This is a big week at BRP. I’m back from vacation (but I still posted THREE times over vacation, just because I love you all so much), and now the concert season kicks in. We’re starting with some oldies, one playing a modest but nice club on the Main Line and the other playing an immodest huge football stadium in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.
Who is playing the Ardmore Music Hall? Why it’s Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar! This guy has been around since Duke Kahanamoku, and I’m sure you know some of his songs, even if just unconsciously. Dale is responsible for an inventive, distinctive guitar sound, heavy on reverb and single note/staccato picking. The result is a distinctive, almost Middle East sounding music that works.
Behind the technical wizardry of his buddy, Leo Fender, who worked with Dick to develop modern electric amplifiers and guitars, Dale developed a niche genre that, coupled with surfing videos, helped to get a nation into the waves. His part in rock ‘n roll history goes well beyond that niche, however. Guitar Player magazine called him “the father of heavy metal,” and Dick’s music influenced a lot of major league guitarists, like Eddie Van Halen. But he is best known for his catchy surf music. And while there aren’t many waves in Ardmore, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a reason for Dick Dale to visit AMH and rock it.
Funny thing about Dick Dale. I have an email list for music friends where I try to gin up interest in seeing bands that I want to see. Dick Dale was a pick for a ton of people, so unlike many shows where I’m essentially Shanghaiing someone to come with me, I had lots of company this night. Maybe it’s AMH, the Main Line venue that is so conveniently located, and that has been nicely redone following its former life as a bar sporting bands like Love Seed Mama Jump and Mr. Greengenes. Now, it has a lot of national acts playing its intimate and cozy space. AMH has decent sight lines and good acoustics, and they seem hellbent on making the Main Line the funk capital of Philly. That’s cool by me, but on this night, there was no funk to be had.
Dale didn’t play long – the guy is almost 80 years old – and he needs some assistance getting up and down from the stage. He went on a multiple minute rant that, well, defied categorization – somewhat tea party-ish, somewhat simply crazy. But he also did rock it, and he did some quick covers of songs like Summertime Blues, which were great. He is a lefty guitar (the third southpaw for me in a few months – Paul McCartney and Courtney Barnett are also lefties), but as the pics below demonstrate, he also took a turn at the drums for a minute of two to good effect.
Dick made some quips about his followers, saying that they weren’t “deadheads” and explaining that they traveled under a more crude name (“daleheads” is not correct, but if you keep guessing with his other name, you are in like flint). And his own music is so fun, especially when played at volume, that a good time was had by all. It was a short show - I stayed for the whole thing and was home catching the tail end of the ten o’clock news and the show started at 7:30 with an opening act. I’m glad I got to see him, but it was far from the best show of the week for me.
Here are some more pics:
As noted above, it was my first week back from vacation, so I had some serious catching up to do. Dick Dale was cool to see, but not the highlight of the week. More on that in my next post.
In the meantime, keep on gettin' it - summer is, sadly, almost over, but the good weather and good times continue. I have a big Fall planned, with lots and lots of music, some football, and other fun things, and I'll keep posting if you'll keep reading. Enjoy!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.