Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Events for Nov. 27-Dec. 4, 2013




"The Lion King" @ Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
If you have family in town visiting this week, this is the perfect place to take them for the 1 p.m. matinee or 7:30 p.m. evening show. I saw the Julie Taymor-directed, Tony-winning musical for the first time at the Pantages, and it was a thoroughly unforgettable experience, complete with birds flying overhead, incredible costumes and an unforgettable score. You're guaranteed to start singing along to every song, from " Circle of Life" and "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" to "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Runs through Jan. 12



Turkey Trot Los Angeles (Downtown)
Work up an appetite for your feast by taking part in the 5K that starts in front of City Hall, loops up and around Grand Park past Disney Concert Hall and Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels then downhill to Spring Street. Take in historic buildings like El Dorado Hotel, the Hellman and Continental before turning around on 9th Street to return to City Hall/Grand Park. If you need more of a challenge you can do the course twice for a 10K. The 5K starts at 7:45 a.m. (10K at 8:30 a.m.), or take part in the Widdle Wobble that begins at 10 a.m. If you just want to cheer people on, there's an event festival taking place in front of City Hall beginning at 8 a.m.



Thanksgivukkah Festival @ The Pico Union Project (Los Angeles)
The convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannukah won't happen again for another 70,000 years, so the newly opened Pico Union Project is hosting a community event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that they hope people will attend instead of giving into the madness that is Black Friday. There will be live music, food from the likes of the Canter's Deli Truck, Mama's International Tamales and Bibi's Bakery, carnival games, bounce houses, latke and pita making, arts & crafts and tree planting.


In Theaters This Week
Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Jacob Latimore in Black Nativity; Homefront stars Jason Statham, James Franco, Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder; Disney's latest animated adventure, Frozen, takes place in a kingdom of eternal winter and features the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and the amazing Idina Menzel; Spike Lee's remake of Chan -wook Park's Oldboy stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson;
Also in theaters: The Punk Singer; Reaching for the Moon


Record Store Day: Back to Black Friday @ Shops Throughout Los Angeles
Instead of hitting the mall to get some holiday shopping done, support some local shops like
Gimme Gimme, Rockaway, Jacknife and Record Surplus. There are around 100 RSD Exclusive and First Releases from artists ranging from Metallica and Silversun Pickups to Band of Horses and Elvis Costello & the Roots. For example, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are pressing 3,000 copies of their sophomore effort, The Speed of Things, while Dawes offer a limited edition, 12-inch live album Stripped Down at Grimey's on orange vinyl.



Tour de Taste @ L.A. State Historic Park (Elysian Park)
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Southern California CycloCross team up for their third event that blends cycling, eating and drinking. Catch fierce CycloCross races, grab a pint from Sierra Nevada's Brewfest and sample food from Pete's Cafe, Chef Regina Douglas and more. The fun won't end after dark, either, as illuminated bikes continue to race around the track.


UCLA vs. USC @ L.A. Coliseum (South Los Angeles)
Since the No. 22 Bruins failed to beat the No. 12 Sun Devils last weekend, Arizona State cemented the right to represent the South and face Stanford in the Pac-12 title game Dec. 7, but Angelenos still have the most anticipated game of every season to look forward to this afternoon. The No. 23 Trojans, who garnered a 47-29 over Colorado last week, host their crosstown rivals and anticipate the return of their star receiver Marqise Lee as they seek revenge from last year's loss to the Bruins.



Josh Kun in Conversation with Van Dyke Parks @ Book Soup (West Hollywood)
I was fortunate enough to see both USC Professor Josh Kun and musician/composer/writer/actor Van Dyke Parks speak last weekend, and I have no doubt that their conversation this afternoon will be utterly enthralling. Kun, who is the director of the Popular Music Project at the Annenberg School's Norman Lear Center and co-editor of Refiguring American Music, released a new collection of sheet music, Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, over the summer. The anthology was culled from the L.A. Public Library's Southern California Sheet Music Collection and tells the story of the city through its songs that span 1859 to 1959. Parks contributed to the collection, so I'm sure that the two have several stories to share about its creation.



"Peter and the Starcatcher" @ Ahmanson Theatre (Downtown)

Based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's bestselling Disney-Hyperion novel of the same name, the Tony-winning play serves as a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy. It captures your imagination with innovative stagecraft as you follow Peter on his adventure aboard a ship called Neverland to the island that eventually becomes his home.



Stevie Nicks @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
As a new generation is being introduced to the singer-songwriter's music in episodes of "American Horror Story: Coven" (She is also set to appear in an upcoming episode.), Stevie Nicks has also started writing her first solo album in nearly a decade. She decided to document the process in a documentary, co-directed by Dave Stewart, entitled In Your Dreams, which will be available on Dec. 3. You can meet the legendary Fleetwood Mac songstress when she signs copies of the DVD at 7 p.m. at the Grove. Wristband distribution begins at 9 a.m.


Tommy and the High Pilots @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The Santa Barbara foursome just wrapped up a tour with Parachute and Plain White T's in support of their latest album, Only Human. Tommy and the High Pilots worked with producers Matt Wallace (the Replacements, Maroon 5), Marc McClusky (Weezer) and Jason McEntire (Son Volt) on the album, and the power pop anthems touch upon many emotions. Some are dark, others uplifting, but you can envision Tommy Cantillon writing all of them as he strolls along the shore of their seaside hometown. They put on quite a show, so make sure to see them bring those songs to the Hotel Café's intimate stage tonight.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Release Tuesday 11/26/13

NOV. 26, 2013


Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah JonesForeverly (Reprise)
The Green Day frontman and the soulful singer-songwriter might seem like an odd fit, but the Grammy-winning artists met around 10 years ago at the awards show and thought it would be fun to pay tribute to the Everly Brothers' 1958 roots music cover album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The duo successfully captures the effortless harmonies that the brothers are known for on songs like "Down in the Willow Garden," "Who's Gonna Show Your Pretty Little Feet" and "Oh So Many Years." It's clear that the Everlys had an influences on a wide array of musicians, as Foreverly is the third tribute to the brothers released this year, along with Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Dawn McCarthy's What the Brothers Sang and the Chapin Sisters' A Date with the Everly Brothers, and here's to hoping that a whole new generation is being introduced to them as well.

Beachwood SparksDesert Skies (Alive)
Those unfamiliar with the L.A. band might think their name refers to Beachwood Canyon, but it actually comes from a street in Burbank near to the house where the band was formed in 1997. The country-indierock group's sound has always been more akin to the Laurel Canyon bands of the late 1960s, which is felt throughout this release, Desert Skies, a follow-up to last year's The Tarnished Gold, their first new effort in a decade. This is their previously unreleased debut that includes their first single from 1998, as well as other remastered, never-heard before recordings.

Horrible HousesFamily Tapes Vol. 3 (digital release; cassette available Dec. 17 via Happenin)
There are only a few things Daniel Johnsson, aka Horrible Houses, thinks listeners need to know about him: He takes his coffee black, he doesn't really know what a bridge or verse is – neither does he care about it – and even though he may come across as a bit of a bum, he does not practice the hobo lifestyle. I think what really matters to the native of Särna, Sweden is that you listen to his music. The cassette of Vol. 1 of Family Tapes sold out, so it would seem that people love what they hear once they do listen, and new tracks like "Sun Leaving," "Francoise" and "Hashashin" are sure to please as well.

Syd ArthurOn An On (Harvest)
The Canterbury foursome unveil their debut album in America, with its psychedelic mixture of sounds that fuse their jazz, funk, folk and world music influences. They created the moniker as an homage to Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett and the Kinks' 1969 Arthur album, and you can hear echoes of both bands throughout On An On. Must listen tracks: "Ode to the Summer," "Dorothy" and "Truth Seeker."

Also available – Barbra Streisand's Back to Brooklyn; Boysnoize Records Presents: A Tribute to Dance Mania; Cheap Time's Exit Smiles; Danielle Bradbery's self-titled; Dead Meadow's Warble Womb; Die Krupps' The Machinists of Joy; Esoteric & Stu Bangas' Machete Mode; Hopsin's Knock Madness; Kevin Morby's Harlem River; Molly Drake's self-titled; One Dae's Daes & Times; One Direction's Midnight Memories; Shearwater's Fellow Travelers; Thee Oh Sees' Singles Collection Volume 3; The Warlocks' Skull Worship


Cross My Heart by James Patterson; Guiness World Records 2014 Gamer's Edition; Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk; The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani; World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014 edited by Sarah Janssen


Film – Red 2 reunites Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich as former black-ops CIA agents, joined by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins; Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight in the action thriller Getaway; Jobs tells the story of Steve Jobs with Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney and Josh Gad

Music –
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me; Puscifer's What Is…

TV – Diagnosis Murder Season Six; Ghost Hunters International: The Final Season; Impractical Jokers: Season One; Murdoch Mysteries: Season Six; Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition

Comedy – Bill Cosby's Far From Finished; Jim Breuer's And Laughter for All

Also available – Canyons; The Falls: Testament of Love; The Gardener of God; The Grandmaster; Knightriders; Red Obsession; Unhung Hero; Watsons Go to Birmingham

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Events for Nov. 21-26, 2013


Tom Jackson Greaves and Hannah Vassalo in
"Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty" (Simon Annand)


"Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty" @ Ahmanson Theatre (Downtown)
Every young ballerina dreams of dancing in Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty," and now the award-winning choreographer, who breathed new life into Tchaikovsky's other ballets ("The Nutcracker," "Swan Lake"), has put a unique twist on the third and final work. Bourne's time-traveling take on "Sleeping Beauty" spans 1890 to present day and incorporates vampires into the fairy tale, which is why it's dubbed 'A Gothic Romance.' The thrilling production is sure to provide inspiration for ballerinas of every age. Through Dec. 1.


René Redzepi @ Williams-Sonoma (Beverly Hills)
Last month the Danish chef and his two-Michelin star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen were the focus of an entire episode of "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown," and thousands of Americans were introduced to Redzepi's creative techniques that embrace foraging and push innovation to new heights. He just released his follow-up to the James Beard and IACP Award-winning Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine titled René Redzepi: A Work in Progress, a set of three books: a 100-recipe cookbook, personal journal and photo book. This is a rare opportunity to meet the force behind one of the best restaurants in the world, as he presents and signs copies of the new collection at 4 p.m.



Chill @ Queen Mary (Long Beach)
Why drive to the mountains to have an afternoon of fun in the snow when you can make a quick trip down to Long Beach and experience a 13,000 square-foot winter wonderland at the Queen Mary? Over two million pounds of ice and multicolored lights are used in their frozen igloo and handmade sculptures that recreate The Nutcracker story of Clara's adventures on Christmas Eve. For an additional fee, you can add ice skating or tubing on a six-lane, two-stories tall indoor run to your day. Temperatures drop to nine degrees, so just make sure to bundle up tight. Through Jan. 5, 2014.


In Theaters This WeekVince Vaughn is a man whose donated sperm led to 500-plus children who are suing to learn his identity in Delivery Man; Everyone in my family has read all of the Hunger Games books, so there's no question that Hunger Games: Catching Fire is our most anticipated movie of the week. Katniss Everdeen's (Jennifer Lawrence) story continues as she goes on the Victor's Tour and returns home with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson); Philomena stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan as they search for Philomena's long-lost son. Also in theaters: The Christmas Candle; Contracted



'80s Teen Night Double Feature @ Electric Dusk Drive-In (Downtown)
Nothing says the '80s more to me than John Hughes and Steven Spielberg films. Take a trip back in time with two of the eras best teen movies shown in the setting where many people originally saw them, the drive-in. First up is Hughes' 1985 Brat Pack classic that trapped a quintet of high-school students in Saturday morning detention, The Breakfast Club. Produced by Spielberg, the Robert Zemeckis-helmed Back to the Future, Part II caps off the evening with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) traveling to 2015, which seemed so far away when the film released in 1989.


Eat to the Beat @ Grand Central Market (Downtown)
Two of the things I love most in this world, food and music, are combined in this pre-Thanksgiving event to promote the web radio station and creative collective known as dublab. The vendors of the historic Grand Central Market are offering special culinary collaborations in addition to their normal fare, such as DTLA Pupusas from Sarita's and the upcoming DTLA Cheese booth, a Smoked Nita pulled pork and egg sandwich from Eggslut and Horse Thief BBQ, and Chili & Red Mole Brownies from Valerie at GCM and Valeria's Spices. de Lab can take you on an architecture tour, and dub lab hosts a record potluck, DJ stand and record fair where you can get some holiday shopping done for the vinyl lovers in your life, as well as crafts by Little Junebugs and custom printed totes and shirts by HIT+RUN.

Eat My Blog 5.0 @ Coolhaus (Pasadena)

Please take a few minutes of your afternoon to pick up a sweet snack at this charity bake sale benefiting the Philippine Red Cross and its aid to victims of Typhoon Haiyan at Coolhaus' Pasadena storefront. You will thank me once you've taken a bite of the amazing treats from some of Los Angeles' best chefs (Animal/Sun of a Gun's cream cheese pumpkin bars, Roy Choi's brownies, Night + Market's waffle-breaded hot dog on a stick) and bloggers (The Food Librarian's mini bundts, Just Jenn's Yoda cookies, Julie's Kitchen's ginger-molasses cookies with candied persimmon). Fill your tummy for a great cause!



"Breaking Bad" DVD signing @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
There's probably at least one person on your holiday list that would love a copy of the groundbreaking series' final season on DVD. Grab a copy at Barnes & Noble  a day before its available to the rest of the world and make their gift even more special by having it signed by the show's creator (Vince Gilligan) and some of its stars (Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris and Bob Odenkirk). Trust me, you're going to score major points for this one.


Night Terrors of 1927 @ The Echo (Echo Park)
The duo comprised of former Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennet and ex-frontman of the Honorary Title Jarrod Gorbel came together last year and just released their first EP, Guilty Pleas, full of anthems dripping with angst and synth beats. Although the band's name, which was lifted from Gorbel's great grandfather's journal, is a bit ominous and their lyrics are a rather melancholy, you'll be dancing and nodding along to the songs' infectious grooves. Don't miss this final evening of Night Terrors of 1927's Monday-night residency at the Echo, featuring openers Z Berg, Cillie Barnes and WATERS.



Mike Tyson @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
The antics of the former heavyweight champion of the world both inside and outside of the ring made him a notorious figure in pop culture, but it's hard to deny the honest sincerity he conveys while recounting his life tales in "Undisputed Truth," the one-man show directed by Spike Lee that garnered great reviews at Pantages Theater last March and aired on TV as an HBO special. He released a memoir of the same name earlier this month that is just as raw and brutally honest as the stage show. You can meet and have the legendary athlete sign a copy of the book at the Grove tonight.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cathy Diane Tomlin

Actress Cathy Diane Tomlin at Veggie Grill


At Veggie Grill

8000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (West Hollywood) 323-822-7575

"I had been in New York for a long time, acting on TV and doing a little bit of theater. I had a long-running gig as sound engineer for an off-Broadway show, 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change,' and once the show closed I wanted to see which direction my career should go in, thinking of what would shake things up the most. So, I came out here, and that's really shaken things up," actress Cathy Diane Tomlin tells of her decision to return to Los Angeles, the city where she was born and raised.

Since moving back to California in 2009, Cathy has won roles in films such as Red Wing with Frances Fisher, Bill Paxton and Luke Perry, as well as several plays and television programs ("Grey's Anatomy," "Days of Our Lives"). We get together to talk about these roles and growing up, moving away and relocating back to Los Angeles at one of Cathy's favorite restaurants, Veggie Grill. Being a vegetarian, she loves the many menu options and the convenience the fast-casual, meat-free establishment offers.

"There aren't a ton of vegetarian restaurants that I like in L.A. It's been hard for me to find that one place that I like a lot, but Veggie Grill is kind of it," she admits. "I live in South Los Angeles, but I tend to be in this area a lot – Beverly Hills, Studio City – to go to auditions, so I come here a lot."

Cathy usually orders the All Hail Kale salad, which is marinated kale and cabbage topped with corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts, quinoa and a ginger-papaya vinaigrette. She usually adds tempeh to the salad but opts for some Blackened Chickin' today. Veggie Grill is also known for its delicious "Bean Me Up" Chili, savory sweet potato Sweetheart Fries and spicy Buffalo Wings. Aside from veggie-steak tacos, sandwiches and wraps, there are several tempting desserts to be sampled. Cathy raves about the Carrot Cake, made with fresh carrots, walnuts and Veggie Grill cream cheese frosting, and I become smitten with the crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies that are made in-house every day using organic flour, cane juice, walnuts and dark chocolate chips.

She came to love several vegetarian hot spots in New York while she acted in theater productions, Michael Clayton with George Clooney and daytime soap operas like 'As the World Turns" and "One Life to Live." She also became enamored with the city's public transportation system and eventually found herself embracing Los Angeles' too.

"When I left, there was no real public transportation here, and when I first got back I didn't have a car, so I learned to love public transportation in Los Angeles," she remembers. "It sounds weird, but I felt a sense of freedom being on the bus or subway that you do have, but you don't, when you're in a car – you have to worry about parking, gas, insurance, maintenance, traffic. It was always great to sit on the train and read a book."

Growing up in South Los Angeles, there was one place where you could always find Cathy, the movies.

"I lived in the movie theater. Once I was able to go on my own in junior high, I would go with my friends. If there were three or four movies playing, I would somehow manage to sneak in to see a couple of them," she confesses with a smile. "I would spend hours and hours at the movies. That was really what I loved to do."

Her passion for film continues to this day. While Cathy often unwinds by going on a picnic in one of Los Angeles' many parks, she laments that there aren't more free, outdoor movie screenings taking place around town.

"Something I really loved in New York were outdoor movies. During the summer there were outdoor movies every day of the week in different locations, and there were all free. I had already seen a lot of the movies, but it was fun being outside under the stars, having a picnic and being among humanity. One of my favorites was in Bryant Park, which is near Times Square so there's the hustle and bustle of people going to and fro the theater and everything. On Monday nights at 5 p.m., everybody would start piling into the park to put out their blankets. It was a whole adventure," she recalls. "The only place I know of here is at the cemetery [Cinespia at Hollywood Forever], but there's something nice about a free movie and not having to worry about parking."

Taking inspiration from all of the films she was consuming, Cathy started acting in junior high and honing her craft in classes. Theatre of Arts was one of those training places that gave her a good head start into what she's doing now, and it was during her time there that she gained a valuable piece of advice that she has kept with her to this day.

"I had a teacher named Ruben Moreno who said, 'An audition is a performance.' So many people look at auditions like, 'Oh, it's just an audition. What if I don't even get the job?' But the way to get over that is to remember that this is what you love to do, you have three minutes to wow them and give them the best performance you possibly can," she informs. "Whether you get the job or not, you have to really put everything out there. That's what acting is all about, whether you have an audience of one person or a hundred people."

Cathy continued performing in play productions in high school, and even though she obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering (with Honors) from Tuskegee University and began a career in the field, she maintained a passion for acting.

"I did productions during my freshman and sophomore years of college even though they didn't have a theater program. There was a drama teacher and one or two drama classes within the English department, and he would direct a couple of productions per year. I did as much as I could for as long as I could until my schedule took over and I couldn't anymore, but it never really left my mind," she says. "Once I got out of college and moved from Alabama to South Carolina to I start my engineering job, I was going home every day, watching TV and thought, 'What else is there to do? Theater – that's what I love to do.' I looked up the theaters in town and called the first one I found to find out when they were having auditions. That was the start of me getting back into performing, so there was just a small gap of time in college when I didn't do anything at all."

Her love of math and science is something that she hopes to combine with her acting skills in a science-fiction or action film one day.

"I would love to work with Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. When I watch all the Star Trek movies or the new version of 'Battlestar Galactica' on television, I wonder, 'Why didn't they call me?' There is some real meat to them, gravitas of the storylines, and in general, that is the sort of work I want to do, whether it's science fiction or present-day drama," she tells. "I love science fiction, action and musicals, too. I'm not a singer or dancer, but there's something so wonderful about musicals. A lot of people who are more rooted in reality look at musicals and say, 'It's so unreal. They would never just start singing in the middle,' but there's something about the music, dancing and film put together that makes it really special. If I could do all that, it would be icing on the cake."

Cathy is doing just fine focusing on the aspects of performing that she excels at, though. She is a member of L.A. theater companies like Theatre West, the Group Repertory Theatre and Theatre 40, acting in several of their plays. She is consistently auditioning and booking television and film jobs, and one of her most recent roles is in Will Wallace's Red Wing, a socially thought-provoking drama based on George Sand's novella Francois le Champ. In it, she portrays Isabelle Riley, the sickly foster parent of the film's hero, Francis (Austin Harrod and Glen Powell). I ask her if there was a specific process she went through in order prepare for the character.

"I wanted to immerse myself in Texas culture and not really focus on where the impetus of the story came from [Sand's novella]. After the first audition, the director asked me, 'Could you grow your hair out a little bit? I don't want you to look so professional.' I replied, 'OK, I can do that,' and I think I have a tendency to work from the outside in. A lot of times it's about the wardrobe and the appearance; the character builds from there for me," she says. "That was very true for Isabelle. I focused on what she felt like on a day-to-day basis because she's the kind of person who doesn't really have a future; it's all about getting through today."

As Cathy finishes her All Hail Kale salad, she tells me about her current role in a production at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills, which is broadening her acting experience by adding more comedy to her repertoire.

"Right now I'm in rehearsals for 'Light Up the Sky' by Moss Hart, and I have to say this is the most hysterical play that I've ever worked on. I tend to do dramas and haven't done a lot of comedies, but the actors in this play are are so comical," she begins. "My role in this play about theater is an observer because she's put into this world where she knows nothing. My character is a ghostwriter who is writing the autobiography of the main character, Irene Livingston, and all these other people are immersed in theater while she doesn't know that much about the craziness. She's sitting back going, 'What the heck have I gotten myself into?' It's so much fun to do; it's going to be a great show"

As Cathy continues to be cast in projects, she remains dedicated to the craft of acting, taking ongoing classes in technique with the likes of Will Wallace and Stuart K. Robinson. There is no question that when Scott, Spielberg or Abrams give her a call, she will be ready.  

"I''m very surprised at people who say, 'I'll try it for a couple of years and see what happens, see where my career goes.' The thing about acting is, you have to be in it for the long haul if you want to be successful," she says. "You have to keep at it for as long as you can, that's really what you have to do."

See Cathy Diane Tomlin in "Light Up The Sky" Nov. 21-Dec. 22 at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Release Tuesday 11/19/13

Nov. 19, 2013


Blood OrangeCupid Deluxe (Domino)
While Dev Hynes' (Lightspeed Champion, Test Icicles) current project remains rooted in EDM, several of the tracks on his sophomore effort reek of '80s R&B and hip hop. Featuring guest appearances by Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth, Charlift's Caroline Polacheck, Friends' Samantha Urbani, Clams Casino and Kindness' Adam Bainbridge, among others, the musical mastermind – who has written and produced for the likes of Florence and the Machine, Solange and the Chemical Brothers – crafts songs that make you dance, cry and want to climb between the sheets with your lover. The London native has lived in New York City since 2007 and made his first visit to the town his mother is from, Georgetown, Guayana, to meet family members, including his grandfather. He captures their first-ever meeting in the video for Cupid Deluxe's gorgeous lead track, "Chamakay." Other standouts include "You're Not Good Enough," "Uncle Ace" and "Always Let You Down."

Daytona – Self-titled (Ernest Jenning)

The trio's debut bursts with an infectious guitar riff joined by Caribbean sounds and African rhythms all within the first minute of opener, "The Road," which loosely documents a 40-day cycling trip two of them made from North Carolina to New Orleans in 2008. Guitarist/vocalist Hunter Simpson, drummer/vocalist Christopher Lauderdale and bassist/vocalist Jose Boyer played in bands together in Chapel Hill, formed Daytona after moving to New York City in 2011, recorded the album back in North Caroline with Ari Picker (Lost in the Trees), and it was mixed by Matt Boynton (MGMT, Hospitality). There are beautiful harmonies on pretty much every track of Daytona, along with poppy melodies that will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.

Jared BartmanMisery Makes Strange Bedfellows
The Peoria, Ill. native's voice immediately pulls you in from the opening bars of his follow-up to 2009's Jersey Shore. Its sheer power shines in the a cappella opener, "The Cool of Your Temple," then you're hit with classical strings set to a Caribbean beat in "In Belize." That's just a tiny glimpse into the mixture of aural textures the singer-songwriter, composer and bandleader presents in Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows. There are Latin hints to "Jackals" and pop elements to "Garden Gate," while Jared Bartman's bluesy roots and strokes of the masterful storytelling of folk troubadours appear throughout.

Also available – Alex Faith's ATLast; Alexander Spit's Dillinger; Apocalyptica's Wagner Reloaded-Live in Leipzig; Booka Shade's Eve; The Callas' Am I Vertical?; CFCF's Outside; Daughtry's Baptized; Death Grips' No Love Deep Web; Deep Purple's The Audio Fidelity Collection boxed set; Five Finger Death Punch's The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2; The Godfathers' (Kool G Rap & Necro) Once Upon a Crime; Herb Alpert's Steppin' Out; Jake Bugg's Shangri La; LA Font's Diving Man; Magik Markers' Surrender to the Fantasy; Mick Turner's Don't Tell the Driver; An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer 3-disc set; Best of Nickelback Volume 1; Nils Frahm's Spaces; Polar Bear Club's Death Chorus; Violet Clark's Killjoy; VNV Nation's Transnational; Webbie's Savage Life 4; Yo Gotti's I Am


The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead; Five Days in November by Lisa McCubbin; Inventing Freedom by Daniel Hannan; King and Maxwell by David Baldacci; Let Me Off at the Top! by Ron Burgundy; My Promised Land by Ari Shavit; Staying Strong by Demi Lovato; Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich; You Herd Me! by Colin Cowherd


Film – The final installment of Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, The World's End, follows a group of estranged friends (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) as they reunite, attempt to complete the "Golden Mile" pub crawl in their former hometown and … battle aliens; Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are undercover agents in 2 Guns; Disney takes to the air with Planes, written by John Lasseter; We're the Millers stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and Emma Roberts

TV – Lost Girl: Season Three; Treme: The Complete Third Season

Music – Beyoncé's Life Is But a Dream; Black Sabbath's Live… Gathered in Their Masses; Emelie Sandé's Live at the Royal Albert Hall; Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013; The Gourds' All the Labor: The Story of the Gourds; Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic's Verdi's Requiem; Rush's Clockwork Angels Tour

Also available – The Advocate; All Is Bright; Breaking the Girls; Bridegroom; C.O.G.; Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus; Drew: The Man Behind the Poster; Hannah Arendt; Mike Birbiglia's My Girlfriend's Boyfriend; I Ride: The Story of America's Biker Culture; Paranoia; Sanguivorous; Schooled: The Price of College Sports; Thérèse; The To-Do List; Violet & Daisy

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Events for Nov. 14-20, 2013




Haroula Rose @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
The L.A. based singer-songwriter also produced and did the music supervision for this year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Fruitvale Station. She released the follow up to her full-length debut, These Open Roads, in 2012, the So Easy EP, and has finished a sophomore album with Andy Lemaster (Bright Eyes, Now It's Overhead), Jim White and Luke Top (Fool's Gold, Foreign Born). With her busy schedule, she rarely plays hometown shows so Angelenos should take the opportunity to see her perform live whenever they can.



David Sedaris @ The Pasadena Civic (Pasadena)

The humorist, comedian, radio contributor and author of such bestselling essay collections as Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day and the most recent, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, is as compelling on stage as he is on the page. He often recounts anecdotes from his childhood in North Carolina, interactions with fans and other personal experiences as he reads from his work. And he does so in a thoroughly unique, humorously sarcastic and cynical way. He also performs Saturday night at Valley Performing Arts Center.


In Theaters This Week
It's been 14 years since the release of The Best Man, and all of the film's stars – Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long – return for the sequel, The Best Man Holiday; Charlie Countryman stars Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood and Mads Mikkelsen; Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Alexander Payne's Nebraska; Directed by Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby), Sunlight Jr. stars Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon as a couple dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. Also in theaters: Ram Leela; The Christmas Candle; Dear Mr. Watterson


Aokify America Tour @ Shrine Expo Hall (South Los Angeles)

If you listen to KROQ at all, then you've probably heard the collaboration between Steve Aoki and Linkin Park, "A Light That Never Comes." Fans are sure to be treated to a performance of the song when the producer/DJ's national tour makes a stop in his hometown tonight, since Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington are listed as special guests performers. The lineup also includes Pharrell, Borgore, Waka Flocka Flame, as well as Iggy Azalea, Keys N Krates and Kryoman. Just don't stand too close to the stage if you don't want to be hit in the face with champagne, cake or crowd surfers.

Beats Antique @ The Fonda (Hollywood)
The San Francisco trio just released a new album, A Thousand Faces - Act 1, which features an awesome collaboration with Primus' Les Claypool on a track called "Beelzebub," and its supporting tour is like nothing you've ever seen. Just as Beats Antique's music is an amalgamation of various cultural genres, the multi-dimensional, custom-designed stage show, directed by Ivan Landau, combines film clips, graphics, puppetry, dancers and unique lighting effects to create optical illusions that will blow your mind.

Cash'd Out @ Spike's Bar & Billiards (Rosemead)
If you're a fan of Johnny Cash and have yet to check out the SoCal treasure known as Cash'd Out, then here's your chance. Vocalist Douglas Benson sounds just like Cash as he belts out the Man in Black's hit songs, but the entire band's musical prowess and showmanship pushes their performances from mere tributes to capturing the energy and spirit that is associated with the legend. You don't just have to take my word for it, members from Cash's inner circle from W.S. Holland to Loy Robin and even Cindy Cash have all endorsed Cash'd Out. So head out to the 626, and see them for yourself.



Long Beach Folk Revival @ Old Pine Avenue District (Long Beach)
The festival boasts an impressive lineup of artists that include Willie Watson (formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show), Rose's Pawn Shop, Frank Fairfield, RT N the 44's, Charlie Parr and D.D. Wood, among others. If you get hungry, there is a special farm-to-table lunch being catered by Primal Alchemy going on aside from the food-truck action, with several craft breweries offering their finest libations. Also on the schedule are a banjo contest, beard and mustache contest, pie eating contest (with pies from Polly's Pies, a childhood favorite of mine), a bluegrass jam session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and plenty of vintage and handmade/up-cycled vendors for you to start doing some holiday shopping early in between music sets.

Wire (Marylene Mey)


Wire @ Echoplex (Echo Park)
The British post-punk legends released their latest album, Change Becomes Us, earlier this year. The album is composed of songs that sprouted from ideas that were never developed beyond being hatched in 1979 and 1980, and expect to hear many of these new tracks tonight. Let's see if jaded Angelenos will let go of their inhibitions and form a moshpit in honor of these musical pioneers.



Kings of Chaos @ Avalon (Hollywood)
The new touring band is every rock lover's fantasy, featuring former Guns N' Roses members (Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol). They are set to play a two-hour set spanning the hits from all of their former groups at tonight's benefit concert, along with special guest performances from Juliette Lewis, Les Stroud and Gary Dourdan.



Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
The forever classy anchorman is releasing his autobiography, Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings, Nov. 19, and has decided to grace Angelenos with his presence at a signing event at the Grove. The book tells of his humble beginnings in an Iowa coal-mining town and all of the other odds he had to overcome before turning into America's most trusted and beloved news man. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues releases in theaters Dec. 20, so the book and the event might have a little something to do with that, too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Robert Hensley

Robert Hensley (Tobias Daniels)



At Kitchen 24

1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles (Hollywood) 323-465-2424

Have you ever looked a photo of your favorite celebrity at a red-carpet event, thought they were a certain age and then were shocked to find out their actual age? Makeup artist and esthetician Robert Hensley often does, and in fact, he has just debuted a new radio show called "Face Value" on Universal Broadcasting Network (UBN) Radio centered around the idea.

"The basis of the show was actually a cocktail game I came up with as a way of rating celebrity photographs – figuring out their photographic age versus their actual age – and creating a system to give them a numerical score based on the differential," Robert explains. "I had originally written it as a television pilot, but I had been booking people on UBN's shows as a publicist and got to know the owners and what shows they were looking for, so I was said, 'Let's do it.' I knew that I could do something around the Face Value concept where I could chat with makeup artists, skincare experts and estheticians about their expertise and how everyone can look fantastic and younger. It's worked out really well."

Every Friday at 6 p.m., you can tune into "Face Value" on UBN Radio to hear Robert play a round of the former drinking game and discuss beauty-related topics with his co-host, actress Danielle Inks, and special guests, ranging from actress/musician Traci Lords to makeup department head for The Conjuring and Insidious Eleanor Sabaduquia and experts like Seti Mayet. Danielle selects a photo of a celebrity on a red carpet for Robert to examine, he guesses their age and they get a zero if they look older than they actually are, 1 if they look up to four years younger than their physical age, 2 if five to nine years younger, 3 if 10-14 years, 4 if 15-19 years and 5 if they're 20 or more years younger. So far, Sandra Bullock has received a 2, Oprah Winfrey a 3 and, sadly, Jamie Lee Curtis a 0.

Robert Hensley at Kitchen 24
"I like how happy people look when they're just enjoying life. Unfortunately that forced me to give Jamie Lee Curtis a low score, and I'm still upset by it. Regardless of your score, if you're doing amazing things and you're happy, then fuck what I have to say," he says with a laugh. "I hope that comes across on the show, that it's not enough to just use makeup and skincare products, you have to act and feel young. It really is how you present yourself. OK, Jamie Lee looked a little older in one photograph, but what she presents to the world is that she's an ageless icon. If you've got lines because you're livin', then have at it."

While they have fun playing the game, Robert and his guests really do strive to give listeners good advice on how to lead a healthy life and take good care of their skin to ensure they look as beautiful as they feel. Recent topics include the importance of keeping your makeup brushes clean and substituting detoxifying "Beauty Waters" for soda, as well as current news and social issues relating to beauty, such as the Chinese man suing his wife over ugly children and winning.

"Face Value" is broadcast from the UBN Radio studio at Sunset-Gower, so Robert takes me to his favorite place to go after recording shows, Kitchen 24. The diner's flagship location on Cahuenga is the former home of Shelly's Manne-Hole jazz club, and the late Hall of Fame drummer's wife, Florence "Flip" Butterfield, is one of the restaurant's regulars. One glance at the menu, and it's easy to see why hungry Angelenos flock to Kitchen 24 for classic comfort food with a modern twist 24-hours a day. Robert recommends the Disco Fries (seasoned fries smothered in gravy and melted provolone cheese), the k24 Turkey Burger served on a toasted, buttery brioche bun, the Fried Chicken Salad or the soups that range from the daily Spicy Tomato and Wednesday's Blackbean & Chipotle Cream to classics like French Onion (Thursdays) and New England Clam Chowder (Fridays).

Danielle joins us for a quick bite before they head off to record this week's show, and shares that she normally gets one of Kitchen 24's coffee drinks to keep her energy up through the broadcast. This afternoon she opts for the Pulled Pork Sandwich, while Robert gets the Smac & Cheese. After perusing the dessert items, I forgo the cupcake flavor of the day (Pistachi-OMG), Waffle Ice Cream Sundae and Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Skillet with Ice Cream for the delicious Strawberry Shortcake. Served in a tall milkshake glass, there are several layers of sponge cake, strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries, topped with whipped cream.

I dive in to the divine dessert, and Robert fills me in on his background. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to attend FIDM, but after a year returned to his home state and began studying Special Effects Makeup at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Kitchen 24's Strawberry Shortcake

"Before I went to school for special effects in Pittsburgh, I was a total theater geek doing costume design. It was when the [Tim Burton] Batman franchise was around, and the Catwoman suit was everywhere. I started to realize that a lot of the materials they were using in special effects makeup were also being used to create wardrobe, and I wanted to learn that process," he recalls. "As a result, I fell in love with makeup and being able to utilize all my skills to create a full character."

Robert continued to work in Pennsylvania as a teacher's assistant for the Governor's School for the Arts' technical theater program. He also spent time on the East Coast as a published playwright, in San Francisco as a publicist and in Los Angeles doing makeup for various photo shoots and theatrical productions.

"I'm a huge fan of the play 'Bus Stop,' and an even bigger fan of the movie – Marilyn Monroe is perfect. Silas Weir Mitchell, who is the werewolf on 'Grimm,' directed 'Bus Stop' at the Met Theatre  in 2003, and I got to come in and talk about period makeup and work with some of the actors on their looks," Robert remembers. "Being able to step in and have something to do with a production that I liked so much was special to me."

While in Pennsylvania, Robert also worked at a museum, where Catwoman would again play a role in a significant life moment for him.

"He and my mother worked at a museum together," Danielle offers. "I went to a Halloween party with my mom dressed all in leather as Catwoman and, of course, hit it off with Robert right away."

"It's like a reoccurring theme in my life," Robert laughs.

When Robert enrolled in esthetician school and Danielle was studying to become a massage therapist, they hatched a plan with another friend to start their own day spa. They opened Project Diva, which lasted for almost year, before Robert eventually settled back in Los Angeles in 2009, with Danielle joining him last year. He continued working in the cosmetics industry before landing in public relations and, now, "Face Value."

"Makeup has always lingered somewhere in the background as I worked crazy jobs outside of the industry, but it feels like it's all coming together now producing a radio show, having an understanding of PR and media, and I am able to accept makeup job offers, too," he happily informs. "I have a reputation for being a glam hag, but I like doing stuff that's not straight beauty as well. I can do the cuts and bruises. I'm great at sculpting, painting and applying prosthetics, so if the opportunity arose, I would love to do it. I enjoy doing makeup so much again."

Robert and his co-host, Danielle Inks
Los Angeles has definitely become home to him, and he isn't planning on leaving anytime soon.

"I moved to Los Angeles three days after graduating high school. I had never been to California or the West Coast, but I just needed somewhere else to be," he says. "It is the land of opportunity. People come here to change who they are, to become something else or just to become something. It felt comfortable, a place where I could be creative and explore what I wanted without taking any shit for it.  I understood the people here and the motivation, it was really good for me."

While Robert does most of his shopping online, he loves to window shop and walk around Beverly Hills. He also likes going to the Grove early on a Wednesday when it isn't so crowded or to small, independent boutiques. Since "Face Value" is a radio show, he gets to play music from some of his favorite local artists in between segments. You can often hear songs by Vintage Trouble and Ben Caron during the show, and find Robert at their concerts at places like Rockwell Table & StageRoom 5, M Bar, or Hotel Café.

He spends the majority of his free time writing, though. In addition to product reviews and how-to's for and ghost writing for other websites, Robert just published a new short story, "Smiley Jackson and the Dark Day," that he might turn into a series. He also takes time to try out new products to talk about on "Face Value" and often does giveaways for his favorites so listeners can sample them as well.

"One of my beauty essentials is Jan Marini's Skin Care Management System, a collection of five products that really cares for your skin. I'm a huge fan of the way that they find their ingredients and manufacture their products. I talk about them on the show a lot," he says. "'Face Value' is really about helping give people information about keeping their skin in optimal condition, which leads to the side effect of looking younger. There's a misunderstanding that you have to have massive collection of products in order to care for your skin and look good, but most women can get away with with five products and a good set of brushes. It's not the product, it's the application. You can be working with the most expensive cosmetics, but if you apply them incorrectly, you can age yourself. It's really about being educated about application as well as your face. The important thing is to collect what products you think you want to use, sit down in front of a mirror and just play. "

Aside from hearing great tips and advice like that from Robert on "Face Value," there is always plenty of fun had during the show – guests, giveaways and, of course, a round of the game itself. Don't miss their special Black Friday show on Nov. 29 when Robert and Danielle will be joined by a few friends, partake of some cocktails and play a big game of Face Value. If you miss any of the broadcasts, they are available to stream or download at UBN Radio. Tune in, and join the party!

"Face Value" airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on UBN Radio. For more information, visit and

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Release Tuesday 11/12/13

Nov. 12, 2013


Anthony GreenYoung Legs (Moshtradamus)
The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Circa Survive frontman has one of those voices that people either love or loathe for its nasality. With his latest solo album offering, however, Anthony Green proves that he's a gifted crafter of song through sprawling atmospheric melodies and powerful lyrics that venture away from the punk/hardcore roots at the foundation of his 10-year career. For Young Legs, which was recorded in his home state of Pennsylvania with producer/engineer Will Yip (The Fray, Lauryn Hill, Arctic Monkeys), Green re-teamed with Good Old War, the backing band on his previous full-lengths (2008's Avalon and 2012's Beautiful Things). The tracks were mainly written for or about his friends and family, but gems like "Breaker," "When You Sang to Me" and "Shine" are ones every listener can relate to or just enjoy. His cross-country tour touches down at the El Rey on Nov. 22.

ErasureSnow Globe (Mute)
I have so many memories of dancing to Erasure's "Chains of Love" and "A Little Respect" at junior high dances, and the synth-pop duo of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell hope that even more memories will be created around their new holiday-themed album. Yes, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is time to start getting into the spirit with Snow Globe as your guide. There are plenty of seasonal classics ("Silent Night," "White Christmas," "Silver Bells), as well as original compositions ("Bells of Love (Isabelle's of Love),"Make It Wonderful," "There'll Be No Tomorrow) to get you dancing, singing along and decking those halls.

Jus Post BellumOh July
Although the indie-folk quartet is currently based out of Brooklyn, frontman Geoffrey Wilson attributes the development of their sound to his Minnesota roots, years spent in the Hudson Valley and influences by artists that run the gamut from Bob Dylan to Bon Iver. With a band name that translates to "justice after war" in Latin, it should come as no surprise that several of their sophomore effort, Oh July's, songs were inspired by the Civil War, in addition to other tragic events in America's history. You can feel pain expressed in tracks like "Sonny" and "Abe and Johnny," and there are moments of sheer beauty as Wilson and Hannah Jensen's voices soar in harmony during "Call to My Jesus" and "Tell Me Mama."

Also available – Asheru's Sleepless in Soweto; Bun B's Trill OG: The Epilogue; Cate Le Bon's Mug Museum; Chris Garneau's Winter Games; Denmark Vessey's Cult Classic; Grace & Tony's November; Grizzly Bear's Shields: Expanded; Heidecker & Wood's Some Things Never Stay the Same; ILLLS' Hideout from the Feeders; Katey Sagal's Covered; Keller Williams' FUNK; Kellie Pickler's The Woman I Am; The Killers' Direct Hits; Lady Gaga's Artpop; Less Than Jake's See the Light; Los Campesinos!' No Blues; Marco Polo's PA2: Director's Cut; mau5trap's We Are Friends Vol. 2; Mount Eerie's Pre-Human Ideas; Psapp's What Makes Us Glow; The Rare's In the Dark; Sebastien Grainger's Yours to Discover; Sebastien Tellier's Confection; Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet's Under the Covers, Vol. 3; The Thing's Boot!; Vaadat Charigim's The World Is Well Lost; Vaura's Missing


The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom (Harper)
The author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven unveils his latest novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven, which explores the power of belief. When the residents of a small Michigan town begin receiving calls from voices claiming to be from heaven, outsiders begin flocking to the community, along with a disgraced pilot, Sully Harding, who's returning home from prison. As the phone calls increase and his young son starts to carry around a toy phone with the hope that his dead mother will call, Sully is convinced it's all a hoax.

Also available –
A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry; Dust by Patricia Cornwell; The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination by Lamar Waldron; An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch; The Right Path by Joe Scarborough; Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith; Undisputed Truth by Mike Tyson; The Vatican: All the Paintings by Anja Grebe & Ross King; White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child


Film – Zack Snyder's reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane; Rising from Ashes is T.C. Johnstone's documentary about the Rwandan National Cycling Team; The voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Maya Rudolph are featured in Turbo; Observe the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death with a Commemorative Ultimate Collector's Edition of Oliver Stone's JFK, John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning Day of Drums, the National Archives' JFK 50 Year Commemorative Collection or Thirteen Days on Blu-ray.

TV – The Best of Dance Moms; Burning Love: Complete First Season; Deadliest Catch: Season 8; Dexter: The Complete Final Season and The Complete Series Collection; Family Ties: The Complete Series; MADtv: Season Four; The Paradise: Season One; Red Vs. Blue Season 11

Music – Britney Spears: Unbreakable; Dido's Live at Brixton Academy; Il Divo's Encore; Transatlantic Sessions 6

Also available – Abraham Lincoln; American Weightlifting; Barbara; Blackfish; The Blue Hour Triple Feature; Doin It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball New York; Grabbers; Home Again; I Declare War; In Search of Blind Joe Dead: The Saga of John Fahey; Ip Man: The Final Fight; Monster Pies; Mother; Paradise; Prince Avalanche; Solo; Triple Crossed

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Events for Nov. 7-13, 2013




Mazzy Star @ The Wiltern (Koreatown)

"Fade into You" was a crucial song to my adolescence, and 17 years after their last album Mazzy Star returned with their fourth studio effort, Seasons of Your Day, in September. Co-written by David Roback and Hope Sandoval, the album features performances by all the original band members, as well as guests like My Bloody Valentine's Colm Ó'Cíosóig and the late Bert Jansch. Although the California natives no longer reside full-time here, they pay homage to the state with the haunting "California." If you loved the gorgeous sounds that characterized their previous releases, then you won't want to miss this show at the Wiltern.



Forest Whitaker @ Aero Theatre (Santa Monica)
American Cinematheque's tribute to the brilliant, Academy Award-winning actor/producer/director begins with an in-person discussion with him at 7:30 p.m. Then, there is a double feature of his latest work, kicking off with his star turn as White House butler Cecil Gaines in Lee Daniels' The Butler. Whitaker gives one of his finest performances alongside Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Robin Williams and Jane Fonda. Aside from his impressive screen resumé, Whitaker has also mentored some of Hollywood's brightest young filmmakers, including director Ryan Coogler, who directed the Whitaker-produced Fruitvale Station – the 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner. Michael B. Jordan shines in the true story of Oscar Grant who was tragically killed at the Oakland transit station. This is a night not to miss for fans of Whitaker's oeuvre.

In Theaters This Week

Alex Gibney's riveting documentary, The Armstrong Lie, follows the fall of the cycling star; Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson in the adaptation of Markus Zusak's bestselling novel, The Book Thief; The cast of the original Marvel superhero's film – Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård and Anthony Hopkins – returns in Thor: The Dark World. Also in theaters: Ass Backwards; Great Expectations; How I Live Now; Medora; Paris Countdown



Suzanne Goin @ Williams-Sonoma (Beverly Hills)
The award-winning chef and restaurateur of Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern and the Hungry Cat released her first cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, in 2005 and it went on to win a James Beard award. She just released a new book, The A.O.C. Cookbook, last week that contains recipes for the restaurant's delicious small plates, such as Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Parmesan, Lamb Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce and S'Mores with Caramel Popcorn and Chocolate Sorbet. In the cookbook, Goin also takes you through each ingredient and the techniques that make each recipe sing. She signs copies of The A.O.C. Cookbook and gives a cooking demo at 1p.m.


Raiders of the Lost Ark @ Electric Dusk Drive-In (Downtown)
Star Wars put him on the map, but Raiders of the Lost Ark proved Harrison Ford to be a true leading man. Ford has become so synonymous with the trademark fedora, bullwhip and leather jacket of Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, that it's hard to imagine that Tom Selleck was producer George Lucas' first choice for the role. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film became the top-grossing film of 1981, won four Oscars and, more importantly, created a new action hero that is still beloved today. Watch Indy race the Nazis to find the Ark of the Covenant as many saw the film when it was released, at the drive-in.


Bass Player Live! @ The Fonda (Hollywood)
The annual two-day gathering celebrates the instrument with clinics and panel discussions at SIR Studios and is highlighted by an all-star concert at the Fonda tonight. The conversations at SIR include Billy Sheehan, Frank Bello, Rhonda Smith, David Ellefson and Ready Freddie Washington on topics like 'The Changing Face of L.A. Session Bass' and 'Beyond the Bass: Passion Plus Hard Work = Success?'. Performers at the Fonda show are: Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler, Lee Rocker, Charlie Benante, Zakk Wylde, Corey Taylor, Tal Wilkenfeld and Kerry King, among others. When it comes to slapping that thang, all of the participating artists represent the early days and bright future of bass playing.

Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival @ L.A. Memorial Coliseum (South Los Angeles)
The Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) hip-hop collective bring their festival back for a second year in a bigger, better venue. All the usual Odd Future members are set to perform – from Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean to Earl Sweatshirt and Mike G – along with subgroups such as funk duo the Internet, MellowHigh and DJ Taco. Special guests this time out include the awesome Flying Lotus, Mac Miller, Sacramento's Trash Talk and, representing South Central, Schoolboy Q. If you need a break from the two musical stages, there are going to be plenty of carnival games and rides, food trucks and even a skate park to occupy your time.



Ree Drummond @ Barnes & Noble (Glendale)
I am totally obsessed with Ree Drummond's "Pioneer Woman" show and frequently replicate many of her recipes at home. The blogger, bestselling author, photographer and "accidental cowgirl" just released her third cookbook, A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations, last week. She shares ideas and recipes for every special event you might find yourself hosting, from brunches and dinner parties to Halloween and Fourth of July. She beat Bobby Flay in a Thanksgiving "Throwdown" three years ago, and you can find some of those dishes in the 19 recipes she shares in the Thanksgiving section. The cookbook sold out in mere seconds when it debuted on QVC a few weeks back, so I know I'm not alone in my obsession. Heed my warning to arrive early to get your wristband and not miss out on the book signing.



Roy Choi @ Mark Taper Forum (Downtown)
The boundary-breaking chef, who rose to fame with his Kogi trucks and continues to fill Angelenos' bellies at Chego!, A-Frame and Sunny Spot, released his enthralling memoir, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, on Nov. 5. In it, he tells of childhood afternoons spent at his parents' Korean restaurant and studying at the Culinary Institute of America, while spotlighting the dishes that have peppered his journey – homemade kimchi, East L.A. street tacos, pho in Downtown's Jewelry District. Another of the city's culinary treasures, KCRW's Evan Kleiman, hosts the conversation with Chef Choi at 7:15 p.m.


Quasi @ The Echo (Echo Park)

Portland, Oregon's Sam Coomes and Janet Weis celebrated their 20th year together as a band with the release of a new double album, Mole City, last month and bring their national tour to Los Angeles with a stop at the Echo. Featuring tracks like the zany "Chrome Duck," melancholy "Chumps of Chance" or seething "An Ice Cube in the Sun," Quasi is just as genre defying as ever on their latest effort. One thing is for sure, they put on a great live performance, so don't miss this show.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Eric Fabbro and Azad Cheikosman of Torches at Heywood: A Grilled Cheese Shoppe


At Heywood: A Grilled Cheese Shoppe

3337 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Silver Lake) 323-667-1522

It's always a bit daunting to walk into an interview with bandmates who have been friends since childhood. There are inside jokes and nonverbal cues passed across tabletops that can go right over your head. Perhaps it's precisely because they've spent so many years together that their natural ease with one another becomes contagious, and after a spending just a few minutes with Torches vocalist/guitarist Azad Cheikosman and drummer Eric Fabbro, laughter is inevitable.

"I moved next door to this guy in 1998 in South Pasadena, and we've been best buds ever since," Azad begins. "We started a band called Dollar Division back in the day, and that was a very garage sort of project—"

"Literally," interjects Eric.

"Yeah, recording a demo in the garage, setting up the computer and the board on my parents' washing machine – it was terrible, but fun," Azad continues. "And, it got us where we are today."

"We bonded more once we started playing music, but we were skater kids, too," Eric tells. "We would spend hours in front of the house practicing our ollies and kickflips off the curb."

Although their skater days are behind them, the two friends still share a mutual love for music expressed through Torches. They released a new EP, If The People Stare, in May and are set to co-headline the Echoplex this Friday with the Lonely Wild. They have been in the studio working on a sophomore album, but took some time out to meet at one of Silver Lake's most unique restaurants, a place that only serves grilled cheese, Heywood.

Owners Mike Kaminsky and Brian Robillard, who also work in music management and the television industry, turned their shared passion for food into a successful sandwich shop that specializes in throwing the notion of plastic-wrapped yellow cheese between two slices of white bread out the window. You can find French- (Bon Appetite Brie), Italian- (Caprese, Italian Bleu Jeans), Latin- (Muy Caliente) and even Presidential- (Bill Clinton's Epiphany) inspired creations at Heywood, which takes its name from English poet/playwright John Heywood, a noted cheese lover (see his Epigram 92 ode to cheese here).

The gourmet grilled cheese shoppe opened as an outlet for two friends' food love seems like the perfect fit for Torches, formed from Azad and Eric's shared interest in music that they discovered at a young age.

"I started playing guitar because I saw my uncle play at family gatherings. He was always the guy hiding in the other room playing," Azad recalls. "I guess it was his way of unwinding because it would get really loud since I have a really big family. Everybody's always loud and rambunctious, so it was nice to disappear from that and see him play. After a while, I wanted to do it, too."

"My dad said he used to put headphones on my mom's belly [when she was pregnant], and he would put on Led Zeppelin. He says that I used to like to dance to Chuck Berry when I was a toddler. I just liked banging on things," Eric remembers. "I'm kind of a spastic a guy, you can't tell from first impressions because I'm pretty shy. I also found out that my mom's uncle was a really prolific drummer back in the 1930s and '40s. I didn't know that until after he passed away, it's interesting."

As they grew up, Azad and Eric began forming musical tastes and became inspired to create songs of their own.

"The bands that really inspired us to play music were the Pixies, Radiohead, Nirvana. Seeing that sort of natural ferocity and empowerment on stage was something that made us want to do the same. We did a lot of covers at first, which was fun, but after a while we wanted to make our own music," Azad shares. "[Our songwriting] bloomed from doing covers. We would emulate things that we liked and then we started to get into habits of our own and roll with them. A lot of it was spontaneous or stream of consciousness, a lot of the lyrics didn't make sense when we first started. This new album that we're making is sort of like me looking in the mirror and trying to evaluate who I am and fight my own demons, but back then, it was us being dickhead kids and telling stories, trying to be pretentious."

Their first show was at No Future Café in Pasadena, the only all-ages venue they could play. They would perform in cafés, backyards and even at the South Pasadena Farmers' Market.

"We used to set out a hat and play there. We actually made pretty good money; that's how we paid for most of our recordings when we were younger. I even bought a Coachella ticket with the money once. If you're going to busk, do it in South Pasadena," Azad laughs.

They eventually became part of the fivepiece, Torches in Trees, which they turned into a trio called Torches in 2011. They released a debut album, Heads Full of Rust, and quickly began garnering praise from the likes of L.A. Weekly, the BBC and Filter for their high-energy shows (with Braeden Henderson on bass) across the country and a monthlong residency at the Echo last May. One of those nights featured the addition of strings for a set that included covers of one of their favorite bands, Arcade Fire.

"They're successful at trying to be ambitious," Eric says of the Canadian band. "You shouldn't knock an artist for trying new things. You can't go to the same artist for the same thing all the time."

"You just have to be willing to accept change," adds Azad before sharing one of his other current musical obsessions, King Krule. "He's only 19, and what he's doing is so captivating. When I look back at being 19, I wasn't talented like that. It's not contrived: He sounds like he's been doing it for 20 years"

"It's really natural with him," Eric chimes in. "It's rare that you get someone that young finding their voice."

It's not as if Torches are such old geezers themselves, although they've been playing so long together it would be easy for them to feel like old timers. Over the years, they have become naturally attuned to each other's thoughts, which is a valuable asset to have as a creative partners. From collaborating on video concepts together to finding the right image of a wolf for the If The People Stare EP cover, their work process has a definite easy flow to it.

"I go to Art Center College of Design, so I pretty much do all the artwork for the band," Eric says. "I just found an image of a wolf and said, 'Hey, this looks cool. Let's just base the cover off this."

"I don't think the wolf initially had a meaning, it may have just been, 'I like the aesthetic of this.' But sometimes you go back and look at your lyrics, and think, 'Oh, that's what I was talking about. Maybe I was going through this in my life,'" Azad informs. "There's a song called 'If The People Stare,' and it's about wanting to not worry about people's perceptions of you, therefore the features of a lone wolf have a strong meaning."

Along with the EP's title track, songs like "When You Gonna?," which can be heard over the airwaves on KROQ and 98.7FM, and "Watched You Like a Hawk" show marked growth from their debut. If The People Stare was mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Wilco, Andrew Bird) and recorded/engineered by David Newton (The Soft Pack, Henry Clay People, Happy Hollows), whom the band is working with again on their forthcoming second album.

"Dave mainly works with artists that he likes, so it's cool to have someone who is actually into your music when they're recording it. He makes suggestions here and there, but for the most part, he's pretty respectful of what artists want. He understands that we have a pretty clear vision of what we want going into the studio," Eric says. "He's really supportive and just fun to be around; he has a lot of crazy stories to tell."

"Dave has this daily routine in the studio that he calls 'beer o'clock.' We'll be doing a mix at around 5 o'clock, and he'll say, "'t's that time.' He has a fridge in his studio, so we'll start downing some beers. It's a nice way to take a load off after recording for 10 hours," adds Azad. "He's a very easy guy to work with, it almost feels like hanging out with a friend and making a record. We like a lot of the same bands, so we see eye to eye on a lot of things. It's a good collaboration."

The Torches guys get to indulge at one of their favorite restaurants whenever they're working at Newton's Burbank studio.

"Porto's is a regular spot when we're recording with Dave," admits Azad.

"The chicken croquettes are awesome," interjects Eric. "They have a lot of pastries there."

"The sandwiches are good too," says Azad. "Everything there is good."

Whenever they are in a new city, they love exploring all the sites by going hiking and finding locations to take some cool photographs. When they're on the road they find themselves craving two things they can't get anywhere else: the Kogi truck and In-N-Out. When I ask what else they do to unwind at home besides satisfying their taco and burger cravings, Eric, of course, mentions art.

"I draw and paint," he replies, before surprising me with his other relaxation devices. "Listening to philosophical debates – Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Stephen Fry – sometimes help me blow off steam. I'll watch documentaries, and one of my favorite shows is 'Cosmos.' Even today I was feeling a little depressed, so I listen to a couple of monologues that Carl Sagan did at the end of a couple of episodes. They're inspirational."

Inspiration is as important as ever while they continue work on material for the new album, of which Azad says, "In some ways we've become more concise, and in other ways there's an expansion where there are a lot more vocal harmonies."

"We're trying to relate to people more with simple songwriting that's effective, really honing in on finding the groove and making a good melody – a good pop formula," Eric continues. "We don't have any shame in saying that we're writing good pop music."

"It's OK to play pop, if it's honest," says Azad.

Honesty is something that they both hope transmits from their shows as well.

"I feel like when we get onstage we're able to say a lot with very little. You have a certain voice when you get onstage, there's a power that music has. When you get on stage you can really let things out and not worry about how you're perceived," confides Azad. "People like it when you just live in the moment, that's why we do it."

If The People Stare is currently available. Torches perform Nov. 8 at Echoplex. For more information, visit