52 years ago - a few weeks before my first class at Tamaqua High School - I saw the Beach Boys play at the Lakewood Ballroom. A few weeks before that concert - the Beach Boys did 16 straight shows in Hawaii. They were number one in the nation. How in the world did they end up just 5 miles north of my Tamaqua Pennsylvania home?
Tonight it was deja vu all over again. The Beach Boys were playing in Cascades Park - within walking distance of my "new" Tallahassee home. I bought 4 tickets way back in January on the first day of the sale. We were sitting in Row 5 - center stage. $50.
The show was supposed to start at 7 PM - but during supper my friend Marge emailed to say the show was delayed by possible thunderstorms - the new start was supposed to be 8:15 PM. It gave us a little extra time to share dinner with our friends Josh and Melissa. About 30 minutes before the show we parked our car by the pool and walked the last couple hundred yards. We were surprised how orderly everything was.
The amphitheater at Cascades Park is brand new. It has maybe 1000 seats - then another 2000 sit on the grass surrounding the stage. We found our friends George and Joel who had been camping out on the grassy knoll to get a good view. They had not heard about the delay and spent 2 hours policing their blankets.
We settled into our seats - surprised at how really good they were. We would be 40 feet from the microphones. When Lulu and I "stormed" the stage we were within arm's length of Mike Love - the lead singer. Marge and Tom were two rows behind us - but as we looked back and snapped pictures of them - the dark blue/black clouds said something was not right. Marge had assured me of 2% a chance of rain at 7 PM. Of course it was now 8 PM and that 2% multiplied to 100%. It started to pour.
Right before we left the house - Lulu grabbed a bag full of raincoats and ponchos. To our surprise - security did not go through the bag looking for booze. We were seated just a few minutes when the clouds opened up and so did that bag. We had left the rain pants at home - not next time. It rained for at least 40 minutes.
The Beach Boys were already paid their cash. According to the contract - they could pack up and go home. They didn't and we had one fantastic show.
The Beach Boys were originally a 5 piece band back when they started in 1961. It was 3 brothers - a cousin - and a neighbor. A couple of them since died from disease and of all things - drowning. Others had to quit - to attend high school - to try other endeavors - or for health reasons. A lot can happen in 54 years.
Today's stage show featured 7 members - 2 of them originals. The drummer John Cowsill - has played the drums for years since his own family band folded and drummer Dennis Wilson drowned in the Catalina Islands while diving for things he threw overboard from his friend's boat.
During the concert - rain had a lot to do with over modulation. The sound was not very crisp - of course this is the opinion of a 67 year old guy with two hearing aids. I find the sound better when reviewing the videos from my hand held camera.
The crowd was very tolerant of the delays and weather. The amphitheater at Cascades Park is a nice venue for entertainment. It is certainly not a symphony hall. The city has lost a lot of money backing shows last summer - I am not sure that is what the majority of people in town had in mind when the plans for a clean up of the old superfund sight. That being said - it is a strong asset to our community in general and our Woodland Drives neighborhood specifically.
The old coal fired power plant that caused all the pollution of this superfund site sat quietly in the background. It is in the middle of a major renovation that is supposed to turn it into a coffee shop/beer garden/family restaurant/banquet hall. The sweetheart deal pouring $2 million into it so that the mayor's campaign manager can have a restaurant shell again is not my idea of good government - but I am too old to fight city hall - I will be happy to just have a table with my name on it so I can entertain my visitors.
After the show- we were home in minutes. There was not much traffic. Someone commented that the crowd was 100% white. We later found out that George and Joel sat through 3 hours of rain and waiting - only to go home before the band appeared. They expected to be able to hear the noise from their home about 1/2 mile away. They would then return. They could not hear a thing - they stayed home - they missed the show. At 10:30 - we were home.
Regardless the rain - we really had a nice time. Josh and Melissa grew up in Los Angeles. They are a bit younger than I am. They were amazed at the long string of hits that were a background of their childhood. It was fun seeing this all from their perspective.
The Beach Boys were the sound track of my youth before the Beatles and Rolling Stones took over. My sweet wife Lulu loves the beach and would happily reside at Alligator Point and drive to work on campus 50 miles daily. Like everything else - I can take it a couple hours - and then I must move onto something new. Last night's concert allow me to relive a few hours of my youth - and sometimes it is just enough.
|Before the rain|
|Neighbors Marge and Tom Jones|
|Josh - Melissa - and Surfer Girl|
|The old coal fired power plant will be a restaurant in July|
|Storms approaching from the south -like the union troops marching on Tallahassee|
|Because of the rain - the multi media screen was shut down|
|They started late due to rain and played 2 hours|
|Mike love has been the lead singer 54 years.|
|The group has 7 members now|
|Half way through they allowed the crowd to rush the stage with their walkers|
|Mike Love balded early and always wears a hat. He also married his underage cousin|
|Tom Cowsill replaced dead drummer Dennis Wilson|
|Mike Love and Bruce Johnston - two from original group|
|Josh in yellow with Melissa|
|Goodbye Beach Boys - see you in another 52 years.|