SWS Productions


    July 19, 2001


20 Friday at the Rio Theatre

The classic, triple-time staccato guitar picking from Dick Dale to the Ventures was starting to sound like boogie boarding music until The Mermen came along. Making grand, sweeping surf-sonic statements, the San Francisco-based Mermen have totally redefined the genre and bring out the big guns, Mavericks-style, capable of handling all the ocean's fury. With liquid timbre and a bioluminescent flotsam of reverb, the combo douse their music with enough saltwater spindrift to make their live shows seem like an epic overhead surf session -- or, in introspective moments, deep beneath a kelp forest. Though there has been some personnel changes over the years, Mermen guitarist, founder and surfer, Jim Thomas, continues to fearlessly take the Fender Stratocaster to the edge of the earth and back, which is good news for Mermen fans who have grown fond of the intensifying seal-like appearance of the surf-rock almighty. Opening the show is the Inspectors, a San Francisco-based instrumental surf/jazz group who conjure up images of a '60s James Bond in flower baggy's riding a Johnny Rice longboard, decked out with small rocket engines. All proceeds from the show go the the Ride-A-Wave foundation.

Bruce Willey

    July 18, 2001

The Mermen

20 Friday - Rio Theatre

Surf gods the Mermen worked four years on their last album, The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show (Atlantic Mesa/BlueMoon). The album's lofty title is deserved; the long (nearly an hour), intricate and multifaceted disc is the kind of thing you could put in a CD player and let repeat all day long and into the night. Live, this trio cuts back on the space-jams and goes for the sparks; one can't think of a better place to see the smartest surf band alive than in Santa Cruz. Opening is San Francisco's the Inspectors, a '60s lounge extravaganza featuring divine ex-Santa Cruzan Tina Reguero.

Richard von Busack