This night, however, was for celebrating. While most of their contemporaries sat around thumbing through their royalty and Social Security checks,
the Wailers and the Ventures released a new, joint CD that day -- Two Car Garage -- and a joint world tour has been strongly hinted at.
First into the ring were the Wailers, who wasted no time in getting bodies moving. With vocalist/pianist Kent Morrill
at the helm, the band electrified
the hall with a set that included some of the most influential songs in rock history -- "Road Runner," "Tall Cool One," "Mashi," and "Dirty Robber."
Morrill's voice -- a Northwest gem unto itself -- is still powerful; with eyes closed during their wild classic, "Out of Our Tree," one would have
thought they were back at
the old Spanish Castle.
The Fabulous Wailers The Ventures
Then the Ventures got down to business. Fresh off the plane from an L.A. studio and their umpteenth recording session, the band jumped into the number
that put them on the map. Barely pausing, they shifted up to the rousing "Journey to the Stars" -- one of several tracks they would play from their
mind-boggling 1964 classic, The Ventures
in Space. The combo then slowed the pace a bit with the gorgeous Bob Spalding number, "Blue Dawn," before
continuing with a 21-song set that proved to be their most inspired in recent memory.
With longtime collaborator Spalding having replaced retired-from-the-road founding member Bob Bogle, the band has had a seamless transition, and they
brought their A-plus game for this special occasion. With Don Wilson's furiously churning rhythm chords ringing on his left, guitar-god-among-men Nokie
Edwards took center stage.
Perched on a stool, this true country gentleman -- sort of a hybrid of Andres Segovia and Chet Atkins -- injected some western picking into some surf
numbers, and some classical licks into pop epics. "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue," "Apache," "Penetration," "Diamond Head"... a guitar fan's ultimate buffet.
Washington State Lt. Governor Brad Owen joined them on sax for "Surf Rider," and another fan and friend, Yes drummer Alan White, provided timpani for "Hawaii 5-0."
Another drummer, the Ventures' Leon Taylor, stole the show, and quite possibly the entire night. With a video montage of his legendary father, Mel Taylor, and himself
playing behind him, Leon took his dad's famous, minutes-long solo in "Caravan" to another level -- and made it is own. For the uninitiated, this Ventures tradition
features the bassist and drummer working in tandem, tapping out the song's rhythm on the strings. However, the finale of tonight's solo, a fiery bass/tom/snare crescendo --
was even more awe-inspiring than usual; the sheer power of it might have left Alan White blinking.
The Ventures The Wailers and The Ventures
The two groups then joined side-by-side for an obligatory jam of songs from Two Car Garage. They didn't get their footing until about halfway through "Needles and Pins,"
but with Wilson and Morrill singing in tandem, the old Los Bravos hit "Black is Black" came off pretty nicely. The night came to a close with -- what else -- "Louie, Louie."
Afterwards, the audience staggered out into the lobby in search of an autograph from their old and new heroes. It
was a very sentimental evening, mostly for the fans;
the Ventures and the Wailers made it clear that they're still working for tomorrow.