FIVE QUESTIONS FOR BOB BERRYHILL OF THE SURFARIS
It’s safe to say few songs are as universally known as the Surfari’s immortal “Wipe Out.” The instrumental classic has shown up on soundtracks from the Muppets to Stranger Things, successive generations continually drawn by its manic energy. Surf music is indeed a family tradition for the Surfaris. Guitarist and founder Bob Berryhill is father of acclaimed guitarist Deven Berryhill of the Tourmaliners. Here, the elder Berryhill takes time to answer five questions.
What originally attracted you to playing music?
My family were big country music fans of the Town Hall Party TV show that featured stars from the Grand Ole Opry, who provided entertainment for the West Coast—artists like Ernest Tubb, Joe Maphis, Freddy Hart, and Cliffe Stone, for example. I also really liked the Collins Kids, a young brother and sister act, which my parents thought might be a good example for my sister and me. I really wanted to be up on stage with them. At the age of eight, I took guitar lessons from a country music husband and wife team who encouraged us to perform. We never did perform on stage together but I continued playing guitar and collected records of my favorite bands like the Ventures, Dick Dale, and other instrumental groups.
Is it true that “Wipe Out’s” iconic intro was an impromptu addition to the track?
Yes, and the whole song was created as a B side to Surfer Joe. After recording the A side, we needed the second song for our 45. Once we had “Wipe Out” written then recorded after three takes, we needed a title for the song. Jim Fuller walked up and pulled a switchblade knife out of his pocket, clicked it near the mic and yelled “Switch Blade.” The click was not dynamic enough so Paul Buff, the recording engineer, said over the talkback system that we needed to come up with something else. So, my dad went out to the back alley and brought in a cement-soaked piece of plywood. Pat Connolly broke it over the mic and it sounded like a busting surfboard. How do you bust a surfboard? You wipe out. Dale Smallin came out of the control room and walked up to the mic and yelled, “Ha Ha Ha Wipeout.” It worked, so that became the title.The song still brings in income. How important is it for young bands to have good representation?
Well, trust in your management is very important, and most bands put legal advice to rear of their creative endeavors—a big mistake. Our band was really young—we were only 15 years old—and had no money to hire an attorney. So, parents have to pay for these things without any chance of getting the money back. In our case, we paid our parents back because we found lawyers who were willing to work on spec, which means they get a percentage of the royalties. My advice would be to have a recommended attorney, who has passed the bar, review all contracts before signing anything.After years in California you recently moved to Nashville?
The move has been an amazing adventure. We have made many new friends and business associates that have helped us improve our financial, legal, and publishing business. Also, in 2019, the year we made the move, the Musicians Hall of Fame inducted the Surfaris and “Wipe Out.” What a blast to play for the induction concert! The life here is more relaxed, and the people share southern hospitality. We have great neighbors always willing to lend a hand.
How do you feel about Deven’s new band, the Tourmaliners?
Deven had a drive to be independent creatively. This new band has allowed him to prosper and grow as a musician and entrepreneur. So, he has been able to put his energy into a new band that is doing well. I am proud of him and his wonderful family. www.thesurfaris.com
SAN DIEGO MUSIC AWARDS
Save the date! The 2023 San Diego Music Awards will take place on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at Humphreys by the Bay, with performers TBA. Submissions are now being accepted for the 2023 San Diego Music Awards; it’s fast, free, and easy. Basic info: Submissions must be released between January 1 and December 31, 2022, to be considered. Artists must be San Diego residents to qualify. You can find more details at: www.sandiegomusicawards.com/submissions
The Byrds: Live at the Bacchanal/San Diego
The Basics: An audience recording of a January 5, 1989, reunion show. featuring Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Chris Hillman. A dozen songs from the main band and brief opening sets from all three. While not quite as clear a board tape, this is a perfectly fine stereo audience tape, with McGuinn’s 12-string, the bass, and the harmonies well mixed. Downside? A 15-second drop out during the closing “He Was a Friend of Mine.” Highlights? The whole thing is a highlight! Solo sets include “My Sweet Desert Rose” (Hillman), “Chestnut Mare” (McGuinn), and “Almost Cut My Hair” (Crosby), all impressive enough, but the main set eclipses all. The 12 songs performed are all classics: “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” “My Back Pages,” “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “Eight Miles High,” and more. As for the lucky patrons at the much-missed Clairemont venue that night, they’re clearly overjoyed to be witnessing this historic event, but generally respectful throughout, really adding to the recording’s ambience. This is absolutely essential to Byrds fans, but as a live greatest hits of sorts, it’s also going to interest fans of 1960s rock in general.
Richard Ohrn: Sounds in English (Big Stir 0076)
The Basics: A solo album with 12 earworm-filled tracks from Richard Ohrn of Sweden’s In Deed. Fans of 1960s-inspired music are going to enjoy this album. Well produced, arranged, sung, and played, Sounds in English hits all the right marks, with a dozen tunes that have miles of hooks. Twelve-string chiming guitars, layered vocals and harmonies, distinctive percussion, and songs that vary from folk-tinged to rockers keep the interest high. The album is full of singles, kicking off strong with the obvious single “Seal Your Move,” which comes across like a lost 1966 Hollies track, while vocal and acoustic guitar shuffle, “5th Month Announcement,” could be a lost Simon and Garfunkel tune. Meanwhile, “Times Running Out” is classic power pop, “Could Have Loved You More” is a jaunty music hall-styled pop tune with horn and string parts. Another excellent release from Big Stir Records. Recommended.
Librarians With Hickeys: Handclaps and Tambourines (Big Stir Records)
The Basics: a dozen pop tunes from this Akron, Ohio-based quartet. This is a grower, a solid debut that ranges from garage rock to post punk pop. Favorites include the jangle fest that is “Can’t Wait til Summer” and fuzzy guitared “Lady Overdrive,” but the clear choice for a single is shout-along, Farfisa driven, Nuggets-inspired album opener, “I Better Get Home.” Power pop fans will want to give this a few spins. https://bigstirrecords.com/librarians-with-hickeys
Jeremy Morris: From Here to Eternity (JAM)
The Basics: Seven new tracks from Michigan-based Jeremy Morris. Fans who only know Morris through his power pop recordings will be amazed by this album. There is certainly a pop element in evidence here, indeed the sole cover is a recast “Green Tambourine,” a 1967 hit originally by the Lemon Pipers, but in this recording it’s a showcase for Morris’ lead guitar work—psychedelic with more than a few touches of progressive rock—complete with Yes quote, which clocks in at 18:07. The closest thing to a traditional single here is “Sunshine Haze” at a mere 3:27, although it’s an instrumental. The album opens up strong with “Forever by Your Side,” which recalls late-period Moody Blues, while prog fans will love the closing “Coming to an End.” From Here to Eternity is one of Morris’s strongest releases, well recorded and played. While the short bursts of power pop riffs have been replaced with extended solos, these are highly engaging tunes that hold your attention. A good Sunday morning record.
Wayne Riker: Alphabetical Blues Bash (Fretfull Records)
The Basics: Like it says in the title, 13 blues classics, with a track listing in alphabetical order, A-K, performed by 2019 Lifetime SDMA-winner, guitarist Wayne Riker, and his friends. Four instrumentals, with each of the remaining nine tunes sung by a different vocalist, including Ron Houston, Billy Watson, and Derbra Galan, with Rebecca Jade contributing backup vocals to a pair of tracks. The album has a number of really strong tracks starting with opener Shelle Blue, who contributes vocals to a version of Otis Rush’s “All the Love,” and including a Stax-flavored take of Sonny Boy Williamson penned “Checkin’ Up on My Baby,” sung by Lauren Leigh. The single here is likely a soulful version of Jimmy Lewis’ “I’m Willing to Be Your Friend,” as sung by Michele Lundeen. Across the board, this is an excellent showcase for Riker’s acclaimed guitar playing, recommended for fans of his work, any of the singers included, or the blues in general.
Paul Weller: Live at Montezuma Hall / SDSU
A two-disc audience recording of Paul Weller’s concert at San Diego State University’s Montezuma Hall on November 19, 1992. A nice clear stereo mix captures a well-received set largely populated by songs from his then current, self-titled debut solo album. The band is tight and the audience noise doesn’t interfere with the music. Weller includes songs originally by the Jam, such as “Man in a Cornershop,” (disc 1, track 4), “Tales from the Riverbank,” (track 5), and an acoustic “Town Called Malice” (disc 1/ track 14), as well as Style Council classics, including opener “When You Call Me,” (disc 1, track 1) “Long Hot Summer” (disc 1/ track 8, with a false ending as track 9), and “Headstart for Happiness” (disc 2, track 1). He also performs a version of Neil Young’s “Ohio” (disc 2, track 2). Of the (then) new tunes, for me, the favorite is a fiery version of “Amongst Butterflies” that’s at least as good as the released single and a nice version of “Bull Rushes” coda’d with a bit of the Who’s “Magic Bus.” Also nice is a performance of “Into Tomorrow,” while the whole thing wraps up with a version of “The Weaver.” Essential? If you are a fan of Paul Weller, absolutely. A great souvenir of his first visit to San Diego.