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Twilight Series Rocks with the Sounds of Surf  

By Lookout Staff

August 18, 2011 -- What better place could there be to listen to the reverb-drenched twang of a Fender guitar than on the Santa Monica Pier? That’s what’s happening tonight when the Twilight Dance Series continues with three of the country’s hottest surf bands: the Duo-tones, Slacktone and the Eliminators.

Downbeat starts at 7 p.m. As always, the concert is free.

Composed of veteran long-board surfers and guitar players Gil Orr and Paul Johnson, the Duo-tones have taken the familiar Venture’s-style instrumental band and stripped it down to just two guitars. Don’t worry, these guys are so good that they don’t need a rhythm section.

This new approach to an old-style results in a crisp, clean sound that allows the listener to hear all the subtle nuances that so often get obscured in larger bands. The interplay between the two guitars is nothing short of amazing. But then again, what else would you expect from two guys who helped pioneer the Southern California surf sound some five decades ago.

Orr has been playing with the Chanteys – best known for their hit instrumental “Pipeline” – since the mid 1960’s, and Johnson was a founding member of the Belairs – known for their signature song “Mr Moto.” Johnson is also a long-time member of the Surfaris – the guys who did “Wipeout.”

Also making waves tonight, power-trio Slacktone promises to pump out some high-energy jams that are helping define a new direction in modern surf music.

Led by guitarist and tunewriter Dave Wronski – a career session player who has been featured in publications including Guitar Player Magazine – Slacktone pays homage to the great surf bands of the past while taking the music to the next level, with excursions into jazz and techno-sonic effects that reach deep into space.

The result is a style with enough melody and backbeat to be accessible to traditionalists, but with an added level of musicianship and sophistication that challenges the ears of even the most scholarly critics.

It helps that Wronski has a great rhythm section. Backing him up are bassist Sam Bolle and drummer Dusty Watson, who play with Agent Orange and surf-guitar legend Dick Dale.

Rounding out the concert is the seasoned band of locals the Eliminators, who are keeping the old-school tradition alive to remind audiences that the reason for the music is to have fun.

A full scale instrumental band with two guitars, bass, drums and sax, the Eliminators have opened for Jimmy Buffet on a 25-city tour of the U.S. and have appeared on television in shows including the View and Beverly Hills 90210. Their music has also been featured in numerous films, television shows and advertisements.

Now in its 25th season, the Twilight Dance Series showcases some of the best musical acts from throughout the world. Downbeat for the 2011 series is 7 p.m. every Thursday between July 7 and September 8.

Sponsored by One West Bank, upcoming shows include an evening of tango music August 25. The series concludes with a New Orleans funk and blues night, September 8.

With this year’s lineup promising to draw large crowds, pier officials encourage concert goers to walk, bike or ride the Big Blue Bus.

Parking will be available at the beach lot located north of the pier at 1550 Pacific Coast Highway, but the pier itself will be closed to traffic. A bike valet will be available on the bike path on the south side of the pier.

Cosponsors of the 2011 series include Pacific Park, Bloomingdales, StarLine Tours, the Australian Consulate, Cotton On and the City of Santa Monica. The series is produced by the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation and Ron & Humble.


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