It was a potpourri of beach sound as the music started and a crowd appeared out of nowhere. All the chairs emptied, and, like high tide, the crowd pressed toward the Hard Rock Café stage on April 22 to see surf guitar legend Dick Dale. He appeared in a white-on-black Nudie-style Western shirt and a slicked-back ponytail, looking like a quintessential Quentin Tarantino hero-villian. Supported by his son on drums and a bass player, he delved into a surf rock reverie. Because most of his songs are instrumental, there are no word-hooks on which to hang the thoughts about each song. All you’re left with is the bliss of familiarity as his music washes over you like ocean waves, because even if you don’t know his music, you know his music—his sound has fully permeated pop culture. Sadly, the 73-year-old did not play with as much energy as he normally does, which was likely due to health problems. Between songs, he mentioned that chemotherapy had wiped out the inside of his mouth. As the concert progressed, Dale seemed to drift into rambling storytelling between songs. For the most part, his stories were worth hearing. For example, he told of how he “played with Johnny Cash before he wore black,” when he introduced a surf rock cover of “Ring of Fire.” “I never follow lists,” Dale said of his playing style. “I will play a song in the middle of a song. I love Salvador Dali.” Fittingly, Dale closed with “Misirlou,” which was immortalized when Tarantino included it in the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction. After being in the presence of guitar greatness, it became obvious that Dale doesn’t resemble Tarantino characters. Tarantino characters resemble Dale.
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