Modern Caribbean Rum

Surf’s up in downtown West Palm Beach with the arrival of Longboards

Related: See photos from the grand opening party

Longboards grand opening party

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.

A view from the front door at the center bar and interior of Longboards
A view from the front door at the center bar and interior of Longboards (photo by Hurricane Hayward).

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.

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Minimalist Tiki

Bands provide an eclectic, exotic soundtrack to Hukilau 2011

Related: ‘Rum Rat Pack’ starts a revolution at Hukilau 2011
The Hukilau crowns a Rum Barrel Master Mixologist | Full Hukilau coverage
2011 Hukilau photos and video: Facebook | Flickr | Go11Media

A compilation of video highlights

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.

The Hukilau

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 …

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Dick Dale and Laramie Dean shred all doubts on recent tour

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

Laramie Dean at Respectable Street.
Laramie Dean at Respectable Street.

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)?

Jimmy Dale, drummer for both Dick Dale and Laramie Dean, at The Vagabond.
Jimmy Dale, drummer for both Dick Dale and Laramie Dean, at The Vagabond.

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:

Continue reading “Dick Dale and Laramie Dean shred all doubts on recent tour”

Dick Dale, playing the tour of his life, hits South Florida

Dick Dale and Laramie Dean play The Vagabond in Miami tonight and Respectable Street in West Palm Beach on Monday. Complete show info below.

News: Guitar master having the time of His life at 74 (ATLRetro)
Related: What makes Dick Dale the ‘King’? | Tour was 7 years in the making

Dick Dale destroys the Continental Club

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.”

Continue reading “Dick Dale, playing the tour of his life, hits South Florida”

Hukilau 2011 video preview: A Tiki-lover’s dream event

The 10th anniversary Hukilau – featuring four days of music, art, cocktails, vendors, symposiums on Tiki culture and much more – takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in Fort Lauderdale. Go to TheHukilau.com for the full schedule and more information on all the performers and guests.
* Related: A decade of The Hukilau (video) | Mixologists vie to build a better Barrel

All history lessons should be this fun

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.

The Hukilau

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.

A day-by-day preview of events …

Continue reading “Hukilau 2011 video preview: A Tiki-lover’s dream event”

Psychobilly pioneers Nekromantix to christen ‘new’ Monterey Club in September

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.

Nekromantix at The Monterey Club

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.

Continue reading “Psychobilly pioneers Nekromantix to christen ‘new’ Monterey Club in September”

What makes Dick Dale ‘King of the Surf Guitar’?

News: Dick Dale talks blowouts, wipeouts and animal screams (Miami New Times)
Dick Dale Still Riding The Wild Surf At 74 (Houston Press)
Related: Historic Dick Dale tour was 7 years in the making

Dick Dale and Laramie Dean

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.
  • Continue reading “What makes Dick Dale ‘King of the Surf Guitar’?”

    The Hukilau weathers many storms to celebrate 10 years of Tiki madness

    The 10th anniversary Hukilau – featuring four days of music, art, cocktails, vendors, symposiums on Tiki culture and much more – takes place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in Fort Lauderdale. Go to TheHukilau.com for the full schedule and more information on all the performers and guests.
    * Related: Hukilau 2010 video preview | Mixologists vie to build a better Barrel

    In the beginning …

    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.

    The Hukilau

    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.

    Continue reading “The Hukilau weathers many storms to celebrate 10 years of Tiki madness”

    Historic Dick Dale tour was 7 years in the making

    Video: See what makes Dick Dale ‘King of the Surf Guitar’

    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.

    Dick Dale is the undisputed master of the surf guitar
    Dick Dale is the undisputed master of the surf guitar.

    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.

    Continue reading “Historic Dick Dale tour was 7 years in the making”