The Queen of the Surf Guitar

BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

The pioneer and founder of surf music, Dick Dale (May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019), is known to the world as the "King of the Surf Guitar."

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Quincy, MA until the eleventh grade, Dick Dale moved to El Segundo in 1954 when his father took a job working for Hughes Aircraft Company in Southern California. Here he learned to surf at the age of 17.

"There was a tremendous amount of power I felt while surfing and that feeling of power was simply transferred into my guitar," he said years later at the peak of his worldwide fame. 

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Dale's father was Lebanese and the legendary guitarist gained a strong interest in Arabic music from him. It later played a major role in his development of the surf rock music sound.

In Cabo San Lucas, lives the Queen of the surf guitar, Daniela Hernandez, who also loves to surf, enjoys yoga; and has spent months in the Middle East where she too has been greatly influenced by its music.

Daniela, whose closest friends call her "Dani", was born in Irapuato, Guanajuato, but conceived here in Cabo San Lucas, while her oceanography career parents were studying the Southern Baja California Region waters. Her parents originally met in Ensenada, as oceanography students. Her father is originally from Irapuato and her mom is from Sonora.

"I grew up in Irapuato until I was 18 years old, but I have always felt a deep connection with the ocean," said Daniela Hernandez. 

Daniela started playing guitar when she was 15 years old in high school, where she met her two girlfriends who started playing musical instruments together.

"One day, we were talking and one of us said I play the guitar and I was like, yeah, me too," said Hernandez. "Then we had this other friend, who was an amazing guitar player at 16 years of age, and he told us, 'I want you girls to create an all-girls band and I have this friend Fabiola, who plays drums. He helped us put together all the music and he invited us to all these different events, where we were invited to perform alternative music rock. That's how I started playing."

After high school, Hernandez attended college where she studied hotel management, even though ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of becoming an oceanographer like her parents, emphasizing that no one in her family are musicians.

"At the time, I felt I put everything into this and it's not going anywhere, so I stopped playing with my girlfriends in college and started playing with some other rock band. I was hanging out with this guy who was studying middle eastern Indian music and I loved that culture. I later ended up going there on an internship in 2005 and spent nine months living in a desert of India," noted the easy-going and friendly Hernandez, who was there studying yoga, Tabla, percussion, and also playing with musicians with Rajasthan roots.

"After my year in India, I had this opportunity to start my own band, and I called it Pani-hari," continued Hernandez. "I really liked playing with these other bands, but I realized I wanted to create my own music. I like surf music because the guitar is the main instrument. 

"I came here for a month while I was in college during my hotel management career internship,'' added Daniela, who returned to Los Cabos in 2008 with her drummer friend, Fabiola Verduzco, and the two of them, who had performed in Irapuato as the all-female group known as Los Coppertones, began playing as Pani-hari, with Moises Rojas on bass guitar. Sometime thereafter, Daniela and Moises Rojas were married, and the Pani-hari group performed at various local venues and events that included two years at the San Jose del Cabo Music Festival, which they headlined in 2012.

The trio, led by Daniela's incomparable "Queen of the Surf Guitar'' sound offers Los Cabos, and the entire Baja California Sur Region a blend of eclectic original songs that are uniquely her own. Playing a style that reflects her surfing experience; projecting the power of the ocean to the people through her guitar. Drawing on Middle Eastern music scales and reverberation that Dick Dale so famously did as the undisputed, and legendary "King of the Surf Guitar."

During her 12 years in Los Cabos, Daniela has continued doing the ocean-related activities that she truly loves, like surfing, snorkeling, and practicing yoga on the beach for an hour or two at a time, in either Costa Azul beach or the East Cape. During the quarantine, Daniela said she 

has been trying to acquire more knowledge about music, and said, "I will never stop learning about music." She likes cooking at home, reflecting upon the few classes she took in college and mentioned one of her favorite dishes; a salsa kombucha pesto. 

After her very close friend Fabiola left and moved to nearby La Paz and Daniela's once blissful marriage with Moises tragically ended in divorce, Hernandez still wanted to keep working on her music with people that wanted to perform with her. Before the Coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, the new Pani-hari Band had been taking the stage and entertaining crowds at the San Jose del Cabo Saturday afternoon organic market, Amelia Wilkes Plaza and recorded a dynamic live performance video at the Flora Farms Songwriter Sessions which is available on YouTube. It features her tremendously cool and awesome surf music signature original song, "Caracoles." The new Pani-hari band consists of Axel Gutierrez on drums and Carlos "Panda" Lizarraga on bass. 

During the lockdown, Daniela also began playing bass guitar a few months ago and joined her friend Gabriela Enriquez and this new band called Fuego Azul (Blue Fire) that plays reggae, ska, cumbia, funk and rock; where she is not the headline star but their lowkey bass player.

"I wanted to do something new and fresh, and not everything is always about the money," said Dani. 

Hernandez has also been busy creating her other music project that is an exclusively India-oriented influence sound with Arabic instruments, like the tabla percussion drums, ocarina wind instrument and palo de lluvia.

"I love to play in a band, but sometimes I like to perform alone whenever I have the opportunity," she said. 

In his "Third Stone from the Sun" song, Jimi Hendrix says in a line, "Then you'll never hear surf music again" that, legend has it – was in response to Hendrix hearing that Dick Dale might be terminally ill with cancer. And while it's true that Dick Dale passed through the pearly gates of heaven last year in March 2019; the people of Cabo and every guest and tourist who visits this vacation paradise can still hear surf music again, performed live by the unquestionably talented, unique, attractive, and very sweet "Queen of the Surf Guitar," Daniela Hernandez. 

For more information or to book a private event please email viva_daniela@hotmail.com or contact her direct at +52 (624) 182-1267.