Minimalist Tiki

Take a trip through the history of surf culture with Cutback, ‘Surfers Journey’ CD

In South Florida, where bands and musical trends come and go faster than the annual influx of tourists, there’s one comforting constant for lovers of the never-say-die genre of instrumental surf rock: Four guys who call themselves Cutback. The band will celebrate the culmination of years of hard work this fall with the release of a 17-track CD, Surfers Journey.

*** Friday, Nov. 7 – Cutback CD release party in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Free admission. Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Live music and drink specials all night.

Cutback CD release party at The Mai-Kai

The members of Cutback (guitarists Rich LaVoir and Frank Ferraro, bassist Nicky Ravine, and drummer Elliott Crawford) have been surfing and playing music for more than 30 years. Since the band’s debut in 2002, the goal was simple: Take listeners on a musical journey that showcases the history of surfing and the influence of surf culture.

Surfers Journey includes 14 original compositions by the band, including Surf Fever, Tubo Mexicana, 151 Rum Swizzle, and Conan the Surfarian. With its roots firmly planted in surf-rock history, the band puts its own spin on the genre with rock guitar flourishes and undeniable chemistry and tightness.

A mainstay for years during The Mai-Kai’s Friday night live music showcases, Cutback has finally documented its original music in a sonically impressive CD with packaging on par with any record-label release. Go to to hear song samples or pick up a pre-release copy of the album at Deep Eddy Records. It will be available on iTunes on Nov. 7.

Cutback CD release party at The Mai-Kai

The release party will appropriately be held in the band’s stomping grounds at the historic Polynesian restaurant known for its vintage take on mid-century Tiki culture. The band hits the stage at 6 p.m. for an evening that also includes drink specials, rum tastings and more.

DJ Mike Jones will also be on hand spinning retro and classic tunes, and there will be Cutback merchandise giveaways. Get there early for The Mai-Kai’s famous happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. All night long, The Mai-Kai’s mixologists will be serving a special drink named after Cutback’s song The Aloha Stomp. Papa’s Pilar Rum will also provide samples of its highly regarded aged rums.

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Cutback’s roots can be traced back to 1969 in Ferraro’s garage, where he originally jammed with LaVoir and Ravine. After high school, they moved on to other bands in New York and South Florida. Decades later, they reunited in 2002 as Cutback, named after a popular surfing technique, and began riding the wave of the latest surf revival. Crawford joined in 2012.

The core members of Cutback first played together in the 1960s
The core members of Cutback first played together in the 1960s.

The band’s previous releases, the last in 2005, are all out of print. So Surfers Journey is long overdue. After years of honing its chops at The Mai-Kai and other South Florida venues (including opening for Dick Dale and Los Straitjackets), Cutback was ready to document its distinctive take on surf culture.

Cutback’s live show is not entirely instrumental. The band is known for the between-song narratives about surfing by bassist Ravine, Cutback’s equivalent of the Hawaiian “talking story.” On the new CD, these stories are included in the intro and outro tracks. Surfers Journey was recorded at Soundbox Studios in Fort Lauderdale and mastered by Tom Waltz in Boston.

The band is “in the forefront of the fourth wave of instrumental surf rock in Florida,” writes James E. Cunningham, a Florida Atlantic University music ethnocologist and professor, in a chapter on the state’s surf music scene in the recently released book Surfing Florida (Paul Aho / University Press of Florida / Amazon). “As longtime surfers, their music highlights the surfing lifestyle by presenting an educational diorama of Florida surf culture, musically expressed.”
Related: Book makes waves by giving Florida’s rich surfing history its due

The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call (954) 563-3272 or go to for more info or to make dinner reservations.

Official sites
* Cutback | Facebook
* The Mai-Kai | Facebook

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