Singer-guitarist Al Jardine, a founding member of the legendary Beach Boys and lead singer on early hits like “Help Me, Rhonda” and “Then I Kissed Her,” will bring his multimedia solo show to the Canyon Santa Clarita on Friday night, Oct. 12.
Jardine’s local stop is part of a mini-tour of intimate venues between road trips with fellow Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson (and Blondie Chaplin) on Wilson’s celebrated “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances” 50th (-plus) anniversary tour.
Jardine is billing this leg of his solo outing “A Postcard from California – From the Very First Song with a Founding Member of The Beach Boys.”
Featuring classic songs and stories behind them, Jardine’s setlist spans almost six decades, from the Hawthorne, California-hatched garage band’s 1962 debut single “Surfin’” (Jardine played standup bass on the Oct. 3, 1961 session) to songs from his most recent solo album, 2010’s “A Postcard from California.”
“It’s more of a storytelling show but with lots of music in between,” said Jardine, inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame with The Beach Boys in 1988. “I start with that first recording session – the inspiration for ‘Surfin’’ and how we came about doing it, and we play it live.
“Then we launch into songs and stories from Capitol Records years, the Warner Bros. years and the Columbia-Caribou years,” he said. “The Beach Boys went to different labels and there were different outputs in those eras. And we end the show with songs from ‘Postcard from California.’”
The album’s title track includes a guest vocal by Glen Campbell, who played guitar on Beach Boys sessions in the ‘60s as a member of the Wrecking Crew. It’s become a signature song for Jardine, both for its breezy California sound and its autobiographical lyric.
“I love folk music, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb and all those influences came together with The Beach Boys’ kind of harmonies,” Jardine said. “It has that quintessential authentic Western sound. I think we’re gonna release a live version of it from one of these concerts and do a video for it as well as a promotion for the vinyl release on Record Store Day in November.”
Jardine, who turned 76 on Sept. 3, was born in Lima, Ohio, but soon transplanted in Hawthorne, said the “Postcard from California” lyric “is about my dad’s finding California through the ancient contraption called a typewriter, the texting method of the day. He typed letters to find employment. And that’s how we got to California, on the back of his Underwood, as I point out in the song.”
Jardine’s father managed blueprint companies; his specialty was offset printing and lithography.
“As a kid, I didn’t want to have anything to do with my dad’s work,” Jardine said. “But I think I adopted his work ethic. A lot of it rubbed off.
“I’m a blue-collar guy, let’s put it that way,” he said. “All the Beach Boys’ members) are self-made people, none of us really having credentials to speak of, other than our love for the music. And in a crude kind of way, we became famous singing these great songs.”
Jardine’s backed by his son Matt Jardine, who also sings falsettos on the “Pet Sounds” dates with Wilson, and Jeff Alan Ross, the Jardines’ multi-instrumentalist music director. Ross was a member of the legendary Apple Records band Badfinger and more recently musical director for Grammy-winning producer (and former Apple executive) Peter Asher.
“We have small instrumentation, but big vocals,” Jardine said. “Our three voices sound more like 10 when we harmonize. Matt and Jeff together are wonderful background singers. And Matt – God (only knows). He sings some great stuff. We even do that magnificent opus ‘Surf’s Up.’”
Ross, also a videographer-cinematographer, produced the video clips presented throughout the show, with vintage movie and still footage illustrating Jardine’s recollections. Jardine said he was amazed he had never seen many of the images Ross compiled in the video.
“There’s lots of good imagery, and I think I deliver a pretty effective musical story,” he said. “It’s like an adventure through 56 years as a Beach Boy.”
The Beach Boys’ California saga has been well-documented (the 1985 bio “The Beach Boys” by David Leaf, who also penned liner notes for many BB reissues, is widely recognized as the best on the early years).
Jardine says people bug him all the time to write his memoirs.
“I go, ‘No, I don’t want to write a book — what I’m doing is more fun,’” he said.
After shows Saturday at the Canyon Agoura Hills and Sunday at The Rose in Pasadena, Al and Matt Jardine have a short break before they rejoin Wilson (and Blondie Chaplin) on Oct. 27 to kick off another leg of Wilson’s celebrated “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances” tour in Bangor, Maine
From Nov. 28 through Dec. 23, they segue from “Pet Sounds” to a holiday show, performing “The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” in its entirety along with cuts from Wilson’s solo Christmas album “What I Really Want for Christmas.” The Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza on Dec. 20 is the closest stop to the SCV.
“Brian and I have been touring under the name ‘Brian Wilson’ for quite a while,” Jardine said. “We’ve been all over the world several times this year already, from Tel Aviv to Hawaii. We’re just continually out there. So is Mike Love, for that matter. [He] tours as quote ‘The Beach Boys.’
“But it’s the Beach Boys’ music that brings all the fans together,” he said. “There’s this giant outpouring of support from them for real music, for well-written and well-performed songs. So it’s been quite an amazing trip.”
Keep up with Jardine’s journey at www.aljardine.com.
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Find the Canyon Santa Clarita on the ground floor of the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Get tickets at the box office 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, by phone at 888-645-5006, or via TicketMaster.com. For more info, visit WheremusicmeetstheSoul.com.
Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer and award-winning radio producer and journalist based in the Santa Clarita Valley. He has covered the SCV music scene for local media since 2004. Contact him via stephenkpeeples.com.