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The return of the Westwatcher

Leucadia inspires world’s first surf sitar

Darius Degher would like a word with your inner surfer.
Darius Degher would like a word with your inner surfer.

“It’s a low-temperature variant of surf rock, with tremolo guitars, sixties organs, and what a friend says are cinematic melodies,” says Darius Degher of his new Slide the Wide Horizon album, recorded under his instrumental pseudonym The Westwatcher. “For two songs, I also dusted off my sitar — literally, I’m afraid — and tried a fun experiment that resulted in what may be the very first examples of surf music featuring sitar. On ‘Buddha in Boardshorts’ and ‘Surf City Vindaloo,’ the album veers into what you might call world surf music. Imagine a surrealistic dream in which Dick Dale and Ravi Shankar somehow end up drinking together in a bar near a recording studio, and you’ll get the idea.”

Degher played sitar on Warren Zevon’s Sentimental Hygiene album, as well as with his 1980s new wave group Darius & the Magnets. He has also released six solo albums and been twice nominated for San Diego Music Awards, as well as being featured on two KGB-FM Homegrown albums. Of his new Westwatcher full-length, he says, “I like to think it pairs nicely with a cocktail at sunset or a drive down the coast. I hope it’ll speak to your inner surfer, whether or not you’ve ever ridden a wave. I hope it makes the listener feel like a warm morning in Leucadia.”

The album track “Sharing a Wave (with Peter Sprague)” was inspired by surfing at Beacon’s Beach in Leucadia with local jazz icon Sprague, who Degher calls “a masterful surfer. In the water, we tried to weave around each other on the wave. And that’s also what happens in the song musically, the interplay of my more twangy surf guitar sound with his jazzy sweetness.” Sprague guests on the album, along with Degher’s daughter Cleopatra Degher. “The cool painting on the cover is by Gary Wesley,” says Degher, “also a Leucadia surfer.”

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Darius Degher would like a word with your inner surfer.
Darius Degher would like a word with your inner surfer.

“It’s a low-temperature variant of surf rock, with tremolo guitars, sixties organs, and what a friend says are cinematic melodies,” says Darius Degher of his new Slide the Wide Horizon album, recorded under his instrumental pseudonym The Westwatcher. “For two songs, I also dusted off my sitar — literally, I’m afraid — and tried a fun experiment that resulted in what may be the very first examples of surf music featuring sitar. On ‘Buddha in Boardshorts’ and ‘Surf City Vindaloo,’ the album veers into what you might call world surf music. Imagine a surrealistic dream in which Dick Dale and Ravi Shankar somehow end up drinking together in a bar near a recording studio, and you’ll get the idea.”

Degher played sitar on Warren Zevon’s Sentimental Hygiene album, as well as with his 1980s new wave group Darius & the Magnets. He has also released six solo albums and been twice nominated for San Diego Music Awards, as well as being featured on two KGB-FM Homegrown albums. Of his new Westwatcher full-length, he says, “I like to think it pairs nicely with a cocktail at sunset or a drive down the coast. I hope it’ll speak to your inner surfer, whether or not you’ve ever ridden a wave. I hope it makes the listener feel like a warm morning in Leucadia.”

The album track “Sharing a Wave (with Peter Sprague)” was inspired by surfing at Beacon’s Beach in Leucadia with local jazz icon Sprague, who Degher calls “a masterful surfer. In the water, we tried to weave around each other on the wave. And that’s also what happens in the song musically, the interplay of my more twangy surf guitar sound with his jazzy sweetness.” Sprague guests on the album, along with Degher’s daughter Cleopatra Degher. “The cool painting on the cover is by Gary Wesley,” says Degher, “also a Leucadia surfer.”

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