2008 Orange County Music Awards

Categories: music

And the winners are:

Best Song
Bayadera-”Red Shoes”

Best Alternative

Best Male
Jonathan Blake

Best Female
Jessica Callahan

Best Pop Rock
Lunar Fiction

Best High School Band

Best Jazz
Rare Form Band

Best Instrumental
Evan Stone

Best Surf

Best R & B
Jimi E

Best Country
Fertitta and McClintock

Best Classic Rock
Shawn Jones

Best Indie

Best Folk
Marianne Keith

Best Electronic
Dead Amps

Best Punk

Best Blues
Pamela G

Best Rock
Union of Saints

Best Hip Hop

Best Urban
Mic Moses and C4mula

Best International
Juan Coronado

Best Out of County
A Living Daylight

Best Hard Rock
Star Off Machine

Best Swing
Gary Tole

Best Live Acoustic Band
The Fallen Stars

Best Live Acoustic Female
Robin Lore

Best Live Acoustic Male:
AJ DeGrasse

Best Metal
Sacred Storm

Best Live Electric band
Franki Doll and the Broken Toys

Lance Romance Memorial Award
Franki Doll

View images of the event here.

Last Night: Phantom of the Opera at Orange County Performing Artscenter

PhotobucketPhantom of the Opera at Orange County Performing Artscenter
March 28, 2008

Better Than: The movie version

Download: "Masquerade"

I know I'm probably going to get a lot of shit for this but I've got to let you in on a little secret that I am now quite ashamed of. I never saw what the big deal was about Phantom of the Opera, especially after having only seen the movie version from 2004- sorry. But after Friday night I stand corrected and I can certainly see what all the fuss is about over this Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece and a half.

This production was flawlessly executed while including the audience to be part of the fun - whether they wanted to or not. The beginning sequence began with an auction taking place...human skulls, a toy monkey, and yes - the chandelier. I'm talkin' the chandelier! The auctioner's voice grows more and more tricky and suspenseful until he yells, "Ladies and Gentleman!" Two assistants violently rip the covering from that wicked chandelier. FLASH! EXPLOSION! I lost my vision!

Cue: Phantom of the Opera opening theme song.

My sister looked over at me and chuckled as I was blinking madly, trying to regain full use of my eyes and asked if I was ok.

"I'm fine but I feel as though I just saw the face of God in the form of an angry chandelier."

After rubbing my eyes, I glanced over and up. There it was - flashing and rattling as if it were possessed - the chandelier being hoisted above those of us seated in in the orchestra section. Some looked up amazed, some slightly fearful - as I watched the slow, dramatic ascension I couldn't help but wonder, "If that thing landed on me, I'd never have to work again."

Thankfully, it held fast. Probably better.

Phantom of the Opera. The title alone conjures up an honest to goodness facination, one that involves the theatre world itself. How curious to think that there could be a mysterious figure looming about in the rafters - a shadow that kills and dissapears on cue if his requests are not met.

The Paris Opera House has some catacombs and inside those catacombs lurks a man ( a wonderful Jason Mills ) who has been shunned by society (not to mention his own mother!) due to the freaky appearance of his face. It is under this opera house that his presence culminates and feeds upon the goings on that take place on the stage above. When a young soprano named Christine (Sarah Jean Ford is amazing!) takes the stage he is struck and immediately falls in love. It is at this point that the mysterious man, a.k.a. the phantom demands that Christine be given leading roles, much to the dismay of the previous diva, Carlotta (Kimilee Bryant owns it!).

This performance left me in awe at the array of colors and brilliant stage work. My favorite performance being Masquarade, as every unique costume pranced and paraded around in absolute perfection. Every burst of flames, every fake explosion and gun shot left me dumbfounded and impressed beyond belief. Others around me were moved as well, including the individual in front of me who screamed at the top of their lungs whenever there were fireworks or gun shots that bursted into the audience. With seats this good I wouldn't need to pluck my eyebrowns for a while. Heather Cho - you're darling.

Trust me, don't hesistate to catch this incredible production and I wholeheartedly promote the idea of getting orchestra seating. You will definitely be involved.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I love the theatre, don't you? Well, you should.

Random Detail: If you are sitting in the orchestra section, do not look directly at the chandelier before they uncover it in the first scene! Lest you wish to see God!

By The Way: The lines at both restrooms were to kingdom come - men and women's. Keep an eye on the champagne intake.

Phantom of the Opera. Orange County Performing Artscenter. March 26th - April 19, 2008. 714.556.2121. www.ocpac.org

The Rub's 'History of Hip-hop' Mixtape Series

Categories: fresh nostalgia

Brooklyn trio the Rub have done some insanely thorough curating with their series of yearly rundowns of the best (in their learned opinions) hip-hop tracks. They've strung together dozens of gems for every year from 1979 to 1999 (you can access the MP3 files here). That is some serious dedication and edification, boom-bap aficionados.

Below are a few videos from some of my faves that the Rub have included in their pantheon.

Just-Ice's “Cold Gettin' Dumb” (1986)

Gang Starr's “Who's Gonna Take the Weight” (1990)

GZA's “Shadowboxing” (1995)

Fu-Schnickens' “Ring the Alarm” (1992)

Last Night: Cold War Kids at the Samueli Theater

Cold War Kids at Samueli Theater, March 26, 2008
A review by Andrew Youssef

Better Than: Seeing the Cold War Kids open for the White Stripes at The Forum.

Download: Heavy Boots from their long out of print Mulberry St. EP

PhotobucketCold War Kids dropped by the Samueli Theater for the third installment of the Off Center Series. The Kids hadn't played in Orange County since their December 2006 Detroit Bar gig, although their most recent performance in Southern California was a sold-out show at the Wiltern in LA in November 2007.

The show was a benefit for a nonprofit organization Water Wells for Africa, a Southern California-based organization that brings clean water to the villages of Malawi. It also featured photographic prints by Matt Wignall, who is the Cold War Kids' staff photographer. Matt was asked to document the work of the organization and flew to Malawi. After admiring Matt's work for a while, I entered the rapidly filling theater.

I was worried that the Cold War Kids might be rusty, as they haven't played a show in quite a while, but my fears were quickly dashed as the band opened with the wistful, piano-laced tune "Avalanche." The Samueli Theater made for a perfect cozy and intimate venue for the Cold War Kids. I could clearly hear Jonnie Russell's guitar reverberate as Nathan Willett captured the audience's attention on stage. "Bullies" was another new tune that had fractured, reverberant guitars slowly building up momentum before unraveling in grand fashion.

Piercing screams from the crowd greeted the characteristic rattlesnake shake of "We Used To Vacation" as it hissed over the audience. Then came an unexpected and amazing cover of "Furniture" by Fugazi. Cold War Kids managed to amplify the tension and angst of the song by making the song more claustrophobic. Jonnie, Nathan and Matt Maust (bass) were bouncing around and into one another like pinballs as they played another new song, "Occupation."

"Mexican Dogs" continued the new song hit parade; this song completely rocks and would be the most logical choice for a lead single for their upcoming album. "God, Make Up Your Mind" slowed down the new song fury as Nathan tickled the ivories. The applause heated up as "Hang Me Out To Dry" had the fans in the front of the stage dancing and throwing their hands in the air. "Hospital Beds" was also very well received, with approximately 65% of the audience singing along. After a short break, Cold War Kids came back with another new song and the double shot of "Passing the Hat" and "Saint John."

It's very unlikely Cold War Kids will perform in this small of a venue ever again, judging by how sharp the new material sounded and by the intensity of their performance.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I have the same reverb pedal in my guitar setup as Jonnie Russell.

Random Detail: If you look in the liner notes of the Thrice album The Artist in the Ambulance, you will see the Cold War Kids credited for the artwork.

By The Way: Cold War Kids' next show will be at Coachella, April 26.

To view a slideshow of the event, click here.

Last Night: English Beat, RX Bandits at The Grove

PhotobucketIn the decades since the sounds of ska infiltrated Orange County, the local music scene has definitely gone through some changes. Live music junkies have been left to fend for themselves in a sea of emo, screamo, hardcore and other intricately titled audible slop.

But last night at The Grove in Anaheim, things were sunny side up again. Ska legends, The English Beat, were good enough to drop in and give us a taste of what we've been missing. Add to that a brilliant set by progressive ska heroes, Rx Bandits, and you've got yourself a real fine show.

Before either band took the stage, the scene on the front patio was alive and kicking. But mostly, they were trying to stay warm under the outside heating lamps. Clusters of sharp dressed teens in black vests, thin neckties and trilby hats fumbled around in front of the outdoor side stage where a Long Beach ska band hammered out a solid brass wailing set that got plenty of attention.

It was great to see the diverse all-ages atmosphere of 'Beat fans old and new. It kind of looked like a bunch of parents and their skanker kids sneaked out of the house and wound up bumping into each other at the same show.

Rx Bandits took the stage around 8:30 p.m. to a pit of rabid fans. The band has always been known for their dynamic live show and last night was no exception. Matt Embree (vocals/ guitar), Steve Choi (guitar), Joe Troy (bass) and Chris Tsagakis (drums) ignited their audience with some of the best stuff from their last three albums.

Within a few songs, a swirling, sweaty circle pit was causing some of the older folks to either back up or break a hip. Blue and red strobe lights exploded like bomb blasts on stage during songs like "Sell You Beautiful," "In All Rwanda's Glory," and even the ghostly rhythm of "Apparition." The band capped their set with a fire storm of guitar riffage during the song "To Our Unborn Daughters." By the end of it, anyone who had never heard the Bandits before should have cleared some space on the floor near them to bow down.

Though it seemed like almost an hour before English Beat got all seven members on stage, they were greeted accordingly with a solid roar from two generations of fans. Those that came to claim rude boy or rude girl status had plenty of reason to dust off their best two-step.

When it came to having fun, rambunctious toaster "Antonee First Class" didn't take no for an answer. The loud call and response energy he drained from the crowd had the vibe of a stadium hip hop show. Classic lines like "how many ladies want to have my two-tone babies" pretty much cemented his emcee credibility that night.

While English Beat's original front man, Dave Wakeling, had gained a few pounds since the '80s- so had most of the fans in the audience so I don't think anyone really noticed. Bellies aside, the guy can still put on one hell of a show. Backed by members Rythmm Epkins (drums), Wayne Lothian (bass/vocals), Fernando Jativa (saxophone) "Joffee" (lead guitar/ vocals) and Ray Jacildo (keyboard) the band never lost its footing during a blistering two-hour set that included hits like "Hands Off She's Mine," "I Confess" and "Mirror In The Bathroom" to name a few.

The band really brought the house down with their '80s anthem "Tenderness." Actually it was more like they brought the house up. By the time Wakeling had strummed the first few chords of the infectious pop song, over a dozen women were high-stepping, hip shaking and grinding random objects on stage. A few of 'em looked like soccer moms but hey, cougars should be allowed to have a little fun too- just as long as their kids are tucked in bed somewhere. The show didn't end until 1 a.m. At least for one night, the good old old days of ska were alive and well.

View photos of the event here.

Nate Dogg Pleads Guilty To Domestic Abuse Charges

Categories: music-biz shiz

PhotobucketGrammy nominated artist (and Long Beach native) Nate Dogg plead guilty to domestic abuse charges on Tuesday in an Orange County court room.

He broke into a house and punched his ex’s new boyfriend back in 2006.

The rapper is being ordered to complete a domestic violence issues treatment program, three years probation, and was stripped of rights to own a weapon for the next 10 years.

Read the full article here.

New OC/LBC Band Showcase at Detroit Bar

Categories: music news


Beginning in May, Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa will devote Tuesday nights to on-the-rise Orange County and Long Beach bands. Please read the press release below from Detroit booker/co-owner Jon Reiser and start dreaming big, players.

Attention all Orange County and Long Beach Bands: Starting in May we will launching a new night on Tuesday to showcase up and coming bands from Orange County and Long Beach.

The format will be 2-3 bands per Tuesday. There will be no cover so there will be no pay to the bands. However, for the bands we like, can draw etc. we will book you for future shows to open for national headliners or headline your own night. For which pay is involved.
This will be the way for Detroit to showcase up and coming talent, and filter through all of the bands for future shows.
If you're interested in being considered for this, please email: jon@detroitbar.com

Bon Jovi Guitarist Arrested in Laguna Beach

Categories: music news


Richie Sambora: Livin' on a prayer?

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora was arrested Tuesday night on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach for drunk driving. The popular axeman was commandeering a black hummer, in whose confines sat three women, two of whom were (and still are) minors. OC Register has the story here.

In June 2007, Sambora entered rehab for alcohol abuse, after reportedly flubbing his parts during taping of MTV's Bon Jovi Unplugged.

Smashing Pumpkins Sue Virgin, World Sheds Most Insincere Crocodile Tears Ever

Categories: music news

Here's a case where one only hopes both parties lose. Whom do you root for: the whiniest, most annoyingly precious recording artiste extant or a huge record label (now owned by the cuddly Capitol Music Group) that is flailing for its existence in a dismal economic climate? Gosh, I'm torn, even if Virgin Records did release these two awesome Faust albums back in the day.

Apparently, Virgin has used Pumpkins songs (sans their composer Billy Corgan's permission) to shill for companies—Amazon and Pepsi—repugnant to the adenoidal band leader. Stupid move on Virgin's part; greedy machinations on Corgan's. Everybody comes out smelling like Dumpster™ juice. Yay.

Read the whole soul-curdling press releases after the jump—and then enjoy one of the Pumpkins' better songs, "Rhinoceros."

More »

Chris Gaffney has liver cancer

Categories: music news

Chris Gaffney, who for years has been pretty much OC's go-to guy for quality country music playing, singing and songwriting, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. And, like far too many musicians, he needs help to pay for his very costly chemotherapy treatments. Even though Gaffney has health insurance, it's still not enough, and an additional $60,000 must be raised.

As former OC Weekly columnist and music editor Jim Washburn writes:

(H)e's never been that well off, but he's always been the first to sign on to help someone else, whether it's playing a benefit or moving a fridge. He's also a great songwriter and my favorite living country singer. He'd stack up well against most of the dead ones, too, but I'd very much prefer we keep him in his current category. That's going to take a lot of help and hope. Any of either that you can spare would be greatly appreciated, by me, his family, and a whole lot of other people.

For more info, including where to donate, click right here.