Feeling Punchy

Photo by Jack GouldIt's been open just a few weeks, but the Ten Count, a nondescript, 1,500-square-foot drinking den nestled snugly in the crotch of a Huntington Beach strip mall on the corner of Beach Boulevard and Slater Avenue, has quickly become OC's Bar of the Moment. The Ten Count's rapid rise is due in large part to the rep of co-owner Daniel O'Mahony, a seminal figure in the county's late '80s/early '90s straight-edge movement. A lot of his customers are people who were hugely into that scene—no drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco—when hardcore straight-edge bands would play semi-underground, word-of-mouth-only shows at places like the Heritage Park Youth Center in Irvine and the Garden Grove Elks Lodge. O'Mahony himself was in No for an Answer. His man on the drums? Onetime Irvine resident and future Rage Against the Machiner Zack de la Rocha. He also started Workshed, the first prolific straight-edge record label in OC, with the hope that it might become a local version of Dischord, the much-admired imprint founded by Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi fame. But Workshed folded when several of O'Mahony's bands jumped ship for Huntington Beach-based Revelation. Burned out on hardcore, O'Mahony left OC—and performance—in 1992. He settled in the Bay Area, where he became a columnist for Maximum Rock & Roll and published books of his writings. Now O'Mahony's back, and this onetime straight-edger is today in the business of selling alcohol for a living, the irony of which isn't lost on him. It's okay, though, O'Mahony says: neither he nor No for an Answer were ever committed devotees of the straight-edge lifestyle anyway, despite the POISON FREE tattoo that figures prominently on his forearm; they just happened to play a lot of anti-chemical songs. "I used to be a four-to-five-drink-a-night guy," he says. Now he rarely drinks, even after opening the Ten Count. "We probably sell more Cokes here than any other bar in the world just because there's been so much interest from old straight-edge people." O'Mahony thinks the bar's popularity with non-alcohol-imbibers has made it into one of the safest bars in OC, and he says there hasn't been a whiff of a fight since its Thanksgiving-weekend debut—more irony, since the Ten Count is built around boxing iconography. The sport is one of O'Mahony's passions, and vintage boxing photos are framed on the Ten Count's walls to give the room a comfy, old-time appeal. Indeed, a wild rumor has spread that the Ten Count is a "boxing bar"—complete with a real ring and regularly scheduled matches—but unless they managed to yank all the gear out before LowBallAssChatter's visit, it ain't true. Where the ring ought to be, you'll find pool tables, though the bar's centerpiece has to be its jukebox, which has wrested away from Linda's Doll Hut the title Best Jukebox in OC. It includes everything from the Damned and Minor Threat to Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, X, Dean Martin, the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Agent Orange, Tom Waits, Youth Brigade, and Blacks both Sabbath and Flag. "It's about 80 percent punk rock, with nothing newer than 10 years," O'Mahony explains. "The other 20 percent has to be at least 20 years old." And to satiate the tasteless, O'Mahony was even kind enough to stock a few Eagles and Queen records. But the Ten Count won't ever have live bands, due to an apartment complex just 10 feet from the bar's back wall. "We'd like to stay in business for a while, even if it means keeping the jukebox volume lower than it can go," O'Mahony says. "That thing can really blare a lot louder than what you're hearing right now." (Rich Kane)

OCMTV
If you've got nothing better to do this Saturday night 'round about 11, then you might want to check out the premiere of Sound Affects—or hell, why not tape it?—a half-hour music TV show that's set to air for eight weeks exclusively on local PBS station KOCE. Composed mostly of live-performance footage and interspersed with interview segments, Sound Affects will, according to host Allison Badger, focus on SoCal-based, unheralded bands and musicians in the hoped-for vein of Morning Becomes Eclectic. Saturday's debut features back-to-back episodes on blues-oriented band Blue Daddy and OC singer/songwriter Kerry Getz. Future segments will showcase local pop bands Nice and Scarlet Crush. It's not just rock—other segments include Huntington Beach New Age queen Keiko Matsui, among others, and touch upon a wide range of genres that run the gamut between jazz (Yvette Freeman and Ann Hampton-Calloway), roots rock (J. Cabrera), classical (Drew Tretick), and Hawaiian slack-key rhythms (George Kahumoku and Daniel Ho). Badger says the idea for the show evolved out of the music segments that sometimes air on KOCE's news show Real Orange, which she associate-produces. A Real Orange performance by Peruvian band Alturas generated a flurry of e-mails to Badger, a sign there was indeed an audience for bands not normally heard on the radio or seen on TV. It wasn't terribly difficult getting the show off the ground, either, Badger says; keeping it going will be another matter. "The great thing about PBS is that there's a lot of creative freedom. The bad thing is that there's never any money to be creative," Badger tells LowBallAssChatter. KOCE generously produced the first season of Sound Affects at cost—expenses that totaled about $100,000—but whether the show sees a second season in the fall depends, like everything at PBS, on sponsorships. "When Saturday's show airs, that's when we'll start pushing for sponsors," says Badger, adding that she has some music-store chains on her dream list. The program itself is a fairly no-frills affair—don't look for a lot of quick, seizure-inducing editing tricks. Neither will the show highlight OC music exclusively, something that may at first seem odd, since KOCE is, for better or worse (and it's always worse whenever Ed Arnold's smug mug pops up on screen), OC's PBS station. But KOCE's signal also stretches into LA, so LA-based bands will occasionally be featured as well. In picking musicians, Badger says it helped if they had something interesting to say about their music—on Saturday's episode, for example, Getz talks about how romantic heartbreak can at least make for great songwriting—which not only keeps the show fresh, but, more important, also makes you want to go out and see these bands live and in person. "I would love for Sound Affects to have a long-term slow growth—just let the show evolve and progress and see how funding comes through," Badger envisions. "I love music and television, but if I can do both, how cool is that?" (RK)
 
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