Where the Real Roots Lead

Photo by James BunoanOf all the noteworthy regional music fests happening this summer, the Hootenanny is the one that's always been the most OC-centric, tapping into a local fascination with custom cars, slick pompadours, vintage clothing and tattoos that, until the Hoot's 1995 inception, was something you could really only witness on a weekend night at the old Linda's Doll Hut.

Then, of course, there's the music, a blending of roots, punk, rockabilly, psychobilly, and classic rock N roll that's pretty much re-defined the meaning of “hootenanny”—no longer a folk singer's term for “jam session,” nor the title of the Replacements' best album. The Hoot, which takes place July 2 at Oak Canyon Ranch, is a fest that manages to envelop everything from the sweet croon of Big Sandy to the extreme high-heels-and-fishnets yowling of the Cramps. Perhaps most amazingly, it reflects a segment of pop culture that (at least when compared to the bloated, skateboard-worshiping excess of the Warped Tour) has yet to be commercially exploited to saturation. The Hootenanny Society is still a relatively underground one, unless you've heard any Reverend Horton Heat songs in Nissan commercials lately or seen an episode of TheO.C.in which Seth and Ryan restore a '49 Mercury while Summer and Marissa shock their friends by getting Bettie Page makeovers.

For better or worse, though, bands that play the Hoot have become terribly predictable. Even before this year's lineup was announced, we had an inkling that reliables such as Lee Rocker, Deke Dickerson, James Intveld, the Cadillac Tramps, and some form of Mike Ness and/or Social Distortion would be booked for it, and we were right. (We were shockingly wrong in our prediction of the Reverend Heat, who's in the past been such a regular that if a judge were trying to serve him with a subpoena, he'd know just where to find the Rev the first weekend of every July.) The big guest name this year would be Link Wray, one of the original black-leather-clad rockabilly badasses who, with classic-guitar-instrumental tunes such as “Rumble” and “Raw-Hide,” became an icon for many a '50s juvenile delinquent (many of whom have since grown up and mellowed out, and some who'll undoubtedly be bringing their grandkids to the Hoot). There aren't any big, historical names like Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry or Little Richard this year, nor will there be any major reunions like the X, Stray Cats or original Blasters groupings of previous editions. Yet what we term “predictable,” Hoot regulars would brand “traditional,” even “reliable.” Like the culture they worship, one that's existed for some 60 years, they wouldn't change a thing about their Hootenanny.

For ticket information, check out www.thehootenanny.com.

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