Laguna Beach resident Lee Rocker, legendary bassist for the Stray Cats, talks about why the rockabilly-roots scene is so vibrant in Orange County:
“Orange County is the kind of place that just fits rockabilly, and vice versa. When you talk about cars, custom paint, it’s suburban in a way in which people can start bands in their garages because they’ve got garages. Back when the Stray Cats were going, we went gold in California on record without the rest of the country. It just suits it. It seems to be the motherlode of rockabilly music in the past 20 years. . . . Hootenanny has definitely helped. There was really an awesome rock-&-roll rockabilly scene before Hootenanny came about, but it’s definitely solidified it. It’s made it more of a destination for a lot of people from around the country to come out to Orange County each year and kind of make a pilgrimage. . . . There’s a lot of music that’s Orange County-based that sort of has taken elements of the look and the style, but not the music so much. So I think it’s cut a broad path of influence in a way. I mean, shit, Gwen Stefani was rockabilly once in a while. Not that it has to do with the music.” From a Sept. 20 Heard Mentality post by Spencer Kornhaber.
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DEFINING A LOCAL SOUND
Sean Bohrman, Thee Makeout Party! member and co-founder of Fullerton-based Burger Records:
“It’s just a bunch of kids making music, but really good music. That might separate it from other scenes. There’s just a lot of kids in the community, and they’re all connected. It keeps getting bigger and bigger, and more bands keep popping up. It’s not just relegated to Orange County, really; we’re trying to make it as big as we can—but starting here.” From a Sept. 17 post by Kornhaber.
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THE LONG BEACH SKA SCENE
Meagan Christy, Chase Long Beach’s trumpet player:
“It’s funny: There are a good amount of ska bands coming out of Long Beach, but not a lot of local venues are ska-friendly.” While there’s still a ska scene (“Ska fans are the most loyal you’ll come across”), Christy says it’s not the way it used to be, like when she was growing up in the 1990s. “In high school, I was really into Save Ferris and Reel Big Fish, and it was the West Coast revival of swing with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. They were all really popular, and you heard them on the radio all the time. I thought that was cool because I played one of those instruments. It was always poppy and fun, and I always tried to learn their music.” From a Sept. 15 post.
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Local Natives front man Taylor Rice (and former OC native):
“We’ve always wanted to bring Union Line on tour with us; they’ve been great friends for a long time [and played with us] since they started.” Rice says their first national tour—with another local band, Voxhaul Broadcast—was a crazy one made up of two vans, no trailers and three bands. “Some nights, we were going insane playing for five people, and others, we were filling places in New York and Philly.” From a Sept. 17 post.
This column appeared in print as "OC Musicians Talk Local Scenes."
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