E&J Brandy is America’s most awarded brandy. Celebrating their 40the anniversary, they’ve embarked on a “Generations of Soul” campaign featuring the musical talents of Raphael Saadiq, BJ the Chicago Kid and Lee Fields. We were able to attend their private concert at Mack Sennett Studios on 4/2/15 and Lee Fields gave a stellar and intimate performance.
Galactic brought their raucous brand of New Orleans funk to the El Rey Theatre and we had a friend of the blog, Alex B., review it while D. Lee snapped some pics.
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SOUNDS LIKE: …. you know what Beck sounds like.
THOUGHTS: Beck performed at Coachella this year, but only “approved” photographers were allowed in his photo pit. I wasn’t one of those approved photographers. I was pretty bummed about it, because I’m a big fan of Beck. My favorite Beck song? Earthquake Weather off of “Guero”. When I found out he was closing the first night of First City Festival, I kept my fingers crossed that there weren’t going to be the photographer restrictions like there were for Coachella. Thankfully, there weren’t! The only caveat was that we were only allowed to shoot for the first two songs. I was already getting nervous. A three song limit … at least for me … it tough enough. Two songs? The pressure mounts. What if one of those songs was “Motherfucker” (a two minute song)?!?!? Oi, my mind and nerves actually got a little rattled with the thought. Right before we were led into the photo pit, the production manager informed us that Beck had changed his rules to allow us to shoot for three songs. A reprieve! When the music started, I noticed that the lights were dim and red. Oi. Though we had the three songs, light was an issue. I don’t think I’ve ever edited so many photos, and converted so many photos to black and white, than for this set. I posted a lot of photos in this album, but only 3 or 4 of them are actually really usable. After we were led out of the photo pit, I joined my friends to enjoy the rest of Beck’s set, and it was glorious. With a catalog like Beck’s, it wasn’t surprising that his performance was like a greatest hits concert. People were singing along, dancing around, and just having a hell of a time. In the fairgrounds stadium, it really felt like a party, and the party was enjoyed by all.
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THOUGHTS: I got to their set a little late because I wanted to watch as much of Phantogram’s set as I could, but the 20 or so minutes that I got to The Stepkids live was exactly what I was expecting. Funky, Steely Dan-ish, psychedelic soul. Oi. I seriously loved their groove. The way this trio blends elements of jazz, funk and soul is right up my alley. Jeff (guitar) and Dan (bass) were a joy to watch, playing riffs off of each other, and even synchronizing certain moves during songs. When each had a moment to solo, their respective play was a joy to watch, and listen. I wasn’t able to get any decent shots of their drummer, but I’m hoping the next time they are in Los Angeles, I’ll get approved for a photo pass so I can remedy that problem. I’m keeping my ears to the internet for more tour dates, and if you like their vibe, you should too.
Opening for Omar Souleyman was the Los Angeles-based, indie neo-disco band De Lux. I had gotten a little sampling of their music online, but listening to this band’s music live was something else.
De Lux is a favorite of KCRW DJs across the board (they are one of the few acts that ALL of the DJs play in their sets). I could hear why.
They may be a young band, but their sound is pretty damn sophisticated. A little synth-pop, a little electronic, a little disco, a little punk, a little funk … their music is a mish-mosh of styles that really blends together into a unique, almost throwback, sound.
I got to chat with a couple of the guys in the band after their set, and couldn’t help but rave about their sound. Though they’ve heard it before, I really emphasized my observation that their music really reminded me of the Talking Heads. Seaun Guerin, one of the founders and the lead vocalist, in particular, has a voice that’s as oddly wonderful as David Byrnes’ voice.
These guys are playing at the upcoming free music festival in Los Angeles, Echo Park Rising, August 15th-17th (TBD). I’m going to try and make it out for their gig. Hopefully, I’ll be able to snap some more pics of them jamming out.
On the second day of the BET Experience at L.A. Live, I decided to watch the various acts performing on the main stage of the convention center. Each of the acts performed short sets to give the audience a sampling of what their music was all about.
The third act I was able to catch was Roman GianArthur; a singer-songwriter who is a member of Janelle Monae‘s Wondaland Arts Society collective. His performance was quite impressive. His music was an infusion of soul and funk, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder (he did cover “Superstition”) and D’Angelo. His guitar skills were on point, and the way he played reminded be a bit of Prince.
Charismatic and skillful, his set really opened my eyes. He’s definitely someone I’ll be keeping tabs on. Check out Roman’s Facebook page to keep up with his music. CLICK HERE to get redirected to Facebook.
Similar to Centric TV’s “Centric Certified” initiative, the flagship BET channel “Music Matters” spotlight also aims to highlight the next BET superstars through music, bios, music videos, photos and intimate interviews where the artists explain who they are and what music means to them.
Being up close to the artist while they performed gave me the opportunity to take some really good pictures. Please follow me so you can get notified when they get posted.
Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 28 years, UCLA has hosted a music festival called the JazzReggae Festival. Originally, the first day was devoted to Jazz and the second day was devoted Reggae. Though the first day has morphed to a “Jam” day, the festival has always been able to pull in outstanding talent for the price of admission. If you are ever in Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend, and looking to enjoy a music festival at an extremely reasonable price, I suggest that you check out the lineup to see if any artists you like are on the bill.
Armed with a photo pass for the event, I was able to take pictures of the artists listed below. Click on the link to check them out!
May 25th, 2014:
May 26th, 2014