass Shack” and “Hawaiian War Chant.” Fun, music, dancing and superb food make the short trip seem even shorter, and before we know it, we find ourselves approaching famous Diamond Head.

Arriving in Honolulu, we are welcomed with traditional island hospitality. The resplendent glory of Hawaii is apparent as the ship docks, and we are greeted with the strains of “Aloha Oe” and “Song of the Islands” echoing across the water. During our stay, every day is more glorious than the last one. We spend our time swimming, sailing, watching spear fishing and surf riding. Everywhere there are flowers and fruit to remind us of the fertility of Hawaii, in the miles and miles of pineapple fields, the vast areas of sugar cane, the fabulous flower groves and gardens. At night there are native celebrations, festivals, feats, contests of various sorts, or exciting visits to fashionable night clubs, where one hears authentic music and dances. But the churning sound of the seas always returns to fill our ears, remind us that this is the world’s most beautiful water paradise.

Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki
Don the Beachcomber in Waikiki

It’s worth noting that the cast list for the film includes “Don the Beachcomber,” played by himself. Sounds like the film had a scene filmed at Waikiki’s Don the Beachcomber!

The next stop on our journey is Papeete, Tahiti, and we sail there in a two-masted schooner, passing the equator and taking part in the traditional “crossing the equator” ceremonies. Half the population of this jewel of French Oceania turns out to meet our ship, and we go ashore to the accompaniment of a band. We are fortunate in reaching Tahiti on July 14th, Bastille Day, when the festive spirit is high. One of the most inspiring points of the day’s celebration is a dancing contest in which scores of grass-skirted Polynesian maidens reach an ecstasy of motion as they ripple to the accompaniment of drums and antive instruments. Another spectacle is a coconut-spearing contest, in which dozens of young men attempt to pierce the husk of a coconut mounted at the top of a tall pole. Tahiti was the magic realm that inspired Paul Gauguin to paint his priceless pictures of natives and landscapes, that was immortalized in Joseph Conrad’s novels and in the Polynesian Idyl, by Pierre Loti.

Our adventure continues, and we head towards the island of Tonga, the crossroads of Polynesia and Melanesia. Seldom visited by tourists, Tonga remains remote and relatively invulnerable to the influence of western civilization. It was one of the islands discovered by mariner and explorer Capt. James Cook, who charted the sea lanes and coasts in the South Pacific during the latter part of the 18th century.

Tonga’s firmly Christian nature is the result of the successful zeal of missionaries who came there many years ago. They took the strictly phonetic Tongan language of twelve characters and translated the Bible, psalms and hymns into their native tongue. Their influence is felt deeply in musical education, which is widespread and because of which everyone on the island sings.

We hear a chorus of 400 school girls singing a native tune—”Ma Ulu Ulu,” (“There is a Happy Land Far, Far Away”), a church choir singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and Franz Joseph Haydn’s famous chorale “The Heavens are Telling.” Finally, another choir performs the magnificent “Agnus Dei,” from Handel’s “Messiah,” with native Polynesian words. As the final Amen dies away, the thunder of the surf hurtling through blow holes and over rocks along the island shore engulfs us, reminding us of man’s close affinity to nature.

From Tonga it is only about 250 miles northwest to the Fiji Islands, the most important island crossroads of the Pacific. Here age-old tribal customs prevail to this day, and the man-eating warrior of yesterday still casts a shadow over his successor. The temper of the people can be felt in tribal dances, which natives regard almost as essential to life as food. Everywhere we see brilliant colors—the white skirts of dark-skinned Fijian soldiers, miles of jungle broken by radiant blue tropical streams, brilliant multi-colored native costumes and jewelry. Here we are constantly reminded that Fiji is part of the British Empire, and a red-coated army band does its share to help remind us.

About 500 miles due west of Fiji lie the New Hebrides and Pentecost Island, haven of early sailors and slave traders throughout the South Pacific islands. Here is found one of the most remarkable sights in the world—a jumping tournament by natives who leap to the earth from a tower 100 feet high, their ankles bound with ripe liana vines. They say this contest originated when a jealous native husband chased his wife up a tree. If she jumped to the ground unhurt, the gods held her as innocent, and the husband was supposed to jump after her to prove he was right. Craftily, the woman tied vines to her legs to break the fall. The man jumped without the vines and broke his neck. Thereafter, the men staged a diving performance to prove their superiority.

From the New Hebrides we travel to another world, New Zealand. We leave behind the atolls, lagoons and coral beaches for a rugged terrain. Here, as in Europe, there are fjords, lush valleys, rushing trout streams and ski runs. Here is the Maori tribe, a race of one time fierce warriors and daring sailors who made their way across in open canoes to New Zealand from Tahiti centuries ago. Theirs is a remarkable culture that fought the white man to a draw and as a result has achieved complete equality. This is mirrored partially in the poi dance, performed by the women, and the haka dance, performed by the men, both enacting major events in Maori history.

In New Zealand also are huge volcanic regions which New Zealanders have exploited by building steam generating plants for powering industry. There are installations where you can hear the live steam as it escapes from beneath the crust of the earth, its earth-shaking power harnessed for practical use.

The last leg of our journey is Australia, land of opportunity and last frontier of the West. Here are vast cities and vaster wastelands, rich highland of metal ores, huge stretches of outback where millions of sheep are raised to provide wool for the rest of the world. The sounds of Australia are typical—bleats of the sheep as their wool is shorn and as the sounds of the clippers echo above the din, band music as lifeguards parade on Bondi Beach in Sydney, and the sound of airplane motors a Australians use this most efficient means available of traveling back and forth across the vast land regions.

We visit Sydney’s famous Botanical Gardens on “New Australians Day,” and the air is filled with swirling bagpipes playing the stirring strains of “Scotland the Brave.” Our visit to Australia ends with a picnic in the outback country, and we hear the nostalgic “Waltzing Matilda” and “Auld Lang Syne” as our adventure draws to a close.

South Seas Adventure advertisement
Advertisements from a 1964 Deseret News

Don’t miss these nifty old newspaper advertisements for 1964 showings of South Seas Adventure at the Villa Theatre in Salt Lake City—you can see larger views of these ads at the Villa Theatre website.

December 5, 2010

Great Moments in Otto’s Shrunken Head

Filed under: Music,My Travels,New York,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:08 pm

Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York

As you may have heard, Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York was hit by a fire a short time ago. The fire did some pretty serious damage to the back room, where live acts play. Great news! The back room has been cleaned up and is back to its old, gritty, wonderful, Otto-riffic self.


Otto’s stage

Otto’s was the scene of one of my personal favorite tiki moments. Way back in January 2003, I was visiting NY on business during an unusual cold snap—so cold that Broadway even shut down. But the tiki must go on! Tiki hospitality being what it is, a complete stranger offered to have me over to her home tiki bar. Her name was Inky Louise, and she was amazing, and remains one of my favorite people to this day. We were met by another local named Leni, who had taken very good care of me a couple of nights before. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: tiki people are just the best.

Back to Otto’s… after enjoying a tasty beverage at Inky’s, we set out for Waikiki Wally’s, poked our heads into Lucky Chang’s, and eventually made our way to Otto’s Shrunken Head. Otto’s was still pretty new then, and Fisherman Trio had just started playing Exotica there on Monday nights.

Now, Mondays are slow nights anyway, but a newish bar, with a newish standing gig, on a night so freezing that Broadway has given up… Otto’s was dead. D-E-A-D dead. As we arrived, Fisherman was midway through their first set, played to an utterly empty back room. The only person in the entire place was the bartender up front. It must have been disheartening.

But then! Out of the cold come three strange women (that’s Inky, Leni and myself, if you’re slow on the uptake). These three women appeared out of nowhere, made a beeline for the back room, and didn’t turn around, they stayed! And they danced! And they KNEW THE WORDS! And they MADE REQUESTS!

Fisherman and his two bandmates played out the rest of their set, looking back and forth at each other with a definite “what the…??” look on their faces. At the break, we all shared our glee at spending such a cold, wintry night together, dancing and singing and reveling in tiki together. It was simply a magic night, and I hope they all remember it as fondly as I do.

August 14, 2010

Swank Vinyl Exotica I & II, Now Free

Filed under: Music,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:02 am
Cover for Swank Vinyl Exotica I
Cover for Swank Vinyl Exotica I

2001… it feels like just yesterday, it feels like a lifetime ago. I had just purchased a new home, and wanted to do something totally immersive and over-the-top with one of the rooms. I wasn’t sure what, exactly… just something unexpected, just one room as a total escape from the world. After settling on Hawaiian for a theme, and digging into my decorating options, I stumbled into this vast and rich history of Tiki bars and Polynesian restaurants. And then came… well, this blog, and this site, and this other site, the bulk of my social life, and practically my whole existence.

The soundscape of my little basement getaway was one of my early design targets, and one of my very first Tiki purchases was Swanky’s Swank Vinyl Exotica I CD. As the title declares, it is a collection of tracks culled from Swanky’s vinyl collection. It’s a little rough around the edges, owing to the non-pristine state of your typical old exotica LP and the limitations of Swanky’s equipment at the time. But it was a great addition to my small-but-growing cache of Tiki must-haves back then.

Swanky no longer sells copies of his Swank Vinyl Exotica I (or its sister, II). But! He’s now making both albums available for download. For free! Right now! Some of the tracks are old standbys you’ve heard before, some of them are oddball recordings not available for purchase.

Mahalo nui loa, Swanky!

October 1, 2008

The Sweet Hollywaiians

Filed under: Asia,Music,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 8:58 pm

There was a day a few years ago when suddenly the sky got a little bluer, the air smelled a little fresher, the birds trilled a little sweeter. You may have paused for a moment, wondering if you were imagining things… or you may have just gone about your business, smiling a little bit, without realizing that the world had just changed. Not a lot, just a little, but definitely for the better.

The Sweet Hollywaiians at Forbidden Island
The Sweet Hollywaiians at Forbidden Island

That day, halfway around the world from sunny California, The Sweet Hollywaiians had gotten together. Thank goodness for that.

I got to see The Sweet Hollywaiians perform last night at an impromptu show at Forbidden Island. The Sweet Hollywaiians hail from Osaka, Japan, and they play hapa-haole Hawaiian music in a Hollywood style. They are dashing, they are darling, and they are really effing good. I might even call them pipin’ hot. It was transporting music, played pitch-perfectly, and it got the whole room swaying.

The Sweet Hollywaiians are Tomotaka Matsui, Nobumasa Takada, Takashi Nakayama and Kouichi Tsutsumishita. They’re touring California right now, but if you miss them here, you can pick up their music at the Sweet Strings website.

July 6, 2008

Los Angeles: Tiki Luau Nights at the Egyptian Theater

Filed under: Events,History,Los Angeles,Music,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 11:37 am
Tiki Luau Nights, artwork by Kevin Kidney
Tiki Luau Nights, artwork by Kevin Kidney

It’s time once again for tiki movies at the Egyptian! This has been an annual event for the past few years, and I’m always sad to miss it (this year I’ll be in Portland). But here’s why you shouldn’t miss it:

After the success of our Tiki events the past three summers, we’re back again with more exotic ephemera: more fun feature films, diverting oddball shorts, vendors, food, music and more! We’ll be showing old-school island adventure pics FAIR WIND TO JAVA, ALOMA OF THE SOUTH SEAS and HER JUNGLE LOVE (all in gorgeously saturated color) will screen along with artist Kevin Kidney’s collection of rare, island-themed TV surprises. Join us in the Egyptian’s Courtyard for a Royal Southern California-style Luau with exotic musical entertainment from King Kukelele and his Friki Tikis and the Polynesian Paradise Dancers. There will also be Tiki vendors and other special surprises in the courtyard on Saturday from 1:00 PM until we shut it down.

This year it’s happening over two nights, July 25-26, 2008. It all starts Saturday at 1pm at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets will be sold at the door, but if you want to guarantee you’ll get to enjoy the luau dinner, it’s best to get tickets in advance.

November 16, 2007

Boston: An Exotic Beantown Sippin’ Safari

Filed under: Drinks,Events,Music,My Travels,New England — Humuhumu @ 9:47 pm
Beantown Sippin' Safari
Beantown Sippin’ Safari

I’ve never been to Boston — and that’s all changing, thanks to Waitiki and Beachbum Berry. That’s the one-two punch that’s got me hopping on the next red-eye to Beantown:

WAITIKI presents An Exotic Beantown Sippin Safari featuring beach Bum Berry! Pho Republique will host this exciting event, a tiki-filled evening which includes four amazing tropical concoctions available (and mixed by the Bum!), dim sum apps ala Pho, and a special photographic slideshow by the Bum about the history of these drinks. Brother Cleve to keep the beat going between sets and other surprises may follow! There will also be tiki raffle prizes given out! View the press release for more info.

For all you tikiphiles: drinks will be sourced from the original recipes of some classic cocktails found in legendary Boston tiki establishments of the past (Trader Vics, Kon Tiki Ports, etc.) Check out Beach Bum’s 2007 Salon mag interview; a hoot!

RSVP today at sippinsafari@waitiki.com as there is limited seating for this free event. Or call (617) 262-0005. Okonkuluku!

More later after my fab trip!

Must Have Music: Waitiki’s Rendezvous in Okonkuluku

Filed under: Music,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:40 pm

Time to wake up from a long summer’s nap… and this is just the sort of thing to get me hummin’ again!

Rendezvous in Okonkuluku, from Waitiki

Rendezvous in Okonkoluku
Waitiki

This gorgeous cover should help to answer your first question — “Is this cutesy moderne Exotica?” Nope. This album is a straight-on visit to classic Exotica. Most of the songs are new compositions, and they fit right in with the classics. Waitiki’s earlier album, Charred Mammal Flesh was a fun party album, and did a great job of showcasing Waitiki’s fun spirit and musical chops — but it didn’t really illustrate just how well these guys know classic Exotica. And they know Exotica.

Perhaps my favorite song on this new album is “L’Ours Chinois,” composed by Professah Humming Flower himself, Randy Wong. It’s just beautiful — I can easily picture this song being picked up for use on a film soundtrack. Another favorite of mine is “Cave of the Tarpon,” composed by The Mayor of Exotica, Tim Mayer. In a nod to Waitiki’s legendary kookiness, there’s the smooth-flavored song “Pineapple Lilt,” a tribute to the Molokai Bar at the Mai-Kai, with velvety vocals.

Listening to this album, I’m reminded about my favorite aspect of Waitiki: they bring this stuff to life. They’re a healthy reminder of where this music came from — lounges in Waikiki, where the intention was to entertain a small group of happy souls, on vacation, falling in love with each other, Mai Tais, and this music.

In a very cool and unusual move, Waitiki is also releasing this album on vinyl. The CD has room for more songs of course, but vinyl purchasers are rewarded with a song not available on the CD, “Akaka Falls.”

I simply cannot get enough of Waitiki — as a matter of fact, I am so in need of a proper Waitiki fix, that I’m on my way to the airport right now to see them…

April 20, 2007

Alameda: Forbidden Island’s First Anniversary

Filed under: Events,Music,San Francisco,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 2:17 pm
Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island

The best thing to happen in the world of tiki during the last year is Forbidden Island. It’s shown how tiki should, and can be done. It has set the standard for new tiki bars. Where most new tiki bars out there have struggled to survive (as all bars do — starting a new business is never easy), Forbidden Island has found tremendous success, for one straightforward but often overlooked reason: attention to quality. From the interiors to the drinks to the music to the service, nothing has been overlooked, and it has paid off with national reknown, glowing write-ups and a lot of customer loyalty.

This Sunday, Forbidden Island will have been open for one year. It feels like it’s always been there, and we should be celebrating its fifth, fifteenth, twenty-fifth anniversary, but it’s only been a year. May there be many, many more. Congratulations!

The party this Sunday is going to be a real humdinger — a passel of tikiphiles are coming up from southern California, which is always a treat. There will be live performances by:

  • The Maikai Gents
  • Meshugga Beach Party
  • The Atomic Lounge Show
  • Cari Lee & the Saddle-ites
  • Apocalypso Now

… plus The Jab will be DJing.

Vendors include:

  • Tiki Diablo
  • Jungle Trader
  • Retro Diva
  • Tiki Hunter
Forbidden Island Skull Mug, by Munktiki
Forbidden Island Skull Mug,
by Munktiki

… plus, a brand new Forbidden Island mug, from Munktiki — a special two-tone skull. It goes on sale at 2 p.m., for details on how the mug sale works, check out this thread on Tiki Central.

It’s all happening this Sunday, rain or shine (there will be tents & heaters, if neccessary, and delicious rum makes it all just fine anyhow). There will be a taco truck, too, from Alameda’s beloved La Pinata restaurant. It starts at 2pm. I’ll be helping out serving Mai Tais at the beginning of the day, be sure to come by and say hi!

Forbidden Island One Year Anniversary
2pm ’til close, Sunday April 22
1304 Lincoln Ave
Alameda, CA

April 13, 2007

Napa Valley: Judd’s Hill Musical Bonanza

Filed under: Art,Events,Music,San Francisco,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 9:46 am
The Maikai Gents

On Saturday, April 14, Judd’s Hill winery in Napa will be holding their First Annual Judd’s Hill Musical Bonanza. The lineup is pretty impressive: APE (quite possibly my favorite tiki band), King Kukulele, and the Maikai Gents featuring the Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa (that’s the Judd’s Hill house band, of sorts, with Judd himself on vocals). If that isn’t enough, there’s food — barbecue prepared by National Champion Barbecuer Pat Burke. And of course, there will be wine — the debut of Judd’s Hill’s 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel. Yum!

The event is a benefit for Arts Council Napa Valley, a non-profit organization that supports arts education and development. Ticket price is $70 for Judd’s Hill Wine Club members (join the Wine Club at the Judd’s Hill website), or $85 for non-members. To make a reservation, talk to Pat at Judd’s Hill: (707) 255-2332.

It’s happening at Judd’s Hill’s new winery; they moved last year from St. Helene into a beautiful new winery, and we got to see it a few months ago. It’s so beautiful — they’ve got a few tikis onsite, too. It’s a great event in a great setting, and we’re hoping to be there ourselves.

Judd’s Hill Musical Bonanza
Noon – 4pm
2332 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA

January 27, 2007

Seattle: Lushy at Hula Hula

Filed under: Events,Music,Seattle,Shopping,Tiki — Humuhumu @ 10:21 pm
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.
Lushy, at the Polynesian Room in Vancouver, B.C.

Lushy, a darling bossa/exotica, loungey-but-dancey band based out of Seattle, is playing a show at Hula Hula on Wednesday, February 7. Lushy sounds so good in nice, intimate spaces, and Hula Hula’s space is probably just about perfect for them. It’s a great opportunity to give Hula Hula a whirl — early reports are that Hula Hula is a neat space, but that the modern/rock music played there is a mismatch — and my guess is that Lushy will give the place the mojo it may be missing.

Lushy's eponymous album
Lushy’s eponymous album

Vocalist Annabella Kirby leads the gang of stylish pop musicians through infectious songs that sound like they could have come off a ’60s European soundtrack. Two of my favorite songs of theirs are “French 75,” a cheeky ode to the francophone life, and “Bella Beretta,” an homage to Annabella’s kick-ass, Vespa ridin’ momma (as seen pictured on the cover of their album). If you can’t make it to hear them in Seattle, I recommend picking up their self-titled album, put out by Dionysus Records.

Lushy at Hula Hula
9:30 pm, no cover
106 1st Ave. N.


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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu
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Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

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