Posts Tagged ‘Sunset Junction

31
May
12

Silverlake Jubilee: In the Mean times…

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I’ve had my head in a period wardrobe piece I’m working on but I needed to land in reality in time for this year’s Silverlake Jubilee.  I was looking forward to some notable moments from bands like Autolux, JJAMZ, Kinky and Abe Vigoda. I had gotten a text from Karen and she was in. This 3-year-old festival has a bit of a hit and miss history. For me the first year was the best. Parking at El Cid nesting like a vampire during the bright hot part of the day to quickly run out to snag a band and watch Hipster’s grill in the beer gardens are all worthy reasons to tip toe out for a few. After SXSW my threshold of expectation for entertainment has hit a certain level. I think of Jubilee as a nice distraction but not a taste maker or a cultural definer. As new business owner and promoters struggle over what is a small piece of the Silverlake pie they become more menace to the community than friend. It’s as if they had struck the mother lode, much like in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” with a equally sinister destination the movie takes us. You get to see small-minded people greedily pulling out the long knives to cut out a piece of pie for themselves. In the grand sceme of things it wont be worth the struggle, but people will get hurt. As a producer from E! network pointed out one time to me, who originally hailed for New York, it’s the new Beverly Hills! We’ll have a frenzy of those who want to make money at everyone’s elses expense, while displacing the locals all at the same time. It is the true “pioneering spirit” at work, Cowboy vs Native American style. Only, this time it’s the Gays and the Hispanics who will be made to suffer, so the few can stack up a little coin and revise history like a Stalinist crackdown, with their unique point of view, eliminating the real history of gentrification that broke the power of gangs and racism in Silverlake. This year’s music wasn’t curated by Origami as in the past. I can say it wasn’t the buzziest line up of all time. Really, it wasn’t worth $20 a day when compared to last year’s $5 price tag. The promoters naive, I think not, greedy, I think so! And what’s up with all the volunteers, yo!? You charge $20 to the public then pay those people! You can fill in the names here because after one betrays and deride a legendary intitional milestone to Silverlake culture like Sunset Junction, he then finds himself screwed by his pet Politian, QUE?, and now wants to run for city council himself to further his petty ambitions. So after putting the burn to the community at large for a little change and bragging rights, he’s eager to run for political office. There’s some twisty idiocy there for sure! If you’ll betray your wife, then the sky is the limit when it comes to general public! Chrissy Hyde put it best in the song “Tatooed Love Boys“, “another pathetic human interest story… You are that!” Now back to the music at hand from my digression.

Saturday arrived and I wanted to casually drift into Silverlake Jubilee in a DL way. I waited till late afternoon to find my spot on Lucile past Silverlake Plaza. It was perfect! I got the cooler in a good place in the car and cocktailed. After getting my drink on I sauntered down these, oh, so familiar streets, now inhabited with a newer and lower risk averse group of people than it had been when Exene Cervenka had her store You’ve Got Bad Taste in Silverlake that was ran by Keith Morris. Now days there’s no drive bys and you can happily walk down the street of Sunset publically drunk or should I say experienced without the threat of violence. It wasn’t long before I happened upon the Sunset stage after a somewhat lengthy entrance line. I heard a song or two by Catwalk. Yep, you can now know what time I rolled in. Just like old flat top if you check the schedule. It was a mild form of Indie Rock that was neither thought-provoking nor utterly dismal. So I hopped in the area for photogs and snapped of a few and sized up the situation. The real innovation Silverlake Jubilee brought to the arena of festival entertainment is the insightfully place beer gardens placed near the stage. Brilliant! The flaw, no shade or umbrellas. I want to watch my favorite band with a beer in my hand and in the shade, thank you very much! This is where pre-drinking pays off! So I twirled my sweet ass down the lane checking out the ubiquitous and over rated food trucks. It’s a young straight demographic that litters Santa Monica at the nexus of Sunset Junction. My feel of the crowd at this point that there were a lot of ins and outs with not too many staying the whole day. I based that on the foot traffic I saw going in and going out before I set foot past the gates. I wanna be a lifer to any event, but you need to give me a reason to stay. I’m a fan of The Like and saw them perform at last year’s Silverlake Jubilee. I’d already scored the Heatbeat single from the new JJAMZ band fronted by Z Berg and a host of notables for the music scene. They were my pot of gold when I arrived at the Hoover Stage. It the rainbow part of the Junction. The Hoover Stage was the most secure of all the stages. JJAMZ had already occupied the stage when I arrived and JJAMZ were finishing with their set up. I’ve never seen Z, well, so flowy and free with her stage presence. She was wearing a velvety baby doll number with stunning 6 inch gold heels. Both the dress and the heels made her legs look longer, oh, longest. The guys were all properly Indy scruffy and downbeat. So she sexed up the stage mightily and glistened with her bright eyes and big smile. I was trying to figure out what was different from The Like show. obviously, beside the dudes. I realized she could move, she was light on her feet, prancing all over the place because she wasn’t holding a guitar. She could focus solely on her vocals and her moves. JJAMZ started with Do What You Want. By the time Never Enough hit the photogs were out in numbers. By the time Pool Side was crowning the crowd reached it’s max. I found Pool Side a nice languid change of pace, slowing it down in a dreamy way a little before Z banged away at Heatbeat. Z is hilarious: she kept it loose, the band was relaxed enough for all of them to joke around. She was in play mode with her light breezy sexy stage presence. Far different from what she delivered in The Like when they played a year back. JJAMZ is great smart Alt-Pop where Z gets to show off her hellaciously delicious velvety vocals. I’m still fanning myself. I’m sure it was good practice for the JJAMZ’s up coming residency for June at The Satellite.

By this time I had gotten a text from Karen who wanted to cherry pick the festival. I couldn’t blam her because there wasn’t much in the way of good pickin’s. I headed back to Sunset Junction to run into Feather Beard all barefoot and shaggy. I stopped to figure out the freak show potential. Strumming away on his guitar his head encased in some taxidermized vermin, as a cap, with a feathered beard. It’s at moments like this that I no longer wonder how diseases transfer from the animal kingdom to humanity. He looked like the crazed, yet cleaner version of the doctor/shaman character on horse back in the choctaw BAdlands from the Coen Brother’s True Grit. I lingered and then got another text from Karen. She was at Good in the Silverlake Plaza. She saved me from a fate worse than boredom and a quasi-furry minstrel! Honestly, Feather Beard smelled like Tiny Tim. Only, revisited 50 years later. Karen and I met at the front of Good, which had enormously morphed from the mid-century dinner before 2000, a lot like Astro, to a Hipster Micro-Brewery Sports Bar paradise it is today. We were kindly sat down at a front window table where we embarked on our catch up chit-chat, while managing to get deeper in our cups for the festival. The waiter was attractive, not so much to me, but he took a shinning to me. Giving me more “eye” time than Karen. Which I considered unfair to Karen, because he was dolling me up, not her. I’m a dry well of waisted attraction. I mentioned it to Karen, while she was enjoying her man candy moments. I was getting the message from him that it was “Daddy” time. This is a funny to me because I stopped most of my wait staff flirting years ago. Annah who worked at Millie’s and Cirxa was pretty much the last of those shenanigans. I remember how she puckered up for a kiss after her cigarette break behind Cirxa, now Koda Sushi. She had also taunted me earlier because I didn’t enjoy the fruits of heroin. I passed on the lip lock, giving her a peck on the cheek. There was too much looser in this looser friendly cupcake to put some icing on it. So this guy was barking up the wrong tree. But a girl needs a visually arresting waiter. I’ve had my fill of visually arresting waitresses, actresses and models. I’m more about the adventure and getting involved with someone intriguing!

Our adventure started in earnest as we cleared Good and walked by Dangerbird, a little light of Indie magic in the neighborhood, if you don’t consider Epitaph Records down the street. We spoke of the impending doom of Circus Books who will be taking their business online and directly to those who really care. Sad in a way, because where will all the open-minded folks go at 2:30 in the morning for their hand shakes. By this time we we’re penetrating the exterior lines of the festival. That is the free public part of the Silverlake Jubilee that feels really free. It’s as good as free entertainment can get, but it’s free! I ran in to Margaret Wynn designer of Lucky Pup. Margaret was part of the early L.A. Punk scene and the designer that created the very popular print of daggers and skulls that were so often seen on Glam and Punk Rockers during the 80′s. Very much a part of the original Melrose scene that blew up back in the day. Margaret is a true joy to kibitz with. She’s one of my Film Star gossip buddies. I introduced her to Karen. Once we past the gate we headed steadily to the Hoover stage. Past our overly rated food truck friends and the merchandiser: eventually, past the Pepsi marketing truck with mini jumbotron and portable dance stage. Pepsi hopelessly reaching with cans of free diabetes for every one there. About that time chaos rumbled towards us in the form of The Mormons mobile unit. Guitar and Pig amps, bull horn and strap on drum kit came burning towards us. It looked like an anarchist Hari Chrisna meet up because there was hoard of devotees in attendance swirling around The Mormon’s nexus of mayhem. It must have hit “Stage 5″ on the security radar because it wasn’t long before security was wanting to get in on the action. This is where my admiration began. The security guy went for some direct action with Vince getting deflected to Patrick, the lead vocalist of The Mormons with his bullhorn. I like to call this the Mormon incident. It just sounds right! Security did security stuff to Patrick and the band played on. Security got meaner and Patrick sang on. You could see how security just wanted to beat the fuck out of them, but… but… but… There were 40 cameras on them and the band played on! The was video and photos taken for every angle and the band played on. Something tells me they were playing their song Shit Eater. This went on for 10 minutes till they had summoned the real police Tri-scooter thingies. But the band continued to finish their song despite all the fake smiles from security and smoldering vigilante violence you could read on security’s faces. After that I needed a smoke, metaphorically speaking. From there on out IO was hooked. I was going to definitely see The Mormons at the Eagle the next day!

Once the flame of disobedience was extinguished by the MAN we heard Autolux tune up to our left. There was around 1,000 folks there. Nothing like the 8,000 for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Sunset Junction in 2010. The Hoover area is small and space around the stage was precious. Karen and I squeezed in at the right of the stage. People weren’t in the giving mood, so we remained there inching forward towards stage as the show progressed. It didn’t take very long for me to distill they were influenced by post No-Wave sound of Sonic Youth with a dash of early Gang Of Four. A richer more lush with a tuneful approach but the style was evident in song after song. The songs are very conceptual with a dreamy hallucinogenic quality about them. Their stage presences is that of musicians and artist, not really entertainers. They deliver the goods with the penetrating sound of their music not with stage antics. They are very much a “Head” thing. You can view and even listen to the set list of Autolux performance at Silverlake Jubilee at Setlist.fm. My favorites were Plantlife, Turnstile Blues, Robot in the Garden and the pulsing Headless Sky. The crowd remained transfixed during the whole show. It was all very cool and we held on to the last. Our next and last stop for the evening was catching Kinky mid-set on the Sunset stage. The crowd was thick,  jumping and dancing as we pulled up in front of the sound board. Kinky had a similar band configuration as my friend Luis Güereña’s band Tijuana No, with the exception of Kinky having an accordion. They had nutty energy with members here and there all over the stage. Unlike Tijuana No, Kinky were more dance oriented and not influenced by the Clash as Tijuana No had been. Kinky is far less political than Tijauna No or Molotov in this arena of music. But they do have a political perspective because the second song we heard was Wall Of Voodoo’s Mexican Radio. They did a great version that pumped out the bass throughing the fans into a frenzy! It was louder than any performance I’ve heard by Wall Of Voodoo doing Mexican Radio and much bassier ta’boot! They finished up the Saturday’s line up with one last song that blew up the fans. They were a full on party band and well worth it!  We were quick to exit because I had another big day in front of me as did Karen. We continued to chat as we walked back to our cars. We were pleased to have caught some good and memorable performances from some very talented bands.

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 pro-or-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 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!




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