Posts Tagged ‘Pop

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.

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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!

30
Jun
11

Ruby Summer Shakes up the Pacific Design Center

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Like two sparkling glasses of Champagne on a giddy Thursday afternoon Ruby and Summer Spiro popped up at Roger & Cowan to perform their music as part of the Summer series that showcase new talent like, Ruby Summer, and to launch their partnership with RADD’s My Safe Ride. Ruby and Summer, as sweet and composed as ever, were dressed and ready for their showcase performance. In between photo opportunities I grabbed a bite or two of the wonderfully catered snacks behind the stage. Perched high above Beverly Hills these talented young ladies were about to take the stage for the creme of the creme of the entertainment industry and to introduce their music and partnership with RADD to an eager audience. As a humble writer/photographer I was there to take it all in and report.

As a crowd filled a large atrium deep inside the PDC the energy became palpable as the deliciously dress darlings filled that space to sing and dance with their special brand of beach Pop. I should mention these girls have music a pedigree that runs deep on both side of the family. Both their Father, Mark, is an accomplished producer/song writer and their Mother, Leslie, was in a band with her sister Kelly Bulkin and worked with Herb Alpert‘s A&M Records. Thus, Ruby and Summer have been involved in singing and performing from childhood.

So when they launched into their set they were on and hit it like seasoned professionals. It was wow from the beginning! They brought the boogie to Roger & Cowan as everyone started bopping to the beat and those sweet, sweet harmonies. Their set was about 40 minutes long and featured new songs from the Ep, Mermaids and Poets. They sang French Kisses (a favorite of mine and so Romantical!) and did a sassy synchronized dance to Midnight Queens, that was not mechanical, like lots of the more robotic Hip Hop choreography, but feminine, sexy and fun. They kept it dancy too and had a DJ to mix it up, keeping the energy high. Their voices were skilled, flawlessly delivered and beautiful. The set went about 10 minutes too long because these girls like to perform and the crowd was digging it! These songs are some of the most exqusitely penned Pop songs I heard in a long time. So when it comes to Pop, I’m generally more or less unimpressed and cynical. But these warm and perfectly catchy tunes loads effortlessly in the ears and sets well on the mind. Keep your eyes open for Ruby Summer full Cd release this fall, as a follow up to the deliciously fun Mermaids & Poets. This is the kind of ear candy that can burn white hot across the country  and capture America’s heart. Well played ladies. To continue on the topic of bubbly and effervescence, the essence of Ruby Summer,  I have to rase a glass to their festive and stylishly delivered beach music. I’m bought in to the beach, the sun and the fun of Mermaids & Poets that’s exclusively owned by Ruby Summer.

29
Jun
11

Scott Mellis at the Gibson Showroom

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I had met Scott Mellis a couple of weeks before at an art opening in Downtown LA at Arty Gallery. He was youthful, handsome and polite. I was able to get a couple of photos there of him and Ruby Summer, a sister duo, who were in attendance that night.

I’m always interested in new musical talent. So it was a no brainer when I was invited to Scott’s Cd Ep release party for his new Ep “Dancing For The Murder of Desire” at the Gibson showroom in Beverly Hills. After a misstep or two I found the Gibson Showroom. As I walked up the stairs I found a crowded room of rather attractive people listening to Chantelle Barry. Towards the back, where I was standing, I bumped into Scott near the catered table filled with confections, tiny cupcakes and light fare. We had a little chit-chat referencing the last time we saw one another. Scott is rather charming and this is reflected by his modesty and politeness.

Chantelle Barry soon finished their acoustic set and the crowd loosened up, drifting towards the open bar. This allowed me to move to the front the showroom to catch of the upcoming action from Scott. The Gibson Showroom is an excellent place to showcase talent, having an intimate and warm quality about it. Scott did justice to the room! Starting with the warm and melodic “Lioness” catching everyone’s attention as he crooned eloquently, while the band sustained the mood throughout the song and his set. Scott’s vocals would reach and grab every high note with passion, excellently executed tone with tuneful singing for every song. He has a marvelous range and at times you hear echos of Al Greene or Jim James, My Morning Jacket, as he lays out an evocative sound scape to everyone in attendance. He then followed it with the somewhat sardonic “Pretending We Were Famous”. Hailing from Australia, Scott kept it local too with the song, Girl From Echo Park and finished it with the whimsical, romantic and upbeat “Honey Bee”. The fans were delighted and the room was filled with enthusiastic applause to mark the end of his set. Photos and merry-making followed to close a warm spring evening with style.

 




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