Posts Tagged ‘Karen Sundell

30
Jul
11

Mishka: When the Raga Drops!

I was asked to photograph Mishka at the GRAMMY Museum some months back. All of this took place after a remarkable travel bender that started with SXSW in Austin Texas, then a bounce in San Francisco for Easter with friends and eventually ending in Seattle with a familial visit with dear my brother. So, once I touched down at LAX I had little more than two hours to make the GRAMMY Museum and Mishka’s visitation. I had made the GRAMMY Museum for a Miles Davis event some months back, so I had a tight bead on the location. It was the mass transportation variable that was going to make this a difficult hurdle to pass over.

So it all shook out just fine despite some tense moments. I was still able to catch Mishka‘s first performance where the kids are a part of the Grammy Jams program exposing children to music. Mishka, a father himself, did a family friendly set and answered questions for all these exuberant little ones. Later that evening Mishka played an acoustic set for an older crowd. After that set, Mishka was interviewed by Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli in the Clive Davis Theater, while taking a short break from supporting Kenny Chesney‘s “Going Costal” tour. The cosy environment of the Clive Davis Theater was a perfect setting for Mishka to talk about his upbringing, his new CD “Talk About” on JK Livin, his musical interest and influences. The interview revealed a thoughful artist raised on Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. He spent most of his youth and young adulthood growing up on a boat, living with his family, who sailed throughout the Caribbean, being exposed to Island life after his father quit the corporate world to live a more simple life. Mishka’s songs reflect those values intertwined with the spiriituality of the Rastas, merging them with the social awareness of the 60s and the modern concept of “Consciousness”. Afterwards, I spent a little time with Mishka and complimented him on his songwriting and tune smithing abilities. I could tell from the on stage discourse with Bob Santelli he wasn’t posing with his reggae drenched acoustic set. He is truly dedicated to the ideals of Rastafari and “Consciousness”. He truly has knowledge and understanding of the lifestyle. So I encouraged him to hook up with San Diego’s top Rasta, Makeda Dread. Makeda, in San Diego, was the primary promoter of Rastafarian lifestyle and “Consciousness”. She had San Diego’s first vegetarian restaurant and promoted Reggae concerts as seminal as any Punk Rock promoter during that period. She was instrumental in introducing me to Sly and Robbie, which I will be forever grateful! The time I spent with Mishka was validating on both a spiritual and emotional level. It was nice to see the Raga drop in the middle of such a pristine environment as the Grammy Museum.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As things would have it my Mishka story wouldn’t end here. After a number of months performing the official Hard Rock pre-parties for Kenny Chesney’s “Going Costal” tour, once again, Mishka made a mainland connection for some special concerts and promotional shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles, continuing his support of his i-Tunes and Billboard Reggae charting album “Talk About“. I caught up with him at Rogers & Cowan, getting ready for a showcase for the Rogers & Cowan Summer Concert Series that Karen Sundell puts together to create awareness and interest in the emerging acts represented by the company. The Summer Music Series gives all involved a little hump day time to chill and take in the arts. I was looking forward to Mishka’s set. Everyone circled around him as he performed a satisfying, simple and to the point set of his newest songs from Talk About and old favorites. The room roared with appreciation of the performances of his songs “Give Them Love”, “My Love Goes With You” and closing his set with “Guy With A Guitar”. Soon he was off to yet another event in a week of back-to-back activities that wouldn’t end till he flew back home to Maui. While a farmers work is sun-to-sun, a musician’s work is never done.

For me there was one more chance to catch Mishka lay it down Raga style and that was at Hotel Cafe. Hotel Cafe is the Hub of the singer songwriter scene here in Los Angeles. Mishka had a prime spot to show his talents in a premier LA “Singer/Songwriter” hot spot. I’ve covered Carina Round and Walking Sleep here. I’ve enjoyed drinks and chit chat with Tom Livemore (Carina’s guitarist), Steve Fishman (James White and Hugh Cornwell) and Frank Infante (Blondie). So, Hotel Cafe has had some interesting and warm memories attached to it for me. Some time after my arrival, Mishka dropped in with guitar in tow and headed into the “Artist” area of Hotel Cafe.

I could tell things were a brewing, for sure, inside that room as I quietly sat at the table in the bar area of the establishment. It wasn’t long before Mishka took the stage with his guitar. He powered into his set. Something was different this night. As much as I enjoyed Mishka’s songs and previous performances this was a completely different kettle of fish. He was on fire! He was fiercely intense and ferociously committed to his art. He was vibrant and he rattled and glistened as I had never seen him before! His delivery of the songs was that of a showman and a Shaman. It was riveting, intoxicating and the crowd responded in kind. He started his set with “Long Road”, blazing deep into the set with “Higher Heights”, “One Tree”, “Talk About”, then followed with a sizzling rendition of “Above The Bones”. He shared comments and thoughts with the audience that brought them in closer as he pressed through the rest of the set. Everyone there hung with bated breath, and with anticipation, clung tightly to the edge of their seats as this show enveloped around them. As I learned later, Mishka does nearly all of his shows extemporaneously. Meaning, every show and/or set is done based on the feel of the room and the mood of that moment. So, he kept giving the people what they wanted and finished the set with “Stars Will Be Shining”. The whole show ran white hot. As the show concluded, it was as if the room was blasted with a bolt of cleansing air by of his stirring performance. There were enthusiastic yelps and cheers as Mishka left the stage. For all involved, the night concluded on a high note with some mighty Raga fever!

Mishka is a deeply committed and rooted artist that blends integrity, intensity and gifted song craft into something everybody can relate to. Talk About is his fourth album and there will surely be more from this deep well of creativity. So let the Raga drop!

01
Jul
11

Sunset Junction Media Mixer: Gala Extraordinaire!

After 2 music showcases and a trip to Oakland I had to have a moment to gather myself for rest and reflection before a huge and significant event that celebrates, dominates and defines the Eastsider’s sensibilities and lifestyle choices like no other event:   SUNSET JUNCTIONWhile Sunset Junction may polarize those who are proor-con, there is nothing on the “Eastside” that so clearly defines our hopes and dreams more than The Junction. Sunset Junction clearly celebrates diversity by creating commonality between us all, as it has for the last 30 plus years.  My first Sunset Junction was way back in 1986 with the focus on local, alternative and ethnic musicand lifestyles.  It was The Junction that offered openness to us all by bringing together the Latin and Gay communitiesamong others, to celebrate the amazing cultural richness of an amazing and picturesque part of Los Angeles.  I have fond memories of seeing Dezz Cadena announcing the bands year-after-year and hanging out backstage with Candye KanePatrick Mata’s The Legendary Wrong People & Kommunity FKThe Muffs, Luis Güereña of  Tijuana No and the legendary Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks.  The Junction holds great meaning to me and to manymany others too.  These are all very rich and wonderful memories deeply engraved in the community from years past.  They include all the delicious Queens like TanjaJohnny and the many others who “Brought it!” with flair and drag-a-licious marvelousness every year in late August!!  For years The Junction became a home for Punks and Alternative types like myself, who blended in well with the Latin and Gay communities.  It gave us all a forum of self-expression and creative individualism on the streets, when no one else would have bothered todo so.  This is enough of a legacy for me to hold on to, one that revitalizes the Eastside community as no other entity could.  However, even more important to remember is the year-round, community outreach and good works provided by Sunset Junction founder/organizer Micheal McKinley and his team.  Proceeds from the annual event benefit the less privileged of our community, while continuing to promote understanding and tolerance among such adiverse population.
With this in mind, there has been an upswing of interest focusing on Sunset Junction over the last couple of years.  The shift has moved it beyond the spread of misinformation and negativity, while ushering in an exciting  “rebirth  to a whole new generation as we approach its   31st Anniversary.  I was fortunate enough to observe this new push and believe as never before that the best is yet to come An important indication of this renewal was clearly signified with Sunset Junction’s 2011 Media Mixer last Wednesday at Silverlake landmark El Cid Part of the buzz started when it was announced that El Cid is partnering with Sunset Junction to present a SixthStage called “Locals Only”  that features home grown talent.  Three snaps, it’s on!  Essentially this mixer brought together a whole new synergy for The Junctionby illuminating all of the marvelous talent in our community that wewill be sharing this year at El Cid.  The mixer demonstrated how The Junction is an important player in fortifying, building and maintaining the Eastside community, hands down.
I arrived at El Cid promptly at 7PM to start the photographic work in documenting this milestone event.  I arrived in the golden light of  the late afternoon sun, ready to knock out hundreds of shots of local personalities, community leaders, and established and emerging local musical artists. The patio was serene as I walked in to see Sunset Junction’s Micheal McKinleyThe Hotel Cafe’s Marko Shafer, El Cid’s Julianna Young and The Satellite’sJennifer Tefftthe team responsible for producing this year’s music and entertainment. They were prepping for the necessary photos opps, as a sea of photographers surrounded them.  The table to my right was set with a redtablecloth along with tons of goodies to eat, for the crowd that would soon descend to this historic site.  Besides the food, there was an Open Bar — to further promote the good vibes and celebration for this special evening.   The MediaMixer also showcased the Eastside’s wide reservoir of talent, including well received performances by Left Over Cuties and Peg Leg Love.  This allowed the media to get an advance preview of what the team had in store for this years festival.   Thanks to Karen Sundell from Rogers & Cowan (a fellow eastsider), whose deft planning skills supremely provided the necessary touch of elegance that made El Cid totally ready to party!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of the first folks to celebrate were Steve Chagollan of VarietyHarlan Lansky of Seany RecordsAndy Sternberg of LAistTanja Laden of Flavor Pill and Brick Walh of LA Weekly, Andrea Dominack of LA WeeklyKevin Bronson of Buzzbands, Jessica Wedemeyer  of People Magazine, Jose Martinez of Venice Magazine, Abigail Parsons of Young Hollywood/Central Talent booking, Ronna Bronstein-Trumfio of Kingsize Sound Labs, reps from CBS Radio, The Huffington Post and a wide assortment of tastemaker/bloggers in support of the event.  The artists, musicians and personalities in attendance were many and that included, Stuart Johnson, Shirli McAllen, Ryan Feves and Mike Bolger of Leftover Cuties, Marie Hall, Daven Hall and Jasmine Ash of Oh Darling, Travis Moore, Ilir Zeneli and Henry Lopez of Peg Leg LoveDJ Morgan Page, Nicole Eva Emery, Summer Spiro and Ruby Spiro of Ruby Summer, Jacob Maltinsky, Adam Kurtz, Sean Johnson and Maria DeLuca of The Damselles, Kate Flannery, Aaron Finley, Erik Desiderio, Steve-Z Brenner and Andrew Van Baal of Big Dick,  Mike Hopkins, John Graney and Jake Gideon of The Californian, Nick Sandler, Mike Goldman, Matt Schwartz and Drew Beck of Chasing Kings, Matthew Teardrop and Katya Arce of Manhattan Murder Mystery, Steven Scott and Brian Canning of Shadow Shadow Shade, Alex Staniloff, Geoffrey Halliday and Sean Hess of HandsGraham FinkJimmy James and Calixto Hernandez of Barrio Tiger Holly Conlan, Carina RoundDan Burns and Zack Rae of Early Winter, Betty Kelly of Martha and the Vandellas, Bob Lee and Jon Wahl from ClawhammerMike Fong, East Area Director for Los Angeles City for Mayor AntonioVillaraigosa, Native Wayne representing Indie 103.1 and Kat Corbett representing KROQ.  On a side note, the Black Lips crashed the party, to hang out in the courtyard and soak up the radiating afterglow.  Surely, there weremany more in attendance, but your eyes and my eyes would suffer from fatigue in viewing a longer list.

The atmosphere was more than gregarious:  it was a blend of class reunion, a shindig, a hootenanny, a POB (Part Out Of  Bounds)  as we all mingled, greeted, got to know, laughed, shared storiesnoshed from the fine dining spreadset before us and bellied up to El Cid’s comfy open bar.  The craziness had gone on for hours and would have done justice to El Cid builder D.W. Griffin’s classic Hollywood standards.  It was Ten-ish when Team Sunset Junctionthat is: Micheal McKinley Julianna Young Jennifer Tefft and Marko Shafer took the stage to make announcements regarding this year’s Sunset Junction and to take questions from the audience.   Michealwas channeling the excitement he’s held for years about The Junction to an extremely engaged audience.  Micheal is a huge fan of Motown Soul, so he couldn’t hold back his excitement as he exuberantly introduced everyone to Betty Kelly of Martha and the Vandellas to a loud round of applause.  It was a sweet and classic moment as Betty rose to receive some much deserved praise and recognition.  This was also near the time Micheal and Juliannaannounced the news that El Cid would host local music artists as the the Sixth Stage of Sunset Junction.  There was crowd pleasing cheers from the audience.  There were a few more announcements, including the “Win A Slot”at Sunset Junction contest, in which bands compete to win a much-coveted performance slot this years festival.   For more details, please visit www.sunsetjunction.org. Micheal then opened up the stage for Leftover Cuties and Peg Leg Love to perform and close out the mixer.

Leftover Cuties performed first, bringing a hipster vibe to the El Cid stage that was reminiscent of bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros or Amanda Jo Williams,with a Freak Folk sound that went over well with all attending. Then it was Peg Leg Love’s turn. Peg Leg Love rocked the house with some hard-driving blues/garage oriented rock.  They occupied the stage for nearly 45 minutes delivering power to their hot licks and kicks kind of sound.  Soon, I drifted out in the courtyard to cool off and take a break.  I saw Zack Rae (keyboardist Alanis Morissette, Carina Round and Early Winter) first and then Carina Round near the stairs.  It had been months and it was great to see her!  We visited for nearly a half hour.  I learned that she has been very busy and that’s why I and others in our circle haven’t heard a peep from her for the last few months.  She’s been traveling, has been deep in the recording process for her new CD, and regularly gigging with Early Winter,  a band she sings with on the side.

It was nearing the witching hour and the party had thinned.  I was finally able to kibitz with Karen on how stunningly the mixer had turned out.  There were a lot of  great things that had transpired that evening because of her very capable handling of the landmark event, in a landmark space.  That evening at El Cid demonstrated a most favorable precursor to this year mighty Sunset Junction Street Fair and concert event.  The mixer highlighted how stunning and innovative this year’s musical line-up is becoming and really got everyone pumped and excited for this year’s much-anticipated event.  I predict it’s going to close out this Eastside summer with an appropriate bang, thatcan only lift the bar that much higher for every other party or event for the rest of the year!




Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,925 other subscribers


%d bloggers like this: