Good Vibrations — Mike Amaral’s California Beach Boys Experience cruises into Vacaville – Times-Herald

Back in the early 1960s, the Beach Boys captured the spirit of surfing and hot rod culture with their lyrics, harnessing the sound of waves cascading over you with their reverb-drenched guitars and infectious harmonies.

It was a recipe that ruled the airwaves.

When Mike Amaral saw the band for the first time back in 1964, you could say he caught a tsunami of admiration and reverence, a break that he’s still riding to this day. He pays tribute to his musical heroes with his group The California Beach Boys Experience, set to play Vacaville on Friday night.

Amaral remembers when their first hit “Surfin’” came out in 1961. Years later, the Santa Clara Valley native finally got to see the Beach Boys, and he was hooked.

“I saw them live at the San Jose Civic Auditorium five or six times, but back in those days the girls were so loud you couldn’t hear it,” laughed Amaral.

He sure could see it, however.

“Seeing Dennis Wilson on the drums, swishing his head all around, with his long blonde hair, just the excitement of it all,” marvels Amaral.

After being bitten by the performing bug, Amaral ended up playing drums professionally for several years before going into a local law enforcement career. But that didn’t stop him from enjoying playing music on his own time. Indeed, he was part of several successful oldies cover bands in the Bay Area before he started his California Beach Boys Experience group about 16 years ago.

Now retired, Amaral focuses on bringing not only the music of the original Beach Boys to life, but also recreating what their concerts were like back in their 1960s heyday, down to their signature looks.

“In our first set, we wear Pendletons — they were originally called the Pendeltones — and then the second set is their striped shirts,” said Amaral.

The group usually starts off with their versions of some of the Beach Boys’ early classics, such as “California Girls,” and incorporates videos projected behind them to give the stage a bit more of a sense of being at the beach before transitioning into later material, along with some other favorite tunes of the surf rock era — all while encouraging the audience to participate by clapping and singing along.

That crowd is made up of quite a diverse group of people, says to Amaral.

“It’s all over the board — young people, older people, it’s pretty impressive,” says Amaral. “It’s pretty neat.”

Amaral has even been paid just about the highest compliment possible when it comes to being in a tribute band — some people come up to them after shows and think that they are actually the real Beach Boys.

“We try to sound like them and look like them, it’s an illusion basically, it works out pretty good,” said Amaral.
“I just I appreciate being able to play this music and seeing the smiles on the faces.”

If You Go:
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Vacaville Performing Arts Center, 1010 Ulatis Dr., Vacaville
Cost: $39-$49
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