Dick Dale And Jimmy Dale, The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA 28 Aug 09
Scott Gentzen
Sep 1 2009, 04:14 PM
Posts: 683
Joined: 16-January 07
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Band: Dick Dale and Jimmy Dale
Place: The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
Date: Aug 28th, 2009
Tickets: US$25



The Birchmere is a 500 seat venue in Alexandria, VA not far from Reagan National Airport. The main part of the Birchmere is set up dinner-theater style with tables and waitstaff for food and drink service. Food's expensive but it's pretty good. There isn't an open "pit" area here. Historically, the Birchmere is more of an "indie" or acoustic place. Really good acoustics, good lines of sight, but not really set up for a rock show. Over the last couple of years, they've branched out though....Vai played there in 2007. Living Colour is playing there tonight. I hadn't been there before but I'll be back.

The Show

I got to the venue early so I got a great table pretty much front and center about 20 feet from the stage. Some things I noticed while waiting for the show to start:

  • No drum kit
  • The 15" Twin Reverb combo was on the front line of the stage pointed at the audience...was going to be a loud night
  • There was a piano onstage. wtf?
  • There's also a pair of chairs onstage front and center with mic stands in front of them. also, wtf?
The lights go down, and Dick comes out with his son Jimmy with acoustic guitars. Huh? So Fender is working with the Dale's on a couple of acoustic signature guitars. 3" deep bodies, all mahogany, two pickguards. Dick's is kind of a small single cut mini-dreadnaught body style while Jimmy's is more of a full sized dreadnaught body. Dick spent some time talking about sound waves and molecular structures in explaining how he wanted the guitar designed and why it sounded the way it did. Kind of a commercial, I guess, but I can't find the guitars anywhere so I don't know if they can actually be bought or if they're short runs for the Dale's.

If I had to describe the show in one word, it would be "fun." They could hear the audience really well from the stage, so there was a lot of interaction with the audience. Dick, ever the legend led the show and Jimmy sometimes struggled to keep up. While Jimmy's a darn good player himself, but when Dick starts improvising, he had a real hard keeping up with the changes...to the point of occasionally rolling his eyes and putting his guitar down til Dick came back to earth.

The show itself was interesting. In between songs, Dick talked a lot. About healthy lifestyle, his cancer, teaching music, raising a teenager, the good old days, how evil record companies are, etc. He explained scales and how to improvise in them (on the piano, by having the audience pick 4 notes out of the Cmaj scale to stay within), explained how his sense of rhythm comes from being a drummer before being a guitar player. I learned a lot more than I expected for a concert.

What about the music? Well, there was a lot. Even playing acousticly, it was lout and fast. Dick's not as fast as he used to be with the tremelo picking, but it didn't matter. He rocked it out. He played all of the songs you'd expect...Pipeline, Nitro, Taco Wagon, Haji, Mr Peppermint Man, Misirilou...and some unexpected stuff....country tunes (I recognized Ring of Fire from Johnny Cash) and some other stuff I didn't recognize.

The show went a bit over 2 hours. I had a great time. My wife had a great time and she didn't really know much about Dick Dale.

After the show, Dick and Jimmy set up at a table and signed autographs and sat for pictures. It was a big line, so there wasn't much time to interact, but I got my Signed Stuff and a picture, so it worked out.

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