Making A Happy Noise: Al Jardine & Friends

For about ninety minutes on Friday evening, February 7th, the auditorium at the Rubin Museum of Art was filled with the sound of music. The occasion was a fundraiser for the David Lynch Foundation, which brings the principles of transcendental meditation (TM) to school children and adults, as a way of dealing with stress, and with a larger message of peace.

The evening began with a three-song set by Professor Louie and The Crowmatix, beginning with a joyful "Center of Your Circle" (TM benefit single), followed by "Open Hand, Open Heart" (both from their 2012 album, Wings on Fire). The group was then joined by Dusty Wright for a sing-along of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."

Following this, event organizer and co-producer Dusty Wright and members of his group, GIANTfingers along with Professor Louie on accordion and Miss Marie on background vocals, took the stage for a thought-provoking original song, "Round and Round" (TM benefit single), a new song entitled "We Can Set Sail," followed by another sing-along, this time of Donovan’s "Sunshine Superman," for which Mr. Wright and his group were joined by Richard Barone of The Bongos.

This led nicely into the main event of the evening, a performance by Beach Boy (and TM practitioner) Al Jardine, accompanied by a number of musicians, including acoustic bassist Royston Langdon (Spacehog). Mr. Jardine began with a musical "Offering," a short "tuning up" around the Sanskrit sound, “Om.” He followed this with a mixture of original songs (including some from his solo album, A Postcard From California) and Beach Boys songs. Among the originals were the title track of the album, plus two superb newer songs, "New Morning" and "Waves of Love."

Mr. Jardine did a lovely version of the somewhat lesser known Beach Boys song, "At My Window." He then performed a truly rousing version of "Sail On, Sailor," for which he was joined by almost all the musicians, plus special guests Blondie Chaplin (Rolling Stones, The Flame) on guitar (who sang lead on the song) and bandleader Paul Shaffer on piano. This led to a sing-along of "Help Me, Rhonda," and then a tribute to late, great Pete Seeger, this time a reverent and heart-warming sing-along of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone," with Mr. Barone serving as "verse cuer," into the final tune "Song Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya." The evening ended with an encore sing-along of The Beach Boy classic "Barbara Ann" with most of the evening's musicians joining in on background harmony vocals.

Interestingly, the evening got progressively less rehearsed: Professor Louie and his band were very tight; Mr. Wright and his band were a little bit looser; and much of Mr. Jardine's set was almost comical in its laxity: false starts, forgotten lyrics, and non-endings occurred. Yet there was an endearing, even "special" quality to this: it was as if we had all been invited to watch not simply the "end result," but also the "process" of creating the set. And it not only lent an air of happy informality to the evening, it also seemed to express very appropriately one of the underlying concepts of TM, which is (simplistically put) not to take anything so seriously that it creates stress. Mr. Jardine (and the other performers as well) was clearly there to have fun, not to "worry" about how "perfectly" each song was performed, and he maintained an infectious calm and joy throughout the evening. And it was clear that the audience both understood and appreciated this.

In addition to Mr. Jardine, Professor Louie, Dusty Wright and the others mentioned above, kudos go to the many other musicians, all of whom performed beautifully and helped to make the evening enjoyable and fun. - Ian Alterman

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Mr. Alterman is a founding moderator of Progarchives.com, the number one progressive rock website in the world. He writes there under the name Maani. (Don't ask.)

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