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The Beach Boys bring good vibrations to Redwood City

With songs such as "Surfer Girl" and "Fun, Fun, Fun," The Beach Boys are known as the quintessential southern California band. Founded in Hawthorne in 1961 by brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees have embodied the SoCal sun, surf and cars lifestyle to which the world could aspire. With unforgettable melodies and achingly beautiful vocal harmonies, the group provided the soundtrack to a time and place that likely never existed.

But the band also has many northern California connections.

"We've performed there going back to the KFRC days, which had these big concerts in the Cow Palace and other places," lead vocalist and bandleader Love reminisced by phone from southern California, coincidentally enough. (He currently resides in Incline Village, Nevada, but was visiting one of his daughters, who was celebrating her birthday at college.)

"We also played two shows at the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos," he continued, with a chuckle. "With over 50 years of performing, we've managed to get to a lot of places, a lot of venues."

Coming off a year in which they played 175 shows at 170 stops, the group is looking forward to getting back on the road, he said.

The Beach Boys continue their 2016 tour schedule with a concert on Thursday, Jan. 21, at The Fox Theatre in Redwood City.

It's appropriate that the band would play such a historic theater, which has hosted international treasures including B.B. King, Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett and Neil Young: The Beach Boys songbook has become part of the collective consciousness, arguably joining the likes of Gershwin, Ellington and Dylan.

"Yeah, it's definitely getting that way, at least," Love replied, when asked about The Beach Boys' legacy in American song.

Original fans of the group heard the songs in concert or as newly released singles on the radio. Subsequent enthusiasts could hear the music in advertising jingles ("Good Vibrations" was rewritten for Sunkist orange-soda commercials that started airing in the late '70s), in films such as "Cocktail," and on TV shows ("Baywatch," "Full House").

Uncle Jesse himself, John Stamos, is a longtime fan.

"He's the one responsible for getting us onto 'Full House,'" Love explained. "Those were fun episodes to do. And we get recognized all the time from 'Full House' fans."

Stamos has often joined the band on drums.

In 2012, the animated Minions sang a version of "Barbara Ann" (albeit in their own "language") in a teaser trailer for "Despicable Me 2." That may have introduced The Beach Boys' 1965 hit to a new pre-'tween generation.

Now, multiple generations of fans attend shows throughout the world.

"Sometimes you'll see grandparents, their children and the grandchildren all at the show," he said. "The entire family shows up."

Love is cognizant that someone will invariably be disappointed if he and his six bandmates don't revisit all the hits -- about an hour's worth straight through, he reckoned.

The nature of the venue and the format of the show determine other setlist decisions.

"In the theaters, the audience tends to be just a little bit older on average, meaning more of our original fans," he said. "That age group doesn't really want to go to an arena. They'd rather go to a really nice theater and have a comfortable seat and maybe an intermission to go get something to drink."

If there's an opening act, The Beach Boys will play for 90 minutes as headliners. When it's an evening with The Beach Boys alone, as will be the case at the Fox, "We're our own opening act," Love joked. He predicted an hour opening set, a 20-minute intermission and another hour of music -- possibly more, if the audience demands it.

"When we have a couple of hours of music, we can tweak the setlist and draw from a wide variety of songs," he said. "And we can put in a bit more subtle songs in a theater, like 'The Warmth of the Sun' or ''Til I Die.'"

In addition to Love, the current live version of The Beach Boys features guitarist/vocalist Bruce Johnston. His history with the band goes back to 1965, when he replaced Brian Wilson on tour. Guitarist, vocalist and San Jose native Jeffrey Foskett and guitarist/vocalist Scott Totten round out the front line with keyboardist Tim Bonhomme, bass guitarist/vocalist Brian Eichenberger and drummer/vocalist John Cowsill comprising the rhythm section.

The Beach Boys have long been involved in musical collaborations and have established many cross-historical ties. The current version of the group continues that tradition.

For 18 years, Eichenberger was a member of a latter-day lineup of the [ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-four-freshmen-mn0000071336/biography Four Freshman. The original Four Freshmen "highly influenced us in the vocal department," Love said. "Their close and incredibly sophisticated four-part harmonies really influenced cousin Brian's vocal arrangements."

Cowsill was a member of The Cowsills, another family band.

"They had their own hits -- some pretty big ones back in the late '60s, early '70s," he said.

In addition to the many Wilsons, Love also has talented relatives on the paternal side of the family. His nephew is the NBA star Kevin Love, who plays alongside LeBron James. His sister Maureen is a harpist and member of the hip Portland, Oregon, pop-chamber ensemble Pink Martini.

"She played on 'In My Room' and 'Catch a Wave,'" he said, with a brother's pride.

What: The Beach Boys

Where: Fox Theatre Redwood City, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City

When: Thursday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $48-$108

Info: Go to Fox Theatre Redwood City

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