The Bear growls again

Reporter gets her own Golden memory with a rocking performance from some of the past musicians at the famed hall.

October 01, 2009|By Britney Barnes

He sat at his keyboard, fingers effortlessly picking out the keys, illuminated by the lone spotlight as musicians silently came out of the wings of the stage to join him.

One by one, the musicians added their instruments to the mix, until the lonely keyboard melody was a roaring performance of “Break On Through,” by the Doors’ own Ray Manzarek and local band Honk.

Manzarek and Honk took the stage, along with David Lindley and Jack Tempchin, Friday for the Golden Bear Reunion Concert at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.


The Golden Bear was opened as a restaurant in 1929, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became a local rock and roll legend. A slew of musicians played the Bear until it was demolished in 1986. Everyone from Bob Dylan to Blondie to Steve Martin came through it, and almost anyone who was around Huntington during the Bear’s prime will tell a tale or two about its holy halls.

Manzarek alone was amazing to watch, but the accompaniment by Honk made the songs come alive. They actually held a brief “band meeting” on stage, and whatever it was they decided turned out well, because they continued to play together.

“Come on baby, light my fire/Come on baby, light my fire/Try to set the night on fire,” they sang as a few members of the crowd got up to dance. Manzarek and Honk playing “Light My Fire” was the highlight of the night, but it was Lindley who threw me for a loop. Before the show, I was warned, “David Lindley will blow your mind.”

Mission accomplished.

He started out playing the banjo, an instrument I associated with county bumpkins and square dancing, and made it sound almost exotic. Completely enthralled by this unfamiliar blend of music, he switched to a guitar and played slide. The way his fingers moved was unreal.

After only three songs, he was done. Lindley gave the audience just a taste of what they had to offer, and it wasn’t enough.

The show was fun and the audience was great. Sitting next to people who had seen shows at the Bear, worked in its kitchen and partied with the bands made the place seem larger than life. I keep hearing “everyone has a Golden Bear story,” and now I do too — did I mention I saw Manzarek play “Light My Fire” yet?

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