Leche De Tigre is the Big Island’s self-described Latin-gypsy-funk band. Hawaii Public Radio said they offer “a potent music brew,” and their repertoire features an abundant collection of original tunes, covers, and traditional songs.
Their name translates to tiger’s milk. In culinary circles, “Leche De Tigre” is the substance that occurs after you combine several ingredients that have magically fused into a new singularity of flavor. In their case, they’ve assembled an acoustic steel string guitar, drums, bass, congas, bongos, trumpet and vocals that had one critic raving, “[they]will have you hankering for a second serving.”
The Kona-based band is more than a local favorite — they’ve played gigs from Berkeley to Burning Man. On Friday, November 2 at 7 PM, they’ll be at the Mike Luce Studio (inside the Kahilu Theatre) for a post-Halloween concert. As they gear up for that show, I had a chance to ask Dan Brauer, the band’s vocalist and acoustic guitar player, a few questions.
Tell me how the band originated
The band originated as the brain child of “Ceviche” Dave Weaver. After deciding he was ready to learn to play guitar, an informal music jam session began to be a regular occurrence at his ceviche bar on Thursday nights. We were brought together by our common interest in learning traditional Latin music and sharing originals, rock and folk songs on acoustic guitar.
What inspired you to make music together?
It was a pied piper scenario. We all met by showing up to the live jam sessions at Ceviche Dave’s [a former Kona restaurant]. After several weeks we realized we had enough material to perform together, and one of our first performances was in Kohala at the Blue Dragon.
How did you pick Leche de Tigre for the band’s name?
Leche de Tigre is a component of ceviche. The name is a throwback to the band’s origins. The name was originally thrown out during conversation on a Thursday night in 2009, and we kept it. We might have also liked that it represented savory elements as well as being known as a hangover cure and aphrodisiac in Peru.
Who are some of your musical icons/influences?
The band samples from a variety of influences. Originally, we got together to learn traditional Spanish style folk songs. In coming together as a group, we have identified and pulled inspiration from artists such as Rodrigo y Gabriella, Esquivel, Pink Martini, Astrud Gilberto, and Jimi Hendrix.
Could you briefly describe the band’s music-making process?
We generally start with a melody or chord structure idea. Once we collaborate we look for ways to add dynamics with drum breaks, and solos which are a combination of the melodic theme and improvisation.
Tell me about your studio album Lactophilia
We recorded our debut album Lactophilia in 2010 with the original members of the band. The sound of the album has a lot of upbeat elements that inspire people to be active and dance.
What are you currently working on?
Currently we are working exploring more opportunities to showcase our live performances. We enjoyed taking a recent excursion to Haines in Alaska to perform several times during the annual Southeast Alaska State Fair. In addition, during our rehearsals we have been working toward more structure to the songs as we usually begin them as more of a free-form jam.
What can folks expect at your Mike Luce Studio concert at the Kahilu?
Our shows are always offer an opportunity for people to express themselves on the dance floor. We always love seeing when people get the chance to interact with the music during a live performance.
If You Go
What: Leche de Tigre in concert
When: Friday, November 2 at 7pm
Where: Kahilu Theatre
Information: Tickets can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org, (808) 885-6868 or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela.
For more info on Leche de Tigre, visit: http://www.lechedetigremusic.com
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Leche de Tigre.