“Before the recent eruption, when the trade winds would die down, the smoke from the volcano would wrap around the island, and eventually make it to Kona,” says one-time O.D. Corral guitarist Dusty Best of living on Hawaii’s Big Island in the wake of Kilauea’s recent flare-ups. “Now, it’s a real crisis for a lot of people to the south. Our problem up here in Holualoa is the air quality, the ‘vog’.”
Crazy Lava Flows Captured in Hawaii
Best spent years playing with local roadhouse rockers O.D. Corral, co-founded with singer-guitarist David Bradley (the Wimps, Joe Bummer & the Asswipes From Hell, A Flock of Haircuts) and bassist Gary Cooper. They were soon joined by fiddler David Abbott (whose sister Liz Abbott would become a notable local concert promoter), violinist Jonathan Bach, pedal steel guitar player Dave Sizemore, guitarists Lee Barnes and Billy Garner, and drummer Warner Davis.
Early gigs were staged at area venues like the Ancient Mariner on Shelter Island and the Albatross and the Golden Rolling Belly (both in Del Mar), as well as a summer spent playing outdoors at Cafe Del Rey Moro in Balboa Park. "In those days," David Bradley recalled for the Reader, "bands had it way easier because they would play long stints in one club, typically six weeks at a time, therefore no hellacious moving jobs nightly."
O.D. Corral started out as somewhat of a punchline. "We all grew up listening and watching our parents watching cheesy hillbilly music on TV with sequined, pompadoured morons like Porter Wagoner and Hank Williams," says Bradley. "We hated it. Then, experimental bands such as the Flying Buritto Brothers started doing over-the-top spoofs of the hillbillies we all regarded prior as cringeworthy. The wild sequins, cowboy hats, and gaudy cowboy boots started being worn by long-haired hippie dope fiends. The Burrito Brothers and Commander Cody made, what was worse than uncool, hip."
According to Bradley, "The O.D. Corral picked up on that and injected booze-fueled reckless performing, jumping off tables, and nutty audience participation into the mix...we were so locally famous, the experience is woodburned into our minds. Oh, the girls and the partying!"
Despite their raucous onstage persona, O.D. Corral were accomplished musicians. “Those pedal steel rigs Dave [Sizemore] played are very special and require Olympic dedication to achieve the distinctive country whine,” recalls Bradley, now living in the Missouri Ozarks. He says Sizemore is still playing. “He’s a 73-year-old hick who survived a lung cancer scare and is a thriving vegan and farmer in Indiana. Lee Barnes was an amazing lead guitar slinger, and not just a one night guy. He’s been compared to Clapton and Hendrix.” Barnes and guitarist Billy Garner still live and play in San Diego
Bradley went on to the Maniacs and others, releasing a vinyl double-album called The David Bradley Story in 1982. According to Bradley, “Gary Cooper, founder, bassist, fiddler, died in 2016, hard living, [in] Temecula. John Bach died of brain cancer at a young age, maybe 30 years ago.” Drummer Warner Davis, later of Timber and Rocket Science, “is still playing the hell out of it, [he] lives in Chula Vista and plays with [Eagles songwriter] Jack Tempchin.”
Hawaiian transplant Dusty Best is also friends with Tempchin, who once co-wrote him a tune called “The Victory Song” for a Warner Brothers demo tape that was retooled and renamed by the Eagles “Already Gone” (now found on one of the best-selling albums of the 20th Century, the Eagles’ Greatest Hits collection). Best went on to become a solo performer with mid-80s residencies at area venues such as Antonio’s Hacienda and Tio Leo’s.
“I will never stop playing guitar, I sit in sometimes at a little jazz club in Kona,” says Best. “My Taylor and my Telecaster remain my very close friends. Wheels are in motion to record some originals in Florida with old friend Billy Odom, of Hollywood Cowboys fame.”