It’s an unusual month when Johnny Tsunami and the Shoulder Hoppers are not pounding out their brand of rock-reggae covers on a Monterey County stage.
“Moss Landing Inn on the 22nd, Barmel on the 29th – we have shows booked all the way out to December,” bass player Michael C. Royster says.
They are not your typical West Coast surf rock band despite the band’s beginning on the Central Coast. They’re more of an immensely talented and vast group of longtime friends who love catching waves by day and getting people to move to the music by night.
The super surfer vibes they exude come from a shared common passion for surfing, of course, coupled with the wiles of their free spirits. Not to mention that the band name is derived from surfer slang: for example, a shoulder hopper is a term used to describe someone who drops in on your wave.
The current lineup consists of Royster, Michael Barrett, Dustin Carroll, Rod Wilson and Ron Triplett with long time fill-ins, percussionist Allan Linn and saxophonist Chris Kroeze. Royster has been a special education teacher at Monterey High for 19 years and is the head varsity softball coach; Carroll is a meteorologist with a Ph.D. and currently works for NASA; Barrett is a teacher in the Salinas Union High School District; and Wilson gets to enjoy his retirement by being one of the hardest-working percussionists in town, playing for and managing multiple bands.
Together they bring out classics from the Grateful Dead to Sublime, but with a hippie-jam band twist. Playing off of the crowd and their surrounding environment, Johnny Tsunami and the Shoulder Hoppers go off a one-to-three song setlist and ride the audience’s energy the rest of the way out.
“It can get raucous,” Royster observes.
Their live shows are unpredictable. JTSH makes use of an improv-style approach. They provide listeners with a journey of unexpected turns, keeping the structure and integrity of a song, yet smoothly putting their own clean and tight spin on it.
They like to intermingle the classics everyone knows with those 11 minute B-side gems, becoming known for lively shows at venues like Barmel, Moss Landing Inn or Sly McFly’s. As Royster says, “Basically look out for shows within the tri-county area.”
Johnny Tsunami and the Shoulder Hoppers 9pm Saturday, Feb. 22. Moss Landing Inn, 7902 Highway 1, Moss Landing. No cover. 633-9803.