words and photos by Krystopher Beiro
Last Friday, the Tractor Tavern was sold out, as it should be for guitar legend Dick Dale. The crowed gathered and stood ready for the show. It was apparent that the age-diverse crowd was there to see both Seattle opener Dead Man and the guitar player who has stood the test of time, Dick Dale.
As Dead Man got settled amongst the stage of Dale’s multiple amps, aged back to the 50’s (I ogled those amps), they found their groove, and their filthy blues explosion started to happen. Either out of loyalty or new found respect, the crowd got behind Dead Man. Even if they weren’t your cup of tea, you couldn’t say that the talented and fun loving duo didn’t bring all they had to the Tractor that night.
Without a doubt, Dick Dale is pure charisma, and his soul and mastery took the show to the next level. As the Tractor filled, I worked my way to the front left side of the stage to get some photos, just as the living legend walked on stage with his son on drums and a big metal fan in hand (he called his “biggest fan”). As soon as he began playing, I realized Mr. Dale is left handed player using a right handed guitar upside down! The set started off strong, with about an hour of hits from then to now, between which he roped the crowd in with his stories of playing with other greats, though rather than saying their names he played their songs. “House of the Rising Sun” made the crowd chant at full voice as he played the bass, while the regular bass player strummed on. The crowed went wild as the surf rock king switched instruments to play a variety of covers, including some from the late Johnny Cash. I went to the back of the room to see the full crowd. I maneuvered past a group of young rockabilly kids swing dancing and steered clear of a guy in his 50’s doing that strange 60’s twitch and jerk dance, which made me smile. This was a show for the record books and the closest thing to a time machine I think could be found. As the 75 year-old, no red meat eating, karate kicking surfer that is Mr. Dale closed the set, he expressed the only reasons he was able to kick cancer in 63 and still rock in 2012, which is his love of martial arts and healthy diet of humor. He was so true and sincere; he just wanted us to know that through laughter anyone could be healed as he was. I will take heed. And I hope you do too.