It all started at a home off Lafayette Way and Poplar Street in Santa Clara.
In that home, Mike Amaral, then a 14–year–old, would practice music, eventually starting a band called Flashback. But, after putting his music on hold for a 32–year career as a San Jose Police Department sergeant, Amaral followed his passion. Upon his retirement 10 years ago, Amaral returned to his roots, starting up Mike Amaral’s California Beach Boys along with Scott Slaughter, Richard Schmidt, Dennis Buldo, Josh Meschi and James Nobriga.
“The current band started nine years ago,” said Amaral. “It’s a Beach Boys tribute band … We’re an international touring group. We’ve played Canada five times in the past couple of years and had concerts in Colorado, Arizona and California. We have a big fan base in the Sacramento area. It’s really interesting because the Beach Boys had a real good following from Sacramento.”
With music, according to Amaral, “everybody can relate to,” the California Beach Boys bring back The Beach Boys’ signature sound, complete with their complex harmonies, and a uniform of white slacks and striped shirts to keep the Beach Boys’ spirit alive.
“Everybody in the band likes this type of music and they understand that it’s something that you really have to practice because you have to understand the music,” said Amaral. “It takes a lot of work. You have to practice every week … The Beach Boys had a four–part harmony. You really have to blend the voices so that it doesn’t detract from everything else. That’s what the uniqueness about it is.”
Citing Good Vibrations as one of the most challenging songs, because of its recognizable sound, and God Only Knows for its high harmonies, Amaral noted that fans, particularly women, go crazy for California Girls and Help Me Rhonda. “I just hold the mic to the crowd,” he said. “I don’t have to sing anymore. It’s awesome. It’s unbelievable.”
And, while Amaral wants people to think the California Beach Boys sound better than the original, he is simply happy when people mistake the band for the original group, something Amaral claimed has happened. “We want to be the best that we can be with what we’re doing … It makes you feel good that you’re doing something people enjoy. It’s magical. [The music] is alive and well and still popular.”
Mike Amaral’s California Beach Boys, who have performed at the storied Wutzit Club, will play a special show just outside of Santa Clara, at the Rock Bar Theater, 360 Saratoga Ave., San Jose (just past Stevens Creek Boulevard) on Sunday, March 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 if purchased in advance at the theater or through www.rockbartheater.com. Tickets are $23 at the door on the night of the event. The concert will be recorded and used as part of a PBS fundraiser later this year. Visit www.californiabeachboys.com for more information on the group.