In some respects, organizers of the June 8 “Orange County Artists for World Hunger” benefit concert for the United Nations Emergency Relief Fund have an even tougher job than the people who pulled off the historic “We Are the World” recording session.
Although Harry Belafonte, Quincy Jones and company had a monumental task in assembling nearly 50 of the world’s most popular recording artists for the “We Are the World” project, they at least knew that their effort would be a commercial success.
But there are no such guarantees for the June 8 benefit at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, which has been good-naturedly dubbed “We Are the Suburbs.” The lineup includes Psychobud, DIN, Cathedral of Tears, the James Harman Band, the International Reggae All-Stars, Boy Waiting, April Danielle, ESP, the Zen Tones and guest Los Angeles band the Minutemen. Along with the music at the all-day concert, works by about two dozen Orange County artists will be displayed in the amphitheater concourse.
Although the lineup includes some of Orange County’s best acts, the performers are all club-level groups, none of which has even been an opening act at either of the county’s two amphitheaters.
So for some of the musicians involved, nothing less than the credibility of the Orange County music community is riding on the public response to this show.
“This is going to put Orange County on the map one way or another--either because we are full of it or because we really have something to offer,” said DIN lead singer Larry Lee Dolan, who, with fellow DIN member John Levy, is chiefly responsible for putting the event together.
“We’re putting a whole lot of trust in the people of Orange County to support this,” Dolan said.
Dolan’s original idea for a multigroup concert, however, was simply to provide a showcase for Orange County music.
“Orange County takes a lot of flak, so when I started this, the idea was to put Orange County acts out in front for once, to get a little credit where credit is due,” Dolan said. “I hear a lot of talk about how tough it is for Orange County bands, about how local acts are not making it to the bigger venues. Well, now we have a chance to do something about it.”
In December, inspired by the success of the “Do They Know It’s Christmas” single by the British supergroup Band Aid, Dolan came up with the idea of doing the show as a benefit. “I thought that on a small scale it would be nice to get something together in Orange County. But we didn’t want to do it just to jump on the bandwagon for feeding starving children. We want people to know this is not a novelty. It’s as much or more for the artists of Orange County. We decided to give the money away to prove that we weren’t just doing it for money.”
Initially, Dolan’s plan was to have the concert in a park in south Orange County, but negotiations for the site fell through. Dolan then approached officials at Irvine Meadows on what he thought was a slim chance that amphitheater operators would risk booking a show with local bands.
“This is something that had never happened before with these acts, so they were a little apprehensive,” Dolan said. “But the Irvine Meadows people worked out a way to do it. They cut costs a lot and have bent over backward to help this thing come together.”
Said Irvine Meadows director of operations Jeff Apregan, “The real risk-taking is on the part of the organizers. We are in the business of doing big shows that have large advertising budgets that can cover the overhead. But this is a good cause, their hearts are really in it and we’re hopeful they’ll do the kind of business that they need to make it work.”
To help offset expenses for services that have not been donated, Dolan said several local businesses are providing financial assistance. AVCO Financial Services of Newport Beach paid for thousands of posters and flyers with the “Orange County Artists for World Hunger” logo that are being distributed by each of the bands. Other sponsors include Tower Records and Record Trading Center in Orange, Dolan said. The event also is bringing together competing commercial radio stations KNAC (105.5 FM) and KROQ (106.7 FM) in support of the show.
Dolan added that 130 reserved seats in the orchestra pit, priced at $25 each, have been paid for by local business and corporate sponsors and donated to radio stations and record stores for giveaways. With general admission at $10, he estimated that they need to sell about 2,000 tickets to break even.
Gates will open June 8 at 11 a.m., and the activities are scheduled to begin at noon with jazz band ESP, which will be followed by the James Harman Band, Boy Waiting and the International Reggae All-Stars.
During a dinner break, folk singer April Danielle and performance artist “Duke of Camera” will perform. The Zen Tones will roam the grounds during the day playing acoustic music. The evening’s musical lineup is scheduled to begin at 6:30 with Cathedral of Tears, followed by the Minutemen, DIN and concluding with Psychobud.
Live broadcasts from the amphitheater will be carried throughout the day on Orange County public radio stations KSBR (88.5 FM) and KUCI (88.9 FM), Dolan said. The show also will provide a forum for Orange County artists, visual arts coordinator Steve Armstrong said.
“To me, it seems that there are four or five art groups working in Orange County, and they are oblivious to each other. I’m trying to bring the different cliques together,” Armstrong said. “We have some younger people, sort of underground artists. There is also a post-punk art scene going on, and we’ll have some of what I’d call the contented Orange County artists.”
One worry that some of the show’s organizers have expressed is that with numerous benefits for Third World famine victims in the news in recent months, the public might be burning out on good causes.
“It would be sad if people just think of this as a fad,” Armstrong said.
Added Psychobud lead singer Joseph Marx, “Personally, I hope that people aren’t getting tired of trying to do something about hunger. I hope people will come out of their damn living rooms.”
Despite a few worries, though, Dolan remains optimistic that the concert will succeed. “If we sell as many tickets as I’ve had phone calls about this show, it will be a sellout. It is generating a lot of enthusiasm.
“We’re planning to have a big party afterward,” Dolan added. “Hopefully, it will be a celebration because the concert was a big success.”
BENEFITS, PART II: On a smaller scale, the Steve Hooks Band will give a concert Sunday at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach to benefit Greenpeace and the West Orange County YMCA. In addition to Hooks band, guest artists will include guitarist Mark St. John, trombonist Slyde Hyde, trumpeter Al Aarons and others. KKGO disc jockey Chuck Niles will emcee.
MOVE IT ON OVER: Jim Otto, owner of the Sound Spectrum record store in Laguna Beach, has moved his weekly reggae music radio show to KSBR (88.5 FM). Previously on San Clemente’s KWVE (107.9 FM), Otto shifted to the Saddleback College-based KSBR this week in the aftermath of Calvary Chapel’s recent purchase of KWVE and its conversion to all-religious programming. Otto’s reggae show will air Thursday nights from 7 to 10 p.m.
LIVE ACTION: The Meat Puppets will play Safari Sam’s in Huntington Beach on Monday. Blood on the Saddle will be at the club June 8. . . . The Dickies return to Spatz in Huntington Harbour on June 7. . . . B.J. Thomas will be at the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana June 11. . . . Gary Puckett will appear at the Hop in Fountain Valley June 12. . . . Latin pop singer Jose Jose will perform at Anaheim Convention Center June 16. . . . Tickets go on sale Monday for the Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers-Lone Justice concert Aug. 4 at the Pacific Amphitheatre. . . .