Thursday, March 27, 2014

Events for March 27-April 2, 2014


Timur and the Dime Museum (Jill Steinberg)


Collapse @ REDCAT (Downtown)
It's impossible to classify the music of Timur and the Dime Museum in just one word. Led by the soaring vocals of classically trained tenor Timur Bekbosunov, the fivesome meld their haunting melodies with the stagecraft of post-punk cabaret in this operatic song cycle composed as a requiem mass. Their Collapse performance is set to video projections by artist Jesse Gilbert, with costumes designed by Victor Wilde of the Bohemian Society. Don't miss this world-premiere event on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.


"Portlandia" @ LACMA (Miracle Mile)
Even though I've never lived in Portland, Ore., whenever I watch an episode of "Portlandia," I see myself or someone I know in at least one of the sketches. The show's creators, writers and stars – Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein – are just so spot-on with their commentary on society at large. The show is in the midst of its fourth season, and the duo will be on hand for a screening of two of the new episodes and a discussion at LACMA this evening.



In Theaters This Week
My pick of the week is the portrait of Cesar Chavez, directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Peña, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera and John Malkovich; Darren Aronofsky's version of the biblical story of Noah stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway and Joe Maganiello in Sabotage. Also in theaters: Big Men; Finding Vivian Maier; It Felt Like Love; Locker 13; The Raid 2


Torches @ The Roxy (West Hollywood)
I've been enamored with the sounds of this L.A. duo (vocalist/guitarist Azad Cheikosman and drummer Eric Fabbro) since their If the People Stare EP was released last May, and they just released a new single, "Staring," from their upcoming album that was produced/engineered by Dave Newton (Henry Clay People, the Soft Pack) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Wilco). The two are known for throwing a few Arcade Fire covers into the mix during their live sets, and if you haven't had the chance to catch them yet, this show with Moving Units is a great opportunity.

Tough Mudder (Weston Walker)


Tough Mudder @ Glen Helen Raceway (San Bernardino)
Maybe you need something more intense to release all of the week's stress and frustration. If so, then  this Tough Mudder event, happening today and tomorrow, is for you. The hardcore 10- to 12-mile obstacle course of challenges is designed to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental toughness and teamwork. At the end, you are guaranteed to be covered in mud, with sore muscles and a few bruises, but you'll also have some major bragging rights.


A Taste of Dance: Movie Moves @ The Music Center Plaza (Downtown)
I am such a sucker for dance movies. I mean, who doesn't love it when the cast breaks out into their best moves in the middle of a scene? For just $1 per lesson, you can learn the steps to some of the greatest dance films of all time. Routines include Flashdance, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing, (500) Days of Summer, Singing' in the Rain, Saturday Night Fever and Slumdog Millionaire.


Ramen Yokocho @ Santa Anita Park (Arcadia)
Last year's festival was so packed that they've moved to a much larger venue for this Saturday and Sunday. Never fear though, all of the ramen purveyors that you love are still going to be on hand offering a taste of their famous noodle soup for $8 a bowl. L.A. participants include Daikokuya, Men Oh and Hayatemaru, while Las Vegas' Monta, San Diego's Shalala and Japan's Mattou Seimen are also part of the 14-strong lineup. Saturday the track celebrates Japan Family Fun Day, so there are plenty of cultural exhibitions and the Tokyo City Cup to be enjoyed along with the ramen fest.

Cody Chesnutt (Bohbot)


Cody Chesnutt @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
One of my favorite songs from the Roots, "The Seed (2.0)," is actually a remake of a track that was originally on the Atlanta-based neo-soul troubadour's debut album, 2002's The Headphone Masterpiece. Cody Chesnutt took a period away from music but thankfully returned with his sophomore effort, Landing on a Hundred, in 2012. His vocals are still silky smooth, and his message is as powerful as ever. Hear the newer material and some of the older ditties when his B Sides and Remixes Tour swings into the Troubadour this evening.



Leave The World Behind @ ArcLight Cinemas (Hollywood)
The EDM supergroup, consisting of DJs/producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, announced their One Last Tour trek and proceeded to sell over a million tickets worldwide in just one week. This documentary, executively produced by Jonas Åkerlund, follows Swedish House Mafia in their final moments as a trio, from making the decision to disband to the last note of the tour. The film screens today and April 3 at the ArcLight and April 4 at Westwood Crest Theatre.



Nelson George @ Book Soup (West Hollywood)

I vividly remember singing and dancing along to episodes of "Soul Train" when I was barely in kindergarten. Author and filmmaker Nelson George just released a new book documenting the groundbreaking television variety show called The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style. The show's producer and host Don Cornelius shares memories from its time, along with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Rosie Perez and Jodie Watley. Join George in conversation with "Soul Train" dancer Marco De Santiago at Book Soup tonight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Richard Shelton

Singer-songwriter and actor Richard Shelton in EastWest Recording Studios' Studio One


At EastWest Recording Studios

6000 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Hollywood)

Ever since British crooner and actor Richard Shelton heard Frank Sinatra sing for the first time, he has felt a strong connection to the film and music legend.

"My father had a cassette of My Way, his album from 1969, and it just felt like a hand in a glove. I ended up listening to it more than my father did," Richard explains. "The first time I saw a childhood photograph of Frank Sinatra, I noticed a similarity between him and me when I was a child, and throughout my life, I keep having these incredible, inexplicable coincidences with him."

Not only do the two men share an affinity for jazz, a favorite color (orange) and the same body size, EastWest Recording Studios – where Richard asks me to meet him for our interview before the final recording session for the title track of his upcoming album, An Englishman in Love in L.A. – is the exact site where Sinatra recorded "My Way" over 45 years ago.

Relaxing in an EastWest studio lounge
Ol' Blue Eyes and Bing Crosby were instrumental in audio engineer Bill Putnam's opening of the studios that are now EastWest in 1957, and Sinatra also laid down tracks like "Strangers in the Night," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "That's Life" within its walls. Through the years, music of every genre has been recorded at EastWest, from the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'" and the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to the theme songs from The Godfather, "The Monkees" and "Hawaii Five-O."

In 2006, new owner Doug Rogers enlisted French designer Philippe Starck to give all the non-technical areas of the historic studios a facelift. The result is a chic yet laid back environment where artists such as Christina Aguilera, Green Day, Rage Against the Machine, Muse and now Richard Shelton have all come to create.

"'My Way' was recorded right in that room. It's amazing, right? I mean, none of this was originally planned. We had finished the album but decided that there was a bit that wasn't right, and the only way to do it was to get a string section in, so we decided to try EastWest. I didn't come here because of Frank Sinatra, it just happened," he says. "This is the last section of the album, and it's exciting to be here, literally where he recorded."

Richard has found the world of show business utterly thrilling since his days growing up in Wolverhampton, England. As we take a seat in one of the studio lounges, which is complete with flat-screen TV, mini-fridge and plush couches for artists to relax on between sessions, he tells me of an obsession he once had with a couple movie musicals.

"I would have been 7 when I saw the film version of Oliver! with Mark Lester playing Oliver. I just started at a new school, and I told everyone that I was Mark Lester, the star of the film. The head teacher called me in and said, 'There's a story going around that you are Mark Lester. You mustn't tell people that,' but I wanted to be him so much. I was also convinced I wanted to be in The Sound of Music film. I was fascinated by it all," he laughs. "When it's warm in the summer, there's a tradition in Britain to go to theater in the outdoors at a castle or a beautiful stately home, a house belonging to royalty or the aristocracy. They open up the grounds for people to come watch plays or listen to music . I remember going to see a Shakespeare play, 'Twelfth Night,' with my parents and thinking, 'I get this. I understand everything about this.' I was only a child so it wasn't the language, the actual words but the intention and energy of what everyone was doing on stage that I understood. So it was from a very young age that I wanted to pursue this. I was prevented from doing it for a while, but I found my way back."

As the son of a self-made builder's merchant, Richard was expected to take up a practical career, so he spent 13 years in hotel sales and marketing. As part of the job he was able to see the world, however, his interest in the performing arts never faded. He eventually helped set up Bridewell Theatre in Fleet Street and began acting in their first shows that included William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

He went on to tour the UK in Agatha Christie's "A Murder Is Announced" and perform in productions like "Scrooge: The Musical," the popular "EastEnders" soap opera and several commercials. Around this time, Richard began a singing career, recording an album of 1980s pop songs in jazz and titling it Retro Spectrum. He also played Frank Sinatra in "Rat Pack Confidential" and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role by Manchester Evening News. Additionally, Richard's first major film appearance was as the Chairman of the Board in 2003's I Capture the Castle.

"There is so much about Frank Sinatra that inspires me. I believe he always told the truth, and sometimes that made him both popular and unpopular. He told the truth when he sang, and if he liked you or didn't like you, he would express that. This honesty gives you permission to be truthful to yourself," he says. "For example, if I'm working on a piece of music or another project, it's easy to say, 'What the hell, we'll let it pass. That will be fine,' but, actually, it's never fine. You have to say, 'No, this isn't right. Let's make it right.' He was a determined, focused man who lived life to the fullest. I admire that greatly, because, what else is life for?"

When we take a walk into EastWest's Studio One, it's hard not to be overcome with emotion. There is so much history within the room, the sense of greatness is palpable. When "An Englishman in Love in L.A."'s composer, Alexander Rudd, informs Richard that the conductor's platform he's standing on is the same one that has been in the room since the Sinatra sessions, they are both giddy with excitement. This isn't Richard's only brush with Sinatra while recording his new swing- and jazz-influenced album, though.

"All the music was recorded at Capitol with some of his musicians: bass player Chuck Berghofer, Gregg Field his drummer (who is married to Monica Mancini the daughter of Henry Mancini – another tie-in) and trumpeter Wayne Bergeron. All these men played with Frank Sinatra at some stage," Richard informs. "The original tracks were recorded in his studio, using his microphone."

Sinatra recorded the first album in the studios of Hollywood's Capitol Records Tower in 1956, Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color. While Richard laid down the majority of An Englishman in Love in L.A. at Capitol, it isn't his first time working in a landmark studio. His first full-length album, 2006's Top Cat, was recorded with a 65-piece orchestra at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.

"Abbey Road was slightly overwhelming. It was so impressive and big, like going into a cathedral where you just look around at the amazingness of it all. I enjoyed it, but I was very aware of the pressure," he admits. "Whereas at Capitol, I felt immediately at home. I found it more energizing at Capitol and preferred everything about it – the energy of the building, the history and the feel of it." 

While he covered a few Sinatra standards on Top Cat and there have been the recording studio locales in common with his, Richard stresses that his new album isn't a tribute to Sinatra at all.

"There are only two songs on the album that are a bow to him, the rest is original material. That's important because I can't be Frank Sinatra. It would be arrogant of me to think I could be as good as him because I can't, but he is an inspiration to me. When I'm an actor in a show associated with him, that's a different thing because I'm channeling his energy and what he was to tell a story. This record, it's me and very separate territory," he asserts. "The title track is all about Los Angeles, being in love with the city and all the things that it promises. Within that comes disappointment, heartbreak, joy success and adventure. That's what the album is about, having a go, coming to this fabulous city and embracing it. Not taking from it, but giving to it and participating in it. It's about hope."

As Richard's career continued to flourish both in the acting and singing fronts – on the daytime series "Emmerdale" for three years, on a tour of Europe as Harry Bright in "Mamma Mia!," in 2011's My Week with Marilyn and singing by private invitation for HRH Prince Charles and Sir Elton John – he decided to journey across the pond and take advantage of opportunities in Hollywood.

"I love the possibility of Los Angeles. I've been here just over a year, and I regard myself as nothing more than a first-generation immigrant. I came here with hope, just as everybody came to America with hope, and I really believe that America still offers that to the world," he says. "I love being British. I love London and am passionate about it, but I wanted to discover new things about myself and life. I felt that the place to try that was Los Angeles."

In his time here so far, Richard has come to have a few regular haunts throughout the city.

"I love going to Soho House because it's beautiful, glamorous and the view is spectacular. I'm lucky enough to be a member there because I was a member in London. I like hiking in Fryman Canyon and Runyon Canyon. I feel on top of the world when I go to those places. I love Los Feliz – going to Rockwell where Jeff Goldblum plays jazz on Wednesday nights, I've sat in with him and his jazz band [the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra] several times, and Marty and Elayne at the Dresden Room are sensational, show business legends."

As for places near his Laurel Canyon neighborhood, Richard likes going to the Studio City Farmers Market and a place that is his favorite shop in the whole of Los Angeles, Laurel Canyon Country Store.

"It sells everything, from newspapers to French bread. There's a British section of confectionary, jams, marmalade. I like it because you can buy fresh food or a coffee there, and it has a good atmosphere. When I first went in and the owner realized I was British, he showed me the section," Richard recalls. "Children in Britain grow up with a chocolate bar called Cadbury Flake, and the owner told me, 'This is where David Bowie buys his Cadbury Flake, and also James Bond.' I said, 'Oh really, which one?' 'All three,' he replied."

In addition to putting the finishing touches on An Englishman in Love in L.A., Richard currently has two films in post-production, the drama Brash Young Turks and the film adaptation of spy thriller Joker Game. He makes his U.S. television debut this weekend in the Showtime series "House of Lies," which stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, and is part of a live radio reading of Eric Rudnick's "Day Trader."

"We had a table read with the rest of the cast, and they were tremendous. What I'm enjoying about being in Los Angeles is collaborating. I'm learning so much about the American way of doing things," he says. "There's a young girl in the play [Brighid Fleming] who is very good. I found myself watching her, amazed at how she was interpreting this role because she's American and the piece is American, so it works very well. It's a brilliant experience for me to be learning while I'm here in Los Angeles. It's exciting."

Richard Shelton embraces everything he does with excitement, whether he's acting or making music. His energy is infectious, and as he greets the team in the production booth led by sound engineer Steve Genewick, I can't help remembering words he said earlier in the lounge about the what he loves most about performing.

"For me, it's about giving. What I enjoy is creating. As an actor, I enjoy playing unattractive roles, difficult characters and possibly unsympathetic ones because there's more of a story to tell. It's easier perhaps to be likable or nice, but those characters are not as interesting as a ones who have an edge. You wonder why this person is like this, and I enjoy that sense of revealing, bit by bit, what this character is about to an audience," he utters. "With music, you're also giving, but it's a very different dynamic. It's instant, and you can influence people's moods. You can make them happy or sad, smile or dance, and that's a wonderful thing to do. It's all about what you give."

An Englishman in Love in L.A. will be available this summer. "House of Lies" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime. The live reading of "Day Trader" will be broadcast via UBN Radio's Interweb Playhouse March 29 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Release Tuesday 3/25/14

March 25, 2014


Ages and AgesDivisionary (Partisan)
The Portland, Ore. collective experienced the loss of several close family members and friends during the creation of this sophomore effort, but Divisionary is anything but dark and depressing. Fueled by the wonderful (a marriage, the birth of a child) rather than the sad, Tim Perry spent 10 days on a silent meditation retreat coming up with lyrics and the overall direction for the album. You'll find yourself clapping and singing along to songs like opener "Light Goes Out," "Big Idea" and "The Weight Below," while "Over it" and the beautiful, gospel-infused title track will pull more than one tear from your eyes. This is a rare gem in today's musical landscape, as it's a thoroughly stellar album from start to finish.

Faces on FilmElite Lines

Mike Fiore pulled from an extremely diverse pool of influences – Harry Nilsson, Frank Ocean, Neil Young – in conjuring material for Faces on Film's third album, yet the eight tracks fit together seamlessly. Elite Lines was recorded at Fiore's home in Boston and at Q Division Studios with engineer-producer Rafi Sofer, and exposes deeply personal moments in the singer-songwriter's life. Standout tracks include "Your Old One," "Bad Star" and "Rake the Dust."

LiarsMess (Mute) If there's one thing you can count on from the L.A. trio of Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross, it's the unexpected. There is not a single word or short phrase that is apt enough to describe their sound, and all you really need to know about their seventh album is that it absolutely rattles your eardrums, brain and your being from the get-go. Mess' openers, "Mask Maker" and "Vox Tuned D.E.D," grab your ear with pulsating beats, and the trio doesn't let go straight through to the eerie closing moments of "Left Speaker Blown." Make sure not to miss their set at the Fonda on May 27.

Also available – Animals as Leaders' The Joy of Motion; Asia's Gravitas; The Bad Plus' The Rite of Spring; Barry Manilow's Night Songs; The Baseball Project's 3rd; Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One; Boy George's This Is What I Do; Burnt Ones' Gift; Cage the Gods' Badlands; Carl Creighton's Brookings; Chancellor Warhol's Paris Is Burning; Chimurenga Renaissance's riZe vadZimu riZe; Chuck Ragan 's Till Midnight; Circa Zero's Circus Hero; The Colourist's self-titled; Combichrist's We Love You; The Dandy Warhols' Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia Live at the Wonder; Future Islands' Singles; Glenn Kotche's Adventureland; Grieves' Winter & The Wolves; The Hold Steady's Teeth Dreams; Howler's World of Joy; Jean Jacket's self-titled; Jimi Goodwin's Odludek; Johnny Cash's Out Among the Stars; Karmin's Pulses; Lil Debbie's California Sweetheart; Matthew Fowler's Beginning; Memphis May Fire's Unconditional; Mr Little Jeans' Pocketknife; …Of Sinking Ships' The Amaranthine Sea; Sage the Gemini's Remember Me; Seahaven's Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only; Shakira's self-titled; Sleeper Agent's About Last Night; Tokyo Police Club's Forcefield; Uh Huh Her's Future Souls; Withered Hand's New Gods; Yasmine Hamdan's Ya Nass


Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington (Harmony)

I've been coming across a lot of articles about stress and exhaustion brought on from overextending one's self in pursuit of money and power, the two traditional metrics of success. After experiencing her own wake-up call (a broken cheekbone and cut over her eye from a fall due to lack of sleep), the Huffington Post Media Group co-founder and editor-in-chief began to take a hard look at the price she was paying for success. In her 14th book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, she shares personal stories about prioritizing family and work, as well as scientific findings on the transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness unplugging and giving, that people from every field can benefit from.

Also available – Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber; A Call to Action by Jimmy Carter; The End of Dieting by Joel Fuhrman, MD; How About Never – Is Never Good for You? by Bob Mankoff; The Hungry Girl Diet by Lisa Lillien; Living in Style by Rachel Zoe; A Nice Little Place on the North Side by George Will; NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp; Saga, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan; Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts; Spirit Animals Book 3 by Garth Nix and Sean Williams; Under the Dome: Part 2 by Stephen King; Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham; Wings of Fire Book Five by Tui T. Sutherland


Film –
The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese's black comedy based on the Jordan Belfort memoir, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in Oscar-nominated turns; Vince Vaughn plays a guy who discovers a donation he made to a sperm back fathered 533 children in Delivery Man; Upon viewing the first stills released of The Great Beauty, I knew it was a solid awards contender, and Paolo Sorrentino's homage to Federico Fellini ended up taking home the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

TV – Californication: Season 6; Continuum: Season 2; Key & Peele: Seasons One & Two; Veep: Season 2

Music – Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa: Live in Amsterdam; Kari Jobe's Majestiic; MusiCares Person of the Year: Tribute to Bruce Springsteen; The Punk Singer

Also available –
The Appearing; Boardwalk; Camille Claudel; Chinese Zodiac; The Conspiracy; Crave; Faust; Geography Club; Girl on a Bicycle; Home; Let the Fire Burn; Machine Head; Odd Thomas; The Truth About Emanuel; Walking with Dinosaurs; Welcome to the Jungle

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Events for March 20-26, 2014




Ski Lodge @ Bootleg Bar (Westlake)
Andrew Marr, the multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter at the helm of Ski Lodge, put everything into the New York City foursome's debut, which released last summer and was aptly titled Big Heart. Tracks like "Anything to Hurt You," "You Can't Just Stop Being Cruel" and "Just To Be Like You" deal with heavy emotions, but won't put you into a deep depression whenever you listen to them. They just released a new song last month, "Our Love Is Over Now," that is quite gorgeous, so I'm curious to see what else they've got up their sleeves.



Bob Saget @ Club Nokia (Downtown)

While it's been almost 19 years since "Full House" left the air, sitcom fans are bracing themselves to say goodbye to another beloved show with Bob Saget, who provides the voice of the narrator in "How I Met Your Mother." With coarse stand-up routines and an in-your-face appearances in "Entourage" and The Aristocrats, Saget has shown the world he can go bolder and more vulgar than any of his family-friendly roles allowed him to. He delves even deeper into his dark side with his publishing debut, Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian (available April 8) and its support tour which hits Club Nokia tonight.


Musink @ OC Fair & Event Center (Costa Mesa)

The seventh-annual music and tattoo festival is being presented by Travis Barker and takes place over three days this year. Over 300 of the world's finest tattoo artists put their finest pieces on display, and there are daily tattoo contests in categories like best back piece, sleeve and music-related. Friday's musical lineup includes Love Canal, the Vandals and Descendents. Saturday features Rittz, the Transplants and Tech N9ne. Soul Search, Strife, H2O, Judge and Gorilla Biscuits perform on Sunday.


In Theaters This Week
Crime thriller Blood Ties stars Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana and Mila Kunis; Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's first installment of the Divergent trilogy; Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy; Muppets Most Wanted is a case of mistaken identity involving Kermit the Frog and stars Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell alongside all of our beloved characters; Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater and Uma Thurman. Also in theaters: A Birder's Guide to Everything; Cheap Thrills; God's Not Dead; Jodorowsky's Dune; McCanick



L.A. Heat: Taste Changing Condiments @ Chinese American Museum (Downtown)

With all of the hubbub over the Sriracha factory shutdown earlier this year, the spicy condiment has never been so popular. While there is always a bottle of Sriracha in our refrigerator, Tapatio is another of our most frequently used hot sauces. Either way, both have a definite impact on Los Angeles' culinary landscape, hence this exhibit featuring curated work from artists like Daniel Gonzalez, Trinh Mai, Eye One and Henry Taylor. Running through July 12.


Winners' Circle BBQ Championship @ Santa Anita Park (Arcadia)
Go ahead and try to look at the photos on the event's site without salivating. It's impossible. The West Coast's top pit masters gather for this annual competition for $15,000 and the chance to represent California in the big national event. Get a taste of their best barbecued offerings, take in some live music, arts and crafts and bet on a horse race or two.



Los Angeles Seafood Festival @ Placita Olvera (Olvera Street)
Do you go nuts over a good ceviche? Perhaps, a plate of fresh oysters is your thing. Whether it's a bowl of chowder, poached salmon steak or heaping pile of fish and chips you crave, this fest has you covered. Aside from the plethora of seafood dishes, there are carnival games, crafts, musical acts and all kinds of exhibits to check out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.



yOya @ Bootleg Bar (Westlake)

It's easy to become enamored with the L.A. duo just by listening to their new single, "Fool's Gold," one time. Although once you hear it, you'll wind up hitting repeat again and again. Alex Pfender and Noah Dietterick blend elements of classic folk with electronic beats and synthesizers, creating a sound that is just right. Fall in love with more of their tunes when they play Bootleg tonight with the brilliant Moses Sumney.



The National @ Shrine Auditorium (South Los Angeles)
I'm sure you know that the National is literally a band of brothers – with Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitar, Bryan and Scott Devendorf on drums and bass – so the only member without a sibling in the group, vocalist Matt Berninger invited his younger brother, Tom, to join them on tour as a roadie. Tom chose to film the experience as a documentary entitled Mistaken For Strangers, which Michael Moore calls "one of the best documentaries about a band that I've ever seen." The film makes its theatrical premiere tonight, along with a full set from the band who released their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, last May.



By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin @ Largo at the Coronet (Mid-City West)
In addition to currently starring in "The Goldbergs," the comedian also hosts a series of casual talks with different personalities that are part of his By the Way podcasts. Tonight's talk is with one of Garlin's comedy contemporaries, writer/director/actor/comedian Stephen Merchant. The co-writer and co-director of "The Office," Merchant was also in part of "The Ricky Gervais Show" and starred in "Extras" and, most recently, "Hello Ladies." He can make me laugh with his facial expressions alone, so I'm sure an evening with him and Garlin together is going to be hilarious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eric Rudnick

Eric Rudnick at M Street Coffee & Gallery



At M Street Coffee & Gallery

13251 Moorpark St., Sherman Oaks 818-907-1400

"Every bit of writing that I've done is meant to be spoken by actors. I've never written a novel or essays. It's all been for actors to say because that's what fascinates me, what an actor can do with what you write, whether it's a screenplay or TV pilot. My first responsibility as a writer is: An actor has to pick a script up and want to say those words. I'm not even talking to the audience, I'm talking to the actors through the words. So, if an actor picks it up and says, 'I want to do this,' then I've done my job. Then, it just doesn't belong to me, it belongs to the actor and director, and they take it to the audience," shares Eric Rudnick. "Carlos Santana once said something like, 'The music is the water, the band is the hose and the flowers are the audience. We're just a delivery system to get that music to that audience.' It's all a very collaborative process, which is another part that I like, you're not working in a vacuum."

The passion the playwright, screenwriter, actor and producer has for all forms of entertainment is evident throughout our conversation at his favorite place in Los Angeles, M Street Coffee & Gallery. It's impossible for Eric to stifle his enthusiasm and staunch the flow of his words whether we are discussing theater, film, television or music. This is a love that runs deep, and has for a long time. Growing up on Long Island, just an hour's train ride to the marquees of Broadway and music venues of the city, Eric's life has always been filled with art.

"My dad would take me to see music, really amazing artists, like saxophonist Phil Woods who is most known for renown playing on 'Just The Way You Are' by Billy Joel. I was 14 or 15, and somehow my dad got me into this nightclub where he was playing. He was very adamant about exposing us to what he liked so we would have an appreciation for it, from opera to a ton of baseball games," Eric remembers. "My mom and I would go see plays. After I moved into the city we would go to matinees on Wednesdays, then go out after and talk. She would pick the show one week, then the next week I would pick."

 Once Eric moved into the city, he was bit hard by the theater bug. He began studying acting, which led to discovering an ability and keenness to write

"New York is the most welcoming world you can step into because nobody's doing it for any other reason than because they love it. It's a place where you're allowed to experiment, which I did with writing, directing and acting," he says. "The acting training that I had in New York really helped my writing. If you've been on stage acting, reading somebody else's words and trying to figure them out, it really helps your writing because you understand it from an actor's point of view."

The strong foundation built from his experiences as an actor have definitely influenced Eric's writing and also came in handy when he had to step into the leading role of his play "Day Trader" for two shows during its premiere L.A. run at Bootleg Theater at the beginning of this year.

"I wasn't nervous, I was excited. I just had to remember my training from the Atlantic Theater Company and Neighborhood Playhouse, particularly from Richard Pinter, whom I studied with for two years," he recalls. "I didn't realize until getting on stage the first night how deep and far-reaching that training goes."

After perusing M Street Coffee's menu of organic, locally roasted coffee and display case full of scrumptious pastries, we decide on a couple of iced teas (Ginger Peach for me, and English Breakfast for Eric) and a peanut butter bar before grabbing a table at the back of the café. Our seats are next to a window, which fills the area with light so that we can admire all of the art pieces on the wall while we talk about "Day Trader," which was recently chosen for a live broadcast reading by UBN's Interweb Playhouse taking place March 29 at 2 p.m.

Since 2008, owner Andrea McClain has strived to create an inviting space for all in the neighborhood, especially writers and artists. Each month a different artist's work adorns M Street's walls; currently colorful paintings by Outi Harma decorate the space. There is also an area where you can purchase branded T-shirts, mugs and bags of their house blend.

"Sometimes it can get crowded, but there's always somebody willing to share their table with you. It's only a five-minute drive from where I live, so this is always my go-to and where I come to work. Because there are so many writers that come in here and other people doing creative stuff, I find that it's a less neurotic atmosphere than most places. If I'm going to be around other people and write, which I like to be, it's good if that energy is nice. It's a little bit of an oasis right in the middle of everything," Eric tells. "I brought postcards in here for 'Day Trader' and told them, 'You have to know that a lot of this show was written in this joint.'"

 There's undoubtedly a warm, inviting atmosphere at M Street, and it's no wonder Los Angeles Hot List named it the 'BEST Coffee Shop in LA' two years in a row. Great energy is something that Eric seeks out not only in places where he likes to work and hang out, but also in the entertainment that he seeks.

"There's always something to appreciate about live performance, you're always getting some type of energy from the performer whether you're watching stand-up, a play or spoken word. There's a Jerry Seinfeld quote that goes something like, 'It's not a monologue. I'm not talking to the audience. It's a dialogue with the audience.' That's why he's so good at what he does, because he understands it's a conversation. It's not a play if an audience isn't there, it's just actors talking. What makes it a play is the audience, what gives the room that energy is the electricity, the tension or empathy between the audience and the performer," he informs. "Every night of our 'Day Trader' run at Bootleg Theater was different. We had every response you can imagine. There are some surprises in the play, and one night the actors were backstage after the show saying, 'There were gasps tonight.' That made me so happy because a gasp is something you can't plan on. When you get one, it's a visceral response from an audience."

Eric continued to write, act in and mount his own productions in New York before deciding to pursue a writing career in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he chose to make the leap out here right when reality television was blowing up and networks were scaling down on original programming.

"Not only was I looking for work, but all these writers who had credits were looking for work, too. But I got my first job writing out here on 'Hollywood Squares,' and in some ways it was my best job. It was a thrill to work on a show that I grew up watching," he confesses. "Then, I got into producing reality and this was how I made a living for 12 years."

But during this time, Eric was still working on his own original plays, teleplays and screenplays. His work has been presented by Playwrights Horizons, the Harold Clurman Theatre, the Met Theatre and Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA. His screenplay for Hot Potato was a finalist at Slamdance Film Festival, his script for Me the People was a second rounder at the Austin Film Festival and his sitcom pilot, "Circus/Maximus," was optioned by Fox.

"You just need that one story to hit that right person at the right time, not that that's easy. You just have to write all the time, eventually you'll have a body of work and something in that body of work will find its way to somebody," he says. "[Nic Pizzolatto, who] created 'True Detective' is a great example of a guy who wasn't in TV writing before he came out here. He had written collection of stories [and a novel], wrote for a TV show ["The Killing"] and then Matthew McConaughey said yes to his script and he was off to the races. I love stories like that."

Eric also developed one of his stage plays into a hilarious web series on, "The Edge of Allegiance," about the Mount Rushmore landmark moving to Los Angeles and anchoring a news show.

"You can wait for somebody to say yes to your idea, or you can just go do it. The web series is almost too weird but so fun to do and something that I'm really looking forward to getting back to. It comes from what started out as a midnight show at the Met Theatre that we would update according to what was going on politically at the time. I had 15 actors playing 47 different roles. One person played the Statue of Liberty, as well as Maya Angelou, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. The audience would get a little boozed up before the show, and one time a guy in the front row stood up and pointed at something happening on stage. That's what I want, for people to be engaged! There's no formula for it. You can't appeal to everybody, you just have to be as truthful as you can. And, in that truth, somebody's going to recognize himself, and you're going to take his heart out."

The characters of Eric's latest play, the comic thriller "Day Trader," are incredibly real and recognizable, specifically for Angelenos.

"The play was a finalist at a festival in St. Louis where I had a dramaturg named Liz Engelman help with it so much. We put it up in front of 100 people, but hardly anybody in the room was in the entertainment business, and that's one of the themes of this play. They enjoyed it from an outside-looking-in perspective, whereas the audience in Hollywood was laughing at certain spots because it was a laughter of recognition," he describes.

As far as bringing "Day Trader" to the stage in Los Angeles, Eric attributes much of it happening to fellow writer/producer Gary Lennon ("The Shield," "Justified," "Orange Is the New Black")

"I've known Gary since I was in New York, and when I went to see a play of his ["A Family Thing"] at the Echo he asked what was going on with my play. He told me to send it to the Echo and Bootleg, telling them he sent me, and that's what got them to say yes because Gary has a relationship with folks at Bootleg, and that goes a long way," he says.

After five years, "Day Trader" finally premiered at Bootleg Theater in January of this year. The story focuses on a comedy writer named Ron Barlow, who schemes to get his wealthy wife to divorce him while finding a way around their prenup, involving his best friend Phil, daughter Juliana and a cocktail waitress named Bridget in on the plan.

"The play is about a guy who has himself convinced that he's on the down side of life and needs to get back up. It's also about his friend whom he envisions to be up, so everything that his friend says about life is something that he latches onto. It's like when you have a friend who's successful in one area, say he's a fantastic furniture builder, so when he recommends this one wine you think it will be great. In our culture, it's usually a celebrity recommends this, well then, it's got to be good," Eric laughs. "So, Ron is down on his luck, and Phil is the alpha male. In some relationships, you're definitely the alpha person, and then sometimes you're not. Everybody's been one or the other, so I was just ping-ponging back and forth between the two sides that everybody has. I wanted people in the audience to recognize themselves in these two guys during the course of the play."

The director for "Day Trader"'s debut L.A. run was someone that Eric feels to be incredibly instrumental to its development, Steven Williford. While Williford had directed over 70 plays, the four-time Emmy nominee hadn't directed theater in six years, but as soon as he read Eric's script, he knew he wanted to do it. Eric felt especially grateful for his expertise when he had to assume the role of Ron in those two performances.

"I would go up to him after a rehearsal and ask him what I could do to make my performance better, and one time he said, 'Don't recite.' In my experience working with directors, the ones that I have worked with that have been effective will say a phrase or a sentence and it opens up a whole world for you to find the rest of the performance. Whereas a director might say a whole paragraph, and, at the end, you are more confused than you were when you started. It's too much information, and it's nothing that's actionable. You need actionable intelligence."

In addition to Williford and a stellar design team, including Jared A. Sayeg (lighting), Ivan Robles (sound) and Adam Flemming (projections), Eric feels that the venue was an integral key to the run's success.

"People go there and don't even realize that there's a theater in back because sometimes the bands are in the front. I saw Roger Guenveur Smith do his one-man show 'Rodney King' twice. They do Write Club there one Monday a month, which is a battle between writers. I always feel welcome at the Bootleg, like I'm in good hands, so when they said yes to the show, I was thrilled," he gushes. "As the presenters of the show, they did so in such a way that people felt taken care of. There are theaters that really take care of you where you walk in and just know they're happy to have you. Boston Court is like that, too."

Eric has lived all over the city, from Echo Park and Beachwood Canyon to Hancock Park and Chinatown, and has a few favorite restaurants in his current neighborhood that include Tuning Fork, Black Market Liquor and Sushi Dan. The copy shop where he has all of his programs and postcards made, Copyhub, is just across the street from M Street Coffee. And while he loves being outside, hiking in Fryman Canyon for instance, and going to the movies, if Eric has a free afternoon or evening, you will probably find him at the theater.

"I'm a movie fan, but I'll always go see a play because the play won't be there in six weeks. A play is there, and then it's gone. You'll probably never see that cast on that stage doing that material again. You either saw Elaine Stritch in 'A Delicate Balance' like I did, or you didn't. You saw Zoe Caldwell in 'Master Class,' or you didn't. You saw Eric Bogosian do one of his shows in New York when he was doing them, or not. I'm grateful that I got to see all that stuff. The movies that came out then, I can still see them somehow, but those performances are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities," he says. "In particular, Zoe Caldwell in Terrence McNally's 'Master Class.' It was one of those things where you don't even see it coming, it's like someone hits you on the head with a hammer, and I was crying at the end of Act I. If you're willing to meet what a play is on its terms, then it can blow you away. There have been times where I'm sitting there with my arms crossed watching a show, waiting for something to affect me instead of being open to the possibility of something affecting me. It's the difference between fully being immersed in the experience and just sticking your toe in the water."

Eric looks back on another production, "The Glass Menagerie" at Mark Taper Forum, as one that taught him a valuable lesson as well.

"I had never seen the play, I had only seen some of its scenes done in acting classes where people were not ready to dive into the material and never got a sense of what the play was. With Tennessee Williams plays in particular, you can't just jump into the middle of them and cut five minutes out. Judith Ivey was in it when I went and it was a strong presentation that made me glad I went because whatever preconceived notion I had of it from acting class, when people say 'The Glass Menagerie' to me now, I think about this show that I saw at the Taper," he admits. "It's another signpost in my experience where it's not just the material, it's the way you do the material."

Most of Eric's time lately is spent writing, though, and he is able to find inspiration in almost any place.

"I switched from how many hours to how many pages a day I'm going to write, and it's much more satisfying. I've gotten into that groove recently, so a lot of times when I'm off, I spend it writing. There are so many things that I grab inspiration from. I once heard a conversation in a Kim's Video Store in the East Village that nearly broke my heart. One guy is putting the videos away, but he's slamming them so you know he's angry, furious with the guy behind the counter. This goes on for a few minutes before he says, 'Why did you do it, if you knew it was going to hurt me?' The guy behind the counter replies, 'Because you hurt me.' I got the whole relationship in those two lines; they were so fantastically raw and brutally honest," he relays the scene with tears in his eyes. "That's another touchstone for me as a writer, try and come up with something as real as what happened spontaneously in front of you between two strangers, make people feel something. The thing that I like – whether it's plays, movies or TV – is a certain kind of not giving a rat's ass if somebody will like this or not, just putting it out there with its own idiosyncrasies. A Charlie Kaufman movie or Richard Foreman play work on their own terms, and that's why they are iconic and stand out from the rest. It's not just that they are good, it's that there's something about them that feel like this person had to tell this story."

As much as he loves New York, Los Angeles has proved to be exactly the right environment for Eric to be able to tell his own stories.

"Los Angeles is the kind of place that if you accept it on its terms, it's so much easier. It's a crazy group of little towns, each one has its own identity. It's like being in Europe, only instead of driving three hours to go from one culture to another, you drive 20 minutes. You go from Studio City to Echo Park or you go from Downtown to Culver City, and it's completely different. Each neighborhood has its own kind of flavor and vibe. I love how much outdoor art there is here and I still don't even mind driving, it's the parking that I don't like. It's nice to have your own car the freedom to just go to Palm Springs or San Francisco," he says. "Everyone has a way to express himself, whether it's through food, theater or music. Where I grew up in Long Island, most of the houses in my neighborhood looked the same. Driving down the street in Los Angeles, there's a Spanish-style house next to a Craftsman-style house next to a some kind of New Mexico-looking thing. It's fun that people express themselves through everything. The city allows for that more than people give it credit for. I like the ambition of this place that's constantly evolving and of the people that I meet here. Sometimes it can be exhausting because everybody wants that next big thing, but at least that next thing is possible."

The next thing up for "Day Trader" is a live reading of the play being broadcast by UBN Radio's Interweb Playhouse on March 29 at 2 p.m, with a cast that includes Eric as Ron and Ovation Award winner for "The Nether," Brighid Fleming, reprising the role of Juliana from the Bootleg Theater run.

"Brighid did such a great job, and I am so grateful that she's available again because she just knocked it out of the park. I would work with her doing anything because of her work ethic and the way that she approaches things. She's really intuitive. I wrote this part of a 15-year-old girl, and I've never been a 15-year-old girl and don't know many 15-year-old girls quite frankly, so I trusted Brighid. I said, 'If any of this sounds bogus, you've got to tell me.' She said, 'I don't know if I curse this much, but it's all working," he laughs. "It's hard, because you can find a 25-year-old to play a 15-year-old, but it's not the same. Kevin Kline said, 'Acting is being completely self-conscious and completely unconscious at exactly the same time' in an interview with Village Voice. You're aware of everything you're doing, but it's not you. To be able to do that with any kind of frequency, that's what I'm looking for. I got really lucky with the cast that I had and with the cast for the radio reading."

Eric is currently working on a screenplay for "Day Trader," and as he continues to write he keeps the words of an artist that he looks up to in mind.

"Andy Warhol once said something like, 'Don't worry if it's art, that's not your call to make. Just make stuff, put it out there then make some more stuff and put it out.' I never want to be the guy with a novel in the drawer who is just perfecting and perfecting it, then 40 years later, 'Here it is.' Make it, and you can only make it as good as you are right now, but then the next thing you make will be a little bit better because you've learned from that last experience," he concludes. "Hopefully you make 10, 20, 30 things, and that 30th thing you make might just be what people really respond to. You can't get there without putting your stuff out there and letting the public have its way with it whether you're a band, juggler or whatever. There's never going to be a 'right time.'"

The live reading of "Day Trader" will be broadcast at UBN Radio's Interweb Playhouse March 29 at 2 p.m. For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Release Tuesday 3/18/14

March 18, 2014


Black LipsUnderneath the Rainbow (Vice)

From the first bars of Underneath the Rainbow's lead single, "Boys in the Wood," you can tell that the latest album from the Atlanta quartet was produced by the Black Keys' Patrick Carney. While the song drips with the blues like Carney's main project, it also boasts the grittiness – both in lyrics and overall feel – associated with Black Lips. As you explore all of the tracks on their seventh album, the wide range of their influences reveals itself. There's 1960s pop in "Make You Mine," surf rock in "Do the Vibrate" and psychedelia in "Waiting," as well as much fun to be had with "Drive-By Buddy" and "Smiling." Pick up a scented cassette version of Underneath the Rainbow when the band stops at the El Rey this Friday with the Coathangers, who also release a new album, Suck My Shirt, today.

Foster the PeopleSupermodel (Columbia)
"Pumped Up Kicks" is such a catchy song that it would be incredibly hard to top, and unfortunately, the L.A. threesome falls a bit short with this follow-up to their 2011 Torches debut that spawned the single. While frontman Mark Foster once again teamed with Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + the Machine, John Legend), with whom he co-produced three of Torches' tracks, Supermodel's singles "Coming of Age" and "Pseudologia Fantastica" are great for bopping your head along to in the car, but fail to really stick in your head. You have a few opportunities coming up to give the songs a chance in person: Foster the People are doing a show at the Fox Theater in Pomona on April 8 before performing at both weekends of Coachella.

I Am the AvalancheWolverines (I Surrender)

The New Yorkers grab one's attention from the moment Vinnie Caruana yells the first word of album opener "Two Runaways" and hold on tight throughout their third album. Produced and engineered by I Am the Avalanche drummer, Brett "The Ratt" Romnes at the Barber Shop Studios, located in a church that's over 100 years old in Lake Hopatcong, N.J., Wolverines is full of gems that touch upon emotions which run the gamut of high to low. Standouts include "Young Kerouacs," "Where Were You?" and "My Lion Heart." Make sure not to miss them swing through the Roxy on April 12.

Kevin DrewDarlings (Arts & Crafts)
While the co-founder, songwriter and frontman of Toronto collective Broken Social Scene collaborated with over 20 different musicians on his solo debut, 2007's Spirit If…, he only worked with four others (Charles Spearin, Ohad Benchetrit, Dean Stone and Dave Hamelin) for his latest offering. It definitely shows on the tighter, more personal tracks of Darlings, especially on lead single "Good Sex," "My God" and the gorgeous "And That's All I Know." Kevin Drew shows many sides of himself on the effort, and all of them make for a pleasurable listen.

Also available – The Coathangers' Suck My Shirt; Dead Rider's Chills on Glass; Earth Crisis' Salvation of Innocents; Eliza Gilkyson's The Nocturne Diaries; Enrique Iglesias' Sex + Love; George Michael's Symphonica; Gus G.'s I Am the Fire; Hauschka's Abandoned City; JT Woodruff's Field Medicine; Kevin Gates' By Any Means; Lyla Foy's Mirrors the Sky; Mac Mall's Macnifacence & Malliciousness; Madlib & Freddie Gibbs' Piñata; Mother Falcon's MF Computer; Perfect Pussy's Say Yes to Love; The Pretty Reckless' Going to Hell; Riley Etheridge Jr's The Straight and Narrow Way; Ringworm's Hammer of the Witch; Sisyphus' self-titled; Skrillex' Recess; Taking Back Sunday's Happiness Is; Tycho's Awake; The War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream; Whiskey of the Damned's Monsters Are Real; Wishbone Ash's Blue Horizon; YG's My Krazy Life


Available this week – The Auschwitz Escape by Joel. C Rosenberg; Blood Moons by Mark Blitz; The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer; Missing You by Harlan Coben; Raising Steam (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett; The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama; You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz


Film – American Hustle, David O. Russell's crime drama loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation in the late 1970s, stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in Oscar-nominated performances; Disney's latest animated musical juggernaut, Frozen, tells the tale of two sisters voiced by Kristen Bell and incomparable Broadway star Idina Menzel; Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom depicts Nelson Mandela's life story with Idris Elba and Naomie Harris; Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in the story of how Mary Poppins was adapted to the big screen, Saving Mr. Banks

Music – The Dukes of September Live; Judy Collins: Live in Ireland

TV – Devious Maids: Season 1; Flashpoint: Final Season; Survivorman Ten Days

Also available – 20 Feet Below; Contracted; Cybergeddon; The Happy Sad; Jamesy Boy; Outpost 3: Rise of the Spetznaz; Reasonable Doubt; Sparks; A Touch of Sin

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Events for March 13-19, 2014


Kristen Bell returns as Veronica Mars (Warner Bros.)


PaleyFest @ Dolby Theatre (Hollywood)
Calling all TV maniacs, this is your chance to see some of your favorite stars live on stage during the annual TV fan festival. Taking place through March 28, there are events with at least one show you love. There's tonight's "Veronica Mars" reunion, in addition to a lineup that includes a farewell to "How I Met Your Mother, a "Lost" 10th anniversary reunion and panels with cast members from "Orange Is the New Black," "Mad Men," "The Vampire Diaries," "Veep," "American Horror Story: Coven" and several other beloved shows happening throughout the schedule.



ArtNight Pasadena (Citywide)
Sixteen of Pasadena's cultural institutions invite you in for a free evening of art, music and entertainment from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight. Take a look at the Art Center's Ray Eames exhibit, be mesmerized by the dance company at Lineage Performing Arts Center or stroll through the Norton Simon permanent collection. Then, grab a bite from some of Los Angeles best food trucks (Kogi, Heirloom LA and Border Grill, among others) who are donating 10 percent of the evening's sales to a future ArtNight event. Free shuttles are running from venue to venue all night long, so just grab the first parking spot you see and hop on one.


VaVoom – A Rock 'N' Roll Circus @ El Rey Theater (Miracle Mile)
If you're a fan of Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart and never miss a Lucha VaVoom event, then this show is for you. Promising a night of mayhem, music and thrills, this rock 'n' roll circus features performances by characters from the famed Mexican wrestling and burlesque troupe, all presided over by Stewart "The Ringmaster." He and his band are set to provide musical goodness, and I expect the evening will turn out to be much like Stewart's latest music video for the first single from his Lucky Numbers album, "Every Single Night."


In Theaters This Week
Bad Words is Jason Bateman's feature-length directorial debut. He also stars in the film as a 40-year-old who enters a regional spelling bee; Nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Ernest & Celestine features the voices of Forest Whitacker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Jeffrey Wright; Elijah Wood and John Cusack in Grand Piano; Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper unleash their Need for Speed; Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club; Speaking of "Veronica Mars," the Kickstarter-funded big screen reunion hits theaters today. Also in theaters: The Art of the Steal; Dark House; Patrick: Evil Awakens; The Right Kind of Wrong; Shirin in Love; U Want Me 2 Kill Him?; Le Week-end

Frida Kahlo (Lola Álvarez Bravo ©Frida Kahlo Museum)


Fridamania Women's Day Festival @ Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) (Long Beach)
Organized in support of the Frida Kahlo: Her Photos exhibit on view through June 8, the museum celebrates the contributions of women to art, movement and music all day today. With free museum admission, you can browse the exhibition of over 200 images from the artist's personal collection and take part in the many activities they are offering, from folkloric dance and Cumbia music to a Frida look-alike contest and the digital display of pieces from other women artists.


Philip Seymour Hoffman: An Actor's Actor @ Aero Theatre (Santa Monica)
American Cinematheque pays tribute to the amazing actor with this series of some of his best films. Tonight is a double feature that begins with Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, in which Hoffman played a boom mic operator for porn films alongside the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and William H. Macy. The evening wraps up with 1998's Happiness from director Todd Solondz with Hoffman, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dylan Baker, Cynthia Stevenson and Jane Adams. Other films in this series that runs through March 27 include Punch-Drunk Love, The Big Lebowski, Almost Famous, Magnolia, Synecdoche, New York, Capote and The Savages.



Arthur Hoyle @ Book Soup (West Hollywood)
One of my favorite places in all of California is the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, and  Miller's years spent in the Central Coast area are the focus of Arthur Hoyle's new book, The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur. Hoyle recounts the events of the literary great's life, quoting from Miller's correspondence during the years from 1944 to 1961 when Miller wrote The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, married and divorced twice, raised two children and painted watercolors. Discuss the book with the author at 4 p.m., then have Hoyle sign your copy of the wonderful new biography at Book Soup.


There are so many drink specials and events at bars and pubs throughout the city. Head to your favorite one, have a pint for me and be safe!

Jacob Hashimoto's Gas Giant (Cesar Arredondo)


Jacob Hashimoto's Gas Giant @ MOCA Pacific Design Center (West Hollywood)
Walking through this exhibit is a tranquil way to recover from last night's shenanigans. Thousands of paper sheets are used to transform the space into an entirely different environment at the hands of the New York artist. Hashimoto uses traditional Japanese kite-making techniques and painting to create the three-dimensional structures of this third and final edition of Gas Giant – its first L.A. presentation and the artist's first solo museum exhibition in California. Each installation is breathtaking and must be seen in person to be truly appreciated, so make sure to head over the Pacific Design Center before Gas Giant is over on June 8.



Bleachers @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)

This is a new project from fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff, who was also frontman of Steel Train. While he is set to release a debut album from Bleachers later this year, the debut single "I Wanna Get Better" should be enough to get you to this show. From the opening bars, it's incredibly hard not to jump up and start dancing to the song. I'm sure you'll be listening to it over and over on the way to the Troubadour so you can sing along to every word.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Brian Scott, Efisio Giordanelli, Justin Fernandez, Andrew McClarron and Gabriel Kaiser of Tesoro at Café Tropical


At Café Tropical

2900 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Silver Lake)

The fiery passion incited by Latin music, flamenco in particular, is undeniably intense. For 14 years, Tucson-based Tesoro have fused the Spanish style with gypsy, rumba, pop and rock elements to create a sound all their own. What could be more fitting than to sit down with the fivesome – comprised of lead guitarist Brian Scott, guitarist Justin Fernandez, bassist Andrew McClarron, drummer Gabriel "Gabi" Kaiser and vocalist Efisio Giordanelli – at a Cuban café to talk about their new self-titled album?

Café Tropical is a popular neighborhood spot, known especially for its Guava Cheese Pie. The café is a usual morning stop for its strong, delicious coffee and hearty breakfast sandwiches. In addition to two dessert cases full of sweet treats, they also serve smoothies and, of course, Cuban sandwiches.

When I point out that one of Tesoro's tracks is even called "Cubano Nuevo" to the band, Efisio jokes, "It's funny, because this is not the first time we've thought of making the 'Cubano nuevo' lyric 'Cubano sandwich,'" letting out a laugh as he sings.

Café Tropical is also an apt location for our interview since, food is another of the group's passions. Tesoro was able to reach 111 percent of their goal when crowd-sourcing for the new album via, and a few of the exclusives they offered to patrons included cooking lessons from the band or a dinner and show provided by them. So I had to ask what some of their favorite dishes are to prepare.

"We all enjoy food," Justin begins. "I grew up in a family with a lot of cooks. My parents were always cooking, and we have an awesome pot roast recipe in the family that's one of my favorites."

"Barbecuing is my expertise, so anything meat-wise," Gabi chimes in. "I do a lot of Indian curries, too. Basically, I'll try any recipe that I can get my hands on."

"I love cooking," Andrew replies. "I really like cooking Mexican food, fusing spicy flavors together."

"Food and music go together so well," Efisio adds.

Music has always been their first love, though, and has been a part of each of their lives since childhood.

"I grew up Bermuda where there's a lot of reggae and Latin music, so I was exposed to that. My first taste of flamenco was the Gipsy Kings, nouveau flamenco," Andrew tells. "I started playing piano at a really young age for three years, and then I played in school bands. My band instructor suggested trying one instrument for a few months until I got good at it and then move on to something else ,so that's what I would do. Eventually I landed on the bass, and I loved the deep sound of resonating notes holding the music together. After that, I played a lot of metal bass, which helped build my chops up a lot so I could eventually hang with these flamenco dudes. They play a different form of metal, just shredding scales."

G "My mom's a piano teacher, so obviously I started on piano. I was always unconsciously playing music. I could sing all of the pieces she would teach her students, note for note," recalls Gabi. "Then when I was 13, I said, 'No more piano for me,' but my mom wanted me to keep playing an instrument so I picked up drums. I bought a drum kit, played for six months then stopped doing it and started skateboarding. When I turned 18, my buddy moved in with me and brought his drum kit with him. I started playing it, and I've been playing drums ever since."

"I played piano from 5 to 12. Memorizing the music was the funnest part for me, songs from Lion King or Beauty and the Beast that I had to perform for people. That feeling of accomplishment after a good performance never left me, regardless of the music, as long as you played it well," Justin remarks. "Once I dropped piano, my dad said, 'Get a job or get another instrument.' It was the guitar because right at that time one of my four sisters found her way into flamenco dance, which started from my dad being Spanish and taking us to a Spanish restaurant in Phoenix to watch flamenco shows as his way of introducing it to us. When my sister got into it I was around these amazing guitarists thinking if I just had a guitar these guys would teach me, so I got one and went from there. I hated it at first because it was too hard, and especially because [of the need for] the long nails. I picked it up again six months later, and a couple of years later I met Brian. When I came back, I said, 'If I'm going to do it, I have to get the nails – all or nothing,' so I was 14 playing soccer and literally cutting people and everyone would make fun of me."

"You started getting manicures at 14?" Andrew asks.

"Absolutely, I didn't have a problem with it," Justin laughs. "I would get ridiculed sometimes, but it wasn't that bad."

" Music is something that I've always done. It was a hobby like any kid has – playing soccer or going to the mall – I played guitar. Starting at age 3, I was always air guitaring, so at 5, my mom put a guitar in my hand. I started lessons right away, doing the Suzuki Method. The instructor started me out on a cereal box with a ruler attached to it to learn the positions, where your fingers go first," Brian remembers. "Then, I got a tiny guitar and took lessons until I was 11. After that I started doing heavy metal, punk and rock through various bands in high school until I met Justin and he showed me around the flamenco guitar a little."

Café Tropical
The two school mates starting jamming together, writing songs and eventually recorded their first album, Como en Vivo, in 2003. After meeting Andrew through his brother who was in their class, they recruited him to play bass.

"There was a lot of chemistry from the beginning when we first started jamming. I remember spending a month with these guys learning all the songs, and playing my first gig was nerve wracking," Andrew admits as Brian chuckles. "But we had good chemistry, so the sound was good. And the response was good, so it really helped me get comfortable and I knew were were on to something."

Tesoro went on to release a live album in 2006 and win a Tucson Area Music (TAMMIE) Award for their fiery performances. 2010 brought about a rebirth for the band, regrouping their focus by enlisting vocalist Manuel Iñigo and Gabi, who shared a mutual friend with Andrew, on drums. They put out two more live albums, 2011's Live in Studio A and 2012's Live at Hotel Congress, started playing 100-plus shows a year and earned the title of Top Local Entertainment from Tucson Lifestyle.

When the time came to part ways with Manuel, the band began searching for a new vocalist.

"I was a waiter serving tables, and a customer who would come in all the time told me about this great Latin band who was looking for a singer. He was very insistent and said, 'I'll give them a call right now!' I talked to Justin, but I never followed up because I was just too busy with school and working full time," Efisio recalls. "Eventually, I felt like I really needed to do something with music because it's what I truly love so I was looking on Craig's List and one of the first listings I saw was Tesoro. I thought, 'I recognize this name, but I hope they won't remember me flaking on them."

Everyone laughs as Justin admits, "I didn't remember. He told me the story about two months after joining to remind me."

Born in Venezuela, Efisio says he doesn't have a childhood memory where he's not singing.

"I never realized that I was actually any good until I started high school and people would give me attention over it. That's when I started getting more serious about performing," he grins. "I have a lot of vocal influences. When I was growing up I obsessed about one singer for a couple of years, then a different singer for another couple of years. My first obsession was—"

"Ricky Martin!" Gabi interjects.

"She bangs, she bangs," yells Andrew.

"No, I was so bummed when the 1998 World Cup finished because I wouldn't be able to hear that song [Ricky Martin's "La copa de la vida (Cup of Life)"] on the radio all the time. I was 8, give me a break," Efisio relents with a sigh. "Anyways, for me it was really Ricardo Arjona. I know every single one of his songs. Probably the biggest influence on my vocal technique was Luis Miguel, when I started performing more seriously in high school choir."

As for the rest of Tesoro's members, I wonder if there are specific artists' albums or concerts that hold particular significance to them as well. Gabi's is pretty obvious since he has 'Black Sabbath' tattooed on his arm.

"I heard Black Sabbath at my friend's and went nuts. I bought their first three or four albums and would only listen to those for at least a year," he confesses. "It was really their drummer, Bill Ward, who inspired me to start playing again. I heard his heavy drumming and said, 'OK, that's for me. 'Fairies Wear Boots' was the best song, the one I would play through every single day."

"My first concert was Boston, but that didn't make me want to do music," Brian laughs. "But then I saw Metallica and was like, 'Oh!' If you're 13 years old and seeing Metallica, it's fucking awesome. I wanted to be on the big stage."

"The song that forever reminds me of my childhood is Dire Straits' 'Money for Nothing.' I would climb up on a table, and, right as the drum buildup breaks and the guitar starts, I jumped off the table, pretending I was playing it," recalls Justin. "Gipsy Kings were the first real concert I saw that blew my mind because it was right as I was starting to play Spanish guitar – to see them up on stage doing what my teacher was teaching me in way that was making everybody dance. I liked that fusion side of it, the rock 'n' roll, the fun – that was what drew me in. I wanted to be able to stand up and play like the Gipsy Kings."

"If there's one show that sticks out in my mind, it's when I saw the Flaming Lips open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The energy of both bands was amazing, especially the Flaming Lips. I felt so alive after the show and realized that music can be so powerful," Andrew says. "I always looked up to Flea as a bass player too, his energy, dynamics and overall chops. I saw that the bass can be an epic instrument; it doesn't have to just be the backbone of a band, it can be used as a lead instrument as well. That show was incredible."

As they share their memories, it's clear that each musician has so much passion for music. The blazing flames that decorate Tesoro's cover are a proper description for the music inside. The band teamed with  producer Jim Waters (Sonic Youth, Chuck Prophet, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) for the album, which released last month, and as the literal translation of the title implies, all of the members have come to treasure something from the experience of creating Tresoro.

"We've done three live albums and, when Efisio came, in the first thing was to gett some new music going. We went to Austin and did SXSW for our first time and the next thing naturally was get an album done, a studio album," Justin says. "Jim Waters did an amazing job of capturing the live energy of a Tesoro show, and I think that's the treasure, capturing that little bottle of energy that you can get from every live show and putting it into a CD for people to be able to feel when they listen to the record."

"The band has grown so much in the past few years, with adding Gabi and Efisio, and we're just really starting to hit our stride creatively. It was so fun recording the album; we put in a big effort toward working cohesively," Andrew offers. "We're really happy with the sound that we got. Playing together and tapping into what the band is capable of doing is what I would say the treasure is."

We wrap up our time together at Café Tropical, as the time approaches for the band to do soundcheck for their show this evening at Silverlake Lounge next door, and I as if there's anything they enjoy most about Los Angeles whenever they come to visit.

"It's huge; there's always something to do," replies Gabi. "There's usually a good show to see if we have time. That would probably be the main benefit. And the food, bars."

"It's a more fast-paced life, you're busy and hustling, but there's still some relaxation going on when you're able to eat good food and have some adventures," Justin says.

"We play in Tucson all the time, so when we play for someone who isn't a regular fan it's really cool to see how excited people can get about music when they have never heard us before," Andrew describes. "That's one of the great things, new crowds, making new fans."

"Our music has a shock factor at the beginning, especially for those who haven't seen us before," Justin adds. "Sometimes it takes people a minute, then they're grooving."

When I ask what he hopes an audience comes away with after seeing them perform, Brian replies, "No. 1 is the energy, then maybe inspiration to be creative on their own. You hope that when someone likes your music that they listen further and spread the word about. I'm going to be a little selfish here," he laughs. "We play everything, from restaurants to weddings, and we've had people come up to us and say, 'You made my day.' So mainly, it's to make people happy."

"My personal goal is to make people dance," Efisio interjects. "The great thing about Tesoro is that it's very danceable, easy to find the rhythm. It's always great to see people that you know probably haven't danced in years get up there and have fun. That's my personal goal."

"He can really be the ice breaker for a crowd that you can tell has an itch to dance but wants someone to start the whole thing. When he does, it's funny how the dance floor comes alive," Andrew says.

"When he jumps off a seven foot stage, doesn't break his ankles and starts dancing – that gets the people going," Gabi laughs.

"That happens sometimes," Efisio agrees. "You never know at a Tesoro show, if I'm going to pick you to dance."

"Or, if he's going to land on you," Gabi comments.

You also never know what kinds of covers Tesoro are going to include in their sets. Whether it's an instrumental version of Tool's "Forty Six & 2" or a Spanish version of Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain," they love to mix it up.

"Everybody's different, so you have to mix it up. One of our best venues in Tucson is more of a biker-type bar, and it's interesting to see that crowd go crazy over some of our instrumental stuff," Justin says. "We take what we love to do and turn it into something that creates a dynamic, diversified experience for our fans. All of our experiences, hurdles and accomplishments along the way have helped to form who we are and where we're going. It has all been fun and exciting, and it still is."

Tesoro's self-titled album is currently available. For more information, visit