Dick Dale - Guitar Legend Coming Our Way

Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar, is coming to Sacramento on Thanksgiving Night.  He starts a west coast tour in San Luis Obispo and then heads north.  Sacramento.  San Jose.  Oakland.  Scotia.  A couple of more stops get him to Seattle.  Then back south.  A couple of stops to Petaluma.  Then Grass Valley.  Santa Cruz marks the end of the tour.

Even though he is 75 years old and a cancer survivor, Dick Dale will play in 13 different towns or cities in less than three weeks.  The rhythm section for this tour probably is the best in surf music and has played with him off and on over the years.  Dusty Watson, the best surf drummer in the world, and Sam Bolle, who also has played bass with Slacktone, Agent Orange, Davie Allan, and FeAR.

If you are an old school surf music fan, you are already familiar with Dick Dale (born Richard Monsour).  Plays left-handed but does not reverse the strings on the guitar.  Kept big cats -- yeah, lions and tigers -- on his ranch.  Survived two bouts with rectal cancer.  If you are new to the surf music genre, Dick Dale should be on your “must see” list as he is one of the living pioneers.
Before the British Invasion, folk rock, and psychedelia, California had its own “folk music” -- a unique sound known as “surf music.”  It began in Los Angeles and nearby beach communities.  Surfers heard Dick Dale and adopted his rapid-fire guitar music as their own.  Unlike most surf musicians of the era, he surfed.  That led to his trying to match the sound of the waves crashing overhead in his songs.

In 1961, Dick Dale’s “Let’s Go Tripping” climbed the charts of Los Angeles radio and helped introduce the inland communities to surf music.  The Beach Boys -- then the Pendletons -- played second fiddle to the King of the Surf Guitar.  Dick Dale packed auditoriums, ballrooms, and union halls with teens and young adults.  Floors and buildings shook as they did the surfer’s stomp to his music.

Working hand-in-hand with Dick Dale, Leo Fender developed larger and more reliable amplifiers.  Dick Dale played hard, loud and fast.  He needed an amp which would not blow up.  After experimenting around, Leo Fender came up with that.  Leo Fender also created the reverb unit which gave surf music its “wet” sound for Dick Dale.

Dick Dale was introduced to many new fans by the movie Pulp Fiction.  “Miserlou” rocked theaters and started the Second Wave of surf music.  His legacy goes well beyond instrumental surf music.  His use of Middle Eastern scales inspired many jazz musicians of the 1960s.  Loud and fast became the mantra of many punk and metal rockers who often appeared on the same bill as Second and Third Wave surf bands.

Thanksgiving night, we are lucky that Dick Dale will share his immense talents and legacy with us.  Fifty years after he pioneered a musical genre, he still plays his strong, staccato style out of a Fender Showman amp tweaked to his specifications.  The style and sound are instantly recognizable as Dick Dale and surf music!  How cool is that?

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