The Boys of Summer (James Williamson, drums-vocals; Darrel Monson, guitar/vocals; Craig T. Fall, guitar/vocals; Chris Turbis, keyboards/saxophones/acoustic guitar/vocals; Bill Winkler, bass/vocals) are five hardworking musicians from Southern California who play and channel some of the greatest music ever created and produced on the West coast, that being from legendary rock group, the Eagles. With each band-member possessing many decades of professional experience, TBOS play the true musical heart and soul of the Eagle’s music – recreating the sounds, harmonies, and most important, the feel.
All Access Magazine spoke with the band members recently.
AAM: What led to the formation of the Boys Of Summer – in other words, why did you decide to form an Eagles tribute band?
JW: I was off doing a couple of shows subbing for their drummer with a Rolling Stones tribute Sticky Fingers now known as The Hollywood Stones and was at a rehearsal with our band and we were talking how the gigs went with the Stone’s guys. I told them how fun it was and the shows were really well attended and we got treated really well. Darrel Monson, our Don Henley guy looked at us and said ‘we could do that, your brother said I sound like Don Henley.’ We worked up “The End Of The Innocence.” We actually were more of a Don Henley Tribute when we started out but soon realized that we were getting too many requests for The Eagles stuff. So we dove all into the Eagles library, and the rest is history…We’re known now as the Eagles Tribute with the Don Henley Guy, We call him ‘Dan Henley.’
DM: The Eagles came on to the music scene in Southern Cal in the early ‘70s, about the same time I began to play in bands. We covered what we could when we could. It was a true challenge, pairing tight musical formulas with flawless vocal harmonies. As the tribute bands began to show up in the ‘90′s I thought to myself, how hokey it must be to devote an entire show to one band’s material. Then through encouragement from friends and band mates, I decided to give it a try. We wanted to try a Don Henley tribute, hence the name “Boys of Summer.” We had some success but were inundated with requests for Eagles songs. The project never really took off until we wrote the set lists to include Eagles hits from all of their records. And here we are, enjoying the shows more than ever.
AAM: You guys all have solid backgrounds in bands that are known to many Southern California music fans. What makes one decide to give up playing original music (to play) someone else’s music full-time?
CT: Never give up… !! I have an original song entitled “The Perfect World” that’s about to be licensed to a movie of the same name, and writing and recording is in our blood. That inspiration will never stop with any serious musician. We are fortunate to have carved a niche with our Boys of Summer project for a few different reasons. We all have deep respect for the road that The Eagles paved, and to be able to run around this country and re-create their genius AND get paid well for doing it.. ???? It’s a win-win situation. Dont’ya think??
DM: . We still pursue other musical endeavors, but this one is by far the most popular.
AAM: Are the Boys Of Summer an act that attracts only the Baby Boomers, or do younger fans relate to you as well?CT: The music of The Eagles truly reaches an astounding age bracket of people. We meet people at most of our shows that range from seven years old to ninety and on a couple of occasions even older!! One of the many reasons we choose to go on paying tribute to The Eagles answers that question. They don’t need to specifically know who we are, but once they hear “A Night Featuring The Music of The Eagles” on the advertisement, we got ‘em!! PS-Thanks Don & Glenn!!!
CF: There is an interesting variability to our audiences. In this past year, we seem to see a majority of 30-40 age groups, who perhaps were raised on the Eagles via their parents. I have seen three-year-olds singing “Yellow Submarine” at Beatle tribute shows before, but the Eagles have always been fairly “Adult” music. Very often the concept of four-part harmony is missing in modern music, and perhaps there is a certain comfort level there, combined with the innocence of certain lyrics. The Eagles wrote actual stories, and clearly understandable lyrics, often thematic, commonly producing a Country feel with a serious West Coast attitude, and people realize that they simply do not make music like this anymore. I have heard ten-year-olds commenting of how important this music seems in comparison to the dogged seriousness of Rap, Hip Hop, Alt-Rock, Nashville-style Country. We still get the 60+ crowd, and the love of the Eagle’s music seems built-in, no question, but again and again we find a huge strata of generational agreement. Again, the comfort level that comes with clearly defined, thematic lyrics combined with illustrious harmonies all seem to be part of the legacy of the Eagles, and we as a band never get tired of playing these songs for our audiences. We have never failed to touch a nerve somewhere in our shows, playing these incredible songs for people who do know the difference.
DM: Mostly Boomers, but it is amazing to see the younger Eagle fans’ enthusiasm. A beautiful young woman once told me how much she loved the way I sang a certain Eagles ballad. When I asked her if she was an Eagles fan she replied…”not really but my mom loves them!”
AAM: Best gig the band has played? Worst gig?
CT: Hard to pick a BEST one out… Way too many to think about. We’ve had really great shows in front of 10,000 and even better shows in front of 250. We’ve had a couple of shows that we were rushed unto stage with. Let’s say a less than adequate sound crew. That’s usually the only reason we might have a less than great show.DM: Best… hard to choose. We always make it a point to have fun at every show. The Palmdale Summer Concert Under The Stars was probably the best combination of large enthusiastic crowd attendance and good performance. Worst… easy. Our first road trip. Parker, Arizona at the Blue Water Marina on a Tuesday evening. Maybe three career gamblers made up our audience. We sang our hearts out anyway thinking the (booking) agent may show up. The night was salvaged when I made a 3:00 am killing at the dollar slots! LOL!
AAM: If the day ever came that you met the real Eagles, what would you say to them? And how do you think they would respond to your band?
BW: When I met Timothy B. at a Poco show, I noticed he was a little uptight. When I asked him, he informed me it was their first gig with new guitarist Paul Cotton. I wished I could have told him what his next band was going to be like. Bernie was on vacation from an Eagles tour and was staying with my drummer at the time, Michael Clarke. He came and did two sets with us at a local club. Not a very chatty guy, but he brought his Telecaster with the B bender and was gracious enough to show me the nuts and bolts of it. I ran into Joe (Walsh) in front Guitar Center Sherman Oaks. When I approached him, he acted like he remembered me from way back. I told him I was in an Eagles tribute band, and wondered what those guys thought about that. His reply: “Aw, we don’t really give a shit about that stuff.” He was nice enough to answer a few questions and sign a couple receipts for me, including one for Darrel. Super nice guy.
DM: If I am ever fortunate enough to meet Mr. Henley, or Mr. Fry, I will express my deepest gratitude for all of their… hard work, incredible song writing, and inspiring performances. I have the deepest respect and appreciation for all the Eagles, yesterday and today. I would hope they understand our motive comes from the heart, and not just a paycheck.
AAM: Where do you feel The Boys Of Summer can grow to be a few years from now?
CT: The tribute scene has become quite accepted nationally and globally. With the right team of personal behind us (booking agents, public relations etc.) There’s no reason we couldn’t be doing 175 medium-large shows per year. I know this band is exceptional and we just need some extra exposure and voila!! As long as The Eagles can do it at their age, we can do it at ours.
DM: Well we enjoy making new friends and seeing new places. We hope that continues.
AAM: How and where can people find out about your upcoming shows, etc.?
DM: We love the correspondence and comments we get from people on our Facebook and email. I think that is the best way to get our show dates as well.