extravaganza, a unique event that's part fandom convention, part history-buff gathering, part retro-tastic spring break, returns on Thursday, April 19, to South Florida, this time at the Best Western Oceanside at Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The four-day event as a whole celebrates tiki culture, a retro-loving scene based around atomic-age cocktails and any number of other cultural expressions surrounding them. That includes, naturally, plenty of swinging nighttime music across a musical spectrum that encompasses a number of acts along the rockabilly, surf rock, and related genre odds and ends. Here are a few must-see acts; for a full list of performers and venue addresses, check the Hukilau official website.
Gold Dust Lounge
This local act, led by songwriter and guitarist Russell Mofsky, is near tailor-made for this event. The group's sound is a loops- and effects-laced take on jazz, trip-hop, surf, and more contemporary trip-hop. From 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Best Western Oceanside pool deck.
This quartet is based in not-very-beachy Tallahassee but still manages some super-nimble-fingered instrumental surf rock and rockabilly swing. 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Best Western poolside. Also 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Mai-Kai Molokai Bar.
This pseudonymous songwriter is most often found behind the band name the Crazed Mugs. But either playing with that act or under his own name, he plays what he calls "tiki music," a mix of lounge, reggae, and other sunny subgenres with lyrics about rum cocktails and an imagined Hawaii past. 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Best Western poolside. Also 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mai-Kai Molokai Bar.
The Cadillac Bombers
This Tampa act is unabashed about waving the classic rockabilly and western-swing flags -- and that doesn't come, as it often does, filtered through any kind of punk sensibility. Instead, these five guys and gals prefer a classic, dressed-up look and a bigger sound, full of rattling vintage Gretsch guitar tones and rollicking bass. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday at the Mai-Kai Molokai Bar. Also 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the Mai-Kai Molokai Bar.
The Martian Denny Orchestra
This five-piece from Nashville is a rockabilly and exotica supergroup of sorts. Guitarist Eddie Angel and drummer Jimmy Lester did time in the cult act Los Straitjackets, while Jim Hoke played steel guitar in NRBQ and bassist David Roe backed up none other than Johnny Cash. Together, that means a whole lot of slick, tight string-picking. 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Hukilau main event, at the Best Western Oceanside's Bahia Cabana.
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Helmed by percussionist and bandleader Craig Callas, this is a massive group with a core of five members and an expanded cast of a handful more, depending on the day and the mood of the group. Together, they all play a cool, tropical kind of jazz mixed with out-there instruments like the vibraphone. 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at the Hukilau main event, at the Best Western Oceanside's Bahia Cabana.