Springtime here at Vinyl 365 central means it’s time for us creatures to venture into the Great Outdoors, turning face towards the warm sun, shaking off the winter doldrums and dreaming of relaxing in tropical pools while sipping Mai Tais.

In reality, we’re just sitting on the deck enjoying a beer. But, a soundtrack is still in order!

Yesterday was the birthday of band leader Martin Denny who, as a disciple of Les Baxter and teacher of Arthur Lyman, created a music fad known as Exotica.

Denny, in residence at Waikiki’s Shell Room, drew on his Latin beat experiences of touring in South America and merged his current Polynesian surroundings to create this genre. The 1957 album Exotica may have been a one-off were it not for Hawaii joining the United States and fueling the culture of all things Tiki.


Denny at the height of Exotica


Denny in the early 1990s. 

To add to the fantasy, more than a dozen of Denny’s Exotica releases featured cover model Sandy Warner, who became known as The Exotica Girl.


My Sandra Warner collection

Collecting these albums has been a real Joy! Most are readily available at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets and are reasonably priced enough that upgrades and giveaways won’t break the bank.

So let’s all raise an umbrella drink toast to mr. Martin Denny and stare into the eyes of Sandy Warner as we escape into the depths of Exotica.