Shortly after the strike of midnight, “The King of the Surf Guitar” put aside the instrument that has circled his identity for over half a century, walked over to his son and proceeded to create one of the greatest Father’s Day moments in Rock N’ Roll history while an enraptured Vinyl Music Hall crowd played witness.

The night that ended with father and son sharing their pre-dawn Father’s Day gift with the Pensacola, Florida audience was preceded by a series of events coordinated in celebration of Dick Dale and Laramie Dean’s performance at Vinyl Music Hall. Starting with a display of hot rod classics and pin-up models, the afternoon sky gave way to night as the doors opened for the show and people from all corners of society gathered quickly to see the man who has been revered as a major influence on genre-breaking, innovative artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and countless more musicians including Laramie Dean.

Born in Troy, New York, Laramie Dean firmly grabs the fire of punk rock with one hand and reverently holds the no-limits explorative spirit of surf rock in the other. During his set, Dean recalled his early punk roots and his journey to study under the surf guitar legend when it was announced that Dick Dale was coming to his town. Fully embracing both genres, Dean dug into his black Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars and led the audience on a dizzying, night flight of pure rock n’ roll. Complemented by the musicianship of Trevor Lucca (bass), Hideki Ikeura (trumpet) and Jimmy Dale doing double duty as drummer for Dean and his father, Dick Dale, Dean showcased a rich mix of sounds, playfulness and skill that were also on display during his first visit to Vinyl Music Hall when he made a brief, yet electrifying cameo with surf punk icons Agent Orange on the first day of the new year. At the close of his set, Dean flashed a grand display of the long-lost art of music showmanship when he handed out his guitar for the audience to play.

In the interim between Dean and Dick Dale’s performance, a pin-up contest was held with the winner to be named after the conclusion of Dale’s set.

Following the parade of beauty, Dick Dale made his entrance to the stage. Joined by his son Jimmy Dale on drums and longtime friend and bassist Ron “The Captain” Eglit, Dale engaged the audience with the music and style that has carved his name on the mountain of music royalty. Accolades and awards aside, Dale put on an amazing show that would humble guitar virtuosos half his age. Branding passion and love on a night full of classic rock n’ roll Americana, Dale approached his extensive catalog of music with youthful excitement will riding the aura of personal classics, as well as, throwing his own creative take on historic music standards including Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.”

Toward the end of the set, Dale, sans guitar, rounded the edge of the stage and made his way to his son’s side for a blazing moment when father and son were shoulder-to-shoulder playing away on the drum kit. In a night full of memorable moments, the highlight for me occurred when the artist, innovator and King of Surf Guitar humbly presented his most important title of all…Father.

-Michael L. Smith