His real name is Richard Monsour. You can see why he get a nice stage name.

Dick Dale is the king of the surf guitar. A former surfer (before his surfing led to a near-gangrenous leg; now he's an environmental activist) and self-taught guitarist, he damn near singlehandedly created the 'surf music' genre that was later brought into extreme popularity during the early 60s. His album Surfer's Choice is the true classic of the genre.

Dick Dale pioneered a few areas of rock - the use of reverb (although his first albums, including Surfer's Choice, had no reverb in the guitar), the powerful use of the electric guitar (which later heavily influenced Jimi Hendrix), and most importantly, the use of Extreme Ear-Bleeding Volume. Leo Fender built custom, extremely high wattage amps (for the time, 85 watts was a bunch) exclusively for Dale, who would then wire a bunch of them together because they weren't loud enough. He became a minor celebrity just for the way that he'd leave a club's PA system in a complete and utter shambles. In the 80's, Australians called him 'louder than Motorhead'. Some of the extreme volume is probably achieved by his use of only the thickest guitar strings known to man (oh, yeah, did I mention he was the first to play his guitar backwards and upside-down?)

After the British Invasion, surf music went into remission, until 1993 and 1994, when Dale's new album Tribal Thunder (the second-best surf guitar album ever; contains the song Nitro, which shreds) was released, and Pulp Fiction came out. The theme song to Pulp Fiction was Miserlou, Dale's best, most intense song. Between the excellence of Tribal Thunder and the popularity of Pulp Fiction, surf music made a small comeback. Dick Dale now tours regularly, killing eardrums all across the globe.

I recently got to see Dick Dale live... maybe I'll node that later.

I feel that it is important to say something about the experience that is a Dick Dale concert.

So you'll show up, and the crowd will be a weird mix of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. As well it should be; this music transcends little things like generation gaps and differing worldviews.

The opening act will play, and it'll be some local surf group. They'll play some Ventures covers, maybe some original stuff. Maybe "Secret Agent Man" or something equally cute.

Then you'll notice two of the largest guitar amps you're ever likely to see. Each amp has two cases, with disturbingly large speaker cones slightly visible behind the mesh. The drummer and bassist will get up there. And then you'll hear a searing riff; it's not surf. It's too powerful. Dick Dale will approach the stage from the front, playing as he climbs up. And then for well past an hour he'll paint brilliant sonic landscapes on his Fender, and you'll be thinking "punk rock doesn't have shit on this" as he melts through pick after pick. The drummer and bassist will display technical brilliance, backing up the rippin' guitar amazingly well. And the intense volume is just below the level of distortion; it's perfect.

Then he'll stop playing, talk to the audience a litte bit. If you're lucky he'll play a duet on the drumset -- that was really cool.

Later on he and the bassist will break out a couple of custom-made acoustic guitars "for the ladies." You'll see him play some covers of some old Johnny Cash songs. He'll tear up the acoustic guitar as well as he did the electric. Suddenly you'll realize how much fun this power trio seems to be having. (And yes, Dick Dale is a really good vocalist as well.) If it's a really good show, he'll bust out his trumpet. And wow, he's a really good trumpet player.

He'll finish up by jumping back on the electric. Maybe he'll play Misirlou or Third Stone from the Sun. Maybe Scalped. Hard to say. But for two hours, you'll get to watch the last guitar hero ply his trade. After it's over, you can walk up and tell him how great it was -- the man is very accessable. He tours like a mad fiend (www.dickdale.com has his schedule on it) so if you're in North America, you should be able to catch a show near you. He also tours internationally, but you might have to make a longer drive depending on where you live.

If you can go to a Dick Dale concert, you should. Even if you think you don't like "surf guitar", go. It's much more than that.

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