Modern Caribbean Rum

Take a trip through the history of surf culture with Cutback, ‘Surfers Journey’ CD

In South Florida, where bands and musical trends come and go faster than the annual influx of tourists, there’s one comforting constant for lovers of the never-say-die genre of instrumental surf rock: Four guys who call themselves Cutback. The band will celebrate the culmination of years of hard work this fall with the release of a 17-track CD, Surfers Journey.

*** Friday, Nov. 7 – Cutback CD release party in The Molokai bar at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. Free admission. Happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Live music and drink specials all night.

Cutback CD release party at The Mai-Kai

The members of Cutback (guitarists Rich LaVoir and Frank Ferraro, bassist Nicky Ravine, and drummer Elliott Crawford) have been surfing and playing music for more than 30 years. Since the band’s debut in 2002, the goal was simple: Take listeners on a musical journey that showcases the history of surfing and the influence of surf culture.

Surfers Journey includes 14 original compositions by the band, including Surf Fever, Tubo Mexicana, 151 Rum Swizzle, and Conan the Surfarian. With its roots firmly planted in surf-rock history, the band puts its own spin on the genre with rock guitar flourishes and undeniable chemistry and tightness.

A mainstay for years during The Mai-Kai’s Friday night live music showcases, Cutback has finally documented its original music in a sonically impressive CD with packaging on par with any record-label release. Go to CutbackSurfband.com to hear song samples or pick up a pre-release copy of the album at Deep Eddy Records. It will be available on iTunes on Nov. 7.

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Minimalist Tiki

Book makes waves by giving Florida’s rich surfing history its due

When you examine the sport of surfing and its surrounding culture, Florida is sometimes overlooked while hot spots such as California and Hawaii grab the spotlight. A new book released in May could go a long way toward changing that perception.

Surfing Florida: A Photographic History, by Paul Aho, 272 pages, $31.95, University Press of Florida. Also available via Amazon, at regional surf shops and local book stores. See also: Facebook page

Surfing Florida: A Photographic History

The book follows an impressive gallery exhibit, also called Surfing Florida: A Photographic History, that debuted at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in March 2012. The exhibit of rare photos, surfboards, video, music and interviews made the rounds of galleries throughout the state in 2012 and 2013 to much acclaim.

The exhibit will become a permanent part of the Palm Beach County Surfing History Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, documenting and exhibiting the history of Florida surfing. The group’s website says the expansive displays will be available only for non-profit, educational purposes, so donations are encouraged.

Past Atomic Grog coverage
* Surfing rides new wave of interest thanks to FAU exhibit
* FAU’s surfing exhibit closes with a splash
* Florida at forefront of surf rock’s contemporary renaissance

If you missed the exhibit and/or wish to take a deeper dive into Florida’s colorful surfing scene (past and present), the book is highly recommended. It goes into much more depth and includes a broader and more detailed look at the men and women who make the scene unique. It’s loaded with great stories and photos by many contributors including some of surfing’s top photographers.

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Florida at forefront of surf rock’s contemporary renaissance

Since its birth in the early 1960s, surf music seems to arrive in waves roughly every 15 years. And just as Florida surfers have played second fiddle to California, so have the Sunshine State’s surf bands. But it’s surely not due to lack of talent or effort.

Dr. James E. Cunningham talks surf rock
Dr. James E. Cunningham talks surf rock. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

As a fourth wave washes over us, music scholars are beginning to examine the history of this phenomenon that never seems to die. During the climax of an exhibit of surf culture at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton this month, an ethnomusicologist put Florida’s role into perspective during an hour-long lecture, “Surf Rock and the Music of the ‘Right’ Coast.”

“Surf rock isn’t just some fad that appeared and has lasted through the years,” said Dr. James E. Cunningham, an associate professor in FAU’s Department of Music. “It’s followed trends in technology throughout its existence.”

Cunningham floated his theory that surf rock’s peaks in popularity, and its so-called revivals, also coincided with breakthroughs in technology. He points to advances in surfboard technology, guitar and guitar amp technology, and even the media (radio, television, the Internet) that paralleled the music’s booms.

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