Face the Music
Al Jardine • Founding Member of The Beach Boys
“A Postcard From California”
Infinity Hall, Norfolk CT.
February 8th, 2019
(photo: Mary Ann Jardine)
As a child born in “The Summer of Love” (1967). I grew up enjoying the music of the Beach Boys. Founding member, Al Jardine, perhaps the most altruistic of the band, has endeavored to attain the acclaim that is well overdue and has just recently begun to come to light. After all, Jardine did sing lead vocal on “Help Me Rhonda” and wrote or co-wrote several of the Beach Boys timeless, enduring hits. Jardine’s journey with the Beach Boys began in 1961. He was still a teenager in high school when he met and befriended a classmate by the name of Brian Wilson. Together along with Brian’s brothers, Dennis and Carl and their cousin Mike Love, their harmonies and vocals produced a sound that instantly projects images of a sunny day at the beach into your mind to the point of where you can breathe in the scent of seawater. This five-man union would go on to become a world-renowned supergroup.
Jardine opened the show behind a stand-up bass and presented the audience with an unplugged take on “Surfin”, the groups first big hit from 1962. Thus began a wonderful musical journey through the Beach Boys extraordinary career. Jardine left no stone unturned. Performing masterpieces like "Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “I Get Around,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfer Girl,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “California Girls” “God Only Knows,”, and “Good Vibrations”, which, on its own, is no easy feat coming from a trio. Jardine even treated us to the obscure “Vegetables”, simply, because. If you closed your eyes, his signature vocals haven’t changed at all. I listened intently and could not detect a hint of age.
Garnering four generations of fans, the audience was a hybrid of all ages, farther attesting to the gravity of the Beach Boys musicology. I watched with a joyful appreciation of a more amiable time, as the trio, featuring Jardine, his son Matt, and vocalist/musician Jeff Alan Ross, celebrated over 50 years of Beach Boys classics. Jardine delivered an intimate set of favorites from the extensive Beach Boys catalog and “B-sides”, at which point he asked the audience by a show of hands if anyone remembers what a “B-Side” was. Jardine and Alan encouraged the crowd to sing along, expressing how the prerequisite and intimacy of smaller showrooms, like the ‘Infinity’, were made for such a night, by asking, “How often do you get to sing a song with a Beach Boy?”
Working with only three voices and four instruments, the sound was by all means, true to the originals. Matt Jardine provided some light percussion while effortlessly taking on the higher vocal ranges that were usually the domain of fellow Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, and Mike Love. Alan seamlessly covered a wide range of instrumentality on the keys while sharing lead and rhythm guitar with Jardine. Jardine accompanied the music with heartfelt storytelling. Giving a broader meaning to the songs. A carefully worded re-telling of the time the band played behind actress and singer Annette Funicello, best remembered for her roles in the ‘Beach Party’ genre films from the ’60s, and as an original ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ Mouseketeer. Jardine was asked what it was like to work with her. “I never actually met her. We just played in the movie, but Dennis Wilson probably had a story to tell,” he said with a sly smile.
Throughout the set, Jardine proved that he could keep the integrity of the entire Beach Boys archive intact by taking the lead on songs that he was never able to do in the quintet.
Personally, for me, the highlight of the evening was “Sloop John B.”, a song I learned and loved to sing in Mr. Knight’s six-grade music class. Jardine explained how he eventually persuaded Brian Wilson to record a folk song (a genre of music that Jardine has deep roots in), and “Don’t Worry Baby” which is arguably the greatest love song involving cars, racing, and teenage love, this side of the Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack”.
Before wrapping up, Jardine hinted at plans for a Beach Boys reunion in celebration of their 60th anniversary. Whether that will be a tour or televised special remains to be seen. Either way, it will be an event that no Beach Boy disciple should miss.
Jardine closed the ninety minute set with an encore which included “Help Me, Rhonda”, the Beach Boys classic mostly associated with him.
The show only further emphasized Jardine's integral contributions to the ongoing Beach Boys Saga. “A Postcard From California” is not only a concert celebrating the Beach Boys but also a celebration of Jardine, himself.
After the show, I caught up with Jardine for some final reflections and comments on the night's performance.
What are the fundamental differences between working in a trio as opposed to a quintet?
That’s a very good question. Actually, the Beach Boys were a quartet because Dennis Wilson was primarily a drummer. The trio is a lot more streamlined. You can weave the parts of a trio in and out and can come up with pretty much the same sound as a quintet but you don’t need as many instruments and backline. It just simplifies everything.
Which do you enjoy more?
I enjoy the trio.
What did you think of the Infinity Hall?
Loved it! What a vibe! Good people! Can’t wait to come back!
Don't Worry Baby
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
Santa Ana Winds
California Saga: California
A Postcard From California
In My Room
Help Me, Rhonda