Surf-rock Ho-down

These mainlanders aren't going to know what hit them, Penetrators' leader Rip Thrillby says of his latest project.
Besides his time in the popular local surf-rock act, Thrillby is also internationally known as a champion of '60s culture, tiki lounges and strong, rum-based drinks. He's particularly excited, therefore, about his latest endeavor: a novelty tribute band honoring Don Ho, the Honolulu-born entertainer renowned for '60s hits such as "Tiny Bubbles" and for encouraging audiences to gulp stiff drinks with the command, "Suck 'em up!"
Calling themselves DON HOrowitz and His Happy Haoles ("haole" is Hawaiian for "mainlander"), the colorful ensemble includes Thrillby on guitar, with fellow Penetrator Sticks Stechkin on drums, Johnny Knox on lap steel, Clete Reid (Ramblers) on ukulele and Johnny Cowan (Continentals) on bass. Their backing vocalists are Alice Berry (Redneck GReece), Caroline Engel (Ramblers) and Leggy Stechkin (Moto-Litas).
"We're diligently preparing and should have about 18 to 20 songs for the show," says singer Stechkin. "We ladies are having our wardrobes specially made for the event, where we anticipate much excitement and libation."
Bassist Cowan agrees about those libations. "If you followed Don Ho's advice to the letter," he observes, "each one of his songs would result in a hangover. His music also is interesting because it champions a physical place rather than an era. Music about a snapshot in time can end up depressing in a way, because you can't go back to that day. But by promoting Hawaiian lifestyle, it's easy to keep alive the dream that someday we'll chuck it all and move to Hawaii."
Lead vocalist Laszlo Bindt, who plays the role of DON HOrowitz, agrees whole-heartedly. "I believe a Don Ho revival is an idea whose time has come," Bindt says. "But then I also believe that I have superpowers and that my cat speaks French."
DON HOrowitz and His Happy Haoles perform Fri., Dec. 8, at Trader Vic's, located in the downtown Hilton.