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.