|By Rich Place, firstname.lastname@example.org |
If you're looking for a soundtrack to highlight every moment of the sunny skies, mild temperatures and afternoons on the water, the Beach Boys are a top pick, and they are coming to the Chautauqua Institution tonight.
It's summertime in Chautauqua County.
Although the band looks different from the group which put out its first single, "Surfin'," in 1961, Mike Love remains the lead singer and the other current group members produce authentic Beach Boys' music that will take listeners back to that summer shoreline in the 1960s.
The Beach Boys began as a family band, with brothers Carl, Dennis and Brian Wilson, cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine, a high school classmate who could play guitar.
"My earliest memory of my cousin Brian was singing 'Danny Boy' on my Grandma Wilson's lap," Love told The Post-Journal. Like many families, the cousins would see each other at family events like Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays. "There would always be music around in the house, my mom made sure of it."
Nearly 50 years after the Beach Boys began touring the country "with a station wagon and a U-Haul," as Love described, the band is still performing the hits that made them big, but with different band members. Carl and Dennis Wilson died in 1998 and 1983, respectively, and Brian Wilson and Al Jardine now tour with their own projects.
Love is joined now by Bruce Johnson, who joined the band in 1965, as well as newer members of the Beach Boys, including Love's son, Christian.
"He's a fantastic singer and plays guitar and bass," Love said. "He sounds incredibly like my cousin Carl in so many songs... in a way it's pretty fantastic that we can replicate those songs."
Many, if not all, of the Beach Boys first hits, such as "Surfin' USA," "Help Me Rhonda," and "Fun Fun Fun," are classics many people recognize, old and young alike. To write songs that span a number of generations is amazing, Love said.
"The Beach Boys music is always being reinforced in people's awareness," he explained. "Every year, we have a couple songs on a major motion picture soundtrack. Every day, there's several of our songs played on oldies radio."
He said that hearing Beach Boys classics brings up different feelings for different people.
"For people that just started out with us - who are my age and a little more, little less - it's nostalgic," he continued. "When they play our music it reminds them of what they were doing back then and who they were with."
The younger generation may be more familiar with the "Full House" version of the Beach Boys, when John Stamos played the drums and sang a few songs on the television show, and Love believes appearances like that have helped generate new fans as well.
"We've been on 'Full House' to the point where the reruns, when we are on it, are some of the most popular ones they have done," he said. "We get recognized by children who watch that show."
Despite performing the same songs over and over for decades, Love still enjoys singing the music that took the California family into the national spotlight.
"I like so many of them, and they are all fun to sing," he said. "'California Girls' is one incredibly great song. My cousin arranged that song so it sounds like a symphony orchestra opening up in the intro. 'Help Me Rhonda' was fantastic. 'Surfin' USA' was incredible. 'Fun Fun Fun' was one of the best cruising songs you could every have."
After these hits, the band released "Pet Sounds" in 1966, an album that contained "Good Vibrations," which "Rolling Stone" magazine ranked sixth on their "500 Greatest Songs Of All Time" list in 2004. A product of Love and Brian Wilson, the song was the band's third No. 1 hit, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966.
"I think it was the most creative," Love said. "'Good Vibrations' is unlike so many other songs. It's so derivative, it doesn't sound like any other rock song.
"[The song] was sort of our psychedelic offering of the time ... I'd have to say that's the one I'm probably most proud of in terms of success and uniqueness. It's unlike any other song every recorded."
Love will be bringing 'Good Vibrations' to the Chautauqua Institution's Amphitheater on Friday night, a venue that he says the band really enjoys performing at. The Beach Boys last played at here in 2006, and Love describes the venue as a "classic. It's like a classic woody."
"It's just a great place to be," he said. "The venue itself is great. It's big enough, but it's also so intimate as well. You're right there, and the people are right there in front of you."
Love promised that the band will be playing "everything that we have done that's been a high," and will also mix in songs that people haven't heard before. Sure to be a crowd pleaser, the Chautauqua Institution Web announced the concert, which will be Friday evening at 8:15 p.m. at the Amphitheater, is sold out.
"We've been getting really good feedback from audiences and from venues where we have been," Love said. "They've said the band has never sounded better, it sounds the best it ever has. It's just great."
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