It’s Friday, June 26, and deep in the bowels of the basement of historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA the Brian Wilson band is having dinner. With the meet & greet and soundcheck behind them, all that remains is food and fellowship…and there’s plenty of that to go around. With the addition of Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin and Matt Jardine to the current tour, the catered room is abuzz with camaraderie.
This band loves performing. Nelson Bragg, Nick Walusko, Paul Von Mertens and Matt, each begin to share his favorite Brian story. During the laugh out loud moments, conversation turns to talk of best tour locations visited, etc.…it’s, all good. Sitting together, the kinship is felt. It’s rooted in a common love for the music, and Matt’s voice was born to the role of vocalist; it’s in his genes, making the addition of the younger Jardine to this group perfect.
As for Walusko, Mertens and Bragg…they’ve proven time and again, that each man’s love for Brian is an integral part of their lives. This trio, along with Bob Lizik, Mike D’Amico, Probyn Gregory, Scott Bennett and Darian Sahanaja are stellar performers. Not only have they brought Wilson’s live performances to dedicated life, they’ve made invaluable contributions to Brian’s career path.
That’s worth serious attention.
Whether its 2008’s That Lucky Old Sun or 2010’s Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, Bennett is in unique collaborative company, Mertens has been responsible for assisting Brian with studio arrangements and orchestrations for over 10 years, and Sahanaja – a dedicated disciple – helped Wilson piece together Smile in 2003, resulting in 2004’s Brian Wilson Presents Smile.
It’s show time at the Fox, the band takes the stage followed by Wilson, smiling and waving…understanding that we – band and audience – are there for him. Brian sitting behind the piano, sounds as good as ever. The addition of Al and Matt Jardine with Blondie provides a new unique blend. Chaplin’s out-of-body performances of “Wild Honey” and “Sail On Sailor” were inspired, marking the first time I had ever gotten to seen him in concert. Blondie brought a funky rhythm & blues vibe to the show. It was as if his spirit had left his physical form, and was floating toward the ceiling of the star-lit Fox Theatre. Not since listening to The Beach Boys two-LP In Concert set from 1973 was a show this “electric.”
Brian and the band cranked it up a notch for “Runaway Dancer.” At one point, looking at Al, Brian laughed at the words to the song…and Al laughed back. It was only fitting that these two would also perform “Wake The World” and “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” from the Friends album. After all these years, it was nice to see the shared love for these two songs.
If you have not seen Brian on tour this summer, be sure to check his website for upcoming performance dates.
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