I’m a Huge Brian Wilson and Beach Boy’s Fan, my mother used to play Pet Sounds when I was 3 years old in the car all the time. I also had good doses of the Beatles, Elvis, Wilson Pickett, Buddy Holly, CCR, Aretha and Three Dog Night (I <3 you mums) around that same time But it was Pet Sounds, Soul & blues and Magical Mystery Tour that took me to other worlds.
Today Finding out that 8, YES 8! Beach Boy’s siblings including Carnie and Wendy Wilson from Wilson Phillips formed a band called California Saga well, let’s just say it gave me joyful amusement to say the least. Below is an article from the Ventura County Star and a youtube clip of the Band live from the Hollywood Bowl, they’re really good! They sound more like a Hot College Jazz Choir then the beach boys, some of those chords in the video below are really cool :)
Brian Wilson was in the middle of a late-afternoon soundcheck with The Beach Boys last week in Chula Vista when one of his musical directors had a question for him. Did he mind if Ambha Love, the 16-year-old daughter of Beach Boys frontman Mike Love, sang “Sail on Sailor” that night?
“Really? She knows it?” Wilson asked. “Sure.”
This wasn’t the first time Ambha shared a stage with The Beach Boys, and it won’t be her last. Her next performances, in fact, are coming up quickly. She’s part of California Saga, a newly formed band featuring the sons and daughters of original Beach Boys members, which is slated to make its debut this weekend at a pair of high-profile shows. The eight-member ensemble is set to perform a pair of songs with The Beach Boys on Saturday, June 2, at the Hollywood Bowl, then do a 20-minute opening set for the legendary band on Sunday, June 3, at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.
In addition to Ambha, the lineup features her half-brother, Christian Love of Santa Barbara; Carnie and Wendy Wilson, daughters of Brian Wilson (and members of the chart-topping pop trio Wilson Phillips); Justyn Wilson, son of the late Carl Wilson; Carl B. Wilson, son of the late Dennis Wilson; and Matt and Adam Jardine, sons of Al Jardine. Backing them up will longtime Beach Boys sideman Billy Hinsche (founder of the group Dino, Desi and Billy) and Carnie’s husband Rob Bonfiglio (who produced the new Wilson Phillips CD, “Dedication”).
The set list, band members promise, will be full of Beach Boys rarities — but they weren’t in a very sharing mood, title-wise, earlier in the week as they honed their eight-part harmonies at Amp, a North Hollywood rehearsal space. After a bit of cajoling, Carnie Wilson did, finally, divulge two songs California Saga will perform: the frothy “Friends” from 1968 and her dad’s epic ” ‘Til I Die” from 1971. Neither is part of The Beach Boys’ current 50th anniversary tour set list.
The Wilsons, Loves and Jardines have been rehearsing for the past month. Adam Jardine figures they’ve put in at least seven seven-hour days, with at least one more marathon session to go. Carnie has assumed the role of “pitch master,” making sure everyone is on key and in perfect harmony. It’s not an easy task, because her dad — as the world knows — is a genius at crafting complex vocal arrangements.
“The songs that we’re doing are so f—— beautiful, and so stunning, and the harmonies are so complex that it’s taking an enormous amount of effort to make them just right,” she said. “It’s grueling and it’s tedious but it’s worth it because we’re not just getting up there because we’re ‘the children of … .’ We’re celebrating these songs that we love.”
Though California Saga is just in its embryonic stages, it does have the support of Brother Records International, the management arm of The Beach Boys empire, which is calling the group “the next chapter in the story of America’s band.” Plans are afoot for the group to perform on more Beach Boys dates. Carnie would love, eventually, to see the group headline its own shows and record its own albums.
“We just have to see what makes sense,” she said.
MUSIC’S GROWING, VIBRATIONS SHOWING
The idea for California Saga was hatched by Justyn’s brother, Jonah, a Beverly Hills real estate agent who used to be the road manager for Wilson Phillips. (“He has a great voice, but he’s too shy to get up there and perform,” Carnie said.) As buzz started building in January for The Beach Boys 50th anniversary tour, Jonah told Justyn to consider “putting something together musically with the other kids in honor of the 50th.”
Justyn considered it a “sweet idea,” but didn’t think anything more about it until Feb. 12, when he and his brother were sitting inside Staples Center in Los Angeles watching The Beach Boys perform at the 54th annual Grammy Awards.
“During one of the commercial breaks, he brought it up again,” Justyn said. “It was not lost on me that this was the second time he was bringing it up. Then later that night, Susie Jardine, Matt’s wife, also brought it up to me. It became clear to me that this is something I should act on. I gave it some thought and some meditation and prayer and a few days later it started to kind of take shape in my head how it could work, how we could do some of the more obscure songs and B-side material.”
Justyn called Carnie, pitched her the idea and she loved it. Carnie, in turn, asked Wendy and Matt and both were into it. The others soon followed suit.
The next step, Justyn decided, was to record a track and submit it, along with a written proposal, to Brother Records International.
The fledgling group (minus Christian, who had prior commitments) assembled at Carnie’s Tarzana home in mid-March to take a stab at cutting “Friends,” the title song of a 1968 Beach Boys album. Carnie’s husband Rob created the track they sang to and produced the session. Though Carnie and Wendy had performed with Matt at Wilson Phillips concerts, and Justyn and Carl had played together in their own ska-punk band called In Bloom for a decade, they had never all performed together as a single unit.
After they cut the vocals, and listened back to a rough mix, the results knocked them out.
“It was like listening to our parents a little bit,” Justyn said. “I say that in the most humble and respectful way possible. Some of the tones and the blend — I say this so humbly — is reminiscent of our folks. It was really neat. It was kind of a mindblower.”
Matt Jardine agreed.
“We listened to the track and then we just started singing a cappella, picking out parts and figuring out who was best in what range,” he said. “When we kind of settled into the track and we started getting warmed up, the blend was just insane. All of our eyebrows were going up and we were going, ‘Can you believe this? Listen to this. Justyn sounds like his dad! Carl B. sounds like his dad! The only way I can describe it is that it was a magical moment.”
Once “Friends” was recorded, Justyn emailed the song and the proposal to everyone in Beach Boys management. Reaction was positive.
“I kept hearing that everyone was crying … that it evoked really strong emotion,” he said. “People got tears listening to it.”
THE CHILDREN KNOW THE WAY
Settling on a band name wasn’t easy. They considered, and quickly rejected, a slew of lame monikers like Little Waves, Little Fish and The Punch Holes (don’t ask). A strong contender was Sunflower, which is the name of a 1970 Beach Boys album. The album cover photo — taken at Dean Martin’s Hidden Valley Ranch near Thousand Oaks — is a serene shot of the band members outside with their kids. Mike is sitting on the grass holding Christian (and daughter Hayleigh); Al is standing up with Matt by his side; Brian is adjusting Carnie’s bonnet; and Jonah is sitting atop Carl’s shoulders.
In the end, however, everyone went with Justyn’s suggestion. California Saga, the name of a three-song suite on the 1973 “Holland” album, just seemed to fit.
The Beach Boys’ saga — the highs and the lows, the hits and misses, the lawsuits and the love fests — is part of their DNA. The band has been a constant backdrop to their lives. It’s all they’ve ever known. Some have even been part of the Beach Boys organization themselves. Matt and Christian have both toured with The Beach Boys; Adam sang backgrounds on the group’s “Still Cruisin’ ” CD.
Carl B. remembers being at Beach Boys concerts when he was a kid, sitting behind his dad onstage as Dennis clubbed away at his drum kit. “His intensity was amazing,” said Carl B., who is producing a big-screen documentary about his late father called “The Drummer.” The film, with Aaron Eckhart playing Dennis, is slated to go into production later this month.
Carnie remembers the thrills she and Wendy experienced growing up as they began digging into the Beach Boys’ back catalog. “There’s a song called ‘She’s Goin’ Bald’ off ‘Smiley Smile’ that is the f—— coolest song ever,” Carnie said. “Wendy and I used to go crazy singing it. We loved it. There’s one part that Mike Love does, where they speeded up the tape. We used to laugh our asses off when we heard that — to the point of peeing!”
Ambha, a sophomore at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, has been making appearances onstage with The Beach Boys since she was 2 months old.
“The first time I remember being out there was when I was around 3,” she said. “I remember running out onstage during ‘Surfer Girl’ and jumping into my dad’s arms.”
She began singing “Sail on Sailor” about five years ago. The soulful song just fit her soulful voice.
Getting together with her extended Beach Boys family to record “Friends” was a blast. “It felt like I’d been singing with them forever,” she said.
Although their paths would cross a bit on the road, Ambha said the Love, Wilson and Jardine families didn’t get together otherwise.
“We’ve never really come together at all really,” she said. “It’s kind of unfortunate. But I’m glad that we have now finally.
“Better late than ever.”