Jon & the Nightriders, Surf's Up
Jon & the Nightriders

Guitarist John Blair formed Jon and the Nightriders in Riverside, California in 1979 to pursue his love of classic reverb-drenched surf-guitar instrumentals. The quartet also included bassist Niki Syxx, drummer Dusty Watson, and either Odie B. Gianni or David Wronski on guitar. The group opened for Dick Dale in 1980 and soon released their debut, Surf Beat '80, which contained both covers and original material. A live album was recorded at the Whisky A-Go-Go in 1981 with several new songs introduced, and it was followed in 1982 by the Splashback EP, which was produced by Shel Talmy. Jon and the Nightriders disbanded, but reunited again late in the decade for the LP Stampede!!, which was issued by Norton in 1990. In addition to playing surf music, Blair also put together a book entitled The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music (1961-1965).

--Steve Huey, All-Music Guide--

Although probably still in nursery school when guitar instrumentals filled the American record charts, twang-bar king John Blair and his three cohorts brilliantly re-create the innocence and excitement of that long-lost genre. With resplendent, ringing tones, vibrato and mountains of reverb, Surf Beat '80 pays homage with ourteen numbers, including a few soundalike originals and a selection of covers that proves the band's dedication to--and familiarity with--their forebears. All of the tracks sound the same, but that's the idea. Great! The live LP reprises some of the studio record's items, but incorporates new material and spot-on renditions of additional classics like "Pipeline" and "Hawaii Five-0." Splashback!, produced by the legendary Shel Talmy (to no particular effect, other than perhaps spiritual), features a six-minute medley that touches on eleven instantly recognizable melodies in one seamless nostalgia romp. Charge of the Nightriders is a compilation.

Self-billed as "America's No. 9 Surfing Band," the unshakably orthodox Nightriders reclaimed their piece of the beach on the self-produced Stampede!!, another cleanly played, reverb-soaked collection of standards ("Wild Weekend"), originals ("Beneath the Reef," "Storm Dancer") and obscurities ("Minor Chaos," "The Breeze and I"), some goosed by George White's period sax work. As if any further proof of scholarship in his chosen field were needed, Blair put down his guitar long enough to assemble The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music (1961-1965).

--Ira Robbins--

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Jon & the Nightriders Discography:

1980  Surf Beat '80
1981  Live at the Whisky
1982  Splashback
1983  Charge of the Nightriders
1990  Stampede!!
1996  Fiberglass Rocket
Atomic Beat

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