Mermen Surf Music Band

The Amazing California Health and Happiness Roadshow

The Amazing California Health and Happiness Roadshow


Jim Thomas, guitar
Allen Whitman, bass
Vince Littleton, Drums
* Martyn Jones, drums
(Sponge Cookie & Emmylou Rides Clarence West, Then South)

Released: 2000
Produced by Johannes Luley and Jim Thomas
Executive Producer: George Naufel
Recorded by Damien Rasmussen
Mastered by Steve Hall/Future Disc

Additional Musicians:
"That One Guy" (Mike Silverman), bass
Johannes Luley, additional guitars, bass, keyboards, autoharp
Paolo Baldi, congas
Joe Goldmark, pedal steel guitar
Randy Clark, guitar, sarod
Jennifer Burnes, marching drum


"...a trippy collection of post-Dead reverb-rich melodies. This is a good meditative album, best played at a party — and definitely one of the more interesting collections of ambient music...With all the unusual musical accents and pristine...guitar work on this disc, it isn't a bad collection to use if you are going to buy a new stereo and need to test-drive it."

--New York Post

"...the album's pinnacle is an extended psychedelic rambling, here called 'Burn,' which closes out another treat from one of rock's most impressive instrumental bands"

--Buzz Morison,

"...(Thomas) builds crashing waves of sound that would do Pink Floyd proud. Thomas' unique vision has never sounded better than this...a sterling set of tone poems that swell up like the sea itself...the psychedelia dominates...Far from the calculating, cultivated rock so common these days, Road Show is a tour de force by an inspired musician following his own vision."

--Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle

"Surf music that doesn't seem antiquated is damn rare. That the Mermen's CD is both faithful to the old wave plus fresh and high-minded--in a very literal way--is a near miracle...what's really terrific is the scope of Mermen guitarist/composer Jim Thomas' studio vision. He has a knack for orchestration comparable to Hendrix's...It's not just sound; it's cinemascope."

--Ted Drozdowski, CMJ New Music Monthly

"I may be sticking my neck out here, but this is the best 'surf' record I've ever heard. It is a true journey into the realm in which we live. This San Francisco band has delivered a masterpiece that negates space and time...Psychedelic and obsessive in its quest, it relegates the 'new' breed of surf bands to the back of the bus. If there's ever an 'Endless Summer 3', the soundtrack is already done."

--Tim D., Surfing Magazine

"The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show is a truly great guitar album, and one of the best instrumental discs I've heard in many years. Usually pegged as a psychedelic surf-rock band, the trio demonstrates on this disc the inadequacy of that moniker...This is a great album featuring a player that's got technique, tone, imagination and a great rhythm section."

--Relix Magazine

"...Poetically poignant guitar moments abound on The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show...'Walking the Peach' is a psychedelic country-rock jam that nods earnestly (and beautifully) toward late guitar maestro Clarence White. The eagerness to grab anything from an Eastern-styled guitar riff to a Wes Montgomery lick and meld it onto a galloping beat with loads of sonic effects is one of Thomas' strengths and his diversity is impressive...The Mermen are the best instrumental surf-rock combo since the Raybeats."

--Mitch Myers, Alternative Press

"...laying on the twang as thick as the darned waxy buildup that yellowed your grandma's floor...pedal-steel flourishes on top of pseudo-tribal chanting and douses it all with a reverb-soaked lead as grand and liquid as waves crashing on the sore after a hurricane...could be Dick Dale doing his best to evoke a runaway train..."

--Bill Meyer, Magnet

"The gods of the sea haven't made a wave big enough to wipe out Jim Thomas' axe...He's defining a whole new style up there, and no mere force of nature is going to knock him off...With the release of of The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show, Thomas makes his most serious bid to be ranked alongside such guitar giants of instrumental rock as Roy Buchanan, Harvey Mandel and Jeff Beck..."

--Derk Richardson, San Francisco Chronicle

"...The more concise instrumentals of The Amazing California Health And Happiness Road Show (Source, 2000) prove that Jim Thomas ranks among the most underrated guitarists of the 1990s. The majestic, symphonic, twang-drenched ode Unto The Resplendent, colored with oriental and Hawaiian tones, and the fervent, throbbing and ornate White Trash Raga are mystical pieces that achieve a pathos halfway between the Velvet Underground, a surf band, John Fahey, Indian classical music and the Grateful Dead. The closing, 17-minute Burn opens with a 3-minute introduction of free-form noises (in the tradition of Albert Ayler and Indian raga) and then intones a solemn hymn. Layers of keyboards, percussions and guitar sounds build up a dense texture. After five minutes of electro-acoustic dissonance, the vision-prayer is crowned by a two-minute celestial mantra for guitar and keyboards."

--Piero Scaruffi

"...This music is water...when Thomas lays into Wes Montgomery on the dreamy, shimmering 'Merry Go Round,' the pull of the deep blue dragging you down to the bottom of the ocean to have your faith tested by Mermaids, it's all over...This is surf music borne of the brine, not of Brian Wilson's bedroom..."

--Raoul Hernandez, The Austin Chronicle

"...The Mermen have never been your little sister's 'Wipe Out' band, and that's never been more clear than on The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show...Bristling sheets of guitar swell, then recede, then swell again, sometimes crashing in foamy sprays of feedback onto craggy rhythms, other times simply rippling toward the horizon on convoluted streams of reverb. The Amazing California lingers just below the surface of consciousness and perception...where a single nudge could result in a cacophony. Thomas' virtuosity doesn't allow for chaos--it allows only for boundless beauty, awe-inspiring composition and a startling inspiration. To see the ocean through his eyes is to see it for all its mysticism, and to hear it from his perspective is to truly understand the musicality of its ebb and flow."

--Alibi (Albuquerque, NM)

Kava email
"...there are drifting luscious instrumentals with layers of acoustic and electric guitars and touches of sitars and flutes...This is a soothing, atmospheric, dreamy album that will lull you to visions, like a warm Hawaiian night. It's got enough tasty edge to keep it from being yuppie breakfast music. There even are a few cuts that will make you push down on your accelerator when they come on your car stereo..."

--Brad Kava, San Jose Mercury News

"...Throughout The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show, the Mermen display a craftsmanship of the highest degree; guitarist Jim Thomas and his cohorts know exactly what they're doing, and what they are doing is mighty fine. There's not a single clunker on this CD, not one bad moment..."

--Stephen Grimstead, Memphis Flyer

"...Like the vibrant beach itself, with its elements of sand, sea and air, the Mermen blend everything from pop and classical to jam and jazz, creating one of the most unique and spiritual recordings surf rock has seen to date...After hearing this CD I think that the great axe man himself (Hendrix) would quickly choke on his words from 1967, 'You'll never hear surf music again.'..."

--Graham Wilson, Boston's Weekly Dig

"...The Mermen weren't content to revive instrumental rock, they succeeded at reinventing it."

--Dave Luhrssen, Shepherd Express Metro

"...a solid album full of creative musical ideas written and inspired by surfers...peaceful flowing melodies...cascading layers of sound that vary in the degree of their intensity...a feel-good album with plenty of artistic integrity to hold it up..."

--Chip Schramm,

"...Filled with memorable melodies an a few psychedelic moments ala Jimi Hendrix, and even a touch of Latin-inspired rhythms, there is something here for almost's refreshing to hear performers of this caliber who paint musical pictures without feeling the need to indulge in endless solos...everyone here knows when to step aside and let the music speak for itself..."

--Bryan Dailey,

"This CD is more than anyone could ever expect from this well known instrumental will think you are listening to a different group on each track. That very point is the reason this CD is a masterpiece...I honestly don't feel that I have done this album justice by what I have written, you have to hear it all to believe it. I am beside myself with this recording...Welcome to the promised land of instrumental bliss..."

--Keith Hannaleck, MuzikMan's Sound Script

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