(Joe Passion performing as Jimmy Buffet during the Surfin’ Safari Ultimate Beach Party Tribute concert at the Olde Walerville Theatre on Friday, September 27, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
“Surfin’ Safari,” is what concert impresario Bill Culp calls the “Ultimate Beach Party Show.” A full crowd packed the Olde Walkerville Theatre Friday night to find out and came away, not only agreeing, but also humming some of the most memorable songs of California’s pop rock group the Beach Boys, a staple of the 1960s music scene and beyond.
There is a bit in the show which replicates a well-known part of the Beach Boys’ act in which they explain how they put their music together. It starts with Dennis Wilson on the drums, then childhood friend Al Jardine and Carl Wilson individually with a few guitar riffs, then Brian Wilson on bass with some licks and cousin Mike Love on vocals. What is remarkable is that each part is distinctively the definitive sound of the Beach Boys, even when isolated.
Surfin’ Safari’s cast of musicians played it perfectly, as they did on all Beach Boy songs from the band’s first recording, Surfing, not all that well-known they admitted, to the highlight surfing numbers to the intricate hits from Pet Sounds and then some of the tunes the Boys made famous in the 1980s. Windsor’s best chance for fame came with Joe Passion, in the role of Mike Love, mentioning Brian Wilson’s fondness for girls from all over, but his favourites were girls from, before he could finish, the audience yelled “Windsor.”
It wasn’t just a night of the Boys, Culp threw in a few other famed recording consisting of Jimmy Buffet, Frankie Avalon, Jan & Dean and the Ventures to round a rapid hit-filled night earning the nod as one of the best tribute band nights in the city.
Michael Hereford, guitarist with Windsor’s famed British Beat 66, was in the audience and concurred, telling Eyes on Windsor about being glad they weren’t British, or he might be out of a job. It is testament to just how much Culp, an accomplished musician himself, goes for perfection in his shows. And there are more to come.
It turns out Culp is acknowledged as Canada’s leading producer of musical tribute shows. Next month, October 25, he brings his Time Is On My Side, the Rolling Stones Story, to the Olde Walkerville Theatre. Then he returns to the Walkerville landmark a month later, on November 23, with Jersey Nights, the Ultimate Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Next year, on February 28, 2020 it will be Bruce Tournay playing Billy Joel in Bill Joel and the Piano Men.
Some of the tribute artists the audience so loved Friday night will be back. Mike Danckert, playing bassist Brian Wilson, will be featured in the Stones’ show. Tournay, who played Frankie Avalon, Jan from Jan and Dean, and Beach Boy Al Jardine Friday night, will take the lead role as Bill Joel in February.
We now know that Joan Gajda will be in the audience to see the Jersey crew. She won the door prize of two tickets to what will surely be paradise.
Throughout the show, bits of history were thrown to the audience, including the fact only one Beach Boy was actually a surfer, drummer Dennis. And there were some good jokes, probably the best came from Tournay, playing the role of Avalon.
In the 60s the teen idol was often partnered with Annette Funicello. He claimed she wanted to drop by but because she didn’t, he would thus be performing “without A-Nnette.”
While most of the music came from recorded songs, television programs also influenced Culp as he put the show together including the theme song from the tv serial Hawaii 5-0 and Bonanza. Joe Passion, getting the audience ready for a diversion claimed his favourite character from Bonanza was Hoss and then went backstage to bring out his Hoss hat before leading the band in Long Tall Texan.
Country music super star Alan Jackson was also mentioned. Again, Passion, this time playing Jimmy Buffet mention how Jackson had called Buffet to Nashville where they recorded what became an almost instant hit, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.
And that is how the night went, great music, interesting tidbits of information and the odd funny line which lived up to the hype of having fun, fun, fun. It was certainly no exaggeration.
Drummer Jim Casson, Stephen Miller, a former New Yorker now living in Brantford who learned the guitar by taking lessons from the Monkees’s bassist, the late Peter Tork, and keyboardist Jeff Giles rounded out the six-member cast.
For more information about Bill Culp Productions visit http://www.billculp.ca
For more information or to purchase tickets to upcoming shows at the Olde Walkerville Theatre visit https://www.oldewalkervilletheatre.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.