Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beach Boys Proxy Wars..... The Clusterfudge Continues.....

Take a look at that picture above folks. The chances of the Beach Boys reuniting again, are, I would guess at this stage, about as likely as it is that the Beach Boys ever actually looked remotely like the picture above.

We have a bit more info to work from as far as the "Jones Beach Incident" as I will now call it.

Apparently, in response to a bunch of internet tools posting who-knows-what about who-knows-who on facebook, a person close to Mike Love posted some response comments. I won't reprint all of the info, but found among the teenager-style internet/text-speak and questionable punctuation defending Mike, a bit of info can be gleaned. First, let's get into the Jones Beach Incident. This person stated that Al wanted to do the shows, asked to do the show, and then backed out at the last minute.

While cringe-worthy, this elicited a response from someone close to Al that did include some additional information to chew on. According to this person, it was not Mike but the promoter Live Nation that asked Al to perform. Al apparently was bummed out that the promoter asked him to play and that Mike didn't. Apparently, there were other problems between all the parties that clearly ultimately prevented the appearance from happening.

This is a classic case of answering and also raising a bunch of questions. If Al was offended, did he then still continue to try to make the appearance happen? What was ultimately the reason it all fell through? This does perhaps answer the question of whether Al "signed" anything to do the show. It sounds as though he was negotiating with Live Nation, not Mike. I would presume any issues such as adding Al's name to the advertisements was done between Al and Live Nation. Perhaps he didn't sign an agreement but agreed to let them use his name? Again, I could only hope and assume Al didn't simply sign a deal with Live Nation and then say "screw it, I'm out."

Additionally, among the facebook comments (and I use even the term "comments" loosely; clearly some folks go on there and just blurp out whatever is running through their brain at the moment), a reference was also made by the person close to Mike that Brian allegedly sent an e-mail during the 50th anniversary tour saying he would perform no more shows.

I've already read and written volumes on this over at the Smiley Smile board, so I'm too exhausted to get too much into it again. To briefly summarize, I'm guessing that assuming Brian sent a terse, one-line e-mail stating he would be doing no more shows, it was largely inconsequential in light of a few things: Not long after, Brian changed his mind and wanted to do more shows. There were many offers on the table for more shows/tours/an album. Brian and Al wanted to do them. It appears Mike didn't, and maybe never wanted to do more shows. Essentially, a "no more shows" e-mail from Brian amounted to stating something that was already pre-ordained to happen, and was already happening. Had Mike already booked non-reunion shows when that e-mail was written? Either way, Mike's own expressed opinions and comments strongly indicate he didn't like aspects of the reunion and was happy to go back to his own thing. It's also clear that, even if at one stage Brian briefly stated he was done with the reunion, he changed his mind and wanted to take more reunion booking offers and do another album. Hence, please assign blame for the end of the reunion accordingly, if such blame even matters anymore.

Back to my opening line, let me just say this. My own observations of recent events, such as the "Jones Beach Incident", as well as a few private comments from a few sources, lead me to the heartbreaking conclusion that it is EXTREMELY unlikely we will see another full Beach Boys reunion. That is just extremely sad.

So, I offer my immense and sincere thanks to the guys for giving us the 50th anniversary tour, and immense disappointment for not collectively having their shit together and keeping it going for awhile longer while some of us are still alive....

Monday, June 23, 2014

More Clusterf***s in Beach Boys Land... Al not playing Jones Beach with Mike, Will Play with Brian Instead!

This, my fellow Beach Boys fans, is why we can’t have nice things sometimes.
Plenty of speculative analysis is to follow, but to report the latest, Al Jardine will NOT be appearing at Mike and Bruce’s July 5th “Beach Boys” show. He will, however, be playing the two July European gigs with Brian Wilson, including a gig that falls, depending on how you view timezones, on the same day as the July 5th Jones Beach gig. First, here’s Al’s Facebook statement on the matter:
Despite some reports to the contrary, I am not touring with Mike Love and the Beach Boys this summer. I will, however, be joining Brian Wilson on July 4th in Cork, Ireland and July 5th at the Hop Farm Music Festival in Kent, England. I'm also planning to go out with my own band later this year. Thanks for all your support, Al
First, let’s look at what this confirms. Curiously, this statement doesn’t speak specifically to the Jones Beach show, but rather indicates Al is not touring with Mike’s band this summer. This implies someone made the suggestion that he would be touring with Mike, which doesn’t seem to be the case. So I’m not sure if this is a way to speak to the Jones Beach situation without directly naming it, or if this means something else. We also know now that Al will be playing the two July gigs with Brian. Future plans aren’t clear, but the statement seems to imply Al may not be playing shows later this year with Brian (we only know of a few October bookings for Brian in the US so far), although that would depend on his and Brian’s schedules. The reference to Al touring with his own band is intriguing. Hopefully this isn’t a case of Al simply hoping he can get a half dozen street fair bookings for his “Endless Summer Band”, but perhaps that he’s making a more concerted effort to make solo bookings for interesting shows. We shall see. I won’t hold my breath. Remember that Christmas tour with Christopher Cross from like 2006 or so? You probably don’t, because it never happened!

Meanwhile, David Marks has apparently confirmed he will be playing the Jones Beach show with Mike, and is not appearing with Brian and Al. Make of that what you will. Marks doesn't seem to have an axe to grind with any of these guys, so I'm guessing he's simply playing the gig with the guy who asked him.
Internet fans are much more interested in an elaborate and speculative blame game on the Jones Beach issue. The argument is two-tiered: Personal blame as it pertains to letting fans down, and the possible legal consequences.
In the personal, non-legal blame realm, more damning for Al is the fact that he did apparently list the Jones Beach gig on one of his internet hubs at some point. Make no mistake, it’s pretty clear that at some point Al was planning on or considering playing the gig. How serious he was about it, or what if anything was signed, we don’t know. But there’s no way that a concert promoter, Ticketmaster, and Mike himself in an interview all just dreamed up the idea of Al playing the gig. It certainly was planned to some degree at some point.
Then there is the issue of the promotion of the show by other entities. Ticketmaster sent out flyers with Al’s name. Al’s name is not on the ticket stub as far as we know. But his name was used to advertise the show at some date well after tickets had gone on sale. Mike also mentioned in one interview that Al and Dave would be at the show. The question becomes, if Al was unsure about playing the gig, should he have quashed any of this promotion? It’s hard to say. We don’t know what was being said or done behind the scenes. The fact that Al didn’t make a big announcement may indicate it was always tentative. One would think if he was excited about a semi-reunion gig, he would have made a statement or given an interview on the topic. That didn’t happen. But he also didn’t make any statements indicating the advertising was false. The problem may have been, if he was still considering doing the show but unsure, he probably wouldn’t want to speak out against the advertisements. It would just confuse people even more to say “Recent promotions using my name for the Jones Beach show may be false, I don’t know yet.”
At the very least, having posted the date on one of his internet hubs, Al should have directly addressed the show and potential fans who bought tickets specifically because he was going to be there. Whether to disavow those advertisements or to apologize, either way it would have been nice to see him address this.
As concerns refunds to ticket buyers, a few things are worth speculatively noting. First, the venue may well allow refunds to those who ask. For those who bought tickets after the flyer with Al was mailed out, they could offer refunds to those who ask. We don’t know. Also, how many people truly bought tickets specifically because Al was going to be there? It doesn’t reflect that well on Al to point out that probably not that many people bought tickets just for him. The venue may well not even get many requests for refunds. I also find it a bit ironic that staunch pro-Mike fans would imply they would want a refund in this scenario, as it implies that Mike’s “regular” show is not enough of a draw to warrant buying a ticket. Odd. Nevertheless, there is no question that at least a small group of fans did buy tickets because Al was going to be there. If a Mike show with Al’s participation had been announced near me, I probably would have bought tickets, and I would indeed be very conflicted right now if that were the case. Hopefully fans can get a refund if they desire. Otherwise, I’m not sure what else they could ask for other than an apology from Al and/or any other entities for what we can all agree is a classic Beach Boys-style clusterf***. 
In the legal realm, we have even less information to go on. All speculation, but it would probably mostly hinge on whether Al actually signed anything agreeing to do the show. The puzzling aspect, and again this is all speculation and really serves no purpose other than to amuse fans, is that neither scenario seems so likely. That is, on the one hand, it’s hard to imagine a venue/promoter putting Al’s name in ads without a signed deal, and hard to imagine Mike mentioning Al’s participation without something set in stone. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine Al being contractually obligated to do the show and simply bailing.
The even more interesting, and even more speculate area is, what happened? Specifically, that is. What could have been the sequence of events? Let’s break it down: As of late April or so, fans began to get e-mail notices of the Jones Beach show. It appears that, all along, the idea was for it to be a bit of a “oldies” revue with whatever versions of “The Lovin’ Spoonful” and “The Rascals” are currently touring.
Soon after, in an article that detailed Mike’s upcoming summer tour and the addition of Jeff Foskett to his band, Mike mentioned that Al and Dave would be at Jones Beach.
At some point around this time, one of Al’s internet hubs apparently listed the Jones Beach show.
After this, we heard nothing. Al never personally commented on it, which seemed odd. Then, as reported here a few weeks ago, one internet source over on the Beach Boys Britain board indicated that they had a source indicating that at that point Al had not “signed” anything agreeing to the show, and that he may not appear.
After that, nothing but speculation for a few more weeks until Al’s Facebook post.
Fans are speculating on what could have happened, and it is a classic Beach Boys mystery. We know everybody considered the possibility of Al doing the show, and now he isn't. That's about all we know. Did the terms of Al's involvement change or fall through?
A theory to which I would apply some serious consideration is the idea that Al would perhaps have a more long-term goal in mind. Perhaps he envisioned (or was given an indication?) that he might have a future with Mike's touring band. Perhaps he would like his idea, less due to being able to sing with Mike, and more due to the idea of keeping as much of the band together as possible. Perhaps once he saw that this was without question a one-off performance, the show became less interesting and more insulting.
Also, there's the question of how the Brian gigs fit into this. Did Al bail on Mike to play with Brian? Whether contractually obligated or not, it would be interesting to know if he bailed on the Mike show for a potentially more interesting and rewarding experience playing with Brian. When did Al agree to play with Brian? When was an offer made? Did the offer impact his involvement (or non-involvement) with Mike's show?
Lots to chew on, and hopefully more info to come. I would be concerned less with this particular Jones Beach show and more concerned with whether Al's non-appearance might end up being a cause or an effect of a more serious falling out with Mike. I want these guys to stay on good terms, if for no other reason than to keep lawsuits from happening and keep that slimmest of slim hopes alive for more full reunion activity. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Al Jardine's Participation in July 5th Mike & Bruce Show Questionable?

In a situation that may be dicey or may be cleared up within days, potentially rendering this piece of writing rather moot, Al Jardine’s participation in the July 5th gig with Mike Love’s “Beach Boys” may still be questionable.
One source on the “Beach Boys Britain” message board has indicated that Jardine has not yet officially signed on for the show. No “paperwork” has been signed apparently. Obviously, when these guys do things like the 50th anniversary tour, all sorts of contracts need to be signed. There are no “handshake” deals in the business world anymore, especially when it comes to the litigious bunch that are the Beach Boys. Whether they work on verbal agreements when one guy is sitting in for one show, I do not know. The story sounds a bit dubious only because it seems far-fetched for Love to advertise Jardine’s involvement in a recent interview (as well as print advertisements to appear with Jardine’s name) if Jardine has not officially accepted the offer. At least some fans have no doubt specifically bought tickets to this show to see Jardine appear with Love for the first time in a full-length show since 1998 (apart from “C50” of course). The same source claims that David Marks is confirmed for the show. We shall see whether any of this is accurate. I would still lean toward Jardine appearing, as there has been way too much promotion done touting his appearance already. Also, Jardine’s own internet hubs still list the show. It would be rather ironic if Jardine doesn’t show up and was actually never confirmed, considering all of the hassles Jardine was forced to go through in 1999 when he advertised his band as “Beach Boys Family & Friends.” Even back then, Jardine never promoted his shows as featuring specific band members that wouldn’t be present.
An item that may or may not ultimately be related to this story is a recent report from a one-off solo gig Al played in Atlantic City. A few general fan reviews of the gig seem to indicate that at some point Al was cajoled by a fan into commenting on Mike Love, and may have made a semi-joking (or not so much joking) reference to Mike that didn’t indicate a strengthening connection between the two, let’s say. Head over to the Smiley Smile board for a more detailed report from the show. While commentators who have had closer contact with Al, such as Howie Edelson, have pointed out that Al’s bitterness over Beach Boys business in the aftermath of Carl’s death has subsided, leading to a much more mellow Al Jardine, it’s not difficult to imagine that he still has some complicated feelings about Mike touring without him. These feelings were all set aside in the glorious glow of the reunion tour two years ago. But to paraphrase the metaphor used by a fan on the Smiley Smile board, Al indeed must sometimes feel like he’s repeatedly getting the ball taken away from him steps away from the end zone. Sometimes he’s probably partly to blame for it. But he seems to have far more enthusiasm than anyone else in the band for keeping the entire band together. Brian stopped complaining about the end of the reunion a few weeks after the press hoopla died down. Mike and Bruce, Bruce oddly especially, seem ecstatic to not have the full band reunited anymore. David Marks seems to maintain good relations with all parties, but understandably has no power or clout when it comes to the interpersonal or business issues that keep the band apart.
Whether it happened like this or not, let’s imagine a scenario where Mike calls Al up and says, “Hey, wanna play with us on July 5th in Jones Beach? It’ll be fun to do a gig together.” Someone in Al’s position could take that any number of ways. It could be seen as a fun time with an old musical pal. It could be seen as a fence-mending exercise. It could be seen as Mike trying to sell more tickets to the Jones Beach show because ticket sales may have sagged. Perhaps Al finds it a bit grating to be invited back for "one special night" into his own band. In any event, one can only imagine how there might be some complicated emotions and feelings involved with something like this, to say nothing of the business and financial issues that may or may be a motivation or a result of doing a show like this.
One has to wonder if Al is once again the strangely isolated one in the band. He has the most intact voice, he has the strongest desire to keep the entire band together to record and tour. Yet, we could end up as this year progresses with Brian releasing a solo album and touring solo without Al, and Mike and Bruce touring as "The Beach Boys" without Al. As I've already mentioned, Al is not likely to be blameless in all of the band's dealings and situations over the years, and some if not most of what Al wants out of this band may not be remotely realistic. But it's difficult to not see the irony involved here.
If Al plays a gig with Mike and Bruce, I'm less interested in that individual event, and more interested in whether these guys can't put something back together as a group. I'm more interested in Al either somehow getting the band to do something with him, or to finally find someone who will help him do a legit solo career, at least one shot at one. Another solo album and a real solo tour. Not an "Endless Summer Beach Band" where Al plays the local mushroom festival and plays a 45-minute set of surf and car songs with rented equipment. Maybe Al needs to find some Wondermints-type Beach Boys nerd musician fans (or grab some of Brian's guys when they're free) and do some small gigs and finally do the deep cuts that he has wanted to for eons.
But I digress. We shall see what comes of this July 5th show.