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Surf's Up
by Matt Sala
Jun 17, 2009 | 667 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo - Guitarist Dick Dale is perhaps best known for the song “Miserlou,” originally a Greek song that has been interpreted by numerous cultures and genres.
Courtesy photo - Guitarist Dick Dale is perhaps best known for the song “Miserlou,” originally a Greek song that has been interpreted by numerous cultures and genres.
“I’m on the road again, like Johnny Appleseed, just spreading my seeds of happiness” surf guitar legend Dick Dale said on Wednesday.

Dick Dale is playing at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Friday. Opening for him on this tour is his son, Jimmy, with his band FCC (Forever Came Calling). Dale, who is widely known for his version of the song “Miserlou” that opened the movie “Pulp Fiction,” has been playing the guitar for more than 60 years. He is credited with inventing “surf rock” and is a contemporary of greats like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, even though Dale was strumming before and after either of them.

“I’ve been on tour all my life and this one is very special to me,” Dale said. “Getting to my see my son experience his music in this way has been one of my greatest rewards.”

FCC’s music may be a bit of a modern surprise for some Dick Dale fans, as it is a more modern blend of punk rock, indie rock and heavy metal influences.

“No matter what kind of music people prefer to listen to, they can still recognize what’s good when it’s good,” Dale said. “That is what we’ve seen on tour so far: people being surprised, but engaged by FCC’s music.”

The reward of doing the tour with his son rests on top of a large pile of incredible accomplishments. Dale is an innovator of the guitar and has worked closely with Leo Fender and his company for decades designing guitars and amplifiers that exceed the usual standards and encourage innovation in the music industry.

Dale has battled different forms of cancer for the last 50 years, and this latest tour began after he recovered from chemotherapy treatments he received in 2008 — treatments that he chose to endure without the help of pain medication.

“Pain meds can retard healing by 50 percent,” Dale said. “Laughter is the greatest healer.”

Dale now uses his music to open doors for children with chronic illnesses, like Type I diabetes and cancer, by donating to charities and keeping in touch with hundreds of them via weekly e-mails.

“Music takes the savage out of the beast,” Dale said. “If I make a kid’s day or make him or her smile with something I say or do, it relieves them of some of their pain in an indescribable way.”

In addition, at a ceremony this fall Dale will be inducted into the Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Dale was voted into the hall by more than 90,000 of his peers.

“At my concerts, I never know what I’m doing. I play the set off the top of my head. I play to the audience,” Dale said. “Every night is different.”

Dick Dale plays John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Friday night in the Celebrity Showroom at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling (800) 648-1177 or 356-3300 or by visiting

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