The end of smoking at the Tiki Ti

Our friends at the Tiki Ti, announced yesterday on Facebook, that smoking in the bar would end this Saturday. Word is that they had to hire another employee. Now that they are no longer just a family run business, they need to comply with the 1995 law protecting employees from secondhand smoke.

No one in The Hula Girls really smokes all that much, but this is about principle. Tiki is all about theming and transporting the patron to another place and time. It's about the last great tiki bar creating a timewarp sensation by allowing smoking. 

If you don't know what makes the Tiki Ti so special, the quick of it is this; Ray Buhen was one of the original "Don the Beachcomber" bartenders and cocktail creators in the 1930s. He worked at "The Dresden" and "Luau" in the '40s and '50s, and opened the Tiki Ti on Sunset Blvd in 1961. His son and grandsons run the place now. It is thee TRUE lineage to the proper recipes of Don the Beachcomber. You can't find a better Polynesian cocktail in southern California.

The legendary Ray Buhen

Regular patron, Adrian Eustaquio, enjoying a cigar outside the Tiki Ti
This might have been the last bar in Los Angeles to allow smoking inside. And what a more appropriate venue for that kind of thing than the Tiki Ti? While the Buhen's probably don't think of their bar as a novelty 'retro' bar, it indeliberately kind of is. The building is largely unchanged since 1961, the cocktails were born in the period from the 1930s to the '60s, and most of the interior decor is true vintage tiki (with a bunch of other ephemera thrown in as well).

So what if MadMen, because of today's heightened political correctness, didn't show cigarette smoking on the show? It would have been a totally different feeling show. Not true to the era that it was representing.

That is what smoking adds to the Tiki Ti. It feels like an exotic place in Los Angeles. Damon's doesn't feel like that, either does The Tonga Hut or that poor shell of a Trader Vics at the Hilton. The smoke adds age and a different angle to the Tiki Ti. Now I know that you can rebut me about them playing music that isn't absolutley correct to the theming, or not all of the decor being 'era appropriate', but for some reason, that stuff is easier to look past. Perhaps it's because of the history and the quality of cocktails that they serve... The whole of the experience there is what makes the Tiki Ti so special. Can't there be ONE last bar in LA that allows patrons to smoke if they like?

Spike, with one of Adrian's cigars

The mysterious smokey fog of the Tiki Ti

Saturday is being called 'Great Smokeout' by Mike Buhen. So pack up your pipes, cigars, cigarettes, hookahs, and whatever else you can smoke out of and head to the Tiki Ti on Saturday! 
It's truly the end of an era. 

Mike Sr at the smokey Tiki Ti

Our three-stop tour: Part 3

After Laughlin and Palm Springs, we had a couple of days off... Then, it was time to hit the gravel and head out to play a private show in another casino... This time, in Lake Tahoe! 

This show called for Miss Neva Moore and Miss Judy Luck to dance with us. Here they are, in my (Spike) home bar, The Breezeway, having a quick bite before heading out. 

Ah, the Harris Ranch, along the long, long, straight, stretch of freeway called the 5.

Lake Tahoe is an eight hour drive from Costa Mesa, CA. The girls made the most of the drive though. 

As we arrived into Tahoe, we were greeted with some amazing midcentury stuff, including this neon 'Stardust Lodge' sign!

My 'breeze block' obsession was satisfied by this wall which belonged to the Lake Tahoe Taj Mahal??

Harrah's, and the group who hired us, really took good care of the band, giving us big deluxe rooms. Each one was designed with TWO separate full bathrooms! This is the kind of touring that we can get used to!

The next morning really showed us how beautiful Tahoe is!

At soundcheck, we were greeted with one of the most amazing entrances to a show that we had ever seen. 

Both sides of the walkway into our venue had posters of vintage tiki bar advertising... It really was thee best themed and designed show that we have ever played.

The promoter 'redesigned' Harrah's historic ballroom into the Lava Lounge!

Upon entering the venue, we were greeted with an 8' smoke spewing volcano on the left side of the stage...

...and a chopped 1929 Ford Model A with a stone moai behind it, on the right!

Another moai, out in the crowd... This place looked better than a LOT of tiki bars that I've been to.

Here are the boys, dialing Christians bass in...

Doug vs the volcano...

The stage hands are busy with decorating while Shorty loosens up on the steel guitar.

Another view, looking out into the crowed, from behind the volcano. Tiki event promoters, take note. This was AMAZING.

Seriously... Amazing....

Here we are at soundcheck...

To say that 'everyone who is anyone' had played this stage would be grossly underselling the place. Opened in 1959, the absolute greatest entertainers in America have graced this stage. These two big posters highlight the golden era of Harrah's entertainment.

Everyone from Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Bobby Darrin, Ann Margret,  Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, among other legends, have played here! The last name that I saw, before we went on stage was a little known band from LA in the '50s called The Lancers. We performed one of their songs that night! A jumper called, 'Rock Around the Island'!

Photos of Mr Harrah with his star friends lined the luxurious backstage hallways. I was most excited by the photo of Herb Alpert (of Tijuana Brass fame). He's the snappy dresser on the right.

One last meal before showtime. What a buffet at Harrah's! It was all shrimp and prime rib for the band. You can see Shorty showing off his shellfish right there... Neva looks like she's feeding Judy... Doug's all business.

A quick shower and change and we were at home in the greenroom. Thinking too hard about the legends who had sat in that room was unnerving. The room was gorgeous with vintage paneled walls and marbled mirror ceilings.

What got me though, was the original pink and grey bathroom in our dressing room! Wow!

Dig that tile!!

...Meanwhile, in the girl's dressing room.......this was going on... Whatever 'this' is.

Then it was time to rock the Lava Lounge!

Unfortunelty, the only live shot of us from the show is this one that I took of Doug while he was in the middle of a drum solo. The show went great though! A very polite dining crowd during the first set, and crazy dancing during the second set!

Shorty and Neva

The girls, looking to climb the volcano...

...and with the big 'stone' moai.

The view from backstage

Because I know you're waiting for it... more, of the girls

The whole group, after the show...

That's when Shorty said that he'd see us later... and sped off in the hotrod.

When we caught back up with him at the Hard Rock Casino... Celebrating leopard jackets and a certain 'Cat' band.

During this trip, we also learned of BB's passing. It was a solemn moment coming across one of BB's Luceilles and a stage jacket of his. He was truly an American treasure.

In happier news, it turns out that Buddy Holly was quite the leatherworker! He hand made these moccasins...
Neva enjoyed them.

I tell you one thing... I loooove me some Elvis. The girls HAD to go pose for this for me. Elvis' karate jacket thing.
Super cool...

Speaking of American treasure... (that's a reference back to my BB King caption. I know it was a couple of pictures back) I swear, Christian has to be the luckiest bastard that I know... After a night of losing a TON of money while gambling, he jumped right back up after the show!

The girls weren't very impressed though. The gambling bored them. Once we were finished trying to take down the mighty Hard Rock Casino, we all hung out in the bar there till about 3am, watching and making fun of '90s music videos. Good times with our group!

The next morning, we packed it all up and hit the road for home... Where the girls had to stop to take this picture at Andersen's Split Pea Soup.

It was a super fun three show trip. With our band having as many members as we have, it's hard for us to go get on the road very often. Sure is fun when we make it work though. I'm very lucky to have a band made up of such amazing and fun people.

If you want us to come, drive out to you, start telling your local clubs or promoters! No telling what we'll be able to make work! Hope you dug the tour photos.
I'm ready to go back on the road! Aloha!