Tag Archives: Al Jardine


17 Jun


Last night for my birthday, my husband, Tim, took me to this tiny concert venue called The Cave in Big Bear to see founding Beach Boy member Al Jardine. It was unbelievable!

We sat in “General Admission” and I kept thinking the reserved seats in front of us would start filling up once the concert started, then after the opening act, Shay & Co. They never did fill up. There were, at most, just 150 people there! I was shocked.

Once the concert started, the MC invited anyone to come down front to the “mosh pit” to enjoy the concert and get as close to the stage as we wanted, as long as we didn’t touch any of the performers.

So guess where I went? We were also encouraged to ask questions and I did. I asked Al Jardine how he got into folk music. He answered me, saying that The Beach Boys were recording in the same studio as the folk group, The Kingston Trio, and it had a great echo chamber. He was so impressed with the sounds the Kingston Trio came up with using that echo chamber that he was inspired to do his first folk rock song with The Beach Boys.

Jardine explained the history of the old tune, probably from the Bahamas, and demonstrated how it was originally sung, along with his band mates, including his son Matt, who sings falsetto with Mike Love’s current Beach Boys touring group. Then they launched into The Beach Boys rendition of “Sloop John B,” a 1966 hit single off the historic Pet Sounds album. It was awesome!

Jardine introduced another Pet Sounds favorite, “God Only Knows,” written by Brian Wilson, as his pick and Paul McCartney’s pick, for the best song ever written. 

Throughout the concert, old footage of The Beach Boys played on a large screen behind the band. Sometimes the footage was interrupted by an interview with someone that Jardine wanted us to watch or a picture that he wanted to discuss. I learned so much!

The concert opened with The Beach Boys’ first recording, “Surfin’,” which hit the air waves in November of 1961. According to Jardine, the newly formed band had a song that leader Brian Wilson wanted to record but they had no instruments. Jardine came up with an idea for the group to “audition for my mom” to get money for instruments. The group sang two songs, including an a cappella number by the Four Freshman, a quartet whose harmonies greatly influenced The Beach Boys, particularly Brian Wilson. It worked. They bought their instruments and the rest is history.

Jardine also shared the story of Brian Wilson receiving an “F” for his composition of “Surfin’” in a music class at Hawthorne High School. Other versions of the story say that Brian actually received the “F” for “Surfin’” in a music class at El Camino College. Either way, it was a great story.

The concert continued with “Surfin’ Safari,” a set of car songs, which included “I Get Around,” The Beach Boys’ first #1 single (1964), and “Little Deuce Coupe.” Other Beach Boy hits included “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls” and “Surfer Girl.”

Jardine said that he felt the late Annette Funicello was the first real surfer girl, I suppose because she played the part in seven “Beach Party” films, beginning in 1963. Then a clip was shown of The Beach Boys playing and singing backup behind Funicello on the title song of the Disney film, “The Monkey’s Uncle,” released in 1965.

Jardine introduced The Beach Boys hit “Don’t Worry Baby” by discussing the group’s admiration for the work of former record producer Phil Spector. He said, “‘Don’t Worry Baby’ was the Beach Boys’ answer to ‘Be My Baby,’” a hit for the Ronnettes, which was produced by Phil Spector.

The audience also viewed photos of the Beatles while Jardine explained to us how John Lennon and George Harrison knocked on his hotel door one day and invited him and the rest of The Beach Boys to meet the Maharishi, who taught all of them Transcendental Meditation.

There was also an interview shown recounting the bizarre making of the song Vegetables in 1967.

California Saga was written after the group spent a frustrating month in Holland working on the Holland album, according to Jardine. He said the band members were all homesick for California when Brian Wilson walked into the room and spontaneously started singing, “On my way to sunny California,” in anticipation of going home. Those words then became the first line of the song, which was released on the Holland album in 1973.

Jardine and his band also played a few songs from his solo CD, A Postcard From California.

Encore songs included Surfing USA, Help Me Rhonda and Barbara Ann.

After the concert, fans were allowed to get up close and personal with Jardine, who signed posters and CD’s.

Compared to many concert sites, The Cave is just a hole in the wall, nestled in the San Bernardino mountains and perhaps the best kept secret of Big Bear. Despite the need for a long drive up a windy, mountain road to get there, The Cave is just 90 minutes from the Inland Empire and two hours from LA and Orange Counties.

Our general admissions seats were extremely close to the stage and cost only $30 apiece with a discount my husband found online. Armed security guards were present, also.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years about the members of The Beach Boys is that these days they all put on a great show. Whether it’s Brian Wilson and band, The Beach Boys, featuring lead vocalist and veteran front man Mike Love or Al Jardine and band, it’s a wonderful bit of nostalgia and fun that you don’t want to miss, if at all possible. So thanks, Tim, for the PERFECT birthday present!

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