Unlike the Orange County Performing Arts Center or art museums that start filling their calendars one or two years in advance, pop music facilities pencil in their lineups month to month or even week to week, which makes gazing at crystal balls particularly tough.
But the early indications are that 1988 will pretty much mirror the sort of balance, dynamics and number of shows that 1987 offered.
Both outdoor amphitheaters had busy '87 seasons. While there may not be as many major tours this year as their were in '87, it's safe to figure another 35-45 shows at each facility.
An official at Avalon Attractions, which books Irvine Meadows shows and also booked the three concerts at Anaheim Stadium in 1987, said pop fans will probably see a return visit by Pink Floyd next summer, possibly in Orange County--which would indicate Anaheim Stadium.
Irvine Meadows will again attempt to provide "a little something for everyone," Avalon Vice President Steve Rennie said, and he confirmed dates with George Michael, the Oak Ridge Boys and the Grateful Dead. In addition, because the Pacific Symphony's first pops concert at Irvine Meadows went over successfully last August, the Santa Ana-based orchestra will be back for five more pops concerts this summer.
Officials at the Pacific Amphitheatre were not available this week to evaluate the outlook at that facility in the coming year.
The Coach House shows no signs of letting loose of its hold on the title of the county's premiere concert club. January and February bookings include B.B. King, Jr. Walker & the All-Stars, Social Distortion, the prestigious Antone's West touring show from Texas with many blues performers, Joe Ely, Nina Hagen, Sonny Rollins, The Mission U.K. and Pieces of a Dream.
Likewise, the 2,500-seat Celebrity Theatre's preliminary 1988 lineup maintains a healthy diversity among pop, country, R&B; and comedy with George Carlin, the Robert Cray Band, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Rogers, Merle Haggard and a bill featuring the Manhattans, Chi-Lites and Dramatics.
The only hints of changes on the local clubs scene are from the indefatigable Sam Lanni, former owner of Safari Sam's. Despite bureaucratic brick walls in many cities where he has tried to open a new nightclub-contemporary culture center, Lanni is still plugging away. Expect to see him active in the coming year.
Otherwise, in the foreseeable future it looks like the responsibility for booking local bands will remain with Big John's in Anaheim and Night Moves in Huntington Beach. In the next few weeks, Big John's will be bringing in the Meat Puppets, the Joneses, Ann DeJarnett, 3-D Picnic and the Screamin' Sirens.
Disc jockey Gary Tesch recently took over bookings at Night Moves but has retained the approach of previous booking agent Paul Sanders. In 1988, expect more of the likes of the Vandals, T.S.O.L., Tender Fury, the Crowd and other hard-edged Southland bands.
Finally, Johnny Cash's concert Jan. 19 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center suggests that center officials are beginning to follow through on the promise to offer some pop and country shows, in addition to the main diet of classical music and dance events. That show is produced by an outside promoter--not the center itself--but the willingness to open the $73-million facility to a wider range of performance is a good sign.