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.
Revered psychobilly trio Nekromantix have “emerged from the depths of isolation to unleash their latest sonic creation, a monstrous slab of demonic rock and roll entitled What Happens In Hell, Stays In Hell.” So says Hellcat Records, so you better believe it.
What better band to test-drive what, by mid-summer, will be a newly expanded (350+ capacity) and refurbished Monterey Club in Fort Lauderdale. The cozy rockabilly bar has already been host to some top national touring acts, but its small capacity (around 150) has kept some of the bigger bands from playing there.
That all ends when The Monterey’s new live music room roars to life this summer. The club, which is located on U.S. 1 just north of Fort Lauderdale International Airport (next to the Gold Coast Roller Skating Rink), has taken over the space next door, previously occupied by a motorcycle shop.
Work has begun and plans call for a large stage and PA, possibly even a full liquor bar (it’s currently beer and wine). Good news indeed for “South Florida’s home for rockabilly, punk, hardcore, metal, roots country, and tattooed misfits,” as the website touts.
After more than 50 years of guitar shredding, Dick Dale has certainly achieved legendary status. His iconic style and sound have influenced countless musicians and bands and some of his songs, such as Miserlou, are pop culture classics.
To get warmed up for his two South Florida concerts next week (Sunday at The Vagabond in Miami, Monday at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach), we present a litany of reasons why Dick Dale deserves to go down as one of the all-time greats (along with some just-plain-fun facts). We’ve also culled video clips from the 1960s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s to showcase his incredible longevity (the 1970s were not his best decade).
Before playing electric guitar, Dale learned the drums, ukulele and trumpet. He has also mastered the banjo, piano, organ, harpsichord, trombone, xaxophone, harmonica, xylophone and accordion.
Dale is often credited as one of the first electric guitarists to employ non-Western scales in his playing. This can be traced back to one of his early musical influences: His uncle, an oud player who performed belly dance music. Much of his early music shows a Middle Eastern influence.
Dale invented surf music in the 1950s, not the ’60’s as is commonly believed.
In 2002, a modern Tiki renaissance was in full swing. Inspired by the heyday of Polynesian Pop, which began with groundbreaking efforts of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic in the 1930s and stretched for more than 30 years into the 1960s, a new generation of artists, musicians, mixologists and entrepreneurs had been embracing retro Tiki culture since the 1990s.
As this grassroots movement gained momentum and new devotees discovered the wider world of mid-century pop culture, full-blown events soon followed. In Southern California – the birthplace of Tiki and haven for some of the genre’s most beloved bars, architecture and artists – Tiki Oasis started small in 2001 and quickly became the largest Tiki event in the West by its second installment in 2002.
The Hukilau was envisioned by its founders not only as the East Coast’s answer to Tiki Oasis, but also a celebration of the growing family and community, or ‘ohana, that had become so enamored with the entire underground movement. The name of the event, of course, comes from the traditional Hawaiian festival held in fishing villages in which a large net is cast into the sea to capture fish for the feast that honors the spirit of family and community.
Don’t call Laramie Dean obsessed. He’s just a guy who knows what he wants and knows how to get there, even if it takes seven years of slogging it out on the surf and punk touring circuits, several cross-country moves and a lot of luck.
In 2004, when the budding surf-rock guitarist heard that his icon, Dick Dale, was in the market for a guitar tech, he dropped everything and drove from New Hampshire to Los Angeles. As fate would have it, Laramie got the gig. But not before the “King of the Surf Guitar,” known for his no-nonsense approach to life, gave him some blunt advice: “You better know your shit!”
Time has proven that, indeed, Laramie Dean knows his shit. He also knows instrumental surf music and the concert touring industry. He has not only carved out his own niche as a solo artist, he’s spent years on the road as a guitar tech, roadie, bandmate and tour manager with icons and friends such as Dale, Agent Orange and The Queers. Now, he’s added tour promoter and booking agent to his repertoire.