You've undoubtedly seen him. He drives a black 1940 Ford Woody
with a vintage long board sticking
out of the back window and a '62 Fender Outboard Reverb
stowed beside it. The license plate
He lives up in the Santa Cruz mountains on a dirt road within eye shot of the curl. He's 25 going
on 50 with a big gray mustache and proxy locks. He's usually seen in a blue and black Pendleton
yellow and white baggies, and huarache sandals with radial treads for soles.
He's ridden Waimea
, The Hook
, and Ocean Beach
it's ugly. Even if you've never seen him, on Saturday nights you can hear him on Surf's Up!
7-10PM on KFJC 89.7FM
- Phil Dirt
Gnarly reverb swirl...
is the longest running instrumental surf show in the world, and has been the catalyst
for the Bay Area surf music scene. Surf's Up!
is more than just surf music. Phil Dirt
color with facts and rumors about the artists.
He doesn't just play "Pipeline
" and "Wipe Out
." Surf's Up
not the Ventures
and the Beach Boys
. It is REAL
surf music--no vocals. It is
filled with obscuros and unreleased gems, live performances, new releases, and special remixes. It
is Surf Beat
from all over the world, both historic and leading edge.
Surf beat's first heyday from 1961-'65 produced some 1200 singles by thousands of bands. These historic
singles plus the work of more than 100 bands currently playing and recording surf music around the
world provide the foundation for Surf's Up
. Add to this foundation music from the numerous
live radio concerts Phil produces, and you have an explosive gnarly reverb swirl of totally tubular
...No Johnny come lately...
In high school, Phil spent his post-homework evenings listening to radio from all over North America: KFWB
Los Angeles, KOL
(Alberta, Canada), XERB
Mexico (Wolfman Jack
Phil first discovered Surf Beat on KFWB 980AM
Los Angeles in 1961. He'd been a collector of
instrumental guitar rock for a number of years (Link Wray
, Johnny & The Hurricanes
, et. al.), as well as an afficianado of regional radio markets. Surf Beat snuck into his
consciousness quietly when he first heard the Belairs
' "Mr. Moto
" and Dick
Dale & The Del-tones
' "Let's Go Trippin
'" on KFWB
. Quickly, the fire
spread, and by 1962, Dick Dale
had the top five sown up on KFWB
" coupled with "Surf Beat
," "Let's Go Trippin'
" and "Shake
's Reb Foster
) did a special on the scene
in '62 featuring the Belairs
Richie Allen & The Pacific Surfers
, Dick Dale
, the Challengers
and the Showmen
, and others, playing both singles and album tracks.
...summarily thrown out...
Phil joined KFJC
in the Fall of 1964. By 1966, Phil and his cohorts cajoled the radically conservative
station management to allow rock on Saturdays. The first song aired was the Sonics
," followed by Dick Dale
's "Surfin' Drums
." Summarily thrown
out of the station for shouting back when it became too much for the television-on-radio crowd in
charge, his radio career was interrupted until punk/new wave brought him back in 1980.
Waves, a personal view of the evolution of rock - not the hits but the catalytic recordings...
In the early eighties, Phil rejoined KFJC
with the sole intention of producing a perspective
piece on the evolution of rock. The idea was to expose the evolution of the various rock genres through
the music which was at the leading edge of the changes - not the hits, but the catalytic recordings.
This seed came to full bloom as Waves
, a series of 132 half hour episodes
weekly on KFJC
. Phil researched, wrote, and produced the series, which employed "voice
extraordinare" Alan Dale
Surf - the first punk movement
provided a vehicle for Phil to explain his view of the evolution of rock genres. One
of his key theories is that instrumental surf music was the first of three punk movements in music
since the 1960s. He points out that, while most of the genres he studied developed in counter cultures
or garages, the bands and the music quickly got absorbed into the mainstream and controlled by the
major labels. As rock was dying at the hands of the Brill Building Swill Popsters
and the Hollywood
hit factory system in the '60s, there was an innocent take-it-back movement beginning in
the garages and living rooms of Southern California.
Unlike the long tradition of instrumentals in Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle, the guitar had been
largely ignored in other regions. Organ, piano, and sax dominated the few and far between instro hits.
Phil points to two separate developments, which, in his view, catalyzed a new (guitar-oriented) sound:
new ways of playing the guitar, and new guitar technology. The first, most obvious, development was
the simultaneous and unconnected evolution of two very different guitar instrumental styles:
and Eddie Bertrand
's delicate lead/rhythm interplay with the Belairs
and Dick Dale
's staccato double picked onslaught with the Del-tones
. Both were heavily
melodic, and both were adopted by the new surf culture. The other development was technological. Two
new pieces of gear: Leo Fender
amplifier, and the defining first outboard
effect, the Outboard Reverb
helped to create the characteristic sounds of instrumental surf.
All of this came together in the archetypal surf instro "Pipeline
" by the Chantays
Most of the great tracks from the golden years of Surf Beat were recorded by bands of teenagers. The
people (kids in this case) had taken the music back. Band names were mostly innocent period handles
like Dave & The Customs
, the Pyramids
, the Goldtones
, the Blue Boys
the Lively Ones
, and Dave Myers & the Surftones
Phil is quick to point out that, as always with rock n roll, the themes of sex and social deviance
were prevalent. Songs like the Blazers
' "Beaver Patrol
" were actually banned
from their local airwaves due to their "indecent" titles. And of course, there were the
ominous songs in the tradition of "Rumble
" like "Rumble On The Docks
" and "Ray
" that simply oozed evil.
The bands often couldn't play in clubs (because they were under age) and weren't signed by labels.
They rented halls and released their own records to sell at shows (dances). All of this was to be
repeated in 1976 with the coming of the DIY (Do It Yourself) punk bands. To Phil, the surf bands of
the '60s were the first punks, the garage/psych/punk bands that followed the second wave, and the
'76 punks the third wave.
Phil laments Surf Beat's fall from grace in the mid to late '60s. Without the British invasion in
1963, Surf Beat's popularity would have carried on a bit longer. Some of the bands stayed with surf
into '67, but most were gone by the end of '65. Some just changed their name and style, like Dave
Myers & the Surftones
became Dave Myers & the Disciples
then the Dave Myers
, and Arthur Lee & The L.A.G.s
(L. A. Group) became Love.
The Rolling Stones Opened for The Trashmen
Phil revels in the trivia of the surf genre. He delights in reporting that most of the surfbands who
were worth their salt didn't surf. Occasionally, there would be a lone surfer in the band
of the Surfaris
), but mostly they were musicians first. Another of Phil's
favorite facts is that half of the surf bands didn't come from anywhere near an ocean... the Trashmen
and the Treasures
were from Minneapolis, Jim Waller and the Deltas
Fresno, the Clashmen
from Tucson, the Fender Four
from Berkeley, the Astronauts
Boulder, the Venturas
from Chicago, the Citations
from Milwaukee, and the Royal Flairs
Council Bluffs, Iowa. Phil also delights in the widespread myth that The Rolling Stones
to play second bill to the Trashmen
when they played Minneapolis on their first U.S. tour...
the only time that happened!, but is quick to point out that The Stones
played the night before The
in the same venue, which is not quite the same thing!