By Athena Mekis
Special to the Signal Tribune
The Puka Bar is proud to be the only tiki bar in Long Beach located on the west side of town. The walls are covered in bamboo and the area is decorated with hand-carved tiki totem poles and other tikiana. The beer taps resemble wooden tiki men. It’s all as tasteful as the island drinks they serve. Generally, people between the ages of 21 and 35 frequent the bar, but some shows draw an older crowd. DJs are an important part of the Puka Bar’s ambiance because those are the guys who mix in the moment.
• Mondays (9 p.m. to 1 a.m.): The Long Beach Musicians League gives an opportunity for locals to practice while conquering the small–crowd venue. Ken Huntington, the sound guy, manages the show and all bands must schedule with him before their jam session. It is an excellent way to listen to music that is being produced in the Long Beach area.
• Tuesdays (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.): Apparitions of The Past’s DJs spin music that caters to the crowd. They play garage-soul from the 1960s, all the way up to new wave. They enjoy the clean, quiet, well-lit atmosphere, which allows people to talk to each other and occasionally hula-hoop.
• Wednesdays (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.): DJs Scotty B. and Chuck throw in a twist to their DJ skills. They have started a new routine, bringing in a featured guest to sing live R&B while they spin. One guest, Demo, conveys neo soul, but the vibe is mainly reggae, soul and funk.
• Thursdays (9 p.m. to 1 a.m.): Starlight Entertainment presents karaoke with Sammy. They carry a large selection of music for a gregarious audience. The place is packed with groups of people eager to sing. Each person usually does a few songs, but every night brings a different crowd and the music ranges from country, rock, electric and rap.
• Fridays (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.): A different line-up of bands plays weekly. Crowd intensity depends on the band’s following. Cover charge is $5 however, starting in October, the Puka Bar will discontinue Friday live music and will only have DJs.
• Saturdays (9 p.m. to 1 a.m.): Live music will always be the main attraction on Saturdays. DJs complement the music being played, and there is a $5 cover charge. Danny Dean and The Homewreckers play swing-rock regularly, and the high notes played on the guitar are reminiscent of the sounds of the ukulele, which fits perfectly into the seaside atmosphere.
• Sundays (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.): The Lock Brothers play a Pro Blues Jam. There is a sign-up sheet for those who want to showcase their talent. Walk-ins are welcome. The leader and drummer Lenny Gee can accommodate any sound that a proficient musician is looking for. It is a great opportunity for solo musicians to adjust and challenge themselves to performing with professionals.
Stop in to listen to your favorite tunes, or hear some new ones. Puka Bar is located at 710 West Willow Street. Hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. For more info, call (562) 997-6896 or visit myspace.com/pukabar.