Grab a surfboard. Crank the reverb. The return of Rondo Hatton is upon us.
Dug by surf music aficionados everywhere, Rondo Hatton will make its Mid City Ballroom debut this weekend. The band's concert with The Roebucks starts at 9 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
Bruce Lamb, the band’s master of the Telecaster, promises a set list full of tunes from the group's four albums of original instrumentals plus surf classics such as “Pipeline” and “Walk Don’t Run.”
Lamb, after performing recent Rondo Hatton shows with pickup bands, has assembled a new lineup for the quartet: local music veterans such as guitarist Johnny Rossetti, bassist George Thompson and drummer Jesse Whipperling, a talented newcomer to Baton Rouge from Iowa.
Formed nearly eight years ago in the capital city, Rondo Hatton has earned an international reputation. In August, North Sea Surf Radio, an internet station based in the Netherlands, put four of the band's new tracks in heavy rotation.
In September, the station moved one of those tracks, “Dust Devil,” to daily rotation. Also that month, Lamb performed Rondo Hatton material with a pickup band at the Southern Surf Stompfest in Atlanta.
Lamb formed Rondo Hatton after his nearly 20 years as a musician in Austin, Texas. At first, the group was an experiment.
“I had this crazy notion to start an all-instrumental band,” Lamb said. “About six months into the project, I discovered that I could write instrumental guitar music.”
Rondo Hatton super fan Bill Boelens named the quartet after the 1940s horror movie actor who has appeared in “The Brute Man” and “The Creeper.”
“Bruce had all these instrumental originals,” Boelens said. “I was like, ‘Heck, you need to record them because they’re good.’ "
Boelens produced all four of Rondo Hatton’s CDs — 2010’s “River of No Return,” 2012’s “Rondo Hatton,” 2013’s “Destination … Fun!” and 2015’s “Breaking the Sound Barrier.”
“When our CDs got great reviews in national and international publications, we thought maybe we were onto something,” Lamb said. “Lo and behold, we’d sell spurts of CDs online to places all over the U.S. A guy in Tasmania just bought our whole catalog."
Surf-rock is a small genre nowadays, but it hit its commercial peak in the 1960s with hits by the Chantays (“Pipeline”), the Surfaris (“Wipe Out”) and the Ventures (“Hawaii Five-0”).
Spreading from its cultural home in Southern California, surf music sprouted scenes in Central and South America, Europe, Russia, Poland, Australia and Japan (where the Ventures outsold the Beatles in the 1960s).
On a larger scale, Lamb hopes to stage a surf music showcase in Baton Rouge featuring bands from Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas. On a smaller and more personal level, he plans to start working on Rondo Hatton's fifth album.
"We’re in a niche genre," Lamb said, "but I stay with it because the interest is out there in the worldwide surf-music community.”
RONDO HATTON/THE ROEBUCKS
WHEN: Saturday. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. The show starts at 9 p.m.
WHERE: Mid City Ballroom, 136 S. Acadian Thruway, Baton Rouge
COST: $10 at the door and at brownpapertickets.com