Going to West Palm Beach is to me, in any case, a miniature vacation of sorts. This past Saturday, the weather in Miami was so astronomically dismal that I was actually glad to be at work and not necessarily dreaming of playing golf or being at the beach. The only thing that kept me going (and mostly staring at the clock) was the prospect of seeing the King of Surf Guitar perform that evening at Respectable Street.
Richard Monsour, better-known as Dick Dale, has always been a man of mythical proportions in my book. The original lefty virtuoso, Dale's been making the guitar pay some dues the instrument never realized it owed. From the classic "Misirlou" to a short list of long-players, Dale's music has always been synonymous with a good time.
But here's where the boy can leave Miami but Miami can't leave the boy. Dashing out of work at 6:15 p.m. and rushing home under a torrential storm were the first setbacks to my enjoyment. Blasting the Zero's "Wild Weekend" on repeat while showering certainly added a Monkees' fast-edit collage to my proceedings but would do little to stave the snail-like traffic I'd encounter trying to leave Dade.
Thankfully, the weather cleared up in Broward and things were looking good. At this point, it was a little past 9 p.m. Yes, I take long showers. No sweat, right? In Miami, nothing starts on time. Parking always seems like an issue around Clematis, but after finding a spot not too far from the venue, I was able to walk in just in time to catch the man take the stage and rip into his set.
At 74 years of age and after battling health issues, Dick Dale is proof-positive that the spirit of music knows no boundaries and is a therapeutic medium for both performer and listener.
I am well aware that I owe a certain journalistic credence to my reporting and usually try to be somewhat responsible by taking notes and recording my observations. This was not the case this time. There is something magical about Dale onstage. Something that made me forget to take notes and instead enjoy the beer-soaked groove that was shared by a mixed crowd of old rockers, hippies, punks, and part-time beach bums.
If you missed him this time, make sure to catch him next weekend at the Culture Room, where I'm sure he'll run train through a set of classics and newer arrangements that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. I spent the entire show grinning like an idiot and was still grinning on the drive back home -- dejected that the vacation was over but with the sweetness of that guitar still reverberating inside my head.
Overheard in the crowd: "This guy is better than people half his age!" (Indeed).