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Artist of the day: Stolen Idols

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Stolen Idols play exotica — smooth lounge jazz with earthy percussion, inspired by tropical locales and composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Live, tiki torches often line the stage and the guys wear Hawaiian or guayabera shirts while bird sounds coo through the PA.

"Exotica is a precursor to world beat," says pianist Drew Farmer, "but it’s not location-centric. It’s the soundtrack to an impressionistic fantasy land of palm trees and dark women, as seen through the bleary eyes of a G.I. who drank one too many mai tais."

Stolen Idols will play from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Saturday's WMNF Tropical Heatwave. Admission is $8 for the Orpheum, $30 in advance for all venues, or $35 for all venues day of show.

Click here to listen to an mp3 of Stolen Idols' The Kyoto Protocol. And after the jump, check out Julie Garisto's full interview with Stolen Idols...

American Idols: Drew Farmer, piano; Ivan Ftorek, percussion; Kent Oldfield, vibes, marimba and percussion; Bob Strickland, acoustic bass; and Jeff Browder, percussion. Farmer formed the band and is a longtime vet of the Tampa music scene. He played with the Immediates, Robert Wegman’s band and the Boston band AstroSlut with wife Laura Taylor.

That seductive sound: Stolen Idols play exotica — smooth lounge jazz with earthy percussion, inspired by tropical locales and composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Live, tiki torches often line the stage and the guys wear Hawaiian or guayabera shirts while bird sounds coo through the PA. "Exotica is a precursor to world beat," Farmer says, "but it’s not location-centric. It’s the soundtrack to an impressionistic fantasy land of palm trees and dark women, as seen through the bleary eyes of a G.I. who drank one too many mai tais."

The gods must be happy: "I started to get the band together two years ago. It started to gel with the right people a year ago," Farmer said. “This is the only musical group I formed successfully through ads. Bob and Jeff knew each other previously. It was the right people who play the right instruments and the right personalities." Farmer looked up at his tiki mantle. “The gods were smiling on us — it’s a Craigslist miracle!"

Picking up the tiki torch: "I’d been into exotica a couple decades now, but it was being in Florida, in the tropical climate, with the palm trees and setting up the living room with the tikis that put me in the mood," Farmer said. "The thing that bummed me out was we would go out and hear about these places with tiki bars, and I would just imagine there’d be a Martin Denny sort of group, and instead it would always be a drunk guy singing Jimmy Buffett covers. I was thinking, this is Florida, and we have to have an exotica group. I thought one would pop up automatically and none did, so I just decided that I had to do it."

High caliber lineup: "Everyone has a diverse background and they’re all good jazz players," Farmer said. "Kent is a great improviser and soloist. ... Bob has broad musical knowledge. He’s been playing upright bass for three years and I’m amazed that he’s so good in such a short amount of time. I’m totally blown away by both of Ivan and Jeff. They’re very solid, into world percussion. With a Latin beat and two percussionists, one tends to keep a steady and the other does something else off the other one. Ivan and Jeff are very intuitive with that."

Exotic distinction: Farmer claims that Stolen Idols is one of three recorded and strictly exotica acts actively playing and recording — the other two are Waitiki of Boston and Don Tiki of Hawaii. "We’re the only exotica band that doesn’t have 'tiki’ in the name!"

Originals and covers: Farmer composed the tunes The Kyoto Protocol, On Tonga Shores, Sao Paulo ’64 and Okavango. "There’s a ballad, Moonlight in Vermont, that we cover," he said. "A lot of jazz musicians and vocalists have done it. I only figured out very recently after knowing the song a long time that the lyrics are written in haiku. So I thought it’d be interesting to do stylized Japanese take on the song."

Hear ‚Äôem: From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at WMNF Tropical Heatwave. Admission is $8 for the Orpheum, $30 in advance for all venues, or $35 for all venues day of show. wmnf.org/heatwave. On June 12, Stolen Idols play Hukilau 2009, an annual internationally renowned tiki event in Fort Lauderdale.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photo by Michael Martz of M-Squared Studios.

[Last modified: Friday, May 15, 2009 7:00am]

    

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