Anyone who hasn’t been out to Wrightsville Beach during one of the Surfers Healing camps is missing out on some of the best parts of humanity. Kids and their families wildly cheer on the autistic campers in the water, who are surfing no less and enjoying a day of excitement, love and normalcy. Surfers Healing’s annual camp welcomes families from all over the state and country to Wrightsville Beach to soak in the sun and catch waves, while their kids get a chance to take on the ocean.
“Surfing with these kids normalizes the world [for them],” actor and musician Zach Hanner says. “The world is a hectic, chaotic place, filled with loud noises and uncomfortable situations. For some reason the ocean—which can also be hectic and chaotic, depending the situation you’re in—when you’re there with someone who is comfortable and knows they’re doing is the most thrilling, awesome thing in the world.”
Now there’s a soundtrack to capture the spirit of Surfers Healing (encore’s Best Of beneficiary from 2017), as well as to help continue its programming. Recorded at Hourglass Studio and released in fall 2018, “One Perfect Summer” features original rock, reggae, Hawaiian, folk, Americana, EDM and bluegrass tunes, penned especially by local artists. A CD release party originally was slated for last September but Hurricane Florence put a halt on it. Surfers Healing and friends finally will get to celebrate the album properly at One Perfect Luau on Sunday, May 19 from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Wrightsville Beach Brewery.
Live performances will take place from several players featured on the album, including Hanner’s Da Howlies, The Mighty Olas, Signal Fire Duo and Friends, The Laniers, L Shape Lot, Mac and Juice, Massive Grass and Onward, Soldiers. Plus, there will be a special appearance from 10-year-old George “DJ GeoYio” Yionoulis, whose song “Dave the Wave” opens “One Perfect Summer.” Yionoulis happens to be on the autism spectrum, and is one of many who continue to benefit from Surfers Healing year after year.
Hanner has volunteered with Surfers Healing for several years as well. A surfer of almost three decades, he knows the impact of the water on the heart, body and soul.
“One of the cool things about the surf community around here is the idea of ‘ohana,’” he shares. “It means more than family and friends; it means everyone who orbits around your life. It can be your neighbor or the person you see in the supermarket everyday or something like that. Within the surf culture, the strands of the ohana are pretty tight; a lot of really amazing, generous, kind people that all have the same goals in mind and the same spirit to try to make things better for other people.”
Hanner took on the same philosophy when recording for “One Perfect Summer.” His contribution, “We’re All the Same in the Water,” was overseen by executive producer George Hartner (The Mighty Olas).
“[George] had basically already gotten the money together to pay for the studio time,” Hanner tells. “Everybody got to write an original song and six hours in the studio. After our first conversation, I hung up the phone and sat down and wrote the song [Da Howlies] did.”
With the variety of performers featured on the album, Hanner says it is a testament to how talented Wilmington’s musicians are. “One Perfect Summer” includes tracks by Mac and Juice’s “Summer’s Here,” Mighty Olas’ “One Perfect Day,” Elephant Convoy’s “Break the System,” Onward, Soldiers’ “Walking on Air,” L Shape Lot’s “Makin’ My Way,” Stray Local “Little Tunes,” Signal Fire’s “Forever,” The Laniers’ “Today In A Frame,” and Massive Grass’ “Watch Me Run.”
“I’m flattered and honored to be included on the record with all of them,” Hanner notes. “I really love the Stray Local tune . . . [And] this whole recording session with Trent at Hourglass was fantastic. It would be great to follow this up and do another [record].”
Each band will have time for a full set at One Perfect Luau, so folks can expect to hear more than just “One Perfect Summer” songs from Da Howlies, like “Maui Waui” and other island-inspired tracks. A newer tune “Why Kiki” is about a cruel lady heartbreaker.
“One Perfect Luau” is free to attend. However, there’s a VIP tent (with only 50 $50 tickets available), and it includes free food throughout the event, a copy of the album, two drink tickets with access to VIP bartenders, meet-and-greets with bands, A/C and private bathroom access, and a gift bag. Every dollar donated through CD purchases means more families get to enjoy of day of surf and sun for free. Plus, more teams of professional surfers may travel from Hawaii, Puerto Rico and California to work with the kids. It helps feed families during the camps and with permits, parking and shuttles, life jackets, and other fun activities.