Dick Dale – High Noon Saloon, Madison WI – 07/27/2015

Dick Dale is a beast.

But let me start from the beginning.

Mad City Music Exchange http://www.madcitymusic.net/ ran a contest from their newsletter to win tickets to see Dick Dale. I didn’t know much about Dale and his music, but I did what any good music lover would do and I Spotified him.

The first thing that came up of course was “Misirlou”. This song was used in the soundtrack to “Pulp Fiction” and I was like… “oh, THAT guy.” Surf guitar. That would be cool to see. So I e-mailed my entry and prepared to forget all about it.


e-mail from MadCity

I WON !!!

I actually decided to NOT bone up on Dale, just letting “Misirlou” set the tone for the pre-show. I enlisted Josh to go with and we met at The Brass Ring for a beer and a bite. I passed the marquee of sorts outside of High Noon Saloon on the way.

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Monday night, early show… we wandered in about 7:15 and found half a table in the balcony and got comfortable to listen to The Kevin Fayte Rock N’ Roll Trio.

Our we were here shot.

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They were good and a perfect opener (in hindsight) bringing that big bass 50’s sound, a bit like Stray Cats meets Wayne Hancock. I dug it. The grooves were deep and made us bop in our seats. Our view from the balcony strained the limits of my new compact camera.


However, since there was  room on the floor I went down and took some stage shots.


Man I love me some stand up bass.


Then I went back up and we had some beers and talked about pompadours and our love of old time music just like The Kevin Fayte Rock N’ Roll Trio. They rocked it! Check out their Facebook page.


When they finished their too short set, we grabbed our beers and headed down to stake a claim on front and center, which we got. I was dead center stage. As we waited we struck up a conversation with a guy who had driven from Minnesota to see Dale. He asked us if we had ever seen Dale before, to which we replied no. Then he asked if we had brought earplugs. He went on to relate the Dick Dale was the LOUDEST show he had ever experienced. It so happens that I usually do bring earplugs, but forgot this night.

As I write this the following night, I still hear the amps.

Dick Dale flier

Even before he hit the stage, he made me jump. The house music had faded and into the semi hush of the place, what I can only describe as a decibel blasting few notes exploded from the amps. It startled me. Literally. Then out came the bass player and drummer. Then came Dick Dale himself. He was right in front of us. I love down front.

He fired up the first song and all hell broke loose.

The music was more like a pleasant assault as he played. The sheer volume, which by the way was not a horrible mess, just LOUD, was intense beyond description. I was regretting not bring the earplugs, but thanking my lucky stars that I got to see this.

Dick Dale is a 78 year old beast! He played the hell out of that poor guitar and wowed us with the sheer force of his music. For a while I was so stunned and digging it I forgot to take pictures. Eventually I had to start documenting this guy that was playing like a 20 year old with crazy wicked voodoo chops. It was unbelievable.


As he later admitted to the crowd, he sometimes went off on a tangent during his shows and the poor rhythm section had to follow along as best they could and improvise blends and changeovers. They were awesome too.

The bass player reminded me of Jemaine from Flight Of The Conchords.


Dale’s hands were largely a blur and I have about 30 pictures of his hands that look like they are melting or metamorphosing into multiple hands.


His guitar was pretty simple, just a sticker on the body over the cord plug and a quick draw guitar pick dispenser down low. I did notice that he had something written on the pick guard.


but no whammy bar and there were no pedals on the floor for him. The music he made, it was just him and the guitar. He used the microphone stand against his strings and pushed the neck of his guitar down on one of the amps to bend the notes in one song. It was really something to see. Then he brought out a harmonica and blew that for a bit.


They guy was all over the place at an intensity of 110%. I couldn’t believe it. Josh tried to talk to me a couple of times and I could literally hear nothing of what he was saying. Eventually I texted him so I could tell him “This is freaking awesome!”


Blurry but amazed. I got a shot for Al too. “I’m seeing Dick Dale!”

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He played that guitar into a frothing frenzy, and played some on the bass too. He fingered the strings while the bass player plucked. It was so cool.


The prized shot of the evening was when Dale came right to the front inches away from me and I held my camera high and got a shot down the barrel of his guitar. Perfect!

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Holy $#!+ I had never heard anything like this. It blew me out of my socks, literally and figuratively. And his tricks weren’t done.

He played drums for a bit with the drummer.


Then moved to the bass player and used the drumsticks on the body and strings of the bass to make the music.


He played seemingly faster and harder as the show went on. At times he seemed in a daze as his hands worked like lightning.



These guys worked hard to keep the groove going along smooth. Shout out to the rhythm section. You guys were great! It must be hard work, but you made it look easy. Props.


Then sadly… it was all over and Dick Dale and crew left the stage. Despite Josh’s Herculean shouts of “One More!…One More!… One More!…” there was no encore.


I don’t know how else to sum it up other than Dick Dale is a beast.

If you EVER get a chance to see him, bring some earplugs and GO!

Thank you again MadCity Music Exchange. It was epic. And thank you High Noon Saloon for bring in such a great performer.

Dick Dale

I’m going to go rest my ears now.

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