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  • Remembering Buddy Greco, The King of Lounge

    Posted on January 11th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    RIP Buddy Greco, August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017

    The first time I ever heard Buddy Greco was on the radio. It was in the early 1980s, and I used to listen to a “nostalgia” station, WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. After the commercial break, his trademark intro to “The Lady Is A Tramp” swung out in glorious stereo, and I was hooked.

    A few days later I heard what was to become my favorite Greco tune, “Around the World”.

    Sinatra, Steve and Edie, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin, Prima…all pioneers of the swingin’ style that would eventually be associated with Vegas lounge & showroom acts. But Buddy Greco took it to the next level, and held it there just at the brink of being overdone. Whenever someone today spoofs or tosses fun at the lounge acts of mid-century Vegas, it’s not really Sinatra they’re imitating…it’s Greco, and they can’t come close to his stylistic perfection.

    Even his ballads were well swung.

    Buddy was also and accomplished jazz/lounge pianist, who would have been as at home in smokey bar as a concert hall. Here’s Misty:

    And though his music spanned 80 years and several genres including county and pop, what I think we’ll miss most about my fellow Philadelphian is his vibrant, energetic, original swinging vocals and on-stage attitude that makes him, in my book, the all time King of Lounge.

    Later, Buddy. Catch you on the flip side.

    Tiki Chris, reporting from the Hi Fi Lounge at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • A Few Words About David Bowie…

    Posted on January 11th, 2016 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    David Bowie, 1967

    David Bowie, 1967

    On the day of his passing, January 10, 2016, here’s a few words about David Bowie, may he rest in rock n roll heaven:

    Although not considered a part of the mid-century music that we love here at the Tiki Lounge, many people don’t realize that Bowie’s career began way back in 1962, when he played sax in a band he formed with his friends. He was truly part of the “new generation” of kids that dug rock n roll over swing and jazz, and of course went on to be one of the musicians who transformed the music landscape. For this reason, I believe he should be remembered as part of the history of mid-century culture.

    Although not my personal taste, I appreciate how Bowie’s music touched millions, including many of those who grew up on Tommy Dorsey and Bing Crosby, who expanded their musical tastes later in life (my Mother was one of those people…born in 1943, she became a huge fan of musicians like Bowie, Hendrix, etc.) And although not my taste, a few of his songs, to me, broke through and stood aside from his usual format, songs like Let’s Dance (borrowing the title from the 1930s/40s Make Believe Ballroom theme and Benny Goodman’s opening theme), and the jazz chord-infused Changes, where Bowie plays the alto sax solos.

    So today we say goodbye to a true musician and artist, a man who devoted his life to his craft and to making people sing and dance. Cheers to you, David Bowie…the music in heaven just got a little more exciting now that you’re there.

    -Tiki Chris

     

  • Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL is now an Historic Landmark

    Posted on February 25th, 2015 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment
    The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL

    The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Congrats to Fort Lauderdale’s Mai Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show for being granted National Historic Landmark status! (It’s about time!)

    The quintessential Tiki Bar/Lounge/Experience has been one of the world’s most elaborate (and famous) Tiki-themed establishments since 1956. It’s gone through a few changes over the years (The Molokai Lounge was created with the ship interior theme in the 1960s) but still retains much of its original architecture and decor, and all of its original charm.

    Tiki themed restaurants & lounges began sprouting up in the mid 1930s, and had their heyday from around the end of WW2 through the late 1960s (see our Tiki Culture page). But as society evolved out of the sophisticated cocktail culture of the American mid-century and into the torn blue jeans & acid rock culture of the late ’60s, Tiki Bars became less fashionable, less of an exotic escape and more as a kitschy joint for “the last generation”. Sales fell, and most of the grand and beautiful Tiki palaces fell too.

    My friends and me at The Hukilau 2011

    My friends and me at The Mai Kai, 2011

    The Mai Kai is one of only a handful of the original Tiki-themed restaurants to make it through the Disco era, the Mod ’80s, the bland ’90s and The Great Recession, along with multiple hurricanes and an insane buildup of furniture stores, strip clubs, strip malls and other restaurants along the strip of Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale…a stretch of road that was completely vacant and considered “way out west” when the Mai Kai was built in ’56. It’s a testament to the family who has owned this family-owned business and to the newest proprietors that it has remained not only open, but successful, for nearly 60 years.

    And it’s about time that fantastic, fantasy palaces like this are finally being recognized for what they are: A great piece of American history.

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the lanai at the Mai Kai

     

  • Remembering Mickey Rooney (Sept. 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

    Posted on April 7th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    rooneyLet’s take a moment to remember one of  our favorite actors, Mickey Rooney (Sept. 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014)

    He was Santa in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town (1970). He was only six when he acted in his first movie, “Not To Be Trusted” (1926). He had already become a star, making over three dozen Mickey McGuire shorts before his 15th birthday. Then came the Andy Hardy films, and his pairing with the lovely Judy Garland. He became the #1 box office draw in the US before age 20, and held that honor from 1939 to 1941.

    Born in Brooklyn, NY on September 23, 1920, Mickey hit the stage not long after his first birthday, appearing with his parents in vaudeville shows. From there he catapulted to stardom, winning a special Academy Award in 1939 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and . . . setting a high standard of ability and achievement.”

    Most of us remember watching Mickey Rooney in reruns on Saturday afternoons. Some of us remember him from Dinsey’s “Pete’s Dragon” (1977), or from the dozens of TV show and movie appearances he made throughout the past 60 years, including The Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, The Return of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and his own TV series “Mickey” (1964-65). More recent roles include Babe: Pig in the City (1998), The Muppets, and one of his best ever, in my opinion, as Gus in Night at the Museum (2006).

    According to Mickey Rooney’s IMDB page, he was still working, with three projects currently in filming or pre.production. That’s not bad for a 93 year-old.

    Mickeyrooney

    There aren’t many actors who can claim nine decades of work, and nearly eight of stardom. Mickey was a one of a kind, and we’re lucky to have had him in our lives for so long. A true part of American film history, Mickey Rooney will always be remembered as one of the top stars of the 20th and 21st centuries, and one of the last from the first golden era of film and television to remain with us.

    Break a leg Mickey!
    -Chris Pinto, for Tiki Lounge Talk

  • Remembering Happy Days, The Fonz, and how the show would be done today

    Posted on March 26th, 2014 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    fonzRemember this Guy?

    “Happy Days” first aired in 1974. It took place in the mid 1950s, about 20 years earlier. The nostalgia centered around the “good old days” when big fins, Rock n Roll, drive in diners and poodle skirts defined America. It was an homage to a happy-go-lucky time in America’s history (if you ignore Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War and segregation), a time best remembered for pink and black motifs, big fast cars, cool dudes and hot chicks. It was also the era of modern architecture, cool jazz and cocktails, but those elements rarely made it into this mainstream-pop TV show.

    The Fonz was an icon, but also an enigma: A street-tough, greaser/biker who was into fast cars (and faster women), yet was also an intelligent, fairly well spoken and surprisingly respectful adult. Google how and why that character evolved, there are some interesting stories behind it.

    Now to blow your minds…

    – “Happy Days” premiered FORTY YEARS AGO. It’s theme song was “Rock Around The Clock”, then was changed to “Happy Days” later.

    – If this show were to be made today, it would be reminiscing back to 60 years ago. Which means a 60-year-back nostalgia show at the time Happy Days premiered would have been about World War One.

    Also if this show were made today:

    – The Fonz would look like Kurt Cobain, Potsy and Ralph would be dressed in grunge, and Richie would dress like Chandler on Friends (Which, by the way, came out in 1994)

    – Instead of jalopies, the kids would be driving 1980s Honda Civics Ford Tauruses.

    happy-days-hot-rod-compare

     

    – The jukebox would play Nirvana, Boyz II Men, Micheal Bolton and Snoop Doggy Dog,

    – Instead of hanging out at the diner, they would be hanging out at a coffee shop.

    – The Fonz would work at a Jiffy Lube.

    – Richie’s dad wouldn’t own a hardware store, as it would have been put out of business by the big-box stores. He’d be an assistant manager at one of them, using a third of his paycheck to pay off his debts after being driven out of business. Richie would go to community college on a Pell grant.

    – Joanie would have listened to Madonna and would have loved reruns of The Cosby Show.

    happy-days– Laverne and Shirley would have hung out at night clubs a lot. They probably would have done a lot of drugs, too.

    – And last but not least, instead of singing “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill,” Richie would go around singing “Whoomp, There It Is!”

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the TV room at Tiki Lounge Talk. If you dig the 1950s, check out one of my Detective Bill Riggins mystery books, all of which take place or flash back to the Decade of Pink Dreams.