After getting almost two inches of slush and a coating of ice, I find myself longing for some tropical beach somewhere so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this island tune has been on heavy rotation of late. Though Paul Page spent much of his career performing and recording music dedicated to the island life, he was born in landlocked Indiana and got his career in radio in Juneau, Alaska. Despite these decidedly un-tropical roots, Page always had an interest in Polynesian music and hosted the first Hawaiian themed TV show in 1949.
Though the show didn’t air for long, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Don the Beachcomber’s “tiki bar” became a trendy hangout for Hollywood stars around the same time Trader Vic’s was popularizing tropical drinks like the Mai Tai in San Francisco. Page became a popular performer of Hawaiian and Polynesian music at the many tiki-themed restaurants and bars that opened in California while also writing and recording songs like Castaway. He often worked with one of the masters of the Hawaiian steel guitar sound Bernie Kaai Lewis, a Hawaiian native, who he described in an interview with WFMU as “the best steel guitarist in the business.”