Our Last Gig: The Doll Hut

…now, this next one,” I tell what’s left of the crowd, maybe a dozen drunks left in the place,
……this next one, I don’t know–Kimm, do we have anything left?

Kimm shrugs and turns his attention back to his 24 ouncer of Pabst, as if there is a magic set list in its wheaty goodness.


There’s really no need to talk through the microphone at this point anyway, not really.

All through the last unrequested encore–our third–people have filed past us and out the door, sheepishly waving goodbye, some pointing at imaginary wristwatches with a guilty shrug, some holding thumb and pinky to ear and mouth: I’ll call you tomorrow.

Anthony takes off his bass and leaves the band stand, and heads to the pisser without a word.
“Do we have anyone here that would like to play the bass? While Anthony is taking a shit? Anyone?”

Alf yells out 1-2-3-faw!, we roll nto a bass-less Blitzkrieg Bop, and this will make twice we’ve played the song for the night.

Assorted drunks take turns at the mic. Nobody knows the words.
The bartender rolls her eyes and gives us the old finger across the throat sign, same as she’s done the last 4 songs: Cut it!

We’re going on hour 2 of the set, have played all our own rehearsed songs, and have already massacred:
Police on my Back
Can’t Hardly Wait
Blister in the Sun
GooGoo Muck
WIld Thing
Louie Louie

Wild Louie!

Heh…and the evening started off with such promise….!

Stitches getting all Christmasy on our asses!
Stitches getting all Christmasy on our asses!

Ah, it is a Holiday crowd that rolls early into the Hut, and we meet up with pals in a festive mood!
There is a tinge of the melancholy, as we are saying goodbye to the Doll Hut for the last time, but nothing a hefty 24 oz of cheap beer won’t fix, yeah?




..Smith wins the ugly sweater award again, 4 years running yo!
..Smith wins the ugly sweater award again, 4 years running yo!

Anthony has brought his new band to play on this night, and they play with terrifying force.

Jesus Christ!
Punk rocking old school, the tempos make us dizzy…. and thirsty!


Ant switches instruments, wears same shirt.
Ant switches instruments, wears same shirt.

Afterwards we hug Anthony, ask him if everything is alright.
What are you kids so angry about, hmmm?

Anyway, go see them when they play, they’re called Snooki or Scoleosis, something like that……!

The bands are all sharing backline tonight, so the changeovers are quick.
Just enough time to wade into the soggy crowd and say a million hellos and how do ya do’s!






Kat Legal Weapon in the ol CH3 sandwich!
Kat Legal Weapon in the ol CH3 sandwich!

I’m telling you, it’s a grand evening.
Giant cans of Pabst, the coin of the realm on this night, appear in everyone’s paws.

There is hardly time to consider the strange symbolism of so many flag-colored phallic symbols thrust into so many open maws before our old pals The Stitches do the thing:





Taking pictures of taking pictures
Taking pictures of taking pictures

The fellas are rockin’, and when Lohrman jumps up and prowls atop the Hut bar for the last time I can only swear at him for pulling such a great move before anyone else got the chance….


There’s still plenty of night left, so what say we go visit those legendary bathrooms one last time, yes?






Alfie breaks the no dumping in the club rule...it's alright, we'll never be back!
Alfie breaks the no dumping in the club rule…it’s alright, we’ll never be back!

The crew is tuned and ready when legends The Crowd take to the stage.






As usual, Decker shows up onstage dressed for action, lookin like he’s ready to brave a punk riot or a nasty Nor’easter off the starboard bow!

...expecting a little rough weather, are we?
…expecting a little rough weather, are we?

And then it’s our turn.

We start off well enough.
We play the songs we’ve been playing, marvel at the times we’ve had on this creaky platform.





But we wrap up all the usual songs- and then some!–and we just don’t feel finished.
Not with this joint, not yet anyway.

We plug back in and run through a few more numbers, and as the crowd gets inevitably smaller, we laugh a bit longer, sharing the same lame inside jokes, and order up another round to the bandstand.



And then come the cover songs and the guest musicians.

We try to hang guitars around the necks of innocent people trying to escape, insist they play Strutter and Living after Midnight for our own twisted entertainment!





Kat and Maria share a mic
KAt and Maria share a mic

It has become a drunken mess, a sloppy jam session that would make the 8th graders in the garage next door embarassed.
And we’re having a blast!

On that tiny little stage in that tiny little club, we’re reconnected with those kids that first picked up those guitars and navigated the A to the D to the E, and wondered at the timeless magic of making three simple chords into a Ramones song!

And that’s why we don’t want to stop.
We don’t want to say goodbye.

We’ve been reminded of this rare favor, of a place that let you play music in front of your friends.

We try to start another song, it’s either Jet Boy Jet Girl or He’s a Whore maybe, each of us playing a different note, and we spit out our beers with laughter as the last of the people exit the club, leaving only the four of us on stage.

They cut the PA and turn on the overheads, and our career at the World Famous Doll Hut has come, mercifully, to an end.

Extra awesome photos by Sal’s Photos!

The Doll Hut


You remember, don’t ya, that first time you walked into the Doll Hut?

You went through the creaky front door, and your eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light provided by the beer signs and that goddamn jukebox that seemed to only play Social D or the Misfits.

The worn bar to your front, stage area to the right, and as you walked around back past the flooded bathrooms and the skid-stained pooltable, only to end up at your starting point, you had that first same reaction everyone has: Is that it?

...the crowd so close you can smell 'em...!
…the crowd so close you can smell ’em…!

Yeah, approximately the size of one of the backstage rooms at the House of Blues,
the Doll Hut is charming in its wee footprint, especially when considering the bands that have graced that tiny stage:

l (1)

l (2)

l (3)

Back in the day, when Linda Jemison was the unofficial fairy godmother to OC live music, the club became much more than just another OC shed.
The stuff of legend, expecially when the OC roots rock thang was really going strong and that Punk Rock Revival was gearing up for its inevitable payday.
It was a must-do, of course, for any self respecting OC band to play a couple times a year at the Hut, even when the evil Disney Empire down the way almost shut the joint down for good with that wacky road construction!

What the fuck was that all about?
It seemed like a couple years when there was no way to get there from here!
The 5 freeway was a goddamned mess as they scrambled to put up a monolithic parking structure.
And they scacrificed our dear old Disney parking lot, home of a thousand shotgunned beers and hotboxed joints of mersh…. for what? California Adventure?!
And ya call that progress?

But, yeah, ya still booked the gigs there and out of towners did too….

It was always the best to see the touring bands take their first peep inside the door, only to back up, look around as if to make sure they were in the correct joint.
This is the place Offsring started off?

And No Doubt?
Where did Gwen put on her makeup?!

l (4)

l (5)

Heh—damn right bub.
In fact, it was Linda’s annual Christmas benefits for the Orangewood Children’s Center that kept CH3 alive during those lean years in the mid nineties.

Burnt out from the riots and music business bullshit, we were grumpy old burnouts at age 30.
But we could always rouse ourselves when Linda called for the Christmas gig: the Hut provided the band a trickling life support system, pulse measured in faint beeps and seismic peaks, blood to the heart and oxygen to the brain.

This is even before the hair dyeing!
This is even before the hair dyeing!


Back then, we would start rehearsing for the Christmas gig, oh, somewhere just before Halloween—-heh, God, what happened to that dedication and energy, huh?

Nowdays yer lucky if we listen to the Skinhead Years cd on the way to the gig to refresh our battered memories.
We are seriously just this far away from using teleprompters like Frankie did in the final years……

Ah, but what fun it was, to dust off the setlist, and celebrate the Season at the Doll Hut.
To rage within that jaunty roadhouse, the soggy floorboards and dusty uprights shaking with the music, the whole joint rocking and leaking like that other historic OC hovel, the Haunted Shack at Knott’s.

Fabulous Disaster rockin the Hut~
Fabulous Disaster rockin the Hut~

There’s nothing like a night at the Doll Hut, especially if you have to play a set that night.
Setting up and breaking down, negotiating the chatty drunks and the heavy gear going always! in the opposite direction.
It was like moving furniture on a storm swept tugboat, but you finally got everything in place and counted off the downbeat.

Your face mere inches from the crowd, guitars knocked out of tune every other song.
The constant mist of beer and spit from the drunks that yelled the lyrics right back at you.

God, we’re gonna miss this joint!

.....friggin clowns!
…..friggin clowns!
Linda and Setzer!
Linda and Setzer!

For now they tell us that the Hut will be no more after the start of the year?
Plans have been made to rebrand, something about a Latino theme and traditional music…which is alright I guess.
But as often is the case whenever someone takes over one of our lovely little clubs, the first rule of new management:
No More Punk!

..see?  We got ya coverd!
..see? We got ya covered!

So one more time, we thought, we’d give it a go.
We made a few calls and got together a crazy lineup to kick off the Holiday Season, and once again made it a benefit in honor of those great nights before:


So come out, won’t ya?
We’ll toast the shack one more time, and play one more song with barely tuned guitars as the beer drips from the ceiling: Tears from the very building itself.

But apparently the building and neon sign have been declared a historical landmark, at least, so that’s something.

We’ll still be able to see it as we drive past on our way to a gig at some corporate club in a theme park.

And on a night we’ll soon be buying fourteen dollar cocktails and trying to see the band around shoulders and shitty sightlines, we’ll look up at that buzzing neon and remember a place of another time.

doll hut-001