NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Beach Boys provided a perfect ending to a perfect opening day at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The recently reunited group sang about fun in the sun Friday, bringing a taste of nostalgia to many in the massive crowd camped out in front of the festival's largest stage. Some had been waiting under sunny skies, accented by a cool breeze, all day to hear the famous 1960s rock band from California, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Their reunion kicked off earlier this week in Tucson, Ariz.
Brianna Smyk, originally from San Francisco but now living in New Orleans, said she's wanted to attend Jazz Fest ever since she heard her parents rave about it as a child. That, coupled with an opportunity to see the Beach Boys perform, gave the now-26-year-old an ideal opening.
"I just absolutely love them," she exclaimed. "They're the reason I'm here."
Donna Morgan stocked up on crawfish bread and other eats from the festival's food booths early so that she wouldn't lose her spot near the stage as she awaited the Beach Boys' set to begin.
"I'm not going anywhere," she said. "I'm not missing this."
Actor John Stamos introduced the Beach Boys as "America's band" as thousands of fans cheered the band's arrival and squealed at the sight of the hunky actor on stage. Stamos is widely known for his role as the Beach Boy-loving "Uncle Jesse" on the TV show "Full House."
"They're my heroes," Stamos said of the group.
He said bringing the Beach Boys to Jazz Fest allowed people to enjoy two music styles founded in America — jazz and rock and roll.
Before introducing the band, Stamos proclaimed the group's music as "heart music."
"It bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart," he said.
Maryann Gauger, 74, of Hilton Head, S.C., tapped her feet and sang along as the Beach Boys performed "Surfin' Safari." She said she and her husband Bill drove to New Orleans to hear the reunited group
"I've been a Beach Boys fan forever," said Gauger, sitting in a red folding chair with a canopy. "Unlike a lot of songs today, there's a happiness to their music. It's upbeat, it's fun, and it gives you a feeling of hope, that everything's going to be OK."
The group opened with their hits "Do It Again," ''Catch a Wave," and "Surfer Girl." They also sang fan-favorites "I Get Around," ''Help Me Rhonda," ''Barbara Ann," and "California Girls."
Beach balls were tossed among fans as the band played "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." The group asked Stamos to return to the stage to play drums on their 1963 hit, "Be True to Your School," to the crowd's delight. Wearing sunglasses, Stamos happily drummed as the group sang.
Mary Ellen and Michael Kilanowski, of Slidell, La., danced and clapped to "409" and "I Get Around" with their 1-year-old grandson, Michael Kamenov.
"I love this music," said Michael Kilanowski. "It's really good stuff in a really tough world."
Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson contributed to this report.