The Beach Boys got around to making their Stagecoach Festival debut Sunday, teaming up with the country duo LoCash on four songs to cap the latter act’s early-evening main stage fest. LoCash had a distinct advantage on any other Stagecoach artists who might ever have been tempted to ask the touring Beach Boys to charter a Palm Springs flight: They actually named their new single “Beach Boys.”
Mike Love, Bruce Johnston and three members of their touring band first came out midway into LoCash’s performance to add their harmonies to the new single — the recorded version of which they also harmonize on. From there the set detoured into two of the Beach Boys’ classics, “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Kokomo,” before it ended with the attendant band members adding their vocals to the closer, LoCash’s 2015 breakout hit, “I Love This Life.”
“It’s going to be fun… fun, fun, fun,” said Love, talking on LoCash’s bus just before going onstage. “A little self-promotion there, huh?” (The Beach Boys are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year — there’s a lot to promote.)
The song “Beach Boys” was written and originally recorded for an EP LoCash put out last fall, but at the time, that version didn’t include actual members of the group on the record. That was something that came together this spring for the single release, which has Love and Johnston as featured artists.
“When we wrote the song, we dreamed about a moment like this, but we weren’t even sure if they would approve the song,” said Preston Brust, who is half of LoCash along. Chris Lucas, his partner in the duo, pointed out that they had to get both Love and Brian Wilson, who is not part of the Beach Boys’ currently touring lineup, to sign off.
“They called us back and not only approved it, but Mike wanted to be on it and have the high harmonies and that Beach Boys sound. And it was Mike Love’s idea to change the intro to the original Beach Boys’ ’round round, get around, I get around,’ and so we did that and we were kind of Beach Boys for like five minutes.
“We actually went down to Alabama to one of their shows, set up a whole studio and had Mike and Bruce come in and do all their harmonies and teach us the same harmonies so we could do them too. It was unbelievable, man — a pinch-me moment. They have a secret recipe. And once he started giving everybody their notes, it just started happening right in front of us.
“And then all of a sudden, more dreams started happening, because we were like, maybe they could go to Stagecoach and it could be a debut for them. It’s a no-brainer for them, a no-brainer for us. Their 60th anniversary; our next single coming out of the pandemic — hopefully our next No. 1. And it’s been an honor and pleasure and their organization is easy to work with.”
Said Love, “The song itself, ‘Beach Boys,’ is so hooky. They’re going to ‘trade the red dirt in for sand and drive till the map turns blue,'” he said, laughing as he quoted the lyrics. “I think it’s a really fun song. And LoCash joined us on our sold-out show in Nashville a couple of months back, and so now we’re joining them on their set out at Stagecoach, which is awesome.”
(As LoCash pointed out, there were five members joining them on stage Sunday — not just Love and Johnston, but Mike’s son Christian Love, musical director Scott Totten and official high-parts guy Brian Eichenberger.)
It’s likely that Stagecoach won’t be the last time LoCash and the Beach Boys perform the song live, although the next time is expected to be back on LoCash’s home turf instead of the state that produced the Beach Boys. It’s worth remembering that the Beach Boys have some prior history with country crossover: A 1996 release, “Stars and Stripes,” had group members backing country stars of the day on covers of the classic catalog. There’s talk of at least one of the singers from that ’90s tribute joining LoCash and the Beach Boys in Nashville for a yet-to-be-announced live hookup back soon.
Brust explained the origins of the song, which didn’t start out with “Beach Boys” as the actual title. “The day we sat down to write that song, there were four of us and I said, ‘Man, guys, it will be so cool. We have the Kenny Chesney beachy songs. We have Zac Brown on the beach. We have Jimmy Buffett. But we don’t have the Beach Boys’ country song yet” — by which he wasn’t meaning to get completely literal. “We said, ‘Maybe we just write a song and put Beach Boys-style harmonies in it.’ That’s how it started. And Jared Mullins, one of the guys we were writing with that day, said, ‘We should just call it “Beach Boys”.’ And we both said, ‘Ehhhhhh —that’s kind of on the nose.’
“And he’s so witty — he’s one of my favorites songwriters — he said, ‘No, no, no, listen, hear me out. Let’s take the country to the beach… boys.’ And I looked at Chris and Chris was like, ‘I’m in. Let’s go. This is a no-brainer.’ And (from that point) it wrote itself.”
Added Brust, “I’m also from Kokomo, Indiana, and people always have asked me. my whole life, ‘The Beach Boys’ song?’ And I’m like, ‘No, the cold Kokomo.’ So it’s kind of surreal for me to be living this out, a little bit.”
On Saturday, the day before the duo’s main stage appearance, LoCash took part in another collaboration with a major star from outside the genre — Guy Fieri. A substantial crowd pressed against the barricades in Fieri’s annual BBQ tent at Stagecoach to see the TV host lead them through the making of a fairly exotic giant sandwich that was eventually distributed to dozens of members of the crowd. When an audience member asked the duo what their favorite song to cover was, Prince’s “Purple Rain” came up, which led to an a cappella rendition while Fieri and his guest made it literally, or liberally, rain parmesan cheese over the enormous griddle.