“ The Best Things In Life Are Free - After Dark ” - ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, June 2004
Yes, the best things in life are free
Wednesday night at the Ocean Avenue Brewery in Laguna is something special.
A month ago, this relatively small nightspot was pretty much empty on Wednesday nights. Then came a band called Just Jinger.
The once-sparse crowd grew each week as word spread that this was no ordinary band playing at the brewery on Wednesday nights.
When the word spread to me, I was a bit skeptical, even though I trust my friend. But Laguna Beach is a long way to travel on a Wednesday night to hear a band that might not be worth the drive.
Over the years, I have been burned more than once by someone who raved about a band. I have had my fair share of nights that ended when a lead-singer walked up to a microphone and said, “Here’s a tribute to Journey.”
The only thing that could possibly be worse than a tribute to Journey is a bar band that does nothing but original music. That’s when you venture into garage-band territory, and that can babe dangerous territory to explore.
I don’t know if you are aware of this but there are a lot of bands that should never have left the garage. In those cases, I would just as soon listen to a really competent cover band.
So imagine my dread when Just Jinger lead singer Art Matthews walked up to the mic and announced that the first song of the evening was going to be the only cover of the night. A chill ran down my spine.
Then something entirely pleasant happened. These guys are good. Real good. So good that I can’t believe you can still see them for free on Wednesday nights in Laguna Beach.
Just Jinger is a South African band that was formed in 1996. Besides Matthews, the band includes Brent Harris, Denholm Harding and Simon Bailey. Apparently, they are spending the summer in Laguna Beach while trying to cut a record deal in Los Angeles. In the meantime, they’re keeping their musical chops sharp by playing this weekly gig.
The band has opened on tour for Counting Crows, and they do remind me a lot o that band. But Just Jinger has its own infectious sound, and now I’m a fan.
As I was listening to the first set, IU kept hearing a recurring theme from the people sitting around me. They kept referring to the drum solo at the end of the first set, as in, “We’ll go outside for a smoke after the drum solo at the end of the first set”. Or, “Let’s get another round of drinks after the drum solo at the en d of the first set”.
I kept thing, “I can’t believe there’s a drum solo at the end of the first set.” I didn’t think anyone still cared about drum solos.
Now I understand. This isn’t just another drum solo. The entire band gets into the act, and the crowd is whipped into a frenzy. They needed a short break just to restore their composure.
The band starts at about 9pm and completes its second and final set at midnight. I as a little disappointed at the early finish, but then I remembered that it was Wednesday night.