Joined: Oct 14, 2002
From: Jawja Province, Isle of North America
|Posted: 2005-10-11 12:22 pm  Permalink|
I want to share my first Hukilau memory with you - but first I have to provide a little background.
My home tiki room contains a vintage stereo system, which can be seen in the photo below.
I also have a large LP collection in my basement, and I will bring up and rotate a small number of exotica LPs to play on this stereo. Most of these LPs are mediocre and some are so bad that I will play them only once before discarding, but for the most part I generally prefer the ambience of the vintage sound that the records provide. A few of my favorite LPs (i.e. Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, etc.) will be kept near the turntable in case friends come to visit, but the majority are kept alphabetized in shelves in the basement.
Before this year's Hukilau, I went to the basement to retrieve a few of my Yma Sumac covers for her to sign - I also checked under my exotica section under 'D' to see if I owned any Robert Drasnin LPs. I thought that I might perhaps have his 'Voodoo' LP filed there, but there was nothing there. I debated about buying a CD copy of Voodoo before the trip, so I could familiarize myself with the music, but decided to wait.
Advance to Hukilau - Friday afternoon when the bazaar doors open. I make it to the table where Jeff Central is selling the Gecko/Drasnin Voodoo mugs, and I notice that sitting on the table is a small stack of a LP titled 'Percussion Exotique.' I immediately recognize the cover graphics, as it is one of the few treasured LPs that I own and keep next to my tiki room stereo. For unknown reasons, I never really paid any attention to who the LP artist was. It is only then that I learn that 'Percussion Exotique' is a re-released version of Drasnin's 'Voodoo' LP, with a different cover graphic. I had been listening to Drasnin's Voodoo for years, and didn't even know it!
Advance to Friday evening, as Robert Drasnin and his assembled orchestra are about to start playing. A brief introduction is made, and then Drasnin starts conducting the first song -- and my heart melts with recognition. I know this song!! I am familiar with this song!! Those notes have emerged from my tiki room stereo speakers dozens of times, and I am now hearing them being played live, with the actual composer there in front of me. I wasn't quite prepared for this - I knew exotic music would be performed by this orchestra, but I didn't expect that I would be so familiar with most all of the music. It was truly one of the most emotional live musical performances that I have experienced.
Understand that for most of his musical career, Robert Drasnin was either a supporting musician for somebody else's band, or a composer for television and movie orchestras who rarely had the opportunity to perform in front of a live audiences. The audience during the entire performance was very quiet, very respectful
Here are a few pictures from that Drasnin performance, starting with one that shows Tiki Central's Formikahini singing
A closeup of Robert Drasnin playing
And here he is, nearly 45 years after composing the original Voodoo composition, finally receiving a well deserved standing ovation for his work.
A wider shot - James Teitelbaum is standing in the shadows under the bright light (to the left of the man in white), and Tiki Kiliki is in the white dress. To the right of Tiki Kiliki, with hands raised in the air, is Hanford. The leftmost musician in the image, with the dreadlocks (if you zoomed in you would see a BIG smile) is Robert Drasnin's 18 year old grandson, who flew in from Washington state to play percussion for this concert.
I heard it mentioned several times that Robert Drasnin considered this moment to be one of the definite highlights of his life.
Hukilau memories don't get much better than this.