Al Jardine’s ‘Postcard from California’
The ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ singer tells the Beach Boys story in song
The former Beach Boys’ rhythm guitarist and "Help Me, Rhonda" and “Come Go With Me” singer Al Jardine makes a rare appearance outside of the group setting with something of a conceptual night of music at City Winery March 26. A Postcard from California, Jardine’s 2010 debut solo album, frames a trip through time for this show. On stage, Jardine tells the story of the Beach Boys’ origins, beginning with the first song the group wrote, “Surfin,’” and follows the journey through 1966’s classic album Pet Sounds, and beyond.
“‘Surfin’ has quite a story about it — a big story about it,” Jardine says. “It was basically the first song we ever recorded and released for public consumption. I start with a soliloquy, pre-recorded, so that the audience gets to listen to the very seminal moments of making the record. I used some tape of the very first session as I’m speaking to the audience. Then I let the tape speak for itself. You can hear the voices in the living room, getting ready to rehearse,” he adds. “As it finishes I come out on stage and pick up where the section ends. And then the trio begins the song, my son Matthew, my musical director, Jeff Alan Ross, and I. Then we reprise the song in its current form. And with vintage instruments, I might add. I had to rent the instruments at the local music store there in Hawthorne, California. So It looks and sounds like the very first recording.”
For this rare appearance, Jardine is joined by his son Matt who is fresh off of hitting those falsettos and high harmonies on Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary tour. He’s a true talent who follows in his father’s footsteps, and it’s sure to be a curious evening of music. Jardine’s musical director Ross, who’s produced Peter Asher and performed with Badfinger, Denny Laine of the Moody Blues and Wings, and more rounds out the trio on stage.
“Ross is also doing this kind of storytelling thing,” Jardine says. “We share our stories about the Beach Boys and the Beatles, basically. He does the Beatles anthology and I do the Beach Boys, more or less. I’ll also play songs from A Postcard from California; the title song is the last song of the first set, and I do another one the Beach Boys recorded, called A California Saga.”
Jardine has had a front-row seat for the band’s tumultuous history. According to some oral historians, it was his idea — his penchant for folk songs, stories, and harmonies — that inspired the band to get started in the first place. His voice still takes the spotlight on more recent hits such as “From There to Back Again” from 2012’s That's Why God Made the Radio. Throughout it all, his name remains free of the kind of high drama and speculation surrounding the Beach Boys’ singer Mike Love, and he has remained one of Brian Wilson’s longest running collaborators.
“The show is a lot of fun, a lot of reminiscing,” Jardine says. “It’s nice to hear some positive things in these days of trial and tribulation that we’re all experiencing across the country. We all know how negative things have gotten, and we need uplifting music right now. These stories and this music is all very uplifting.”