The Night Hiatus Kaiyote Blew My Mind At The Del Monte Speakeasy 3/23/13


I saw Hiatus Kaiyote more recently at the Bootleg Theatre on July 31, 2013. You can check out that blog entry by clicking this link.

On Saturday night (3/23/13), I experienced what may very well have been an out-of-body, musical experience.

I’ve been to a lot of great shows in my lifetime, and each show was memorable in it’s own right.  But sometimes, a concert going experience is so complete … a perfect storm of events … that it leaves you overwhelmed while adrenaline is pumping through your body after it is all said and done.

I’d only been following Hiatus Kaiyote for a few weeks, but I had been anxiously anticipating their show at the Del Monte Speakeasy ever since I clicked “accept” to purchase tickets to their show. I had a sense of how stellar their live performance would be as I had perused many of their live performance clips on Youtube, but what I experienced surpassed my imagination.

I had recently been to the venue for a show earlier in the month, so I knew two things: (i) don’t wear layers as the venue gets sweltering warm and (ii) get there early (as in, as close to the time the doors open for the venue) if you want to get the best view. Tickets for the show had sold out, so a friend of mine and I essentially got there when the doors opened, and we staked a spot, up front, stage left.

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 2.25.13 PM

I had read an article/interview earlier in the week of the band, and Nai Palm mentioned that she was “practically breast-fed on Stevie Wonder” (you’ll note that I named my blog after one of Stevie’s albums, because I, myself, am a huge Stevie Wonder fan) so I decided to burn her a couple of discs of Stevie material: (i) two compilations of Stevie covers put together by DJ Spinna and Bobbito called The Wonder of Stevie: Essential Compositions, Covers & Cookies and The Wonder of Stevie: Melody Man: Further Forays Into The Stevie Songbook and (ii) a mix of some of my favorite, lesser known Stevie Tracks. In between the DJ set by Aaron Byrd of KCRW and the opening act, I saw Nai Palm sitting at a table on the side stage.  I briefly introduced myself and gave her the CDs.  Hopefully, there was something on those discs she hadn’t heard before.

Following the opening act, the band took the stage and Aaron Byrd introduced them to audience.  Really though, the band didn’t need an introduction.  Nai Palm approached the microphone stand when she noticed some flowers attached to the stand’s base.  “This is jasmine,” she said as she leaned in to smell them. “This is my favorite flower.  They just magically appeared,” she said with a giddy smile.  And with that the band started into their set.

Nai Palm. Note the jasmine on the mic stand.

This band knows how to play live.  Each band member’s musicality was, throughout the set, put on full individual display, but they way in which the band plays their music as one, is truly mesmerizing.  If you’ve take any kind of music lessons or studied music theory, you know how complex their arrangements are.  Standing in my spot, I was amazed by how seamless the band would jump back and forth between chord progressions and rhythms.  Music phrasings, though I had heard them on recordings, came to life and jumped around in my ears.  And it was all spot on.  Paul Bender on bass, Perrin Moss on drums and Simon Mavin on keys, played impeccably, and their training/experience in jazz and soul music was fully realized.  And even more than that, you could tell that they were all loving their time on stage. Nai Palm surely recognizes the caliber of musicians that make up the bad.  In her humble way throughout the set, she would give each member individual, deserved, props. “Simon Mavin getting magical on the keys,” She said as his fingers intricately maneuvered the keys.

Nai Palm.  Oh my lord. She could very well be my new favorite female vocalist.  At 23 years old, she seems to have already mastered two instruments: her guitar and her voice. Watching her perform live, up close and personal, I was entranced by the joy in her voice, and the passion with which she played.  She truly fed off the audience, even taking a moment to tell the audience that she loved hearing us sing along.

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson killing it.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson killing it.

And if that weren’t enough, they Miguel Atwood-Ferguson join in on a couple songs on his viola. Like Hiatus Kaiyote, he played with such intensity and passion, it was a privilege just to be in the same room as him.  He’s a tall man, and the ceiling of the venue was low, and watching him play as the sweat dripped from his brow, and as the strings on his bow started fraying, I was nervous for him as I thought his intense playing would cause him to break his bow on the ceiling.  Who am I kidding?  He’s a master at his craft.  Even the setting couldn’t hold him back.

Being that close to the stage, able to watch each musician play with such skill, took me to a concert going place I haven’t been to in a while. It must have been at least a good hour and a half before I turn to my side to check in on my friend to make sure that she was hanging in there.  I had gotten lost in the music. I was zoned in on watching the band play.  It was truly an out-of-body experience.  I was immersed in the music.  Immersed in the performance.

Towards the end of the show, Paul Bender gives a shout-out to his brother who had apparently just recently moved to Los Angeles, and who also taught him to play the bass.  At that point of the show, I had really lost track of time.  Though I was drenched in my own perspiration, and weary from standing in the same spot all night, I was sad that the music had come to an end.

The set list that magically disappeared...

The bud of jasmine Nai Palm gave me.
The bud of jasmine Nai Palm gave me.

I noticed the set list on the floor that Nai was using, but the guy in front of me asked for it before I had the chance. I saw that Paul had a set list, so I asked him for his, and he passed it on to me.  I took a picture of it, but it has somehow mysteriously disappeared …. hmm … I told Nai how much I was impressed with her show, and she gave me a little bud of the jasmine that was on the mic stand.  I think I’ll keep that safe for a while.

I was able to hang out with the band for a moment, snap a few pictures and get them to sign a copy of their latest CD for me.  If you want to check out some other music treasure I’ve collected, click through this link. I even joined in on a little dance circle to the soul music the DJ was spinning.

Hiatus Kaiyote was kind enough to take a picture with me.
Hiatus Kaiyote was kind enough to take a picture with me.

I went outside to decompress with a cigarette, when Perrin and Simon came up and asked for one as well.  Simon was thankful that I had extras to spare, and he mentioned that not only had it been a while, but they were all tired from their recent travel itinerary (they had just flown in from New York that morning). I once again reiterated how much I had enjoyed their performance, and by that time, I went to find my friend to leave for home.

When I got home, I lay in bed for at least 45 minutes watching the snippets of that evening’s performance on my cell phone. I had so much adrenaline in my body from the show that I had just witnessed, that it was hard for me to sleep.  Hopefully, this band will be around for a while, and hopefully, they come back to Los Angeles to give me another musical, out-of-body experience.

Signed album artwork.  Treasure.
Signed album artwork. Treasure.

Below are some video clips I took of the show. Enjoy them the best you can, but honestly, you need to see this band live to truly appreciate what they are about. Hopefully, they’ll be back in Los Angeles to perform in no time.

Note: In the next video you’ll see how happy Nai Palm gets when the audience sings along.  Love it.

Note: At the start of the following video Miguel (at about the 8 second mark) takes note of the low ceiling. Great musicians take note of everything in their surroundings.  



  1. Hiatus Kaiyote | Skirball Cultural Center | October 30, 2013
  2. Hiatus Kaiyote | The Bootleg Theater | July 31, 2013
  3. Nai Palm & Hiatus Kaiyote: Australian Soul


Nai Palm & Hiatus Kaiyote: Australian Soul


[If you want to read about their show that “blew my mind” click here]

Sometimes you can’t find soul. Soul finds you. Apparently it found a group of talented musicians in Australia.

Last weekend I went to see Jose James at the Del Monte Speakeasy. I bought tickets for that show online on the venue’s website a few months ago.  I noticed that there was a name I was unfamiliar with playing the following weekend. The venue site said they were from Australia (foreign bands always interest me, because it always seems that the best music these days comes from abroad, and it’s not often you can catch them playing in the United States)  and there was something unusual about the spelling of the second word of the name of the band, so I decided to click through the links landing on their official website.  Went straight to their band camp  link, and listened to their latest project titled ““Tawk Tomahawk”.  Impressed with what I heard, I decided to buy tickets that day, mostly because I liked the music, but also because tickets, at the time, were only $10 each. [If you want to read about their show that “blew my mind” click here]

I didn’t purchase the digital download of the album (I like to own LPs and CD, so I figured I’d wait), but I did download a free remix album and a live performance. I figured I should have something to listen too later, so I could know what to expect for the show.

A few weeks went by.  I went to the Jose James concert (which was amazing, by the way) earlier in the week, and now, on this Sunday, March 17th, 2013 while others are sipping beer dyed with green coloring on a warm, breezy southern California day, I’m at my desk working. I remember I have the extra tickets, and post on Facebook to see if any of my friends are interested. Having only listened to the band’s latest album a couple of times, and their “remix” album as couple times, I described it as “Bjork with a jazz/funk/soul slant.”  I’d like to take that back. They’re WAY more soulful than Bjork could be.

I hadn’t yet listened to the live download titled “Live at RRR FM”, so after posting on Facebook, I pressed start on my iTunes.  It’s a 40+ minute live recording, and it’s already on it’s third replay … today.

Really, I’m just floored by what I’m hearing.  I knew their recorded music was quality stuff.  After doing a little internet snooping, I find out that Erykah Badu loves the band. ?uestlove of The Roots Tweeted about them. But their live recording … what I had been listening to for most of today, is really impressive. So much soul. So much talent. The lead vocalist’s, Nai Palm, voice reminds me (sincerely) of Amy Winehouse.  The songwriting is filled with so much life. I think all of the jazz elements in the music breathes the life into it.

Spent a handful of distracted minutes to finding some quality live video links to share. I’m so looking forward to see them play next weekend.

This song is stunning. 

Okay … now back to work.  At least I have something to look forward to for next weekend.

Updated: 03/18/13: I found Nai Palm covering Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour”?  If you didn’t already know, I named my blog after one of Stevie’s albums.  I’m a huge Stevie fan. Nai gets SO many brownie points in my book. Can’t wait until the weekend. 

Beck Reimagines David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision”


Sometimes covers put a new spin on old material. Sometimes the cover surprises. Most of the time, covers disappoint.  Some covers make you want to blog about it …

If you aren’t familiar with David Bowie’s “Sound And Vision”, listen to the video below: 

Beck “reimagines” this David Bowie staple and the YouTube description states the following:

“The Hello, Again performance started with an idea — Beck would reimagine David Bowie’s classic, “Sound and Vision.” But it became more than another cover. It became an experience that presented a fresh take on the possibilities of the once familiar, for both the audience and the performers.

In collaboration with Beck and a “band” of more than 160 diverse musicians, Director Chris Milk created a concert experience that was fully immersive for both the audience and the performers. By capturing the concert with 360-degree cameras and binaural microphones, online viewers will have the opportunity to experience the show from any and every seat in the house. Coming soon to”

Check out Beck’s “re-imagining” below: 

All I’m saying  … if Beck ever tours with this, I’m the first one in line for tickets.

The Robert Glasper Experiment at The Roxy 2/8/13


I’ve always prided myself in being a jazz aficionado.  I’ve tried to educate myself in the history (I’ve watched Ken Burns’s documentary twice) and cultural significance (I wrote my senior Anthropology paper on the influence of Jazz Music on society and culture) of Jazz Music.

I don’t listen to much radio these days, and the music that I “discover” tends to be through word of mouth.  I’m a Jill Scott fan, and one day she posted a tweet that caught my attention:


Now, I had heard good things about Robert Glasper (I knew that he was nominated for a 2013 Grammy), but I really didn’t pay too much attention to his music, so this tweet caught my attention.  I mean, Jill Scott is so incredibly talented, that if another musician were to give her musical fits, that musician MUST be as, or more, talented than she.

I started pulling up some video from YouTube, and was instantly hooked.  It was like a modern day version of Guru’s Jazzamatazz albums.  I noticed in one of the YouTube videos a link to purchase tickets to an upcoming show he was to have at the Roxy, and with the Grammy’s that same weekend, I thought it may be a good idea to purchase a couple of tickets to catch the his show.  After all, his latest album “Black Radio” had tons of features on it, and who knew how many musicians may have decided to swing through that evening.

I went to the show with a friend, and I’m glad I bought tickets ahead of time  I smirked a little bit when the people in front of me in the box office line were told that tickets had sold out.


We got inside while DJ Shafiq was spinning, and were relaxing comfortably when Taylor McFerrin took the stage.  It was my first time listening to Taylor McFerrin’s music. He’s a talented producer/vocalist who is signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Label. His show consisted of a freestyle improvisation where he riffed on a vocal pattern, stored it in his computer module, and looped it while playing keys or singing over the looped elements.  All of a sudden, he started to sing Bobby McFerrin’s “Thinkin’ About Your Body”.  I mentioned it to my friend in passing.  It wasn’t until the next day that I realized he was Bobby McFerrin’s son. LOL.

After Taylor’s set, The Robert Glasper Experiment took the stage.

My friend trying to sneak a peek of the Robert Glasper setting up.
My friend trying to sneak a peek of the Robert Glasper Experiment setting up.

The set was amazing.  I do not, unfortunately, know all of Robert’s music by heart (yet), but I think that they MUST have played the following songs, because the featured artist’s came on stage to perform as well:

Bilal: “Letter To Hermoine”

Bilal and Lupe Fiasco:  “Always Shine”

LaLah Hathway: “Cherish The Day”

Ledisi:  “Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.)

And although they weren’t featured on any of the tracks on “Black Radio”, Marsha Ambrosious and Elzhi (of Slum Village) stepped up to the stage to perform as well.  Ms. Ambrosious was kind enough to snap a picture of me after her set.

Lalah Hathaway
Bilal and Lupe Fiasco
Marsha Ambrosious

The vibe and setting in the Roxy was intense.  Whenever the band started going off an a jazz riff, I kept thinking to my self, “This is what it must have felt like to be at a John Coltrane or Miles Davis show, back in the day.”  People were entranced.  The music enraptured.

The Robert Glasper Experiment performed with an intensity and focus that is impossible to measure.  The beats were on point.  The solos amazed. The performance was brilliance animated.  Here are a few snippets.

And the kicker was that it was all accessible. Though Jazz is the foundation for American black music, people seem to lack a certain appreciation for it.  This evening, the people in the audience ate it up with a spoon.  Maybe it was because all of the guest artists made it seem to be more of an R&B or Neo/Soul show, but at the heart of it, it was all jazz.  Pure, unadulterated jazz put through an R&B filter.  The results?  Amazing.

The Robert Glasper Experiment won a Grammy the following night.  I’m glad I got to experience the music before the win.