I recently read a quote that allegedly came from Dale himself. It simply said, “When I start playing, I’m a rollercoaster of sound. I don’t know what’s coming next, I never do, and I sit and sign and talk to the people afterwards.”
As someone who had the honor of meeting and talking to Les Paul quite a few times, this reminded me of something he would say. Like Paul, Dick Dale is a true innovator that literally feels his way through his music. A humble individual, he listens to his fans and discusses the topics ranging from performance to mowing the lawn. But from my perspective, that’s always the case. The most famous and influential artists are often the most gracious people on the planet.
But Paul is gone, and there aren’t too many iconic guitar players left in the world, let alone players that make regular visits to the Asbury Park region. Dick Dale is influential on so many different levels, and his contributions range from music to movies and electronic firsts. I say electronic firsts because he was a pioneer in the experimental use of reverberation, as well as the first to utilize his custom, 100-watt Fender amps. His signature sound was capable of producing not only a thick, lethal tone, but also volume levels that were gargantuan at the time. Even his style of playing was (and is) highly original. Dale often uses a staccato picking technique that wanders deep into Mid-Eastern scale territory, and these are a few trademark tools that put Dale at the head of a furious and full pack during the surf heyday.
Dale’s style was so inspirational that budding players such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen have cited him as the major influence that started their musical journeys. Don Wilson and Bob Bogle from The Ventures also owe Dale big thanks for kick-starting their career.
But what we most remember Dale for is his breakthrough 1960s sound, combining blistering, single line leads with imagery of West Coast surf tsunamis. Songs such as his 1961 classic “Let’s Go Trippin’” took kudos as the very first surf song ever recorded. And the hit records just kept coming. Albums such as Surfers Choice, King Of The Surf Guitar, Mr. Eliminator, Summer Surf and so many, many more have kept this guitar icon vital well into his 70s.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I remember the whip-snapping guitar maelstrom intro on “Misirlou” in Pulp Fiction, and it sent a chill up my spine. Even 32 years later, that opening guitar fury was as potent and fresh as the day it hit Deltone vinyl back in 1962. That Tarantino flick was a reintroduction of Dale to a whole nation of 20-somethings that were walking around saying, “Wow! What the hell is THAT?” And that’s always been the measure of a musician that continues to think as far outside the box as one possibly can. Hit ‘em hard and leave them wanting more.
In that sun-bleached light, Dick Dale is back with yet another live show slated to blow the sandals off every hodad in the dell. Dick Dale rolls into Asbury Park’s famed Wonder Bar tomorrow night for a surf-loaded tsunami at the city by the sea. Doors are at 7:30 p.m.
For more on Dick Dale, head over to dickdale.com. Tickets are available in advance for $21 and at the door for $25 (plus applicable surcharges). For more information on Dick Dale’s performance at the Wonder Bar, head over to thewonderbarasbury.com.
Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation – “Where Music Lives” – Reaching Out To The Next Generation
The Asbury Musical Heritage Foundation “Where Music Lives” began just over four furious years ago. The foundation was born from the simple and passionate need to preserve and promote music past, present and future. So far they have reached many areas, combining educational events with historical timeline and world famous musical legends of this rich musical state. In 2011, the Smithsonian Institution selected Asbury Park as the first host city of its traveling musical heritage exhibit, “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.” From March 11 to April 17, more than 14,000 visitors enjoyed the exhibit, including 48 class trips from area elementary and secondary schools.
As part of the celebration, their website notes that historian and author Helen-Chantal Pike produced and edited Asbury Park: Where Music Lives, an anthology of essays by local musicians expert in gospel, ragtime, jazz, folk, rock and Latin/Caribbean genres. A new website was launched and a documentary was produced, Asbury Park Musical Memories, chronicling the experience of musicians, producers and audience members whose extraordinary stories are an integral part of Asbury Park’s musical heritage.
The foundation has continued to bring music-based initiatives to the area, hosting a plethora of lectures, exhibits, film showings and concerts. Their association with all types of music has been an important part of their manifesto, which is to continue contributing to the city’s revitalization by securing Asbury Park as a true musical landing place.
With that in mind, the Asbury Park Musical Foundation “Where Music Lives” is moving forward into the next generation of city-based talent. They will be hosting a brand new series beginning at the Berkeley Bar in the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel on Aug. 2.
To me, this is a smart and honest step to take when the bottom line is proving that you are concerned with more than just the stereotypical sounds of the Jersey Shore. While many of the artists that put New Jersey on the map are owed a nod of respect, the truth of the matter is that there are so many vital bands that have contributed to this state that have never been paid much attention to. These are the artists that “Where Music Lives” are looking toward in the year 2013.
The Asbury Musical Heritage Foundation “Where Music Lives” will be hosting their new music celebration at the city’s newest and most popular destination. The Berkeley Bar (famously known as the Oak Bar) has been in the hotel since its inception, and it’s a space that has quickly become the place to hear the city’s most interesting music. Owned by Marilyn Schlossbach, the room is run by Peter Mantas (of T-Birds Café fame) and is the perfect launching pad for reaching out to the city’s young bands and performers. “Where Music Lives” hopes to continue the series on a bi-monthly basis between the Berkeley Bar and Langosta on the boardwalk.
The performers for Aug. 2 are truly some of the hardest working folks in the business and the lineup will be as follows: Emily Grove will be on at 9:30, followed by Thomas Wesley Stern at 10:30 and Moon Motel at 11:30. These are three phenomenal groups that have taken great strides in raising not only their own visibility, but also that of Asbury Park. Plus, I love the hell out of them.
The foundation’s executive director, Susan Pellegrini, sums it up when she says, “We are excited about this series because our focus is not only on honoring the past, but promoting the present and creating a future for the people that create our music scene today.”
Come meet the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation “Where Music Lives” and tell them what or whom you would like to see in our musically inclined metropolis. I have a feeling they’re listening.
For more information on the Berkeley Bar show, or to find out how you can join the visionary work of the Asbury Musical Heritage Foundation “Where Music Lives,” head over to asburyparkmusiclives.org.