To review the local pop music scene in 1985, Calendar asked Orange County musicians, amphitheater officials, club owners, booking agents, record-store operators and radio executives to assess the year’s highlights and to offer insights as to what’s ahead in 1986. Here are some of their responses:
What was the most encouraging development in Orange County pop music in 1985?:
- “Major shows. For what is considered to be a secondary market, Orange County has had more live entertainment with major acts than any other secondary market in the nation."--Jeff Apregan, director of operations, Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
- “The never-ending supply of new talent coming out of Orange County. The musicians have not quit trying."--Jack Richards, owner of Spatz in Huntington Harbour.
- “Encouraging? You’ll have to ask somebody else. We survived--at least we’re all still alive.” Singer James Harman of the James Harman Band, on the loss of his voice for a month and the departure of two members of his group in 1985.
- “We’ve had lot of acceptance from local government bodies; a lot more than I’ve ever seen. Huntington Beach police have been very much willing to work with the scene. I think they are starting to understand."--Gene Dorney, attorney for Safari Sam’s nightclub in Huntington Beach, on the long history of legal battles between rock club owners and city and county officials.
- “Little things starting to pop up like Safari Sam’s. Even the Golden Bear has started to open up a little more and is (booking) acts they didn’t used to."--Lee Dolan, lead singer of the San Clemente-based band DIN.
- “A lot of (Orange County) groups are bringing in records to me every day . . . and there seemed to be greater improvement (in quality) this year."--Craig Powers, music director KEZY-FM.
- “New clubs, hotels, restaurants seem to be giving jazz a chance. That’s encouraging for jazz musicians."--Costa Mesa-based jazz guitarist John Anello Jr.
What was the least encouraging development in Orange County pop music in 1985?
- “The Orange County Artists for World Hunger show (at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre). It’s discouraging that more people were not willing to come out and experiment with different kinds of music."--Paul Marshall, music director at Saddleback College-based public radio station KSBR-FM, on the June 8 all-day concert featuring dozens of Orange County musicians and artists that drew less than 1,000 people.
- “Commercial radio totally ignores music that is on the cutting edge."--Sam Lanni, owner of Safari Sam’s in Huntington Beach.
- “The economy seems to be pretty grim. This was the year I had more promoters and club owners go crooked on me and stiff me on money than ever. I interpret that as a fact that times are bad and that the money just isn’t out there."--James Harman of the James Harman Band.
- “All the clubs getting hassled and closed."--Independent concert promoter Ed Christensen, who formerly booked concerts at Flashdance club in Anaheim and has staged concerts recently at the San Juan Creek Saloon in San Juan Capistrano.
- “Orange County radio has shown no leadership role whatsoever in helping Orange County music."--C.P. Welch, owner of Atomic Records in Huntington Beach.
- “I haven’t seen anything that upset me. It’s all getting better."--Craig Powers, KEZY.
- “The difficulty setting up concerts at Orange County colleges. A lot of college people haven’t done shows since Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt (in the early 1970s) . . . and they aren’t exactly charging out to do it."--Jim Guerinot, booking agent for Avalon Attractions.
- “For very young groups, the cost of touring is prohibitive and they get little or no support from record companies."--Jeff Apregan, Irvine Meadows.
- “The lack of any 500- to 1,000-seat clubs in Orange County."--Lance McLean, UC Irvine Associated Students events coordinator.
- “Everyone is too bent on the underground scene. That’s fine, but there is a glut. There aren’t enough people trying to entertain and give a good show."--Joseph Marx, lead singer of Psychobud and Metropolitan.
- “The most discouraging thing is this new hysteria over heavy metal (music). Heavy metal is all theater. I’ve always said heavy metal crowds are the easiest to work. Compared to punk, it’s like a nursery school."--Jerry Roach, owner of Radio City in Anaheim and former owner of punk nightclub Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa.
Is Orange County’s music scene fully developed or is there still room for growth?
- “There’s nothing but room for improvement. The only way to go is up."--Mike Jacobs, of Jacobs & Associates management and consulting firm.
- “There’s plenty of room for growth. If there were more clubs for new music, more bands would be trying. One of the hardships on original music acts is that bands can’t get enough gigs to support themselves. So a lot of quality talent falls by the wayside."--Jack Richards, Spatz.
- “Orange County can support five or six music facilities of 500 (seating capacity). This is the third-largest record-buying county in the United States. But Orange County people still have to drive to Long Beach, or (the Hollywood) Palladium to see a lot of acts."--Promoter Ed Christensen.
- “Between the two large entertainment facilities, we had about 100 concerts concentrated in a five-month period (in 1985). Within that short period, I don’t know if there’s room for much more."--Jeff Apregan, Irvine Meadows.
- “The places that do (book) jazz are too big. What we need is a club for about 400."--Robert Morey, jazz program director at UC Irvine-based public radio station KUCI-FM.
What changes--good or bad--do you anticipate for Orange County music in 1986?
- “It looks like 1986 is going to be a tremendous year, and we’ll be seeing a lot of big, big acts, such as Wham!, the Eurythmics, Talking Heads, Simple Minds, Culture Club."--Andy Hewitt, talent buyer for the Nederlander Cos., which books Pacific Amphitheatre.
- “I see a big need right now for people doing ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s music. Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Blood Sweat & Tears, Phoebe Snow--artists like that are hitting the circuit again."--Fred Reiser, co-owner of the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana.
- “Police actions are a growing concern among club owners. How many more restrictions will be placed on them? What will be the result when it comes to booking another adventurous musical group? All this is going to come to a head."--C.P. Welch, Atomic Records.
- “I think bands will actually be proud to say they are from Orange County. I think this can be the next Athens, Ga."--Jason Mann of El Grupo Sexo.
What is the one thing you would wish for to improve the Orange County music scene in 1986?
- “An AOR (album-oriented radio) station in Orange County."--Andy Hewitt, Nederlander Cos.
- “Liquidate MTV. It’s taken a lot of imagination out of music and killing a lot of good musicians who can’t adapt."--Hilaire Brosio, KUCI.
- “I’d wish Costa Mesa (Pacific Amphitheatre) wasn’t there."--Steve Rennie, vice president of Avalon Attractions, which books Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre concerts.
- “No more Irvine Meadows. I think the Irvine Meadows area would make a real nice amusement park and I would visit it often."--Steve Redfearn, general manager of the Pacific Amphitheatre.
- “One breakthrough record from an Orange County band that gets air play outside of local college stations. It wouldn’t make or break the scene, but it would be a confidence builder, perpetuate some more activity and encourage bands not to give up."--Attorney Gene Dorney.
- “It would be wonderful if the record labels got out in support of their new artists, rather than sitting back and seeing who is successful and then getting behind someone."--Kevin Kerby, manager of the Golden Bear.
- “A middle-sized club, so we could get some of the bands that don’t have a big enough or small enough place to play here."--Robert Stapleton, manager Tower Records, El Toro.
- “Sponsors. We need to get backing from corporations to enable us to move to bigger and better things."--Charles (Doc) Rutherford, director of jazz music at Orange Coast College and coordinator of the annual OCC Jazz Festival.
- “I wish club owners would take more of a risk as far as bringing in new talent and putting more money into their clubs to make the scene a little more visual, more interesting. They keep the clubs the way they are to get every cent they can. But they are choking themselves if they don’t make the scene look better."--Adrian Remijio of the Wild Cards.
- “I wish people would come out of their shells and listen to other than what they always listen to. The saddest thing to me is the guy who goes to one club week after week, year after year, seeing the same chicks, the same bartender and hearing the same five bands. I’d like to see Orange County wake up and get out of that."--singer James Harman.