Beach Boys bringing holiday concert to CAC

When the Beach Boys played a free show at Lamade Stadium during the Little League World Series last summer, the seven-song set was thrilling for those who were lucky enough to be there but also left many in the area wishing they could spend a little more time listening to the iconic band play live.

Now, local fans will get that chance.

The Beach Boys will be returning to Williamsport on their “Reason for the Season Christmas Tour” at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Community Arts Center, 220 West Fourth Street. The show will feature a mix of songs from 1964’s “The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album,” as well as other memorable hits like “Good Vibrations” and “Surfin’ USA.” The concert will also include a lot of music off front man Mike Love’s recently released “Reason for the Season” album, which debuted on Oct. 26.

Their show at the CAC is one of 22 stops the Beach Boys will be making on their holiday tour. The group typically plays about 150 shows annually.

“That was pretty fun playing at the Little League World Series. The only thing bad about that day was the rain; it was really muddy on the grass. But people showed up and it was our pleasure to be there,” Love said. “This time it will be nice to be indoors, where we won’t get rained on and the acoustics will be good.”

Love and longtime Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston lead the group in its current configuration, playing along with musical director Scott Totten, Jeffrey Foskett, Christian Love, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill and Keith Hubacher. The current tour does not include original band members Brian Wilson or Al Jardine.

Though the “Reason for the Season” album doesn’t feature Love’s cousins that he founded the Beach Boys with — Brian, Dennis and Carl — it does include several of his other family members. The 12-track record, which has both new original material and holiday classics, also sees the rock legend play with other well-known artists like the group Hanson.

“The album is really great,” Love said. “The greatest thing about ‘Reason for the Season’ is that I was able to sing several of the Christmas carols that I sang as a child growing up with my cousins who I started the group with.

“Every year, my mom, being such a big music fan, would have everybody over for a huge Christmas get together and we would practice Christmas carols before going out around the neighborhood. Then, we would come back and have a wonderful feast and continue to play songs until late in the night,” added Love. “For me, this album is really special because of that.”

Love mentioned that one of his favorite tracks on the album includes vocals from his daughter, Ambha, as well as harp playing from one of his sisters.

“It is a whole resurgence of the family singing together, just as it was 50 or 60 years ago when I was growing up,” he said.

With five tracks on the album being produced by Steve Greenberg and Mike Hollander, who work with many of the biggest names in the music industry, Love was able to collaborate with the pop trio Hanson on the song “Finally It’s Christmas.” Hanson had previously worked with Love on his summer single “It’s OK” and recorded a cover of the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick” for their 1997 Christmas album “Snowed In.”

“(Greenberg) played me the song and I said, ‘This is the perfect song and it is totally up my alley,'” said Love, noting that he will be playing the track with Hanson on the Today Show later this month. “It feels to me like this is something I would have written with my cousin Brian 50 years ago.

“They are really, really great singers and songwriters, so I was really honored to be able to sing lead on the song while they backed me up with their vocals, which were incredible,” added Love. “It is a great thing and really keeps with the whole spirit of the album.”

With the “Reason for the Season” album debuting high on the Billboard holiday charts, Love is hoping that it becomes a staple of holiday listening for his fans.

“It isn’t going to be an album that you listen to all year, but every season around Thanksgiving a lot of radio stations turn to just Christmas music, so our efforts on ‘Reason for the Season’ will be recognized with the other great songs of the season,” he said.

Since the “Reason for the Season” tour has 10 stops prior to the Beach Boys reaching Williamsport, Love promised that the group will be in top form by the time they reach the city.

“We are really looking forward to being back in the area, that’s for sure,” said Love. “We are having some really good initial responses to the tour, and by the time we get to Williamsport we will be fully rehearsed and sounding good.”