Well, Malibu Manouche is what happened and I can guarantee that it is a little unlike any other music you’ve ever heard in your life. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that it is very much like a whole bunch of music you’ve heard all your life…just never in this rather peculiar but extremely delightful combination. You’ll find surf music classics like ‘Apache’ and ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ done somewhat in the style of Django Reinhard and, just for balance, I suppose (and of course, to see what would happen), Django’s ‘Swing 39’ done as if Mr. Reinhardt had come of age in Ventura County during the ‘60’s rather than in France during the ‘30’s. And let’s not forget their version of ‘Surfer Girl,’ which starts out like something from Santo And Johnny, morphs into what I can only describe as Brian-Wilson-Meets-The-Girl-From-Ipanema and then decides it would rather be a waltz. Very odd. Lovely, but odd.
Along the way, you’ll also original compositions by Neil and Peter and superb playing from all the band members. In general, Neil can be heard on acoustic guitar while Peter takes care of the electric and slide guitar side of things. Mark Ivester is more than a match for any rhythm the band cares to throw at him (even managing to play ‘Pipeline’ with, presumably, a straight face) and Chuck Deardorf’s beautifully melodic bass solo on Peter’s tune, ‘Sombrio’ is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Not wishing to overload my mind, I never asked Neil and Peter exactly where they came up with the idea of recording an album of Gypsy-Surf music but my guess would be that it stems from their own ‘coming-of-age’ as musicians.
As young guitar players, both Neil and Peter played a lot of rock n roll. Neil first came to my attention as the lead guitarist for the Northwest’s legendary rock band, The Fabulous Wailers. After he left The Wailers I lost track of Neil until he and Dudley Hill formed their gypsy-jazz group, Pearl Django, but during the 80’s I saw a lot of Peter, who seemed to be omnipresent on the Seattle rock scene, playing with a number of great bands including Red Dress, The Dynamic Logs and The Jitters.
Although their abilities and proclivities eventually led Neil and Peter into more complex forms of music, the old rock n roll was always there, quietly residing in their musical DNA. So, rather than dismissing those early, formative years, it seems that they have chosen to dip back into them--for a moment at least--to take some of the music that inspired them to become guitarists and graft it onto to the music of the guitarists they’ve become. Just to see what would happen.