The 5-Star Talents of The Pyronauts

Sierra Surf Music Camp is a couple of days closer.  The excitement is mounting.  The Facebook “chatter” is way up.  If our intelligence agencies were monitoring (and maybe they are), they probably would divine that a big event is coming up.

Adding to the excitement in our household is that we get to play a few of our originals before The Pyronauts take the stage on the opening night of camp. 






Those are the same Pyronauts we repeatedly describe as “fabulous” and as “NorCal’s premier surf band.”  They are the same Pyronauts who played four shows over two days and two nights not so long ago.  And . . . just in . . . they are the same Pyronauts who received a 5-star review from Phil Dirt for their “Play for Surf” CD.

That is 5-stars from a guy who has reviewed thousands of surf instrumentals and is THE AUTHORITY.  His reviews provide a measuring stick for surf music around the World -- both old and new.  The Pyronauts have scored again! 

The review and upcoming camp are reminders that The Pyronauts are a group of wonderfully talented musicians.  Not only will they perform at camp, but they also will be instructors. 

When they play, the musicality of each stands out.  They are four skilled musicians playing together.  Each makes the others in the band better.  The Pyronauts -- the band -- is greater than the sum of its parts.  As demonstrated by their “Play for Surf” CD, their amalgam of skills lets them take risks and expand.

The band members also share their multiple skills with others.

Over the last couple of months or so, Tim Stephenson -- drummer for The Pyronauts -- has displayed his talents as a jazz musician around Sacramento.  His Masters’ recital was at the end of April.  Yes, Tim recently earned a Masters degree in music.  That is quite an accomplishment.  Degree aside, his abilities are so impressive that notable jazz practitioners in Sacramento have applauded for his performances.  In private conversations, they have been highly complimentary and appeared surprised when they hear that Tim drums for one of the best surf bands -- by Phil Dirt's standards -- in the World.

Awhile ago, Bob Butler (aka Bob Bitchin’) -- The Pyronauts’ guitarist -- accompanied a singer-songwriter.  In that endeavor, he played acoustic guitar and a variety of styles including folk and Celtic.  That was a striking contrast to what he does as a Pyronaut and has done since the beginning of the band.  There, he is a rhythm machine, and I am here to tell you that that is impossibly difficult.  He combines a surf sensibility and percussive style with a true rock ‘n roll swagger.  In addition to his skills as a guitarist, he has written some of The Pyronauts’ original songs including "Mike's Barracuda," which is featured in every performance.

The Brett Cole (yes, “The” is not a typo) is in no way limited to surf.  Paul describes him as “playing lead bass.”  Brett also plays jazz and rockabilly.  I saw him play Ska a couple of times.  His resume includes performing as part of the Sacramento State and other college jazz programs.  Not so long ago, he asked on Facebook, “Why am I practicing for a Community College gig when we have a major venue performance coming?”  He writes lyrics and sings and has dabbled in stand-up comedy.  He sang at Paul and Cheri’s wedding in front of some of the finest musicians around.

This blog has extolled the prowess of Paul Beatie (aka Paul the Pyronaut) as a musician and a teacher from almost the very beginning.  During the Sunday Surf Party and CD Release, the chef at the Capitol Bowl turned to Becky and said of Paul, “Wow, he is really good!”  Chef Nathan then added that he knew because his sister lived by Dick Dale back in the day in Balboa.

A very recent post by Brett brought The Pyronauts and Paul’s imminent move into focus.  He wrote, “Final Pyronauts rehearsal for quite a while.  Goodbye Barn.”  Camp, a move, Paul and Cheri settling in in Ferndale, and then . . . ?  In the meantime, we will be the beneficiaries of the talents of The Pyronauts at camp over the upcoming weekend.

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