Music Friday Blog

  • Classic Music Friday Live this week

    I am still recuperating from minor surgery so this Friday we will be running a Music Friday Classic featuring Vanessa Campagna and Dessy DiLaura will relive the interview a will 

  • Irene Diaz premiers “This Cannot Be”

    iRENE._BLUE_BCKGRND._300.jpgThe line stretched out long before 7:30 pm, starting at the locked door of a non-descript office building on a ready-to-gentrify section of South Broadway in Los Angeles.  They came from all over the sprawling city and far beyond:  downtown, EastLos, Mt. Washington, the Valley, Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Boyle Heights, Pacific Palisades, Koreatown, Orange Country, Long Beach.  One woman drove the 130-mile round trip from Santa Paula with her 6-year-old daughter; another came up from San Diego.

    There were beaming abuellos and tias,  giggling high schoolers,  hipsters, Latinos, gringos, Asians, African Americans, straight and gay couples and young people still figuring it out.  And many, many children. They clutched tickets that read “Premier of  This Cannot Be.   Next to them on the sidewalk was another line of people with no tickets, hoping to get the few reserved for walk ups. They were all there for the same reason: love. The object and the source of that love was Irene Diaz.

    Diaz  sings love songs;  she’s a modern day torch singer-songwriter who, in a very short time, has gained national acclaim. I first saw her in at a Santa Monica church venue about 3 years ago when she was playing in coffee houses and community centers.  It wasn’t long before those gave way to the Troubadour,  the House of Blues and national exposure on NPR.  Her first E.P. “I Love You Madly”,  was a hit with both fans and critics, and her subsequent releases have cemented her place here in the nation’s music capital and in the hearts of the tens of thousands nationwide who stream and buy her songs.  

     The doors opened, ushering fans into the main soundstage of the Civic Center Studios converted into a music venue for the premier party. Diaz circulated in the growing crowd, hugging old friends and delighting new ones with luminescent smiles and tinkling laughter.  Soon the rows of plastic chairs were filled, the cocktail tables occupied and the crush of people made movement impossible.  They were sold out and more.

     After a brief welcome by Qulture Board Member and performance poet Cyn Da Poet (Cynthia Gonzales), Diaz and her musicians stepped onstage – no warm-up band, no introduction, just a smile and a hello as Diaz picked up her guitar and premiered “This Cannot Be”.

     This was pure Irene Diaz – she travels in quiet honesty.  Usually the shortest and always the most powerful person in the room, she needs no introduction – her songs do that.

     And they did, starting with “This Cannot Be” which carries the weight of love’s joy and pain and places it gently in your ears and your heart.  Drawn from her own experience and, as we saw later, from the experience of one of the two Latinas in the music video,  it tells the story of young love’s elation and the devastation when that love is thwarted by prejudice and ignorance. Diaz’s voice and guitar combined with Carolyn Cardoza’s haunting ukulele delivered an emotional payload that hushed the crowd, even the children.  Diaz’s “This Cannot Be” brings the art of the love song into the 21st century and sets a new standard for the songs of our most desired and dangerous emotion.

     In the eight songs that followed, Diaz and her band – Carolyn Cardoza on ukulele, Bill Markus on upright bass, and Seung Park on Cajon and drums --flowed from the  seductive fun of “Lover’s Sway” to the driving beat of “Frequencies” and the haunting melody of “Untitled Love Song”.  She introduced a new offering, the blues-and soul inflected “Push”, while images of her singing on the beach danced on a giant screen behind the stage. Perhaps a preview of the full album she has promised, “Push” adds another tile to the mosaic of the love experience that is Diaz’s catalog of songs. 

     Irene Diaz may have a stunning catalog, but she does not have a label, a publicity consultant, a tour manager or even a roadie.  She just works hard. She studied classical piano for almost two decades, gaining symphony-level chops before hearing the music of Ella Fitzgerald and deciding that love songs were what was inside of her. Her lyrics are sometimes painful, sometimes playful, sometimes blind-lost-in-love romantic.  But they are always honest.  She writes and sings what she feels without regard to trends or market demands.  She does not binge listen to artists she likes to avoid sounding like them.  The result is the she is a unique musical embodiment of love in all of its forms and fallacies.

     The video for “This Cannot Be”,  produced by the Elfante Collective, underscored Diaz’s honest embrace of the full consequences of love.  Starting with the fast friendship of two high school Latina’s that developed into romance, only to be thwarted by a father for whom love was only for boys and girls, is both exhilarating and aching to watch. The video, unspoken with only “This Cannot Be” as its soundtrack, takes us through the arc of joy and pain and devastation that so many young people face today as they and their families wrestle with their sexuality, as Diaz did.  Tears dotted the faces of many in the audience, straight and gay, as the video reached its inevitable close. The tears reappeared during the Q&A session with Diaz and the actors and video team that produced the video. 

     Diaz wrapped the evening with her signature “Crazy Love” and a second showing of the video.  While fans queued up to take selfies with her or pose for Facebook pics with Los Photos interns, many headed to Civic Center Studios’ upstairs lounge. There they chatted with volunteers from Mi Centro, a Boyle Heights-based service center for gay Latinos,  learning that although 56% of Latinos support gay marriage, in many families a son or daughter who comes out can be beaten or expelled.  Mi Centro is a safe space for them.

     The crowd that overflowed the Civic Center Studios, and the over half million people who buy and stream Diaz’s music, are more than fans, they are an extended family that Diaz is creating, one love song at a time.  The room had the feel of the audiences for LA’s  La Santa Cecelia at the cusp of their Grammy award and national recognition. Diaz’s fans are not just Latinos -- she sings in English; they are not just jazz or blues fans, they are not just local community activists. They are people of every color and age from every zip code.  And they bring children, many little girls in their Irene Diaz t-shirts. What they have in common is their unqualified love for Diaz and the honest love she returns to them in live events and recorded music. The night was a musical valentine to that extended family. The song “This Cannot Be” is another chapter in her book of love – a sad chapter, but one whose telling may end the need for it to be told.

  • Lineup change. Rotten out, Valentini in with a first ever song debut

    nick_face._300_sq.jpgJessica Rotter's acting career intervened this Friday.  She has been tapped for a part in the TV series "Transparent" and will be shooting Friday morning instead of talking to us.  Congratulations Jessica!! We will have her back in May where we can debut songs from her forthcoming album and talk about the music aspect of her career, and how she has built a following with her stunningly beautiful voice and songwriting.

    Fortunately, Nick Valentini gallantly stepped in and are we happy to have him.  Nick is the recognized genius of rock-fusion-funk-jazz in southern California and although the Nick Valentini Collective has been in operation just over six months they sell out venues and assembly a tour.  But first, they are assembling an album for release late this summer and we have two of the songs to preview for you.  Never before hear on radio...if you ar a jazz fan or a Valentini fan, get ready, this will be your only chance to hear this music and talk to Nick before the release.

    And of course, we are debuting songs from Salme's upcoming new album, making Music FridayLive the place where artists come to preview their soon-to-be-released works.

  • This week, two women who are bookends to America's music

    salme_t-shirt_300sq.jpgThe show this week has two women at the top of their game who are musical and geographic bookends. Salme, a NYC-based EDM artist whose voice and beats not only power the nights in Manhattan but have been in movies, TV shows and commercials - you have heard her whether or not you know it. From the other coast, California, comes Jessica Rotter whose achingly beautiful pop songs and ballads have fueled movies like "Perfect Pitch 1 and 2" and "Frozen" as well as backed up major artists like Kay Perry and Carole King. Two powerful artists; two bookends to America's music.

    The show this week has two women at the top of their game who are musical and geographic bookends. Salme, a NYC-based EDM artist whose voice and beats not only power the nights in Manhattan but have been in movies, TV shows and commercials - you have heard her whether or not you know it. From the other coast, California, comes Jessica Rotter whose achingly beautiful pop songs and ballads have fueled movies like "Perfect Pitch 1 and 2" and "Frozen" as well as backed up major artists like Kay Perry and Carole King. Two powerful artists; two bookends to America's music.

     

     

  • The Living Sessions brings GirlsRockLA to Hollywood

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    Julieta Isela took the stage in Club Los Globos intimate lounge and opened the long-anticipated  #Girls RockLA Friday night to cheers from the packed room.  The bilingual program of music and poetry included the duet Darlene and Jasmine, Lupita Ye & Las Refalosa, Viri and Los Banditos, DJ sets by La Muy Muy and Fanny deMode, plus belly painting!  Rather than tell you about it, I will post videos every day until they are all up.

     Belly painting

     belly_paint_first.coompress.jpg belly_painting._compress.jpgbelling_after._compress.jpg

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-yjyfOFjnc

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5OonyJRlo8

     

     

     

  • Eric Zayne interview

    Eric_zayne_._green_shirt._hat300sq.jpgWe had a litle chat on the air about music, women and the new album.

    I first met Eric Zayne at a pre-Grammy concert in LA over a year ago and took to him immediately. Open, honest, friendly, high energy and an explosive talent for song writing, performance and concepts that makes him unique, even in this town of highly talented people.  .  Originally from the Congo, he settled in Canada after fleeing violence in his home country and then in 2013, dived into the huge pop and rock scene here in LA. Next thing you know out came the hit singles “Spin the World” and “Maneater”, a knock out video and an EP --  plus killer performances both here and abroad. Now he is back and about ready to release a new album. He sent me a few of the finished songs and they are dynamite.  He stopped by for a chat before going back into the studio to get the new album out by April.

     Patrick. Eric, what have you been doing since we talked last…where have you been?

     Eric. Oh my god.  I can’t remember all the places I have been working really hard.  I do remember that when we talked last I had just released “Neptune”  - which was on  and old EP.  All of the songs on this album are new which are not released yet – you are the first to hear them.  We are shooting a video for the first song, “Emergency” on the 29th and it should be released sometime in April.  I had a great 2016- I signed with a great, great manager who knows a lot of the right people and we just signed a publishing deal with the President of SONY in New York.  We are planning a big single release for “Emergency” and I am so excited.

     Patrick.  Why do you work so hard?

     Eric. I have just had my head in the sand away from the public to write this new EP.  I hear how the music should be but I don’t want to do it all myself, but when you have a vision it is hard to find people who care about it as much as I do.  So I did almost all of it myself.  I did the production, the song writing, I played all the instruments I engineered it.  I begged for people to take some roles – some did, but it was a huge amount of work to reach the level I see in my vision.  I am coming up for air and will do some shows now.

     Patrick. From what I have heard I think you have a hit on your hands here. One of the songs you sent me is “She’s a Fire”.  It is full of brilliant musical craftsmanship – it is a great combination of addictive arrangement and intriguing lyrics.  Who is she that is a fire?

     Eric. She is never to be spoken about…a name you don’t speak.  We had a very passionate relationship, a little on the edge, a little bit dangerous.

     Patrick.  You sing a lot about women, and frequently from a unique point of view, like “Maneater” or your 2014 remake of “My Girl”.  How do women fit into your conceptual music universe?

     Eric.  I would say women are the driving force of my life – a major force in my life.  We are all looking for another half and for me I am always looking for a home, that other half to complete me.  I am out here doing this by myself and I feel like I am on an island and I write about this concept, about that l.

     Patrick.  Another new song, “Emergency” is a real grabber – what inspired it?

     Eric.  A relationship – we just couldn’t have any peace, it was always war, the passion was so strong.  She creates the chaos and I come to the rescue.

     Patrick.  You played at the LA Fashion week and you met a Warmkins.  How was that?

     Eric.  Yes, I just did the Fashion Week which was a huge event.  A friend of mine runs it and he asked me to open the show and I met the Warmkins people there and I loved getting my picture taken with the monkey.  They are a very, very good organization. Fashion Week is very intense…I felt like Zoolander.  There were thousands of people lining up around the runway and there I was …it was lights, camera action.  Such a trip.

     Patrick. You have a new song coming out “No Church for Me”.  Isn’t the studio your church?

     Eric.   This is a song that is very important to me because I grew up in a multi-cultural family in the Congo.  I evacuated when I was a kid and since I was 11 years old I have been moved around to different countries and different families, different cultures.  I have watched others have a best friend or high school memories or  a religion – they had a center I have never had that. I would feel alienated from that culture.  I know I am not the only one who feels that way.  It talks about people who don’t fit in…who compromise their own truth to fit into what’s there.

     Patrick.  So April for the album?

     Eric.  Yes.  I want everything to be right.  But once we shoot the video, we will be ready.

     Patrick.  Thank you…it is always a pleasure

     Eric.  Thank you.  

     

    hear the full interview at http://bit.ly/1URe2AT

     

    http://bit.ly/1URe2AT

  • The music business is not working and maybe Jayson Won can fix it.

    jayson_won_at_office300.jpg Let me give you a little background.

    Everyone agrees that the internet has profoundly changed the music industry. John Mellencamp has said that the internet is “the atomic bomb that destroyed the music business.”  Stevie Nicks has stated flatly that “the internet has destroyed rock.” And many, many others – artists, producers, even venues all complain that the music industry is broken and it is the internet’s fault. 

    Are they right? We are going to ask Jayson Won this Friday. Jayson is the founder of World Arts, a new approach to the music biz.

    There is history here we need cover first. Before Napster burst on the scene in 1999 and iTunes in 2004, people assumed you paid for music, just like you pay for movies or plays or the beer you drank at concerts – which you also paid for.  Napster introduced the idea that music is free on the internet;  iTunes broke up the album so if you did pay, it was less than a dollar for only the song you wanted. Then SoundCloud and Pandora and Spotify and Bittorrent took it to the limit creating a world in which you streamed or downloaded music for free – you never had to pay for it again if you didn't want to, and millions didn't want to.

    But if the internet has made music free, how do emerging bands ever get out of the garage?  The answer is usually, thanks to the internet they don’t need to. But it is not that simple, which is where Won comes in. He is providing an all-encompassing platform that lets bands bypass the big record company gatekeepers and provides all the resources they need besides the internet to get out of the garage.

    Emerging bands can and do build fan bases online. To pay the rent, they leverage those fans to bring in money at gigs, sell CD’s, collect from google ads on their sites and YouTube channels and earn (very) micro-payments for Spotify streams. And maybe a few will license a song to a TV show or commercial. But if you are an emerging band and you don’t have a six- figure twitter and Instagram following yet, those live gigs will pay in “exposure”, or you may end up actually paying the club.  CD sales at gigs pay the bar bill, but usually not much else. You need more.  you need production space, videos, adivce and mentoring and a way for people - both fans and industry folks - to see you.

     But there isn't a way for emerging bands to get those resources.  The result is the music biz has become a vacuum – no one is making any money, or rather a few people are making money but life is pretty cash-empty if you are not Taylor Swift or Drake. Vacuums must be filled, in nature and in business.  Entrepreneurs have emerged to fill this vacuum with new models for the music industry. One of the most interesting and active of those ideas is Won’s World Arts, an entity so new and unique it doesn’t really have a name.  It combines a brick and mortar venue with a recording studio and video production and online concerts and Periscope broadcasts and sponsorship of music events and live shows, songwriting classes, interviews and a global meetup platform –  everything artists, fans and even music industry execs need and want.  And it pays the bands.

     How this all works, and more importantly, where it fits in the music biz and how it will change the biz, is topic of a conversation Music FridayLive will have this week with Jason Won, Executive Creative Director & COO, World Arts. Jayson is a drummer, a designer, a producer and a visionary.  And he is making waves. Don’t miss this show.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Junk Parlor’s new Melusina album: dangerous, wild, fun.

    junk_parlor._harvells._3.2016._smoke_._head300.jpgGypsy rock and roll.  Sounds dangerous.  Actually it is dangerous but a lot of fun.  And no one does it better than Junk Parlor, as their latest album, Melusina demonstrates.  Melusina is like taking a drug – a big rush, continuing high, then addiction, often accompanied by dancing.  True to its Melusina namesake, the twin-tailed mermaid long used as a symbol in alchemy to represent female sexuality and the dual nature of humanity, the album is a combination of wild abandon, joyful cavorting and dark tales.   

    Junk Parlor’s founder and leader, Jason Vanderford, has conjured a gypsy-cadenced album that recalls the classic belly dance LP's of Ala Turk or Radio Bastet and mixed them with instrumental gypsy folk melodies and a touch of rock.  He weaves this bubbling concoction together with his howling, haunting voice and cinematic lyrics. The result is a unique music form that you just can’t get out of you head. But then, why would you want to?

    Melusina unfurls in ten songs, some instrumental and some lyrical.  Opening with the high octane Macedonia gypsy traditional dance tune “Majstore Majstore,” it flows naturally into a second instrumental, the Vanderford-written traditional sounding song, "Loverfish". The notes of ‘Loverfish roll out, painting a picture of women dancing by firelight on the beach as the Melusina watches from her perch on a rock offshore, illuminated by the flickering firelight.

    The title song “Melusina” rises full length from the sea as Vanderford tells the story in his spookiest voice and drummer R.T. Goodrich’s snare drum and Tim Bush’s bass propels us forward.  “Melusina”  also introduces the violin of Hanna Mignano, a welcome new addition to the band. She is a classical violinist with a ring in her nose that tells you she is not quite what her 12 years of study with a Romanian master violinist would lead you to expect. Mignano adds a color and depth and a  jazz-like quality that moves the already high altitude talent of Junk Parlor into the stratosphere.

    “Alphabet City” starts with a sharp downbeat on the Cajon and then goes dancing and swirling.  This is a happy song, a party song that just wants to spin and jump – no story, no artifice, no emotion except joy.

    “Golden Earring,” written by Victor Young, downshifts with a slow plaintive guitar that carries the story deep in its notes rather than explicitly in lyrics.  Next, the traditional dance song, “Gold Star Academy” brings the pace back to a wild dance level which shifts again with ‘Into Dust”,  a more modern, stripped down and almost-blues arrangement carrying a story related by Vanderford while he is backgrounded by a simple strum and a frame drum or riq.

    “Into Dust” gets under your skin and then shoots up with a bridge that tightens you stomach muscles (among others), and moves into a slipstream with Mignano’s emotion-laden strings. The conjoining of the Mignano’s violin and Vanderford’s voice is almost scary, so much so that you want to play it again just to make sure you heard what you think you heard.

    Vanderford lets you recuperate with some good old fashioned 4/4 rock in ‘Treehouse” with R.T. moving the rhythm on a Cajon and Jason carrying the melody on an electric guitar played with 50’s style and flamenco finesse.  Pay particular attention to the percussion on “Treehouse” as drummer R.T. Goodrich moves the Cajon and a variety of other percussion instruments to the fore in solos and breakdowns as well serving as the backbone of the piece.

    Goodrich continues the Cajon into “High Desert” as the band add shakers, finger cymbals and a perfectly pitched bassline scaffolding Jason’s finger picking. The album wraps us with “Procession of Kardar”  written in the 19th century by the Russian composer, Mikael Ippolitov-Ivano, and still fresh today in the hands (and riq drum and guitar) of Vanderford and the band.

    While Melusina is directed at fans not only of Junk Parlor, but also of  Trad and European folk, and gypsy music, Vanderford has put together a range of songs and a level of playing and production that lifts this album over the genre lines into a broader market of people who love to dance or even just tap their feet to really good wild sound. I, for one, am one of them.

     

     

  • Los Hollywood at Club Los Globos: electrified and electrifying.

    lOS_hOLLYWOOD__at_Los_Globos._300sq.jpgI love to drop by Club Los Globos – there is always a hot ALM (American Latin Music) band and a surprise.  The surprise Sunday night – for me at least – was Los Hollywood.  Wow!  I don’t know if this was punk, rock, pop or a mashup of all of the above, but it was bass-led, chica-led electrifying fun.

     Heidy Flores, Gustavo Mojica, Mark “Marcos” Mondragon and Chuy Garcia kept the audience clapping, rocking, smiling and  happy through their entire set.  With songs like “Cucu”, “Te Busco”  and “Hasta Manana” plus a  sampler of new songs, they were a as much fun as Heidy’s flirtatious eyes which fixed on various audience members as she took a rock-solid  wide stance on center stage, leading the band with her bass guitar.

     The set was bi-lingual, as was the audience, and Flores switched back and forth in language as she connected with her Latino and gringo fans, demonstrating a stage presence that was both intimate and commanding. Combining Latin rhythms and British and American pop rock, they  demonstrated why they have blazed a trail unique in the ALM category… their first  single, "No Te Aguites"  was song of the week on iTunes Latino with 60,000 downloads.

     As they cruised through their set with new and old songs, including “Nobody Knows”, “Que Me Lleve el Diablo”,  “ Renacer” and “Te Busco”, I could not help thinking that Flores is a star waiting to happen and the band is a breakthrough on the edge.  The songs are compelling, the music is tight, the band is polished, personable and knows how to connect with an audience while it lays down extraordinary beats. And most of all, each song is a jewel in itself, carefully crafted and then freed to swirls through the crowd like a rainbow colored hurricane.

     Flores herself is the epitome of ALM – born and raised in San Diego with Mexico and California deep in her musical blood, she has teamed up with her songwriting partner from Mexico, Mark Mondragon, to bring to earth her musical vision that blends the ranchero music she listened to as a child with British pop like the Beatles and the voice of her favorite female singer, Canadian Alanis Morissette. The final concoction is electrical and electrifying; there is nothing like it.

     I have already put Los Hollywood songs on my fav playlist, and they keep me moving and thinking throughout my day.  Soon, I expect the entire country will be doing the same.

     

     

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZlJa07Wu2o&feature=youtu.be

  • Sin Color at Club Los Globos: present at the creation.

    at_mic._stand_up300sq.jpgI love seeing the birth of a great band at the very beginning, which is what I think I witnessed last night at Club Los Globos on the edge of Hollywood with Sin Color, the South LAduo of singer Crisia Regalado and multi-instrumentalist David Aquino, plus a kick-ass backing band of drummer Nico Curiel, bass player David Campos and the incredibly talented synth/bongo player Ivan McCormick.

    Sin Color (“Without Color” – a misnomer if there ever was one) has burst on the American Latin Music scene in Los Angles, transforming traditional styles of music into pop soundscapes. Lead singer Regalado, who at 19 isn’t actually old enough to be in the Los Globos club, trained in opera singing since she was ten years old.  Like  LA’s other classically trained Latina, pianist Irene Diaz, she puts her training work combining operatic singing with pop sensibilities and songwriting. 

     Combined with Aquino’s deft guitar and keyboard chops, the two of them create their own unique sound. Sin Color  mixes bossa nova, cumbia, and disco into indie pop song which are the opposite of sugary confection. Danceable – yes; but also meaningful and delivered with an intensity that surprises the audience when comes from the diminutive Regalado. And they are just beginning – only one song up on SoundCloud plus a handful of live and cellphone videos, with the lyric “Pergunto” giving a first class example of their talent..

     Because of the paucity of recorded music, Sin Color fans, who are growing, have to enjoy them live, which is getting easier as Sin Color is working their way through the hot spots for ALM and Chicano pop music in LA, and beyond. They have mesmerized audiences at events and venues such as Dark Nights at L.A. Live, Día de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the East Los Angeles Art Walk, The Moltaban Theater, Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Los Globos, and Boyle Heights favorites, M-Bar, Mariachi Plaza, and Eastside Luv. The act is polished and tight, even with a fresh band. Their appearance last night at legendary Los Globos signals that these two are stepping out and ready for the bigger time.

    Keep your eyes on Sin Color.  They have a ways to go before they settle down into a consistent configuration, what they are doing now is tight and dynamite.  See them live while you can still afford the tickets.