Posts Tagged ‘Shadow Shadow Shade


Eagle Rock Music Festival: As the gods would have it!

My covering of the 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival had it seeds sewn early, as early as SXSW, in Austin this year. It was further fertilized by my experiences with Sunset Junction’s collapse has this story unfurling in a surprising and grand manner. Sunset Junction with it’s own legacy in the music festival circuit as the Mother of all LA based street festivals. Sunset Junction was the inspiration for the blossoming Eagle Rock Music Festival. The seeds were sewn with my introduction to the delightful Peggy Ellithorpe at an Interactive hoedown in the convention center in Austin, while I was covering Film and Music for the 10 non-stop-free-for-all days at SXSW. We share a common interest in film and music. The Artivist Film Festival arrived and I jumped at the chance to volunteer, knowing she was managing it. I had the best time, meeting some great creative folks and participating in a good effort. It so happened she was to be running the social media and volunteers for “ERMF”. I bellied up to the bar once again to one of her volunteers and to be a part of one of my favorite local festivals. As the days approached I was able to include a couple of friends to volunteer for the festival. I was rather proud of myself for doing so. I got a film buddy, Scott Marsall, involved with a new friend: a charming exchange student named Mocha, fresh from China. They both jumped on board to be a part of this very ambitious and difficult feat of helping in putting a music festival together. I won’t say I was counting off the days, but I was truly looking forward photographing the crowds and bands who were booked for one of the coolest street fairs in a beautiful part of Los Angeles.

I haunt places like Oinster’s, Columbo’s Italian Steak House, Cocoa Mexicatessen, Colorado Wine Company, Swork, Casa Bianca Pizza and Taco Spot. So being a part of my communities festivities is a complete natural. So when Saturday arrived, I was ready. I networked my networks and was ready to hatch the long anticipated plan. So I locked it in with my girl, Mocha, and my boy, Scott. I was considering live blogging the event. I started the process by putting up a brief article on my previous adventures at the Eagle Rock Music Festival the night before. Later that day I would discover that my dream couldn’t be realized. Swork, unknown to me, had shut down their network for the festival promptly 5pm. So after 5pm it was a total snafu! I was a bit bummed. Returning to the topic at hand, I picked up Mocha, near USC, where she generously added Tiffany to our ranks. From there we scooted through downtown till I found a Harbor Freeway entrance near Staples. In a flash we had nested close to Colorado, near the public Library on a shady street. It was nice getting to know Tiffany and catching up with Mocha now she’s full time at USC. Our next launch was to the volunteer station for check in and orientation.

The girls were excited to be a part of their first music festival. They couldn’t wait to sign up and start their shifts. We lingered a bit. The girls got their way and signed up; all the while we were sucking in the rather warm and very sunny afternoon. Once done we scurried off to Swork for refreshments and my meet up with Scott. We metaphorically spread our wings in the cool ease of Swork family friendly coffee shop. Scott and I made the necessary plans for my photo and video efforts for shooting the bands. The good news was there was a lot to work with and the bad news was the limited time to document all the entertainment. We had a full plate! After downing one “Prep” iced coffee we all headed back the volunteer center to get the ball rolling. The charming Zuleikha, Peggy’s assistant, was handleing the signing in and orientations for all the volunteers. Scott got several candid and posed photos form both Mocha and Tiffany to save some memories for later. Then much to my inner child’s delight my most favoritest volunteer, Nicki, rolled in with her own special style completely on fire as usual. She was punkishly pumped with effervescent energy and I was thrilled to see her. Being around her I feel both gay and straight, as she rolls out her fabulous and snickering devilishly dirty tails cronicaling her love life. Every story is purely a hilarious outrage of her love interests. Her and I kibitzed for 20 minutes dragging Scott into it, that included a ride to a ticket station while she lamented her “Burner love affair” with an artist who revealed his involvement with a French woman who was living in Paris. Now to Nicki’s outrage the French woman will soon be moving to San Francisco to take up permanently with the artist. I told her she’s not usually the third wheel in a relationship and I was surprised she had let this happened! As she told the story my ears were burning form the salacious naughtiness that was both intoxicating and outrageous, my ears were on fire form the dirt and outrage! I got a full dose of the good stuff and I didn’t want to leave it alone. I think there’s going to be a lot of hot sex and crying in San Francisco soon! Ultimately, we had to return to the sanity of our work. Mocha and Tiffany, my China Dolls, were given a station to collect donations, while Scott and I were on our merry way to collect images and memories.

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From this point on the playing was over and we were on the run! Scott was being my faithful assistant who held my tripod as we scooted up and down Colorado. Dub Lab was our first stage of the festival. The brochure referred to the the stage as Dub (Future Roots) Lab featuring Carlos Niño and the Arohi Ensemble. I was quickly intrigued with the two men with a combination of sitar and Cello going through the rigors of sound check. I popped off a few shots and eyeballed the situation long enough to get the jest of the overall set-up. I was lucky enough to get Carlos Niño sitting in the background of the shots. Later, I would return to hear Arohi Ensemble melodic trance raga and jazz mix where they had added a lilting flute to the mix that flowed evenly while intertwining, then the flute lifting elegantly as an accent to the drone of the sitar and melody of the cello. But for the moment sound checks can eat up time and we were on the move again. We jaunted up to the Emerging Artist Stage to find Kenan Bell all hot into it riffing and rapping over drum and rhythm guitar with a sweet backing vocalist. She belted out her backing vocals while shaking this amazing mane of cork screw curly hair like it was a San Franciscan freak flag! I kept thinking Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn, Chaka Kahn while she shook and flung that hair as she sung. A lot The Knux, Kenan Bell, has a bit of Rock interwoven in his Hip Hop. From the Emerging Artist Stage we moved to the Low End Theory Stage. Karen would later in the evening explain where the term “Low End Theory” to me. She’d explain how it came to be a cultural reference point from the album by A Tribe Called Quest to obviously embed as part of the Eagle Rock Music Festival’s stage name. The story starts with Q-Tip’s admiration of Jazz, in particular Miles Davis. In fact, so much so, that Q-Tip approached Ron Carter, a long time bass player for Miles, to play bass for him on what would become the album “Low End Theory”. Karen sighting the story where Q-Tip left a phone message on Ron’s message machine asking Ron to play for him. Ron didn’t know who Q-Tip was. Ron is far removed from that world and out of the loop. Ron called his son to get his thoughts. He ask his son in that conversation “What’s a Q-Tip?”. When his son heard this he told Ron, his Dad, he had to play for Q-Tip, knowing Q-Tip’s rep. Ron played on the Low End Theory album which was a defining moment in Hip Hop and Jazz synthesis. I was glad to get the DL on the low down on the etiology of Low End Theory. That story was still hours a way and the sun was still bright and the crowds were beginning to flow in as DJ Daddy Kev passed the baton on to Dj D-Style to spin the wheels of steel. We lingered there for a while and then took it back to base for my first attempt to live bloging. Soon the dream was shattered with Sworks no internet for the festival policy. That through me a devastating and time consuming curve. Nonetheless, f the ashes of dreamy dreams I refocused and Scott and I were back on our way to cover the music!

We caught Ellen and Matt at the Family Stage jumping franticly: singing, spinning bringing joy to the little soldiers who were gleefully mirroring what they were seeing and listening to from a bag of magic of inspiring songs. I’m going leave this performance, as simply as a good thing, as apposed to finding some critical thread and intellectual drive behind “Good ole fun”. Yes, we marched on returning to Dub Lab long enough to catch Mia Doi Todd simple acoustic singer songwriter style grace a captivated medium size audience with her beautifully lilting melodic folk/soul music. It was her, a guitar, a voice with a shaker providing light percussion pacing along with her vocals and her guitar. The sun was fading at this point and she was serenading us in the dusk. Scott and I made a last stand to check on Mocha and Tiffany who so dutifully taking donations. Their location allowed them receive the full blast of the Low End Theory’s bass barrage. We bid our farewells as the street were thickening further unknowing seeing them for the last time. We pushed up the second time towards to the Low End Theory stage. The smell of weed was in abundance as we sifted through the crowd to finally break out on the other side to glimpse Panang, the aesthetic harbor for both the Ship and Kingsize Stages. I’d been dreaming of the Kingsize stage for the last couple days and felt it was my mission to make it! These stages were turning over the music acts at a frantic pace with lots of straight on Rockin’! Scott, ever faithful to the calling of assisting me was ready to set up at any moment. As the dust began to settle around us Karen peeked through the crowd and garbed me. It was good to see her and we Kibitz while making the introductions. She was there to support Ronna, an old friend, and the bands of Kingsize Sound Lab. It wasn’t long till we were treated to a great sound from a San Francisco band called Buffalo Electric‘s performing an energetic set delivering their Gaurage/Punk inspired music. They brought it with bright searing guitar, rumbly bass and pounding drums! They drove it home with verve pulling on strong Rock N’ Roll traditions. They had both Karen and I bumping and bopping through the whole set. They had the “look” too: skinny jeans, sharp black shoes, mopish hair with big fat chops. I know that Low End Theory had the big crowds but the future was staring us right in the face and we were staring right back at it! Next on the Ship stage was Molino a fine indie ensemble, tight polished and professional that kept the crowd pleased in the Panang’s parking lot. They were the only band to use a smoke machine. I might add, that the smoke made for some mighty fine photos! At this point I was well aware that if we didn’t drift soon, it was my job to drift, I’d be locked in for the rest of the night at Ship and Kingsize because of the splendid roaster of talent to close the night out. So we slipped back in the direction of the volunteer center, but not before getting a little jiggy at Welcome Inn Stage staring Bonne Musique Zydeco. We arrived to a full parking lot of shaking booties. All around us was “Big Easy” merry making! Yes, there were beads while Bonne Musique Zydeco was playing like nobody’s business from the balcony of the Welcome Inn. That’s right, lifting the bar for SoCal by putting the “Partay!” into the word party and so lifting our spirits by bringing me back to those special qualities I so fondly embraced from my adventures in NOLA. It was the real deal using all the right elements like accordion, washboard, rhythm and bass guitar and managing a drum kit up on the balcony.  Bonne Musique Zydeco delivering classic Zydeco to all of those in the parking lot. It was simply marvelous as we soaked up the flavor. Sadly, Scott had to make his way home to get ready to hit Vegas for some upcoming work so we had to roll. We said our goodbyes at the volunteer center. I was very grateful for his help. By this time I had completely lost Mocha and Tiffany. Sure there was a lively text thing going on between us. On one occasion the text was Chinese script. For the record they were out and off on their first adult playground experience. I’m not the no guy when it comes to that kind of thing!

At this point my feet were made of lead and throbbing sore. So we rested. Karen and I nibbled and sat to recoup before our final phalanx to cut through all those shrink rapped packed bodies at Low End Theory Stage. We caught a ride on one of the carts which stalled in the middle of the crowd at Low End Theory Stage, but not before we ran in to Tim and Miki who passed us walking. This gives you an idea of our speed on the cart. We jumped off and started walking pushing through the crowd. Through the crowd I ran into Eva Juneau who works with Edgar Varela at EVFA. We hi-fived having no opportunities to hug. Karen and I finally pressed through to find ourselves in front of the Kingsize stage again just in time to catch Chicago legend Dorain Taj, a former member of “The Articles of Faith” play! Hitting the stage Dorian Taj was “ON” from the get-go: they were a Rolling Thunder Review, an E-Street Band or a Rolling Stones performance on steriods. They were far from synchronized but they pulsed with every ounce of their bodies and souls making them riveting to watch and listen to. I kept getting Hurricane Carter stuck in my mind when I was taking in the  performance. They were vibrant, a Rock N’ Roll narcotic, rummaging on stage delivering tasty licks, urgent soulful vocals with a bluesy indie Rock feel to the songs. They didn’t let up till they left the stage. The audience was all agog at what they had witnessed and followed Dorian Taj’s exit with a round of applauding praise that thundered long after their power serge performance. Next up was Blonde Summer. Their sound has an indie vibe reminisant of Von Bondies or Death Cab for Cutie with a little more bite in it. Blonde Summer had a solid performance locking in a tight performance, but to be honest a bit of a come down after Dorian Taj manic stage attack! The whole night in the Panang’s parking lot bands were rifling back and forth between the Ship and the Kingsize Stages. To me the best bang for the buck because there was little down time in between sets. Hailing for Portland, Adventure Gallery, who have been recording at Kingsize Soundlabs pounced to plant themselves on the Kingsize Stage. Adventure Gallery are not the shy types either! I kept rehearsing how they were from the same seedbed as the Dandy Whorhals. They shared similar attitudes in their writing style but the music drifted from a Warhol’s sound. Adventure Gallery filled the stage and I mean “Filled” it, literally, completely across from left to right. Adventure Gallery is a high energy ensemble with a combination of Rock energy and Dance fever. At times they vibe like Airborne Toxic Event or Duran Duran without Simon Le Bon or a bunch of randy boys with guitars and keyboards on a mission! The crowd that gathered around them in Panang’s parking lot were ready to dance! The band only encouraged them all by raising the pitch, winding everyone up with every new pulsing song. Great music and a solid engaging performance tightened up the crowd at this point. The bar was lifting toward the next band Shadow Shadow Shade performance. Strangely, a week ago I notice that I had a link attributed to them observing my blog. That link brought me to a page where Shadow Shadow Shade‘s music was featured. I gave them a listen and I liked what I heard. All of this making the world seem a much smaller. So I was keyed on their performance to catch the live version of the recorded version I’d heard the week previously. They were introduced as one of the oldest bands in LA and I find that hard to believe knowing of Rick Wilder’s Mau Maus, The Weirdos or the Gears. But I played along. The opening riff of their set starts like the Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK but by the second bar they had made it their own, pushing forward into their own material. Their sound embraced more or less an alternative garage inspired Rock sound that hinted of Lou Reed structure with mostly male leads that were accented with just the right amount of intertwining male/female harmonies with effortless intoxicating affect. The fans were drawing in close and I might say they were fanatical. The crowd was resisting my moves forward to get the better shots. I had to get all “Photog” on them to make any headway to lock in any quality images of the band owning the stage. Karen was already there getting her groove on. So I moved closer to her seeking refuge from the very focused fans. They had a well paced show that keep the tempos changing from song to song. Some songs more Rockin’ and those that were more etherial and dramatic. They put an effective power packed show leaving folks wanting more, but alas, the set were clocked in at 30 minutes and there was no leeway to make room for the next band. For me this was an appropriate rapturous end to a frenetic, eventful and exciting day. I bid my farewells to Karen to finally relocate to the volunteer center to catch up with Peggy on photos, festival close out and final sharing our mutual delight and exhaustion. Right after that I had a chance run in with Tonya as I was scooting towards my car. She’s a great drummer, an inspiration of joy and determination in the music community. She was good enough to invite me to an after party but once she really looked me over she determined I had had plenty of party for the day. We shared a big hug. I was off to the car with plans to get the photos up by the next day. This 13th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival was every bit as challenging as anything SXSW has thrown at me and every bit as rewarding as SXSW has been, for me as well. It was a day and a night of mixing with enthusiastic crowds, working and playing with wonderful friends and listening to amazing bands! All the adventures and exploits of the day are going to some make bright and warming memories that will last for years to come. My hat’s off to another offering from the Eagle Rock’s Center For the Arts for putting together their most stunning music festival yet!


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!

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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 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!

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