Aida Palmer, spirit medium. Sign outside the Gris-Gris Club speakeasy (BITTER SPIRITS, Roaring Twenties Book 1)

Tambuku Tiki Lounge Drink Menu

Tambuku Tiki Lounge Drink Menu (ARCADIA BELL series)


Arcadia Bell series


BITTER SPIRITS online promo (early 2014, multiple links)

Guest Post: When I’m Not Writing (2013)

SUMMONING THE NIGHT online promo (2012, multiple links)

KINDLING THE MOON online promo (2011,multiple links)

RT Author Spotlight interview (2011, in which I misspelled Philip Pullman’s name)

Five by Five: Five books that inspired me (2012)

Authors Asking Authors interview (2013)



Preliminary sketches for trading cards, March 2012:

Artwork © 2011-12 Jenn Bennett


Click on the banner below to browse Arcadia Bell-inspired jewelry on Cemetery Cat’s etsy store:


Ambient background music heard inside Central California’s favorite Earthbound-friendly Tiki bar. Click on the Tambuku logo below to go to playlist on iTunes.

Artwork © 2011 Jenn Bennett

(1)   “Tambuku” – Robert Drasnin

This, obviously, is the song that inspired the name of the Tiki bar. Drasnin’s sole album, Voodoo!, was long one of the most sought-after of all exotica albums until its ’96 CD reissue. Its late-in-life success spurred Drasnin to record a follow-up, Voodoo 2, in 2007.

(2)   “Quiet Village” – Martin Denny

Martin Denny: the king of Exotica. And this is his signature tune. Composed by Les Baxter, Denny’s 1957 arrangement was an enormous success and marked the beginning of the exotica trend.

(3)   “Moon Child” – The Ventures

Not exotica per se, the Ventures’ instrumental rock provided the basis for what would become Surf Rock. This album, The Ventures in Space, epitomizes the otherworldliness of their sound. And the song choice? It just made sense.

(4)   “Morticia’s Theme” – Vic Mizzy

You might think that the soundtrack to the TV series The Addams Family wouldn’t be a go-to choice for exotica, but you’d be wrong, as this song proves. The album is chock full of swinging songs with just a hint of the macabre.

(5)   “King Kong” – Tarantula Ghoul and her Gravediggers

Such a fun song. Tarantula Ghoul was a horror TV hostess in Portland in the 1950s. No footage of her program survives. Only a few scattered pictures and one 45 RPM single, of which this is the A-side. The flip side, “Graveyard Rock” is also a blast!

(6)   “Mucha Muchacha” – Esquivel

Exotica is nothing if not encompassing of foreign cultures, and here we take a Latin-esque trip with Esquivel. His music is always light-hearted and full of humor and is always sure to liven up any gathering.

(7)   “Moon Madness” – Pasquale & the Lunar-Tiks

If Martin Denny’s orchestra simulated bird calls to evoke his “Quiet Village,” Pasquale’s Lunar-Tiks turn that concept up to 11. A percussion-heavy track and a rowdy bunch of birds and animals turns frighteningly psychedelic about halfway through once the reverb and echo kick in.

(8)   “The 4th Dimension” – The Ventures

Keen-eared listeners might recognize this song as the instrumental basis for The Cramps’ classic “Don’t Eat Stuff off the Sidewalk” from their album Psychedelic Jungle (which itself would serve as a great soundtrack for a night at Tambuku).

(9)   “Swamp Fire” – Martin Denny

(10) “Lust” – Bas Sheva

Bas Sheva, born Bernice Kanefsky, provides stunning lead vocals over Les Baxter’s simmering arrangments on this cut from the album Passions.

(11) “Voodoo Dreams/Voodoo” – Les Baxter

(12) “Estrellita” – Esquivel

Once again, Esquivel stretches the limits of stereophonic sound. Listen to this on headphones and hear this cool number take on a new life as it ricochets around your head.

(13) “Satan Takes a Holiday” – Jack Malmsten

Virtuoso organist Jack Malmsten takes this Tommy Dorsey hit into the realm of the exotic.

(14) “Xtabay (Lure of the Unknown Love)” – Yma Sumac

The mysterious Yma Sumac, the Peruvian vocalist, wielded a five-octave range that could call forth images of exotic locales even without lyrics. At times she comes close to sounding as much like a theremin as a human could possibly sound.

(15) “Misirlou” – Korla Pandit

You might recognize this song as Dick Dale’s opening theme to Pulp Fiction, but it has long been a standard for exotica artists. And few were more exotic than Korla Pandit—the turbaned, mysterious maestro of the keyboards—who would take to the TV airwaves of Los Angeles and San Francisco to stare dreamily into the camera as he performed “the universal language of music.”

(16) “Bom Bom/Mood Tattooed” – Les Baxter

(17) “Hypnotique” – Martin Denny

(18) “Teach Me, Tiger” – April Stevens

This song caused a bit of an uproar back in ’59 because of its suggestiveness. April Stevens’ whispering vocals have resulted in the song being frequently misattributed to Marilyn Monroe.

(19) “Out of Limits” – The Ventures

One more from the Ventures, who out-Twilight Zone their own cover of the Twilight Zone theme with this twisty classic.

(20) “Moon Mist” – The Out-Islanders

The great arranger and conductor Billy May collaborated with jazz bandleader Charlie Barnet on a now-classic album of exotica, Polynesian Fantasy, as The Out-Islanders. The soothing, wordless lead vocals from Marni Nixon provide a perfect closing as Cady announces Last Call. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay at Tambuku Tiki Lounge. She’s got important things to take care of.

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