Uncork the Dorks!
It's Dork Week in Orange County, kiddies: a veritable festival of boffo bozos struttin' their crimes against chicdom for all to see, hear and marvel at. Unfortunately, most of the dorks in question have scheduled their shows against one another. So which is the dork to uncork, Mork?
Well, I recommend PETER, PAUL & MARY as the best bet for your dork dollar—they play the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Friday and Saturday nights. Dorks wearing Birkenstocks and smelling of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap will have a sing-along to the heady strains of "Kum Ba Yah" as they flick their Bics and wave their arms rhythmically. Taking their cue from Meet the Parents, they'll debate whether "Puff (the Magic Dragon)" is really about a little boy and his pet monster or something more sinister, like smoking marijuana. They shall lustily intone union anthems, even though they've all had corporate jobs for the past 30 years. Further, they shall croon civil-rights protest ditties, even though they'd surely have one giant, collective coronary should an actual Negro move in next door or date their daughter. Whenever I think of Peter, Paul & Mary, I also think of the classic Phil Ochs song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal." That's a good thing 'cause that was a great song. Anyway, don't get me wrong—I love Peter, Paul & Mary; I always have and always will. The gorgeous harmonies of such songs as "Bamboo," "Lemon Tree" and "Autumn to May" remain a treat, and the brand of armchair liberalism they exemplify makes for a much more exotic brand of early '60s nostalgia than, say, a Chubby Checker show. But he's a dork for another day.
In a more pernicious brand of dorkism, JIMMY BUFFETT plays at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday and Monday nights (skipping Sunday is, in and of itself, an act of inexplicable dorkiness). This smug, self-satisfied, yuppie dork god has been a pet peeve of mine for something like 25 years now, kind of like a James Taylor lacking talent and humility but adding an extra dose of dorkdom. Buffett's songs wink "ain't I clever?" right in your face as he whoops it up in a most unclever manner about sailing on yachts, eating lobster, drinking unmasculine cocktails and other such dorky business. His annoyingly nasal singing voice is as inescapable as the smell of stale urine is in most beachfront dive bars, and his moronic, robotic fans—the so-called "Parrotheads"—are dorkier than a whole Yasgur's farm fulla Grateful Dead hippies. These people actually run around in Hawaiian shirts, poodle 'dos and flip-flops, thinking they're the height of fashion (what's the deal with male dorks and revealing footwear, anyway? No one wants to see your toes, dork boy! Put 'em away!) and display boorish behavior in the name of being cheeky and irreverent. Someone needs to tell these diodes that they're goddamned dorks and that their mentor is a musical ass rash. I just did. You're welcome.
T'ain't nothing like white blues dorks. Presenting themselves in Hawaiian shirts (again!), mullets, straw fedoras and butt-nuzzler mustaches, this is an innocuous but highly entertaining subgenre of dork. Among the current icons in the blues dork scene is DEBBIE DAVIES, who will be at the Blue Cafe on Friday night. Davies plays some mighty fine guitar—for a girl. There, I said it. Girls can't play guitar as well as guys can—deny it all you want, but you know it's true—so when a Bonnie Raitt or a Rosie Flores or a Sue Foley or a Debbie Davies starts pickin' as well as a guitarist possessed of a glue stick, critics fall all over themselves layin' on hosannas as thick as Britt Hume's forehead. Davies deserves hers, I suppose. She really can play pretty durned well (she apprenticed with Albert Collins and copped much of his style), and she sings okay, too, although I prefer Flores and Raitt. The thing that makes Davies an extra-special dork Pooh-Bah-ette is her patented dork attire: floppy '70s hat, leather jacket with floppy collar, hip-hugger bell-bottoms and cowboy boots. It all reminds one of Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days, the dorkiest character on the dorkiest television show ever.
DAVE WAKELING didn't used to be a dork. You could even argue that the English Beat was the best of all second-wave ska bands, although I didn't much care for General Public. What's dorky about Wakeling is that he's been spouting off about making a comeback for— what?—10, 15 years now without ever doing anything about it. Is this about laziness? Lack of inspiration? Or has he simply become an inveterate, do-nothing dork? I dunno, but it's kind of sad because if he ever actually manages to record another album, I'd be interested in hearing it—as long as it didn't suck, of course. Meanwhile, Wakeling plays the Coach House on—you guessed it—Friday night.
Something that's always bugged me is when classic Southern rock bands like the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band get lumped into the same category with such redneck-dork dirt as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Outlaws and MOLLY HATCHET. Failing to brush your teeth, walking around with visible meth boogers hanging out of your nose and composing odes celebrating your stupidity were never actually fashionable, even in the '70s. And while gifted members of almost every other Southern rock band have died off like vermin in a Raid commercial, no one from the odiously dorky Hatchet band has expired, and the band just keeps on a-giggin' and a-tootin' and a-stinkin' and a-workin' on them thar pickup trucks. Good golly, miss Molly's at the Galaxy Concert Theatre on Tuesday night.
And yes, I do realize that there's absolutely no dorkier profession in the world than being a music critic. I wear the mantle of the hypocrite proudly and comfortably.
Peter, Paul & Mary perform at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2746. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $3-$109; Jimmy Buffett plays at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (949) 855-8095. Sat., 8 p.m.; Mon., 7 p.m. $29.75-$67.75; Debbie Davies performs at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Fri., 10 p.m. $8; Dave Wakeling plays at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Fri., 8 p.m. $12.50; Molly Hatchet performs at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600. Tues., 8 p.m. $19.50.
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