Thursday, 24 January 2013

Women in Surf and Instrumental Music

I received an email from guitarist Zoe McCullough recently, urging me to check out her band, The Crickettes, which I did. I would urge you to do the same.

The Crickettes are quite unusual in the world of surf and instrumental music, in having an all female line up; the only other such bands I can think of are The Neptunas, who operated around California in the 1990’s and The 5, 6, 7, 8’s from Japan, who are still going strong, but who only play some instrumentals (although they play them in a splendidly ferocious manner). Do let me know if you can think of any others.

What also marks Zoe out is that she’s a lead guitarist, which puts her in fairly rarefied company these days, alongside Susan L. Yasinski, formerly of Susan and the Surftones and now performing as Susan Surftone, while Marisol Yolanda was a fine rhythm player in Los Twang Marvels.

It’s a bit easier to find women playing bass in surf bands: Lada Furlan Zaborac of The Bambi Molesters, Tine Camilla Lind of El Ray, Dolly Sunmakers of The Sunmakers, Catherine Gray of the late lamented Space Cossacks, Hula Girl of Hungarian band Cowabunga Go Go and Hiromi Jones of The Space Agency are all notable. Actually, special mention should be made of Hiromi, since she now also appears to be playing lead guitar in The Get Smashed (who are essentially The Space Agency, but playing one another’s instruments!).

No trawl through women in surf should be complete, of course, without mention of Kathy Marshall, The Queen of the Surf Guitar, a teenage sensation who shared the stage on many occasions with Eddie and the Showman in the 1960’s and reputedly once also blew Dick Dale off stage. The shame is that only those who were there have ever had the chance to hear Kathy Marshall play, since the only recordings made of her have never seen the light of day. However, she does feature in the documentary The Sound of the Surf, which was previewed at the 2011 Surfer Joe Summer Festival in Livorno and which I can’t wait to see in full.

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