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DSO blends classical and classic rock with Beach Boys show

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2016

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California's Papa Doo Run-Run started life as a general oldies band 50 years ago in California.

Then a fortuitous circumstance turned it into a Beach Boys tribute act.

The moment came in 1970, when Papa Doo Run-Run was opening a show for Tower of Power at a high school. "Tower of Power was late, and the promoters came and said, 'You got something extra you can do?'" recalls the group's Don Zirilli by phone from his home on the West Coast. "We had already done a lot of material but we all loved the Beach Boys, so they said, 'Why don't you do some Beach Boys songs?'

"We did, and the place erupted and we said, 'That's it. This is all we need to do from now on.'"

Forty-five years later Zirilli and company find themselves still playing Beach Boys music all over the country and in all sorts of circumstances -- including with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this wseekend at Orchestra Hall. The group will be celebrating "Pet Sounds' " 50th anniversary as well as its own, but Zirilli says that it's not a Beach Boys album Papa Doo Run-Run concentrates on very often.

"We do poppy things people like to hear -- 'Help Me Rhonda,' 'Surfin' USA,' that kind of stuff," Zirilli, 69, explains. "But when we do 'Pet Sounds,' especially with an orchestra, it really is something special. If we're doing 'God Only Knows' with an orchestra it actually gives me goosepbumps. I just want to stop playing and listen to the orchestra play. To have 58 people or something behind you playing string and horns, it's just amazing."

The irony, of course, is that Zirilli, like many fans at the time, took awhile to warm up to the adventurous approach the Beach Boys took with "Pet Sounds."

"When 'Pet Sounds' came out back in '66 I hated that album. I thought it was the worst!'" Zirilli says with a laugh. "I said, 'This is the end of the Beach Boys.' It's a lot more complicated than what they'd done before, y'know?

"But I grew to like it so much it became my favorite album. It just took a minute."

"The Beach Boys Sound with Papa Doo Run-Run and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

10:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, April 29. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30. 3 p.m. Sunday, May 31.

Orchestra Hall, 711 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $19-$105.

Call 313-576-5111 or visit dso.org.

Web Site: www.dso.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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