Beach Boys bringing green concert to tiny Fairfield

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Beach Boys bringing green concert to tiny Fairfield

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By Shane Brown, sbrown@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood / staff
Lead singer Mike Love, left, and Bruce Johnson on keyboards and vocals are shown in the April 9 file photo during their concert at the i wireless Center in Moline. On Labor Day, the Beach Boys will close out their summer tour onstage in the tiny community of Fairfield, Iowa, in what’s being dubbed as one of the nation’s first ‘green’ rock concerts. ‘We need to move in the direction of energy independence,’ explains Love, ‘and what better place to start than Fairfield — the heartland of America.’

Watch out, Iowa. The “undesirable element” is headed your way.

But first, a little history.

The year was 1983, and our nation’s land management and conservation was in the hands of a fellow named James Watt, Secretary of the Interior to the Reagan administration. Watt’s tenure was marked by controversial decreases in environmental funding and deregulations to oil and mining companies. But nothing was more controversial than Watt’s decision to ban a July 4th performance at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from a group he said would draw “an undesirable element” — The Beach Boys.

It’s no coincidence that Watt handed in his resignation papers later that year. At the time, the band’s frontman, a flabbergasted Mike Love, tried to defend his group. “We sing about patriotic themes — like ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.!’ ” Twenty-five years later, James Watt is a footnote in history, Mike Love still sings about surfing, and the Beach Boys remain the most outspoken celebrity advocates of global environmental reform.

On Labor Day, the group will close out their summer tour onstage in the tiny community of Fairfield, Iowa, in what’s being dubbed as one of the nation’s first “green” rock concerts.

“We need to move in the direction of energy independence,” explains Love, “and what better place to start than Fairfield — the heartland of America.”

What better place, indeed. Fairfield may seem like little more than a blip on the state map of Iowa, but this little town is making big headlines in its attempts to lead the nation in eco-friendliness. Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy is a national leader in the field, recently having been named one of the “15 Greenest Mayors in America” by MSN.com. The concert will serve as the kick-off to Fairfield’s 40-point initiative to become “America’s Model Sustainable City.”

“We want to create a model community,” says Malloy, “a virtual template that other small towns can adopt to create the same results.”

The show will feature demonstrations of clean energy projects and sustainable practices, as well as educational booths to teach simple ways at becoming more energy independent. Bio-diesel generators will be provided by the Quad-Cities’ own Rexroat Sound, and Malloy is currently in discussions with Alliant Enegy to turn the entire event into a “green-powered concert.”

Why Fairfield? That’s an easy one. Love’s been coming to the small town for decades. At the center of Fairfield is the Maharishi University of Management, the U.S. home for studies of the ancient art of transcendental meditation (TM.) Love’s been a follower of the TM movement since being introduced to the technique in 1967 by a couple of familiar faces.

“We were performing at a UNICEF show,” Love says. “And up come John Lennon and George Harrison. We get to talking about TM, and two months later, I’m headed to India with the Beatles and Donovan to study with the Maharishi.” The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was for years the public face of the TM movement and the creative force responsible for the University opening in Fairfield in 1974, forever transforming this quiet Iowa town.

Fairfield is also home to The Raj, a health spa that focuses on the ancient health system of Ayurveda. The treatment programs are said to restore balance and reawaken the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Love is a fan.

“Ayurvedic treatments help reverse the aging process,” Love explains, “and when you’re doing 160 concerts a year like me, it helps.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to support the newly built Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, as well as the David Lynch Foundation, a pro-TM organization created by the eccentric director of “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks.” The Foundation works to provide free TM training and “consciousness-based education” to children across the globe, as well as funding independent research into the effects of the program on creativity, depression, intelligence, and brain function.

“The Transcendental Meditation technique has been so incredibly valuable to me,” Love says. “I can only imagine how beneficial it will be to kids in neighborhoods full of stress, tension, and crime.”

But the focus of the event remains on energy independence. At the event, Love will be bestowed with the honorary title of “Energy Czar of Fairfield” for the day, a title he takes somewhat begrudgingly.

“I tried to tell them that the Bolsheviks killed the Czar,” says Love with a grin. “I prefer Energy Emperor.”

But Love turns serious when the talk turns toward green technologies.

“The Beach Boys are in favor of anything that leads to energy independence in the U.S. Fairfield can be a model and an inspiration, and we’re happy to lend a hand. We as a nation need to be fully energy independent within the next 20 years if not sooner.”

Get Love talking about energy and you’ll barely be able to get a word in edge-wise. During our interview, he spoke eagerly of the new Chevy Volt, the future hybrid set to launch in 2010 with an unbelievable 230 miles per gallon estimate.

“Daddy needs to take your T-bird away and replace it with a Chevy Volt,” he says with a smile.

But Love is forgetting one thing. He’s about to take the stage in small-town Iowa. Does it ever concern him that The Beach Boys are wrapping up their tour in a veritable beach-free state where you could probably count the number of surfers on one hand?

“Hey, now,” he says, not missing a beat. “Wait a second. Do I need to remind you of the lyrics to the song? It’s ‘if everybody HAD an ocean across the USA,’ not ‘has.’ Iowans will do just fine.”

“Besides,” he said with a laugh, “we sing songs about cars, too. Just make sure they’re fuel-efficient hybrids.”

Beach Boys in Fairfield

The Beach Boys’ 2009 Endless Summer Tour will arrive in Fairfield, Iowa, on Labor Day — Monday, Sept. 7.

Opening for the band will be Quad-Cities favorites The Nadas.

Don’t say you heard it from us, but we’re hearing whispers of potential special guests at the gig — and with recent TM benefit shows pulling in the likes of Moby, Sheryl Crow, Donovan, and Paul McCartney… anything’s possible.

For tickets, directions, and parking information, call (641) 472-2787.

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One Response to “Beach Boys bringing green concert to tiny Fairfield”

  1. Beach Boys’ Mike Love recharges at The Raj « The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Also see Mike Love, Not War | Ireland’s Edwin McGreal interviews Mike Love for The Mayo News | Mike Love of the Beach Boys on Stories of Success | Beach Boys concert ‘fun, fun, fun’ for all | Beach Boys bringing green concert to tiny Fairfield […]

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