They love the idea of riding a wave of fortune, unsure of where it actually leads.

Because, no matter how you look at it, surf’s up for Sounds of Summer, an area Beach Boys’ tribute band about to perform for a national TV audience at 10 p.m. Wednesday. The four-person group will harmonize through a one-hour live set Wednesday at Hollywood’s famed Whiskey A Go Go on AXS TV’s “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.”

Make no mistake, they plan to have fun, fun, fun.

“I feel very excited and a little nervous,” bass guitarist Connor Ertel said.

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Although he’s played in bands for a decade in his hometown of North Vernon, Ertel works by day as a physical therapist at Columbus Regional Hospital’s rehabilitation facility on Marr Road. Group leader and guitarist Matt Thompson, also a North Vernon native and now a Nashville, Tennessee, musician, is a former instructor at Tom Pickett’s Music Center in Columbus.

The foursome — including drummer Eric Wernke and keyboardist David Ertel, the bassist’s cousin — made its debut with two sold-out shows in January 2015 at the Harlequin Theatre in FairOaks Mall in Columbus. Venue operator Robert Hay-Smith, who toured in the 1960s with the British pop group The New Vaudeville Band (“Winchester Cathedral),” was immediately impressed with the young men’s talent — and determination.

The longtime Beach Boys fans, all boyhood buddies, spent eight months perfecting their sound with more than 30 songs before ever considering playing for an audience.

“But one thing that’s most impressive is their humility,” said Hay-Smith, adding that they were open to stage-presence pointers he casually offered.

The real deal

Members still seem a bit stunned at their fast rise. They wore their trademark blue-striped Beach Boys-style shirts to the real band’s concert in August 2015 at the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis. The idea: mix with people in line well before the show and promote their upcoming concert at The Anthenaeum in Indianapolis, just eight months after their launch.

But Sounds of Summer members had almost no time to market the gig before a van pulled alongside them with longtime Beach Boys member Bruce Johnston, who joined the group in 1965, and the group’s road tour manager, Tara Ricart, inside.

“The reason he (Johnston) said (to me), ‘Pull over,’ is because you guys look so cohesive,” said Ricart, addressing members of the Sounds of Summer, on a video which can be accessed on the local group’s website.

The real Beach Boys wanted to take the Sounds of Summer members backstage, where Johnston wanted to know all about them. Things grew from there.

The Beach Boys, which includes original member Mike Love, then brought them out on stage.

“They let us crowd around Bruce’s mic and sing ‘Barbara Ann’ with them (during the concert),” Thompson said.

Don’t quit your day job

Reality hits at the end of such surreal, late nights for group members with demanding jobs.

“I had to work the next day,” Connor Ertel said with a laugh.

Which begs the question of where the tribute team wants all this attention to lead. They acknowledge it makes their lives a bit challenging.

“I’ve worked very hard to get to this point in my (physical therapy) career,” said Connor Ertel, the father of two young children. “I really like my job and have no intention of leaving it. When we first started all this, we had a goal of becoming regionally popular.”

Until host Katie Daryl from “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” found their videos on the website at several months ago, liked the guys, and phoned to say they were being considered for the new season.

“She said we were really unique,” Thompson said. “She told us the Beach Boys were still are considered America’s band — and she liked that we all were young guys doing this. She said she thought we looked great and sounded great.”

Online sources show that the real Beach Boys played the Whiskey A Go Go in November 1970. The tribute show figures to be a hit parade, with tunes including such songs as, “409,” “California Girls,” “Fun, Fun, Fun” “Good Vibrations,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and plenty of others.

“I’d like to think we’ve heard every track they’ve ever done,” Thompson said. “I started out a fan. Now, I’m obsessed.”

Catch the band

Who: Beach Boys tribute band Sounds of Summer, with members from North Vernon, performing live.

When: 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: On AXS TV’s weeky show, “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands,” broadcast from Hollywood’s famed Whiskey A Go Go on Sunset Boulevard, available on some satellite network channel lineups (Dish Network, 167; DirecTV, 340)


— For more information on the Sounds of Summer band, visit their website,

— For information on “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands” show, visit the network’s website,

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.