As usual, Orange County rock musicians will play a raft of holiday charity shows, with five benefit concerts scheduled in the next 10 days.
But Orange County Music for the Needy, the most ambitious of the annual benefits, at least in scope, will not be staged again.
“It really makes me feel bad,” said Jim Palmer, the music entrepreneur who had been the driving force behind Music for the Needy during its 5-year run.
Palmer moved to Las Vegas in 1989, ending a close association with the local alternative-rock scene as a concert promoter and booking agent. One of his main contributions was Music for the Needy. The daylong show’s charitable goal was to raise money to provide a festive Christmas for poor families. Its other aim was to serve as a showcase and a community-building social event for the local rock scene.
Palmer kept the benefit going last year, even though he had already moved to a new job as a promoter and booker at Calamity Jane’s, a Las Vegas rock club. Palmer said over the phone last week that there was no way for him to keep Music for the Needy going long distance.
“I thought that maybe somebody would want to pick up the ball and do it,” Palmer said. “If my job here wasn’t so crazy, I’d be down there doing it. I just don’t have the time now.”
Sam Lanni, who had helped Palmer plan past Music for the Needy shows and served as master of ceremonies, said his own time has been stretched between a regular job and managing three bands--Don’t Mean Maybe, the Clints and Bazooka.
“It’s sad that it’s not going to happen, but it would have been complete insanity for me to take on something like that,” Lanni said.
“The benefit did serve a purpose, where all these bands got together and everybody felt like a family for a day, I guess,” said David Hansen, vice president of Dr. Dream Records. “With Jim and people like Sam Lanni, there was some sense of a community. But I don’t feel that sense of any sort of a scene or community (among Orange County rock musicians) anymore. There’s a few bands, (each) doing their (own) thing.”
One place that does try to cultivate an identity as a drop-in social center for local rock musicians is the Doll Hut, a little corner bar in Anaheim. The club will be throwing its annual Noise for Toys party Dec. 22-23.
Noise for Toys is in its seventh year. It began, founder John Mello recalled, when he and some musician friends were hanging out at the Commonwealth Pub in Fullerton, downing beers while a group called the Gall Stones (which soon turned into the excellent, now-defunct Pontiac Brothers) knocked out Rolling Stones covers. The Gall Stones were getting free beers for their efforts; Mello and his friends figured that free drinks were a pretty good perk, so they would also get a band together to play the Pub. It was Christmastime so, dubbing themselves the Decadent Debutantes, they decided to make the show a children’s benefit. The tradition has continued every year since.
Mello doesn’t have to sing for his beer anymore: He and his wife, Linda, are now owners of the Doll Hut. But the Debutantes continue to come out once a year, with an irregular lineup featuring singer-producer Mello and assorted friends. This year, the Decadent Debutantes will be one of 20 bands playing half-hour sets over the two nights of Noise for Toys. The shows will run from 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The lineup on Dec. 22 is to feature, in order of appearance, Mood Ring, the Ace Tones, Idle Hands, the Earwigs, Nervous Touch, Nevada Time, the Decadent Debutantes, Blind Hatred, Mother Fist and the Squids. Crawdaddy is to open the bill on Dec. 23, followed by the Clints, Derailed, Three Ring Binder, Newcastle, Rhythm ‘n’ Booze, Smash Palace, Rikk Agnew’s Turtle, Groove Pusher and, at 1:15 a.m., a closing jam featuring surprise guests.
Admission is $5 or a new, unwrapped toy. Proceeds will go to the Canyon Acres Home for Abused Children. Mello said last year’s Noise for Toys collected or bought $2,500 in toys for abused children who live at the Anaheim Hills residence; he’s hoping to double that this year. Information: (714) 533-1286.
Local reggae musicians will put on their third annual Christmas fund-raiser to donate toys to the Orangewood Children’s Home for abused children and the Los Angeles Mission. Heading Sunday’s bill is StrangeJah Cole who, under the name Stranger Cole, scored hits on the Jamaican ska scene in the 1960s. Now living in Laguna Hills, Cole will perform with his singing partner, Queen Rejoice, and the Club Motion Dancers. Also appearing are Jamaican singer Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, led by the singer-drummer whose recording career dates back to 1967. Also performing in the four-hour show are the Los Angeles-based band, Time, Effort & Energy, plus Orange County’s 714 Band.
Last year the benefit raised $4,000 for toys, according to Queen Rejoice. With the event becoming more established, she said, the goal this year is to double that amount.
The benefit begins at 6 p.m. at the Iglesia Community Center, 24671 Via Iglesia, Laguna Hills. Tickets: $8 for adults and $4 for children, with a $2 discount for those also donating a new, unwrapped toy. Information: (714) 458-6471.
Bill Medley will sing to help Orange County homeless in a benefit Monday at the Righteous Brothers’ Hop, 18774 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley. Proceeds will go to the Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter. The show is to start at 7:30 p.m., with a minimum donation of $20. Information: (714) 963-2366.
Several local alternative-rock bands have organized an all-ages concert Sunday to benefit Share Our Selves, the Costa Mesa anti-poverty agency. Performing are Olive Lawn, the Costa Mesa 4, Cold Black Decaf, Mission Impossible and Flatbed, which features members of Big Drill Car and the Cadillac Tramps. The show starts at 6 p.m. at Mucho Munchies Rock’n Cantina, 2675 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach. The requested donation is three cans of food or three other non-perishable food items. Concert-goers may also donate new, unwrapped toys valued at $5 or more.
FOLK REVIVAL: Until about three years ago, touring traditional folk musicians used to set up once a month in Carolyn Russell’s living room in Garden Grove and put on a show. Then city officials found out what was going on, declared it a zoning violation and stopped the music--despite neighbors’ assurance that the concerts were no bother. Now, Russell and some friends are hoping to get back into the folk business, although not in her own home.
Russell, a folk musician herself, is promoting a concert Sunday at 4:30 p.m. by Ed Trickett, a Maryland-based singer, guitarist and hammered dulcimer player with a wide repertoire of traditional folk material. Trickett’s credits include appearances on “A Prairie Home Companion.” The concert will take place in the Anaheim Cultural Arts Center, a small auditorium at 931 N. Harbor Blvd. Admission is $8. Information: (714) 535-3059, or (714) 638-1466.
Trickett was featured at one of Russell’s house concerts several years ago. Earlier this year, Russell said, “he called and asked if we were doing (house) concerts. We were not, but we said we would definitely put a concert on for him” during his West Coast trip.
Now, Trickett’s concert will be a trial run for a possible series of traditional folk concerts at the Anaheim Cultural Arts Center. “If we could get 60 people as a minimum, that would be a nice start,” Russell said. With that many ticket buyers, she said, the promoters can afford to rent the hall and pay musicians “enough that we’re not embarrassed to give it to a performer.”
THEM CHANGES: Local rock trio Don’t Mean Maybe has a new drummer and soon will have a new address. Singer-guitarist Mark Andrea said the band, which records for Dr. Dream Records, plans to move to San Francisco early next year. There, Andrea and bassist John Hawthorne will link up with the new drummer, Ron Sloan. Sloan had played in the first lineup of Don’t Mean Maybe before heading north for college three years ago, Andrea said.
“We’re going to be on tour from February to June, then record again and go on tour again, so it doesn’t really matter where we are” based, Andrea said. “It’s not really relevant.”
No longer with the band is Jeff Fairbanks, who played drums and also sang and wrote some of Don’t Mean Maybe’s songs. Andrea said the split came last month after the band had finished its first national tour. “There’s no real bad feelings, just a parting,” Andrea said, attributing the split to musical differences.
The Swamp Zombies, another Dr. Dream band, have switched personnel too, replacing guitarist Travis Agle with Ray Vogelzang. Josh Agle, Travis’ brother, remains in the band, along with bassist Steve Jacobs and percussionist Dave Warren.
Travis “got married and decided he’d do the domestic thing, like get a real job,” Josh reported. The Swamp Zombies will play New Year’s Eve at Bogart’s Bohemian Cafe.