Photo by Jeanne RiceThe Orange County Fair is about many things: deep-fried Twinkies, puke-o-rific carny rides, hot new cleaning solvents, THE BIGGEST HORSE IN THE WORLD and, this year, Duran Duran reunion shows. But nestled quietly in a corner of the fairgrounds, in a building that kisses the rear of the revived Pacific Amphitheater, is a bit of history—an exhibit, curated by the Weekly's own Jim Washburn, on the rich, largely underrepresented saga of OC rock & roll. And we're not talking some dinky display case here, either—the thing is huge, bigger than the biggest horse in the world, much bigger and better than even the most cynical would suspect, an overload of detail like the kind you discover at Seattle's Experience Music Project. Dubbed Orange Groove: A Red, Ripe & Rockin' Experience, the show follows OC rock from its beginnings with Santa Ana's Rillera Brothers—in all likelihood, the county's first rock & roll band—and continues chronologically, touching on an assortment of important people, bands, clubs, dates and historical, museum-worthy artifacts. Some of the things that caught our eye include: a clip of Dick Dale performing on The Ed Sullivan Show; a handbill of dress code rules from Balboa's old dance palace, the Rendezvous Ballroom ("Girls—dress or skirt and blouse; Boys—dress shirt, TIE and dress slacks. . . A NEAT APPEARANCE is expected, of course"); a great collection of vintage concert posters—the Beach Boys at Newport Harbor High School, a Frank Zappa/Alice Cooper twin bill at Cal State Fullerton, the band that would become Chicago at a long-gone Buena Park club called the White Room ("Coming Soon," another White Room poster proclaims, "Led Zeplin."); a whole case devoted to guitars, naturally spotlighting Leo Fender and his famed Fullerton factory; blown-up newspaper clips, like the one chronicling the August day in 1964 when a horde of teens packed Disneyland on rumors that the Beatles were visiting the park, but disguised as costumed Disney characters; the clothes Gwen Stefani wore during No Doubt's Super Bowl performance earlier this year (and no, you may not sniff the crotch); Chris Gaffney's fifth-grade class picture from Anaheim's Dr. Jonas E. Salk School (he's easy to pick out—just look for the telltale eyebrows); a section of sticker-covered wood paneling from the pre-remodeled Doll Hut, back when Linda Jemison owned it; and . . . well, we could go on, but there's so much cool stuff to see, you really need to check it out yourself (you've got till the fair's final day, August 3). While just about every major local pop era of the last 50 years is represented (the exhibit's third section is almost entirely devoted to punk, as well as the bands that burst into the mainstream during the '90s), Washburn admits that, as complete as his show seems, there are gaps—not enough about the Adolescents, no mention of Tim Buckley or the folk scene that swirled around Anaheim's Paradox club in the '60s, weak on the little-known garage bands that sprouted up in the '60s and '70s. But considering that Washburn had only a few months to pull it together, he did a fantastic job, and we're not kissing his ass just because he writes for the Weekly, either. (Rich Kane)
PHRASE IN A BLENDER
Our favorite rock & roll clichs, from the latest issue of Mean Street, pasted together in no particular order: "At first glance, another aspiring young talent exploded onto the scene out of thin air with its heart-in-a-blender massive radio hit, the band's most ambitious work to date. That should have been the most likely to succeed, but that's pretty much standard fare and the band has never looked back to gather their thoughts as they fly under the radar. It's a safe bet that they will stick around or will go to his grave—but Spaghetti is only willing to go so far (there's a method to his madness)—and never look back. LA's loss has been everyone else's gain to this point. And for the longtime fan? A fair chunk will breathe one huge sigh of relief." (Todd Mathews)
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