Say the name Dick Dale and a sound instantly springs to mind: a huge, reverberant guitar burst that evokes the whoosh and howl of waves and wind. It's the sound you hear on dynamic '60s hits like "Misirlou," which many know better as the main theme for Quentin Tarantino's 1994 movie, "Pulp Fiction." It's the sound that defined surf music. And it's a sound Long Islanders will get to hear up close tomorrow, when the 77-year-old Dale performs at the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore. The man himself describes it best: "When I come onstage, I'm exploding."
The tools Dale uses to create this explosion are the same Stratocaster electric guitar and Dual Showman amplifier that Leo Fender built for him to use in the ballrooms of Southern California more than 50 years ago. And fans will be pleased to know the King of the Surf Guitar (to borrow one of his album titles) also is making no concessions on volume for the sake of his or anyone else's aging ears. "Oh, no, I'm still loud," Dale says with a chuckle. "In fact, I've been called 'the father of loud.' I like to really blast it out."
Potential hearing loss is actually one of the lesser problems Dale faces these days. Serious health issues have been dogging him for years, including renal failure, diabetes and multiple bouts of rectal cancer. And yet he's maintaining a 2014 touring schedule that could punish a performer decades younger.
"If you ask me what I'd rather be doing, well, I'd rather be home in California, watching TV, polishing my tools and working around the ranch," he admits. "But we have to go on the road to stay alive. At the same time, we're helping other people with similar afflictions. When they see me doing what I'm doing onstage at 77, it gives them strength."
It's a fairly safe bet that showgoers will hear classics like "Let's Go Trippin,' " "Jungle Fever," "Mr. Eliminator," "Tribal Thunder," and, of course, "Misirlou" at the Boulton Center, but Dale makes no promises. "I've never followed a set list in my life," he says. "I'm too busy making stuff up. I may play the same songs night to night, but I never play them the same way. Sometimes, if I feel like it, I'll change in the middle of a song, just go from one to another. Then I'll joke with the crowd and tell them that they got two for the price of one."
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Tuesday, YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 W. Main St., Bay Shore