Posts Tagged ‘United States

28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97’s during the 90’s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ’em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

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!

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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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