As Orange County pop music fans await next week's unveiling of the 1985 schedules at Irvine Meadows and Pacific amphitheaters, local bands need wait no more for their good news. This year, at least one of the facilities will finally book shows with Orange County acts.
"I'm going to do them, I promise," said Pacific Amphitheatre general manager Steve Redfearn in a recent interview. "I have to set the season first, but I want to do at least three 'local talent night' shows with Los Angeles and Orange County bands."
Irvine Meadows officials, however, were reluctant to make such promises. "The cost of advertising and staging any event in Southern California, even aside from the cost of the talent, can be pretty substantial," said Jeff Apregan, director of operations at Irvine Meadows. "Like everyone else, we're not in business to lose money or just to break even, but to make money. So it would have to make sense to do it. If a local group has a strong draw, then we would like to do it."
Since Irvine Meadows opened in 1981, followed by the Pacific in 1983, the two amphitheaters have staged nearly 200 concerts with major recording artists. Thus, Orange County music fans no longer have to drive to Los Angeles to see most touring acts.
Yet only a handful of Los Angeles bands--and no Orange County performers--have been used as opening acts at either venue.
In defense of the amphitheater booking agents, Redfearn said it is more difficult to put local bands in opening slots than to book a whole show devoted to area groups.
"(Headlining) acts have to approve the opening acts. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth (to put a local act on a show), but we always bring it up," Redfearn said.
Added Apregan: "Support acts often tour with the headliners and they are presented to us as a package. In those situations, we are not able to do much."
Redfearn said he hopes to have concerts showcasing local performers at the beginning and end of summer and perhaps one more during the summer. He also said he has several Orange County acts under consideration for opening slots.
The "Catch-22" in booking an entire concert with local bands is that they don't have the drawing power of big-name performers and therefore represent a greater financial risk for theater operators.
"If I could be sure we'd just break even, I'd do a ton of them," Redfearn said. "That's why I'm looking for sponsors to underwrite shows, so that financial success is not too important. It would be a shame to book these shows and then lose money."
THAT'S A BIG MOUSE: The Laguna Beach High School girls gymnasium will be the unlikely setting for a concert Saturday with Eek-A-Mouse, the 6-foot-5 Jamaican "toaster" (a reggae "rapper"). Some of the proceeds from the show will go to the high school radio station D-ART. Concert organizer Jim Otto, who operates the Sound Spectrum record store in Laguna Beach, said Eek-A-Mouse asked to perform at the high school because it will be a youth-oriented, no-smoking, no-drinking environment.
Also on the bill will be Prince Ital Joe. Both performers will be backed by I-Dren Syndicate. The concert will begin at 9 p.m. The high school is at 625 Park Ave.
LIVE ACTION: UC Irvine radio station KUCI (88.9 FM) is starting a series of concerts benefiting the station at Mama Brown's in Santa Ana (1436 1/2 Main St.). Saturday's show will feature the Steppes, the Marsupials and the Nephews . . . Charlie Ventura will perform April 13 at McCormick's Landing in Costa Mesa as part of the former Top 40 club's new all-jazz policy . . . Lacy J. Dalton returns to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on April 15 . . . Al Stewart will play the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach on April 6.