Grease-Punk Orgy

The Hootenanny revs up one more time

Old people (anyone over 40, I mean) know that a hootenanny is what went down at the local coffeehouse during the folkie '60s. These days, that's called an "open-mic night." Hipper, indie rock-raised young'uns (that would be me and all who are graced by my Holy Rock-Critic Presence) know that Hootenanny is the title of the Replacements' best album—yes, better than Tim and Let It Be. Thou shalt not argue with the Holy Rock-Critic Presence!

But since 1995, Hootenanny has become synonymous with something else: a big-ass, roots-rock orgy (with appropriate punk and psychobilly accents) that traditionally takes place in the secluded wilds of Oak Canyon, nuzzled up against Irvine Lake on some actual, honest-to-God, undeveloped Orange County land. In six years, Hootenanny's popularity has bazoomed into a de facto summit meeting for the denizens of OC's tattoo-flashin', wifebeater-wearin', slick-hair-sportin', Betty-Page-impersonatin', classic-car-drivin', four-pack-a-day-smokin', grease-punk counterculture.

I was at that first Hoot. I remember fine-to-average sets from Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys, the Reverend Horton Heat, Russell Scott, the Blasters, and Lee Rocker, five acts who are playing this year's Hoot as well. I remember seeing Lux Interior of the Cramps gallivanting onstage in a skin-tight body suit and ruby-red heels and thinking how weird it was to see a Cramps gig in broad daylight. I remember the royal pain in the arse it was when the thing let out: an endless, single lane of dust-caked automobiles with WASH ME finger-scrawled on their rear windows—a sad, pained caravan that oozed very s-l-o-w-l-y out to Santiago Canyon Road. I remember the sunburn and the overpriced food and the microscopic paycheck I earned from reviewing the show. I haven't been to a Hootenanny since, actually.

But hey, there's no reason you shouldn't go! Who'll be at this year's Hoot? Well, you've got hardened OC heroes Social Distortion. You've got Chuck Berry, the real King of Rock & Roll (screw Elvis!), who'll be filling in the see-a-living-legend-before-he-croaks slot previously held by Jerry Lee Lewis. You've got the hellacious Supersuckers and the heavenly Cadillac Tramps. You've got X's John Doe, who's supposed to be doing an acoustic set—which, depending on his time slot and the crowd's alcohol intake, may or may not be a wise decision. (Let's hope he remembers how to duck.) You've got the aforementioned Horton Heat, Big Sandy, the Blasters, the Paladins, and Lee Rocker (who'll be doing a set with Elvis sideman Scotty Moorescrew Elvis again!). You've also got Jimmy Intveld, the Amazing Crowns, Hot Rod Lincoln, Throw Rag, Rattled Roosters, Rumble King, the Rave Ons, and somebody who's calling himself Crank Williams—unless it's a band called Crank Williams.

You've also got a new venue. This year, the Hoot has moved south to Hidden Valley (no salad-dressing jokes, please), a grassy, open setting wedged between the Wild Rivers water park and the Amphitheater That Used to Be Called Irvine Meadows. As is the Hootenanny tradition, though, there'll still be oodles of custom cars, vendors, tattoos, angry-looking boys, wifebeater tanks and overpriced food. (But, sorry, no beer this year. . . . Kidding! We're kidding!) It'll be a real . . . Hoot.

The Hootenanny at Hidden Valley, between Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and Wild Rivers Water Park, Irvine, (714) 740-2000 or (949) 263-4552. July 7, 11 a.m. $40-$100.
 
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