"What better way to end summer?"
Dean Torrence, one half of the legendary 1960s singing duo Jan and Dean, spoke to me recently about the "Endless Summer" concert he's performing with his band, the Surf City Allstars, this Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa.
And, perhaps best of all, it's free.
"That frees us up a bit to do some things we wouldn't normally do," Torrence said. "So we'll play around a bit and also welcome a special guest I have coming out from back East, so look for a few surprises on Saturday night."
Torrence still tours the country in the wake of the 2004 passing of Jan Berry, but obviously, the local shows are steeped in even more memories and nostalgia. Part of that is because "Surf City," one of Jan and Dean's biggest hits, is also what has become Huntington Beach's official designation ("Surf City USA"). But beyond that, a hometown show for Torrence, who lives here, is a chance to perform the soundtrack of a generation in one of the exact places that gave birth to the music in the first place.
"Surf culture is still alive and well here," Torrence said, "as are many of the surfers we and the Beach Boys were writing about. We're all a little older, but this still means a lot to all of us."
Talking with Torrence is always interesting because he's not only found himself at the crossroads of so many huge cultural moments, but he remembers them all and is able to tell a story with a wry, self-deprecating tone that is truly entertaining.
Sure, he shared the bill with the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and James Brown on the famed T.A.M.I. Show in Santa Monica in 1964. Yes, he and Berry had many smash hits on the radio. But Torrence is also a talented graphic designer and out-of-the-box dreamer who, over the years, has had many unique ideas for games shows, variety shows — it seems he's always just a little bit ahead of the curve.
"We tried selling the idea of this comedian we sort of discovered back in the early 1970s," he said. "Shot a pilot and everything. Nobody cared. Until a few years later when that same comedian, Steve Martin, was making million in movies like 'The Jerk.'"
Torrence shrugs that off, along with a host of other ideas that, to hear him describe, all seem like blockbusters. But timing got in the way.
"I'd say usually, I'm about three to four years ahead of the curve," he chuckled philosophically.
Fortunately, Torrence is working on a book about his life, and excerpts are available today at his website, http://www.jananddean.com.
We're lucky to have a rock 'n' roll legend living in our midst, and that's why I hope a lot of people take advantage of the opportunity to hear Torrence for free Saturday.
No doubt the crowd will know every lyric to every song and will recall vividly where they were when they first heard them.
"Car radios," Torrence said. "That's where this generation grew up on music and developed these deeply emotional connections to the songs. That's how it was then, the radios and then the records they'd buy after hearing the songs on the radio. It was a much simpler time. Today, kids have so many options when it comes to music. That's great, but I wonder if, in 40 years, they'll be connected to the music of their youth like our fans are."
Torrence works hard to make his concerts authentic beach parties that will make concertgoers feel as if they have been transported to a retro beach party, back to a time of innocence and simple pleasures.
"There's so much magic left in that early '60s music," he said. "People remember the Beach Boys and us and a whole lot of other singers that gave them the soundtrack of their lives at all those critical moments growing up. When you play for people today, you can see them reliving the most important moments of their youth."
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.