Music Friday Blog

  • Rock with a mandolin? Ryan Shupe this Friday

    ryan_shupe.band_agains_the_wall300.jpgRyan Shupe and the Rubberband are a tight, acoustic quintet  with a fanatical regional basecentered in Salt Lake City.  A second generation fiddle player, equally at home with an electric or acoustic guitar or mandolin, Shupe knows how to rock.  This is no quiet mountian boy folk singer.  He will be playing at The Mnt in LA the night of his interview and I am taking my family to see him.



  • Cosmos&Creature this Friday

    cosmos300.jpgI saw these two at the 4th-anniversary party for BalconyTV and loved them.  I loved them even more when I heard the backstory - how they had separate careers and combined forces in a way that made them even more popular.  Interestingly, Brandyn Burnette came to the duo with the biggest numbers - 3 million streams for his last song, but it is Molly who is out in front.  Of course, she is very talented, has great stage presence and has her own fan base, so it was a match made, well, if not in heaven, then definitely in Spotify. We will play their new song, "Young".

  • LA's unique The Tribe bring heart and soul to Haiti Relief at the E-Spot

    the_tribe__four_on_stage._ompressed.jpgWho says LA has no heart?  Not The Tribe, LA’s unique collective of  first-call session and touring musicians, vocalists and name artists who gathered on short notice at the famed the E-Spot jazz club in Sherman Oaks Sunday night to raise money the Haiti relief fund.  Heart was very much in evidence as 20 musicians donated their time and talent, entertaining the audience with over two dozen songs, plus stories, jokes, poetry and just plain fun while fans dropped checks and bills into Pure Water for the World’s collections buckets at each table.

    Coordinated by the indefatigable and irrepressible Lauri Reimer, the packed stage featured more talent than you see in a Grammy Awards night.  Moving on and off stage were Freebo (Bonnie Raitt, CSN), Marc Mann (Danny Elfman, Jeff Lynne), Rob Bonfiglio (Wilson Phillips), Ginger Blake & Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford (The Honeys), Jeff Alan Ross (Peter Asher, Badfinger), John Wicks (The Records), Dave Pearlman (Dan Fogelberg, Bobby Womack), Al. Keith (Dave Wakeling, Sugar Ray), John Pratt, Kevin Wachs, Jay Cohen, Michael Stern, Lois Blaisch, the poet Stephen Kalinich, Gary Stockdale, Adam Daniel, Scotty Mitchell, John McNeely, Steve Goddard and Pete Wagonhurst.  Also part of the group, but not onstage Sunday night are Albert Lee, Bob Cowsill, and Carnie  and Wendy Wilson, among others.

    Mistress of Ceremonies Reimer not only kept all of the musicians in line and on schedule, but sang and accompanied herself on the tambourine…smiling all the way through, an impressive feat all by itself.

    High points abounded, from The Honeys singing the Everly Brothers hit “All I have to Do is Dream” to Freebo’s heart rendering “No Place Like Home” to Gary Stockdale’s sly “Smoking” lampooning the tobacco industry – after informing the millennials in the crowd that yes, there was a time when most people smoked, even on TV.  The Beatles made an appearance (of course) with “A Little from my Friends ” sung by Kevin Wachs and “All you Need is Love” by  Pete Wagonhurst – all with giddy  and mostly in key audience participation. For me the song that still vibrates a day later was “Hallelujah” by Adam Daniel, backed up by Reimer and Lois Blaisch.

    Given that Reimer had only two  and half weeks to assemble and promote the evening, and that some of the musicians were actually travelling and flew in for the concert – with only an hour to spare in one case – Haiti Relief went off extremely well.  The only disappointment was that it did not sell out, even with a ticket price of only $20.  It was by far the best musical bargain in LA on Sunday night.  To get that much talent together, rehearsed, geared up and giving their all to the audience was worth much, much more. 

    The nature of The Tribe is what made it possible, in addition to Reimer’s organizing and artist herding skills. The Tribe are all LA-based musicians whose mission is to gather and perform for various cause;  it is what they do. Selling them on the idea is the easy part; getting them all onstage at the same time in less than three weeks was quite an accomplishment.

    If you missed the Haiti Relief show at the E-Spot, there is still time to donate at  and to see the Tribe at the upcoming  Peace, Love and Understanding concert at Cal State University at Northridge Plaza del Sol Performance Hall, Dec. 4.  If it is anything like the Haiti Relief concert it will be the best music bargain in LA, and it will have  a lot of heart.






  • Eljuri at the Gibson Showroom: exuberant, exciting, explosive and far larger than life

    el_judi_musica_estacy_300sq.jpgWith the energy of a 20-year old and the chops of one of the nation’s most seasoned rock guitarists, Eljuri blew the roof off the Gibson Showroom in Beverly Hills at a special Girls RockLA performance Thursday night, produced by The Living Sessions.  It wasn’t just the guitar riffs – although they were incendiary, and it wasn’t just her singing – although she growled and soared and dug into our ears and our brains with best the best of them.  It was her presence – the there that Eljuri is:  exuberant, exciting, explosive and a woman who knows  herself, where she is going and how very, very good she is.

     In LA for a quick stop, Eljuri gave 1000% to the crowd who managed to get into small but prestigious venue.  Ripping through ten songs from La Lucha,  her new album released this month,  that  ranged from the anti-gun-violence hard rocker “Bang Bang” to the more melodic (but still rocking) “Salvame”. Working with an abbreviated band  from her native New York, consisting of Johnny Pisano on bass and Alex Alexander on drums, Eljuri (whose full name is Cecelia Villar Eljuri), filled the guitar-strewn showroom with a sound that spilled out across the street to the Civic Center.

     Eljuri is a first class entertainer as well as stellar musician. The performance was bi-lingual and the music was interspersed with stories from her days in punk bands at New York’s famous (and now gone) punk club CBGBs, as well as her travels and some of  her social views.  With a mile-wide smile, twinkling eyes, wild curls and long rangy body and arms that easily encompass not only her large Gibson Les Paul guitar, but seemingly everyone on stage and in the room, Eljuri is far larger than life.

     It is no wonder she is such a fascinating individual as well as a superb musician. Born in Ecuador but raised mostly in New York City, she easily straddles both Latin and gringo cultures and many musical genres. She grew up in the New York punk scene and played with English language bands like the early alt rockers, the Trouble Dolls. She started playing music as a young child with the blessing of her parents, her father Paco Villar, the Ecuadorian broadcaster, and her songwriter mother, Olga Eljuri de Villar.  They encouraged her to learn piano at the age of five and by 12 years old she had started her own rock and roll cover band. She decided to learn guitar at 14 and started writing punk and rock songs. She loved  playing in English language bands but her Ecuadorian heart (and manager Paola Romano) called her to concentrate on Spanish-language writing and rock en español.  She formed  her own band, Grupo Fiesta (with Cindy Padilla on lead vocals), and in 2006  went solo, releasing two solo albums and touring simply as Eljuri (pronounced “El hoodi”). La Lucha is her third album.

     GirlsRockLA’s program at the Gibson Showroom was magical, not only for Eljuri but also for the warm love songs of Valise Blue, up from Tijuana, and LA’s stunning singer/songwriter Nancy Sanchez. Congratulations to Julieta Isela of  The Living Sessions for nearly a year of shows, each one with increasingly more impressive talent and organization.  The Living Sessions have become a treasured institution in the LA music scene, both in English and Spanish and are beginning to branch out to other cities.  But Thursday night truly belonged to Eljuri. The intimacy of the Gibson Showroom allowed us to see up close the subtlety of the finger movements that create such pyrotechnical sound and enjoy the force of her voice and personality. But  having been up close, I can’t wait to see Eljuri with her full band at a venue large enough to contain her. That will really be exuberant, exciting, explosive and far larger than life.

  • Mariana Vegan at Musi cFridayLive

    mariana-vega_on_stage-300sq.jpgWe are so proud that Mariana Vega, a Latin American superstar, is stopping by Music FridayLive!  with her new album Camera Lenta.  We reviewed the album for New York's PEOPLE THAT MATER magazine ( and we are delighted that we get to talk to the woman herself.  Literally millions of fans in Latin America and North America love her music and her videos.  So join us, call in, email will be fun.


  • Leyla McCalla pulls the audience close with history and joy at McCabe’s in Santa Monica

    close_up_sitting_down.300.jpgLeyla McCalla brings her audiences close with smiles and stories and songs that cross the borders of time and culture.  On a cello, a banjo a guitar, in French, in Creole or in English – it doesn’t matter;   her songs lift us, pierce us, love us.  She is one of a kind, and that musical singularity was on full display last night at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica California for a jam-packed full auditorium. 

     We listened, we clapped, we sang with her, we cried and  we feel thankful that we had managed to get tickets to a one-of-a-kind evening at the historic venue that for 80 years has brought  LA the talent of the Americas. With a star like Leyla and a venue like McCabe’s, it pays to be early.

     Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, a city whose jazz has powerfully influenced her music, which incorporates blues, Haitian ballads, and American folk.   She once dreamed of becoming a classical musician playing chamber music – hence the chops with the cello, in which she has a degree from New York University. But when she moved to New Orleans in 2010 she found herself  not in elegant suites playing Bach, but on the street busking – although still playing Bach. But the musical temptations of New Orleans proved too much for the discipline of the chamber and soon she was blending genres from folk to jazz.  The result was her acclaimed first album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute To Langston Hughes and the artist that mesmerized us from the stage at McCabe’s Friday night.

     Leyla sings in French, Haitian Creole and English;  she plays cello, tenor banjo and guitar, all with a delicacy and an energy that is something to behold. In live performance she is approachable, humble and funny, telling stories about herself and the music that pulls the audience close to her, making us friends for the night. Formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, she has no artifice – she is what she is, and what she is beautifully talented.  Her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty. It vibrates with history, but Leyla brings that history alive, engaging the audience with sing-alongs and jokes and just her very being, sitting on the stage with a cello between her legs or a banjo in her hand.  You truly fall in love for the evening.

     Her set was short -- four or five songs, mostly from her new album, A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey.  She does tip her hat to Langston Hughes with a song or two from Vari-Colored Songs, which was named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines magazine. Each song was a gem, carried by her cane-sugar sweet voice, her astonishingly nimble fingers and her creativity on the cello and other instruments, all perfectly blended and supported by the other members of her trio, her husband guitarist Daniel Tremblay and violist Free Feral.

     Leyla and her trio are on a tour with the irrepressible Dom Lemon that will take her from the West Coast of the USA to Europe, with a final stop in Antwerp.  The tour stops this weekend  in San Diego and Santa Barbara and then heads on up the coast  before crossing the Atlantic.  It is not to be missed.

    (Photo courtesty of McCabe's Guitar Shop)

  • The Day of the Dead Music extravaganza













    It is October so it must be time for Diá de Los Muertos, the unique Los Angeles event that celebrates the Mexican holiday held on November 2 and celebrating the souls of past loved ones. For 17 years at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery has hosted a music and art extravaganza teaming with the grinning skeletons of the Dia de Los Muertos of Mexico. This year the fiesta will be the largest in the history of the event   Tijuana-based international pop star Julieta Vanegas headlines four stages of music featuring Buyepongo, Alejandro y Maria Laura, Mitré with Irene Diaz, and Mariachi Flor de Toloache, among others in 35 performances interspersed with altars, folk dancing, painting and the food and drink of Mexico. 

     This year’s co-sponsor, Estrella Jalisco, has partnered with Jeni Rivera Enterprises for a special tribute to celebrate the legacy of the late internationally- beloved singer songwriter Jenni Rivera at the Day of the Dead in Hollywood.  Estrella Jalisco is brewing a special beer to commemorate her a. General Mills and Ford Motor Company are also co-sponsors.

     The all-day celebration on October 29 in Hollywood is expected to attract thousands of fans.  This year’s theme is The Tree of Life El  - Ábol de la Vida -  the iconic Mexican clay candelabra sculpture from Metepec covered with bird and flowers. A life-sized commemorative tree, commissioned for this year’s Day of the Dead,  took over a month to complete and will be on display on the main stage in Lodge at the Cemetery.

     Doors open at noon and the celebration will begin at 2:30 pm with an Aztec Blessing.  This year’s newest stage, named Mosaico, will feature 150 Aztec Dancers.  Over 100 altars will be on display, all vying for  the Best Traditional and Contemporary Altar Prizes. The Hollywood Forever grounds will offer children’s play areas, arts and crafts, food, Mexican Ice Cream by Icy Rush, and traditional Diá de Los Muertos face painting.  Fans are urged to come in costume and get their faces painted to match their clothes by the Hollywood make up artists with Drop Dead Gorgeous.

     Tickets are $20 and are available at

  • Red hot guitarist coming out of East Texas: Ally Venable

    ally_with_guitar300sq.jpgAlly Venable is not yet old enough to vote, but she is old enough to have won the coveted  Best East Texas Female Guitarist award twice. When you hear her play, you will know why.  This girl could be the future of Texas guitar blues. We have her new album, No Glass Shoes and will be the first to play it on national radio, where it belongs.  And we certainly don't think it is too much too soon- it sounds just right to us.


  • Salvador Santana: new solo career

    sal_at_keybd.300sq.jpgThe last time Salvador Santana was on Music FridayLive, he led his band and was accompanied by singer Alex Nester.  He has gone solo with his message-driven, keyboard-heavy rap rock and we have the new songs.  He joins us Friday from the #ThisIsMyHome tour telling the stories of immigrants and registering voters in the immigrant communities. Always accenting the positive, his new video "Fantasy Reality" is a feel good rap that looks at the best of us. He is joined on the tour by an all star lineup and we look forward to hearing about from the man himself.


  • Latin Grammy Nominations revealed

    download.jpgThe Latin Recording Academy announced nominations for the 17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, selected from over 10,500 entries, a record that demonstrates  the growing diversity and popularity of Latin and Latino music in the United states and worldwide. The Latin Grammy Awards  are the nation’s only award for excellence in Latin music that is peer-based, voted on by a membership body.  This year, awards will be given in 48 categories.

    Julio Reyes Copello, Djavan, Fonseca, Jesse & Joy, and Ricardo López Lalinde top the nominations list with 4 each.   LA’s own La Santa Cecelia was nominated for a possible second Latin Grammy this year, for Buena Ventura in the Best Rock Album category. El Dusty, based oi the growing Corpus Christi, Texas, music scene but who often produces in LA, was nominated in Best Urban-Fusion Performance for Cumbia Anthem. Among other nominees this year are Pablo Alborán, Pepe Aguilar, Andrea Bocelli, the late Juan Gabriel, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Los Tigres Del Norte, Diego Torres, Julieta Venegas, Carlos Vives, Wisin, and Yandel.

    For the first time The Latin Recording Academy  has offered digital voting to its membership of creators across all disciplines of music — recording artists, songwriters, producers, and engineers. The final round of voting for the 17th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards opens Sept. 27 and closes Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. PST.  The winners will be revealed Nov. 17, 2016, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and broadcast on the Univision Network from 8–11 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. Central). The Las Vegas awards ceremony is a must –attend for anyone in the Latin and Latino music world, who mingle and network at the dozens of parties, mixers and other events surround the Latin Grammy Awards.

    A complete list  of all nominees can be found at The Latin Recording Academy's  website along with details on the ceremony and ticket availability.