Southern California is known as one of the primary hubs for the evolution of revolutionary music in the 1960s, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, Grateful Dead, and especially, The Doors, among many others have left their mark on LA and OC. In fact, I’m sure Jim Morrison's face is still hung up on thousands of bedroom walls, and that you could find a plethora of photos with the lyrics to “L.A. Woman” on Instagram right at this very moment. These are just small reminders that despite the decade coming to an end nearly 50 years ago, music is our special friend.
Emily Morenz and Nate Barrett, two friends who are classic rock aficionados, decided to be the first to bring a little piece of LA to Orange County and coordinate the first-ever ‘60s dance party and name it “Soul Kitchen" to pay tribute to The Doors.
"Our generation cut our teeth listening to our ma and pa's old records, which showed us the timeless effect this music had on society, and our friends and families. Some may even argue that the ‘60s decade music was really the foundation of all music today,” Barrett, co-founder and vocalist/guitarist of The Bash Dogs, tells the Weekly. “It's just a cool vibe, you know? The style, the music, the attitude, atmosphere and energy. That's why it is prevalent today.”
After seeing The Growlers’ at the House of Blues earlier this summer, Morenz and Barrett gained inspiration at the after-party in The Foundation Room. Barrett describes the scene as if they were "partying in Aladdin's basement." It was then they realized it would be the ideal spot to host events that would bring a prominent rock ‘n’ roll scene to Orange County, which was something they had both wanted for their community.
“We want this to be an eye-opener for people who don’t know it [classic rock]…we want everyone to experience this,” Morenz says. “We just want to spread the beauty of rock ‘n’ roll to everyone.”
Their goal was to organize a dance party that wasn’t like the typical night club scene. They wanted something authentic and for guests to not only come for the music, but to stick around for the ambiance afterwards as well.
Morenz and Barrett presented their ideas to Foundation Room promoter, Ari Xaubet, and to their surprise, it was a lot easier to get approved than they had expected. Xaubet loved their pitch and agreed to make it a monthly event if there was a good turnout for its first test run.
The two business partners brainstormed ideas about what would create the grooviest atmosphere possible. They found vinyl DJs and made sure Soul Kitchen had turntables, records, a photo booth, psychedelic visuals, a vintage pop-up shop called Miracle Eye, go-go dancers, and live music by '60s psychedelic house band The Bash Dogs and other local musicians. It doesn't get any more retro than that.
Their opening night just so happened to fall on the same day as a Doors tribute band’s show at the House of Blues. With the copious promoting Morenz and Barrett did along with the addition of the Doors tribute attendees who couldn't help but check out the event, Soul Kitchen certainly had a successful first night of "cookin' up OC's finest move and groove".
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Morenz and Barrett aspire for Soul Kitchen to eventually become a weekly event and for The Foundation Room to be "a cool spot where everyone feels at home". They are currently keeping the performing bands OC based but plan to bring LA bands on-board to the Soul Kitchen experience once it expands. As for now, Soul Kitchen is scheduled to happen every month for the next few months. Morenz and Barrett hope to bring Soul Kitchen to every House of Blues location across the country, especially the locations that have the Foundation Room VIP Lounge. They are already in the midst of bringing it to Las Vegas, Dallas, and the east coast.
"We want music lovers to come and inject their energy and spread the thrill of this 'experience' throughout the nation, and who knows, maybe even the world," Barrett says. "People of all types, sharing a beautiful memory and experience, while building a respectful and harmonious community centered around the genius of this remarkable era where rock n' roll truly became something special."
Soul Kitchen 3 takes place in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues Anaheim at the Anaheim GardenWalk on Thurs. Aug. 24, 10 p.m. Free, 21+. For more information, click here.