Say “Aloha” to the Chicago-based band Tiki Cowboys

Tiki Cowboys
Until recently, the only connection I knew of between “tiki” and “cowboys” was a famous little tune called “Hawaiian Cowboy.” (I remember it from “The Muppet Show,” but according to legend it was composed off the cuff by Solomon K. Bright in 1936.) In further researching these seemingly unrelated subjects, I also discovered that Hawaii’s history of cattle wrangling actually goes back before the heyday of the Wild West in America. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of introducing Eric “Baron” Behrenfeld’s band: the Tiki Cowboys.

He sent me a copy of his 2009 debut EP “A Taste of Tiki,” on which Baron was a one-man band, supplying vocals, ukulele and percussion. Of the four original songs, the first track “Tiki Lady” is my favorite. It’s upbeat and fun and has some suggestive lyrics (ooh la la!). “My Little Song” takes on the country music trope that goes something like “my dog died, my wife left and she took my truck.” “Slap, Clap & Tickle” is a syncopated instrumental while “Feel So Good” brings in some elements of surf music.

Their logo tiki, a cowboy hat-wearing carving with its tongue hanging out, appears on swag like stickers and even a coconut-scented car air freshener. (Available on the Tiki Cowboys web site if you’re so inclined.)

Sharp eyes might recognize the setting in that first photo as the Tiki Terrace in Des Plaines, which is where Baron and the other musicians that make up the Tiki Cowboys perform live every third Thursday from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Later this year we should also be able to look for a full-length album with more of their “Beach Blues and Tiki-Twang” sound.

For more information, check out the Tiki Cowboys Facebook page.


7 responses

  1. There’s a 1974 James Garner movie called ‘Castaway Cowboy’ and it’s about being a cowboy in Hawaii. It was filmed entirely on Kauai. I’ve never seen, as a matter of fact, I read about it for the first time today.

  2. A big Mahalo to you Tiki Chick for the review! Just LOVE your blog by the way!!!! I honestly thought I made up the character of the “TIki Cowboy”, but I later found out that there really are cowboys in Hawaii called the Paniolo. It’s a real mystery-of-history that has little press. I was thrilled to learn about them and their unique style of ranching, and of course their music. Apparently Hawaiian beef is some of the finest in the world. There are a few books and a couple DVD documentaries about the Hawaiian Cowboys you can find on Also check out the music of Ernie Cruz, Sr. and Sonny Chillingworth. Many bands from Hawaii cover Country music and spin it Hawaiian style, check out the Ka’au Crater Boys too. Even traditional Hawaiian music features pedal steel which is a signature sound of Country music. And, mainland cowboys from back in the day used to carry ukuleles along with them for singing ’round the campfire. Their relatively inexpensive price and convenient small size was perfect for travel in their saddle bags on the open range……



  3. Neat blog, just to fill out the discussion, I am a paniolo musician in the sense that I come from and live in Waimea which is the epi-center of Hawaiian cowboy culture and my music is influenced by the unique blend of Hawaiian and country found here, you can check out my website for more, keep up the awesome blog!

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