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.


What evil marketing genius okay’s the release of a greatest hits type compilation album but leaves off the one truly phenomenal hit from that group? The dude from Wand records, that’s who!


To be fair, it is the Kingsmen 15 Great Hits, so I guess, linguistically speaking, they are within their rights to withhold Louie Louie.

Lucky for me I have the fantastic Louie Louie compilation so I’m covered!


One side note about this Great Hits compilation is the back cover release notes were written by none other than Don Steele; famous Los Angeles afternoon DJ who got his start right here in little old Spokane Washington!


Thanks For Keeping Me Alive

19 years ago one of the most fantastic stories in rock and roll unfolded. An amazing artist who had faded Into obscurity 25 years earlier was reborn, live on stage, in front of thousands of adoring fans.

His name is Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, and his story is documented in the film Searching for Sugar Man.


The Cliff Notes is this: unbelievably talented singer-songwriter (in my eyes a mix of Bob Dylan, Jose Feliciano, and Batman) gets picked up out of a Detroit dive bar by a heavy hitter record producer to make an album. The album bowls everybody over critically, but fails to chart commercially.

The artist fades into obscurity.

Meanwhile, an American coed transports this obscure album to apartheid South Africa. The album is shared amongst friends and many bootleg tapes are produced. This bootleg becomes a phenomenon and is picked up by several reputable record companies that service South Africa and is mass-produced, selling hundreds of thousands of copies to this small and oppressed Nation.

Rumors abound that the obscure artist went out in some blaze of glory; self-immolation, blowing his brains out, massive drug overdose… all while on stage in front of uncaring and undeserving audience members.

Some years later, and after apartheid has disintegrated, fans and local journalists seek the truth. Following obscure lyrical references and vague Cold Fact, they stumble upon the truth: Rodriguez is alive and kicking!

He dropped out of the music business because reality is a strong motivator. He raised three daughters while working at construction and demolition, hard labor.

Informed by the investigators of his cult like status in South Africa, he is convinced to perform several live concerts in that country for his long adoring fans.

Those concerts held in early March 1998.

If you own a copy of RodriguezCold Fact, it is a rare bird and worth several hundred dollars. If you don’t own it, it has been re-released and can be had for a $20 bill. You should all go out and buy this interesting record and watch the documentary Searching for Sugar Man that tells the story in depth.


So Long 2016. You Suck.


I’m sure this picture needs an update by now. 2016 saw the passing of too many wonderfully talented, admired and beloved people and too few scoundrels. In fact, it seems like the scoundrels outnumber the rest of us these days.

Happy New Year to you. May you have a scoundrel free 2017!


Ticket To Ride

Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles final ticketed live performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.


Although it doesn’t seem like it was predestined to be the end, the trials and tribulations of their 1966 tour took such a toll that the group decided unanimously to stop “the madness”.

Although there are bootlegs out there of the Candlestick Park concert, the only live Beatles have is the 1977 release the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. Selections off of this album were recorded in August 64 and August 65 at the iconic Amphitheater.

I have two copies of this album, both received as gifts.

My first copy was given to me by my friend Tiny (who is actually and above average size human being). My best friend in high school, Tiny and I went to Hawaii as two 18 year olds on a post High School fling before my enlistment in the Air Force. Less than 12 hours after arriving in Honolulu my appendix ruptured and I spent whole vacation in the hospital. Tiny was on his own until my parents arrived to take care of me and keep him company. He managed to find a used record store somewhere in town and got me this copy of at the Hollywood Bowl to try and lift my spirits.


The second copy was given to me by my friend Chris. His father, Bill, was a music aficionado and had a great record collection. Several years after Bill died in a tragic accident, Chris inherited his father’s record collection and, in a stunning act of generosity I still can’t get over, turned them over to me! Bill’s copy is an oddball pressing from Uruguay.


So tonight I’m going to kick back and listen to both copies of The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ll remember the kindness of friends and think about how lucky all those 40-some-thousand Candlestick Park attendees were to be at The Beatles final concert that night 50 years ago. They had a ticket to ride.


March 28

Well this is just sucks! 2016 has been really tough on my musical idols. Having just turned 50 myself, these things are hitting way to close home. Rest in peace master Hicks. http://www.danhicks.net/

Mark's 365 Days of Vinyl

I first heard Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks on an episode of Austin City Limits in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s:

This encounter led me to the Mills Brothers, The Andrews Sisters and, especially important, to Django Reinhardt. Suddenly that hokey old music seemed cool… and Hicks’ dry humor delivery only made it more appealing.

I got a chance to see the reunited Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks in the beautifully restored Grand Theater in Ellsworth, Maine in around 2007… two things about that show stand out; #1 he did a version of the standard “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”:

“Missed the toilet last night

Peed all over the floor

Cleaned it up with my toothbrush

Don’t Brush my teeth much anymore”

Which had me rolling and I still serenade towards my unappreciative wife and;

#2 we were from a small town 200 miles north of…

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