Wow, 14 pages of comments!!!!! That one took a while to dig through!!
I got back from SoCal late on Thursday night, after spending Tuesday and Wednesday in San Diego with my wife. It's been an exhausting and exhilirating - and absolutely unforgettable - week. I don't think there's much that I can add to all the comments, and I could probably write a book about everything that happened. But I do want to say a few things.
First, huge thanks to Ryan (Ruhar) of the Secret Samurai. He went way above and beyond the call of duty to help us (and me) out all weekend, and I couldn't be more grateful. Starting with meeting us at 5 pm last Friday to provide their practice space, to working like crazy to secure another venue for the SD show when the original one fell through only weeks before the show, to driving me down to San Diego on Monday from the studio where we shot the Sound of the Surf doc near Huntington Beach. Ryan, it was amazing to meet you, and thanks for everything (inluding writing such nice things about us in this and another thread)! The man actually celebrated his birthday on Sunday, too! Talk about a full weekend! BTW, it was a trip to see the Secret Samurai live twice, what a talented band - and I think the world of Ryan as a guitarist and songwriter! He's REALLY good! Here's to much more stuff to come from the Secret Samurai!
Second, in a weekend where every day had at least a dozen moments that could pass for a highlight on even extraordinary days, one absolutely stands out for me: Eddie Bertrand playing with the Eliminators during the convention. The five songs they played (Toes on the Nose, Mr. Rebel, And the Angels Sing, Lanky Bones, Scratch) were simply astonishing, hitting the peak for me with Lanky Bones, during which I was actually moved to tears by joy. I was standing right in front of the stage, getting the full impact of the incredible array of vintage Fender and Gomez amps (BTW, I believe Eddie used the Surfer amp the entire evening, though he had his El Sonido there - but I am pretty sure he didn't use the two together). Eddie's tone was simply to die for, sooooo FAT, just over the break-up line where his touch determined how overdriven it would sound. That Jag is rather remarkable, too, probably the fattest sounding Jag I've ever heard. Anyway, that was a moment that I will never forget. Life defining and affirming.
Probably the most remarkable - and unexpected - thing that happened to me the last weekend was the close friendship that Eddie and I developed. I'm still blown away by the sound of that, just typing it!!! We spoke for almost a couple of hours on Saturday, during the convention, after the convention, before and after the Madeira set, it just went on and on. And then again, he kindly showed up for our documentary taping, and I tell you, he was looking over us like a loving brother or a father, really watching out for our best interests and giving me helpful hints throughout the taping (the use of baby powder to alleviate the sweaty, 'sticky' hands syndrome was something I will take with me for a long time). I hooked him up with all the Madeira and one Cossacks CD on Saturday, and he was full of praise on Monday, even during our formal interview for the doc - in fact, leaving a message on my cell phone on Thursday that he's got a new favorite band - us!!! Am I bragging? Ummm, wouldn't YOU??!?!?! Holy s#$*!! I'm really blown away. I remember reading a Guitar Player story back in '86 on the South Bay Surf Reunion where Dan Forte described Eddie as the true star of the day, and then hearing Squad Car around '90 or so and being completely blown away. Listening to the AVI E&tS CD over and over again as soon as it came out, and thinking this is just the best, such incredible surf music. Wow. Eddie, if you're reading this, you are truly a prince - thank you very much for all your kind works and actions!! I hope to see you again next month - I REALLY look forward to it!
Just as big of a thrill was also chatting and getting to know Paul Johnson. I met him briefly in '00 during the Rendezvous Ballroom reunion show which the Cossacks played. But I had a chance to talk to him at much more length on Sunday and Monday, and Paul is truly the nicest man in all of surf music. And probably among the most talented. We exchanged a bunch of CDs, and I've been listening to his Liquid Blues and the studio Duo-Tones CDs over and over again for the last few days. It reminded me what an amazing musician and songwriter Paul truly is, and inspired me to go back and revisit all his sixties recordings, of course the Belairs, but also the stuff he did with PJ & Artie, PJ & the Galaxies and the Good Guys. I'll start another thread on that very soon, when I get a chance, but think about this: this guy wrote two of the most defining surf songs, went on to write another two dozen AMAZING instrumentals in the sixties, developed a highly unique and widely imitated rhythm guitar style and then developed a completely recognizable and personal lead guitar style and tone that allows a trained ear to spot his playing a mile away. Who does ALL THAT??? The two newer albums I mentioned above completely live up to his sixties standards, too, being chock-full of amazing music. Well, like I said, more in another thread. (Incidentally, the first memory I have of surf music is a long, in-depth interview Dan Forte AKA Teisco Del Ray did with Paul in an '85 Guitar Player issue, which I still have. What a trip to get to just chat with the man!)
(See what I mean about writing a book?? Damn, I've gotta discipline myself!)
I keep thinking of the Madeira---I mean, I know lots of bands were there and playing awesomely, BUT.... are they like the Iron Men of surf bands, or what?? They fly in, rehearse--hit the stage in San Diego, up the coast for two consecutive days of shows--then finish with a special taping, and by all accounts, never letting up on the energy. Inspiring dedication.
Thanks, websurfer!! I tell you, it was hard, especially since we were driving to and from Temecula all but one day. BUT, it was such a good time that none of us minded at all!! Seeing so many old friends and meeting a few new ones made the time just fly. AND seeing so many amazing bands, wow. Playing WITH Pollo Del Mar every day, both in terms of sharing a bill but also me getting up on stage for Magyara - how many times in one's life can one do that?? I really wanted to take full advantage of everything, which was very hard, given that there were so many people to talk to while bands were playing. It was at once a frustrating struggle and a blissful vision of a better world! It helped that I think the Madeira played better this entire weekend then ever before. We were all very happy with our performances, and when that happens you can enjoy everything else so much more.
OK, few highlights:
Friday: The Secret Samurai kicking total ass and Ryan just flying up and down the fretboard; seeing Brian, Danny Snyder and Ferenc again - it's been two years since last I saw Danny and I can honestly say I missed him - it was simply inspirational to see him plant himself right in front of us with a huge smile and give off a vibe of "YES! YOU CAN DO EVEN BETTER! GO FOR IT!" Brian is becoming like an old friend now, and it's ALWAYS a joy to spend some time with him. I've also worked with Ferenc on several occasions now, and I always relish seeing him again - one of the greatest supporters of surf music ever and truly wonderful human being! Danny was absolutely amazing with Pollo all weekend, and I wasn't surprised one bit, he's an incredibly talented guitarist and we will be hearing a lot more from him (where's that Tomorrowmen full-length, Danny??? Come on!). And Pollo is my hands-down favorite progressive surf band, and they sounded fantastic all three days, it was just a joy to watch and listen. Thanks so much for inviting me to play a song with you, that was such a blast! Oh, and I shouldn't forget talking with Ran of the Sand Devils, Clint Beachwood, as well as meeting Tom Duncan, the Sound of the Surf director/producer. Such joy talking with you all!
Saturday: Yeah, right!! Just a few highlights from THAT entire day?? OK, the drum-off between Dusty and Jeff Utterback was mind-blowing. They did Sandy Nelson's "Let There Be Drums" and "Wipe Out" with Matt Quilter of the Reventlos and the Surftones and Marty Tippens on guitar. I didn't think it could possibly be that good. Then Slacktone got up and pinned me back to the wall as they do everytime I see them. Wow, wow, wow. The Eliminators without Eddie were incredible, too, but they've been among my favorites since '94 or '95, whenever it was the Planet Surf comp came out. Eddie and Paul playing Squad Car was pretty special, too. The Secret Samurai played their hearts out, as did the Detonators later that evening, both bands definitely connecting with me in a great way!
I ended up chatting with so many friends (Baja Marty, Doug Paulen AKA Stormtiger, Jamie Murray, Warren Binder AKA Captain Springfield, JR, of course Eddie at length, Brian Chidester, Linda Miller of HBISM, Eddie Katcher, Ben AKA Wooza, John Blair, Tim Ferrill AKA HBKahuna, Trode, many others) and must admit to missing most of the other bands, which was a real shame, as I could hear Outerwave and the Aquasonics in particular tearing it up on stage. I did get to see at least a couple of songs by each, and that just made me more me frustrated! Arrrrggghhhh!! I'm afraid I missed a big chunk of the Insect Surfers, too, as I was again talking with people and then doing an interview with Danny. Dammit. I did get to see bunch of different jam sessions, and that was a blast, especially to see people up there who don't perform often or ever, or people playing with legends! I totally agree about Mar Gaya being pretty amazing, with Ran, Danny, Ghastly Norm, and John Paul rocking it out in a very righteous way! And what a trip to play Diamond Head and Taco Wagon with Danny, Jeff Utterback and DP and Jeff on bass - they all did a phenomenal job, and I love all the photos with everybody smiling - that says it all!
Overall, I think Jeff did an amazing job with this whole thing, and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude. As I told him, he's gone from being a perpetual critic to a creator - he did something that means a lot to many people, and he's made history. Let's hope there's a lot more of that from Jeff!! Thanks, buddy!! Great to see you again, too!!!
I was worried that there would be nobody left for the evening portion of the festivities, as people would have experienced serious burnout, but thank God, quite a few stuck around. Thank you all that did!! We REALLY appreciate it!!
Sunday: a simply perfect day. We got there around 11:30 am, and had some trouble figuring out the parking situation, so as a result missed most of the Surf Rockers set, which bummed me out after seeing a few songs - EIGHT players on stage, fully doing the DD & the Del-Tones circa '62 look and sound, and just nailing it. Missed most of the Aquasonics again (AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!) due to incompetent and slow service at the closest restaurant we could find (I'm really, really sorry guys, it wasn't intentional). PDM kicked serious ass, the Relix were a lot of fun, and the Surftones nailed the sixties Beach Boys sound better than anyone I ever heard - I was VERY impressed! Perfect surrounding, a great crowd, and again so many people to chat with, including Paul Johnson, John Blair, Brian Neal, Jeff Hanson, Danny Snyder, Ben Wooza, Trode, Sarah, etc. We all went to Kona (sp?) Tiki restaurant afterwards and hung out there for a few hours, which was a blast. Really, a perfect day, what else can I say. We actually SOLD OUT of the Carpe Noctem CDs at this show - all gone. We couldn't believe it. (BTW, special thanks for Matt Quilter of the Reventlos and the Surftones for lending us his awesome gear, including TWO brownface Dual Showmans - what a sound!!!! I want one!!!)
Monday: a day of taping for the Sound of the Surf documentary, in a rehearsal studio outside of Huntington Beach (Fountain Valley?). A fully professional production, and we were very impressed by the whole thing. Tom Duncan, John Blair, Tim Ferril are doing a phenomenal job judging by everything I've seen. We're incredibly honored and excited to be a part of this, though I tell you - it was hard. We taped 7-8 songs, and were taping almost straight for over 4 hours. Being under a microscope and under hot lights for that long was not the most fun. Having to visually perform (or at least TRY) as well as make sure you're playing all the parts correctly while being captured by hi-def cameras and a fully professional audio recording, well, it's pretty exhausting. It was really nice to have Eddie B., Paul Johnson, Brian Neal and Ryan Ruiz there for moral support - besides of course Tom, John and Tim, who were simply great, very professional, and going out of their way to be helpful (John brought EIGHT of his Showman heads as well as four reverb units and three Dual Showman cabs for us to use!!!!). We finished up with an interview with Eddie, Paul, John and all four of us which was a blast, and the only fault of which was that it was cut off just as we really got into it!! A truly special day, and one I will never forget. I was able to catch a few songs by the Surfaris, but since my wife had been waiting for me in San Diego for a day and a half at that point, I had to leave - again, quite a bummer, since the Surfaris were sounding soooo good, with Paul just flying all over the guitar in his highly melodic and inimitable style. And both Eddie and Paul were full of stories of the old days, as well as what's to come next (Eddie even playing us a bunch of his new songs on my unplugged Strat in the green room - they're seriously GOOOD!!). That was hard to leave, but the time had come.
there you go, my way-too-long report on an incredible weekend that I feel priveleged to have been part of. Very sorry if I overlooked anyone - I'll probably remember in half an hour!! So great to see everybody. It's truly a big family at this point, and I greatly look forward to seeing you all again.
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube
Last edited: Aug 09, 2008 18:19:26