Forget New Year’s Eve. For many, the Halloween season is the biggest party time of the year. And the upcoming event calendar at the usually mellow Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is a prime example.
This mid-century Tiki temple has been known in the past for barely acknowledging holidays. This is a good thing. It’s the perfect place to get away from the annoying mob scene at other establishments during rowdy holidays. But Halloween is quickly turing into The Mai-Kai’s best time of year to let loose, next to The Hukilau of course.
This month’s festivities feature three major parties in the classic Polynesian restaurant’s Molokai lounge, where you’ll still feel like you’ve been taken away to an island paradise despite the surrounding creepy costumes. Just sip a few Zombies, and you’ll be fine.
There are a flurry of special events upcoming at The Mai-Kai, including three Halloween parties later this month. But before you don your ghoulish attire, chill out this Saturday in your finest island wear during a rare appearance of The Crazed Mugs from Tampa.
Celebrating the release of the new Find Forbidden Island album, the band will be preforming multiple acoustic sets in The Molokai bar. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m. with half-price drinks and appetizers, so get there early for a good seat.
Find Forbidden Island includes several songs inspired by The Mai-Kai: Rum Barrel and Mystery Girl. The 12-song CD will be available for purchase from the band for $12, and on Saturday only it will include a bonus sticker.
After announcing a date change to April 2012, organizers of The Hukilau have been busy confirming an outstanding lineup of entertainment for the 11th installment of the Southeast’s biggest annual celebration of mid-century and Polynesian pop culture.
While designers are still crafting the official Web site for its upcoming re-launch and promotional press releases are being prepared, announcements are trickling out to followers of The Hukilau’s Facebook page and members of its Facebook group. Become a fan of the page or join the group to stay updated and share your thoughts and ideas.
The biggest news so far is the addition of The Martian Denny Orchestra, presumably as the Friday night headlining act. After performing at The Hukilau in 2009 and 2010 with Los Straitjackets and The Neanderthals, acclaimed Nashville-based guitarist Eddie Angel returns with this new, out-of-this-world project.
If you’re a fan of psychobilly (the horror-themed bastard son of rockabilly), you should be well aware of the Nekromantix. The influential trio was founded in 1989 in Copenhagen, Denmark, by vocalist/bassist Kim Nekroman and has released eight scorching albums of rip-roaring tunes such as Curse of the Coffin and Gargoyles Over Copenhagen.
You probably also just bought the band’s eighth LP, What Happens In Hell, Stays In Hell (released Aug. 2 on Hellcat Records), and plan to attend Monday’s concert at the newly expanded Monterey Club in Fort Lauderdale with The Howlers and Brain Chips.
So, as the Monterey rushes to get their new concert space ready for the Labor Day onslaught, let’s dig up a few tidbits about the Nekromantix, Nekroman and his one-of-a-kind “coffin bass” …
The 500 block of Clematis Street gets a long-awaited injection of that good old Rodney Mayo magic this weekend with the grand opening of the South Florida nightlife mogul’s newest venture, the surf-themed restaurant and bar Longboards.
As owner or part owner of 13 other establishments from West Palm Beach to South Beach, he knows a thing or two about the hospitality industry. But rather than open cookie-cutter, tourist-friendly nightspots, Mayo has a creative flair for the funky and offbeat. And a clever eye for retro cool.
Perhaps we’re just getting tired of smoky bars and dance clubs, but we find his restaurant ventures (Dada and Tryst in Delray Beach, Howley’s in West Palm Beach) the coolest in his portfolio.
It looks like we may want to add Longboards to the list. We stopped by for a sneak peak last night and were blown away by the transformation that has taken place in the space formerly occupied by Ray’s Downtown at 519 Clematis St. Next door to The Lounge and across the street from Respectable Street (two other Mayo properties), Longboards is poised to become a welcome addition to the western reaches of the downtown strip. It’s a full-blown restaurant and bar with great theming, modern yet retro at the same time.
There’s a lot to like about the The Hukilau, the gathering of the worldwide Tiki community that takes place every June in Fort Lauderdale: The cool art and collectibles, the cocktails and camaraderie, the history and majesty of The Mai-Kai restaurant.
One overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of the four-day event, however, is the live music provided by bands who travel from around the country to perform for the brightly-attired masses at a variety of venues. This year’s event was no exception. The Intoxicators from Tallahassee, Tikiyaki Orchestra from Southern California, The Exotics from Milwaukee, Grinder Nova from Atlanta, The Fisherman from New York City and The Disasternauts from Cocoa Beach all brought their own distinctive retro sound and style to the event.
Following are some video highlights and our recollections of the potent musical Mai Tai that we call The Hukilau …
Dick Dale and Laramie Dean: Sunday, June 12, at The Vagabond in Miami
Monday, June 13, at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. See below:Photos from both shows
Concert reviews by Jim Hayward
The much-anticipated return to South Florida by surf guitar god Dick Dale was fraught with question marks.
Could guitarist Laramie Dean, a 30-something-year-old Dale disciple with big dreams but not a lot of experience on a national level, pull off a three-week coast-to-coast tour with no booking agent or tour manager?
Would all the young musicians joining forces for the tour – most notably Dale’s 19-year-old son Jimmy, drumming for both his dad and Laramie – be able to quickly come together as a unit and rise to the standards expected of them?
And, most critically, would the 74-year-old Dale be able to withstand the rigors of the road after years of health issues (he’s battling both diabetes and cancer)?
All of these concerns proved to be unfounded in the wake of the recent tour that sold out clubs across the country and undoubtedly left many eardrums still ringing. If the two South Florida dates are any indication, touring is the best medicine for the ailing guitar legend. Dale’s performances left no doubt about his abilities. He appeared spry and gregarious on stage and off, signing autographs and meeting fans late into the night.
As for Laramie and his surrounding cast, these guys performed like a well-oiled machine. And Jimmy Dale? The sky’s the limit for this kid. On the road for just a week, the bands blew into South Florida for a two night stand:
By all accounts, surf guitar legend Dick Dale is just now hitting his stride at age 74. A reviewer of his Houston show last week was simply awestruck:
“He prowled the stage like a man possessed as he worked his way through an impromptu sampling of his massive catalog … that seared the heavens.”
“Dale is far more than a living history lesson of where our favorite music comes from. He is the ultimate showman. His first trick was beginning the show from offstage, as he stood at the bottom of the stage stairs wailing on his Strat to announce his presence. And his singalong of House of the Rising Sun was the loudest crowd singing we’ve ever heard at a Houston gig.”
Now entering its 10th year, The Hukilau has become not only the largest Tiki-themed event on the East Coast, but also a museum of Polynesian Pop and mid-century modern art, culture, music and much more.
Most of the weekend’s events celebrate and honor the history of the original Tiki movement, which began in the 1930s and was fueled by vets returning from the Pacific after World War II in the 1940s, the statehood of Hawaii in the 1950s, and the boom of cocktail culture in the 1960s.
What had once been a vibrant culture lay dormant for several decades until it was rediscovered in the 1990s by the retro-loving underground art, music and cocktail scenes. By the turn of the century, a revival was in full swing and events such at The Hukilau were launched.
Now, 10 years down the road, the word “revival” may no longer be relevant as a whole new generation of artists, musicians and mixologists has evolved. With much due respect to the past, they’ve put their own modern spin on Tiki culture and will be showing off their talents at The Hukilau.