Story by Ingrid Matta / Photo Gary Propper
Most surfers tend to remember that last song on the radio, CD or IPOD when they head out to the lineup. It’s just one of those nuances of surfing: that last song—good or bad—favorite or loathsome—that keeps the sport or the art so special to all of us who do it. And most real surfers simply love music. It’s the rhythm, the melody, like a ride; like a good day on the water, with its unique shade of fun, color, and personality. And there are the memories…
So, combine a legendary surfer with a rhythm all his own, and blend it with a passion for music and even entertainment in general, and you find Brevard’s 60’s surf guru and former “poolboy” himself, Gary Propper. “I was walking along Cocoa Beach and watching the launches; I met Dick Catri and Jack ‘Murph the Surf’ Murphy,” is how Propper describes his introduction to a sport, an art that forever define his being. Regarding music and surfing, he intrinsically responds, “All artists relate to music and how they feel toward their individual art form (surfing or sports as well as music and such).”
A verifiable champion, having won countless accolades, Propper has taken his love, his art, of surfing and blended it into an entertainment industry that simply, and quite appropriately, gets the best wave of the set. Managing entertainers like Gallagher and Carrot Top, and helping them succeed, is the champion in Propper. “I like the fact that no matter where you are from, if you dedicate yourself, you can be a champion,” he says.
Propper has merged with business partners William Stasak and Jack Link to do full production of all-music and video. “I am basically a talent buyer and they are in the technical and production team and we work well together…” he says. Busy putting together a concert series with the bands the partners manage, Propper is proud of the work he’s doing. The bands he’s currently promoting are Dub City Tribe and Vintage Thursday, and both can be heard and seen Thursday through Sunday at the Hilton on Cocoa Beach, the Crown Plaza in Indialantic, or Fishlips at the Port. “I feel both bands appeal to all ages and they are the most professional and prolific in the area. Their original music is some of the best anywhere,” Propper says. “Most of the music I buy and sell is upbeat with a positive theme.”
Maybe it’s because he named his son after Sebastian Inlet (favorite surf spot), or that he’s a surf legend, a nose riding champion and soul rider of waves, that helps Propper keep that balance of passion and practicum. While the essence of surfing gets more and more commercialized every day, Gary Propper epitomizes the 60s surfers of today who embrace the simplicity that makes the sport/art what it truly is: Hand-shaped boards, free spirits, lesser known surfing pros, secret spots, surfing when it’s choppy and essentially lousy but still surfing, and, of course, music.