With 34 shows scheduled from June through September, it will be a busy summer for original Beach Boy Al Jardine. He will be singing in Brian Wilson’s band for most of the shows, but a handful of other East Coast shows with his stripped-down three-piece band should be extra special.

Jardine doesn’t play many solo shows, so it was a joy to see him perform earlier this year at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Connecticut. He was accompanied by his golden-throated son Matthew and keyboardist Jeff Alan Ross.

I got chills watching them perform Beach Boys classics, especially “Surf’s Up” and “God Only Knows.” And Al’s stories about the early days of the Beach Boys were priceless.

“We’ve been playing together now for a little over a year, and the show’s always evolving,” Jardine tells me. “Matt now plays drums in addition to guitar, tambourine and shakers, and we’re always adding new songs to the setlist. So every show might be different. We recently debuted the song ‘Luau’ in Hawaii,’ which was the b-side to ‘Surfin,’ the very first Beach Boys single released.”

Jardine’s voice belies a man who will be celebrating his 77th birthday in September, and Matt’s voice stands right up there with any of the great Beach Boys voices.

“Matt first joined the Beach Boys on stage in 1989 and sang a lot of Brian Wilson’s parts,” Jardine says. “He’s got an amazing falsetto voice and is very professional. As his dad, I couldn’t be more proud. He basically grew up to be a Beach Boy. He was born the year Pet Sounds was released, so it makes perfect sense!”

How do the father-and-son voices sound together during duo vocals and harmonies?

“We sound like the Beach Boys!” Jardine exclaims.”Matt does Brian’s part, Jeff does Carl Wilson’s and I’m just me. It’s a blend that just naturally works, and you can really hear that in songs like ‘Sloop John B,’ ‘Help Me Rhonda’ and ‘In My Room,’ which we just added to our setlist.”[performance video here]

No band has duplicated the sound and the incredible harmonies of the Beach Boys. How does Jardine view his contribution?

“We all had a role in making the team work,” he says. “Carl (Wilson) and I were both tenors below Brian, who was the falsetto. Mike (Love) was the baritone, and we all sang lead. I played bass in the early years but then switched to rhythm guitar. We were all team players.”

The 2008 documentary movie The Wrecking Crew showed that Brian Wilson was the only Beach Boy in the studio as a band of talented Los Angeles session musicians, the Wrecking Crew, provided the instrumentation for early Beach Boys albums.

“We actually started as a studio band until Brian wanted to spend more time working on his ideas in the studio instead of playing live,” Jardine says. “We then became the touring band, and Brian called in the Wrecking Crew, but we sang on all the records. Starting with Smiley Smile in ’67 and, through the post-Capitol years, we became a studio band again. We got heavily involved in the studio on albums like Friends, Wild Honey, Sunflower, Surf’s Up and Holland and then on everything from the mid-’70s onward.”

I apologize to Jardine for asking a question I presume he has been asked a million times. Which are your favorite Beach Boys albums, and why are they your favorites?

“Believe it or not,” he responds, “I haven’t been asked that a million times! My favorite Beach Boys albums are All Summer Long and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), because they have a summertime vibe. Also, Summer Days contains the re-recorded version of ‘Help Me Rhonda’ which became my first No. 1 lead.  We just weren’t happy with the original version released on The Beach Boys Today!, so we gave it one more try and added an ‘h’ to Rhonda. Persistence pays off!”

Jardine says the songs he wrote with the Beach Boys, including “California Saga,” take a backseat to the ones he wrote on his solo album A Postcard from California.

“The album was thematically designed and tells my family history of moving to California along with current environmental issues I feel strongly about [Lyric video here]. And it wraps up with ‘And I Always Will’ which I wrote for my wife Mary Ann.”

Many big names who are Jardine’s friends added their talents to A Postcard from California and “became my Beach Boy voices,” he says. They include the late Glen Campbell, David Crosby, Steve Miller, Stephen Stills, Neil Young and America’s Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell.

“So many people contributed to this album and really added something special, including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Jardine says. “Every song came together differently. If it felt right, I went with it. We even got Alec Baldwin to do a spoken-word part in that godlike voice of his, and the album features all the Beach Boys, including the late Carl Wilson, singing on ‘Don’t Fight The Sea.’ ”

The Beach Boys and the Beatles were all over the hit-album and hit-single charts in the 1960s, and some pundits suggest there was a rivalry. But Brian Wilson has said each band inspired the other one, and he was jealous — not a rival.

Jardine certainly has only praise for Paul McCartney, calling a McCartney concert he attended the best concert he has ever seen and heard.

“Paul McCartney puts on a great show and has a really amazing band — plus you get to hear so many Beatles classics, not to mention the breathtaking fireworks during ‘Live and Let Die.’ ’’

Jardine mentions two other “best” concerts he has seen.

“I also really enjoyed seeing the Rolling Stones when Blondie Chaplin played with them, and Metallica when they opened for the Stones in 2005. Bet you didn’t expect me to say that!”

Website: https://www.aljardine.com/


Photo: Mary Ann Jardine