Let me just start by saying I’ve been to one of these before, and I had one hell of a great time. But that was a few years ago, and it was also held at that oak ranch place, which, I guess, made it more like a Hootenany. This year it was out at Irvine, you know that place–where the lions and tigers and bears used to roam, by the water slides? Anyway, let me tell you first and foremost, if it wasn’t for Chuck Berry, I would have had one hell of a bad day.
First, I fell for the backstage, hundred-dollar ticket. They called it VIP, and I now believe that stands for “Very Idiotic Person,” because to start with, the up-front parking was a big no, but I did park for free, so I saved five bucks (sarcasm), then we had to swim back stream to get our wristband from some guy who looked more like he was scalping them. At the gate I had to wheel and deal my way just to get my camera in, thank god for the magazine. Then, once inside, we were on our own. There was supposed to be a free lunch that no one could tell us where it was, nor could we find on our own, so I guess we gave that fiver back. Then there was the complimentary shirt that, an hour later and several bands missed, we found, and basically they were free for all to get one.
Now I’m not sure, but I would have to venture a guess that this year’s event was put on by the same group as past, but I’ve got to tell you they really dropped the ball on this one. This thing was like a giant Us Festival–one had to march football fields to get from the small stage to the big one. In the program, they called the small stage the “side stage,” maybe because it was to the side of the entrance.
As for the music, they had a really good lineup this year, but I missed a few bands I really wanted to see. The first band we actually had a chance to listen to was Hot Rod Lincoln–at least from the program I believe it was them. They were pretty rambunctious and played pretty heavy stuff that sounded punky, with a rockabilly flair. Then we stood in line, I say that because that’s what it felt like, to see the Supersuckers, who impress me more the more I hear them. These guys bring that southern fuck you, shut up and listen to the music attitude to the show every time I’ve seen them, and, well, they are a very in-your-face rock band. Next up was Horton Heat who, until during the Social D set, I liked.
All right, I’ll tell you now. See, the pictures I take, I blow up and then ask to have signed–it’s for my own collection, and I ask nicely. So, after getting one from Jimbo, Horton’s bass player who is a really gracious and cool guy, I try to get one from Horton, right? He ends up giving me the Tom Watson, “I can’t right now, but I’ll be back.” You think he was coming back? Hell no! If he would have just said “no” I would have understood, but to give me the line of crap “I’ll be back,” I don’t think so. So now I’m kind of anti Horton Heat.
Now, let me tell you that Chuck Berry was the highlight of the show. I see this guy in an historical light–I mean arguably the king of rock-and-roll, and I saw him. This guy is fun to watch and beautiful to hear. I can only imagine what it was like to be a kid during the fifties when this guy was prime. He still even masters the duck walk, and I say that man saved the day for me. Lastly was Social Distortion and, by this point, I was so burnt out I could only listen to them from backstage. And truthfully, I wasn’t paying that much attention, though I did hear Ness say something to the effect that without black music there would be no good white music…I’ll let you figure that one out.