All I need are tasty waves, a cool buzz and directions to the Village
Dab on the Zinka and bust out your leis because legendary surf-rockers, Big Wednesday, will be playing this Friday from 6-9 pm and Saturday from 4:30-6:30 in the Village Plaza along with a 9:30 show at The Auld Dubliner. The band consists of three members of the legendary ‘60s surf band The Safaris. To say the least, Wednesday’s bassist Jay Traux, guitarist Ron Eglit and drummer Dave Raven have an insanely impressive rock n’ roll rap sheet. In a nut shell, Traux’s had involvement with the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, and Steppenwolf, Raven’s worked with Iggy Pop, Ricky Martin, sang a jingle for a Jack-in-the-Box commercial and Eglit played bass for Dick Dale from 1979-2003. I caught up with Traux last Wednesday via phone for an in-depth discussion on rock history, Gary Busey and Hawaiian shirts. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Sheet: So where are you right now?
Traux: I‘m at home. I just got off a tour with our other band the Safaris. We toured with The Chantays and Dean Torrance from the band Jan and Dean. They’re pretty famous. They wrote “Barbara Ann,” by the Beach Boys and a ton of other great songs. They’re probably one the oldest surf bands around.
Sheet: Do any of you guys get to surf much?
Traux: I used to surf everyday. Well, more when I was younger. I rode for Surf Boards Hawaii back in the 60’s and I used to run a surf shop in North Shore. But I’m actually going on a little surf trip to Hawaii real soon.
Sheet: Who’s the best surfer in the band?
Traux: Oh, I am, hands down. It’s not a joke. The other guys just don’t surf that much. Dave’s just learning.
Sheet: There’s a famous surf film from 1978 starring Gary Busey called “Big Wednesday.” I’m sensing there has to be a connection.
Traux: Well, we all love to downhill ski. I actually have a season pass at Mammoth, and last year we were playing up at Lakanuki, mostly just for an excuse to go skiing. Dave’s actually a ski patroller and all that stuff so he rips on skis. Anyway, we needed a poster so I took the poster for the film Big Wednesday and just put our heads on the surfer’s heads, and Ron was like “dude that’s the name of our band.”
Sheet: The film follows three friends, one’s a self-destructive type, the other a quiet type, and the third (played by Busey) goes by the nickname the “Masochist.” Which band members do you think would best fit those profiles?
Traux: Man, well Ron’s in the best shape and he’s kind of the ladies man. I’m the quiet and laid-back guy. I don’t know if anyone is really the Gary Busey character. I could probably give you a better answer 30 years ago. But it’s funny, I actually toured with Busey for two months back in 1977. I was in a band with Richie Fury from Buffalo Springfield and we opened for the Leone and Mary Show, and Busey played percussion for them. He would come out and do this weird improvised dance stuff. It was pretty entertaining. I actually got to be close friends with him. But to answer your question I don’t think anyone can be Busey.
Sheet: I always figured the best thing about being in a surf band would be the shirts. You probably have a ton of Hawaiian shirts.
Traux: Yeah I do, but no one really wears that stuff anymore. It’s kind of old hat. We don’t fit into just the surf music scene. We definitely play surf songs, but we also get into some punk and even Grateful Dead-style stuff.
Sheet: You guys all play in another band called The Surfaris, and back in the ‘60s their song “Wipe Out” encapsulated the California surf scene. You first joined up with them in1982. What was it like for you to join up with this legendary group?
Traux: I had this buddy named Rick Griffin, and he was a famous rock n’ roll artist back in the 70’s. Among other things, he did the Rolling Stone magazine logos and all these famous Grateful Dead posters. But he called me up one day and asked if I wanted to play some surf music with this guy Paul Johnson and a drummer named Don Murray (who played with the Turtles). Well, eventually Don got called up to play with the Safaris and then so did I, and eventually we got Paul on board as well. But it was great, in the 80’s the surf music scene was kind of dying down but the Safaris had really good name recognition and it was just a great opportunity, and it’s been great ever since.
Sheet: Well thanks Jay can’t wait to see you up here.
Traux: Yeah, come check us out. I’m excited to be in Mammoth.
For a mere $5 cover, meet the band and get wiped out with a full bar and a 21+ crowd at the 9:30 Dubliner show. Sorry, no kiddies.