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Jim Messina and His Jesters: "Dragsters"

Jim Messina and His Jesters: "Dragsters"
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101, June 25, 2004)

The original Jesters LP was released sometime in '64 and was credited to "Jim Messina and his Jesters" (notice the copy of "Dick Dale and HIS Del-tones") and it was called The Dragsters. This is the LP that was reissued on CD on the semi-legit Euro label Surf in the '90s. It's great stuff, 14 songs, 11 of them written my Messina. The covers are: an uptempo version of the Breeze and I, and surf-guitar-led versions of fifties instro hits Honky Tonk and Raunchy. Messina's guitar work is truly exceptional, sounding like DD's flashier doppleganger, with a lot of nimble fingerwork full of fast hammer-ons and pull-offs, and not as much double-picking as you may expect. (I only recently started noticing how Dick-Dale-ish Messina's playing was. Listen to "The Thing" - it's a total rip-off of DD's "Surfing Drums" - which of course was a Bo Diddley rip-off itself! - and the licks he's playing are completely DD. Messina also uses the pickup position #4 (neck and middle pickups) a LOT, which is also something that DD pioneered in surf music.)

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

StratoGeezer Joins SurfGuitar 101!

Fellow instrumental surfaholics - StratoGeezer has joined the ranks of Surfguitar101! We found out about this site from our new friend John McCorvey (formerly of the X-Rays, now the Surge).

We are an instrumental surf trio out of the Atlanta, GA area - and play primarily in our attic/studio - where we record tons of wacky videos - primarily covers of surf classics. We are also starting to play out more this spring.

Check us out and send us your band's link - we'll put it up on our website if you'd like us to!

Thanks! Rob - StratoGeezer

Interview with Randy Holden of The Fender IV

Here is a repost of the Randy Holden interview we had on the original SG101 site.

Randy Holden was the lead guitar player for the short lived and somewhat obscure mid-sixties surf band "The Fender IV." However, if you were lucky enough to find their music, you were in for a special treat. Randy's playing was powerful and ferocious, with an intensity and mastery that rivaled Dick Dale. The Fender IV's mission was to play loud, clean, and fast, ensuring that no one could follow them on stage. They influenced a number of 3rd wave surf bands as witnessed by the numerous covers of genre defining songs like Mar Gaya, Malibu Run, and the barn burning Everybody Up!

Randy later went on to other bands and notably played and recorded one album with Blue Cheer. He left music for many years and became a skilled artist. He has recently returned to making music. Visit his website and check out samples of his music and artwork. Luckily for us, he has released a CD containing most of the Fender IV's recorded output, including some songs that were never released at the time.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Update on Rob Woolsey of The Detonators

Rob Woolsey, guitar player with The Detonators was recently involved in a car accident. The Detonators contributed a fine track (Liquid Chaos) to our 2005 MP3 compilation. Rob recently posted an update on his condition to the Cowabunga Yahoo Group. I am reprinting it here. Please join me in wishing Rob a very speedy recovery!

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

The Defiant Ones: Super Secret Disaster

The Defiant Ones: Super Secret Disaster (2006)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

The only reaction a person can have to this CD: Holy Crap! This is absolutely insane, completely over-the-top music. It's a side-project between two of the Balboas, Rich (lead guitar) and Caitlin (bass in the Balboas and baritone guitar here), and Dusty and Sam (Slacktone, Agent Orange, Jon & the Nightriders, Dick Dale, etc., etc., etc.). It's a mix of California hard-core punk and surf, and it's definitely UNIQUE. It's grungy as hell, and it ain't pretty in any way shape or form, but damn, it rocks like a mutha!

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

SG101 Video Clips Resurface on YouTube

A very popular fixture on the old SG101 site were the various video clips that my wife shot. I took these videos down when we turned on the new format, as the videos were eating my monthly bandwidth.

I have created an account (surfguitar101) on, and have begun the process of uploading the videos there. It's gonna take me a little while to get them all uploaded, so please be patient. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope they will receive a wider audience at YouTube.

SG101 Videos on

PS Here is a tip for would-be YouTube uploaders. I got the best results with my Quicktime files by first converting them to mpeg-4 (.mp4) before uploading them to YouTube.

Quite A Party! 24 Great Instrumental Bands Play the Fireballs

Quite A Party! 24 Great Instrumental Bands Play the Fireballs (Ace Records, UK, 2005)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

Here we have a tribute album that's been a long time in the coming. The Fireballs were a New Mexico band that got their start in '58 (pre-Ventures) and ended up becoming a major influence on both the Ventures as well as the nascent surf genre (especially the Belairs and the South Bay sound) with their early instrumentals which went beyond Duane Eddy and relied much more on the Fender sound. They also introduced a heavy dose of Mexicana to their tunes, which clearly has also had a big influence on surf music. And their lead guitar player George Tomsco penned some of the classic instrumental tunes, such as Bulldog, Torquay and Quite a Party.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Wild Sammy & the Royaltones: Speed Crazy

Wild Sammy & the Royaltones: Speed Crazy (One Million Dollar Records, Germany)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

This is the same band as the Royal Fingers, about whom there was some discussion here recently. So, a Japanese trio with a girl bass player. I first heard their song Echo Rocket 66 on the Continental zine compilation and thought it was really great, so I bought their Del Fi album 'Wild Eleki Deluxe' – and hated it. I put the CD away and forgot about it, until people started talking about it on SG101, at which point I pulled it out again and gave it another spin. Strangely enough, I got really into it at that point, and now love the CD. 'Speed Crazy' is pretty much as good 'Wild Eleki Deluxe', though it is more lo-fi in production. Most of it is lo-fi in a way that makes it sound kinda vintage (with a lot of distortion of the rhythm section), though there are two songs (Jet GT and Pipeline, both maybe live?) that sound really bad, like they were recorded on a seventies boom box. There is slight overlap between the two CDs, with four songs being on both CDs: Wild Datsun, The L.A., Running Donkey, Echo Rocket 66. But as far as I can tell they're different performances and recordings, so it's not that big of a deal.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Richie Allen Reissues in Guitar Player

Guitar Player magazine has done it again with another nod to the surf scene! In the June 2006 issue (Zakk Wylde on the cover), in the "Rants and Raves" column, Darrin Fox gives his verdict on the two Sundazed CD reissues of Richie Allen and The Pacific Surfers "Surfer's Slide" and "The Rising Surf".

I'll let you read the piece, but I think his opinion will resonate with many of us here.

Recent surf mentions in the pages of GP have included bits on Pollo Del Mar, Slacktone, and Meshugga Beach Party. Someone please send them a Madeira CD!

The Surfaris: Hit City '64 / Fun City, USA

The Surfaris: Hit City '64 / Fun City, USA (BGO Records, UK, 2005)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

Though I already have pretty much everything by the Surfaris on their three previously released CDs, I decided to pick up this new two-fer reissue anyway, and I'm glad I did. These guys don't get much respect and don't have many champions (Satan's Pilgrims are among the very few). And for sure, they're no Eddie & the Showmen or the Lively Ones or the Astronauts, etc. But they were a good surf band that did a LOT more than Wipe Out, and all surf music fans should check them out. These two albums (their 3rd and 4th – or if you don't count their first one which was actually performed by the Challengers, their 2nd and 3rd) have a lot of great stuff on them. About half of each is vocals, mostly in the Gary Usher/Beach Boys style (with session musicians backing up drummer Ron Wilson's vocals) – and none of them quite as good as the Beach Boys, though overall not too bad. The highlights here are Wax, Board and Woodie, I Wanna Take a Trip To The Islands and Hot Rod High. (Gary Usher actually produced the first of these two albums.) There are also some garage-y vocals, with mixed results (the bad: Louie Louie, Hound Dog; the good: Go Go Go For Louie's Place). Among the instrumentals there are some covers, some of which really aren't very good (Shazam, Comin' Home Baby, Scratch) and some of which are so good that you can say the band actually made them their own (Murphy The Surfie, Hiawatha, Earthquake). The best stuff by far on this CD is the handful of the Surfaris' originals: Scatter Shield (awesome!), Dune Buggy (really cool), Big Surge, Burnin' Rubber, and Hot Rod Graveyard. This British release is part of a complete Surfaris reissue series, with two other CDs compiling the first two albums and their two seventies releases. This one comes with original sleeve notes as well as detailed and interesting liner notes by Dave Peckett of New Gandy Dancer zine, who is probably the biggest champion of the Surfaris out there. Anyway, this is a class reissue all the way and I give it a big thumbs up and highly recommend it.