Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Get with THE PROGRAM
THURSDAY, MARCH 21
Maia Sharp @ Room 5 (Mid-City West)
The acclaimed singer-songwriter just finished a run of shows opening for Bonnie Raitt and performs songs from her fifth full-length, Change the Ending, at home here in Los Angeles before heading out on a tour covering the midwest and east coast. She'll play as a duo with guitarist Linda Taylor tonight, and you can get a taste of the show with this video of them performing the album's title track.
The Spits @ The Echoplex (Echo Park)
If you're up for something a bit rowdier, then head to the Echoplex for a free show featuring this spacey punk foursome. Their fifth self-titled album came out a few years ago and boasts the rapid-fire vocals set to synth/drum machine beeps and whistles the Spits are known for. You can bet they're just as eclectic and zany on stage, too.
"Catch Me If You Can" @ Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
The new Broadway musical is based on the 2002 film, which was based on Frank Abagnale Jr.'s 1980 autobiography detailing his con-man adventures of cashing in $2.5 million worth of bad checks. The production follows Frank as he poses as a pilot, doctor and lawyer, living it up and eventually going on the run from the FBI. With a book by Terrence McNally ("The Full Monty," "Ragtime"), score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray"), choreography by Jerry Mitchell ("Hairspray," "Legally Blonde") and direction by Jack O'Brien ("Hairspray," "The Full Monty," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"), the musical is sure to be entertaining.
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
In Theaters This Week
Admission stars Tina Fey as a straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer who is reunited with a former classmate played by Paul Rudd; Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage and Catherine Keener provide the voice talent for DreamWorks Animation's latest, The Croods; Antoine Fuqua directs Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Angela Bassett in action-thriller Olympus Has Fallen; Spring Breakers is Harmony Korine's ode to the college tradition, but with a comedic crime twist starring James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. Also in theaters: From Up on Poppy Hill; Love and Honor; The Sapphires; Starbuck
Outfest Fusion: LGBT People of Color Festival @ REDCAT (Downtown) and The Egyptian (Hollywood)
The 10th annual festival celebrates LGBT people of color in film with a gala party, tributes and retrospectives, panel discussions and screenings of 30 shorts and features. Some of the films included in this year's festivities are Homeboy, a look at the lives of gay Latino men in Los Angeles who are former gang members; Fame, the 1980 classic; and an exploration of the friendship between two young Chicanas in Huntington Park, Mosquita y Mari.
|Midnight Spin (John DeMato)|
Midnight Spin @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The New Yorkers have been traversing the country since releasing their debut, Don't Let Me Sleep, at the beginning of the year, and finally hit the west coast after a bunch of SXSW shows. From the "Conchis Bliss," "Lion Run" and "Phantoms" to the dance-inducing "Reagan Babies" and "Don't Let Me Sleep," the five piece has something in their arsenal for everyone.
SATURDAY, MARCH 23
FILMA Clockwork Orange @ Electric Dusk Drive-In (Downtown)
Make a Stanley Kubrick day of it! Start with a visit to the exhibit at LACMA, followed by the drive-in screening of his 1971 film (adapted from Anthony Burgess' short novel). Starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee and Michael Bates, A Clockwork Orange boasts some of Kubrick's most memorable images that haunt your psyche well after the last frame of film fades from the screen.
Crossfaith @ The Roxy (West Hollywood)
The Japanese quintet of rockers released their debut, The Artificial Theory for the Dramatic Beauty, in 2009 and it sparked the screamo/metalcore scene in their home country and won them slots on tours with the likes of Machine Head, Hatebreed and Pierce the Veil. They released a new EP (Zion) in 2012 and are going to be a part of this summer's Warped Tour. We can catch them in the more intimate indoor setting of the Roxy first, though.
Night Moves @ The Fonda (Hollywood)
I first heard the Twin Cities' foursome on KCRW, and their countrified psychedelic sound instantly intrigued me. After listening to the entirety of last year's Colored Emotions, I can't wait to see and hear the tracks performed live. Must-listens are "Headlights," "Old Friends" and "Horses."
MONDAY, MARCH 25
Hunter Hunted @ Bootleg Theater (Westlake)
Some of you may be familiar with Michael Garner and Dan Chang from their work in Lady Danville. The Angelenos forged ahead as a duo, and after being added to the rotation at KCRW, they sold-out their first show at the Troubadour. They garnered raves for their self-titled debut EP that released last month. See what all the fuss is about at the final night of their March residency at Bootleg Theater tonight.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27
Spirit Animal @ The Satellite (Silver Lake)
When a band releases a song called "The Black Jack White," the title alone grabs people's curiosity and ensures they give it at least one listen. The track is a testament to the New Yorkers' ability to successfully blend elements of funk, psych and pop into something unique and completely infectious. Once you delve into more of the quartet's songs, like "Crocodile Skins" and "Lead!" from last year's This Is a Test EP, you'll be hooked and anticipating their live show.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
|Blush's Ji Hae, Alisha, Nacho, Angeli and Victoria go on a walking tour of North Hollywood's Arts District|
It's pretty hard to not immediately want to join in with the giggling and rapid-fire conversation between the five women in Blush. There's an air of giddiness surrounding the pop/R&B/dance group when we meet for a walking tour of North Hollywood's Arts District. At first I think it's just the excitement of exploring their new neighborhood, but after a while, their genuine camaraderie and love for being around one another becomes apparent. After all, it's hard not to smile when you're surrounded by people you just enjoy spending time with.
And over the past three years, the ladies of Blush – Alisha Budhrani, Angeli Flores, Ji Hae Lee, Natsuko "Nacho" Danjo and Victoria Chan – have dedicated all of their time to rehearsing, recording and promoting their work. Their relentless commitment to their work and unprecedented success so far (They're the only Asian singers to date to have their first two singles hit No. 3 ["Undivided"] and No. 1 ["Dance On"] on a major U.S. Billboard Chart, and Quincy Jones has signed on as their Executive Producer.) aren't the only things that them apart from most acts, they literally won their chance to be in this group.
In May of 2010, FarWest Entertainment launched "Project Lotus," a talent search in Asia to create a group composed of five girls from five different Asian countries. After 3,500 auditions, 35 were chosen to participate in an intense training academy in Hong Kong. The entire process was documented in an eight-part miniseries that aired on the AXS network, and eventually resulted in China's Victoria, India's Alisha, Japan's Nacho, the Philippines' Angeli and South Korea's Ji Hae being selected to form Blush.
"Through the process, they helped us all individually. For me, I'm originally a singer and hadn't danced before. When I was in 'Project Lotus,' I had to sing and dance at the same time," shares Angeli. "It was hard, but I learned a lot."
"The thing about 'Project Lotus' was that every week the groups would change. So, for example, the whole time I was never in a group with Nacho, Ji Hae or Victoria, and only during the last two weeks I was with Angeli. Because you were constantly rotating groups, you were learning how to work with different personalities and people in general. It makes you like a chameleon," says Alisha.
Victoria adds, "The great thing about 'Project Lotus' was it was so positive. It was never like, Oh, I'm competing with you.' We were never competing against each other as country groups. Even within our own country groups, like me with all the other Chinese girls, we were all helping each other to achieve our dream. It was a really great process."
Having come together in such a unique way brought them even closer to one another and cemented their resolve to make Blush a success. After "Project Lotus," the quintet moved to Los Angeles and settled into a place near the Grove.
"We love the Grove. We used to be able to walk there, but we still always go there for food or to shop," Angeli tells.
Victoria "We love the cinema there. All the movies we've gone to see have been there," says Victoria. "Our stylist introduced us to this Greek restaurant there called Ulysses Voyage. Their stuffed artichokes are to die for."
"Umami Burger is the best burger place," Nacho chimes in. "I go to the Farmers Market a lot. A favorite is Moishe's Restaurant. It's Middle Eastern and so good."
"And Jambalaya from the Gumbo Pot," interjects Angeli. "They have a great candy shop, [Dylan's Candy Bar] too."
Since the girls just returned from a trip to France and barely moved into their new home in North Hollywood, today seemed like the perfect day to get acquainted with the neighborhood's many restaurants, theaters, shops and galleries while they tell me about their adventures around the world, with Snoop Dogg and the release of their first EP, The Undivided EP. We begin our walking tour of the NoHo Arts District at the Federal Bar, a popular gastropub that's bustling with a lunchtime crowd. It's in a converted 1920s Art Deco bank building, full of gorgeous exposed brick walls and sleek tile floors, and serves specialty bottled and draught beers, wines and creative cocktails, as well as a full menu of food offerings.
Republic of Pie, a bakery known for freshly baked pies of every flavor from Classic Apple to Chocolate Carmel Pecan. An old theater marquee and ticket booth adorn the front of our next stop, the El Portal Theatre. The historic landmark was originally built as a vaudeville house in 1926 and became a movie theater before being damaged in the earthquake of 1994. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2000 as the home for Studio Theatre (home of Theatre Tribe), Monroe Forum Theatre and the 360-seat Main Stage area. Celebrities such as Jason Alexander, Debbie Reynolds and Adam Carolla have graced the stages of El Portal, and Blush's Alisha has her own theater tales to tell as well.
"Growing up dancing, in the music, you feel something when you're performing. When I was 10, I watched the movie A Walk to Remember and saw Mandy Moore singing 'Only Hope.' I felt something when I was watching her sing. I didn't expect that you could feel emotion so much and have that impact with music and singing. I always thought my way of expressing myself was with dance, but I put the two together and found performing to be really fun. Then I started to do acting in school as well, mixing all three," she recalls. "My school was the first school in Asia to do an edition of 'Les Misérables' that I was in when I was 14 or 15. I also took a theater arts course, where in one week you learned to be a director, the next you learned lighting, the next you learned sound, the next you were an actor. It showed me that those behind the scenes can really make the show. People always look at Katy Perry and her beautiful outfits, but someone had to design them, alter them and someone had to do the lighting to make sure it doesn't clash with her outfits. It's such a big package, and even though it's so much, I can't live without it. When we don't sing or perform for a long time I'm like, 'Ugh, I need to do something, even if it's just tapping my feet!'"
Continuing our walk along Lankershim, we see a music rehearsal space, fitness center and improv comedy venue before being greeted by a staff member in front of Tokyo Delve's Sushi Restaurant handing out fliers advertising their lunch deals. When the ladies mention they're a music group and new to the neighborhood, the manager get super excited. They give him a copy of The Undivided EP, and he promises he'll play it in the restaurant, especially if they come back for lunch later. I had heard about the boisterous, karaoke-like, fun atmosphere of Tokyo Delve's before, so I know it would be a great environment for people to dance and sing along to their songs.
Singing and dancing are two things that most of the Blush members have been doing all of their lives.
|Blush in front of El Portal Theatre|
For Ji Hae, however, her singing and dancing abilities blossomed later in life.
"I was in middle school when I started learning to play the flute. My parents thought education should always come first, so I only started playing for school, but now I'm doing it because I love music. When I was younger I learned piano too but stopped, and now I'm learning again. Sometimes everyone in Blush stands around the piano while I play, and we sing our songs together," she says. "Becoming a singer wasn't my dream when I was little, but I just like singing and love music. After graduating from university, I realized that it's the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I told my family, who at first weren't very happy, and every day I tried to persuade them that it was my dream. We argued a lot, but now they are really supportive and happy. Everywhere in my parents' house there are Blush photos."
Victoria started out as a gymnast, and her one goal was to be in the Olympics.
"Watching the Spice Girls close the Summer Olympics in London, I wished that could be us. Maybe one day," she confesses. "When I was young I couldn't really sit still. We moved from England where I had a lot of space back to Hong Kong, and my mom said I got out of the cab and immediately did a cartwheel. I just couldn't sit still. It's always been in my blood to be an entertainer. As a gymnast, you're always entertaining the crowd. Then, during university, I did ballroom dancing. I was a little too old to be in gymnastic competitions, so I wanted to find something that I loved to do that was still competitive. My friend did Latin ballroom dancing, invited me to check it out and I just fell in love. It was great because every other week we would travel to another city during competition season and compete with other students."
We pass a playhouse, an Indian restaurant that the girls all want to try and a pizzeria before coming to Indexx, a clothing boutique that I've visited before with Jigsaw. We all resist the temptation to go in and splurge on some new clothes, and I ask if they've been to the Americana at Brand or the Glendale Galleria since they're probably the closest shopping centers to their new NoHo home. The last time I was at Nordstrom at the Glendale Galleria, Blush's video for "Undivided" actually came on the big TV screens and speakers in the store.
Victoria replies, "That was one of the first big malls we went to. Our stylist took us there."
"I think we were fitting for 'So You Think You Can Dance,'" adds Ji Hae. "They have the little trolley at Americana at Brand, it's so cute. It's like another Grove."
While their song "Up, Up and Away" was featured on the soundtrack for the Disney Channel hit "Shake It Up," Blush made their television debut performing on the dance competition show "So You Think You Can Dance."
|Blush at Millennium Dance Complex|
"Nacho was starstruck," giggles Victoria.
"I grew up listening to hip-hop, and everybody knows Snoop. For me he is like, c'mon, Doggystyle and The Doggfather," exclaims Nacho. "It was great to work with him. He was so nice to us. He told us to go to Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, and it was so good. I love soul food."
I tell her that she must try MP's Soul Food Eatery since it's just a little ways up Lankershim. We then arrive at the dance studio where Blush rehearses, the famed Millennium Dance Complex, and snap some pictures.
"It's good for us to have moved to North Hollywood because there are a lot of good dance schools and dancers living out here. It's easy to go to dance practice anytime," says Nacho, who spent the majority of her childhood dancing. "My mom has a dance school. She teaches classic ballet and jazz, so I had to learn. Ballet was kind of boring for me at first, but after a few months getting into it, I couldn't stop. I can't really do ballet in Blush [everyone laughs], so I'm more on a jazz, hip-hop and R&B groove."
"For me, I grew up doing hip-hop and Bollywood – all the hard-hitting stuff. And now, I'm getting to go back to that," adds Alisha. "It's really interesting because Nacho grew up with that foundation of ballet and jazz, and when you learn ballet first, you strengthen your body. She's very flexible!"
Blush has been fortunate enough to dance routines by choreographers that have worked with Beyoncé, Kat Graham, Omarion, the New Boyz and Justin Bieber.
"We've worked with Sheryl Murakami [on the video for "Miss Out"], Free Crawford and Nakul Dev Mahajan, who is a Bollywood choreographer for 'So You Think You Can Dance,'" shares Alisha. "There are so many that would be cool to work with, like Robin Antin and Benny Ninja, who was on 'America's Next Top Model' and is just a really good mover. It would be cool to learn technique and how to pose from him. Everyone has a different personality, and some are taller or shorter, so it would be good to learn how to pose differently."
As we wait for the food, the manager comes through on his promise of playing their EP, and the ladies all start clapping, singing and dancing in their seats. While The Undivided EP has generated a lot of heat for them and they've worked with award-winning songwriters and producers such as Tal Herzberg (Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga), JXL/Wolverine (Britney Spears) and Sander Kleinenberg (Janet Jackson, Daft Punk), their live performances are also a huge element to them as a group.
Nacho "We're just like normal girls, we go shopping and do things that normal girls do. But the difference between other girls and us is when we go on stage, it's totally different. We're normally so chill, but when we get on stage we're like fire. Everybody can see it in our performances," reveals Nacho. "We dance A LOT. We don't just stand there and sing. Every time I perform I feel the energy coming from the crowd and then I can feel the energy coming from the other girls, and that helps me push even harder on stage."
Blush has shared the stage with the likes of the Wanted, the Black Eyed Peas, Far East Movement, Justin Bieber, Diana Ross and Quincy Jones. They also supported Jessie J on several dates in Asia.
"We opened for her in Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and it was amazing," recalls Victoria. "We got to see her perform and watch how she relates with audiences in different places."
"There were 50,000 people. It's the sporting event of the year. Everybody wants to go to the Rugby Sevens," adds Victoria. "It was a big first for us, but it was really great. We had a hundred young kids dancing with us on the field. I'm sure from the very top we looked like ants [everyone laughs]. That was really fun."
The girls also had a lot of fun watching their video for "Electric" come together at the hands of acclaimed artist Pat Lee and producer Lloyd Chao.
"We met them in Hong Kong. They had watched us perform, and so they were able to get a sense of how we moved," says Victoria. "When they came with the drawings, they were pretty true to our characters and who we are. It's was amazing how they're so experienced in doing that, they could just pick up on things about our personalities. They drew Nacho wearing these sunglasses, and they had no idea that she actually owns a pair just like them."
"They even picked out Ji Hae's star. She always puts a star on her face," interjects Alisha. "And they put a dog in the video. I love dogs."
As we wrap up lunch and the time exploring their new town, Victoria expresses how much Blush means to her in terms of providing strong role models to young Asian girls. The group just released the video for that latest single, "Warrior," directed by Trey Fanjoy, and it shows the women as powerful warriors in the desert, and towards the end, their faces are painted like the flags of their respective country.
"The great thing about Blush is that we are all from different places," Victoria concludes. "We're traveling around the world meeting different people and getting to do what we love.
The Undivided EP is currently available. For more information, visit blushband.com.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
MARCH 19, 2013
Alpha Rev – Bloom (Kirtland)
Fresh off their hometown shows in Austin for SXSW, the group release their third full-length that features the beautiful, hymn-like single "Sing Loud." Singer-songwriter Casey McPherson reflects on the album's title: "To bloom implies something beautiful is going to happen, but it's a process – like all our journeys." Indeed, like all great artists, McPherson successfully channels all of life's ups and downs into Bloom's 10 tracks.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast (Vagrant)
The trio of Robert Levon Been, Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro unveil their seventh album, their first in two years and their first without the production assistance of Been's father, Michael, who passed away in 2010. Writing and recording the album served as an outlet for their grief, and one listen to Specter at the Feast's lead track, "Fire Walker," shows the heart-pounding, driving beats and fuzzy melodies that BRMC are known for are here to stay.
Hit-Boy – All I've Ever Dreamed Of (HS87)
Sometimes you just need to blast a hip-hop album and dance around the house to unleash all your pent-up frustrations at the world. The debut of Grammy-winning producer Hit-Boy in front of the mic, All I've Ever Dreamed Of, is just what the doctor ordered. While he's produced tracks like Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Ni**as in Paris" and Beyoncé's brand-new "Bow Down/I Been On," his own album boasts guest spots from Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Common, Method Man, K. Roosevelt and Audio Push.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (RCA)
There's been no escaping JT ever since he announced a return to his musical roots with his first album since 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds. Just as a single song off his two previous albums, specifically "Rock Your Body" and "SexyBack," would race up the charts and cement his superstar status, "Suit & Tie" is poised to do the same. The shortest track of the 10 on The 20/20 Experience, which reunites him with Timbaland and adds J-Roc into the production mix, clocks in at just under five minutes – they're hardly your standard pop quickies – but the instrumental breaks, particularly on "Strawberry Bubblegum" and "Let the Groove In," are indispensable. Last night at the El Rey, he announced that another 10 songs will be released one day soon (hence the 20/20 title), and he embarks on the Legends of Summer tour with Jay-Z this summer, stopping at the Rose Bowl on July 28.
Low – The Invisible Way (Sub Pop) Having been invited to Wilco's Chicago studio for years, the Duluth, Minn. trio finally decided to stop by while traveling on tour. After soaking in the vibe and hearing the latest songs Wilco was working on in the studio, Low made quick plans to enlist Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy to produce their 10th album, which also marks their 20th anniversary as a band. See the new tracks from The Invisible Way performed live on April 2 at the Troubadour.
The Ocean Blue – Ultramarine (Korda)
The Pennsylvania foursome returns with their first full-length in over 10 years. The Ultramarine title is a nod to the name of their Cerulean record from 1991, as well as a reflection of the "blue" mood of the album, according to singer-songwriter David Schelzel. They swing through Los Angeles on May 18 and 19 at the Satellite.
Palma Violets – 180 (Rough Trade)
The London-based four-piece were named "Best New Group" by NME, and with a successful stint at SXSW and the release of their debut album, they're set to invade the West Coast at Coachella and April 17 at the Echo. Although the strobe lighting in their "Best of Friends" video is a bit unnerving, Palma Violets' ability to grab your attention with their music is inescapable. Other gems on 180 include "Step Up for the Cool Cats" and "Last of the Summer Wine."
The Staves – Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)
Big Sur is one of my favorite places in California, and the trio of Staveley-Taylor sisters successfully capture the essence of the Central Coast town in their gorgeous video for "Facing West," off their debut album. Dead & Born & Grown is full of lush, three-part harmonies and haunting melodies from the UK-based siblings, and marks the first time father-son producers Glyn (the Rolling Stones, Eagles) and Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Laura Marling) have teamed up for an album.
Tecla – We Are the Lucky Ones (Mayimba)
The singer, rapper, DJ and producer continues to defy genre boundaries on her sophomore full-length, blending tropical, pop and funk elements with her soulful hooks and high-octane raps. A New York native, Tecla trained as a classical pianist as a child before exploring the hip-hop, reggae, punk, electronic and funk worlds. Having written every track on We Are the Lucky Ones, the album offers a glimpse into her life and musical journey thus far through songs like "Fake Tears," "Tragic Mulatto" and "Fiction Fairytales of Love."
Also available – Alice Smith's She; Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer's Child Ballads; And So I Watch You From Afar's All Hail Bright Futures; André Obin's The Arsonist; Billy Bragg's Tooth & Nail; The Black Crowes' Wiser for the Time; Brandt Brauer Frick's Miami; Brian McKnight's More Than Words; Clutch's Earth Rocker; The Copper Gamins' Los Niños de Cobre; Dirtyphonics' Irreverence; Dump's Superpowerless; Fol Chen's The False Alarms; Heidi Happy's On the Hills; Josh Rouse's The Happiness Waltz; Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park; Lordi's To Beast or Not To Beast; Lotus' Build; Lydia's Devil; Marnie Stern's Chronicles of Marnia; MC Breed's Street Kings Gumbo Mix; Phosphorescent's Muchacho; Prurient's Through the Window; Stornoway's Takes From Terra Ferma; Suede's Bloodsports; Swollen Members' Beautiful Death Machine; Various Artists' The RZA Presents: Shaolin Soul Selection Vol. 1; Various Artists' The Walking Dead AMC Original Soundtrack – Vol. 1; Walk Off the Earth's R.E.V.O.; William Tyler's Impossible Truth; Yukmouth Presents: The Regime's Dragon Gang
Film – Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett reprise their Lord of the Rings' roles along with Martin Freeman as Bilbo in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Tom Hooper brings the Broadway musical, Les Misérables (3/22), to the big screen with an amazing turn by Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, as well as Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Russell Crowe; Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts in Rust & Bone; Judd Apatow revisits Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann's Knocked Up characters in This Is 40 (3/22); Kathryn Bigelow directs Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt in Zero Dark Thirty.
Music – Love For Levon; OAR: Live on Red Rocks
TV – Ghost Hunters: Season 8: Part 1; Jersey Shore: Season Six
Also available – Bachelorette; The Girl; The Great Magician; Hellgate; Price Check; Straight A's; Strange Frame
Monday, March 18, 2013
You can't walk through the Melrose and Fairfax District without seeing a sign, lamp post or some kind of surface that's been bombed by the TrustoCorp, whose pieces highlight "the hilarity and hypocrisy of human behavior." They hijacked a few G.I. Joe: Retaliation film posters on the corner of Fairfax Avenue at Rosewood Avenue in Mid-City West, adding their logo and masking Bruce Willis' and Channing Tatum's faces.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Get with THE PROGRAM
|Danny Boyle (American Cinematheque)|
THURSDAY, MARCH 14
A Conversation with Danny Boyle @ The Aero (Santa Monica)
The British director's body of work boasts something for everyone, whether you love the gritty (Trainspotting), the scary (28 Days Later), the uplifting (Slumdog Millionaire), the sci-fi (Sunshine) or the dramatic (127 Hours). Be on hand for a discussion between him and fellow director Josh Trank (Chronicle) in anticipation of the April 5 release of Boyle's upcoming thriller, Trance, which stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel.
Rebecca Miller @ Book Soup (West Hollywood)
The multi-hyphenate film director (The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee)/screenwriter/author/actress/mother/wife of Daniel Day-Lewis/daughter of Arthur Miller and Inge Morath just released her latest novel, Jacob's Folly, last week. In 18th-century Paris, Jacob Cerf is a Jewish peddler, and 200 years later, he finds himself reincarnated as a fly in the Long Island suburbs. She discusses and signs the truly original work at Book Soup tonight.
Smoked n' Sour Bruery Night @ Little Bear (Downtown)
Two of OC's best breweries (the Bruery and Beachwood Brewing) teamed up for Mrs. Stoutfire, a new Imperial Smoked Stout aged on a blend of apple, white oak and pecan wood chips that Beachwood uses for their award-winning barbecue, and the Arts District beer café debuts the collaboration in Los Angeles with an all-out extravaganza. Aside from Mrs. Stoutfire, the tap list includes Oude Tart, Tart of Darkness, Sour in the Rye, 5 Golden Rings, Saison de Lente and Mischief. Plus, there are optional food pairings such as a Mini Pastrami Melt, Pork Belly Confit Bruschetta and Moroccan Lamb Sliders.
|Nick Offerman and Keith Poulson (Tribeca)|
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
FILMSomebody Up There Likes Me @ The Cinefamily (Mid-City West)
It usually takes something extremely funny in a film for me to actually laugh out loud, and I sat here laughing in front of my computer during the trailer for the latest indie comedy from Bob Byington (RSO [Registered Sex Offender], Harmony and Me), starring Nick Offerman, Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler and Megan Mullally. The film begins its weeklong run at the Cinefamily tonight with a Q&A with Byington and Offerman, moderated by Offerman's "Parks and Recreation" cast mate Chris Pratt. The director/actor duo will be on hand for Q&As after the screenings on Saturday (moderated by Jason Schwartzman) and Sunday (moderated by Zach Galifianakis) as well. Expect much hilarity to ensue.
In Theaters This Week
Besides films like The Machinist and Happy Accidents, Brad Anderson has directed episodes of shows such as "Fringe," "Treme," "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Killing." His latest film, The Call, stars Halle Berry as a 911 operator who receives a call from an abducted girl (Abigail Breslin) and is forced to confront a killer from her past; Speaking of "Boardwalk Empire," Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell play comedically magic masters of illusion in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Also in theaters: Ginger & Rosa; My Amityville Horror; Somebody Up There Likes Me; Upside Down
Opening of Ice Cream Lab (Beverly Hills)
My favorite food in the entire world is ice cream, so you can bet I'll be trying out the first made-to-order ice cream shop in Los Angeles. Witness molecular gastronomy at work when you step into co-founders Joseph Lifschutz and Tommy Ngan's "lab." Choose a (cream or nonfat yogurt) base, see a lab tech blast it with liquid nitrogen then add in your chosen organic mix-ins. I can't wait to go!
SUNDAY, MARCH 17
LA Marathon Deals @ SBE Restaurants
Whether you're running or cheering on the marathoners, you'll certainly be famished by dinnertime on Sunday, and SBE restaurants have got you covered. If runners bring their bib numbers to The Bazaar by José Andrés, Cleo, Katsuya (Hollywood or Brentwood) or Mercato di Vetro, they get 26.2 percent off their entire bill. Spectators receive a complimentary dessert if they take a photo of themselves in front of the race as it passes any of the SBE locations listed above, upload it to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter as @sbeCollection #sbeFoodie (with a minimum $20 purchase).
ShamRock-N-Roll @ The Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena)
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a totally unique way with a celebration for the opening of "One Night with Janis Joplin," from 1p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Pasadena Playhouse. There will be an outdoor stage with performances from Dread Zeppelin, Cerny Brothers, Shillaly Brothers and Aquarius, an art gallery, entertainment by the Cherry Boom Boom dancers, a beer garden sponsored by Stone Brewing Co., plenty of food trucks and Joplin's psychedelically painted 1965 365c Porsche Cabriolet will be on display. The production runs through April 11 and takes the audience on a musical journey through the life and inspirations of the music legend.
|Bernhoft (Fred Jonny)|
TUESDAY, MARCH 19
Bernhoft @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
When the first date for Bernhoft's appearance at Hotel Café tomorrow sold out, they added this show to appease Angeleno's demand. It's the Norwegian retro-soul singer/multi-instrumentalist's first shows here in over two years, so he'll be unveiling plenty of new material. Just give "C'mon Talk" one listen, and you'll find yourself getting in line for a ticket, too.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
Wavves, FIDLAR, Cheatahs @ The Echo (Echo Park)
If you live in Los Angeles and haven't heard of Wavves or FIDLAR, you most definitely need to get yourself to this show. The duo of Wavves are set to release their fourth album, Afraid of Heights, on March 26 via Mom + Pop, which just so happens to be the home of the FIDLAR foursome, who released their self-titled, full-length debut in January. Opening the night are the UK-based rockers known as Cheatahs.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
|Arrica Rose at the Bradbury Building|
At the Bradbury Building [304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Downtown)],
Angels Flight [351 S. Hill St, Los Angeles (Downtown)] and
Angels Knoll [356 S. Olive St., Los Angeles (Downtown)]
Singer-songwriter, musician and frontwoman of Arrica Rose & the …'s (the Dot Dot Dots), Arrica Rose, selected one of the most interesting pockets of Downtown as her favorite spot in Los Angeles. She chose the famed Bradbury Building as our starting point, followed by a walk to Angels Flight and its adjacent park, Angels Knoll.
The Bradbury may seem like an average brick building on the outside with a corporate retail shop and chain restaurant on its first level, but once you step inside, the beauty of this architectural landmark instantly takes your breath away. Brilliant natural light flows through the enormous glass skylight of its center court, allowing you to notice every detail put into the intricately carved polished wood, cast-iron railings with ornate filigree, rich marble staircase and patterned, tiled floors. It's no wonder the Bradbury has often been used as a filming location for movies like Chinatown, Blade Runner and The Artist, as well as numerous TV shows, music videos, commercials and is even referenced in novels and comic books.
As I approach Arrica in the Bradbury's center court, she is talking with a small group of friends that includes Dan Garcia, the producer she has teamed with for most of her releases, including her latest EP, Lucky. Although Arrica is a native Angeleno, she was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, so over the years the time she has spent recording at Garcia's Radio Hill studio near the Bradbury was when she really cultivated a love for the neighborhood.
We admire the stunning details of the Bradbury, from the exquisite wrought-iron elevator doors down to the old mail slots and post box, then venture outside for a short walk up 3rd Street to the Angels Flight entrance on Hill Street. On the way, Arrica shares what she knows of the history of the small railway: how it was moved from one location to another, how it closed after a fatal accident and eventually reopened a couple of years ago. It's known as the "Shortest Railway in the World" since it only traverses 298 feet of track. In fact, we forgo actually riding on it for a walk up a long set of stairs leading to Angels Knoll.
As we walk up the steps, Arrica tells me how she was almost a New Yorker. Her father, an actor and native New Yorker, and mother, an educator and writer in her spare time, barely decided to move to California until right before she was born. Currently she splits her time between living in West Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
"Having lived here my whole life, I only had perspective on L.A. and its surrounding areas. Being up in the Bay Area now too, it's nice to go back and forth and maybe appreciate it more here than I ever did," she admits. "L.A. has been home to me for so long that I feel like I know the city inside and out. If anyone asks me where to go, what to do or what to eat, I always have this wealth of suggestions. I think that's what I miss and get homesick for, just that sort of kinship you feel you have with the city."
Once we make our way to the top of the stairs, we discover that white cotton from the trees above is strewn all over the grass at Angels Knoll. It's almost as if we're surrounded by little patches of melting snow, even though it's about 75 degrees out. We take a seat on a park bench, just like the characters in (500) Days of Summer, and I ask Arrica about her other L.A. haunts as we admire the view of skyscrapers, Grand Central Market and people milling about the streets below.
"I lived in Downtown and West Hollywood, and I still gravitate towards going to places in these places instead of in West L.A. A lot of the time I spend in L.A., I'm playing music at shows and recording," she says. "I'll be recording, and we'll go to the Redwood, which is around the corner and very convenient. I love going to Blossom, that's a great one. The pho is great. I also like going to Little Tokyo for sushi."
When I tell her I like the polka-dot dress she is wearing, Arrica confesses her fashion-related addiction.
"I tend to shop at thrift stores. That became an obsession of mine when I was pretty young and started collecting vintage dresses. I've always had a fascination with things that were older. Just that sense of history in the items," she admits. "There's a wealth of little stores that I go to. Sometimes the local Goodwill is fun and Jet Rag, too. I have stuff that's not vintage, but I always end up gravitating towards the vintage because I feel like it encompasses a sense of lost time, of everything that came before you."
This sense of blending influences from past eras with a bit of the modern into her music for an almost timeless sound is something that Arrica strives for.
"In a way, that's what I hope to do, to take all of the things that came before me and put some spin on it that may be my own so I'm not just recreating what came before, I'm contributing my own take on it a little bit," she tells.
From a young age, Arrica was surrounded by music, from Big Band records to the Beach Boys and the Beatles. Ol' Blue Eyes was definitely a big inspiration to her as well.
"When I was little, if there was a room full of people, I would ask everyone if I could sing them a song. I think I was about 4 at the time. I would put on Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' and sing along," she remembers. "My parents saw this and knew that music was going to be an important part of my life, whether it was a hobby or something I pursued professionally. They were very encouraging and took me down that path of, 'I think you should learn an instrument, too.' I am so glad they did because, as I love to sing, one of the things I probably enjoy the most is the songwriting process."
Arrica began taking voice and piano lessons while still in grade school, and she eventually started the guitar at age 15. Around this time, her parents would drive her to see some of her first rock shows.
"One of the first shows I went to see that they just dropped me off for was the Violent Femmes at Universal Amphitheater. That was a lot of fun. I also used to go to a lot of shows at Jabberjaw in the Crenshaw District. I remember the first time my parents picked me up there, they had this look on their faces, they were not pleased with the location. I managed to convince them that I was perfectly safe there, even though there were always shootings like a block or two away. But it was such a fun venue, and I saw a lot of great bands come through there. "
Little did her parents realize, but one of their evening rituals during her bedtime would eventually lead to Arrica being in her first punk band.
"I wouldn't go to sleep without listening to music when I was really small, and my parents would always put on 'Lovesongs on the KOST,'" she laughs. " I'm sure that some of what I do is influenced by going to bed to 'Lovesongs on the KOST' every night. I have a place in my heart for it. That's probably also why I got into punk rock as a teenager, it was my rebellion against the 'Lovesongs on the KOST.'"
She formed an all-girl punk trio called Uxby with Stefanie (Big Harp) and Kerri Drootin. The group played venues like Cobalt Cafe and the Smell, and Arrica shares a great story from one of those early shows.
|Arrica Rose at Angels Knoll|
Arrica eventually went on to attend USC, where she took a little hiatus from music to concentrate on film school. While she was doing the sound design for a thesis project, however, she began to realize that maybe music really was her destined path.
"I was watching the short and realized that I had a really clear vision in my head of what the music needed to sound like. I remember convincing the director that I should do music for the short, as well. I would up recording the music on a four-track at my house," she recalls. "We were going to watch it in a big theater, and I was so nervous because I didn't know what it was going to sound like, having recorded it in my living room. It turned out well, the director was really happy with it and that was the moment that I said to myself, 'I think this music thing is what I really enjoy the most.'
She began releasing her lo-fi home recordings through her own label, pOprOck records, put together the …'s – that were eventually comprised of herself on vocals, guitar, keys, mandolin and omnichord; Marc Thomas on lead guitar, Steve Giles on bass, Ryan Brown on drums, percussion; Laura Martin on backing vocals; and Kaitlin Wolfberg on violin – and released their full-length debut, People Like Us, in 2006.
Arrica teamed up with Garcia for the first time on 2008's La La Lost (with songs being placed in TV shows like "Nikita") and again for a solo EP, Pretend I'm Fur. Garcia was also at the helm for the band's 2011 release, the critically lauded Let Alone Sea.
"We have a great working relationship, in that, I feel like we understand each other really well," Arrica says of Garcia. "He contributes so much to my sound and is also good at distilling what I want from that sound, too. It's one of those things where we just speak the same language, and I think that's important when you're working with a producer – that you really understand one another."
Their professional rapport is so strong that Garcia also co-wrote a few songs on the Lucky EP with her. Arrica has been composing songs since she was 11, but has never really set up a system for her methods.
"I find that if I force myself to try and come up with a system of 'Oh, I'll write every day' or 'I'll just write in the evenings,' that pressure stifles my creativity a little bit. But I do notice that I tend to write songs in threes," she says. "The only pattern I do see in writing music is, if I finish one song usually there are two songs that I will write within a week. I have no idea why, and I try not to think too hard about it because thinking too hard about it sometimes destroys the process for me."
Dwelling too long on specific things instead of relishing the entirety of life is something that Arrica tries not to do, and Lucky's moniker points to that notion.
Besides her music, Arrica occupies her time as the head of I HEART Inc., a non-profit that allows artists to raise money for charity organizations – such as the Silverlake Conservatory of Music and Sojourn Services for Battered Women and their Children – through unique creative projects and events.
"I HEART started in 2008. I was on tour with two friends, Abby Kincaid and Laura Martin, in Albuquerque, and there was this woman there who had done a pin-up calendar benefit. We met her, she showed us these pictures and we asked her if we could recreated something like it in L.A.," she recalls. "Everyone got a little busy with other projects, and I took over from there and decided to really make it about not specifically doing the pin-up girl calendar but just about doing creative projects in general that could bring artists together that allow them to give back to their communities and also allow them to meet other artists who have this desire to inspire change and expose them to new fans. It's a way for you to do something good and get something good back in return."
I HEART has worked with sponsors and supporters that include Willie Nelson, Crosby Stills and Nash, Jack White, Jackson Browne, Sub Pop Records and Hotel Café, among others. They also sponsored Omaha Girls Rock camp for two summers, a project that Arrica's former bandmate, Stefanie Drootin, had brought into the fold.
"Working with little girls, teaching them how to rock out and express themselves through music is rewarding," Arrica says. "It was an amazing group of women that put this together, and I was really inspired by not only the little girls that were learning but all the women who were involved in the project."
According to Arrica, passion for whatever you're doing in life is crucial. Especially for artists trying to make a living through their music.
"You have to really love it. The music industry is in a weird space in a lot of ways, so it's really important to love what you do and do it for that reason. The rest will fall into place or it won't, but if you're doing it because you love to do it then you can't really go wrong."
Lucky is currently available. Arrica Rose & the …'s perform April 13 at Hotel Café. For more information, visit arricarose.com.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
MARCH 12, 2013
Devendra Banhart – Mala (Nonesuch)
The singer-songwriter has such a distinctive voice that no matter the genre or language his songs are in, his vocals are immediately recognizable. While Banhart often sings in Spanish, the title of his eighth full length (his debut on Nonesuch), Mala, is supposedly meant to refer to a Serbian term of endearment rather than the Spanish word for 'bad.' Although, with Banhart, you can never really be sure whether he's joking or not. Mala is far from inferior to any of his previous efforts, though. From "Für Hildegard von Bingen" and "Mi Negrita" to "A Gain" and "Hatchet Wound," he continues to evolve sonically while creating a completely addictive collection of songs.
David Bowie – The Next Day (Columbia)
Fans were given two amazing presents for the legendary artist's 66th birthday in January: a release announcement for his first studio album in a decade and a video for its first single, "Where Are We Now?." I'm a bit more partial to the track "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" and its video, which features Tilda Swinton as Bowie's wife. The entirety of The Next Day, however, is comprised of gems – "If You Can See Me," "Dancing Out in Space," "How Does the Grass Grow?" – that prove this artist is still brimming with creativity.
Eric Clapton – Old Sock (Bushbranch/Surfdog)
Another music icon releases a new album today, but instead of completely brand-new material, Eric Clapton's Old Sock contains just two original songs ("Gotta Get Over" and "Every Little Thing"). The guitar virtuoso pays tribute to the tunes he has loved most from childhood to now with help from the likes of Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood and Paul McCartney. Covers include Taj Mahal's "Further on Down the Road," Peter Tosh's "Till Your Well Runs Dry," Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues" and the Gershwins' "Our Love Is Here to Stay."
Jamaican Queens – Wormfood (Notown)
You might want to wait until you get home from work to delve into the music and videos from the Detroit duo. It can be incredibly hard to resist the temptation to get up and flail your arms around the office when listening to Wormfood, and just watching the first few moments of their clips for songs like "Kids Get Away" could get you so caught up in the characters and story that hearing your boss buzz you on your phone would be impossible. Ryan Spencer and Adam Pressley cite a list of influences that run the gamut of Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy to Brian Eno and Lee Scratch Perry – intrigued yet?
Megan Hilty – It Happens all the Time (Sony Masterworks)
I was lucky enough to see Hilty shine as Glinda in "Wicked," and her amazing pipes and acting skills are some of the few redeeming qualities of "Smash." Even if you don't know her from Broadway or TV, her debut album is sure to grab you. It's refreshing and lovely to hear her just sing her heart out on songs like the title track, "Walk Away," and "The Blower's Daughter."
Various Artists – Sound City: Reel to Reel (RCA)
Dave Grohl appears on every track in this collection of songs, all written and recorded for his directorial debut, Sound City (which releases today on DVD), along with a myriad of artists who recorded at the now-defunct studio – such as Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine) – and others, including Paul McCartney. Additionally, Grohl purchased the custom-built Neve 8029 console from Sound City and transported it to his own studio to record this soundtrack.
Adrian Younge & The Delfonics' Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics; Biffy Clyro's Opposites; Bon Jovi's What About Now; Citizens' self-titled; Doppelgangaz's Hark; Fifth on the Floor's Ashes & Angels; Girls Names' The New Life; Mindless Behavior's All Around the World; Naama Kates' King for the Day; Off with Their Heads' Home; Rachel Zeffira's The Deserters; Shooter Jennings' The Other Life; Spencer Day's The Mystery of You; The Mary Onettes' Hit the Waves; Wild Belle's Isles
Film – Ang Lee won the Best Director Oscar for bringing Yann Martel's beautiful fantasy-adventure novel, Life of Pi, to the big screen; Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in Hitchcock; Animated Rise of the Guardians features the voices of Chris Pine, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Alec Baldwin; Dave Grohl's directorial debut, Sound City, is a documentary about the legendary recording studio; This Must Be the Place stars Sean Penn as a retired rock star, who learns of his estranged father's dark past.
TV – Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Final Year; BBC America's "Ripper Street"
Also available – Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away; Connected; The Details; The First Time; Grave Encounters 2; In Their Skin; Kumaré; Smashed; You've Been Trumped
Monday, March 11, 2013
Yet another Snyder piece has popped up in the Melrose and Fairfax District – this time, on the Curson Avenue side of Typhoon Fashion (at 7601 Melrose Ave.) in Mid-City West. Doodle's Valentine went up just in time for the romantic holiday last month and shows Snyder's trademark character putting the moves on a classmate during math class.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Get with THE PROGRAM
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
Nü Sensae @ The Echo (Echo Park)
The Vancouver threesome – originally formed as the duo of bassist Andrea Lukic and drummer Daniel Pitout, who eventually recruited guitarist Brody McKnight – released their sophomore full length, Sundowning, last summer. The album continues Nü Sensae's mission of "redefining the sound of punk, while respecting and adhering to its hallowed history." Their explosive live show is sure to bring all those at the Echo to their knees.
FRIDAY, MARCH 8
Musink @ OC Fairgrounds (Costa Mesa)
The sixth annual music festival and tattoo convention invades OC once again this weekend. With over 300 artists from all over the world, this is the place to be if you're looking for inspiration for your next piece. Plus, each day features a stellar lineup of punk bands: Bad Religion, the Vandals and Guttermouth Friday; Pennywise, Lagwagon, T.S.O.L and COR on Saturday; Reverend Horton Heat, Lucero, the Head Cat and Jonny Two Bags & Salvation Town on Sunday.
In Theaters This Week
Twenty-six directors were each given a letter of the alphabet to base the death(s) on in their chapter of The ABCs of Death; Dead Man Down, the American debut of Niels Arden Oplev (the director of the original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), stars Noomi Rapace and Colin Darrell; Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones in Emperor; I am obsessed with all things Oz, from the original L. Frank Baum novels to Gregory Maguire's four Wicked books and, of course, the Broadway musical "Wicked," so it's pretty much a no-brainer that I want to see Oz the Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz. Also in theaters: Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey; Electrick Children; The Monk; War Witch
Emma Louise @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The Brisbane musician has such a captivating voice that's full of genuine emotion, matched by her ability to craft songs that completely capture your imagination. She's touring the states in anticipation of her full-length debut's release. vs. Head vs. Heart is coming May 21st via Frenchkiss, and it's guaranteed that you'll hear plenty of the new material tonight at Hotel Café.
|Erin McKeown (Merri Cyr)|
The prolific singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and activist released her latest album, MANIFESTRA, earlier this year, featuring a track, "Baghdad to the Bayou," which was co-written via text message with Rachel Maddow. Besides uniting her political and musical dimensions, MANIFESTRA comes alive with bright horns, melodic vocals and minimal electric guitar lines. She'll assuredly sprinkle older tunes in with the new during her intimate set at McCabe's.
WALL @ Bootleg Theater (Westlake)
Lyla Foy (aka WALL) plays her fist set of U.S. shows in Los Angeles tonight at Bootleg and Monday at the Echo on the way to SXSW. The Londoner has a new EP, Shoestring, releasing April 2, full of haunting vocals set to beautifully simple melodies. Both venues provide the perfect atmosphere to experience her intimate music live.
"Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" @ Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
Directed by Spike Lee, the heavyweight champion and pop culture icon stars in this one-man show. Tyson is an undeniably compelling personality, and the production seems to show the contemplative, comedic and even his explosive sides. Performances run through Sunday.
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
Blazing Saddles @ Electric Dusk Drive-In (Downtown)
The Mel Brooks classic at a drive-in, what's not to love? Snuggle under some blankets with a lapful of snacks in your car as Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman make you laugh out loud.
|Radiation City (Michael Harper)|
Radiation City @ The Echo (Echo Park) Portland's Radiation City is one of those group's that take a myriad of influences from all eras, mix them with modern electronic elements and end up with a genre-defying sound all their own. Aside from releasing an EP on a USB drive connected to piano keys and covering the entirety of Outkast's The Love Below, the five some prides itself on thoroughly unique live shows, that are more experiences than concerts.
MONDAY, MARCH 11
Shout Out Out Out Out @ The Whisky A Go Go (West Hollywood)
It's pretty much impossible not to get up and dance when listening to this Canadian sextet. Whether it's their latest album, last year's Spanish Moss and Total Loss, or their upcoming The NMC Sessions EP, which was written and recorded during a residency at the National Music Centre, their tracks will have you moving. Go ahead, try to resist the temptation to dance all around the Whisky during their set. I dare you.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
|Jennifer Farmer-Knowles at Mi Vida Vintage|
JENNIFER FARMER-KNOWLES of MI VIDA VINTAGE
712 S. Grand View St., #102, Los Angeles (Westlake)
Most people would probably love to be their own boss, but few people actually have the work ethic and passion to make that dream a reality. However, Jennifer Farmer-Knowles, the owner and founder of antique furniture refurbishing boutique Mi Vida Vintage, has the necessary entrepreneurial spirit and determination in spades. In fact, it's something that is ingrained in her DNA.
"I've always liked decorating, but it was never anything I thought I would do for a living. The only thing that I ever wanted was to have my own business. My parents are both entrepreneurs, and from a young age, I wanted to work for myself. It didn't really matter what it was. I just never wanted to be in a stuffy, corporate environment," she says.
The space Farmer-Knowles has created is anything but stuffy. As soon as you walk into Mi Vida Vintage, located in an old brick building across from MacArthur Park in Westlake, you're surrounded by beautifully refurbished antique dressers, nightstands, tables and credenzas painted in a array of bright colors. Her assistant, Laureen Carter, is busily covering a piece with a paint gun in one room, while Farmer-Knowles leads me to a couch in her office area where we sit and talk about her company and life in Los Angeles.
An intense drive is something that she has always had, even at the age of 18 when she first made the leap to Los Angeles from Texas.
"About 10 years ago, I moved out here for acting school, and it made me never want to act again," she laughs. "I discovered the Kibitz Room, went to shows and hung out with music people. Something clicked that I should do music instead of acting because I was in that world. My boyfriend at the time was in a band up in San Francisco, and when I went up to visit for the summer, I helped his manager (who also managed bands like the Killers) do press kits and mailings. I eventually enrolled in the Music Business Program at MI [Musicians Institute]."
Farmer-Knowles then took on several jobs in the music industry – an internship at Interscope, doing radio promotions ("That was terrible. I made like $7 an hour minimum wage and had to drive out to Van Nuys by 7:30 a.m. to start calling radio stations on the East Coast. I hated it!"), as a personal assistant to Japanese musician Yoshiki, doing booking and promotions for Safari Sam's, at a music start-up technology company and finally in artist relations for Daisy Rock Guitars. After parting ways with Daisy Rock and getting married, the idea for Mi Vida Vintage was born.
|Laureen Carter and Farmer-Knowles|
Since then, Farmer-Knowles created a website, as well as Etsy and Craigstlist pages, for customers to place custom orders and peruse any special pieces that are already finished. Most of Mi Vida Vintage's work is from custom orders, where customers select an unfinished piece from a gallery of photos and indicate what color paint and type of hardware they want.
"Sometimes if custom stuff is slow then I make stuff to sell, but this entire year so far, we haven't had to do a piece to sell," Farmer-Knowles says.
When she does have time to do some finished pieces, she sets up a booth at the Rose Bowl Flea Market to sell the pieces.
"I did the Rose Bowl in December and January. We just don't have time to make the pieces because we have so many custom orders now, and it's very expensive. With custom orders I get paid, but with stuff I'm making I have to put forth all the money for the materials, to rent the space and a truck to transport," she says. "I would like to do it again, especially since we just made the switch from paint to lacquer, which is a lot more durable. When we were transporting stuff back and forth from the Rose Bowl, no major damage would happen, but there were little things just from moving everything around. Now that we have more durable pieces I would like to do it again, but I would need to block out a month and delay custom orders. It's fun, but people go there looking for deals and I already set prices at the cheapest price point that I can still make money from."
"There's so much involved that people don't even realize. A gallon of lacquer can range from $50 to $100. There's not a furniture fairy who drops off the pieces to me," she laughs. "I spend a lot of time looking and picking out pieces I think people will buy. I take my old '90s van with horrible gas mileage to go pick the pieces up, so even just picking them up adds like $20 to $30 in gas on top of what I paid for it, which could be anywhere from $50 to $100 each, plus I have people working for me that I have to pay and rent."
Mi Vida Vintage is doing really well, though, as one can tell from the amount of custom pieces that fill their showroom. When I ask Farmer-Knowles about the favorite pieces she's refurbished so far, it's hard for her to pick just one.
"I really like everything that we do," she admits. "There's been some stuff where I had no idea what the finished product would look like because of customers' color choices, but when we actually did them, they looked awesome."
Farmer-Knowles asks Carter for her opinion, and she answers, "My favorite is the first one that I ever helped with, the one with black-and-white stripes in it."
mint green one for a nursery that was really cute. We did one that looked like a giant Tiffany's box, which was cool. I painted one piece, a small nightstand, as a Union Jack by hand, that was very tedious."
Hard work is something that she doesn't shy away from. Farmer-Knowles lives in the heart of Hollywood, but rarely has the chance to go out anymore. Her husband does sound at Bootleg Theater, so if she does make it out to a show, she usually goes there.
"I don't really have a life anymore. Laureen and I are here 10 to 12 hours a day. She's my right-hand person. While she does the painting, I'm finding pieces, dealing with clients, running around buying paint and dealing with the money," she tells. "The work never stops, but that's not a bad thing. I don't dread coming here. The only thing I dread is people not liking their pieces. I'm a perfectionist, I inspect every detail. I try to make everything something that I would put in my own house. I think that's what's going to make us better than everyone else: paying attention to details and making things as good as we can get them for being vintage.
Getting into the furniture/home decor business was never Farmer-Knowles' expected path she would follow in life.
"It wasn't something where I said, 'I want to paint furniture when I grow up.' The opportunity presented itself, and I took it because I've always wanted to work for myself," she says. "This was something that I saw that I could make immediate money from, that has potential to be even bigger than it is now."
Farmer-Knowles intends to do everything she can to ensure Mi Vida Vintage reaches that potential, including plans to expand into home decor accessories and eventually fabricating their own stock pieces for customization.
"I'm working on a pillow line with my friend Kate. Vintage inspired pillows, in five different sets, each from a different era – the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. Each era will have three different pillows. Then, we'll do another line with musical eras. She's an artist, so she's doing all of the images and graphics by hand," she explains. "I've also been talking to someone about making my own pieces, but that will be down the road. Eventually it would a lot better for me to have stock pieces that people could customize, and then what we're doing now would be the higher-end orders. My plans are to make this big."
For more information, visit mividavintage.com.