Tag Archives: Boston

Dick Dale

Fifty reverb-drenched years following the release of his signature hit, “Misirlou”, Dick Dale never comes off as an “oldies” act, a feat the 77-year-old “King of the Surf Guitar” reaffirmed with a recent Boston-area performance that for me happily coincided with a work conference in that city.

Middle East, Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Having closed down a rooftop cocktail reception our second night in town, three friends and I hailed a cab from the convention hotel in the city’s Back Bay section to Cambridge, just across the Charles River. In less than 10 minutes, the four of us stood outside the Middle East nightclub, located at 472-480 Massachusetts Avenue.

Middle East, Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

The $30 cover ($25 in advance) was substantially more than the $11 or $12 I used to pay to see Dale back in the mid-’90s, when he rode a wave of resurgent popularity following director Quentin Tarantino’s prominent use of “Misirlou” in his film Pulp Fiction. Still, I was pleased to find the Middle East a throwback to the smaller, darker, more intimate venues frequented in my youth, like Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre.

Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Downstairs, people packed the floor while the opening act, Three Day Threshold, delivered a decent brand of cow-punk somewhat reminiscent of the Supersuckers. I spied an opening at the bar, and we promptly ordered a round. The right moment arrived a few minutes later, when the band went off stage and the crowd briefly broke for the bathrooms and bar. It was then, drinks in hand, that we deftly made our way to the foot of the stage.

Dale is, in a sense, multiculturalism incarnate. Born in Boston to a Polish mother and Lebanese father, he grew up in nearby Quincy before moving with his family to El Segundo, California, where the teenage Dale took up surfing. The traditional Middle Eastern music he had known all his life came to heavily influence a style of music now commonly associated with Southern California. Indeed, his best-known tune, “Misirlou”, is based on a folk song that dates back to the 1920s. With his ferocious speed and amp-blowing volume, many today consider Dick Dale a progenitor of everything from punk to heavy metal.

Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Despite his advanced years and a recent bout with cancer, Dale, backed by a top-notch bass guitarist and drummer, tore through his 50-year repertoire with hurricane fury that night in Cambridge: “Let’s Go Trippin”, “Fish Taco”, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, “House of the Rising Sun”, “Louie Louie”, “Summertime Blues”, and a blistering rendition of the late Link Wray’s “Rumble”. He also remains the only man alive who can make both “Hava Nagila” and “Amazing Grace” sound completely bad-ass. No matter the tune, Dale, like the Ramones, has a sound so distinctive that whatever he plays instantly becomes his own.

At one point during the show I turned around to face the crowd. The whole place was packed.

Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

While Dale has to pay the bills just like the rest of us, one aspect that has always stuck with me since his earlier shows is his manifest enthusiasm for his fans. At no time was this ever more evident than the end of the show, when Dale would sit at the edge of the stage and talk with everyone, autograph anything, until the very last person had left, no matter how long that took.

Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Dick Dale is that he is nothing if not a survivor, defying a half-century of passing trends, health troubles, and an industry chronically obsessed with youth. As a fellow cancer survivor, I greatly respect that.

If Dale displayed any symptom of age it was sitting in a chair behind the merch table after the show. But there he sat, once again, chatting with fans and signing autographs, until the last folks in line (us) had their turn at the table. I bought a black-and-white photo of the King of the Surf Guitar, circa 1963, which he graciously signed to the attention of my 8-year-old son, also a fan.

Dick Dale
Dick Dale, August 6, 2014, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

“Fantastic as ever, Mr. Dale,” I said as he signed the picture. “I’ve been coming to see you for 20 years now.” He grew momentarily frustrated upon realizing he’d misspelled the word “special”.

“Heh,” he chuckled, handing me the photo. “You don’t look that old.”

“Neither do you, sir,” I laughed. “Neither do you.”

THE MIDDLE EAST
472-480 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA  02139
Phone: (617) 864-3278
Websitehttp://mideastoffers.com

DICK DALE
Websitehttp://www.dickdale.com/

 

Advertisements

Boston B&B on a Boat

 

Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

Anyone accustomed to traveling on business is familiar with the cash cow that the work conference circuit is for the hospitality industry, which commands top dollar for everything from wifi to dessert. Bearing that in mind when she was called to Boston for a three-day conference in late June 2013, Davida began researching more economical alternatives rather than spend her annual travel budget all in one place.

Liberty Clipper, Boston Harbor
Liberty Clipper, Boston Harbor

With my own annual conference out of the way, I planned to take a few days off to accompany her. Knowing my love for all things nautical, it was with great enthusiasm that Davida emailed me to ask if I’d be interested in taking a cruise one evening aboard a schooner she discovered during her online digging.

Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

“Absolutely,” I replied.

She emailed me again two minutes later: “How would you like to stay aboard the schooner?”

“Hell yes!” I exclaimed, and with that she promptly booked us for two nights aboard the 125-foot Liberty Clipper.

Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

At $130 a night (with less expensive options available), the deluxe cabin cost roughly one-third the price of a room at the conference hotel. Better still was the fact that, whereas the latter is situated in a stretch of reclaimed industrial waterfront a mile or two south of downtown, the Liberty docks at Long Wharf, well within walking distance of downtown attractions like Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church. Granted, this made getting to and from the conference more of a chore, but the ambiance of staying aboard a working schooner moored inside Boston Harbor more than made up for it.

Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

Both of us being on the shorter side in height, the cabin (which included a two-person top bunk) proved an ideal fit for our compact frames. We also took advantage of the 30 percent discount on any cruise offered to anyone staying aboard.

WPT at home on the Liberty Clipper
WPT at home on the Liberty Clipper

Mind you, such accommodations are not without challenges, starting with the fact that your room effectively disappears for several hours each day (the dockside office will gladly hold any belongings you might want to access during that time). Also, with features like a common head (bathroom) and shower, the operation more closely resembles a hostel than a hotel.

Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

While such arrangements should be carefully considered when planning a trip, especially if traveling on business, the experience will prove both memorable and affordable for the more adventurous traveler. And be sure to call ahead, as Liberty heads south every winter, to ply her trade in the Caribbean.

Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper

The Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships
Address: 67 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 742-0333
Website: www.libertyfleet.com
Email: liberty@libertyfleet.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Schooner-Liberty-Clipper/128590424883?fref=ts

Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper
Sailing in Boston Harbor, Liberty Clipper