Photo by Jeanne Rice Pedroza is manager for the Put-Ons, lead singer of Stiff Richards, creative director at Manic Incorporated, a music producer, and a talent scout > The Four Letter Words. Allow me to introduce you to the latest incarnation of a bad acid trip with musical instruments: the Four Letter Words, a so-called "punk" act from Anaheim. These guys are actually pretty entertaining, and they kinda know how to play music. With a singer reminiscent of Smitty from Hard As Nails Cheap As Dirt and a black drummer named Sexual Chocolate, this band will keep you laughing for an hour.
> Midnite Rapture. This band kicks. Matt, the guitarist, played for Mary's Danish; the singer, Lalo, grew up with the OC punk gang Pig Children; the other guitarist, Johnny, is a misunderstood genius who created their website using only HTML code. A sticker on the back window of his pickup truck reads, "Jesus Hates Me." Need I say more?
> Tsar. Ziggy Stardust meets Cheap Trick. Not only does this LA band execute a lively show, but they write great songs, too. Hey! What a good idea! When the stage lights shut down and the androgyny thing goes out of style, their CD will still be listenable.
> The Von Steins. This group of hooligans will amaze you with their green tights and synthesizer music. Added feature: the singer gets naked during the set (why is that so fashionable these days?), but I won't say whether the singer is male or female. I'd like to honor this band as OC's best new anti-emo act. Their rough-but-creative tunes can be heard on a vinyl 7-inch, on sale at local record stores.
> DJ John Kelley. Yes, DJs have talent, too. John's early days of spinning took place at underground raves during the mid-'90s in the deserts near LA. The vibe and energy of those raves can be heard in a series of CD releases on Moonshine Music called High Desert Soundsystem, a funky combination of progressive house and tech house. Funk it up!
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> Mars Music. Attention, musicians: no longer will you feel like a fool or get hassled by clerks with used-car-salesman mentalities. Now there's Mars Music in the Block at Orange. This store is big, they match prices, and the sales team sincerely cares about what you need. Soon to be three more locations in Southern California.
> Akai DPS-16. I was a die-hard fan of analog recording until I picked up this new digital multitrack recorder. Akai's alternative to a $2,400-per-day recording studio, the DPS-16 is really that good: a 10-gigabyte hard drive, a SCSI connector for burning CDs, 16 tracks with 250 virtual tracks, and cut/copy/paste editing. Find it at Mars Music.
> Johnny Go-Go. I must give props to this guy. He repairs guitars and amps at his shop, Red Duck Music in Huntington Beach. His rates are reasonable, and he does good work. You might think he's on speed, but no: he just loves talking about gear. Plus, he's got some great stories to tell about legends like Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. His products of choice: Marshall, Gibson and Fender.
> Chain Reaction. I was scared at first, but I later acquired a taste for this club that hosts local and national acts. Chain Reaction attracts music lovers, not drinkers. They don't serve booze, and it's an all-ages venue. That's good because bands get the full attention they deserve. People are there to hear new music. A great place to showcase a band.