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Author Topic: Review of The Bamboo Trading Company Album  (Read 1876 times)
Peter Reum
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« on: April 23, 2013, 07:25:34 PM »

Is there really an Endless Summer? Is there a place we can go where time is stopped, responsibilities are gone, and pleasure is constant? If there was, would you go there? A place where Don't Worry, Be Happy is the motto all day, every day....Another way to look at this album would be that it could be one answer to The iconic Beach  Boys song When I Grow Up. That song asks if the singer will still like the same things he did as a young man, and if he will still be able to joke around. Bamboo Trading Company's new album is intimately wrapped up in these questions. The members of this group are current and former members of The Beach Boys Band: Randall Kirsch, Gary Griffin, and Philip Bardowell, and in the case of Matt Jardine, a son of a Beach Boy.  Rounding out the group are Miami Dan Yoe and Chris English. who both bring long term musical careers to this group.

Good Time Music or Sunshine Music, or whatever term one would want to use, has been the currency of  Southern California music for 50+ years. This is not to say it is exclusive to that tropical locale, because such groups as Lovin' Spoonful and Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band have recorded their share of  Good Time Music as well.  The idea of escaping to the tropics is as old as The Beach Boys, along with other groups such as Jan and Dean,  America, Bruce and Terry, Harpers Bizarre, California Music, Pablo Cruise, and many more also musically addressing the topic.

Dean appears on several tracks, as does such luminaries as Alan Boyd, David Marks, Probyn Gregory, and Katie Torrence. The album begins with a brief  introductory segment setting up a cycle of songs with a theme of coping with growing older and still having fun. A flight from  Kitty Hawk, North Carolina is the point of departure. David Beard is a resident of the venerable state of North Carolina, is Endless Summer Quarterly's Editor, and also co-produced this album with Gary Griffin, who also engineered it. Mastering was by Mark Linett. The album's first full tune,  Kitty Hawk, has a couplet that goes "C'mon let's soar, I want an endless summer, There must be more, Out there in California."

It is a fine American tradition to look over the next hilltop, to focus on youth cultural trappings, to think of the next horizon. California has come to symbolize youth, being a bellweather of change, and a place where opportunity abounds, and prosperity means a carefree life. When part of America was burning in heat in the time of the Dust Bowl, millions of formerly prosperous farmers migrated to the West Coast hoping to find a new life. The Beach Boys' own families migrated from Ohio and Kansas to rebuild their lives. Yet, John Steinbeck punctured that dream in his Grapes of Wrath.

We as a nation continue to need that hope, that dream, that possibility of an Endless Summer. Yet, when we finally assume adulthood, the very people we love become strangers to us because we are divided in so many directions in the way we expend our energy and time. This is the subject of Tweet (Don't Talk Anymore). The very pursuit of our American Dream causes us to lose our anchor....our family, our roots. We don't mean for family to be disposable, but it happens. At the time of national crisis is when The Beach Boys music sold the best. Their album, Endless Summer, took us to an earlier, more innocent time, when plumbers repaired pipes instead of stealing elections. In America, escape becomes a way of coping....living in the past or future allows us to avoid the pain of the present. On Peter Lacey's We Are the Sand album, Peter Lacey and David Beard's Drinkin' In the Sunshine explored the idea of sunshine as a way of coping with reality. It was almost a Zen experience. On Bamboo Trading Company, the same song seems to scream "we're out there having fun, in the warm California sun." On another level, the old Zen koan comes to mind "don't just do something, sit there!"

Star on the Beach explores the subject of getting to the age when a middle aged person is still on the top of their game, but sees that time coming to an end. It is almost the middle age equivalent of When I Grow Up. David Marks and Probyn Gregory contribute guitar and production to this tune. The tune also speaks to the kind of person who chased the next rush and horizon for so long that he did not know where he belonged. Alan Boyd sings on this song and others on this album. Like many songs on this album, the melody on this tune is impossibly catchy. After an instrumental interlude entitled Haulin' Cargo, the story resumes with a tune called Shrewd Awakening. This tune is a metaphor for several ideas, from mosquitoes, to family discord and unhappiness, to urban sprawl destroying California. Tonga Hut seems to address the escape from reality through partying hardy. Again, this is another approach to escaping reality.

Jericho is a tune by Miami Dan Yoe that addresses the experience of going to a place where people still come first, and learning people and relationships are what last. When we focus on relationships with people, we learn that although there is always potential pain there, true reciprocal relationships beat chasing money, highs, or other artificial and bogus relationships. I've Always Loved the Ocean explores the rapport that comes from creating together in a group. It is apparent that this bunch of guys made the process of creating this album a priority over how successful it might or might not be. By living in the now, as they put it, the group has grown together, had fun, and realized that their ability to live in the present contributes to the quality of their music, their families, and their listeners. Don't Say It's Over, the last full song on the album, seems to say "let's not say goodbye, just until next time." Another catchy melody anchors this tune, as they do throughout the album.

The Bamboo Trading Company Theme invites the listener into a relationship with the band's music, and  brings us full circle to landing the plane as "The Band that keeps you company." The album brings a group of long time musicians into their own place on the beach, apart from The Beach Boys, yet obviously fond of their California Music mentors. These guys have forged their own identity, and show promise not only in their gift for melody and group harmony, but also a willingness to share and support each other's tunes and work together for group excellence. That is the mark of mature musicians, who know themselves, and how they can create together. This is indeed Good Time Music for the 21st Century, and if you give it a spin without prejudging the album, you will find yourself with a big smile on your face, and grateful for 40 minutes of pure musical enjoyment.

Bamboo Trading Company may be found at amazon.com

Beach Boy friends are invited to read my blog----Reuminations located at blogspot.com
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 09:07:00 PM by Peter Reum » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2013, 02:03:31 AM »

Here's the music video for "Shrewd Awakening;" track #7 on the new Bamboo Trading Company CD, and it stars Dean, Katie & Jillian Torrence, Gary & Elizabeth Griffin and actor Bruce Davison (who portrayed Torrence in 1978's "Deadman's Curve" TV movie).

http://youtu.be/2gq58e_XY1I
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 02:08:50 PM »

Another review
http://www.beachboys.com/relatedV.html#btc
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 07:11:38 AM »

Mr. Reum, I'd like to thank you for writing that marvelous review, it was a real treat reading it! I even started loving California much more than before (which is impossible in itself since I've already made a conclusion it's the best state of America). Also, I've learned many interesting historical moments of American nation I didn't know earlier, counting I finally get the definition of "American Dream" phrase.
However, my favorite bit in the entire review is about Good Time/Sunshine Music & the description of the tracks themselves. Which again is beautifully written.

1 tiny note: among obvious luminaries, you mentioned Dean Torrence's daughter Katie. I don't know, maybe I do not understand the right meaning of the word "luminary" but to be honest, she doesn't deserve to be called like that just because her father's famous Dean from Jan & Dean. I for one, wasn't aware of her till this time. Generally, I'd no idea Dean had children.
Anyway, as I stated, this is something of a typing work. Well done, Mr. Reum! I'll definitely check this album, am really interested to hear what The BBs' musicians, sidemen of 3 camps & other people from The BBs world are capable of composing together. First thing is to go listening to the Amazon samples.

Lastly, returning back to your question concerning the Endless Summer place & whether or not I'd go there, I think no & yes simultaneously. No, because I'm a realist & yes because despite the former, I sometimes dream about living such idyllic life too - as much as anyone, I suppose.


Now re Shrewd Awakening clip: I very liked the song, notwithstanding a few Spanish words & Island-Fever-influenced drum-nature intro (though I'm quite a big SIP record fan). The melody, tango-stylized piano, the vocals, the overall light, restful mood - all is top-notch to me. The video is done also creatively, good combination of retro & modern visuals. Besides, I enjoyed watching Dean & Co. goofing around in the studio while singing the song. Specifically - the episode near the end where Mr. Davison "bit" Dean & the latter jokingly screamed: "There's a shrew, I finally found (?) the shrew!" In general, jolly joyful - and at the same time, whimsical in a good way - video! Thanks for posting the link, Mr. Beard!

Btw, nice to hear the "Fun Fun Fun" BBs nod at the end. Somehow it fits the song's theme.
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Peter Reum
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2013, 02:57:19 PM »

Hi Range Rover1, thanks for the kind feedback. There's a place for music that just brings a smile, doesn't require analysis to enjoy, and this album is it. Sometimes the message in the music can just be "let's dance" or "let's go to the beach." I hope these guys keep recording, because in a time of people taking themselves way too seriously, there's a big need for music like this. You and anyone else who wants to is welcome to catch my blog, Reuminations, at Google blogger/blogspot.
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2013, 07:37:47 AM »

Mr. Reum, thanks for invitation to visiting your blog! I'll surely check it. As for the lightweight music, you are correct, there should be more songs about fun in the sun, surfing, utopia stuff etc. They are harmless & bring nothing except joy, not mentioning they let the listener to go away from reality, all those serious materialistic things, even if it lasts within 3 minutes or 1 hour. That's why Sunshine Music is one of my top-favorite genres.
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2013, 06:12:01 AM »

For a limited time only, The Bamboo Trading Company is offering exclusive autographed CDs for $40 (plus shipping). Each CD has been signed by Bamboo Trading members Gary Griffin, Chris English and Miami Dan Yoe, and special guests David Marks, Dean Torrence and Probyn Gregory. Order yours while supplies last. http://www.killershrewsmovie.com/bambootradingcompany.html
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