Sierra Surf Music Camp 2013 No. 5: Surf Band 101 - Part I

In the minds of many of the campers, nothing was going to top the Jon & Nightriders reunion and showing of Sound of the Surf on Friday night.  Camp director Paul surely intended to give it a run for its money with the Saturday night show -- Surf Band 101 performances, a few songs from the Sneaky Tikis (last year’s prodigies), and Slacktone (the best surf band on Earth). 

But before that bill, Paul was going to whet our appetites with something that he has been brewing up on the North Coast.  John and his daughters now live 45 minutes from Ferndale.  He and Paul have been working on something new.  They gave us a glimpse by performing as a duet with Paul on guitar and John on steel drums. 

Paul then announced, “We’ll take a few minutes to set up and start up Surf Band 101.”  Applause.  Despite the heat, families, friends, and some surf music fans had made the trek to the Donner Mine and joined the campers.

Steelhead's gimmick of steel drums was not going to be a big surprise.  But we still had our other percussionists -- Glenn and Elia.  And we did not have to wait long; we were first up.  As I hooked up the light blue Chinese cheapie Pup bass, the realization struck:  I still have no real feeling of familiarity with “Our Favorite Martian.”  An hour or so of practice was not enough.  Matt checked to see if we were ready.  We said we were.  He introduced Steelhead.  Glenn started up with the classic tom-tom intro.  We ended with Elia on bongos and then Glenn on cymbals.  A few rough patches but we got through “Apache.” 

John moved to the steel drums.  Matt said something into the mic.  Glenn counted off and hit the drum intro.  I came in on bass.  From there, it was a blur until the time came for a bass glissando in the bridge -- a glissando we added during practice.  Oh, oh, I practiced with a pick but was finger-plucking.  What?  Fake it!  As we returned to the verse, I reached in my pocket, pulled out a pick, and looked to Carla to see where we were.  The song felt like it was racing by.  Elia ended the song with a hand drum flourish, and our six or eight or whatever minutes were done.

Next up were Don and the Deltones.  Playing a cherry red guitar nearly as big as he was Don, a new camper.  His willingness to play in front of others was well beyond his 9 years.  He was not a deer in the headlights and showed no stage fright.  Instead, he displayed the desire to play and entertain.  How many of us were that sure of ourselves at 9?

The Deltones were Ivan, Steve, and Greta.  Ivan and Greta were veterans from last year.  Like Don, Steve was a new camper.  He and Ivan would be rhythm guitarists for the band.  Greta would provide the bottom for the Deltones on her raspberry pink bass.  Paul had double duty with Don and the Deltones.  He with help from John Blair was the band’s instructor.  But he also was a Deltone as the band’s drummer.

Don and the Deltones ripped through their set of “Peter Gunn,” “Pipeline,” and “Wipe Out.”  Three classic songs -- all featuring Don on lead and Paul’s spirited drumming.  Don and the Deltones finished and were rewarded with enthusiastic applause.

We were half way through the Surf Band 101 bands.

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