When The Beyman Bros’ debut CD, Memories of Summer as a Child, arrived in my mailbox, it was a gray and rainy day in Los Angeles. Within minutes of popping the disc in my player, I was cruising on a sailboat in the Caribbean and being serenaded on a gondola ride through Venetian canals. No, I wasn’t dropping acid. These are the memories the music evoked in me. And some of them haven’t even happened yet.
Who are the Beyman Bros? They’re three unrelated guys—Christopher Guest (yes, that Christopher Guest), David Nichtern and CJ Vanston—who have adopted alter egos a la the Traveling Wilburys (Guest is Doc Beyman, Nichtern is Nudgie Beyman and Vanston is adopted kid brother CJ Beyman). Guest and Nichtern have been jamming together since childhood and eventually teamed up with long-time Guest collaborator Vanston (Spinal Tap’s musical director/keyboardist, among other cool credits) to put out this album. They’ll even tour if the accommodations meet their “medium-high standards.”
The brothers may be made up but their music is for real. It’s a warm, vibrant blend of jazz, Mediterranean, Western, folk and Mark Knopfler. It’s instrumental but not boring, always moving, never stagnant. The multi-talented trio fuses so many instruments together—mandolin, accordion, clarinet, lap steel guitar, electric piano—you’d think they’d each need six-fingered hands to play them all.
But dissecting the sound is useless since this is the kind of music to be experienced more than described (click here to go to their website and sample several cuts). You should just kick back and let the music wash over you. Close your eyes and let it take you places. Some tracks had me sailing the Caribbean with wind through my hair and a masseuse at my back. Other times, I was on a horse trotting through the Irish countryside, driving a car on a long road trip in the rain at night and running through a grove of trees with the sun tickling my skin. All this is to say the album can give you a mental vacation for about ten bucks. What could be better?
After listening to their music, I wanted to know more about the Beyman Bros so I requested an email interview. Guest wasn’t available but Nichtern and Vanston kindly obliged.
PCN: What are some of your favorite memories of summer as a child?
Nichtern: Having grown up as a city kid, definitely going away to the country, the beach, camp, whatever during the summer. The picture on the front cover of our album is actually a real pic of me and Christopher on the beach in Shelter Island one summer. We were both there with our families, who were good friends. (We didn’t know CJ back then so we Photoshopped him in!) Riding bikes, playing baseball, swimming, roasting marshmallows, all the classic stuff.
Vanston: Watching Cathy Stewart play tether ball, the day Ann Pincumbe moved to town, kissing Cindy Smith on the swingset.
PCN: Who is the “Man of La Mantra” [title of the second track] and what is his mantra?
Nichtern: Ha ha, good one. His mantra would be, “Why hurry when you can take your time and still get there?” Appreciate the journey. Also, “Where is Sancho Panza when I need him? Have him get me a half-caf and half-decaf soy latte. Now, please!”
Vanston: This song is actually about David Nichtern, and his mantra is “Dear universe: Let us do another record.”
PCN: What should people be doing while listening to your music?
Nichtern: 1. Actually listening. 2. Yoga. 3. Cooking. 4. Sensual interaction (with others, hopefully). 5. Relaxing/massage. 6. Playing or singing along? 7. Bathing. 8. Flowing along with the music. 9. Flowing along without the music.
Vanston: I didn’t have this in mind when we did the record, but evidently this album is perfect to listen to while operating large farm machinery.
PCN: What kind of accommodations would meet your medium-high standards so that you’d tour? The Best Western? Bread large enough to accommodate lunch meat?
Nichtern: Ha ha again. I think we’re talking the presidential suite at minimum and if they don’t have that, then maybe the bridal suite. Definitely up high with a view, 24-hour room service, cable with pay TV and all the different kinds of channels they have in those places. If not, then a modest room with twin beds and 5 extra cots will be fine.
Vanston: I need the Golf Channel and free coffee in the lobby. Oh, and I only sleep on Haastens mattresses.
PCN: CJ, how does working with Doc and Nudgie compare with working with Spinal Tap?
Vanston: It’s actually exactly 1/3 easier, because there is one less genius to deal with.
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