John Hampton is aiming to give Orange County a little taste of South by Southwest and bring a little bit of the OC to the rest of the world.
The producer, who runs the Irvine-based Hampton Productions, will present the first-ever OCSX, or OC Music Showcase, inspired by showcases he’s booked with local bands to play in Austin. The three-day event is happening this weekend at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa.
Featuring Big Monsta on April 26, David Rosales on April 27 and Robert Jon & The Wreck on April 28 — the OCSX takeover will include a red carpet, interviews conducted by Cole Blackmore of OC band The Sugar, and sponsors like Jagermeister, OC Weekly, Ketel One Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Oskar Blues Brewery. Ticket prices for each show range from $5 to $8 and are available at www.wayfarercm.com.
Hampton says the lineup is a perfect sampler of the kinds of music Orange County is producing.
“These three bands that are showcasing here are bands that are really giving back to the community,” he says. “They’re really getting outside of Orange County and showcasing their talents, but they’re also developing what the Orange County music scene is. … As people come to this showcase over the three days, they’re definitely going to get a big, overall view of what’s happening in our music scene.”
Hampton, who has brought bands from the OC to Austin for SXSW for the last several years, says Orange County has been missing its “community feel” ever since the OC Music Awards stopped in 2014.
“That whole community that we’ve been missing here in Orange County is something that we’ve been trying to build on again,” says Hampton, who worked with the annual awards ceremony.
David Rosales, who has performed at four SXSW events, considers that event like a “band camp” where he gets to reunite and collaborate with other OC bands.
The Huntington Beach man, who will be promoting his debut full-length solo album at his showcase performance, says OCSX is an expansion of that.
“In a way, it’s been like a SXSW band camp where you go and have this shared experience with other OC bands and artists that you might not have had the opportunity to otherwise,” he says. “It’s inspiring. People let their guards down. Everyone is up for having a good time. Jams happen. People get closer. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Hampton says this year, 19 bands from Orange County, Long Beach and LA joined OCSX in Austin and collaboratively played 25 shows per day for three days in two venues. The last two years, OCSX has joined forces with the Chive TV House to expand its reach.
The bands all performed together and supported one another at SXSW, Hampton recalls.
“We want to keep that momentum going from Austin and bring it back here to Orange County and start doing Orange County music showcases,” he says.
Jimmy Hua, frontman of Big Monsta, said his band has been investing time in their local scene for years, but is excited to break out of their Orange County pocket.
The five-year-old band is currently planning its first tour in Nashville in late-July.
“We’ve always wanted this scene to be bigger and expose more of the talented songwriters, so OCSX became a great platform for us to push it forward,” Hua says. “What we are seeing is that the diverse music community of OC is beginning to work together and not be so goddamn cliquey. We’re very excited for this new venture.”
Hampton adds showcases are also being planned at the OC Fairgrounds, during the OC Marathon, and in areas like Long Beach and San Diego.
He also wants to further break the bands further out of the state, like they did in Austin, and head north to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.
In the past, bands like The Offspring and No Doubt helped put the OC on the music map. Now, Hampton — who has helped build promote groups like The Dirty Heads in their early years and Well Hung Heart long before they were played on KROQ — says it’s about time the world pays attention to the Orange County music scene again.
“I don’t think people realize what talent Orange County has,” says Hampton, who is originally from Mississippi. “I’ve traveled a lot across the United States, and I’ve seen a lot of talent and a lot of bands. Orange County has that great, fresh talent that I don’t think the artists are getting the exposure they deserve or they need to help breakout. Once we bring out that talent to other locations, I think people will definitely take notice of what the Orange County music scene has to offer.”
Robert Jon, of Robert Jon & The Wreck, says that because of Orange County’s proximity to LA, the area can often get overlooked in regard to entertainment.
“People think that LA is the hub and the center of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Jon, whose band will be celebrating the release of a new self-titled record at their show. “But Orange County has something to say. I think there’s a lot of stuff going on in Orange County that people should pay attention to more.”