Music Friday Blog

  • Jessica Rotter is back at Music FridayLive!

    jessica_rotter_at_mic._hnd_up_300_sq.jpgGetting Jessica Rotter on the show has been an adventure, b ut a good one.  She was scheduled about a month ago and had to cancel because of a TV shoot.  then we did manage to get her back for a 3 min introduction.  Following that, she released her debut album, Plains, and I attended and reviewed the party and met her in person. Now, she is back for a full interview and we have the album to lay for you. She has a lot of stories to tell about her musical family, her TV career, and maybe a surprise or two.  This wsill be fun.


  • Kris Angelis joins us Friday

    kris_at_mic_lights_.300sq.jpgApparently I was in the same room with Kris Angelis Tuesday and didn't know it.  I may have even talked with her and didn't know it.  We were both at a sound stage at the Red Studios in Hollywood Tuesday afternoon for the shooting of an episode of Audience Music, the AT&T sponsored music and interview show on DirectTV. We likely stood next to each other as we rocked out to Martina McBride who was being taped for the show.  So now I must see Kris live next week at her performance in Hollywood at Bar Lubitsch.  But in the meantime, I have the pleasure of interviewing her and playing her songs this Friday.

  • We go to the star source, paramount Academy of Music.

    Marisa_Gariano_300_sq.jpgMarisa Gariano includes played with several bands in Los Angeles,  and then moved into business, managing hotels and running several educational institutions and education advocacy organizations. She moved into education big time as the CEO and Co-founder Vita Nova Arts and Mosaics School with her husband Rodger Gariano.   But that wasn't enough.  So she co-founded her own school of music, the Paramount Academy of Music in Los Angeles - it was a perfect fit. Her fascination of the impact music has on the development of the brain and its long lasting effects is a perfect mathc for training the next generation of  rock, rap and pop stars.

    She was joined in this adventures by Carl Restivo.  After graduating from New York University with a B.A. in Film Production & Music Production,  Carl was introduced to Wyclef Jean. They bonded instantaneously and began writing, producing, and recording songs for Wyclef's album The Preacher's Son, resulting in the song "Linda", that they wrote together, which also features Carl on guitar and co-lead vocals. 

    At the request of founder Paul Green, Carl accepted the Music Director position of the new School of Rock in Hollywood, CA. Carl served as Music Director for 5 years, and directed young musicians age 7-17 in over 100 shows. During his time as MD of The School of Rock Hollywood, Carl was asked to join the band Satellite Party by Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction) and Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme). Restivo served as Music Director, bassist, and backing vocalist of the group, which performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Carson Daly before touring across Europe, UK, and USA. But the lure of Paramount was too much and now he is the music director.  And as we will discover in the interview, he brought a lot of friends with him, friends you have probably heard of.

  • Sin color mixes it up with us this Friday.

    sin_color_fashion_shot._300_sq.jpgI have talked here before about the creative cauldron that is EastLos - East Los Angeles, an area that actually expands south and north into downtown and even beyond into the San Gabriel Valley.  Here the culture of Latin America, especially Mexico, meshes with the culture of American rock and roll and blues and rap and hip hop to produce ALM - American Latin Music.  Dozens of bands, singer/songwriters, clubs, producers, agents swirl around mixing forms, mixing languages, mixing cultures and producing stars. And then there are the exceptions, the stars that did not start from the usual cumbia and rock, ranchero and blues, Latin and R&B.  Sin Color is one such exception. 

    Sin Color (Without Color) started not with rock or rap or blues;  it started with opera.  Sin Color is transforming traditional styles of music into pop soundscapes like their colleagues, but they come at it from a totally different place - classical. Crisia Regaladom, lead singer of the band trained in opera singing since she was ten years old and was ready for a career looking out over the symphony. But popular music pierced the classical bubble and she dipped her toe into the ALM world and now combines her operatic singing voice with pop, creating the band's own unique sound. Sin Color mixes their sound of bossa nova, cumbia, and disco through indie pop, which sparks a shimmering movement and dance experience for their audience. 

    They are on the cusp of moving into the bright lights, having performed at events and local 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. We are delighted to have them on Music Friday Live!

  • Jessica Rotter releases new album with sky high party and Purple Rain

    Jessica_rotter_launch._mic._bass_300.jpgJessica Rotter launched her first album Friday night with a sky-high party and a “Purple Rain” tribute to the late  artist, formerly known as Prince.  The party, produced by BalconyTV’s Cindi Avnet atop the W Hollywood Hotel, was packed with friends, family and fans, all well warmed up in advance by the lively LA-based countryish-rock band, Bjorn and the Sun.   

     Flanked by her uniquely curated ensemble of musicians -- a mandolinist, a percussionist/rapper, three backup singers, a bass/slide guitarist, drummer, violinist, and cellist --  the TV actress/singer took the stage and without introduction opened with “Flying Off” from the new album Plains.  It took the noisily happy crowd a minute to quiet down, but once they did, Rotter’s magnificent voice and warm stage manner made the connection and they were hooked.  It wasn’t long before they were singing along.

     She gave us 11 songs, most from the album but she threw in a couple of surprises and mashups – “because everybody loves mashups” she told us.  Songs ranged from the bass-led pop anthem “Pray for Rain”  to  the swirling sunshine of “Flowers in My Hair” and the incredibly poignant “Winter Sun”.  She also delighted the audience when she announced that one song was written when she discovered she was pregnant.  She wrapped  up with “Porch Song”, a folk ballad that delivered a stunning emotional payload.  But the crowd was not going to let her go and she easily acquiesced to the calls for an encore, bringing Bjorn and the Sun up on stage with her for a group sing of “Purple Rain” with the audience.

     Plains will have no trouble standing out in the expanding universe of female-led albums.  Rotter has an innovative and deft touch with arrangements – the mandolin and Irish drums mixing perfectly with rapping, cello notes and hot guitar riffs – and a voice that can shift smoothly from inspiring to seductive to melancholy.  Most of all, she has that unique ability to sing to you, whether it is from a stage or a CD or stream, her voice and lyrics get under your skin and talk to your DNA.  That is a gift that that will propel Jessica Rotter’s star high in the music firmament.

  • 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


    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