ORTLEY BEACH, NJ—Dick Dale is well known for being deemed King Of The Surf Guitar. His work has been featured in prestigious films like Pulp Fiction. Recently, he has taken his act on the road across the U.S. Playing alongside his grandson, Jimmy Dale, Dick has an extreme determination to show his fans that he’s still got it. Luckily, I had snagged a pair of tickets to his show in Ortley Beach.
After a rather delicious dinner at the nearest Surf Taco, I started making my way there with no expectations. I was pretty unfamiliar with the music, which added to the excitement of seeing something new. My hair was slicked to the side, my jeans were cuffed at the bottom, I was wearing a flannel shirt, and I had a pair of knockoff Ray-Ban sunglasses on.
Extremely eager to see this dude play, I arrived to the venue on the beach a half-hour before the doors opened. Once we were allowed in, I went straight for the bar and paid the ridiculous amount of $4 for a caffeinated drink in order to stay awake, being that I hadn’t slept in days. There were much less people than I imagined—which made me skeptical—but once the two opening acts finished their sets, the room almost immediately filled with fans.
Dick Dale was announced through the dark room, just before an elderly fellow walked on stage and instantly started shredding. All I could think the entire show was, “How the fuck is he doing that?” There was no shortage of talent spewing from this man’s fingers. Jimmy Dale, Dick’s grandson, was throwing down and hitting the drums with might as legendary Agent Orange bassist, Sam Bolle, destroyed with a crunchy almost metal sounding bass tone. It was clear that these gentlemen meant business, for there was barely any space left between tracks. Noticing that Dale is a left-handed player with a right-handed guitar flipped upside down made everything all the more interesting. At one point, I looked behind me and as soon as I turned my head back, I saw Dick behind the drum kit playing with Jimmy. Still with the sticks in his hands, he then walked over to the bass player. As Bolle held his bass in the air, almost looking like an offering to the gods, Dick started hitting the strings with the drum sticks while Bolle ran his fingers along the neck. I’d never seen anything like this and knew that it was something very special.
For some reason, I didn’t expect an encore out of this show and I was correct in my assumptions. After finishing their set, the three of them bowed to the crowd and left the scene of chanting fans. I started making my way back north and felt good that I had gotten the chance to see a legend. Dick Dale is a master of his craft, a veteran of his trade, and will always hold a place in my memory as one of the most phenomenal guitar players to ever walk the face of the earth.