Dick Dale | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dick Dale

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Sensible people tend to avoid nostalgia road shows: the old fans know what they're getting (and by definition they're gonna get what they want) but the merely curious--well, they generally don't end up seeing what the fuss was about. "King of the Surf Guitar" Dick Dale, who played at the Cubby Bear a few months ago, is a cure for this narrow bit of prejudice. Dale was a southern California sensation in the early 60s; though credited by some with kicking surf into gear, and signed to a big-money deal at the height of the craze, he never really went national. Thirty years on, he's been coaxed out of retirement for an album and a tour. The record, Tribal Thunder, is accurately named, though it still has the scent of the past about it. But you have to see this guy live. With a rock-hard, two-kid rhythm section paving the way, he marches up onstage, his old upside-down Telecaster slung over his shoulder, his custom-made (by Leo Fender himself) Dual Showman amp squatting behind him, and proceeds to play 90 minutes of bone-smashing, mind-melting guitar. Surf music means nothing these days, of course: but Dale is 56 years old and rocks with an implacable force, something none of his peers (and few musicians half his age) are able to do. There's no better antidote for nostalgia. Tab Benoit and Spies Who Surf open. Thursday, 9 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.

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