Beach Boys Christmas tour rekindles holiday memories
Mike Love doesn’t need snow to get into the Christmas spirit; he’s been singing holiday songs for weeks.
After all, the lead singer and original member of the Beach Boys grew up in Southern California, where snow isn’t part of the Christmas scene. Music, however, was a big part of his family’s holiday celebrations.
“My mom was one of eight children, so I had lots of first cousins,” Love said in a phone call from Knoxville, Tenn., where he was set to play the second concert in the Beach Boys’ 22-city “Reason for the Season Christmas Tour.”
“At Christmas time, all the cousins got together and practiced songs, and then we’d go caroling around our neighborhood,” he recalled. “We’d come back to a wonderful feast prepared by my mom and her mom.”
Reliving cherished family memories is a big part of Christmas for Love, who kicked off the Beach Boys’ holiday tour Nov. 16 in Chattanooga with longtime member Bruce Johnston, along with musical director Scott Totten, Jeffrey Foskett, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, Keith Hubacher, Randy Leago and Christian Love, Mike Love’s son.
The tour will make a stop in Greensburg for a performance at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at The Palace Theatre.
Love was on the verge of losing his voice at the start of the tour, but he was determined not to disappoint his fans.
“I like to be 100 percent when I do a show, but it’s been a challenge the past couple days,” he said. “I’m resting it — and I’ve had so much tea I’m beginning to resemble a tea bag.”
‘Reason for the Season’
The songs he’ll be singing with the band are a mix of classics from the 1964 “Beach Boys Christmas Album” — which includes the popular “Little St. Nick,” in which Santa’s sleigh is a hot rod that’s “candy apple red with a four-speed stick” — and the group’s current holiday album, “Reason for the Season.”
The new holiday album came out at the end of October; within a week, it was ranked fourth on Billboard’s Holiday Album Chart and sixth on its Independent Albums Chart.
The 12-track album features a new version of “Little St. Nick” produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Michael Lloyd (“Dirty Dancing”).
Love and Totten collaborated to produce five of the songs that feature Mike’s grown children — Ambha, Brian, Christian and Hayleigh Love — doing vocals for “Do You Hear What I Hear,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger” and “Bring a Torch.”
Mike’s sister, Maureen, also was part of the album, playing the harp in “O Holy Night,” which is sung by Ambha, 22.
“Not many people know that my sister is an accomplished professional harpist,” he said. “She also played harp on the Beach Boys’ recordings of ‘Catch a Wave’ and ‘In My Room.’ ”
He also worked with members of the pop rock band Hanson on “Finally It’s Christmas,” a song featuring Mike as lead vocalist. They’ve worked together before, collaborating on a single, “It’s OK,” released in August.
“What’s so special about this collection of songs is that they both harken back to the wonder of childhood and family, but also feel very relevant and exciting for a new season of listening,” Mike Love said. “It’s such a joy to create this music with my actual family and my family of collaborators.”
When asked if his kids are planning to carry on the Love tradition of singing and performing music as a group, since they’re identified as “All Love” on the holiday recording, he responded:
“Not yet. We all came together to record this album,” which also features cover art by his son, Brian.
“He visited an island off of Norway last February and caught a photo of the Northern lights,” Love said. “Yes, the album’s truly a family affair.”
Mike recently was nominated for induction into the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame in the “Performing Songwriter” category. He wrote or co-wrote lyrics to some of the Beach Boys’ most popular songs, including “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” “Fun Fun Fun,” “Good Vibrations” and “Kokomo.” The induction ceremony will be held in June in New York and he said he hopes to attend.
Meanwhile, he’s in a holiday mood that he wants people to remember is inspired by an important religious event.
“There’s so much commercialization around the Christmas holiday, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” he said. “It’s a great time of year for celebrating, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s about the birth of Jesus —and with all that’s going on in the world today, only love can conquer hate.”
It’s the “Reason for the Season.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.