Camp Chronicles (6): Is It Sacrilege if Everybody Loves It?

Editor’s Note: One week ago tonight, a surf party (and Paul's 30th birthday) took place at the Sierra Surf Music Camp in the Bear Valley.  The stars of the party were the Surf Camp All-Stars and the campers.  Here’s how I remember it.



Dinner awaited the Surf Miners after their writing session.  The next scheduled event was the Saturday Night Concert with the “Surf Camp All-Stars.”  Paul had been planning for this for months because it was his birthday -- THE BIG THREE-0. 

Dusty Watson, John Blair, Ferenc Dobronyi, and Matt Quilter.  What a line-up!  As they tuned, warmed up and found their equipment settings, anticipation was growing.  I rushed up to our quarters, grabbed a couple of beers, and returned to the seat that Becky had reserved.  This was surely going to be a two-beer event.

The All-Stars left the room.  They were professionals and were going to make an announced entrance.  They did.  They returned wearing Sierra Music Surf Camp tees as their band uniform.

As soon as the All-Stars started playing, everybody in the room (and possibly a mile away) knew that this was going to be a take-no-prisoners, high energy night.  Their first song was “Surf Party.”  In your face!  Wham!

They powered their way through surf classic after surf classic.  “Surf Beat” “The Wedge” “Pipeline”  “Penetration”  John Blair asked, “What surf band came from San Luis Obispo?”  The Sentinels.  “And their classic is?”  Latinia, which the All-Stars played exquisitely.

They did not limit the performance to old classics.  Ferenc took the lead on “Ewa at the Beach” -- his original for Frankie and the Pool Boys.

The pure energy had people dancing.  The microphone was moved in front of Matt Quilter, who announced, “This is sacrilege at an instrumental surf camp.”  He then reached into the perfect gravel voice for “Wella, wella.  Everybody’s heard about the bird.”  By now almost everybody was standing or dancing and crowding toward the stage.  “Church Key” was next, and the campers knew when to say “church key.” 

Chord.  The All-Stars were done.


Encore!  Encore!  “Miserlou” was off and running.  Nobody was going back to their seats.  John Blair handed off his Strat to Paul the Pyronaut.  Ferenc’ Strat went to Bob Bitchin’.  A couple of more hand-offs put The Pyronauts on stage.  Playing their version of “Miserlou,” which I admired from the first time that I saw them.  Then, the instruments were handed off again.  This time to Paul’s young prodigy students.  As the song raced along, Timmy brought Glenn on the stage to drum. 

Finally, the All-Stars were back at their instruments.  They ended the grand jam “Miserlou.”  On time and together.  Sweat glistened on nearly everybody’s foreheads.  Anybody who had been in that room for the Surf Camp All-Stars’ performance wore a smile which alternated with “Wow!”

As we headed back to our place, I wondered why “Surfin’ Bird” was sacrilege if everybody loves it.  At the end of the day, we play surf music to have fun.  People listen to surf music to have fun.  Fun was had at the Saturday night concert! 

And the torch -- in the form of John Blair’s Strat -- had been passed between three generations of players.

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