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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Best-Of SG101 »

Permalink 10th Annual Surf Guitar 101 Convention, August 4-6,2017, (flyer added)

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Give me another few days, I hope to write up something about the convention. I'm still insanely busy since coming back. I don't know how Jeff does it but after every convention I feel it was the best one yet, each in their own amazing ways. This one was no exception. Holy crap it was awesome.

Site dude - S3 Agent #202
Need help with the site? SG101 FAQ - Send me a private message - Email me

"It starts... when it begins" -- Ralf Kilauea

Thank you Brian


Was kinda hoping for some more reviews.
I met some lurkers that came for the first time this year.


+/- Two weeks later, I’m still riding the annual “SG101 Convention high”. It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite Convention from among the 10 that we’ve celebrated, but # 10 ranks right up there. Nice job, Jeff! You are amazing, sir!

Before I get started, I want to briefly say a word about the one thing missing this year: John Koontz, aka “Tuck”. John was not just a “super-fan” traveling from Coast to Coast to see & document the bands that he loved. He was one of the finest human beings that many of us have ever known. John’s sudden passing was a shock, and a major blow to all who knew him. I loved the guy, and always looked forward to seeing him. His absence this year really took me aback. My rational mind knew that he was gone, yet my subconscious would, from time to time, cause me to look around for John. Weird! A lot of people I talked to had the same reaction. During one of Saturday's between-set breaks, Jeff, and Chris Fesker, aka “Sonic Chris” paid tribute to John. Chris’s wonderful story of the mixed up song titles, ("Kuk" vs. "Banzai Pipeline" {?}) was an amusing and touching remembrance. RIP John.

For me, the Convention started the weekend before.

Friday July 28- Longboard Margarita Bar, Pacifica, Ca.
The Kilaueas arrived, jet-lagged and minus luggage, after the gruelingly long flight from Germany. Stellar openers Frankie & the Pool Boys rocked the crowd with rousing set of old, and brand new songs from their upcoming album. Fritz Greenbaum aka Fritz Cat, filled in admirably for missing guitarist Jono Jones, who was out of town. It was Fritz’s 2nd show, and he was great, as was the entire band. Then the Kilaueas blew the roof off the place. New drummer Perzy was terrific, and Ralf, Tom & Jacque were rock-solid, as always. Jet-lag be damned! Ferenc joined them for an Astronauts song on their encore. Kudos to Jeff and Emilio for making it up from SoCal for the show. It was a well attended show, at a nice, new (for me) venue.

Saturday July 29- The Kilaueas live Pit Stop on KFJC, Los Altos, CA.
Our surf brothers from Germany rocked the airwaves with their live set, and a short Astronauts tribute with Ferenc joining them. Awesome!

Sunday July 30- The Ritz, San Jose
Almost a mini-convention, the show at the Ritz featured five excellent surf bands, and was well attended at a major (large club) venue. Kudos to Josh and Jonpaul for driving up from SoCal, just for this show. Aloha Screwdriver and played their usual highly entertaining set. Fascinating Creatures of the Deep get better every time that I see them. I like that they create and play a lot of really good originals. Stretch is a terrific drummer, and I like that the rhythm guitarist has shed the acoustic, and played electric. The TomorrowMen, as always, rocked the house. Words don’t do them justice. The Kilaueas were next up, and there was a slight delay while some fat sumo dude, waddled up to the stage. They tore-it up! Great performance. “Tremolo Gear Butt” was a highlight of this (and every) show. Slacktone came on last, and delivered the goods, as only Slacktone can. They played over an hour and a half of transcendent music. It’s always great when Sam is on board, as he was for this show. A great way to wrap up the NorCal pre-convention weekend!

Unfortunately, I had to miss the Atomic Mosquitos show at Forbidden Island on Thursday Aug 4, in Alameda, and the SoCal pre-convention shows. Word is that the shows were all great.

Friday, August 4th, Alpine Village
After a long drive from NorCal, I made it just in time for the Surf Rockers Tribute to Dick Dale. These guys left a lot of us with our jaws on the floor. One of the high-lights of the convention for me. The Outerwave played their always tasty and authentic set of traditional surf to perfection. Par Avion made a lot of new fans at this show. They were a lot of fun, and very good. Bernard Yin was practically bouncing off the walls- the happiest guy in the place (among a large group of VERY happy people.) The Tequila Worms came out as a 3-piece band, and turned in their usual high-energy set. Something that I’ve always hoped to see was an all instrumental set by the Volcanics I almost got my wish, but that dang BTD Wink arm-twisted them into doing a vocal tune (“Oo-Poo-Pa-Doop”)for an encore. Great set by a great band. The Insect Surfers closed the show in fine fashion. The Insects played an other-worldly, exotic, psychedelic set of old and new tunes. Art that has you tappin’ your feet, and smiling! As good as it gets for me. Things wrapped up around 1am. Friday night’s show was well attended, and a lot of people stayed until the end. And in the blink of an eye, it was time for….

to be continued……


Last edited: Aug 21, 2017 22:24:33

That's Awesome Bob, thank you,
Look forward to the rest.


Saturday August 5th, Alpine Village:

Weak-kneed and bleary eyed from Friday night’s reverb onslaught, I arrived at Alpine Village, pumped, for Saturday’s 12 hour Marathon! Having arrived a little early, I got to talk to some of the vendors and bands and they set up their merch tables. It was fun reconnecting with old friends with whom I didn’t have the opportunity to chat on Friday night.

Come noon, things started off with the Mystery Men? from Atlanta. They performed a really tight set of surf at the more progressive end of the spectrum. They previewed excellent new material from the upcoming new album. Their guitar harmonies always kill me. The 3-guitar lineup (Jamie, Chad & Richard) gave them a nice full sound. Next up, from the DC area, were the Atomic Mosquitos, who rocked the house. I hadn’t seen them with their theremin player, and it was a unique tweak to their sound. It was now time for the “Legends” portion of the show. First up was the tribute to the recently deceased Jim Fuller, and his band the Surfaris by Paul Johnson, John Blair, Matt Quilter and friends. They played an incredible set, the likes of which you won’t see outside of this Convention. Next up were the original Lively Ones, playing their last show together. They still had it, more than 50 years after they were among the pre-eminent bands of the 1st wave. It was an honor & privilege to have seen their last show. Drummer Tim Fitzpatrick gave a touching speech about his retirement, and move away from the area. Tim then played his last gig, ever (I hope it ends up not being true), with the Dynotones. The Dynotones played their, as always, excellent set of surf, hot rod and fuzz instrumentals. Bob Dalley (of the Surf Raiders) gave Tim some of Tim’s Lively Ones drum heads from the 60’s. Amazing! Next on-tap were the Exotics, from Wisconsin. These guys play from a diverse repertoire of surf, spy, TV-movie theme, spaghetti-western, and more. This set was no exception: tight, powerful, dynamic, and with the most excellent choreographed set of stage moves this side of the Shadows. Wow! The Kilaueas, from Germany, were next, and proceeded to blow everybody away with an incredible set of amazing, mostly original (maybe all original) tunes like nobody else’s. Ralf Kilauea started out in his Sumo suit for a few songs. How can anybody play like that, at all, let alone play with the talent and precision of a master? The humor, power, feeling, and dynamics of this band is astonishing. Bravo! After a very short break, the Kilaueas came back with special guest Ferenc Dobronyi (and a little later, Danny Snyder), and did a short set paying tribute to the Astronauts. The 3-guitar assault was majestic and powerful. I particular liked the synchronized hair-combing-back move of Ralf and Ferenc. Hilarious! Ferenc left. Danny came out, and did the Astronauts proud, and then Ferenc came back for a 4 guitar assault, on “Surf Party”. After that, they had to scrape a bunch of us off the floor. The all-powerful Madeira, from the Midwest, were up next. What can I say? They were beyond amazing, and, as always, they peeled the paint clear off the walls. Astonishing! The El Caminos, from Japan, followed, and I’ve never see a happier group of people. Each of them had a huge ear-to-ear grin for their entire, terrific set. From their “Japanese-Mexican” drummer, Paco Taro, to their incredible bass player, Aki, to the awesome guitarists, Ko and Eddie, this band delivered the goods. Venturesmania then came out, and after a good-natured exchange, with Deke and Jeff ribbing each other, they proceeded to blow-the doors down, with the most accurate early Ventures sound, since the early Ventures. Throw in the guitar geek banter, and you have a very entertaining set; certainly a crowd favorite. Last up, and certainly worth the 11 hour wait (and more), were the fabulous Huntington Cads. This was a real treat for me, as I had never seen them live. They were everything that I expected, and more. Words can’t convey the phenomenal set that they played. We stumbled out of Alpine Village after midnight, ready for more reverb in a few short hours.

(to be continued)


Sunday August 6th- Surf Dawgs Bar and Grill, Huntington Beach

Not yet comatose, I still practically had to crawl into Surf Dawgs for day 3 of the Convention, on Sunday. I ordered some delicious fish tacos, and was ready for more face-melting!

The SG101 Members Jam is always a treat. I’m always amazing at how well the tunes turn out with little or no practice, and often, no familiarity among the players. Everybody did an amazing job. And Don Schott did a great job running the jam.

At 1 pm, the Exotics took the stage, and took no prisoners. They played a fantastic set that, if even possible, seemed to be more powerful, and tight than Saturday’s awesome set. A lot of people, stuck in traffic, were bummed to have missed the Exotics, among them a certain individual who called Jeff, begging him to stall the proceedings, until he, or she, could get there. Unfortunately for those stuck in traffic, the show must go on, and Jeff had to keep the show rolling. The El Caminos were up next, and rocked the house. They are all so good, but Aki’s powerful bass playing just slays me. We were to be treated to a “mellow” set by the Madeira, and although it was less intense than Saturday’s show, my face is still recovering from the face-melting inflicted by the Madeira’s “mellow” set. Amazing performance by a great band. The Atomic Mosquitos came up next, and tore-it-up. The Mystery Men then followed with another phenomenal set of other-worldly surf. The Kilaueas then proceeded to blow us away with another tremendous set, minus the fat Sumo dude. Things wrapped up with the Super-Extra-Special-Secret All-Star Band, aka the Blair-Pongracic Band (John Blair- Ivan Pongracic- Dane Carter- and the one-and-only Jonpal Balak on bass). The joy and power with which these guys played was unparalleled. Seeing superstars at the level of John and Ivan thrilled to be playing rhythm behind the other on lead, was a joy to see. These guys all had fun, they clearly enjoyed playing with each other, they seriously rocked, and they blew the roof off of the place! Their set was a good as any set, all weekend. By the way, Dane Carter, and Jonpaul Balak are BEASTS!!! Phenomenal!!! What a way to wrap up the SG101 Sunday!

Surf Dawg’s had never had such a well-attended event. It’s a nice venue with great food, who is sympathetic to surf music. It feels good to support venues like Surf Dawg’s and Alpine Village. For a lot of us, this was it. Had to say our goodbyes, and bail, always a sad thing, but less painful, knowing that we’ll be reuniting the tribe again in the not-too-distant future.

A few general observations:

Quote of the Convention- One woman talking to another woman, on Saturday: “It’s not YOU, honey! These guys don’t dance. You have to understand that this is a room full of guitar geeks. They’re totally unaware of anything but guitars and amps. In an event like this, you’re invisible. There’s nothing wrong with you!” The woman in distress appeared to feel a bit better, after being told the harsh reality of guitar geeks and reverb junkies.

Biggest moment for me personally- Paul Johnson saying to me. “Hey… Nice beard!” Classic!

It’s always nice to see the major raffle wins go to SG101 members and the truly nice people, like Chris (Gomez tank), Josh (Jazzmaster) , Terry (Sidejack), and Danny (Surfy Bear???Quilter block???). Forgive me if i forgot anybody. These prizes could not have gone to nicer people, and more supportive members of t SG101, and surf community, in general.Yay!

I loved having the Friday night show at Alpine Village, instead of club gigs all over SoCal. It was a good crowd, and I would think that tit would merit doing again.

Ditto on Surf Dawg’s for Sunday’s show. If there isn’t a pier show, it’s a no brainer. Having alternate sets from the convention is a wonderful idea!

Alpine Village is a GREAT venue, but I have one complaint. The way they served the food, this year, frankly sucked. Luke-warm food, limited selection, same choices both days. I would hope that this can be improved upon next year. I’m thrilled to support any venue that supports surf, but I’d like to get at least half-decent food. My 2 cents….

A huge shout-out to Jeff for pulling this magnificent event together, this year, and every year. I know that a ton of time, effort, and hard work go into pulling this off. You are amazing, and we all owe you a huge debt! Words can’t adequately express our gratitude, but Thank You!!!

Thanks to the bands, many who travelled from great distances, at great expense. It means a lot to have you here for our convention and surrounding shows. What a thrill it is to see tremendous bands from far away play multiple sets, often with varying set lists.

May thanks to Quilter Labs, Dusty and especially to Ran, for so generously providing the back-line for these shows. Ran, what you do is nothing short of amazing. Loading in and out, all that super heavy gear, driving it to and from the events, maintaining the amps. Thank you!

Thanks to Emileo, Tena, Jonpaul, Marie, and everybody who chips in to help Jeff out with all of the various things that need to be done. It is noticed, and greatly appreciated. To those I’ve forgotten, I apologize. Thanks to the many generous sponsors, and vendors who help to make this happen. I try to support them all, if and when I can.

Thanks to the many SG101 members who travelled from near and far, often at great expense, to support this fantastic event, and surrounding shows. It was great meeting so many new faces, and reconnecting so many familiar faces. Too many names to mention here. And thanks to the many active members of SG101 who couldn't make it this year. You were missed, but we know that you were here, in spirit.

Thanks to Brian for founding the SG101 forum on Yahoo, set-up and maintained the current website to which the Yahoo Forum was moved. Without you, this fabulous tribe of reverb-junkies and guitar geeks, would never have had the wherewithal to become such a tight-knit group, capable of supporting this great convention, and so many other events and happenings.


Last edited: Aug 22, 2017 22:12:16

the secret to the food is next door at the german grocery store

Great writeups Bob! THANK YOU! And great seeing you again.

Site dude - S3 Agent #202
Need help with the site? SG101 FAQ - Send me a private message - Email me

"It starts... when it begins" -- Ralf Kilauea

Thanks for review Bob,
Note taken about food,
I wasn't happy about it either.


Nice write-ups, Bob. It was truly a tremendous event. I traveled down from Lake Tahoe and questioned my sanity driving down, but was happy with the decision while driving home. I hope to return in future years.

The Sun Rays -- The Sierra's Surf Band

Hey Ric,
Thanks for coming,
My friend Doug from Reno has been to all of the Conventions.
Maybe next year you guys can carpool.


Yes, I met Doug there and found him to be a very nice guy. I hope to see more of him at my band's performances and other music events in the Reno area.

Thanks again to you, Jeff, for your efforts in organizing the weekend. There were obviously a lot of irons in the fire for this event and you orchestrated it magnificently.

The Sun Rays -- The Sierra's Surf Band

Ric, I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet you. So many people, so little time. I'm really glad you made it, and that you met Doug. He's an animal! Doug regularly comes to the Bay Area and SoCal for shows. If your band comes over to play the Bay Area, I'll be there. Or maybe I can coordinate a trip up to Tahoe around one of your shows. If not, hopefully I'll meet you at the next Convention. It's guaranteed to be epic!


Last edited: Aug 21, 2017 22:32:48

Brian wrote:

Great writeups Bob! THANK YOU! And great seeing you again.

Thanks, Brian! It was great seeing you, too. Wish we'd had more time to talk. Every year, I'm more blown away that the little seed that you planted has turned into this Reverb Juggernaut! Amazing!


Last edited: Aug 21, 2017 22:36:24

I had hoped more people would have come to the meet n greet at Alpine village on Friday from 4-8. Not so many came.
Let alone those who skipped the Friday night show.
That upset me a great deal. Sigh


Thanks for the awesome review Bob and the kind words!
One comment about the Blair-Pongracic band, I may be wrong, but I believe Jonpaul is the original bass player of the project, with Jeremy playing in the subsequent tours.

I wish more of you would have been able to see the blistering performances of The Kilaueas and The El Caminos a week later at Tiki Oasis, especially at the room party.


bigtikidude wrote:

I had hoped more people would have come to the meet n greet at Alpine village on Friday from 4-8. Not so many came.

I agree, Jeff. I arrived at 6 pm, and was very surprised at the sparse turnout, particularly considering how much you had promoted the "meet and greet".

i enjoyed the meet and greet but probably tended to gravitate towards people i already knew.

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