International Surf Music Month is in June. How is it that our feet automatically lifted off the ground and transported us to California in the 1960s? We can practically smell the ocean, can you? It’s reminiscent of the optimism of a generation obsessed with space exploration and experimenting with electronic instruments and new sounds. Surf music epitomizes hope and energy. You think you know surf music because, you know, the Beach Boys? Think again. International Surf Music Month is a global celebration. Think concerts, events, discussions, merchandise sales, and a chance to discover what’s new on the scene all over the world. The annual event comes together courtesy of an international network of surf bands and music enthusiasts.
History of International Surf Music Month
It was the late ‘50s. A post-war era of optimism, energy, and prosperity for the United States. Nowhere else was the chill vibe more prevalent than in California. With stunning beaches and sunny weather, life was beautiful and full of possibilities. At the same time, a new music genre was gaining popularity on the scene. It was a form of instrumental rock that popularized electric guitars, basses, and amplifiers. Electric instruments were producing new sounds that acoustic instruments couldn’t.
The distinctive sound would form the foundations of surf music that falls into two categories – instrumental and vocal surf. Both are distinctly ‘Californian’ but many consider instrumental surf the purest form of the two. Guitarist Dick Dale and his group, the Del-Tones, influenced the development of instrumental surf from instrumental rock. Dale incorporated a style of quick alternate guitar picking — a technique that placed him among guitar greats. He also introduced the iconic ‘spring reverb,’ a unique reverb that would define the sound of the 1960s. Other icons of surf music then were Paul Johnson and The Surfaris.
But what about the Beach Boys, you ask? Or Jan and Dean? For millions of people, these legendary bands epitomized Californian surf culture. The two bands played the vocal form of surf music. While incredibly popular, music purists will maintain that vocal has nothing on instrumental – the heart and soul of surf music.
On International Surf Music Month, surf music enthusiasts unite in a shared love for the genre. Concerts and events pop up everywhere — not just in the U.S. but also in places such as Canada, Mexico, and Italy.
International Surf Music Month timeline
An optimistic post-War America thrives on pushing boundaries in all spheres, including music.
Dick Dale, the pioneer of surf music, experiments with the ‘spring reverb.’
The film “Pulp Fiction” and its predominantly surf music soundtrack create waves.
Lorenzo Valdambrini organizes the first edition of the Surfer Joe Summer Festival in Italy.
International Surf Music Month FAQs
When was surf music popular?
Surf music first gained popularity in southern California. It was a genre of popular music that grew along with surfing in the 1950s.
When was surf music popular in Australia?
Australia rode the surf music wave from 1963 to 1964. That summer, Sydney charts saw 16 surf music tracks hit the charts.
What is surf music called?
Surf music is also called surf-pop or surf rock.
International Surf Music Month Activities
Attend a surf music event
Find the nearest surf music concert near you. Sway, dance, and soak up those Californian vibes today.
Listen to surf music
Nowhere near a concert or the ocean? Bring the beach home with a surf music playlist. It’s the perfect way to unwind.
Discover new bands
Listen to contemporary surf music that keeps it both retro and fresh. We recommend bands such as *repeat repeat, SadGirl, and The Frights.
5 Facts About Dick Dale That Will Blow Your Mind
He first learned to play the ukulele upside down and backward since he was left-handed.
Dale liked his music loud
So loud that the guitarist would often blow out his guitar amps.
Music with an Arabic flare
Dale was the first to introduce Middle-Eastern influences and scales into western pop music.
Idol to musical legends
Dale inspired legions of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Queen, the Beach Boys, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Inspiration to new generations
Dale’s ‘Misirlou’ influenced ‘Pump It’ by the Black Eyed Peas, which became a smash hit worldwide.
Why We Love International Surf Music Month
Music that lives on
Surf music still resonates with today’s listeners. Like the sport, the music is fun, upbeat, and never goes out of vogue.
Nostalgia and hope
Surf music reminds us of a limitless period in history. There was so much possibility, so much to still discover and we need that kind of energy today.
Another reason to go to the beach
Surf music and the ocean are synonymous. A day at the beach is perfect immersion therapy.
International Surf Music Month dates