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Tiki Country (or Hillbilly) Music?

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Hi. Just wonderin'... Anybody out there know of any good Country Music that fits the Tiki theme?
Keep in mind... I'm in South Carolina. We think of weird stuff (such as this topic) here. We think that Rum is Second Best to a Corn Based Liquor made in a shed out back. We eat Spam (also considered quite the delicacy in Hawaii, by the way) and Grits, for Christ's Sake! At the same time... We have a Palm Tree on our Flag and YOU DON'T, so...
I've yet to find a way to blend Country Music and Tiki perfectly. Country and Cocktail (or Lounge) music is Easy. Country and Tiki is difficult. I mean... Junior Brown does a good job with "Lovely Hula Hands" and "Coconut Island", and there's some good Elvis stuff that kinda straddles both genres somewhat successfully, and Jenks "Tex" Carmen did "Hillbilly Hula" and you got your Fillipino Baby and your Fujiyama Mama, but... The choices are Few! Are Far Between! Any suggestions, anybody?

[ Edited by: Traitor Vic on 2003-02-08 01:24 ]

Hey, unfortunately, I don't have any country/Polyneisan music ideas, but ever been to the Freaky Tiki in Myrtle Beach?

We never went there because they were closed during the off season, but we wanted to. (I got offered a job by the owner to bounce there - No thanks!)

I was just wondering what it looked like inside. If the name fit.


I've heard some Hawaiian music from the 30s, 40s, and 50s that comes close to country and western music because of the heavy use of steel guitar. I think the steel guitar was brought to Hawaii by some paniolos (cowboys) on the Big Island. Also, some of Bob Wills (and other Western Swing artists) tunes had a somewhat Polynesian or Hawaiian sound. I wish I could give you titles to look for but I can't think of any. I know that Yahoo records out of California has some excellent CDs of Hawaiian popular music from the 20s-50s.


I have early 60s vinyl titled "Honolulu Honky Tonk" by Frankie Carle.... thats the closest I have to country Hawaiian music.


Jerry Byrd has a lot of Hawaiian records from the '60s, and they can be had pretty cheap. There is one from 1967 that has a celestial sun on the record cover, and is designed with photos set up in a Mondrian design, ala the Beatles SECOND ALBUM or the Beach Boys' ALL SUMMER LONG record cover. The contents remind me of what the Byrds may have sounded like if they recorded a Hawaiian LP after the SWEETHEART RODEO album. The Country-Blues-Hawaii vibe is all there. I can't speak for any of the Jerry Byrd CDs from the '80s or '90s.

There are several Country-Hawaii girl singers. I remember Michael Cord telling me about them, saying one is even available on CD. I don't remember the names, but I know this stuff does exist. That would be a great research venture. You could essentially invent a new genre. I'm always trying to find those sub-genres that have no name. At one time, Space-Age Bachelor Pad music was one of those lost genres without a name.

Very cool! I live in a town with only one halfway decent used vinyl shop, but there's a great one about 45 minutes away. I'll stick the Jerry Byrd stuff and the Frankie Carle at the top of my list. I have found that the Pedal Steel Guitar, or slide guitar in general, connects Country and Hawaiian Pop Music in a strong way. This topic, I believe, deserves more study.
The Freaky Tiki looks pretty lame, 75stingray. I can't say for sure, but I believe it's nothing but a disco with a Tiki behind the DJ booth. I would be very suprised if they even had any Tiki Mugs. They have a Wet T-shirt, a Best Butt, and a Wet Men's Briefs contest every night in the Summer Months. Eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwww. Sounds more Tacky than Tiki to me.

Vic- Yeah, thats what I thought. Bummer.
I was working undercover for a 6 month assignment about 3 years ago.
But it was during the Dec-May off season.

In fact, when I left, spring break was just starting to wind it's way down to Cherry Grove where my beachfront condo was.

The FreakyTiki was opened when we went on the strip one time, but a friend told me he thought the same thing you did. "Tacky". Plus we had a minor with us and did not want to just leave them out on the sidewalk.

I was actually surprised at the lack of anything tiki in the way of artifacts there.
One would think that with the older "golfing" crowd, there would be more artifacts to be found. Or maybe even a few tiki bars...but no. Lots of cool putt-putt places with a tiki here and there, but nothing in any thrift stores and shops.

I guess I figured it would be a mecca of finds because of the age group represented there year round. (As opposed to just spring break).

Ohwell. I'll make it back down there one of these days.

As a steel player, I MUST provide a little edification as to the origins of this sweet little instrument.

Steel guitars were originally invented and popularized in Hawaii. Legend has it that Joseph Kekuku, a Hawaiian schoolboy, discovered the sound while walking along a railroad track strumming his guitar. He picked up a bolt lying by the track and slid the metel along the strings of his guitar. Intrigued by the sound, he taught himself to play using the back of a knife blade.

Hawaiian groups were a big hit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. From there the sound of the HAWAIIAN guitar spread throughout the US. The sound of the steel guitar was picked up and incorporated into blues and country music.

The Hawaiian word for the steel guitar is Kika Kila.

(Man, now I've got a woodie for my steelie)

Someone that kinda-sorta might fit the bill is Jim Campilongo, a superb guitarist living in the San Francisco area. His music has been described as "country noir". He's a master Telelcaster picker who's got a total comand of the instrument but governs his chops-to-spare with Chet Atkins-quality restraint and taste. His CD "Table For One" in particular is super-tasty, featuring guitar-drum-bass with accordian and pedal steel. Sounds kinda like that Buckaroos doing as '40s detective flick soundtrack. Sorta.

He also gigs in New York quite regularly. I'd kill to see him live ...




[ Edited by: tweedtone on 2003-02-10 12:01 ]


Thanks to Tiki_bong for clarifying the origins of the steel guitar. It was the Spanish guitar (and variants) that was introduced to the Islands by the paniolos that came to the islands to work on the ranches in the 19th. century. I was wrong in saying that the steel guitar was introduced by the paniolos when it was in fact the Spanish guitar, that led to the slack-key style of playing which was invented in Hawaii, along with the steel guitar.

Sorry for the incorrect info.

You may want to try my radio station - Country Fried Hot Rod. I have hawaiian songs by Hank Snow, Buddy Knox, Connie Francis, Roy Rogers - etc. I have about 17 of the theme in all that play on rotation.

I am actually going to be making a cd of Hillbilly Hula songs and having them available at Hukilau 2003. You can also win one soon from Country Fried Hot Rod Trivia - a contest I'm having for my listeners and anyone else that wants to take a stab at it.

You can get to Country Fried Hot Rod via my webpage http://www.TikiKiliki.com

Yee-Haw & Aloha,

The World of Tiki Kiliki

[ Edited by: tiki_kiliki on 2003-02-10 19:10 ]

Ooooooohhhwwwwwwwweeeeeeee!!! Hot Damn! Been listenin' to Country Fried Hot Rod for a few weeks already, on and off, but I think I'll now need to devote more time and concentration to it. I guess that Swanky-Lounge station will just will just have to get by without me for a while...

Great history lesson, guys! Always good to know where stuff comes from, I say. I need to get me some more of that Slack Key stuff, too. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I've heard a good bit of it that kind of falls into a country-sounding category of it's own.

Yeah... Myrtle Beach is a bit of a bummer in that regard nowadays, Stingray. It held on to a lot of it's Nostalgic Sensibility until the early nineties (when it went through a bit of a boom). At one point there were over a hundred miniature golf courses on Ocean Boulevard, and you could buy anything that had ever been sold at the Gay Dolphin because they had so much of it that it had never sold out. Now there's even talk of moving the Pavillion Amusement Park out of downtown because of the value of the real estate.

Oooh... Amazon.com compares Jim Campilongo to Redd Volkaert, Danny Gatton, and Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West! 'Nuff sed!

[ Edited by: Traitor Vic on 2003-02-10 22:00 ]


Just found Marty Robbins Hawaii's Calling Me CD on Hepcat Records' web site. It's on Bear Family Records so you know it's good. Here's more info on Amazon.com:


It's on sale at Hepcat records this week!

Whoa! Thanks, Jab! Yep. You're right. If it's on Bear Family it's worth my money.

Jab- You say the Marty Robbins is pretty good, hu?
I passed up one at a Dayton thrift store a few weeks back because I thought, "uh..Marty Robbins...Hawaiian..." and I just could not hear it. (I have a few of the old Robbins' western ballads and such and that's what I generally think when I think Marty Robbins).
Plus, the cover was just a big blue picture of him and I choose to go with the more colorful jackets in the pile.

If you guys like it, I'll go try to pick it up, if it's still there. Can't picture anyone else in my neck 'o the woods buying it recently.

Let me know. Thanks!


I listened to the sample clips on Amazon.com and it sounded great. Plenty of that reverb in his voice that makes 60s C&W so nice. I have not bought it yet but I plan to.

Marty Robbin's 50s stuff is great - in the hillbilly/rockabilly/honky tonk vein but I tend to agree with you that some of his 60s ballads are pretty sappy.

...I have Jerry Byrd-On The Shores Of Waikiki....Great steel guitar instrumentals with just bass and /or ukelele /guitar with The Islanders singing on a few tunes.... if you like Jim Campilongo check out Duke Levine. Session guitar player that sometimes tours with Mary Chapin-Carpenter.....3 great solo instrumental cds...Nobody's Home (King Kamehameha Blues)....Country Soul Guitar...and Lava....Good stuff...Also check out Bob Brozman-Blue Hula Stomp...and with The Tau Moe Family+with Ledward Kaapana+with Cyril Pahinui....and Ry Cooder with Gabby Pahinui....lotsa geetars...

Isn't Duke Levine Fantabulous!?! I'd not thought about his "Loungeability" but it is definately there in a Humongous Way! I'm lucky enough to live in a smaller town that has two Very Great Record (CD) stores. I checked out the Hawaiian section of one of 'em today and found a great deal of Slack Key stuff that had Country sounding titles. Also checked a HUGE Country Selection only to come up emptyhanded. Ended up buying Combustible Edison and Tito and Tarantula instead, though. I'm holdin' out for the Jerry Byrd, Jim Campilongo and Marty Robbins at this point. I've got a lot of Marty but it's all his Tejas Cowboy stuff (not that theres a damn thing wrong with THAT).
Have any of the rest of you heard the recently (within the past three or four years) released Jenks "Tex" Carmen collection? I actually inherited a mint condition 45 of his "Hillbilly Hula" from my grandmother (along with some Lawrence Welk, some Floyd Cramer, and a buttload of Junior Walker and the AllStars). It's pretty trippy. Very hillbilly and including some strange yelps and hollers. I think he did some more "Hawaiian" stuff but I haven't checked it out yet.

....check out the musical stylings of The Asylum Street Spankers....stuff from the 20s & 30s, blues, etc...Christina Marrs sings and plays ukelele (Island Angel) on the Bob Brozman produced Hot Lunch, and (Pakalolo Baby) on the all drug songs Spanker Madness....Led Kaapana did a great cd with Ricky Scaggs, Alison Krauss, Bob Brozman, and great slide master Sonny Landreth called Waltz Of The Wind....For something Surf but not the typical retro-surf thing check out The Mermen-The Amazing California Health And Happiness Road Show....Instrumental surf based stuff with pedal steel guitar and the great "Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South" and my favorite hammock under the palm tree "Sway"....also a Great band to see live, sort of like Hendrix meets Dick Dale.....

I have the Hank Snow in Hawaii record. If you all have never heard Hank's versions of the classics you're truly missing something.

Buddy Knox's version of Hula Love is to be treasured as well.


Chet Atkins' Caribbean Guitar LP might be worth an investigation .

Mayan Dance

Yellow Bird

Wild Orchids

The Bandit

Jungle Dreams

The Banana Boat Song


Montego Bay

Theme From "Come September"

Moon over Miami

Come to the Mardi Gras

The Enchanted Sea



The Big Island of Hawaii has one of the biggest cattle ranches in the US on it. Hawaiian cowboys are called "Paniolos". They like country musc too, but, hey, it's Hawaiian Country Music. Paniolo music.


Plenny sh*tkickers in Hawaii.


What a 'hasbeen thread'! From 2003-02-22 9:18 pm to now. Traitor Vic, are you anywhere to be found??--missing, presumably having a good time? Glad to see it revived though. Probably no help in your search for country/exoctica/etcetera, but this link is a hoot! Cowboy Jack Patton (from NY--go figure) and quirky, exotica extrordinaire Eden Ahbez photographed together...I wonder what they were playing? (probably just posing) Eden is also tied to the country classic 'Ghost Riders In The Sky', you'll find in the link.

A paragraph from the Cowboy Jack Patton (hillbilly-music) webpage:
In 1944, he began hosting a local radio show where he met Eden Ahbez, whom Jack described as the first hippy as he was long-haired, barefoot. He was working as a dishwasher at a vegetarian restuarant that Jack frequented for its salads. In fact, Eden played piano there once a week. Jack was so impressed with Eden's talents, he became a mentor of sorts, providing financial support and business advice. He recommended that Eden take his song "Nature Boy" to Capitol records.

Try our sample of "When Johnny brings Leilani Home"
Go to....
an old song by the "Hoosier Hot Shots"


I recently found a signed Don Ho record at a yard sale for 50 cents, and it's COUNTRY! You should see the list of Nashville pickers on the credits. Only the best for Mr. Ho. Not quite country/tiki though.

Tiki Bill.

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