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.

Tiki Terrace – Des Plaines, IL

Outside Tiki Terrace

During our trip to Chicago, we set aside a day for a pre-birthday tiki blitz/get blitzed—three bars in one day. We started off at Tiki Terrace in the neighboring north suburb of Des Plaines. Even with the trusty GPS, it was really hard to find since it’s in a giant strip mall and partially hidden from view by a Blockbuster. Ahh, suburbia.


The unassuming exterior is deceiving, as the inside is pretty freaking cool. These two giant Moai tikis flank the stage where dancers perform Polynesian shows on the weekends during dinner, hence all the lights and speakers.


We came for lunch on a weekday, so it was pretty quiet, all the better for me to go around taking photos without annoying too many people.


And what better way to start the day than with a cocktail! This lovely libation was a Mango-colada, a blend of “mango rum, fresh mango nectar and mango liqueur.” So tasty, it was almost like a fruit smoothie.


The menu featured lots of Hawaiian favorites, like a Spam burger, Maui onion soup, and, of course, loco moco! Mr. Baseball had a non-Spam burger and I ordered the kalua pork with the classic plate-lunch accompaniments of rice and macaroni salad. A side of barbecue sauce added forty cents to the bill, but it was necessary since sadly the pork was kind of dry.


As part of my birthday present, Mr. Baseball offered to get me a tiki mug at each of our stops, so our server set up all their Dynasty mugs at the bar for me to browse. I wish they’d had mugs specifically made for Tiki Terrace, but one did catch my eye. Can you guess which one I chose?


All in all, I really liked Tiki Terrace and would definitely come back again. I can’t imagine what it must be like to step in to this tropical oasis from a snowy Chicago winter. Brrr!

Tiki Terrace
1591 Lee St.
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Tiki Terrace on Urbanspoon