‘Let’s Go Trippin‘’ with Dick Dale

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StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-s26Vk2vnqg.jpg’, ‘Photos courtesy of www.dickdale.com’, ‘Dick Dale with Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill 2) at the taping of ABC network’s Jimmy Kimmel Show April 20. Dick Dale is the guitarist who played the infamous opening theme to Pulp Fiction. ‘);

1950s California surf guitar legend plays Kryptonite May 18

The “King of the Surf Guitar” is coming Tuesday, May 18, the man himself—Dick Dale.

People who have been around long enough to remember Dale from back in the ’50s when he first appeared with the Del-tones at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, Calif., can appreciate this event. But so can those of any era, as Dale’s music has surpassed age barriers since he’s been (and still is) a very busy man.

Born Richard Monsour in Boston in 1937, he adopted the stage name “Dick Dale” under the encouragement of a country DJ. With a Lebanese father and Polish mother, Dale was raised with the music of both cultures, which obviously influenced his song-writing style.

By the early ’50s, the Monsour family had moved to California, where Dale’s career took off. Ever since, the innovator of the “surf guitar” sound has been playing to the masses and now retains one of the most well-respected names in popular guitar. One could almost call him the Johnny Cash of the surf genre.

A revival of interest (not that it was ever fully lost) occurred when his recording of “Miserlou,” was reused on the soundtrack of geek-god Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The sultry Slavic-folk sound set the appropriate theme of the movie.

However, “Miserlou” was not written by Dale, contrary to popular belief. It is an Americanization of a traditional Greek folk song, and was published in sheet form by Nicholas Roubanis in the mid-1930s. Recorded by numerous groups and musicians, including one hit version by Jan August in the late 1940s, “Miserlou” is now recognized as one of Dale’s trademarks.

Dale’s versatility and wide expanse of sound innovation and style implementation make him an American icon in popular music. He pushed the limits of sound barriers and amplification, which is why some have referred to him as the “father of heavy metal,” although the connection is a stretch at best.

Dale worked closely with the Fender company to help create the amplifier necessary to handle his volume levels while maintaining clarity of his staccato picking style. He pioneered the use of portable reverb effects that gave rise to the commonly recognized “surfer” sound.

Dale said in an e-mail that his “best buddy” Jerry Story has lived in Rockford most of his life. Story used to visit Dale in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in California, and Dale would play in Moline and see him. “So, I felt, why not drag his old butt out of the house as Jerry used to go to all of my concerts with me,” Dale wrote.

If Dale’s visit was supposed to be a surprise to Story, I may have ruined it. Either way, the house will be packed at Kryptonite, so get tickets ($15) in advance. Show starts at 9:30 p.m., with opening act 5ive Style, a Chicago bass-drums-guitar trio. Info: 965-0931.

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