Nashville band bringing sounds of the Beach Boys to local venue

Miami Valley Community Concert Association presents Beach Boys tribute Sail On, (left to right) Paul Runyon, Wyatt Funderburk, Matt Thompson, Mike Williamson and Ben Potter, in Centerville Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School on Monday, March 14.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Miami Valley Community Concert Association presents Beach Boys tribute Sail On, (left to right) Paul Runyon, Wyatt Funderburk, Matt Thompson, Mike Williamson and Ben Potter, in Centerville Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School on Monday, March 14.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Sail On will perform in Centerville Monday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Capitol Records signing the Beach Boys, one of the most influential American rock bands of the 1960s. Nashville-based tribute act Sail On will present some of the group’s best-loved songs in a show presented by Miami Valley Community Concert Association in Centerville Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School on Monday, March 14.

According to Mike Williamson (keyboards, vocals), he and bandmates Paul Runyon (keyboards, vocals), Matt Thompson (guitar, vocals), Wyatt Funderburk (bass, vocals) and Ben Potter (drums, percussion) had a very specific musical vision when forming Sail On.

“We wanted to represent an overview of the Beach Boys’ career,” he said recently. “We’re basically trying to perform what people in general know, from the very early songs about surfing and cars up through ones like ‘Kokomo.’ We understood from the beginning, our audience was going to be a very general audience and that’s what we wanted. We didn’t want to play exclusively for purists, we wanted to be a working band. We wanted to present an all-ages show that was a representation of the band and was familiar to as wide an audience as possible. We essentially do the greatest hits and try to express the biographical character of the Beach Boys through bits of dialogue that are break points in our show.”

Surf’s up

The song selection may be geared toward a general audience but the members of Sail On aren’t faking their way through the material. The seasoned musicians devoted a lot of time to learning and replicating the Beach Boys’ music and famously complex vocal arrangements in a way that would appeal to the staunchest purist.

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“I was in a Beatles tribute band for five years and I’ve played jazz, but this is the hardest gig I’ve ever done,” Williamson said. “It’s really daunting but in my musical experience, there’s nothing like hitting the bridge right on ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ or the middle section of ‘Good Vibrations.’ It’s so gratifying to be a part of this incredible thing that comes together out of all of these individual parts and the right intonations of the sections. It really can’t be described when your voice is an integral part of this beautiful musical arrangement.”

Endless summer

After the time away from performing during the coronavirus lockdowns, Williamson and his bandmates are relishing the opportunity to get back out and perform the positive, sundrenched songs of the Beach Boys.

“It’s great to be back out again,” he said. “The experience of getting to be in a room full of people, singing and enjoying a song they’ve loved for years and years, is something we sorely missed when we weren’t able to do it. People bring their kids, their grandkids or whatever and it’s great to see all the positivity again. People sing, dance and clap along, and even during this difficult world we’re in, it’s such a joy. We have such a new perspective of not taking it for granted at all. What we get to do is an absolute privilege and, really, the fun of it all is really important to us right now.”

MVCCA’s 2021-2022 season comes to a close with “The Piano Men,” Jim Witter’s tribute to the music of Elton John and Billy Joel, on May 24.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Miami Valley Community Concert Association presents Sail On: Beach Boys Tribute

Where: Centerville Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School, 500 E. Franklin St., Centerville

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 14

Cost: $35 adults, $5 students

More info: mvcconcert.org

Artist info: sailonsounds.com

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