The Amazing Disappearing Rock Bands

So what exactly happened to all the rock bands at Beach Fest, the 20th edition of which is slated for this weekend at the Marina Green in Long Beach? The usual mix of local alterna-bands and punk-leaning acts has been mysteriously replaced by an all-blues bill on Saturday and an all-reggae bill on Sunday, and, while we have nothing against such very fine performing peoples as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Eek-A-Mouse, 2000 Lbs. of Blues, Wailing Souls, Joe Louis Walker, Common Sense or most of the other musicians on the docket (and certainly nothing against the Saturday barbecue cook-off or the Sunday chili cook-off), we here at LowBallAssChatter were certainly curious about the reasons for the format change. So we rang up Beach Fest publicist Melanie Jones, hoping to get some good dirt, but to no avail. Instead, Jones gave us the kind of answers we'd expect from a publicist: that they were "trying to make it more of a community, all-American-type event"; that they were looking to attract a "wider group of people instead of just the alternative rock crowd"; and that the reason for the MIA rock bands was "nothing in the negative sense, we just wanted to increase attendance and create something more people can attend." Would the blues-and-reggae format continue next year? "Definitely, if it's a success," Jones says. Unsatisfied with these answers, we took Jones' words and stuffed them into the Super-Duper LowBallAssChatter Publicist Interpreter, which spat out the following translation: "We don't want rock and punk bands because those weird-looking kids will start doing that scary mosh-pit dancing that they do, and that always leads to fighting and people getting hurt, and that wouldn't be very patriotic." So, there you have it! We have rather mixed feelings about the switch, really. The bad part is that we likely won't see a cool, drunken, nose-bloodying brawl on par with the one we witnessed during the Vandals' show at Beach Fest '99. (Blues fans get drunk, but it's a mellow drunk; reggae fans just smoke a lot of bud.) The good part? No hapless mook rock from the Bredrin Daddys, whose leader whined endlessly about the bad review we gave him last year. (Rich Kane)

Linda Jemison: Doll Hut
death is not the end
Photo by Jack Gould

Okay, okay, everybody just calm down. The world is not coming to an end, even though signs of the apocalypse have recently manifested themselves in local rock clubland. Within a mere two-week span, we've learned that Mark diPiazza will be getting the unceremonious boot from the Lava Lounge, the Long Beach night spot he nurtured and groomed into a home for many a local band (diPiazza's last show will be a June 16 OOSoul gig; bring your own Kleenex); that the venerable Club Mesa has changed ownership and has already shut its doors forever (too late for a proper wake if you missed booker Craig McGeahey's final blowout with Alabama Thunderpussy on June 2. McGeahey will continue to book shows at various OC venues, but there was still no confirmation at press time of the widespread rumor that the owners of Costa Mesa restaurant Memphis will turn the room into a jazz club); and, most shocking of all, that Linda Jemison will shut her Hut come Aug. 31 if she can't find a buyer for the esteemed roadhouse. (On a side note, we've also learned that Vanilla Caffe's in Orange has severely scaled back their live jazz schedule to Saturdays only due to a lack of crowds.) AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Okay. All right. There . . . we feel better now. We could waste our time crying pointlessly over these tragic losses, but—glass-is-half-full types that we are—we're actually excited to see what new clubs will spring up to take their places, to continue that endless death-rebirth circle of life that's been going on in OC and Long Beach since, well, forever. Some local rockists are even glad to see these clubs go, telling LowBallAssChatter that it's time to move on to new rooms, new scenes and new musics in general. "I hated the Doll Hut," one source explains (who requests anonymity out of fear of getting rolled by a pack of hepped-up, wifebeater-wearing Doll Hut regulars and Weeklings for speaking such blasphemy). "It's one of the worst places to see a band. They stuff bands into that corner, and that bar is so big that you can't see the bands if there's a full house. It may have been intimate, but you can find intimacy in your bedroom, and I don't want to see a show there, either." Fair enough. And, sure, we'll grieve with the rest of you, but really, let's move on. We're sure there are oldsters out there who still miss the Rendezvous Ballroom; hippies who insist OC hasn't been the same since the Golden Bear was knocked down; LBC mooks who still weep for the loss of Fenders; rap rockers who moan about Club 369; shaggy-maned, heavy-metal Hessians who feel homeless without Jezebel's; KROQ Flashback Lunch-loving new wavers who haven't gotten over the demise of Radio City; foggy-headed punkers who still can't believe the Cuckoo's Nest is no longer with us; and jazzers who complain that, as great as Steamers is, it'll never ever ever be as good as Randell's was. Actually, amidst all the closed-club hubbub, the thorn that sticks most painfully in LowBallAssChatter's craw isn't that our region will be without three major rooms; it's that, with the loss of Linda's Doll Hut, the oldest, continuously operating, live-music rooms will soon be the Hub in Fullerton and Santa Ana's Koo's Art Caf—both of which opened in the seems-like-yesterday year of 1994. And that little factoid has us feeling really, really . . . old. But anyway, here's to the New, whatever it'll be. (RK)


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