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Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl: ‘Pet Sounds’ Still Rings True 50 Years After Release

Brian Wilson at Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson at Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

‘Good Vibrations’

By CRAIG HAMMONS

Good vibrations were in the air at the Hollywood Bowl on a cool summer night.

Brian Wilson along with his ‘boys,’ Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, with a 12-piece band full of woodwinds, keyboards, guitars and percussion, brought us the 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds and a dozen or more timeless classic hits.

‘Our Prayer’ as the Opener

The magic and celebration began with the beautiful vocal harmonies of “Our Prayer” a wordless hymn released in its proper form from Brian’s 2004 GRAMMY Award-winning album “Smile.”

This opened the door for 1967’s “Heroes and Villains” and soon the hits would just kept on coming. It didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to get up on their feet dancing to “California Girls,” “I Get Around” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.” Not long into the set it was evident just how many of these songs were the soundtrack to our lives. These All American tunes about cars, girls and surfing brought back many memories as we all sung along and still knew every word.

The music slowed a bit with such classics as “Surfer Girl,” “Hushabye,” “Don’t Worry Baby” and the beautiful song “One Kind of Love” from Brian’s 11th solo album “No Pier Pressure.” Brian was up front and center sitting behind a white grand piano. He seemed cool and calm.  His vocals may be a bit worn by time, but are still solid for a 74-year-old who seem happy to be playing the songs he wrote for a whole generation.

‘Wild Honey’

Brian Wilson and his band at The Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson and his band at The Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

Just before going into Pet Sounds the band played the single “Wild Honey,” from 1967.  Back then, the tune had a unique new sound and during the Hollywood Bowl rendition, the song earned a round of applause for sax player Paul Mertens’ solo.

Brian brought out his long-time buddy and collaborator Blondie Chaplin to sing and play guitar on “Sail On, Sailor.” Blondie’s vocals seemed a bit weak, but he made up for it in his guitar playing.

‘Pet Sounds’

With the opening chorus of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” we knew it was time for the musical wizardry of Pet Sounds to be done in its entirety. Pet Sounds was recorded over a half a century ago in an extensive recording session just down the street from the Hollywood Bowl. The band was bringing life back to these songs showing just how much Brian’s music was changing at that time.

The five- and six-part vocal harmonies were amazing with Al Jardine’s son, Matt Jardine, nailing the high notes. There were couples dancing in the aisles during “Don’t Talk Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and “I’m Waiting for the Day.”

‘Sloop John B’ Gets the People to their Feet

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

Once they got into “Sloop John B,” everyone was singing again. Next was an emotional rendition of “God Only Knows,” one of the best songs ever written. We were all on our feet in admiration and Brian requested we all have a seat during the slower and more obscure tracks like “I Know There’s an Answer” and “Here Today.” Ending the set with “Good Vibrations” put us all in our way back machine to a better time of going steady, the beach and hanging out with our best friends.

At the end of Pet Sounds, Brian thanked the crowd and slowly walked off the stage to thunderous applause. More than 17,000 strong came to see the man who got out of his sandbox to regain the crown of musical genius.

‘”All Summer Long” Brought Tears to The Lady Next to Me’

Brian came back out and sat down at his piano and introduced each band member one by one before they would launch into some of the Beach Boys greatest hits. An upbeat “All Summer Long” brought tears to the eyes of the lady next to me because she said she felt “so happy.” Then it was “Help Me Rhonda,” and now everyone was rocking out and singing enthusiastically. Without stopping they went right into “Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

They ended with “Love and Mercy,” a song that rings true to the times we’re living in today. Brian said: “There’s a lot of people getting shot out there and it really scares me; Love and Mercy is what we need tonight.” The evening ended with the final chorus “Love and Mercy to you and All your Friends Tonight.” We felt it as we all exited the Bowl knowing that we all saw musically history made this evening by the man who first played the Hollywood with his brothers, cousins and band mates, the Beach Boys, back in 1966.

 

Wild Honey Musicians Pay Tribute to Beach Boys; Show to Benefit Autism Charity

Micky Dolenz of The Monkees

Micky Dolenz of The Monkees

February 13 Event Takes Place at the Alex Theatre in Glendale

On Saturday, Micky Dolenz, Susan Cowsill and Al and Matt Jardine will join a bevy of guest performers for a Beach Boys Tribute put on by Wild Honey Orchestra with organizer Paul Rock.  Funds raised through ticket sales will benefit Autism Think Tank and Children’s Music Fund.

California Rocker: How did you come up with this event?

Paul Rock: Our first big benefit show in 1994 featured a rare solo performance by Brian Wilson and Alex Chilton of Big Star fame, our all-time heroes.  It inspired us to do more shows.

After three Beatles’ shows in three years from 2013 through 2015, we decided to go back our roots and do the ultimate Beach Boys’ show for fans, concentrating on their brilliant but relatively less known music from 1967 through 1977.  We wanted a change and a challenge.  We found it with this amazing event.

Wild Honey presents a tribute to the Beach Boys on Feb. 13

Wild Honey presents a tribute to the Beach Boys on Feb. 13

CR: What is your goal with the annual event?

PR: To raise money to sponsor kids for the Autism Think Tank and Children’s Music Fund, both organizations that have benefited my son.  Bring the music community together around these causes while celebrating the music that has shaped our lives and needs more recognition.

CR: How many years has this been going on?

PR: Our first show was in my living room in 1993 and featured the music of the Beach Boys. We met many of this year’s performers that night, including Wondermints (now core members of Brian Wilson’s Band).  At our 1994 show, Brian saw them perform for the first time and was knocked out.   They’ve been members of his band ever since.

CR: What is your professional background?

PR: I worked in music retail and indie record promotion from 1976 to 2000.  Since 1987, I’ve worked as a Hollywood script reader for various producers, agents, and indie companies.  Currently, I am a full-time autism dad for my non-verbal son Jake, who is 11 years old.

CR: How do you know the musicians?

PR: Through my years at Aron’s Records in Hollywood and 23 years of Wild Honey shows, our network has built organically by word of mouth within the musical community.  The Wild Honey Family tree grows larger every year.

Al Jardine - Photo by Randy Straka [277307]

Al Jardine – Photo by Randy Straka

CR: What satisfaction do you derive from putting on the charity events?

PR: It’s great to know that we are helping other kids receive aid  from the same organizations that helped my son.  I also love the musical and personal bonds that form as a result of our events, like Wondermints finding their home in the band of their hero Brian Wilson.

We are big fans of underdog music  and musicians and love seeing people respond with the same sense of passion we do. With my original Wild Honey co-conspirators David Jenkins, Andrew Sandoval, and Michael Ackerman we are trying to bring the community together around an important cause, especially autism, while keeping the music alive for the next generation.

For Tickets: Wild Honey Orchestra

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