Saturday, June 30, 2012

Aloha Screwdriver, Banzai Surf and Stafford and the Bentz Brothers at Slim's Last Chance 6-29-12

Surf is finally coming ashore after many moons of absence. While Banzai Surf is starting to crank their schedule, this is the first full on, big wave, heavy wax, nose riding spectacle for some time. I saw the Banzai boys at The Georgetown Carnival (where they killed), but I think you would have to go back to the Rockabilly Ball in September of '11 to register a heavy surf.

Aloha Screwdriver was one of the headliners of the Rockabilly Ball Surf Night Spectacular, hosted by my friend Leon Berman. Leon is the DJ of Shake The Shack, the premier Rockabilly radio show in the world. Others may mimic, but there is nothing like the real thing. Leon has been at it for 25 years this year and is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. 

Leon, who has been recuperating from surgery, has been sorely missing for over two months. This night he was joining his cousin Mike to host the show. It was appropriate that they had Aloha Screwdriver playing live on the show. It was wonderful to hear Leon's voice back on the air, we all missed him a lot and hope for his further progress. You can stream this show anytime day or night at 

Choose Leon Berman at the DJ column and at the next window choose the June 29th show.

I remember seeing Aloha Screwdriver break out in an impromptu fight with Glowing Ray-Guns during their set in September. I was cracking up as they chased each other around the Tractor in mock battle. They provided the killer theater all while blasting the best in high energy Surf.

Well, not only did they end up chasing each other around Slim's, blasting each other with the coolest Ray-Guns, they provided the audience a way to protect themselves. I got a genuine Aloha Screwdriver Brand PU-31 Explosive Modulated, twirling Ray-Gun and here is the proof:

I purchased a t-shirt also. Be sure to buy something from the artist if it is offered. This dough goes straight into their pockets. If they are willing to come all the way up from Alameda, CA to play one show in Seattle we should support them as best we can.

My pal Mark and I went to Slim's at what I thought was early. We walked in just after 9 and the first band was already on. I am used to the show starting at 9:30 at Slim's. For whatever reason they started early and the whole show wrapped up really early. I had heard the boys from AS saying they had to leave for Portland that evening so that might have had something to do with it. But it was weird getting home just after midnight on a Friday Night. My wife wondered what happened.

Having said that, I have absolutely no complaints about this show; the bill was killer, the sound tech had it dialed in and I had my favorite perch at the bar. The wait staff was cute and efficient, say cheese!

This was one of the most fun shows I have seen in a while; each band was great; 3 different versions of the same genre. The crowd was starting to get big, Seattle had been dying for some surf and the rain wasn't going to keep us from enjoying it.

The first band was Stafford and the Bentz Brothers. They are local boys who play tunes from the early 60's; tonight it was all surf and they were really fun. Stafford Warner is on drums, Mark Bentz is on stand-up bass and bis brother Phil plays lead guitar.

They rocked some classics with imaginative arrangements. They added original twists on the familiar tunes we all grew up with. Phil was blistering the 6 string, his face twitching as he guided his fellow babies through some awesome surf. They also played some very creative covers, my favorite was one from the movie In Like Flint. As soon as I recognized it I had to laugh. Really fun and entertaining.

Here is a pic of Phil relaxing after his set.

The guys set the tone for the evening, they had fun and played a great bunch of tunes. They got the audience cooking, big applause after every song. They have a presence on Facebook and ReverbNation:

Banzai Surf was up next, they had to follow a pretty good act and set up for one of the best surf bands in the states, a tall order. But as usually they killed. BS is Joe Jabon on lead guitar, Joe Anderson on bass, John Mooney on skins and Jim Sadler on keys.

This band is as tight and talented as they come, playing high energy fast moving surf to an appreciative crowd on this muggy evening. Banzai Surf was cranking the best of original and classic surf tunes, just like they have done before. I have seen them many times and each time is a real joy and pleasure.  As you can see here, they had the kiddies up and dancing.

They are well practiced and skillful as they play very creative arrangements of some of the great surf classics. The also have some nice original interpretations as in their version of The King of the Hill theme song. I loved Telstar, The Good, Bad and the Ugly and the Godfather Theme. They also did a cool surf-bossa nova tune.

I loved the keyboard player, he blazed the keys performing a couple solos that had us all boppin'. There wasn't a butt in the place that wasn't moving. 

The best tune they did was The Sabre Dance surf style, so very cool, driving, frenetic, played with real passion and love. These guys had the whole place up and rocking...Banzai was the cry! Banzai we yelled, Banzai!

The garage door was up at Slim's which helped keep us cool on this damp evening, but the peeps were at a fever pitch. Banzai Surf had thoroughly rocked and we all needed to catch our breath as one of the craziest entertainers on the west coast were up next. One more pic of this really great band of local surf musicians. Banzai!

See Banzai Surf here, buy their CD, it is great surf:

If you ever get a chance to see Aloha Screwdriver do not miss, this is one of the funnest, most entertaining bands you can see live. Three guys slither up to the stage but burst out with such energy that the first response is to flinch.

All of the members of the two previous bands and a big crowd stood in awe as these boys showed us how it was done. Great presence, cool outfits and killer music was the mission for the evening, from the first lick it was awesome.

Aloha Screwdriver is Donald Bell on guitar, Grant Shellen on bass and Steve Slater on drums. As I said, I have seen them before and when I heard they were coming back to town I canceled all plans and headed to Slim's. This was a must see event.

 These guys are not content to stand up on a stage and play a static show, far from it. I don't believe they even think there is a boundary between them and the crowd. Grant was the first to enter the fray, running through the bar with his wireless bass; the crowd going nuts the whole time. He was killing the bass while wearing a silver chest plate and wrap around shades.

 Steve is usually manic in his percussion style, many times standing and moving around the set. He plays anything that will make a thud or a tink, so fun to watch. He was wearing a Tyvek jumpsuit and a blinking set of goggles. He is a blur most of the time. Here he is presenting himself for our approval.

Steve is standing on the Rock Box. This is a riser with constructed with holes in the top of it and halogen lights under shining up through the holes. It is activated when one of these showman decided to get crazy and mount the damn thing. Hilarious and another detail that makes this band so great.

But wait, there is more. Here is how cool the Aloha Screwdriver boys are: they brought the Rock Box to Kexp for the radio broadcast. Never mind that the only folks that would be seeing it was Mike and Leon the DJ's, Aloha Screwdriver had to get their jollies! Awesome group these guys.

Donald is a freaking genius of surf guitar, just shredding the strings, at times making sounds that I didn't think could come out of a guitar. Dressed in garage style blue jumpsuit, he blazed an original and highly creative surf path, he and his mates were rocking their dynamite brand of original surf tunes.

They play extremely high energy surf and the crowd was right there with them. The mood was happy, and the kiddies were sweating to the best surf music in the west. I cannot do justice to this set, it was a freaking gas. You can hear some of the fun at the KEXP archive listed above.

They have a dynamite CD, order it without delay, you will become a quick convert. I have had the CD for 8 months and have never got tired of hearing it. You can see them here:

This is one of the rare surf shows in town and I was really glad to see a good crowd. It did help that my friends over at Shake the Shack hosted the boys live on the program earlier in the evening.

This was a great evening as surf music brings out the best in everybody. Surf is happy music, have you ever heard a bummer surf tune? Even Quentin Tarantino's dark moods cannot sully surf tunes.

The best resource on the planet for Surf Music is Double Crown Records based in Bellingham WA. They produce and record surf and instrumental rock from all over the world. They have a killer sale right now, 20% off all music. I just ordered 4 CD's to add to my collection. I am a subscriber and get 4 CD's of their choice (always great) sent out over a few months too. Check them out here:
and check out their Facebook page for the 20% sales code here:

Get out and see some live music soon, your heart will be lifted and you will feel better for it.

Thank you to Slim's Last Chance for hosting a great show. This is a wonderful venue for live music, chili, adult beverages and fun.  See them here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

No comments until the next post.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.