WASHINGTON — Happy birthday, America! You don’t look a day over 241.
John Stamos (“Full House”) will host the 37th annual “A Capitol Fourth” concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, while PBS will carry the event live on Tuesday from 8-9:30 p.m.
Not only will Stamos host the event, he’ll hop behind the drums to play with The Beach Boys.
“This is my first time hosting,” Stamos said. “The first time I ever played with The Beach Boys was in ’85 on the Fourth of July at the [Washington] Monument with a million people there and Jimmy Page playing guitar. You can’t get more American! You’ve got The Beach Boys, D.C., the Fourth of July — to be more patriotic, you’d have to shoot apple pies out of a T-shirt gun.”
The Beach Boys will perform four of their biggest hits, including “Do It Again” with Stamos and “Surfin’ Safari” with Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, a voice suited for summer concerts.
“I got a call about a year ago to do a duet with Mike Love on his solo record,” McGrath told WTOP. “That was a dream come true. Growing up in Newport Beach, California, the Beach Boys were my idols. They’re still my idols! So the fact that I get a chance to jam with the Beach Boys on this legendary ‘Capitol Fourth’ July Fourth celebration in D.C., it’s just mind-numbing.”
Don’t expect to hear Sugar Ray hits, though McGrath did try to sneak them onto the set list.
“I was getting a little cocky and going, ‘Hey, if you guys wanna throw ‘Fly’ or ‘Every Morning’ in there, you know they were No. 1 songs too!'” McGrath said with a giant laugh. “I’m kidding! I would never ever suggest anything other than the Beach Boys. They’re the gospel to me.”
Also on tap is country star Trace Adkins, famous for such songs as “Every Light in the House is On,” “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” “Ladies Love Country Boys” and “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
“I’m doing a song called ‘Still a Soldier,'” Adkins told WTOP. “It’s paying tribute to those men and women who have served and are home now. But at their core, they’re still a soldier, and if the phone rang and they needed them back, they’d go back. It’s just a tribute to those folks.”
The stage isn’t far from Arlington National Cemetery, which Adkins’ saluted in “Arlington.”
“This Fourth of July celebration is a result of the sacrifice of our ancestors, those folks that paid the ultimate price for us to enjoy our freedom,” Adkins said. “We should absolutely be thankful for that, and it’s good that we can get together on occasion and express that.”
Also performing are Motown legends The Four Tops, lead by co-founder Abdul “Duke” Fakir, who took over the reins of the group after lead vocalist Levi Stubbs died back in 2008.
“Washington has always been good to us,” Fakir told WTOP. “To be invited for the Fourth of July to celebrate this great day, it’s a real honor … [We want] to remind [people] how blessed we are to have a country such as this with so many different types of people. All we have to do is remember that this country is full of love for each other. Sometimes we forget that.”
The group will perform their biggest hits, including “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “It’s the Same Old Song” and “Baby I Need Your Loving.”
“Holland–Dozier–Holland wrote all those classic hits of ours; I call them great tailors of music,” Fakir said. “Baby I Need Your Loving,’ when I first heard that on the radio … I heard in on AM radio in somebody else’s car because I couldn’t afford a car at that time. When I heard it, I was so excited that it almost made me cry. It was a life-changing moment, so that’s probably my favorite, even though we had some bigger hits like ‘Reach Out’ or ‘Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.'”
While the Four Tops are retro, you’ll also see rising star Chris Blue, who just won “The Voice.”
“I received a phone call from a friend: ‘Hey man, there’s this opportunity, we’d love for you to be a part of it,’ and I said, ‘Heck yeah! Let’s go to D.C.!” Blue told WTOP. “I grew up watching all these guys. John Stamos on ‘Full House,’ that was my guy! … I’d love to start up Jesse & The Rippers again! … Now that I’m going to be in the same lineup … it really is a dream come true.”
Blue has high praise for his “Voice” mentor Alicia Keys, who coached him to Season 12 victory.
“She’s absolutely the best,” Blue said. “I’m a little partial in this situation, but she’s definitely in my opinion the best coach ever. It was like working with someone you’ve known your whole life. She made every situation comfortable. Many times I forgot I’m working with Alicia Keys!”
Rounding out the celebrity acts are Kellie Pickler, Laura Osnes, Sofia Carson and The Blues Brothers. You’ll also see the National Symphony Orchestra, Choral Arts Society of Washington, U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, U.S. Army Ceremonial Band and Armed Forces Color Guard.
As always, the evening will wrap with dazzling fireworks set to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” complete with live cannon fire provided by the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery.
“This is an important time to celebrate being an American and what that means,” Stamos said. “It’s certainly different than even a year ago. … It’s an important time to bring people together. Decency is at an all-time low and discord is high. We’ve gotta figure this out! We’re pushing each other away and I don’t like it. If a day like this on the Fourth of July can bring people together for just an hour and a half despite your political differences. … Let’s get together!”