Moes Alley Santa Cruz Nightclub
The Mermen
Appearing Live at Moes Alley
Friday, May 11th
Psychedelic Surf Rock
9:00 PM, Doors Open 8:00 PM, $15, Day of tickets available after 4pm at Moe's or by calling 831 479-1854

Eat At Moe's

Psychedelic Surf Rock pioneers THE  MERMEN return to Moe's Alley on Friday May 11th 2018.


Jim Thomas-Guitar Martyn Jones-Drums Jennifer Burnes-Bass

The best Rock and Ro! is poetry in motion, with or without words - and some of the best records of 1995 came without. The M ermen play an extreme brand of surf music, the black minor-chord moods of guitarist Jim Thomas are like a rough ride on the icy seas of the mid- Atlantic. H ints of Dick Dale filter through the cracked-sidewalk wave forms of Sonic Youth. But on long hauls like the nine minute "Obsession for M en" Thomas sounds more like N eil Young at the wheel of Crazy H orse.


Jim Thomas builds crashing waves of sound that would do Pink Floyd proud. Thomas' unique vision has never sounded better than this..... 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. The Mermen's Road Show album is a tour de force by and inspired musician following his own vision"

Joel Selvin ,San Francisco Chronicle

"...H eavier than surf, its got punch--Jimmy Page punch. And Jimi H endrix punch. And lots of it...The M ermen, and particularly guitarist

Jim Thomas, have morphed surf music into a new age. Thomas wi! be a reluctant guitar hero, but he wi! be one nonetheless, and there's a lot of his fluid, water-like ebb-and-flow guitar to absorb in the 74 minutes that make up A Glorious Lethal Euphoria. Catch Thomas' wave now, because he's doing it first and, so far, best..........
A cult surf band? San Francisco's MER MEN are neither label conscious nor road warriors, which makes their
regular beachings at the Continental Club a S tatue of Liberty buried in the sand. Jim Thomas, self taught guitar
savant and body suited Blue Crush titan, doesn't give a flying anchovy about the music industry, he just wants to pu
you under the white water of his Sonic Youth tidal wave. M elodies like "The Goodbye" and "M erry Go Round" wi!
reck your vessel on the reefs of their beauty. A! hail N eptune."

"...ferocious and haunting instrumentals of an almost orchestral density. Whether roaring through lethal little string-benders such as 'Pulpin Line' and the punkish 'Drub' or riding the mesmerizing waves of feedback and melody on...epics such as 'Obsession for M en' and 'Between I and Thou,' the M ermen never co!apse into surf kitsch or fa! back on the genres beloved but overfamiliar cliches...'The Drowning Man K nows H is God'...mutates into a complex descending riff of barely restrained dread and fina!y wipes out in a squa! of doomy guitar noise...The burbling underwater atmospherics...and the shimmering riffs...disguise intricate arrangements, and the muted arpe%ios and grandiose leanings are a long way &om Wipe Out...."
--David Dudley, NEW TIMES( review of Glorious L ethal Euphoria)


“Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship.........

Out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach
Of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky With one hand waving free Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today
Until tomorrow”

BOB DYLAN - ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’

Since The Mermen are p an instrumental band, you would think that guitarist/composer Jim Thomas’ favorite artist would be a guitarist. Not so. Jim’s number one has always been Bob Dylan. In addition to just loving all of Dylan’s work, Jim says Bob Dylan’s stage presence, for one remarkable minute at a performance in San Francisco, was the most powerful live-performance minute of all the shows he has ever been to in his life. Jim’s favorite song of all time is ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’. The song speaks to him about the trials and tribulations and the “sweet Mystery of life”. ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ is the closest he can get to an anthem for his life.

The album, ‘THE MAGIC SWIRLING SHIP’ began with Mavericks big wave surfer/film maker, Grant Washburn, asking Jim to put together some music for a film he was working on with big wave surfing legend, “DA BULL”, Greg Noll. Besides his time spent as big wave surfer, Noll was also making surf films in the 60's alongside filmmakers like Bruce Brown, Bud Browne, and John Severson. Grant said that they dug out old film stock from Noll’s archive, took it to Los Angeles and converted it to digital video. The film is in the works right now.

Jim’s discussion with Grant happened only a couple of days before the latest MERMEN album release, ‘WE COULD SEE IT IN THE DISTANCE’. Grant said he needed music right away, so Jim wrote
a handful of new songs with Grant’s film in mind, and recorded the songs in his studio over a couple of days. During that time, THE MERMEN recorded 5 brand new songs: ‘THE SEARCHER MUST RIDE’, ‘FROM THE SHORES OF DREAMS’, ‘OVER THE WAVES ON THE MAGIC SWIRLING SHIP’, ‘TO A NEW WORLD’, and ‘ALMEJAS EN ME MOCHILA’.
Here is what Grant has to say regarding the music on this album:

“Jim Thomas and his fantastic Mer-people have inspired me from the moment I heard them. They have the rare ability to create music that conjures the kind of adrenaline we find in giant Maverick's surf.
Greg Noll is the ultimate extreme surfer, and this historic film demanded serious music. When I'm looking for Big-Wave sound, I come straight to Jim. Powerful, heavy, elegant; this stuff makes me want to charge! It fits Greg's legendary footage like a glove, and I couldn't be more stoked with the magic combination that has been created. Simply epic.”


During the recording, Jennifer suggested recording some her favorite MERMEN songs; ‘DRIVIN THE COW’, ‘DRAGONFLY’, ‘THE WHALES’, and ‘LE JIZZ HOTT’.

We decided to add a live, new version of the song ’ISLANDS’ which was written for the NOOA (National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration/National Marine Sanctuaries) film about the Farallones Islands, ‘SANCTUARY IN THE SEA’ by internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Robert Talbot. The last song added, ‘THERE IS A TEAR’, was track-recorded with MERMEN founding member and bassist, Allen Whitman, and drummer, Vince Littleton. Daniel Guaqueta plays drums on ‘THE SEARCHER MUST RIDE’, ’FROM THE SHORES OF DREAMS (Reprise)’ and ‘ALMEJAS EN ME MOCHILA (clams in my bag)’, the latter named by Daniel. Daniel has Columbian roots and is at home with the Latin beats. We met Daniel in Hattiesburg, Mississippi when we toured through the South US. Daniel has since moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and developed a passion for surfing. Mermen founding member and drummer, Martyn Jones, plays on all other tracks.


The cover photo is of Jim Thomas surfing Ortley Beach, New Jersey, summer, circa 1983, early morning. The back cover is “Fishing Boats at Chôshi in Shimôsa Province” by Katsushika Hokusai. The CD disc art is“Masculine Wave” also by Hokusai.


GUITAR. BASS. DRUMS. The basic elements of rock and roll. The new 2017 instrumental recording and 10th album by the The Mermen, ‘WE COULD SEE IT IN THE DISTANCE’ is about the essentials. The stripped down production on this new album is organic in nature: no samplers, no synthesizers, no big production values, few overdubs, only some songs with spare use of rhythm guitar— most of the cuts performed in one take. Here we have a trio performance fine-tuned after 30 years of the Mermen playing together.

The music is rooted in the kind of instrumental “surf” music made by the Ventures, Dick Dale and Link Wray. But the Mermen are more like the Modern Jazz Quartet of Surf Music with a diverse repertoire spanning over 100 original instrumental compositions. These songs run the gamut of expression. During live shows the songs may morph into lengthy improvised variations on a theme a la the Grateful Dead. Mermen songs can be short (2 minutes) or very long (20 minutes or more). Mermen music dips into a realm of symphonic form where the movements are parts of a bigger sonic picture. Words to describe Mermen music: melodic, ethereal, earthy, dreamy, dramatic, pretty, hypnotic, muscular, oceanic, sad, happy— from whisper quiet slow motion, beautiful to punk, speedy and loud. Here is a diverse and expansive music, music with ebb and flow, nuance and dynamics. It is music that is echoes the moods of the ocean itself— variable and unpredictable. There has never been a setlist.

The music on ‘WE COULD SEE IT IN THE DISTANCE’ exhibits many influences. The song ‘BOUND FOR A STAR WITH FIERY SEAS’ is “Ennio Morricone meets Crazy Horse”. ‘WE COULD SEE IT IN THE DISTANCE’, ‘RIDE THE BLUE HORSE’ are Neil Young-inspired. With the song ‘BIG BIRD BACKSTEP’, Jim takes a cue from his favorite guitarist, Clarence White, (of the Byrds, Kentucky Colonels). Jim played bluegrass flatpick guitar in his early days. (He competed in the National Bluegrass Flatpicking Championships in Winfield, Kansas in 1977). ‘LAST FOREVER’ is the sound of New Jersey and a nod to Bruce Springsteen, (Jim is originally from New Jersey and was born Sept 23, same day as Springsteen). Jim spent many years on the Jersey Shore surfing the coast around Asbury Park and going to local clubs at night. WILL has a taste of Wes Montgomery. ‘SHOOTING COLORS ALL AROUND’, The Rolling Stones. ‘THREE THIRTY THREE’ is a nod to Dick Dale, 60s surf music, and legendary SF Bay Area guitarist, John Cipollina (of Quicksilver Messenger Service).

The two new albums were recorded at Pleasure Point Recording, (The Mermen's studio), in Santa Cruz, CA and recorded and mixed by Jim Thomas.


A couple of years ago Jim and Jennifer moved into a house on North Polo street in Aptos, CA
on the day we moved we saw this beautiful painting of a mermaid with a guitar in the waves, with Santa Cruz's Lane's Lighthouse in the background, painted on the electric box at the top of our new street. We thought, WOW! this must be the place we are supposed to be. Strange coincidence. The painting is called, ‘MERMAID WITH SIX STRINGS’ by Ket Tom-Conway, local Santa Cruz artist and music teacher. This artwork resonates The Mermen's inspiration from our local coastal life.


Jim Thomas (guitarist) is also the songwriter for the Mermen. He hails from New Jersey. The last town in New Jersey Thomas lived was Seaside Heights. He was dragged to California by a friend and arrived on the West Coast in 1987 with only two possessions: an acoustic guitar and a surfboard. He got a job in a music store in San Francisco and soon formed the Mermen with drummer Martyn Jones and original bassist and founding member, Allen Whitman (who eventually went off to play with Joe Satriani). The Mermen is the first band Jim was ever in. During his time working in the music store, Jim was signed to 5 record deals, (2 with Atlantic records). Jim now spends his time surfing and making music. His favorite guitarists are CLARENCE WHITE, WES MONTGOMERY, NEIL YOUNG, DJANGO RHEINHARDT, JERRY GARCIA and JIMI HENDRIX.

Martyn Jones (drums) is from Liverpool England. Martyn is a founding member of the MERMEN. He thought up the name (from the JIMI HENDRIX song ‘1983 A Mermen I will turn to be’. He is a drummer of imagination and accomplished composer in his own right. He wrote a musical about the Donner Party, (he does have a sick sense of humor); writing all the songs, singing and playing all the instruments himself. He sings and plays drums in PLASTIC ONION, a BEATLES cover band. He also recorded Miserlou with the Kronos Quartet. He played blues for years and performed with John Lee Hooker and Deacon Jones. Martyn’s favorite show was when the Mermen were the backup band for Tiny Tim. Martyn always has a book in his hand and loves good conversation.

Jennifer Burnes (bass) is from Northern California. She is one of 11 brothers and sisters. Her initiation to the bass took place when she was 16 when a legendary local musician needed a new bass player. (The legend was George Rios - known around Nevada City, CA for his black guitar, black clothes, black school bus, black drum set, black everything). George taught Jennifer 40 songs in 4 days and she played her fist gig that week. Jennifer has played with the Mermen almost 20 years. Her tribal stomping sound is reminiscent of bassist Jack Cassady, (Hot

Tuna, Jefferson Airplane). Her playing has a raw, punk edge, characteristic of the Stooges. She likes Iron Maiden. She sometimes will bash her whammy-bar equipped Fender P-bass like a drum, but can be lyrical and melodic with rich chords. She likes to get down with distorted, gnarly, pulsating feedback. Her saying is “TURN UP THE FEELING”. Jennifer is a jack of all trades—she likes fixing things. She will fix your car, build your house, fix your internet, fix your plumbing— whatever.

"Jim Thomas is a master of the ethereal, infusing his playing with textures &om a! corners of the progressive rock kingdom. Thomas is at one with his artistry, a!owing his creative instincts---as vast as the sea itself--to guide him into new musical territory. Bristling sheets of guitar swe!, then recede, then swe! again, sometimes crashing in foamy sprays of feedback onto cra%y rhythms, other times simply rippling toward the horizon on convoluted streams of reverb. T he MER MEN have long played on the power of the cinematic, but T homas virtuosity doesn't a!ow for chaos---it a!ows only for boundless beauty, awe inspiring compositions and a startling inspiration. T o see the ocean through his eyes is to see it for a! its mysticism, and to hear it &om his perspective is to truly understand the musicality of its ebb and flow."
ALIBI, N ew M exico

"Supposing a period of conscious abstinence did a!ow me to access the realms of the nature spirit voices, I would expect to pick up a seashe!, hold it to my ear and hear the sound of the MER MEN. T hat experience would be as surreal as seeing these psychedelic-surf rock masters perform high atop a pirate ship in the middle of the desert, which I actua!y did see at Burning Man. One of the best modern surf bands, these mythical musicians can induce audiences into a trance or a dancing &enzy. Their watery expansive sound seems to bubble up straight &om the seas briny depths."

"T he MER MEN have managed to insti! a level of zeal within a rarefied, but rabid core of fo!owers, a fan base that includes not only some of the the most legendary figures in surfing but many of the nations most snobbishly particular record store clerks as we!. For anyone who's ever felt like pu!ing the plug on the pushy points of view and in your ear mewlings of countless lead vocalists, the lyric-less MER MEN are nevertheless one of the more articulate combos working that vast no mans land that lies just beneath the nations celebrity radar. T he MER MEN are never skittish about throwing their audience anything &om a cha!enging curve-ba! to a comfortable cover-tune cantaloupe."

"Whenever the term "surf rock" is uttered, one usua!y thinks of Dick Dale or The V entures, F ender amps with a ton of reverb, and goofy guys in goofy H awaiian shirts. This wasn't the case on Saturday night, though. Sure the MER MEN played a lot of up-tempo, heavily reverbed guitar and "Wipeout"-esque tunes, but this band had depth, warmth, humility, and more rock influences under their sleeves than one might imagine. I walked in expecting to hear the typical but in return got something that was at times a!uring, powerful, classical, and ro!ed by at breakneck speed. I picked up a CD (which the merch girl could describe only as "good, rea!y good") which has since turned into my new favorite."

Awards & Recognition

"Best of the Bay" 2002, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
"One of the Best 100 Bay Area Bands of All Time" (both critics list and Reader's poll) 2001 by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/ EXAMINER "Bammie" awards (2 years) 1996-1997, BAM MAGAZINE

"Wammie" award 1996, SF WEEKLY
"Best Albums of the Year" list 1995, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE

"Best-of-Year" list 1995, GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE

"Best-of-Year" list 1995, GUITAR WORLD MAGAZINE
"Goldie" Critics Award Winner 1995, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
"Best Local Band" (reader's poll--2 years) 1996-1997 SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN

#1 most played record album of the year, KUSF, San Francisco 1995 #3 most played record album of the year, KUSF, San Francisco 1994

Mermen Discography

2017 The Magic Swirling Ship (KMA)
2017 We Could See It In The Distance(KMA)
2012 Do You Hear What I Hear
2011 Blues Of Elsewhere
2009 In God We Trust
2001 The Amazing California Health and Happiness Roadshow (V2/MESA) 1996 Sunken Treasure

1996 Only You
1996 Songs of the Cows (ATLANTIC) 1995 A Glorious Lethal Euphoria (ATLANTIC)

1994 Live at the Haunted House( MESA) 1993 Food for Other Fish (MESA) 1989 Krill Slippin (MESA)

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