Dick Dale and Laramie Dean: Sunday, June 12, at The Vagabond in Miami
Monday, June 13, at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach.
See below: Photos from both shows
Concert reviews by Jim Hayward
The much-anticipated return to South Florida by surf guitar god Dick Dale was fraught with question marks.
Could guitarist Laramie Dean, a 30-something-year-old Dale disciple with big dreams but not a lot of experience on a national level, pull off a three-week coast-to-coast tour with no booking agent or tour manager?
Would all the young musicians joining forces for the tour – most notably Dale’s 19-year-old son Jimmy, drumming for both his dad and Laramie – be able to quickly come together as a unit and rise to the standards expected of them?
And, most critically, would the 74-year-old Dale be able to withstand the rigors of the road after years of health issues (he’s battling both diabetes and cancer)?
All of these concerns proved to be unfounded in the wake of the recent tour that sold out clubs across the country and undoubtedly left many eardrums still ringing. If the two South Florida dates are any indication, touring is the best medicine for the ailing guitar legend. Dale’s performances left no doubt about his abilities. He appeared spry and gregarious on stage and off, signing autographs and meeting fans late into the night.
As for Laramie and his surrounding cast, these guys performed like a well-oiled machine. And Jimmy Dale? The sky’s the limit for this kid. On the road for just a week, the bands blew into South Florida for a two night stand:
Miami, June 12
Laramie Dean played a short but energetic opening set, telling stories between songs about how the tour came about. He opened with Surf Riot from his 2007 CD of the same name, recorded back in his South Florida days. Late in the set he introduced Dale’s Banzai Washout as “a song Dick doesn’t play anymore.” Laramie and his band definitely did the song justice.
Drummer Jimmy Dale provided Laramie with a tight, complex backbeat. The rest of Laramie’s band – bassist Trevor Lucca and trumpet player Hideki Ikeura – kept up admirably. The sound in The Vagabond was loud and clear and the club created a cool vibe by showing surf videos and projections on the walls.
As the room filled up with some 250 faithful, Dick hit the stage and played a sizzling set of his biggest surf hits (Miserlou, Let’s Go Trippin’) while also mixing it up with unexpected segues (from Hava Nagila into Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water).
Veering away from the surf theme, Dick couldn’t resist taking the mic for lead vocals on The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun and other classic rock hits. He also took a few breaks to give the crowd both updates on his health and his biting opinions on the health-care industry.
The crowd was enthralled and reverent – singing, dancing and roaring for more. “You’re my medicine,” he told the audience as he wrapped up the show and sat down to sign autographs for his adoring fans.
West Palm Beach, June 13
Local trio The Gutter Queens kicked off the show with a set of experimental surf, incorporating the exotic theramin and getting the crowd warmed up. DJs Sensitive Side and James Brown’s Sweat spun cool surf and retro tunes between sets.
Laramie tore through a quick set of his originals and covers, suffering a bit from a slightly muddy mix that got better as the show went on. He and his band hit their stride with Pipeline, a classic by The Chantays originally recorded in 1963.
Respectable Street is a big echoey room with high ceilings and not a lot of acoustics. It takes a deft sound engineer with familiarity of the band’s material and/or a precise, powerful musical attack to overpower the room.
This was not a problem for Dick Dale. His distinctive guitar sound enveloped the entire room and had the 200-plus in attendance in rapture the entire night. Seeing Dick for the second night in a row, I was struck by the precision and consistency in his playing. It was awe-inspiring. The tightness of his band – drummer Jimmy Dale and longtime bassist Ron Eglit – only enhanced the experience. With the aid of veteran South Florida sound engineer Mike Kerrigan, this was one of the best-sounding Respectable Street shows in recent memory.
Just as he did in Miami, Dick mixed in his old hits, such as The Wedge, with some classic tunes that gave him a chance to sing and engage the audience. Highlights of the latter included Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues.
As the night wound down, Dick’s rendition of Amazing Grace, dedicated to the troops, gave the room the feel of a church service. These parishioners came to worship at the altar of the surf guitar king.
The sermon ended with Dick shredding on his signature song, Miserlou, a cultural hodgepodge that dates back to the 1920s as a popular Greek song. Showing off his usual creative abandon, Dick at one point effortlessly merged the Oriental and Middle Eastern flavored riffs with the Cuban rhythms of Malagueña, a popular jazz standard by pianist Ernesto Lecuona. Pure genius.
(Photos by Jim Hayward)
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* Ten photo highlights from Dick Dale’s destruction session at the Vagabond
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