Music Friday Blog

  • We are back with two wild bands

    trouble_bus_300.jpgThe instability problem with Blogtalk Radio has been solved and we are staying with them. Whew!  I really didn't want to move, but as I understand they are merging with their major competitor - where I was thinking of moving to - it all worked out.  We are back on the air and things are running smoothly.  Actually, our Wednesday bilingual show, MusicaFusionLA never went off - the problem only affected Friday shows.

    We are rescheduling the shows we had to postpone, this week William Close and the Earth Harp and Trouble in the Streets.  We have a list of great artists lined up for booking through November, so don't miss a single show.  This Friday, William Close talks to us about building and playing the world's largest musical instrument, the Earth Harp, which is several stories high and fills canyons with wonderful melodies. He is an installation artist, as well as a musician, so the conversation should be very interesting. Trouble in the Streets, a new Electro TGribal R&B funk band is up next,  They are known for incredibly wild shows with costumes, funky bets, dancing, and a frenzied crowd.  We don't plan on getting frenzied, but who knows.

  • ¡Pá rriba! in an art museum

    LA/LA LAND WEEK OF 9/23/17

    ¡Pá rriba! in an art museum

    lido_snip_1JPG.JPGI am not much for art museums.  I am in no way anti-art; it’s just that walking around in white-walled rooms looking at drawings or sculptures or even installations eventually puts me to sleep.  I like my art loud and moving, preferably with a guitar and drums. So I was a bit hesitant about the invitation I got to the Hammer Museum near UCLA Friday night for the opening of  Radical Women: Latin American art, 1960 -1985, a three and half month- long program of paintings, drawings, videos, discussions, and installations by Latinas.  What attracted me was the music element, Latinas Out Loud”: ¡Pá rriba!  that opened the exhibition. I expected a short set of songs, a lecture about the artwork, and then background music.

    How wrong I was! Next time I will pay more attention to the Spanish.  ¡Pá rriba! means “Get up!” and that is what I and several hundred of my closest friends did in between stops at the two large and fully-stocked bars and the food trucks dispensing Korean bulgogi and other delights. The Hammer is not your father’s art museum and I was never sleepy.

    The Hammer Museum, known in LA as “The Hammer”, is a blocky edifice that could be an office building.  Other than the word “Hammer” on the side in large letters it is pretty much like the office towers around it. Opened free to the public in 1990,  The Hammer was founded by Dr. Armand Hammer, the late Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation for his collections of old masters plus traveling exhibitions. Four years later everything changed.  UCLA took over management and operations of the museum and launched programs that encompassed the entire Los Angeles Community with film, theater, music, and dance as well as static art.  Latinas Out Loud is part of The Hammer’s involvement in the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA art extravaganza and the museum’s programmers held nothing back.  The music and the art were loud and full of Latinas with attitude.

    The Hammer is built around a spacious internal courtyard used for sculpture, playful art or just plain contemplation.  Friday night it was a venue. At one end were a full-scale stage and first-class light and sound setup, a very hot DJ – The Chulíta Vinyl Club – and full light and soundboards and computers staffed by three people, augmented by another nine guys and gals working back and onstage.  Two massive bars had been set up with multiple bartenders shaking and serving like the pros they were. At the back end of the courtyard were glass doors that led out to food trucks parked along the curb.  Plus, all the galleries upstairs and around the courtyard were open and well-attended. Now, that is how an art museum should roll.

    But it was the music that blew me away.  This was a full concert, not an adjunct to the galleries. It kicked off with Sister Mantos, the wild LA-based psychedelic improvisational funk, punk, pop Latin dance band founded by performance artist Oscar Miguel Santos. The nine-piece band belted out lyrics of female and queer empowerment in English and Spanish with beats that did exactly what the posters said –¡Párriba! – got us on our feet. Song after song rolled off the stage with singing, clapping shouting and most of all dancing that turned the courtyard into a noisy writhing mass that itself could have been a dynamic art installation.

    It took a half hour to reset the stage for Lido Pimienta, but the Chulita Vinyl Club turntables kept rolling and the crowd kept dancing, even while they waited at the bars or the food trucks or wandered the art galleries.  It was a three-story party.  Young museum volunteers roamed the floor signing up new members and a museum information table was crowded with bowls of free buttons from bands and local organizations and music posters.

    When the courtyard lights came down, signaling the next act, the art lovers drifted out of the galleries to the catwalks over the courtyard and stage and the writing mass reassembled itself from the bar and food trucks and tables to the dance floor in front of the stage. They knew what was coming.

    What was coming was Lido Pimiento, a small hurricane of music, anger, joy, humor, and audience love. Encased in a silver hoodie suit over black and white prison stripe wide pants, she strolled onto an empty stage chanting Spanish. She moved to stage front center stage where a voice-control pedal box allowed her to distort, modulate and multiply her bell-clear voice.  Her band – a drummer, a synth controller and a female dancer, came out behind her and began building a wall of synth and percussion while the dancer undulated to the lyrics, alternating between Spanish and English, singing the praises of women.

    What followed was part bilingual performance art, part rap, part opera, part synth-punk, part stand-up comedy, part political statement  (“you don’t understand Spanish and you live in Los Angeles? – get with the program!”). She moved constantly, backing up across the stage, sauntering over to the synth table and adjusting the controls, leaping, spinning and hopping. She moved to the edge of the stage and reached into an adoring audience, slapping hands and stopping for photos, then charging to the other side and putting her foot on a monitor in a classic rock pose.  At some point, Lido shed the silver suit to reveal the striped pants, a brilliant flowered shirt, red track shoes and pigtails tied off of with huge flowers.  She was joined onstage for a back and forth duet by Francisca Valenzuela, the Latin Grammy-nominated American-born Chilean singer, poet, and multi-instrumentalist and platinum recording star.

    The beer, wine, and tequila flowed. The lights flashed and strobed and most of downtown Westwood echoes with Latin rock, punk, funk., and people – including me – looked at great art.  I can hardly wait for the next art opening at the Hammer.  I will be ready to ¡Pá rriba!

     

     

     

     

     

  • #AyudaCDMX

     Help Mexico City. 

    The many heroes now unearthing people from the rubble of CDMX (Mexico City) need your help.  Here are some placed to donate.  UNICEF Mexico, the Mexican Red Cross and Brigada de Rescate Topos, a local disaster relief volunteer organization, are looking for monetary donations. You can also donate to groups using crowdfunding sites, including Global Giving and GoFundMe. Nonprofits on the ground in Mexico City will need supplies, including water, batteries, medicine, food and canned goods. Groups and locations that are accepting all types of donations include: Oxfam MexicoSave the Children MexicoLa Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Project Paz.

  • Guy's day Friday. Simpkin Project & the Voodudes.

    voodoodes_washboard300sq..jpgWe have a lot of women on the show, and for good reason - they lead bands, play drums, bass, hot guitar and sing, sing, sing.  Plus they also run record labels and produce ( check out Francisca Valenzuela).  But once in a while, I like to have the guys, on and this week we have two all-guy, very guy bands - although neither is what you would call macho.  Actually, you would call them good.  Simpkin Project somehow manages to combine Americana, reggae, blues, and rock together so that it is infectious and so, so danceable.  Voodudes (how's that for a guy's band name?) is solid Americana, folk, gospel and even a washboard.  Should be a lot of fun.

     

  • RIP Harry Dean Stanton: my interview with him in 2013.

    Harry Dean Stanton died last week at the age of 91. This is an interview I had with him in 2013 and a review of a documentary on his life.

    The following interview took place 8/23/13 at Dan Tana’s bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, Harry Dean Stanton’s hangout for over 40 years and a location for the film.  The interview was done with three other reporters;  this is an edited version of the recorded conversation we had with Harry and Sophie over drinks.

     

    Patrick: You said at one point in the film you wish you had gone into music.

    (Harry) Did I say that?  That’s stupid. I wouldn’t do that.

    Patrick: How did you put together the commentary and bring in the people you did?

    (Sophie) Well, first of all, it was quite hard to bring Harry in…it took about 8 years.  It started with the music.  I started recording his music years before.  And that was the basis of the opening – that was how I could finally persuade Harry to film, to focus on the songs that we recorded.  I hoped that would open Harry up a little more to be interviewed for a film.  I didn’t want Harry just to be a talking head, so I asked other people for interviews.  The other people, like Kris Kristofferson and David Lynch were important musical and film influences on Harry.

    Patrick. You talk a lot in the film about Jack Nicolson, whom you lived with for a while.  Was he opposed to being in the film?

    (Sophie) Actually, Harry asked him directly and he said “no”.

     (Harry) He just didn’t feel emotionally up to it.  We were very close.  We used to live together, so there are a lot of memories

     

    Patrick. Harry, what did you enjoy most about being a part of this process and working with a documentary filmmaker?

    (Harry) I love Sophie and I did it mainly for her.

    Patrick.  Harry, do you like to travel?  You have traveled a lot, but never talk about it.

    (Harry).  No. I hate flying.  I hate taking your clothes off and going through security.  I never really liked flying. I am not afraid of flying, I am afraid of falling.  I am always just happy I made it.  No favorite places …they are all pretty much the same.

    Patrick. You have been recording your singing for some time now.  Do either of you have a collection of  your songs?

    (Harry) Yes, but I don’t listen to them.

    Patrick. Is there way people can hear them?

    (Sophie) Yes, there will be a soundtrack album.  I don’t know when yet. We hope to release a collection of all those recordings at some point.  They are all covers so it means licensing (fees).

    Patrick. You are still acting.  What do you love about acting?

    (Harry) It is all the same on and off camera. Life and acting are all the same.

     

    Patrick. Is there an iconic role , one that is your favorite?

    (Harry) My favorite was Paris, Texas and Repo Man. I loved the writing…they are my favorites mostly because of the writing.

     

    Patrick. How is working with Wim Wenders?

    (Harry) He is a good director.  He is an introvert.

     

    (Earlier in the conversation, Harry had said that his relationships with women were always short-lived, that he was a loner and that he had “ one or two kids, somewhere” , one for sure, but he has not had contacted them for a long time.)

     

    Patrick. Sophie, there is only one woman in the film, Deborah Harry.  Was that by design, or did it just work out that way?

    (Sophie) Deborah was the only one who would comment.

     

    Patrick. Deborah said you essentially played yourself.  Is that true?

    (Harry) Yes I played myself. 

     

    Patrick. This documentary has pretty much been everywhere in film festivals and it has taken several years to release.  Sophie, how are you feeling about it?

    (Sophie) It is great.  I always hoped it would be released theatrically and for a while, that did not seem possible because of the rights we had to obtain.  But I think it is right because Harry should be on the big screen.

     

    Patrick. Which of his films is your favorite?

    (Sophie) First, Paris, Texas.  I saw it growing up in Switzerland. It was the whole vision of America,– that whole Americana, extremely interesting for  Europeans.  And it was in the desert, which we don’t have.  It was a great story and it had a great impact.   I like all of his films, but Paris, Texas is the one that is dominant with me.

     

    Patrick. Can you tell me how the photographer Seamus McGarvey got involved?  His photography of Harry is so beautiful. Especially the black and white

    (Sophie) I met him through a friend while I was recording songs with Harry and I thought I should film him (Harry) too.  And I wanted someone who was really good and whom I knew Harry would get along with.  He said yes.  He agreed to shoot it and I wanted him to shoot it so that it would look cinematic – instead of just video, I shot myself.

    Patrick.  Harry, you just did a small part in a show called Getting On.  You had oral sex in a hospital in one scene.  How was that – to get a blow job at 87?

    (Harry) It is surprising to get a blowjob at 87.  That was with the Big Love People Mark Olson and Will Sheffer. They are good writers, very good writers. That was a dark comedy. 

    Patrick. Sophie, the film is not linear – it moves back and forth and it really works.  Do you plan that or did it evolve?

    (Sophie) Harry is not a linear person. ( Harry asks: What do you mean by that?  Sophie replies: Your life is not a straight line.  Harry: Yes, that is true.). He also does not express that much verbally, If you want to be true to your subject, to tell the story the way he is, that was the way.  Also, he doesn’t express things verbally, so  I wanted to create that quiet, nonverbal atmosphere that I feel when I am around him.  So I looked for things would create that atmosphere, which is that he is relaxed and he is present in the moment.  It would not make sense to produce a normal linear biography about him, so I tried to achieve that being in the present that way.

     

    Parick. A theme that I saw throughout the film is leaving home.  The final song in the film, his lead role in Paris, Texas is about someone who leaves his family.  Was that part of your creative process in making this film?

    (Sophie) Yes.  It was.  It was also about looking for home. For Harry, in way,  it the music  that which keeps him close to home

    (Harry) . Yes, looking for home, looking for enlightenment somewhere.

     

    Patrick. In Hollywood!

    (Harry)  It is all the same.

    Patrick. There is a scene in the film where you are talking to the bartender here, maybe this is home.

    (Harry). Could be. 

     

    Patrick. What do you want people to remember the most about you and your career?

    (Harry). It is not important. Nothing is important.  Red Buttons told me that.  He was a very enlightened man.  I asked him once if he was afraid of dying and he said ‘Harry, I am a comedian, I have died thousands of times’.  Nothing is important.

      

    Review:  Beautiful, absorbing, important.  Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is a film for everyone.

    I have to disagree with Harry.  This film is important.  Harry Dean Stanton is one of Hollywood’s most prolific and legendary actors and a fine  musician.  He has appeared in over 250 films and 50 television shows and is still acting at the age of 87, performing with Daniel Stern and Laurie Metcalf in the HBO series Getting On, to be released in 2014.  He was the lead in Paris, Texas and had important roles in Alien, The Godfather: Part II, Repo Man, The Avengers, Pretty in Pink, and The Green Mile among many, many others.

    Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is director Sophie Huber’s first film.  Her previous experience of live performances, music composition, writing and co-directing with the film collective, hangover ltd., stood her well in assembling this film. .A stroke of genius was the selection of the very talented and professional Seamus McGarvey as the Director of Photography who produced stunning black and white scenes with Harry, taking full advantage of the actors unique, character-filled.

    Another stroke of genius was Huber’s decision to make the film non-linear and to use Harry’s singing and harmonica to roll out his story, instead of the usual documentary practice of starting at the beginning and going to the culmination or the end. By moving back and forth between interviews with Kris Kristofferson, David Lunch (at one point Lynch is interviewing Harry) Wim Wenders, Sam Sheppard and Deborah Harry, Sophie weaves together a coherent story of a somewhat incoherent life.  There is no through-line, but there is a through theme – the search for home, which Harry tells us about in his enigmatic philosophy, his music, and his characters.

    Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (the title comes from a line by Kris Kristofferson) is full of unguarded moments, subtle and not so subtle wry humor, and tales of Harry’s friends Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Kris Kristofferson and others.  Never quite in the center of Hollywood, Harry unintentionally illuminates the secondary rings of the industry, the brilliant people who pursue their art and their stories instead of fortunes based on CGI and toy licenses.

    Sometimes dark, often impressionistic, occasionally a bit slow for an American audience, but always absorbing, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction goes far beyond a documentary on an iconic actor, it is a revealing look into the corners of the entertainment industry.  Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is a must-see for movie buffs, for HD Stanton fans and for anyone who loves Hollywood and the movies.  I guess that makes it a film for all of us.

    Patrick O’Heffernan

    Host, Music Friday

  • Resin and Jackie Vension: blues and dreams this Friday

    RESIN_300SQ.jpgThe best of blues and electronica.  Two very different women but both great talents. Resin with her new album FIDGET, and Jackie Venson with her new album Live from Strange Brew.

  • New single out to help Harvey victims.

    Donna Balancia, music journalist, and Vince Conrad, music producer and founder of bands The Smart Pills and American Bad Taste, have released a single called "One Step at a Time," to help support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Downloads of "One Step at a Time" are available on Bandcamp and CDBaby for $1.99 and a portion of all sales go to charities related to the Texas tragedy.

    "At a time when most of the country is going back to school' time, we can't forget that because of Hurricane Harvey many people in Texas have nothing to go back to," Balancia said. "The people of Texas need support. Vince and I want to give back in some small way to help make things better for Americans in need."

     "Vince is known for his work in the punk rock world and he's a multi-talented musician," Balancia said. "He's a prolific songwriter, guitarist and arranger. I'm the wordsmith and melody composer. Together we're releasing an EP in the fall but this song, 'One Step at a Time' is being released early so that we can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey."

     Conrad, who made his mark in the 1980s with punk bands The Smart Pills, The Aliens and American Bad Taste recently released some hidden gems he unearthed while going through his storage unit.   He remastered and re-released several of the original punk recordings from the 1970s. Check out his website here: https://www.vinceconrad.com.  Donna Balancia is the editor of CaliforniaRocker.com and the president of The Entertainment Magazines LLC, the parent company to several websites that cover tourism, technology, film and music. As a hobby, she has been singing and playing music since she was a child.

    Conrad and Balancia crossed paths many times in the 1980s in New York City, but never actually met until their love of alternative music brought them together at a Los Angeles punk club to see a Walter Lure show.

    Download the single "One Step at a Time" at https://donnabalancia.bandcamp.com/releases

    listen ( and donate) here

  • Preview of PAA Kow's new album this Friday

    Kow_300.jpgWe are in Mexico until Sept 9, checking out the music scene in the Guadalajara area. We won't be interviewing guests, but instead will play full albums - previews of upcoming releases.  This week it is the Cookpot album by the fabulous drummer PAA KOW. Tune in and rock.

  • Frutas: Sin Color’s debut album set to rocket to the top.

    crisia_big_smile576.jpgYou can always tell when an artist or band is going to rocket to the to the top.  They collect an award or two before their first release, draw big crowds when they play locally, and have an overflow audience for the album release party.  Sin Color – the duo of Crisia Regalado and David Aquino – has done all of that and something else – their debut album, Frutas,  is more than debut – it is ready now for prime time.  Not bad for two kids who just turned 20.

    Frutas is a tour de force of musical craftsmanship and sheer talent.  Each of its ten songs is a gem – there is no filler here. Crisia’s opera-trained voice soars and swoops and soothes, supported by David’s superb guitar chops and the backing of Latin Grammy-nominated accordion mistress Gloria Estrada, the great border blues duo The Dank Band, and the percussion genius of Buyepongo, all guided by top producer Eugene Toale.  For artists so young to assemble such a highly regarded group of artists and snap up one of LA’s most in-demand producers to create what is essentially a perfect album first time out is remarkable.

     But Sin Color has always been remarkable. From marrying opera (which Crisia still performs) with Latino folk, and rock and pop to winning the LA Music Critics Best Music Video of 2016 for “Pergunto”, shot on an iPhone while Crisia and David were on roller skates. Frutas is a continuation of their remarkable creativity.

    Frutas is in Spanish except for one song – “Unknown Kiss” –  but the language doesn’t matter for listening.  From the smooth jazz rock of “Un Pensamiento” to the electropop of “Limonada” to the mystery march of the title track, “Frutas”,  Crisia weaves gut-grabbing arias among the beats and the riffs in a fusion of classical and popular that is hypnotic.  It is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.

    Many opera trained singers have migrated to pop (Crisia still sings opera) but I have never heard anyone blend the two so explicitly, keeping the true essence of each but creating a whole far greater than the parts. Frutas was two years in the making and during that time  Crisia’s voice matured and gained very precise control, allowing her to move to the very highest aria notes in “Un Pasemiento” and integrate them into the jazzy beat as if they were born there. She downshifts to a full-bodied pop range in “Arriba La Libertad”,  skating over the synth beats and then reaches for – and touches – the sky in the steady Latin rhythms of La Ciguanaba”.  “Me Pergunto”, which has been a Sin Color staple,  uses her voice in a unique pop signature intro. In “Como El Viento” she touches the sky and then goes into high orbit, all the time riding the ranchera polka energy.

    Shifting to  English and a 4/4 beat in “Unknown Kiss”, Crisia evokes 90’s rock sensibilities deepened by David’s guitar and keyboard riffs which keep you dancing. The band takes us back toward old Mexico ( Crisia’s parents are actually from El Salvador)  in “Antes De Amarte” – and again with synth rifts and pop beats interjected among the bolero influences.  The album winds down with “No Quise”, which stays in the traditional Mexica folk world but with the edge that Crisia’s haunting voice can add – taking the pueblo la plaza into the stars.

    Frutas is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.  I hope we don’t have to wait two years for the next album, but in the meantime, there are at least four hit singles on this one and I will be hearing them a lot as they rocket to the top.

    Sin Colorhttps://www.facebook.com/SinColorTheBand

     Frutas available on iTunes, Amazon.com and Spotify

  • The boys of Americana this week

    grant_malloy_smith_high_contrast300sq.jpgLast week we interviewed the ladies in punk and rock; this week it is the gentlemen of Americana at our microphones, Chuck McDermott and Grant Maloy Smith.  Sit back, relax, put on your Stetson, and just enjoy the roots music of America.