In the Spotlight with Al Jardine
Few bands in musical history have managed to capture the essence of the ‘California sound’ quite like The Beach Boys. With their seemingly effortless falsetto harmonies and feel-good lyrics conjuring up imagery of the sun-kissed, carefree lifestyle they embody, the quintet defined an era and movement that continues to resonate with listeners today.
This stands to reason why Al Jardine’s Solo Storytelling Show now enters its second-year run, with additional dates looming on the horizon. As may be surmised by its name, the tour is led by Jardine, who takes audiences from his early days as a Beach Boy to his more recent endeavors through both song and spoken word.
“It’s a story of the birth of the Beach Boys,” he explains. “Going through our career era by era gives people insight on how we made the records and, to me, that’s fascinating. I hope others will find it fascinating, and the insights are pretty unique, I think. I’m the fly on the wall.”
The ‘fly-on-the-wall’ experience has lent itself quite easily to Jardine, whose involvement with The Beach Boys spans back to his college days when he and classmate, Brian Wilson, fine-tuned their musical niche and co-founded the group alongside Wilson’s brothers, Dennis and Carl, and cousin, Mike Love. Throughout the Storytelling Show, Jardine offers tidbits on everything from the group’s formation to the process through which beloved classics and rarities alike came to be.
“I like the very first two songs, ‘Surfin’’ and ‘Surfin’ Safari,’” he notes. “They take me back to the very beginning…the origins of the band before we knew who we were going to be. It’s kinda fun to begin there and then take the audience through the different phases.”
As Jardine leads the crowd through his all-encompassing setlist, he says that it’s not the making or inspiration behind the songs that he focuses on.
“Pretty much getting prepared for the next song in the sequence,” he puts plainly. “Each song has its own special personality and getting ready for each song is paramount, particularly when we’re having to revisit the leads and remember the lyrics. The band supports us musically and it’s up to us to deliver the message.”
In the coming weeks, Jardine reunites with Wilson on stage and joins forces with The Zombies to bring audiences the ‘Something Great From ‘68’ tour. The shows will primarily consist of selections from the Beach Boys’ Friends album, to be preceded by a full performance of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle—two of the most pivotal albums of 1968.
“We thought there was some connection there because The Zombies, who are from the same era as the Beach Boys,” Jardine explains, “have had a very successful career of their own. They’ve also had a very successful tour of their own and the coupling seemed to be a natural at the box office.”
Perhaps most striking of all to witness during the tour may be the live banter between Jardine and Wilson, who for so long have shared the spotlight on stage.
“It’s great,” Jardine speaks of his bandmate with an air of admiration and loyalty while ruminating on their collaborative dynamics. “We get to share memories together and we have a mutual understanding of each other’s music. Of course, his music is paramount to anything else. However, my presence helps keep him afloat and vice versa; we both kinda support each other.”
Between dates for his solo gigs and those accompanying Wilson and The Zombies, Jardine is expected to navigate a hectic tour schedule for the foreseeable future—and much like the concertgoers that queue up year after year, Jardine credits the music as the driving force behind his commitment to touring.
Jardine comments, “Brian once asked me…he said, ‘Doesn’t the music keep you going?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it does, actually.’ And also, the personalities that make up the band are so dedicated to the music that it drives both of us back onto the road.”
From his time as a burgeoning Beach Boy to his foray into the solo realm, Jardine’s passion for his craft has merely amplified with the passage of time. With that, and as a true testament to the depth of his musical legacy, he maintains that the world’s stage is not all that he’s focused on these days.
“I’m recording again right now,” he declares enthusiastically, before ending on a mum note, “but you’ll find out more soon! Keep checking www.aljardine.com.”
Credits: Al Jardine, Spud, Randy Straka, Mary Ann Jardine
© Veronika Tacheva, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission.