Minimalist Tiki

VIDEO & PHOTOS: Skinny Jimmy Stingray talks classic surf, performs at The Mai-Kai

Updated March 14, 2020

South Florida’s Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band rocked The Molokai bar during a special Retro Rekindled monthly community gathering at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 15. The live set followed a presentation with The Atomic Grog’s Hurricane Hayward about the guitarist’s musical journey from punk to instrumental surf.

Skinny Jimmy Stingray performs in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during the Retro Rekindled event on Dec. 15, 2019
Atomic Grog photo

UPDATE: Below you’ll find a video of the entire presenation, followed by four multi-camera videos of songs performed by Jimmy and his band. Mahalo to Sergio Figuera of Prime Photo & Video for the great job with the videography.

During the 34-minute talk, Skinny Jimmy spoke about his early days in Michigan playing in rock ‘n’ roll cover bands, his introduction to punk rock, and his eventual move to Florida. After many years in punk bands, he reinvented himself as a surf guitarist.

Jimmy recalls this transformation, along with meeting his idol and legend Dick Dale. He talks about other surf icons he’s shared the stage with, including The Surfaris and Los Straitjackets. We learn about his influences, his introduction to The Hukilau and the global surf scene, plus many fun anecdotes.

Check out the video below and on the new Skinny Jimmy Stingray YouTube channel

Following the interview, Skinny Jimmy and his band – Frenchy on bass and Kevin on drums – played a full set for an appreciative Retro Rekindled audience. Four of the songs have been released on YouTube, the first proper videos featuring the current band lineup.

The first song released was an original that has been part of Skinny Jimmy’s repertoire for years …

Espionage by Skinny Jimmy Stingray

Next up was a cover of a Link Wray classic …

The Black Widow by Skinny Jimmy Stingray

The third video is a classic tune penned by noted Spaghetti Western soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone …

El Greco by Skinny Jimmy Stingray

The fourth and final song is a classic from 1960 by The Fireballs:

Vaquero by Skinny Jimmy Stingray

Be sure to visit and subscribe to Jimmy’s new YouTube page.

Here are some more photos of the band and Retro Rekindled host Jupiter Jones:

Modern Caribbean Rum
Skinny Jimmy Stingray performs in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during Jupiter Jones' Retro Rekindled event on Dec. 15, 2019
Atomic Grog photos
Skinny Jimmy Stingray performs in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai during the Retro Rekindled event on Dec. 15, 2019
Photos by Noel

Skinny Jimmy was just confirmed for an eighth appearance at The Hukilau in June. Click here for more info from The Atomic Grog on the East Coast’s largest and longest-running Tiki weekender.

Skinny Jimmy's Picks: 5 underappreciated surf bands of the first wave
Skinny Jimmy’s Picks: 5 underappreciated surf bands of the first wave
The first wave of instrumental surf (late ’50s through mid-’60s) included many bands that remained under the radar and lack the notoriety they deserve.
>>> AUDIO: See and hear Jimmy’s top 5



South Florida guitarist Skinny Jimmy Stingray will be joined by The Atomic Grog’s Hurricane Hayward for a lively discussion about his winding road from punk to instrumental surf at a special Retro Rekindled monthly community gathering at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Dec. 15.

From punk rocker to surf guitarist: Skinny Jimmy Stingray's musical journey

Doors open at 4 p.m., and the presentation starts at 4:30. “From punk rocker to surf guitarist: Skinny Jimmy Stingray’s musical journey,” is a free event in The Molokai bar during happy hour. Attendees will also learn about the classic first wave of surf music, then enjoy a set of tunes from Skinny Jimmy and his band through the end of happy hour at 7 p.m.

The Mai-Kai’s famous Tiki cocktails and extensive menu of appetizers will be half-priced throughout the event. Guests are also encouraged to stay for dinner and enjoy the famous Polynesian Islander Revue, the longest-running authentic South Seas stage show in the United States, including Hawaii. Show reservations are suggested.

A throwback to the golden era of surf, Skinny Jimmy Stingray is on a mission to keep that stripped-down style of instrumental rock alive at all costs. When mild-mannered James LeClair puts on a suit and straps on his vintage guitar, he becomes an evangelist for the traditional guitar-driven sounds of the 1960s.

Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band: Frenchy (bass) and Kevin (drums)
Skinny Jimmy Stingray and his band: Frenchy (bass) and Kevin (drums).

He has earned opening slots with some of the genre’s greats – including Dick Dale, The Surfaris and Los Straitjackets – while bucking trends in the local music scene. Jimmy has performed at major clubs and events across the state, including Tiki Fever in Sarasota and seven straight years at The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale.

Currently performing as a three-piece with bass and drums, Jimmy and his band cover a wide spectrum of instrumental music genres – from rockabilly to spaghetti western to sci-fi and secret agent. The band’s extensive set list includes Jimmy’s own songs along with a wide range of classics from the 1950s and ’60s.

In honor of Skinny Jimmy’s special “Top 5” features for The Atomic Grog (see below), here’s a teaser for Retro Rekindled on Dec. 15. …

Skinny Jimmy Stingray
Skinny Jimmy Stingray

5 things you’ll learn about Skinny Jimmy Stingray

* Jimmy has been playing guitar for more than 40 years, beginning in his early teens in the 1970s.

* Until he dedicated his heart and soul to instrumental music, Jimmy was always lead vocalist as well as lead guitarist in his bands.

* While living in the Midwest in the early ’80s, he was inspired to get into the punk scene by the iconic bands of the day.

* After Jimmy moved to South Florida, he formed several punk bands that played clubs throughout the area in the 1990s.

* Jimmy spent years learning, researching, and preparing for what would become his evolution into Skinny Jimmy Stingray. He has shared his wisdom in several special Top 5 lists. Look for a new one coming soon on the most underappreciated surf bands of the first wave.

Skinny Jimmy’s Picks: The all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs
Skinny Jimmy's Picks: The all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs
Dick Dale uncovered something special in the sandy beaches of Southern California that like a powerful wave could not be contained. His sound was like the roar of an ocean washing across all lands and cultures, leaving in its wake a gift of music that transcends time and moves people. In this second in a series of special features on instro surf music, Skinny Jimmy Stingray gives us his picks for his all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs.
AUDIO: See and hear Jimmy’s top five

Eerie and evil tunes for your Halloween shindig
Skinny Jimmy's Picks: The top 5 most sinister surf songs
In this first in a series of special features on instro surf music, Skinny Jimmy Stingray gives us his picks for the most sinister surf songs. As Jimmy points out, “Nothing echoes quite as ghoulishly as the sound of a reverb-soaked electric guitar.”
AUDIO/VIDEO: See and hear Jimmy’s top five

Skinny Jimmy’s official sites
* | Facebook page | Instagram
* Audio & video: Bandcamp | ReverbNation | YouTube

The Mai-Kai is at 3599 N. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, on the west side between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. Call (954) 563-3272 for more information or to make dinner reservations. Valet and paid self-parking.
* Official site | Trading Post | Twitter
* Facebook: Official page | Friends of The Mai-Kai group
* Instagram: Restaurant | The Molokai bar | Trading Post
* Mai-Kai history: Book and official website | Facebook page
* Google Maps: Explore The Mai-Kai in 3-D

About Retro Rekindled

Jupiter Jones
Jupiter Jones

Retro Rekindled is held monthly at The Mai-Kai as a free community event dedicated to building and supporting South Florida’s vintage-loving, retro-living community. Organized by Jupiter Jones, these early Sunday events take place during happy hour at The Mai Kai and include lectures by owners of retro-themed businesses.

Recent past presenters included Daniele Dalla Pola of Esotico Miami, and Jonathan Chaffin of Inuhele: Atlanta’s Tiki Weekend as well as Horror In Clay mugs and barware. Last January, The Atomic Grog presented a special Demerara rum sympoisium (see below).

Business owners talk about what retro means to them and provide tips and tricks for vintage lovers. There are also raffles for retro-themed prizes and often drink or spirits sponsors. Admission is free and all are welcome. Facebook events include a link to order tickets that guarantee you a seat.

Check out the Facebook page for future Retro Rekindled events. Jupiter is an active memeber of the central Florida Tiki community, and you can also find Retro Rekindled on Instagram.

RETRO REKINDLED: ‘Demerara Rum – The Mai-Kai’s Secret Weapon’ Demerara Rum: The Mai-Kai's Secret Weapon on Jan. 19, 2019, at The Mai-Kai The Atomic Grog was pleased to present a special happy-hour talk during The Mai-Kai Takeover event in January, presented by the Magical Tiki Meet-Up and Retro Rekindled. Click here to check out our full event recap, including photos and highlights of our Demerara rum discussion.

Past Atomic Grog stories featuring Skinny Jimmy Stingray
* The Hukilau 2019 rewind: Photos and video from social media
* The Hukilau 2018 recap: Photos and video from social media
* ‘Boozy’ blog celebrates fifth anniversary with A Fifth of Grog at The Mai-Kai
* The Hukilau 2015 photo highlights
* Band of the Week: Skinny Jimmy Stingray
* Partygoers raise hell at The Mai-Kai’s fifth annual Hulaween
* Video clips guaranteed to get you in the Hulaween spirit
* Photos: Laramie Dean and Jimmy Dale in South Florida
* A Tiki Top 10: Photos and memories from The Hukilau 2013
* Photos: Dick Dale at Grand Central in Miami
* ‘Mai-Kai Mixer’ shakes up South Florida with rockin’ retro cocktail party

More on The Mai-Kai on The Atomic Grog
* The Okole Maluna Society: The Mai-Kai Cocktail Guide
* Demerara rum flows at The Mai-Kai’s magical retro event featuring The Atomic Grog
* The Mai-Kai updates bar menu, adds classic ‘lost’ cocktail
* The Atomic Grog explores Tiki cocktail history through the menus of The Mai-Kai
* The Mai-Kai is here to stay: 10 reasons why we love the historic South Fla. restaurant
* The Mai-Kai turns 60 with special history presentations, celebration
* New giant carved Tiki added to The Mai-Kai’s outdoor garden
* ‘King Kai’ leads procession of new Tikis into The Mai-Kai
* More Mai-Kai history | All Mai-Kai posts

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