By Michael Diggin
By Michael Diggin
Here’s a good one for you: How do you make an orange blossom rock? Well don’t ask the Orange Blossom Festival Association, because they don’t have a clue.
The music selection at the 11th annual Orange Blossom Festival was definitely under par when compared to the quality available at past festivals. There were a good variety of musical genres showcased this year, from blues to Hispanic music to a kid’s music stage. Yet there was a dearth of both big name bands and local bands.
In the past, the Orange Blossom Festival has had a good balance between recognizable names and lots of homegrown talent. Pink, Third Eye Blind, B2K, and Berlin have all appeared at former festivals alongside local favorites like the Skeletones, Alien Ant Farm, The Debonaires, Esoteric 7, and Shoppy. This year the only one of those bands to play was Shoppy.
Another curious absence was stages sponsored by local radio stations. K-Frog was the only local station with its own stage. X103.9 and 99.1 KGGI had booths at the festival, but neither had its own stage featuring their respective musical genres, although X103.9 did have some interaction with the Budweiser true music stage.
Since when did a beer company know more about good music than a radio station?
All that aside, there was some good music available. A few bands made waiting through the rest of the mess worthwhile.
Sunday was the day for music-lovers to enjoy the festivities. Early in the lineup on Sunday, a band called Dumbluck got the party started right. The trio is Southern-California local, hailing from various parts of Orange County. Lead singer/guitarist Jim Perkins and drummer Phil Valdovinos described their sound as “rock-reggae,” but there’s definitely a bit of funk in their junk, too. Johnny Baldaray completes the threesome on bass and vocals.
You may recognize Perkins and Valdovinos from their stint with now defunct local band Freakdaddy. Dumbluck has only been around for two years, but its sound doesn’t show it. Keep an eye out for its debut album coming out soon, and grab a demo at one of itsshows while your waiting.Local Riverside boys Shoppy returned for another Orange Blossom Festival and let loose with their own eclectic blend of music. Shoppy got its first big break through a contest by X103.9 that won it a spot in the 2001 festival, and they keep coming back for more. The band members describe their sound as funk-fueled hybrid rock, and it’s hard to argue with them. The band consists of Chad Villarreal, Matt Wyckoff, and Gabe Hartman. You can pick up their CD, Welcome to Antarctica,at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shoppy.
Closing out the night on Sunday was The Fenians. These guys are one of the best Irish bands you can find that don’t come from Ireland. They’re from Orange County, but you’d never guess from their music.
For 14 years The Fenians have played traditional-leaning Irish rock, with lots of other influences thrown in the stew. Drummer and vocalist Chris Pierce describes their music as Celtic rock, and cites their influences as ranging from The Chieftains and The Pogues to bluegrass, country, jazz and classic rock. Rounding out the band are Terry Casey on vocals and mandolin, Dave Burnett on sax and flute, Kenny Cosca on bass, and Rob Williams on guitar. The Fenians are no strangers to the Orange Blossom Festival, and they definitely knew how to get the crowd going. They had the whole crowd up and dancing a jig, and that’s no easy task with the diverse crowd gathered at the festival. The Fenians are a welcome addition to any lineup.
The few bands that made the miserable heat a little less unbearable could not make up for the overall paucity of the musical lineup. If there is one music lesson this year’s Orange Blossom Festival had to teach it is this: diversity and quantity do not guarantee quality.