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Surfaris spawn takes Tourmaliners to Bay Park residency

Guitarist Deven Berryhill says the band has surf music in its DNA

Tourmaliners want to make you smile.
Tourmaliners want to make you smile.

Tourmaline is a legendary surf spot nestled between Windansea and North Pacific Beach; longboarders flock to it for its mellow break. So if you’re familiar with San Diego surfing culture, you’d probably think that a band named The Tourmaliners would be into surfing. And you’d be right, as guitarist Deven Berryhill confirms. “The drummer, John [MacElwee], and I are the ones that continue to surf. Matt [Clowmintzer], our bass player, grew up in Point Loma, so he surfed and all that. Joe [Dameron], our guitarist, went to La Jolla High School and is from Bird Rock, so he grew up surfing. We all have surfing in our DNA.” The band’s sound reflects that.

Further, surf music’s reverb-drenched guitars likely played a larger role in Berryhill’s upbringing than they did for most of the other kids on his block. His father, Bob Berryhill, is a founding member of The Surfaris and co-author of their hit “Wipe Out.” “I was just so enamored by my dad’s playing that I loved it from the minute I heard it as a small child,” he says. “The whole surf music thing for me was easy to enjoy because it was fun — and that was what music was for me. I didn’t know much other stuff until I went out and discovered it on my own.”

Though he’s a native of Orange County, the majority of Berryhill’s musical journey took place here in San Diego, starting when he chose to attend Point Loma Nazarene College (now University). There, he put together a campus band called Transcendence, and followed that with a couple of solo albums, work as a session musician, touring with a Canadian band called The Cry, and eventually forming a surf music trio with his brother and drummer Jake Najor (Big Daddy Kane, TV On the Radio) called Ice Cream Headache.

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Everything came full circle for Berryhill when he and his brother joined their mother and father in a family-band version of The Surfaris in the early 2000s. Surfaris shows became Berryhill’s main live musical fix until Frank Sciuto, owner of Tio Leo’s Mexican Restaurant, pitched him on playing Tuesday nights at his venue. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I had my own home Pro-Tools studio and I had been demo-ing some surf songs on my own for a while. But I didn’t have a band yet, even though I told him I did. I did have a couple friends that I had been jamming with here and there, so I called them up.”

Fast-forward about six years, and the band has released two albums of originals and an LP of Christmas covers cobbled together remotely during Covid. Berryhill is especially proud of their latest release, Surfidia, which is the first true studio representation of the live lineup the band has had since 2019. Released on vinyl via local Pacific/Sharawaji Records, the album is accompanied by a music video for the track “Swanky” featuring Eddie Angel from Los Straitjackets.

The band’s debut LP, Tourmaline Dream, was, according to Berryhill, “mostly just me playing most of the parts with some fill-in guys…we just called it The Tourmaliners.”) Berryhill is quick to acknowledge the importance of having the full band contribute their skills and ideas, and cites it as the key to Surfidia’s success — including its win for Best Rock Album at the 2023 San Diego Music Awards.

This fall, look for a new Tourmaliners live LP featuring songs recorded over two nights at, you guessed it, Tio Lio’s. Until then, the band will continue to carry on their once-a-month Tuesday residency at the venue and pop up at other clubs around town. “Our hope is that we can bring happiness and joy into every moment,” Berryhill says. “We get people coming up to us at the merch table saying ‘Man, you brought a smile to my face, I got up and danced.’ We’re really a dance band. It’s not the kind of dancing you see down at a club on Garnet where they are playing EDM. It’s rock and roll. At the same time, we played the 710 Club a couple weeks ago, and it was people in their twenties. A lot of them didn’t even know what we were doing, but they got up and moved and had a good time to it. It’s a music that crosses all cultures.”

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Tourmaliners want to make you smile.
Tourmaliners want to make you smile.

Tourmaline is a legendary surf spot nestled between Windansea and North Pacific Beach; longboarders flock to it for its mellow break. So if you’re familiar with San Diego surfing culture, you’d probably think that a band named The Tourmaliners would be into surfing. And you’d be right, as guitarist Deven Berryhill confirms. “The drummer, John [MacElwee], and I are the ones that continue to surf. Matt [Clowmintzer], our bass player, grew up in Point Loma, so he surfed and all that. Joe [Dameron], our guitarist, went to La Jolla High School and is from Bird Rock, so he grew up surfing. We all have surfing in our DNA.” The band’s sound reflects that.

Further, surf music’s reverb-drenched guitars likely played a larger role in Berryhill’s upbringing than they did for most of the other kids on his block. His father, Bob Berryhill, is a founding member of The Surfaris and co-author of their hit “Wipe Out.” “I was just so enamored by my dad’s playing that I loved it from the minute I heard it as a small child,” he says. “The whole surf music thing for me was easy to enjoy because it was fun — and that was what music was for me. I didn’t know much other stuff until I went out and discovered it on my own.”

Though he’s a native of Orange County, the majority of Berryhill’s musical journey took place here in San Diego, starting when he chose to attend Point Loma Nazarene College (now University). There, he put together a campus band called Transcendence, and followed that with a couple of solo albums, work as a session musician, touring with a Canadian band called The Cry, and eventually forming a surf music trio with his brother and drummer Jake Najor (Big Daddy Kane, TV On the Radio) called Ice Cream Headache.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Everything came full circle for Berryhill when he and his brother joined their mother and father in a family-band version of The Surfaris in the early 2000s. Surfaris shows became Berryhill’s main live musical fix until Frank Sciuto, owner of Tio Leo’s Mexican Restaurant, pitched him on playing Tuesday nights at his venue. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I had my own home Pro-Tools studio and I had been demo-ing some surf songs on my own for a while. But I didn’t have a band yet, even though I told him I did. I did have a couple friends that I had been jamming with here and there, so I called them up.”

Fast-forward about six years, and the band has released two albums of originals and an LP of Christmas covers cobbled together remotely during Covid. Berryhill is especially proud of their latest release, Surfidia, which is the first true studio representation of the live lineup the band has had since 2019. Released on vinyl via local Pacific/Sharawaji Records, the album is accompanied by a music video for the track “Swanky” featuring Eddie Angel from Los Straitjackets.

The band’s debut LP, Tourmaline Dream, was, according to Berryhill, “mostly just me playing most of the parts with some fill-in guys…we just called it The Tourmaliners.”) Berryhill is quick to acknowledge the importance of having the full band contribute their skills and ideas, and cites it as the key to Surfidia’s success — including its win for Best Rock Album at the 2023 San Diego Music Awards.

This fall, look for a new Tourmaliners live LP featuring songs recorded over two nights at, you guessed it, Tio Lio’s. Until then, the band will continue to carry on their once-a-month Tuesday residency at the venue and pop up at other clubs around town. “Our hope is that we can bring happiness and joy into every moment,” Berryhill says. “We get people coming up to us at the merch table saying ‘Man, you brought a smile to my face, I got up and danced.’ We’re really a dance band. It’s not the kind of dancing you see down at a club on Garnet where they are playing EDM. It’s rock and roll. At the same time, we played the 710 Club a couple weeks ago, and it was people in their twenties. A lot of them didn’t even know what we were doing, but they got up and moved and had a good time to it. It’s a music that crosses all cultures.”

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