Sunday, June 04, 2006

Just Another Dick Head

A side benefit of last summer’s Colorado sojourn was listening to the Sibling Correspondent pimp the virtues of Dick Dale. For those of you not in the loop, Dick Dale is The King of the Surf Guitar, pretty much having invented the style, then remaining its prime practitioner. (His son is also an accomplished guitarist, known, of course, as The Prince of the Surf Guitar.)

The Crazy Like Me Correspondent and I were lucky enough to catch Dick in concert this week at The Ram’s Head in Annapolis. (An intimate venue with much to recommend it.) Going to one performance doesn’t really qualify us to be Dick Heads (as his camp followers are called), but it’s a good start.

Dale doesn’t just give a concert; he puts on a show. He plays some tunes you wouldn’t expect: “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “Folsom Prison Blues” (to which he sings as much of “Ring of Fire” as he can remember), “Fever,” and the timeless surfer classic, “Hava Nagila.” (Dale makes you wonder how the Beach Boys missed covering this one.) Of course, the evening couldn’t go by without the classic, “Miserlou,” made famous (again) as the theme for the movie Pulp Fiction.

His relaxed banter is corny, but genuinely amusing. He also plays drums (well), double teams with his bassist on the same ax, plays bass using drum sticks instead of his fingers, and knocks off a few choruses of jazz trumpet quite nicely.

Dale turned sixty-nine last month but looks like he’s having too much fun to stop making his annual tour any time soon. That’s good news. Anyone looking for a fun evening watching an accepted master would do well to become a Dick Head for a night.

I took the Sole Heir to see Maynard Ferguson when she started playing trumpet; I wanted her to be able to say thirty years from now that she’d seen Maynard play in person. (Incidentally, Maynard and Dick Dale share May 4 as a birthday.) She had a ball, and I think she appreciated the sentiment. Now I can thank my brother for the same thing, as I have seen the King of the Surf Guitar and lived to tell about it.


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