Beach Boys to headline Black Tie & Boots inaugural ball

The Beach Boys are known to blend performances with politics.
The Beach Boys are known to blend performances with politics.PHOTO: LUSHINGTON ENTERTAINMENTS

WASHINGTON• The Beach Boys, that prototypical all-American boy band founded in 1961, will perform at the Texas State Society's Black Tie & Boots inaugural ball today, according to several sources close to the planning of the quadrennial bash.

"Everyone loves The Beach Boys, right?" said one source, adding that the headliners, who it had been previously reported were mulling over an offer to appear in Washington during President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration festivities, were a "great act".

Last December, a representative for the band, which since 2012 have officially included original member Mike Love and long-time member Bruce Johnston, told Billboard magazine that the group had been asked to perform, but "no decision has been made at this point as to how or whether they will participate".

That hesitation has become old hat in regard to this year's inauguration. So far the festivities have been a tough sell for those entertainers seeking to juggle an increasingly opinionated fan base and any perceived political affiliations.

Most recently, Broadway star Jennifer Holliday backed out of singing at the official welcome concert due to a swift backlash from her fans following the announcement that she would be participating. And the B-Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band, backed out of performing at today's Garden State Inaugural Gala.

The Beach Boys, however, have a history of blending performances with politics.

In 1983, Secretary of the Interior James Watt banned the California band from performing at a free July Fourth concert on the Mall because, according to Mr Watt, rock bands attracted "the wrong element" to the nation's capital - druggies, alcoholics, thieves.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan, a Beach Boys fan, intervened, and a few months later, they performed on the South Lawn at a Special Olympics benefit (Mr Watt was not in the audience). At the time, president Ronald Reagan had said: "The Beach Boys' music speaks for itself."

The next summer, in 1984, The Beach Boys performed at a fund- raiser for Mr Reagan during that summer's Republican National Convention in Dallas.

Since then, they have sung for presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. President Barack Obama added their 1966 hit Good Vibrations to his last summer playlist.

"They're a fun band and people really like them," said another source heavily involved with the planning of this year's Black Tie & Boots, an event that reached its peak during the George W. Bush years with nearly 12,000 tickets sold at the 2001 ball.

For the last eight years, those numbers have been cut in half, but this year's bash, which will be held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, is poised for a return to the over-the-top Texas- themed gala's original glory with nearly 10,000 tickets sold.

A few reasons for the renewed interest? For one, Texas is a red state. But the source Washington Post spoke with did not tie the uptick in ticket sales, which run from US$275 (S$390) to US$5,000, directly to the President-elect.

"I don't think it's Trump the man that's driving (interest), I think that this event has become the hottest ticket in town for inauguration, people are just talking about it more than they have in the past."

Though the tipster did admit that if Mrs Hillary Clinton was being sworn in on Jan 20, the enthusiasm probably would not be as high.

In addition to The Beach Boys, the ball's entertainment line-up will be heavy on country acts (it is Texas, after all). On stage will be Bonnie Bishop, Jason Eady, Jason Boland, Kevin Fowler, Larry Gatlin, Gary P. Nunn, Kenny Maines, Dean Dillon and the Texas Jam Band, and Tanya Tucker.

Expected political VIPs include Texas Governor Greg Abbott; former Texas governor Rick Perry, who is Mr Trump's pick for Energy Secretary; and Mr Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump's Secretary of State nominee, who until recently ran Dallas-based Exxon Mobil.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Beach Boys to headline Black Tie & Boots inaugural ball'. Subscribe