Don Tiki uncorks holiday exotica with Honolulu, L.A. and Seattle

December 13th, 2012

Don Tiki uncorks its holiday tour this weekend, with an Island concert Saturday and a West Coast roadshow.
The show is themed “Hot Lava Holiday Show,” which should put an exotic jingle rock to the holiday fare.
Dec. 15 — 7:30 p.m., at Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Arts. Sold out.
Dec. 17 — 7:30 p.m., at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle. Under auspices of the Seattle Symphony.
Dec. 20 — 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles. Under auspices of the L.A. Philharmonic.
We caught up with one of the group’s co-founder, producer and host, Lloyd Kandell, for a Tiki update on the state of exotic music, the largely expanded roster for this tour, and the challenges of travel in an era of the fiendly skies — with 10 Q&As.
Listen up:

Q — Is tiki/exotica music alive and well – bigger with wider audience now — beyond the reef, so to speak?

A —YES, tiki and exotica music are definitely alive and well…especially beyond this reef. There's Tiki Central online with over 10,000 members, Tiki Magazine with 17,000 subscribers and when we played music festivals in Berlin and San Diego, fans were dancing and singing along. They knew our music and lyrics.

Q — Great gesture and idea to dedicate the tour to the late group member Fritz "Delmar deWilde" Hasenpusch. Is someone formally replacing him to fill the void?

A — Mahalo. El Del was so unique and, frankly, irreplaceable. So we decided to return to our original musical revue a la Buena Vista Social Club, if you will, where different singers step up to the mic. So to answer your question, Fritz's songs with Don Tiki will be split in two with Charles Degala singing the more loungey, crooner tunes a la Alfred Apaka and Tei Tatafu, Jr. singing our more energetic songs like "The Natives Are Restless" and "Hypnotizing Man."

Q — How did you engage such competent stage troupers/singers, like Charles Degala and Tei Tatafu Jr.?

A —They were recommended by our female lead singer/comedienne, Sherry Shaoling, who has worked with both of them in musical theater here. Both Kit and I went to check out Tei in "Young Frankenstein" and loved not only his singing, but his great dancing and comedic timing. Perfect for our wackiness!

Q — The expanded show, with the likes of Frank Orrall, Abe Lagrimas Jr., and Crazy All, must mean a higher overhead, but with terrific musical potential. What’s the reason to expand Don Tiki’s horizons?

A — The BIG venues in Seattle and Los Angeles require BIG shows! Frank and Abe have both performed with us many times. In fact, Abe was with us for our first mainland gig ever at the fabled Kahiki in Columbus, OH when he was still in high school. Musical prodigy and boy wonder, for sure! We met Crazy Al when Don Tiki headlined last year's Tiki Oasis in San Diego and just knew he had to be in our LA debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall!

Q — Is it a risk, or mostly a statement of growth, to produce an expansive production. Air fare these days are not exactly a bargain. Or did you get a break with Hawaiian Air?

A — You nailed it. That was a key issue, traveling with such a large troupe, to be able to afford going at all. Fortunately, Hawaiian Airlines came through as our sponsors…"The Official Carrier of Don Tiki." All thanks and praise to them! The tiki gods (and Fritz) must be smiling on us!

Q — How did you manage to get a Disney gig — without a Mickey or Minnie Mouse prancing to tiki tunes?

A — LOL, yup, no Mickey or Minnie in our show. The LA Phil books both the Hollywood Bowl and the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. I had met with them many moons ago, but when they received our e-blast for last year's holiday show at the Doris Duke Theatre, they revisited our website and reviewed our audio + samples and immediately contacted us and offered the December 20, 2012 date!

Q — Has your mission to preserve and expand the sounds of Marty (you know, your mentor-idol Martin Denny, who defined the musical genre) change from your cozy lounge-act beginnings?

A — Yes, Marty became almost a surrogate father to me in the last 14 years of his life. He was always very supportive of our efforts to revive the exotica genre. He often called us the Don Tiki Orchestra because he loved how large we made it, adding vocals, dancers, etc. Augie was the same way.

Q — You’re performing during the holiday season. Are you also incorporating Christmas music with a tiki twist?

A — Absolutely! Kit, er, Perry Coma, has been busy writing and arranging 6 new xmas tiki tunes for the Occasion(al Man)!

Q — Is there a moment in this production that will knock over the audience – in other words, do you have a “moment” that everyone will remember?

A —We hope that there a few…but we don't want to reveal them lest we spoil any surprises!

Q — What next, the world?

A —In the immortal words of Delmar deWilde, "We're going intergalactic, baybee!"

Dec. 15 — 7:30 p.m., at Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Arts. Sold out.
Dec. 17 — 7:30 p.m., at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle. Under auspices of the Seattle Symphony.
Dec. 20 — 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles. Under auspices of the L.A. Philharmonic.

Who’s who in the holiday Don Tiki:
* Lloyd Kandell, producer and host.
* Band leader and composer, Kit "Perry Coma" Ebersbach on keyboards
* Bassist and purring song stylist Hai-Jung
* New virile vocalists Charles Degala and Tei Tatafu, Jr.
* Vocalist, dancer and comedienne Sherry Shaoling
* Percussionist Lopaka Colón, who continues his illustrious father Augie Colon's
jungle and bird call tradition
* Tenor ace Tim Mayer on reeds
* Multi-talented Abe Lagrimas, Jr. on vibes and percussion
* Tribal drummer Jason Segler
* Ryoko Oka on keyboards and t'rung (a Vietnamese bamboo xylophone)
* Exotica dancer Violetta Beretta
* Special guest artist Frank Orrall of Thievery Corporation and Poi Dog Pondering
* Special guests for LA only include SoCal Tiki luminary Crazy Al, rising Brazilian star Tita Lima, and Brazil's legendary percussionist Carlinhos de Oliveira

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