The Full Nelson
We at the OC Weekly pride ourselves on being THE local tuneage source for thousands and thousands of grateful readers, but right now I'd like to bring it down—way down—for just one person. Hi, Bandina. What's goin' on, girl! Remember when you cornered me and then-production editor Tom Vasich at the Weekly's suds-soaked shindig at Linda's Doll Hut in late 1995? During the course of our conversation, you mentioned that you didn't come to the roadhouse for its music but for the booze. Turns out you were without car, and the Hut was the closest bar to your home. Bandina (sorry, didn't catch the last name, but come on: How many Bandinas lived within walking distance of Linda's in 1995?), you mentioned that you were the No. 1 fan of Nelson, the power pop/country band fronted by the late Ricky Nelson's twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar. Tom and I let out hearty belly laughs. We thought you were joking. You weren't. You made it quite clear you really, really, really, really, really loved the Nelsons and their long, flowing blond hair. It was difficult to hear you over the din created by the Ziggens, whose lead singer, Bert Susanka, introduced one song by calling Vasich a "fucking elitist" for writing a column needling Orange County Register readers for choosing the Olive Garden as Orange County's best Italian restaurant. Vasich promptly put a Serbian hex on Susanka, which explains why other OC bands hit it big and the Ziggens are still the focus of Weekly cover stories. Anyway, back to you and the boys. You asked, "So what can you guys tell me about the Nelsons? Any insider information?" This early incident pointed to one of the great misconceptions about the Weekly that lingers to this day, which I'd like to clear up once and for all: we have no insider information whatsoever about the Nelsons. They never call. They never write. They never invite us backstage. Yet, to this day, people just assume the Weekly is the Extra or E! Channel or Entertainment Tonight of all things Nelson. They assume we're in tune with what their website calls "magically melodic songwriting and soaring sibling harmonies." They assume the phone rings in the office, one of us picks it up, and Gunnar's on the other end describing their new sound as "extreme country. It sounds like the Judds having sex with Def Leppard." Vasich and I leveled with you. We told you we weren't as cool as people think. We let you know that the Nelsons had probably never even heard of us. But, bless your little heart, you would not be denied. "When are they coming back to Orange County?" you asked. "Can you get me backstage?" You said you'd very much appreciate it if we could get you a one-on-one meeting or phone call with a real live Nelson (I can't recall if it was Matthew or Gunnar you wanted to talk to; you were apparently pissed at one of them because of some incident involving your letters to him, a new girlfriend or a chance meeting. It might have even occurred backstage at a concert). Anyway, you gave us your phone number and asked us to let you know about any Nelson news we might come across while producing the paper. I'd actually forgotten all about my vow to keep tabs on the Nelsons for you—until Vasich e-mailed me the other day and asked, "Hey, whatever happened to Bandina?" Whatever happened, indeed? Bandina, wherever you and your sweet soul now reside, know that the Nelsons perform a free show on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Bloomingdale's Courtyard at Fashion Island (which is quite reminiscent of the Doll Hut—except the mall's bouncers beat everyguy with a tattoo senseless, not just the jerks). Complimentary seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, or $15 preferred seating can be had through the concierge at (949) 721-2000. But because we've been so lax in informing you about the Nelsons—hell, I lost your number!—I will do everything in my power to get you backstage, should you get in touch with me before the show, just so I know you didn't get hit by a bus or something. All I ask is when you see the boys, tell them I said their famed blond locks may have been shortened, but they still rock hard—way harder than A Flock of Seagulls. (Matt Coker)
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