Modern Caribbean Rum

South Florida gets double shot of eclectic and exotic music from Jake Shimabukuro, Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica

South Florida gets double dose of exotic music with Jake Shimabukuro, Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica

It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd in today’s eclectic live music circuit. Especially in Florida, where we’re regularly exposed to sounds and styles from around the world. But fans of exotica and South Seas island music are in for a treat this week when two unique concert tours make their way to the Sunshine State to put a modern spin on traditional styles.

Jake Shimabukuro on tour

Hawaii’s Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele virtuoso and composer known for his fast and complex finger work, is in the midst of a seven-city Florida tour that began Wednesday (April 12) in Orlando and wraps up April 19 in Key West. Shimabukuro combines elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk, and flamenco into his flamboyant style.

Meanwhile, exotica qunitet Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica from Massachusetts is making a rare Florida appearance as part of a short four-date jaunt through the Southeast that also began Wednesday. The group performs a cinematic mashup of global jazz and classical adaptations with a South Pacific flair, also touching on the sounds of Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Latin America.

Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica  on tour

These wonderfully diverse tours nearly collide on Sunday, April 16, when Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica performs in West Palm Beach at 3 p.m., and Jake Shimabukuro hits the stage in Fort Lauderdale around 7 p.m. Luckily for hardcore fans, you can enjoy the afternoon performance at the Norton Museum of Art and still have plenty of time to head south for the evening concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Ticket information and full itineraries for both tours can be found on the official websites: JakeShimabukuro.com and Orchestrotica.com.

The 46-year-old Shimabukuro, often referred to as “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele,” has taken the humble instrument to new heights over his two-decade career. He broke through first in Hawaii and Japan in the early 2000s, then he became an international sensation in 2006 when a clip of him playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps became one of YouTube’s first viral videos.

Jake Shimabukuro, a fifth-generation descendant of Japanese and Okinawans who immigrated to Hawaii, first picked up the ukulele at age 4.
Jake Shimabukuro, a fifth-generation descendant of Japanese and Okinawans who immigrated to Hawaii, first picked up the ukulele at age 4.

He unleashes a big sound on the tiny four-string instrument, playing a genre-bending assortment of pop songs, American Songbook standards and his own originals. His fame has taken him from the smallest venues to some of the most prestigious in the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, and the Sydney Opera House.

Shimabukuro is also a prolific recording artist with more than 20 albums to his credit. His latest release, Jake & Friends (2021), includes a roster of guest stars that includes Jimmy Buffett, Amy Grant, Kenny Loggins, Ziggy Marley, Michael McDonald, Bette Midler, Jesse Colin Young, Vince Gill, and Willie Nelson. On the current tour, he’s joined by bassist Jackson Waldhoff.

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Minimalist Tiki

The Hukilau guests to take a Tiki Road Trip; new Shag merchandise in the works

If the idea of a cross-country road trip to five Tiki bars in five different states seems daunting, The Hukilau will make it easy for you during the 15th annual gathering of Polynesian Pop enthusiasts June 8-12 in Fort Lauderdale. During the event’s Friday afternoon festivities, guests will have the opportunity to sip cocktails and chat up the bar staff from five current and upcoming Tiki establishments spread across the Southeast, East and Midwest.
More below: New sponsor rums | Shag glassware, more merch

Tiki Road Trip Pool Party

The Tiki Road Trip Pool Party will include cocktails from four well-known tropical drink destinations: Porco Lounge & Tiki Room (Cleveland), Foundation Tiki Bar (Milwaukee), Aku Aku (Orlando), plus The Happiest Hour and Slowly Shirley (New York City). Also joining the party will be Cooking Channel star Jim Stacy, who will be offering up a sneak preview of his upcoming Tiki bar in Atlanta, the Barnacled Mermaid.

Also on hand will be James Teitelbaum, whose seminal 2003 book, Tiki Road Trip, inspired the party (as well as many actual trips). The book chronicled Teitelbaum’s travels to Tiki bars across the world while he was a touring musician in the early days of the Tiki revival. Updated in 2007, the book also documents many legendary establishments from the past. Teitelbaum will be signing copies of both Tiki Road Trip and his latest book, Destination: Cocktails: The Traveler’s Guide to Superior Libations (2012), at a time to be announced in the Tiki Treasures Bazaar.

The Hukilau: June 8-12, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and The Mai-Kai restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
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* Recent Atomic Grog coverage: Raiders of the Lost Tiki Culture symposium, new sponsors, Pier 66 hotel news

The Pier 66 pool will be transformed into a Route 66 of tropical cocktails during the Tiki Road Trip Pool Party on Friday, June 10, during The Hukilau.
The Pier 66 pool will be transformed into a Route 66 of tropical cocktails during the Tiki Road Trip Pool Party on Friday, June 10, during The Hukilau.

Tickets for the Tiki Road Trip Pool Party are available now for just $20 for weekend passholders, $49 for non-passholders. It will run from noon to 4 p.m. in the courtyard surrounding the main pool at the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a good idea to snag a weekend pass before they sell out. The Aloha Pass ($155) includes Thursday through Sunday, while the Luau Pass ($135) covers Friday through Sunday.

The Hukilau’s co-founder/organizer, Christie “Tiki Kiliki” White, said a pool party has been a top guest request since the event moved to Pier 66 last year. The waterfront hotel includes what it calls a “three-pool tropical oasis” in its center courtyard, and White plans to put it to good use with what she’s calling an “epic pool party” featuring “five bars serving the best in exotic cocktails from around the U.S.”

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The Week in Tiki (Feb. 16-29, 2016): Rum and Tiki event roundup, new Tiki bars in D.C., S.F., photos and event recaps

The Week in Tiki We have lots of news from February on upcoming spring and summer events: Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, Tiki Caliente, Tiki Kon, and Hot Rod Hula Hop. Tiki bars continue to open across the country – from Washington, D.C., (Archipelago) to San Francisco (Pagan Idol) – with more in the works. Event recaps include The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Naked Tiki’s grand opening in South Beach, and another Modernism Week party with Shag. Quick sips include a James Beard nomination for Chicago’s Lost Lake, the death of Trader Vic’s son, a new study on Easter Islanders, and a new Tiki cartoon. Regular features spotlight South Florida artist Tom Fowner; exotica legend Arthur Lyman; Houston Tiki bar Lei Low; and the Surf Guitar 101 website. The Rum of the Week, Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7, is featured in a storied cocktail, the Hotel Nacional Special.
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* Weekly features: Artist | Band/music | Bar | Website | Rum | Cocktail | Events

EVENT PREVIEWS: Rare rums at Miami fest, Tiki Caliente and Tiki Kon news, Hot Rod Hula Hop announced

Miami Rum Festival adds VIP tasting bar, announces cruise

If sampling more than a hundred of the world’s best rums on a festive 50,000-square-foot convention floor isn’t enough, the organizers of the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival have something special just for you at this year’s event. One of the world’s largest gatherings of rum consumers, experts, and industry professionals will offer a luxury VIP Tasting Bar featuring a special selection of rare, vintage and limited edition rums you can’t find anywhere else at the festival.

Miami Rum Renaissance Festival VIP Tasting Bar

Miami Rum Festival and International Trade Expo host Robert A. Burr is opening up his extensive private collecion to special guests partaking in the tasting bar during the April 15-17 event at the DoubleTree Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center. “We want to share with rum fest participants some of the most interesting and exquisite rums that we’ve collected from our travels around the world,” Burr announced. The Burr family home’s Rum Wreck Dive Bar, which is featured in the new Rum Minute online video series, is stocked with more than 2,000 different rums. Burr and his son, Rob V. Burr, will share hosting duties in the VIP Tasting Bar, passing along their knowledge and passion for the select spirits.

“In the course of publishing Rob’s Rum Guide and reporting for the National Rum Examiner, we are privileged to visit most of the great rum distilleries in the world,” Robert V. Burr said. “Along the way, we’re collecting some very special bottles that represent the incredible range of high quality rums from Barbados and Jamaica to Guatemala and Panama; from Nicaragua and Haiti to Martinique and Guadeloupe; from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to Venezuela and Guyana – and beyond.” Rum is a family affair for the Burrs, with Robin V. Burr joining her husband and son as hosts of the festival and organizer of many of the associated events.

Fort Lauderdale's fledgling Fwaygo Rum made a splash at last year's Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, winning the Best in Class award for premium white rum. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
Fort Lauderdale’s fledgling Fwaygo Rum made a splash at last year’s Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, winning the Best in Class award for premium white rum. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

The tasting bar will be open all three days of the festival from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., the same hours as general admission. Two $5 sample tickets for use in the tasting bar come with a $125 three-day VIP pass to the festival. Additional tickets may be purchased at the event. A one-day pass is $75 but doesn’t include the complimentary tasting bar tickets. All Grand Tasting rum and cocktail samples are complimentary. Members of the spirits and beverage trade will receive steeply discounted tickets and will also have access to a special section of the festival featuring exclusive rums for industry and press representatives only. Advance tickets are available online now and will not be sold at the door.

All guests will have access to the full Grand Tasting floor, which includes dozens of booths from both established and up-and-coming rum brands: Cartavio, Diplomatico, Don Q, Fwaygo, Koloa, Mezan, Plantation, Pusser’s, Santeria, Siesta Key, Wicked Dolphin, Yolo, and many more. The festival also hosts the annual International Rum Expert Panel (RumXP) Tasting Competition and awards. [See past winners]
* More info: VIP Tasting Bar | Grand Tastings | Sample rums

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (Feb. 16-29, 2016): Rum and Tiki event roundup, new Tiki bars in D.C., S.F., photos and event recaps”

The Week in Tiki (April 20-26, 2015): Rum fest invades Miami, South Florida’s underwater Easter Island, Shag goes to ‘The Twilight Zone’

The Week in Tiki As expected, the Miami Rum Festival dominated the news this week, but an unlikely story about giant Easter Island-style moai being sunk off the coast of South Florida certainly piqued our interest. Also worth noting is the return of the Chicago Area Tiki Tour, plus the upcoming release of a limited-edition print by Shag that pays tribute to The Twilight Zone. Weekly features spotlight artist Dawn Frasier, the Bahama Bob’s Rumstyles blog, the exotica and hapa haole sounds of Kinky Waikiki, and Miami Beach cocktail bar The Broken Shaker. To enhance your reading enjoyment, try some Pusser’s British Navy rum in the classic Painkiller.
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* Weekly features: Artist | Website | Band/music | Tiki bar | Rum | Cocktail | Events

Rum aficionados gather for 7th annual Miami festival

Thousands of enthusiasts, experts and VIPs congregated in Miami last week for the seventh annual Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. The Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport Convention Center was ground zero for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday grand tastings, with hundreds of rums exhibited, tasted and judged.

Plantation Rums from throughout the Caribbean won a festival-best eight awards
Plantation Rums from throughout the Caribbean won a festival-best eight awards. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

Many new rums were on display in what seemed like a transition year for the both the industry and the festival. Bigger producers were absent, but smaller labels filled the gap with some serious innovation and commitment to quality. Also, the festival itself seemed to take itself more seriously, with a concerted effort to cut back on the party atmosphere of some past events.

Not that the rum fest was not a blast, as usual. In addition to the many rum company booths on the 50,000-square-foot convention floor, there were entertaining and educational seminars daily, plus live entertainment and merchandise vendors. There were also evening events throughout the week marking the second annual Miami Rum Fest Cocktail Week, ranging from Tuesday’s Tiki Night at The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale to Thursday at The Broken Shaker in Miami Beach.

A big part of the festival remains the RumXP Competition, the annual awards determined by a panel of rum experts from around the world. Sequestered for three days of judging 127 rums in 14 categories, the experts faced a wide array of new rums in addition to old standbys. There were 35 rums making their U.S. debut in Miami, with another 28 appearing at the festival for the first time.

Continue reading “The Week in Tiki (April 20-26, 2015): Rum fest invades Miami, South Florida’s underwater Easter Island, Shag goes to ‘The Twilight Zone’”

Eclectic podcasts broadcast the soundtrack to the Tiki revival

Updated Aug. 11, 2012

There are many elements crucial to the appreciation of authentic Polynesian Pop, aka Tiki culture: The history, the architecture, the decor and art, the cocktails. But like the atmosphere of any great Tiki bar, the assimilation of the perfect musical mix cannot be understated.

You can catch many great bands performing at The Hukilau and other major events, but filling your music library with a wide range of songs from the past 50 years can be daunting. Luckily, there are quite a few podcasts that do an excellent job of providing the perfect soundscape. They also giving listeners a chance to sample songs before buying.

Below is a list of our favorites, updated in August 2012 to add the Exotic Tiki Island podcast and GaragePunk Surfcast.

Map of Tiki Sound

But first, a quick primer. A good starting point for any Tiki music collection is, of course, Seven A. Kirtsten’s The Sound of Tiki. This 17-track collection offers a great history lesson with tracks by exotica forefathers Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter, and Martin Denny plus a visually stunning 50-page booklet (plus Kevin Kidney-designed cover and artwork).

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