“Every show is different folks.”
That’s from Jeff Alan Ross, Al Jardine’s musical director last night at RAM’s Head On Stage in Annapolis. It was a nice cozy atmosphere, plenty of storytelling, some warmhearted, friendly, amiable banter and some stellar music.
Al, Matt and Jeff did a great job showcasing The Beach Boys musical beginnings and evolution. While Al spun his tales, Matt added a few his own accounts, and Jeff enlivened the evening with his “perspectives” .
It was remarkable to hear such a broad range of Beach Boys music replicated so realistically with just the three of them. All three are highly respectable vocalists. Al played his larger-than-self standup bass and guitar, Jeff played guitar and keyboards and Matt handled percussion. Matt even doubled as a Tannerin on Good Vibrations!
There were a few video clips to watch, too. Al, Matt, and Jeff walked on to a short clip of the “3701 West 119th Street, Hawthorne, California: The Surfin’ Rehearsal” track from the Hawthorne CA album (if I recognized that correctly) and seamlessly picked up finishing the song in person.
Here’s how the night’s set went:
Surfin’ Rehearsal Clip
3. Surfin’ Safari
Monkey’s Uncle Clip
4. Surfer Girl
5. Don’t Worry Baby
6. California Girls
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. Good Vibrations
Vegetables Back Story Clip
10. Vegetables/Mama Says
11. Santa Ana Winds
12. Surfs Up
13. California Saga
Glen Campbell Feature Clip
14. A Postcard from California
15. In My Room
16. Surfin’ USA
17. Help Me Rhonda
Some memorable moments:
Matt related how it was “weird” and yet special and fun to have a beach boy Dad when growing up. He painted a picture of a big family, growing up with Carnie and Wendy, Jonah and Justin, Christian and Hayleigh, road crews that were like “crazy uncles”, and backing band members he knew for 20 years. He recalls Dennis saying “I love when you guys come out on the road. It just makes it fresh and we love seeing kids running around back stage.”
Before launching into The Beach Boy’s version of “Sloop John B” Al related some history behind the Bahamian folk song. Then they played a first verse sample of the song in the Weavers style before launching into The Beach Boys version. I kind of felt it was more Kingston Trio style, but it was cool nonetheless.
Matt really pulled off some great vocals with “Don’t Worry Baby”, “God Only Knows”, and “Surfs Up” (a real surprise tonight). Jeff’s quote after GOK: “In this day and age you will never hear it sung better than that man.”
..When asked what his father thought about his mom lending the group a full month of her salary to rent instruments when they were starting out, Al said his father never mentioned it until 20 years later when he sent Al a cassette of his favorite Beach Boy songs…and Al was quite thrilled with that.. Seems his dad didn’t have much time to listen to the radio back then.
..There’s a funny back story on “Vegetables”. Al says he missed that session when Brian brought in a truckload of vegetables to the recording studio. ’Nuff said. I suggest you see the show for the rest of the story. Hearing the “Mama Says” chant was charming.
On “A Postcard from California”, Matt did Glen Campbell proud singing with an “Arkansas twang kind of thing” on the second verse…Al’s description.
..Best quip of the evening: While plugging his guitar back in after returning to the stage for the encore Al remarked that they used to have wireless guitars and he didn’t know what happened to them. Jeff: “Not on this tour! I don’t know where you think you are but this is not Brian Wilson.” Matt to Jeff: “It’s been really nice working together”.
All told, it was a really fine show and one that you should see if you can. And if what Jeff says is true, the next one will be different…undoubtedly with some other stories and memorable moments. Go for the good vibrations! There were plenty last night.