Summer concerts – is that band the real band?

Wednesday’s Yakima Herald-Republic proclaimed, “Beach Boys top Central Washington State Fair,” Yakima’s big fall event.
     But except for one recognizable face – vocalist Mike Love – none of the seven guys pictured in the announcement are real Beach Boys. At least, not from the group’s heyday (unless you include later addition Bruce Johnston).
     If you’re an aging hipster who’s excited to learn your favorite band has reunited for a nostalgia tour, beware – the group you expect to see might be the same in name only.
     The timing of the Yakima announcement is ironic, because just this past weekend I watched a delightful documentary called “The Wrecking Crew,” about the revered Los Angeles studio musicians informally tagged with that name. These virtuosos played the instruments on an astounding number of 1960s – ’70s monster singles and albums, among them the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” and the album “Pet Sounds.”
     In junior high I liked a band called the Grass Roots, mocked by some as pop-rock lightweights. I later learned that starting with their third album, they had been displaced by The Wrecking Crew in the studio. The Grass Roots sang the vocals, but the Crew played most of the instruments.
     What really shocked me was that the classic bass licks that bounce throughout the Grass Roots hit “Midnight Confessions” were played not by bassist and lead vocalist Rob Grill, but by Carol Kaye, an Everett-born prodigy who began teaching guitar at 14. Kaye also played bass on hits as diverse as Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” Frank Sinatra’s “Something Stupid,” and Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright.”
     So, buyer beware. I haven’t researched the current personnel in other nostalgia bands playing the Northwest this summer, but you might want to do some checking before you ante up to see the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Three Dog Night, Def Leppard, and Chicago.

by  Jon Osterberg

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