COURTESY LLOYD KANDELL
Oh, those lovely ladies: Singer-bassist Hai Jung Choi, front, with the backline, from left, of Willow Chang, Emi Hart, Sherri Shaoling, Alaana Singh and Carissa Coleman.
The Forbidden World Of Don Tiki
TO HEAR THEM tell it, Lloyd "Fluid Floyd" Kandell and Kit "Perry Coma" Ebersbach just wanted to be the "Steely Dan of lounge music." That is, to bring back the Martin Denny/Arthur Lyman school of "exotica," tasty vibes wrapped in jungle breathing and kiss-on-the-nape delicacy. Which is why, nearly a decade ago, their first record as Don Tiki didn't even picture the band members. That's because there weren't any. Just two guys who reassembled a old-fashioned groove.
"THE FORBIDDEN WORLD OF DON TIKI"
» Place: Grand Ballroom, Pacific Beach Hotel, 2490 Kalakaua Ave.
» Time: 7 p.m. to post-midnight Saturday
» Tickets: $135 advance (including buffet dinner) and $150 at the door. For just admission to show and two cocktails, $80 advance and $95 at the door.
» Call: 921-6137
» On the Web: www.dontiki.com
But the Don Tiki concept took off, not just because nostalgia isn't what it used to be, but because of their genuine love of the genre. It's now a full-figured band, complete with dancing girls and middie uniforms. The latest edition -- we're talking 10 musicians, 6 dancers, revealing costumes, sultry choreography and well-rehearsed ad libs -- debuts in a New Year's Eve spectacular at the Pacific Beach Hotel Grand Ballroom.
Guests include percussionist Lopaka Colón, Noel Okimoto on vibes, belly dancer Willow Chang and singer Sherri Shaoling.
The evening starts with a dinner buffet with background music and projected video clips showing a montage of vintage Hawaiiana film footage, assembled by Kandell and fellow tiki enthusiast Neal Izumi. After a brief bit of digestion, the show proper starts up, running about an hour-and-a-half.
Around 11:30 or so, the band will then morph into "Don Tiki's Inferno," playing dance music for your post-exotica pleasure into the early hours of 2006.
COURTESY LLOYD KANDELL
Below, the Don Tiki brain trust, with, from left, Kit Ebersbach, Tenui Tully, Fritz Hasenpusch, Choi and Lloyd Kandell.
"It's true, the band just keeps expanding," said Kandell. "It started out just loving the music and wanting to bring Martin Denny to a new generation. So we hid behind the album paintings.
"But then it came to life visually when Tenui Tully came on board to choreograph (and do our costumes). Although the shows are planned, there's a lot of spontaneity. The songwriting changed, too -- how it would be presented mattered, and the content evolved."
Kandell is aware he's carrying a torch, even if it's a smoky tiki torch.
"In a way, exotica was the first 'world beat' music. The sound expands to incorporate imaginary ports of call -- we even have Arabian rhythms and the theme song from 'Mothra' -- and the melodies come from all over the world. Real and imagined."
The New year's show, BTW, is likely the start of a potential partnership with the Pacific Beach Hotel for a nightly run. "Ten years to overnight success!" said Kandell. "And now we venture into deepest, darkest Waikiki."