The Doll Hut's New Owner Survives First Year

Categories: Locals Only

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Rickett & Sones
Mac McGarvey: Guardian of the Doll Hut
New Year's Day might seem like a natural time of celebration for revived punk roadhouse the Doll Hut. But it's not. It's really more of a sobering day of remembrance of a narrowly avoided tragedy.

"That's actually the day the Hut officially closed," says current owner Michael "Mac" McGarvey. "I got the keys on the 2nd and we started again from there." The reopening of the Doll Hut was--and still is--one of things we remember most about 2014. One year later, it still feels surreal for the club's husky former talent buyer, who bought the place with his girlfriend Tammy Butler with nary a shred of bar owning experience.

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Wordovmouth Teaches Artists a Lesson in Self Promotion

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Courtesy Mike Meza
Mike Meza, creator of Wordovmouth
Mike Meza's fondness for Proof Bar is clear. In the mid 00's, it was one of the first venues that the former bassist of the Living Suns (now Dahga Bloom) was able to book a show and cause a ruckus. Within months of their first gig at the Santa Ana club, his band were able to stuff the place with beer-swigging longhairs and DIY scene kids banging their heads to the Suns' feedback-laden, fire-breathing psych rock. A decade later he still considers the club his stomping grounds, only now he doesn't have to be on the stage to create the scene.

Last summer, Meza became a promoter for Proof and created a live band event on Wednesday and Sunday nights called Wordovmouth. Since then, it's become a space where young bands and solo artists of all types come to test their mettle and sweat out their stage fright. And, as the name suggests, it's also a place bands go to learn a few lessons about self promotion.

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Living Out of His Truck, Lefty Phillips Never Loses Faith in the Blues

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Ken Stafford
Lefty Phillips (left) with bassist Paul Bonnano
Lefty Phillips is reminded of the choice he made every morning, as he wakes up in the bed of his 1996 Ford Tacoma. The day creeps in and warms the worn, gray camper shell over his head. He's gotten good at finding inconspicuous overnight parking in Long Beach's residential areas.

"To my surprise, there are lots of places to park where people don't seem to mind," Phillips says with a note of optimism.

Still, sometimes it's awkward exiting his vehicle in the morning, shaking off last night's gig as people are jumping into their cars to go to work. Inside his cozy abode, Phillips has the bare necessities: a feathered comforter, a camping stove, an amp and a couple of electric guitars.
It's been more than a year since Phillips started living out of his truck in February 2013, busking on the streets by day, playing clubs by night. After the economic crash of the late '00s and losing his last job as a janitor at a local community college, the 45-year-old guitarist had enough of working for the Man.

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DJ Carisma: Santa Ana's Hometown Heroine

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Lalo the Giant
DJ Carisma
When it comes to spinning hip-hop on the ones and twos, DJ Carisma is the sole woman you'll find on the FM dial in Los Angeles. Her distinctive platform on Power 106 didn't come easy. Deejaying, as with other elements of the culture, is all too often a man's world.

Carisma, who grew up all over Orange County, finally landed in Santa Ana, whose only notable claim on rap radio comes courtesy of a verse in Warren G's "This DJ." While an unlikely launching pad for a girl with DJ dreams, the city influenced Carisma's eclectic take in her mixes. "My dad was always into blues, jazz and classic rock," Carisma says. "My mom was always into her Christian and Hawaiian music. . . . Everyone listened to everything in my family except for hip-hop."


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Rapper XYZ Makes Hip-Hop for Gamers

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Frank Ishman
After he got his drivers license suspended as a teenager for drag racing, rapper Jason Park had a tough decision to make. Born in Hawaii and spending a chunk of his childhood in Columbus, Ga. with his mother, the avid video gamer knew his budding basketball career was done, and now, even though he could still race without a license, it wasn't a viable option.

Thankfully, Park had another hobby: writing and recording music.

A self-described R&B head who was influenced by the likes of Next and Boyz II Men, he made his first song as a sophomore in high school at a friend's house and was instantly hooked. With his basketball and driving aspirations in the rearview mirror, music provided him a much-needed creative outlet and Park put together a small studio in his room where he could record songs for fun.

"I never thought I'd make music, but I noticed when I recorded my first song, I couldn't stop," he says looking back at those early days.

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Locals Only: Common Kings Are Royals

Categories: Locals Only

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Commong Kings
Anything but common

Common Kings are poised for a major breakout. They just came off a tour with Justin Timberlake--13 dates across Australia and New Zealand--and for their debut LP, Hits and Mrs. (due mid-January), they're in the studio with a team of A-list producers that includes Timberlake's longtime co-songwriter/producer Rob Knox, Grammy winner Supa Dups (Eminem, Drake, Bruno Mars) and Brian Kennedy (Ciara, Rhianna).

"We're praying on it, bro," says lead singer Sasualei "JR King" Maliga, a Samoa-born crooner gifted with a honey-tone three-octave range, a vocal styling that would probably make the final rounds of NBC's The Voice. "We're in the mouths of some big-time people, and I think it's just a matter of time before we get a big break."


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The Great and Powerful Big Oz: Irvine's Afghan Rapper Delivers Battle-Tested Rhymes

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Fahim Farand

It didn't take long for Omar Azizi to establish himself as the biggest presence in a room. He easily outweighed his fellow newborns in a LA hospital nursery, tipping the scales at 12 pounds.

Twenty-eight years later, the Irvine rapper known as "Big Oz" towers onstage, thanks to an imposing 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame. The Afghan-American rapper now stands poised with outsized ambitions to chart a continental reach with his rhymes.

But Azizi's pathway hasn't been without its obstacles. His father, who fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion, loves to sing and play accordion but didn't want his son to live a musician's life. He raised Azizi to be cultured while priming him for a future in politics.

"As a kid, I wrote a lot of poetry," 
Azizi says.


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Gianna X Gianna Is Sweetly Eccentric

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Onstage, Gianna X Gianna is a towering presence in platform shoes, a sparkly leotard and spidery black mascara. Her blond hair is dyed a faded, cotton-candy hue; a mischievous grin peels apart her ruby-red lips as though she's a sultry super-villain. With her spastic intensity and robotic gyrations, the rapping songstress has carved her niche in OC as the most eye-catching element of sibling hip-hop/electro outfit BLOK. But in terms of calculating her sweat and creative output over the years, that's barely the half of it.

She views everything she does--rapping, singing, acting, directing, writing books--as a platform to convey her mission as an artist. "I want to be vulnerable and showcase that, and hopefully, that resonates on some level for people who want to do it themselves as well," the bubbly Gianna says.


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Nicker Jones and His Freaky Blues

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Photo by Gianna Gianna, produced by Luka Fisher
There's a strange world swirling inside Nicker Jones. For the first few minutes of our recent lunch conversation at Memphis Cafe in Costa Mesa, he gazes down intently at his shrimp po'boy sandwich with a smirk on his face.

"It's hard talking about myself," the 24-year-old says shyly. "This is actually one of my first interviews."

But you can sense the wheels of creativity spinning, even when he's not saying much. Of course, anyone who has seen Jones live knows it's usually his manic, blues-fueled freakouts and ankle-breaking dance moves that do the talking when he's onstage.


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Charles Fullwood Is Mr. Soultronica

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Haila Fullwood
By: Christine Terrisse
A young man plugs in his guitar amp and gets ready to play. The acoustics are good in the lobby of the Santora Arts building in downtown Santa Ana. A few of his friends slouch against the wall. He has dressed the part of a stereotypical OC dude: plaid shirt, board shorts and a beanie. Sometimes, he ditches the beanie, and a mass of tawny curls frames his symmetric face.

His voice starts slowly as he plucks a few chords. Then comes the jolt in a piercing raw-edged tenor: "I need this much! I need you, oh/I need you here/I need you right now."
That voice belongs to 24-year-old Charles Fullwood, and the lyric is from "This Much," off his five-track EP. In his bedroom studio, he specializes in a sound dubbed soultronica: an aural cocktail combining the neo-soul of Maxwell and the raw energy and synth of a Dirty Mind-era Prince.

A big part of his sound is the Korg Kaoisslator Pro synthesizer, which he dubs "kawesomelater."


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