Here’s my top ten surfer musicians, for your surf soundtrack.
Australian blues musician Ash Grunwald grew up surfing the sharky shores near Melbourne. His track ‘dolphin song’ is based on an actual shark encounter, fortunately a pod of dolphins came to his rescue. How many of Grunwald’s surfer friends can you name in the video below?
With 11 studio albums, 4 live albums and 2 Grammys – you’ve probably heard of Ben Harper. His unique blend of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock means there’s a song for every surfing occasion from post surf chill to wild surf party. His surf buddies include Jack Johnson and the Malloy brothers, and his favourite surf spot is Byron Bay, Australia.
Ben Howard is a Devon lad and has been surfing since he was 11. His ‘barefoot friendly’ blend of British folk will sooth your surfing solace on the flat days and keep you smiling after a summer surf session.
A misleading name for a unshaven band of boys. However this Australian group of surfers make beautiful music by mixing roots, blues, reggae and rock into a rumble of satisfying surf vibes. When asked about his ‘process’, lead singer and songwriter Mat McHugh told Surfing Mag he ‘would surf in the mornings and write songs all day’. Nice life.
Donavon Frankenreiter grew up along the shores of San Clemente, California and started surfing in his teens. He allegedly has a quiver of over 100 boards, is sponsored by Billabong, and used to rent a room on the North Shore from Jack Johnson’s parents. His first solo soft rock album “Donavon Frankenreiter” was released on Jack Johnson’s label Brushfire Records in 2004.
Garrett Dutton AKA G Love grew up ‘surfing, fishing and enjoying the ocean in Stone Harbor, NJ’ (source: Sea Voices). G Love & Special Sauce are a personal favourite because their music is so refreshingly different. G Love marinades a mix of blues, hip-hop and rock in a rich and tasty ‘special sauce’, perfect for a sweet or savoury surf.
It’s difficult to discuss modern surf music without mentioning Jack Johnson. At 17, Jack became the youngest invitee to reach the Pipeline Masters finals. Unfortunately, a week later he suffered a serious surfing accident at Pipeline inflicting over 150 stitches in his head and the loss of a few teeth. With a surf career on hold, music took over and Jack Johnson has since sold millions of records, with “Better Together” becoming the wedding soundtrack of a generation.
Singer Gary Stringer and bass player Jack Bessant learnt to surf as kids along the North coast of Devon. Reef formed nearly 20 years ago, but their surf inspired rock anthems are unbeatable as a pre-surf adrenaline boost.
I’m sure there should be more surfer girls on this list but Tristan is unmissable. A San Diego surfer and former Roxy model, Tristan Prettyman got her break by appearing on the soundtrack of Taylor Steele’s surf film ‘Shelter’. Tristan then toured, got engaged to and split up with Jason Mraz. Her sensual vocals and soft sounds are perfect for a post surf chill.
Xavier Rudd was born near Bells Beach, Australia where surfing is on the school curriculum. Xavier plays a mean didgeridoo and on-stage he’s like an Australian ‘Animal’ from The Muppets. Xavier’s not afraid to shout about Aboriginal Rights and conservation issues, and he lives by his words. He was also bestowed PETA’s annual “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity” award in 2007.
Apologies for not including Dick Dale, Dennis Wilson or anyone else from my Dad’s generation, but this is ‘my’ top ten surf sounds.
However, if you think I’m missing out by not listening to a surf musician you know and love – drop their names in the comments box below.