The Strypes | El Rey Theatre | 3/31/14

IMG_4576

I don’t know what they are feeding their kids across the pond, but I would suggest that we bring whatever they have over there and start feeding it to our kids in the States.

It was a last minute decision, but having missed out on seeing Jake Bugg perform at The Wiltern, I decided that I wouldn’t miss out on catching The Strypes, a four piece blues/garage rock band from Cavan, Ireland , finish up their U.S. tour with a stop at the El Rey. Their music is a throwback to some of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s … and they are only 16-18 years old.

The crazy thing is, if you didn’t know how old they were, I guarantee that you would have never guessed that they were so young. Their music is fast and loud, and they carried an attitude on stage that made them appear older than they actually are. It was an 18+ show, but it didn’t surprise me that that their audience was equally split between those still in high school, and those who grew up with music from bands like The Kinks (whose rendition of “Louie, Louie” they faithfully covered as their finale) and the Yardbirds. It no surprise that legacy artists like Elton John (full disclaimer, Elton is managed by the same company that manages The Strypes)  have been raving about the group for some time.

Their music is accessible by disparate age groups because though they perform with their naturally youthful energy and swagger that could make any pre-teen girl squeal, they also have the musical chops to impressively sound like that music form the glory days of classic rock-and-roll. I mean, the lead singer, Ross Farrelly (who I understand is only 16 years old) has a voice that quite faithfully covered classic by Bo Diddley, The Specials, Ramones and Kinks.

These kids are impressive. Their stage present and their seems to indicated that they have the potential to keep on making great sounding rock-and-roll for years to come. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that their sound doesn’t change too much with puberty.

The Strypes Setlist El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2014

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

Allen Stone | The Echo | 2/20/14

IMG_4056

When I first started this blog in January 2013, one of the first blog entries I put up was a list of my favorite concerts of 2012. Breaking the Top 10 was Allen Stone’s performance at the Fonda Theatre, Friday, October 19th, 2012. I only wrote a couple of sentences about the performance (below … which I should have proofread), but being an avid fan of soul and R&B music, I was particularly impressed.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 5.25.18 PM

His performance at The Fonda made me an instant fan, so much so that I reviewed his first album “Last To Speak”, tried (but missed) his set at Coachella, and bought VIP tickets to see him perform at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue, even hanging out with him and his manager afterwards at my favorite bar in Santa Monica. When I heard that he had a gig scheduled at The Echo (a venue, ironically enough, that I hadn’t seen a show in), I snapped a ticket up immediately. Knowing that he was currently writing and recording music for his next album, I anticipated a mix of both old and new songs.

When I arrived at the venue, there was a line at least 30 people deep. Knowing that the event had sold out, I asked the bouncer whether I had to wait in line if my ticket was at will call. He indicated that the people waiting in line were waiting to see if any extra tickets would become available. I was glad that I got my ticket way in advance.

As soon as I stepped into the 350 person capacity venue, I felt a warmth overcome me. Yeah, it was packed, and I kinda felt sorry for anybody hoping to score a ticket last minute. I became somewhat resigned insofar as I knew that I got there a little too late to find and stake out a good vantage point to take pictures, but I did what I could.

An as aside, and a concert going tip, at The Echo there  isn’t any reserved seating. The booths that line the walls are first come, first served. As I was walking through the venue during Allen’s set, I noticed there was space between an older man and his wife at a booth. In between songs, I kindly asked if I could stand there for a song or two to take some picture, and he pointed his finger at me saying that I was blocking his wife’s view, and that the section was “reserved” for him. After the show, on my way out, I asked the the employees working the ticket office about “reserved seating”, and they told me that there was no such thing at The Echo. Even old people are mean.

That little rude blip didn’t get me down though. How could it when the music was so good? His setlist was a mix of tracks from his first album (“Figured It Out”), self titled album (“What I’ve Seen”, “Unaware”, “Contact High” and an acoustic version of “Satisfaction”), covers (Tingsek’s “Six Years”, Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”) and newly written material (“Momma Gonna Punish You”, “Million” and “Voodoo”).

He sang the Gotye cover for his encore, and I must say that his vocal rendition, and arrangement, of it blew my mind. For a song that has been covered by everyone and their mom, he breathed a new life into it. His voice forceful, and longing, it was a performance that gave me chills, making me fall in love with a song that, truthfully, I never cared for.

The only thing that would have topped the Gotye cover would have been if Allen Stone performed the song that got me interested in his music and sound in the first place: “Another Break Up Song”.  That didn’t happen, but I ain’t complaining.

After the gig, I bumped into a mutual friend who writes for the Los Angeles Times. He was with Allen’s publicist and I exchanged some pleasantries adding that I was happy to hear that Allen would be playing at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. I didn’t tell her that I actually predicted that he would be performing at the Hollywood Bowl, but I did tell her that I’d buy a ticket for the day Allen performs if he puts “Another Break Up Song” on the setlist. I wonder if my mutual friend can find out if that song gets put on the setlist … hmm ….

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Biffy Clyro | El Rey Theatre | 2/14/14

IMG_3933

What band in Europe is big enough to headline over Nine Inch Nails at the  world’s oldest music festival in 2013? Biffy Clyro. Never heard of them? Well, you should.

Formed back in 1995 in Kilmarnock, Scotland, Biffy Clyro has released 6 albums, and sold over 1.1 millions copies of their albums in the United Kingdom. Back in the United Kingdrom, they sell out venues as large as the Staples Center which seats 20,000. On Valentine’s day, they played a venue with a capacity of 771; but they rocked it like it was an arena show.

Waiting for the band to take the stage, I noticed a couple standing in front of me wearing home made shirts that had the words “MON THE BIFFY” emblazoned on the back. I asked them about the shirts, and as soon as they started explaining the meaning of the phrase (a popular saying originated by fans which essentially is short for “C’mon Biffy Clyro”), I noticed their thick European accents.

As it turns out, they were loyal fans from Scotland who decided to follow the band to the states to catch their gigs. They are engaged to get married, and as it turns out they actually met at a Biffy Clyro show. I told them that this was my first time I watching the band perform live, and they assured me that it would not disappoint. They were right.

When the lights of the venue dimmed, and Sister Sledge’s song “We Are Family” (a song that the band plays before every live show) pumped through the house speakers, the audience erupted in cheers. The band took the stage, and immediately exploded into their set with such a fierce energy that it was quite exhilarating to watch. It was almost as if they were playing to prove to those in attendance that they were a band that needed to be noticed. And I noticed.

The band consists of  five players (with Simon Neil on lead vocals and guitar, James Johnston on bass and vocals, and Ben Johnston on drums in the forefront,  and Mike Vennart on additional guitar and Richard Ingram on keyboard in the shadows), and their sound was full, lush and expertly played. Both Simon and James demonstrated their masterful showmanship using the entire stage, and engaging all parts of the audience throughout the set. These guys know how to put on a live show and their repertoire was filled with raucous, pop-friendly, crowd pleasing anthems. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are performing in venues bigger than the El Rey the next time they visit Los Angeles. Not at all.

I would say that the highlight(s) of the evening was when the audience, who were all much better versed in the band’s music than I, sang along and Neil let the crowd do the singing. Being in the audience, engulfed in the sound of voices all around singing (rather well I may add) music unfamiliar to me, sent shivers down my spine. I hope that the next time I see the band perform live, I’ll be singing along with them.

  1. Different People
  2. That Golden Rule
  3. Who’s Got a Match?
  4. Sounds Like Balloons
  5. Biblical
  6. God & Satan
  7. Glitter and Trauma
  8. Bubbles
  9.  Spanish Radio
  10. Folding Stars
  11. Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies
  12. 57
  13. Many of Horror
  14. Modern Magic Formula
  15. Black Chandelier
  16. Woo Woo
  17. The Captain

Encore:

  1. Opposite
  2. Stingin’ Belle
  3. Mountains

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINKto get redirected to the set of photos.

Stevie Wonder | Songs In The Key Of Life | Nokia Theatre L.A. Live | 12/21/13

IMG_3340

Have you ever thought about what you would say or do if you were in a room with one of your childhood idols?

One of my childhood idols was Stevie Wonder. I discovered his music by way of the 1993 cover of “Lately” by Jodeci. When I started doing some research browsing the CD racks at the local library, the first CD I pulled of the rack was “Songs In The Key Of Life”. I must have been too eager to play the music, as I started with disc 2 rather than disc 1, and the first song I heard was “Isn’t She Lovely”. I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve amassed a considerable collection of his music (on CDs and LPs) even spending hours making a detour to an HMV while I was touring Japan with my college singing group to search for albums I hadn’t ever seen before. While the rest of the group members were doing touristy things, I found a copy of Stevie Wonder’s  harmonica album “Eivets Rednow” (that’s his name spelled backwards if you couldn’t tell).

Fast forward to the relative present, I had to pick up a paycheck at my bosses’ business manager’s office. I stepped into the elevator, and with the doors closing to take me up, a hand jammed in the middle to open the doors back up. One man walked into the 5ft by 5ft compartment, followed by another man directing an older gentleman wearing a daishiki and sunglasses. That man was Stevie Wonder.

All of a sudden, my stomach turned and my palms got sweaty. My mind started racing, searching for something to say, but as the elevator came to a stop, it’s doors opened and my teenage idol slowly departed the space, with me there silently watching … watching him walk away as the doors closed me in.

Ever since then, I’ve repeatedly thought to myself what I could have said in that space of a few seconds …”I used the lyrics of ‘Send One Your Love’ for my best friend’s wedding toast” …  “‘Sugar’ and “Anything You Want Me To Do” are my favorite songs form “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” … “‘Music Of My Mind’ changed my life.” …  “I plan on using ‘Ribbon in the Sky’ as a song at my wedding, whenever that happens” … Yeah, I guess you can say that I’ve thought about what I’d say to Stevie the next time I was ever in a room with him.

When I heard that Mr. Wonder would be performing “Songs in the Key of Life” in its entirety for his annual “House Full of Toys” charity concert in Los Angeles, I used my industry connections to ask for orchestra seats that had been announced on Ticketmaster as being “sold out”.  Weeks went by, and it wasn’t until the week before the event that I was notified that a pair of tickets would be held at will call for me. I was set, and I could only eagerly count down the days before attending a concert whose music meant so much to me and my life.

When I picked up the tickets at will call, I was surprised to find that with my tickets were VIP passes to the private bar of the venue. I’m not typically a VIP kind of guy, but knowing that the venue was huge (maximum capacity is over 7000), I appreciated not having to wait in line for a beer.

As me and my guest were about to enter the private bar, a security guard halted our progress. I scanned the room and noticed the hallway to the stage door in front of me and …. AN ELEVATOR immediately to my left. My stomach turned and my palms got sweaty. Sound familiar?

As I nervously joked with my guest that, “I bet you Stevie is in the elevator,” the elevator doors opened, seemingly in slow motion … in a way that made it seem like the universe was playing some twisted joke on me … and the man of the evening, Stevie Wonder, stepped out of the elevator with his entourage.

The room was quiet. I was quiet.

My mind racing to retrieve one of the gems I had thought of years before, a woman standing behind me, interrupting my train of thought, yelled, “I love you, Stevie,” and with that my mind yelled out the only thing I could think of…

“I love you too, Stevie” … and with that, he disappeared behind the stage doors.

Epic, EPIC fail. LOL.

My epic fail aside, the concert was everything that I could have hoped for. The list of special guest performers was epic: Greg Phillinganes, Joe, Frederic Yonnet, John Popper, Chick Corea, Eric Benet, Esperanza Spalding, John Mayer, Ledisi, India.Arie, Herbie Hancock … the list goes on.  It was a backing band fit for a king, and Stevie ruled the stage. The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone Magazine wrote terrific reviews of the show, so I’ll spare you my rambling.

While you click those links to read what they had to say, I’ll be over here in my corner practicing what I’ll say the next time Stevie Wonder is in the room.

.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Depeche Mode | Staples Center | 9/29/13

Martin Gore and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performing at the Staples Center 9/29/13
Martin Gore and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performing at the Staples Center 9/29/13

Years ago, back in 2009, I got to see one of my favorite bands growing up, Depeche Mode, perform at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a concert that I hadn’t purchased a ticket for, but I was lucky enough to have friends who, for one reason or another, couldn’t go, and I was the lucky recipient. For that show, I literally had the “last seat” in the house (Section X2, Row 4, Seat 3), but it is still one of the handful of concerts that I have ever been to that I am sure will always be somewhere in my top 10 of all time. I’ll have to admit though, I could be a little biased simply based on the fact that Depeche Mode’s music was such an integral part of my growing up.

I remember how I got introduced to their music. While I was in elementary/middle school, I had a cool cousin who graduated from college and was trying to get a job in the film industry. During her job search, she spent a few years living at my parents house, and with her came her music collection. Though I only got to listen to her music in her car, when she found a job and moved out, she left a handful of albums behind. The Fleetwood Mac LPs were cool. The Billy Joel cassette was cool. But all of a sudden, I noticed a black double cassette (the first double cassette I’d ever seen), of some band I thought was named “Depeche Mode 101”.

When I popped in the first cassette, the first thing I realized was that it was a live recording (recorded at the Pasadena Rose Bowl). When I pressed play, I didn’t hear any music. Rather, it was the sound of an audience cheering like crazy. I was enthralled. Each song was something new to me, and whenever a song ended, and the crowd roared with cheers, I truly felt like I was at that concert. I would eventually find out that the band’s name was just Depeche Mode, and the live album was titled 101.  The title of that album was fitting, as that album was basically my beginner’s course for a band that I would come to love so whole heartedly.

For some reason, I failed to purchased tickets to any of their shows at the Staples Center when they were released to the public. I checked online for tickets, but they were all exorbitantly marked up. It was a sad oversight, and I figured that I would miss out this time around … but again, the music gods must have been looking over me as another friend messaged me on the 28th about having an extra ticket for the 29th. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes”.

The seats were in the rafters of the Staples Center, but if I learned anything about Depeche Mode from the last time I saw them, seats anywhere in the venue would have been fine. Like the first time I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore did not disappoint. Their live performance was grand and filled with adrenaline rushing moments, contrasted with emotionally charged darkness. Dave Gahan strutted across the stage throughout his songs with such a bravado that one would never guess that he’s over 50 years old.

Though the tour is in support of their latest album, Delta Machine, they performed songs from every stage of their careers. Crowd, and radio favorites, “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy The Silence”, “World In My Eyes” and “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and “classic” Depeche Mode favorites like “Behind The Wheel”, “A Question of Time”  were performed, but what really stood out in my mind were the songs that Martin Gore sang solo. Subdued, acoustic and intimate versions of “A Question of Lust” and “Condemnation”  were performed during the encore that moved me immeasurably.  Those two songs, for me, epitomize Depeche Mode’s ability to reach into the listeners soul to question, consider and forgive all of the intricacies and follys of love. Where Dave Gahan is the bravado, Martin Gore is the soul. Their pairing is what keeps the yin and yang of Depeche Mode in harmony.

Setlist from the website setlist.fm:

  1. Welcome to My World
  2. Angel
  3. Walking In My Shoes
  4. Precious
  5. Behind The Wheel
  6. World In My Eyes
  7. Should be Higher
  8. John the Revelator
  9. Higher Love (sung by Martin Gore)
  10. Judas
  11. Heaven
  12. Soothe My Soul
  13. A Pain That I’m Used To
  14. A Question of Time
  15. Enjoy The silence
  16. Personal Jesus

Encore

  1. A Question of Lust (Acoustic Sung by Martin Gore)
  2. Condemnation (Sung by Martin Gore)
  3. Just Can’t Get Enough
  4. Never Let Me Down Again

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Allen Stone | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

About a year ago, while searching the web for new music, I came across a youtube video of a white soul singer from Seattle, Washington singing a soulful, acoustic version of one of his own compositions.  The chorus of the song, and the voice the singer, hooked me instantly.  The songs was called “Another Break Up Song” and the singer’s name was  Allen Stone.

On October 19, 2012, I was able to see him perform at The Fonda Theatre. His performance that evening was so good that it made it into the top 10 of the concert events I went to in 2012. Since I missed his early afternoon set at Coachella this year, I was ecstatic to hear that he would be performing at the Beach Ball Soul Revue.

If you are unfamiliar with Allen Stone, I would describe this self-professed “hippie with soul” as a throwback to those soul legends who sang lyrics embedded with social commentary. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway … I’m talking the heavy hitters. Lofty comparisons for a relative newbie in the music industry, but with a tenor voice as soulful as his, and poingnant songwriting ability, it’s hard for me not to make them.  Back in October 2012, I professed on my Facebook page that Allen Stone could be an artist that we’d see performing at the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre sooner rather than later. I’m going to stick to my guns.

His performance at the Beach Ball was as good as I remembered him at the Fonda, if not more energetic. He fed off the energy from the crowd, who sang along to Allen’s more well known songs. The crowd loved his performance, and clearly loved the messages of love and togetherness Allen professed throughout his set.

After all of the concert festivities for the evening had concluded, I meandered to my “Cheers” (Ye Old Kings Head in Santa Monica) for a few drinks with friends. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Allen and his crew were tucked away in a corner of the bar. Being the gregarious person I am … though, I’m sure the double Dewars I had just consumed also helped … I walked over to Allen’s table and introduced myself. I recall telling him that I was at his show at the Fonda, that I enjoyed his set on the pier, and how I’m always hoping that I’d get to hear him perform “Another Break Up Song”.

Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Me and Allen Stone at the Kings Head after the Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]

I offered to buy him a drink, but he told me that it was his turn to be the designated driver. I think I may have bought his manager a drink though. Not wanting to be a leech, I told Allen that I was really looking forward to hear his next album, and snapped a quick pic before minding my own. A friend of mine who manages the Kings Head has offered to hang a picture of me and Snoop on the celebrity wall of the Kings Head, but I’ve always refused because Snoop’s never been to the Kings Head.  I just may have to give him my picture with Allen.

Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
Allen Stone performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [ig: @methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Lee Fields and the Expressions | The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | September 21, 2013

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]

Lee Fields has been doing his thing for over 40 years, but I only got really familiar with his music this year. A work associate was selling some LPs in his collection, and while I was looking through his rack, he pulled out Lee Fields LP “Problems”. He assured me that it was an excellent listen, and I trusted him. I’m so glad I did.

When I played “Problems” on my record player, I was immediately immersed in some deep, soulful funk that I was embarrassed to realize I was unfamiliar with. “Problems” was released in 2002,  and I realized that I was over 10 years late to the party … but as they say, “better late than never”.

I found out later that he was scheduled to perform at the Troubadour in support of his most recent album “Faithful Man”, but was saddened to discover that the show had sold out. I didn’t see any tickets for sale on second hand ticket brokers websites, so I can only assume that those who were lucky enough to snag tickets, were keeping them for themselves. My extreme loss. Thankfully, for my sake, he was scheduled to perform at the Beach Ball Festival.

Critics compare Lee Fields to artists like Wilson Pickett and James Brown, but those critics should really just focus on what Lee Fields brings to the current music scene. Perhaps, if Lee’s latest albums were released back in the hey day of soul music (i.e. the 60’s), he may have been talked about in the same breath with the soul stars of that time. But, they weren’t. Rather, the albums are part of the current music scene, and they are diamonds in the rough. Current artists, and popular music, don’t make albums like Lee Fields. There are only a handful of artists today (Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, to name a few) that provide modern day music fans with the kind of throwback soul that existed back in soul’s hey day. That kind of music is unique in today’s musical landscape, and should be judged on their own merits. Just my thoughts …

Lee Fields brought his brand of retro-soul to the stage, and knocked the audience out. Dressed in his bright red, yellow and blue, plaid blazer, he brought an infectious energy to the stage that the crowd couldn’t help but feel. Interacting with the crowd, strutting and dancing back and forth across the stage, swooning and belting the lyrics to his music, his performance was the embodiment of soul music, and he had me smiling dimple to dimple throughout the whole set.

My "Problems" LP signed by  Lee Fields!
My “Problems” LP signed by Lee Fields!

After his performance, I head back to the back stage area with the hopes of meeting Mr. Fields. Some people may think that I take my music too seriously, but I felt compelled to bring along my copy of the “Problems” LP in case I was lucky enough to meet him to get it signed. The soul stars must have been lined up, because as soon as I made my way back, Mr. Fields was snapping some pictures with a photographer for the event. I got him to sign my LP and snap a picture, told him how much I enjoyed the show and wished him the best for the rest of the tour.

Mr Fields, terrific set. The pleasure was all mine.

Me and Lee Fields.
Me and Lee Fields.

Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields performing at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields in repose at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
Lee Fields in repose at The Beach Ball Festival 9/21/13 [@methodman13]
 

Click here to check out the blog entries of the other acts I was able to catch (Myron & E, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc) at The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue.

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band |Burton W. Chace Park | August 17, 2013

DSC02992

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, if you haven’t been taking advantage of the free summer concerts available in your neck of the woods, you’re probably missing out. On August 17, 2013, I had the chance to see Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band, play a one and half hour concert at Burton W. Chace Park in Marina del Rey, and it was glorious. I would have gladly paid money to see Poncho Sanchez perform, but I’m not complaining one bit that I got to see this living, jazz legend play for free.

The line to park my car was long, and after waiting almost 20 minutes to park, I almost had to pull out from the front of the line to get change  as the parking lot attendant wasn’t willing to break the cash I had. Thankfully, a kind gentleman behind me spotted me $5 (parking was $10) so that I didn’t have to wait in line again.  Thank you, sir. I hope you contact me so that I can return the favor.

The best seats in the house. Obviously, not for me ... lol
The best seats in the house. Obviously, not for me … lol. If you can’t read the text, click on the picture to enlarge the picture.

With my new friends, I walked to concert area. With the stage situated at the edge of the jetty overlooking the great Marina Del Rey harbor views, latin jazz fans got there early to lay their blankets out to stake their territory. With the weather as pleasant as weather could be on a summer eve next to the water, it was a wonderfully sublime atmosphere for an evening of mind-blowing entertainment.

On his website, Poncho Sanchez has stated the following:

Latin jazz is the world’s greatest music,” says Sanchez. “It has the melodic and harmonic sophistication of jazz and American standards, and the flavor and energy of Latin American music. What I’m most proud of is that this music – while it may sound exotic at times – is from America. It was born in New York City, when Chano Pozo met Dizzy Gillespie for the first time in the mid-1940s. They created something that didn’t exist before in this country. I’m very proud to take this music all over the world all the time.”

And with that in mind, Poncho had a set that payed tribute to a number of the great jazz legends before him, performing his renditions of classic jazz standards and dedicating songs to those who came before him. He performed a song as a tribute to Willie Bobo. He performed a “Night In Tunisia” as a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie. He dedicated a song to John Coltrane who, to the excitement of the crowd, he indicated would be subject of his forthcoming album. Amazing music. Amazing sound. A jazz legend and his band playing music till the sun set in the ocean.

DSC02981DSC02997DSC02999DSC03016

The later the concert went, the more and more people got up from their picnic dinners to dance.  It was hard to not bump into people trying to dance to the rhythm, some more successfully than others … lol, but the energy was there. Poncho encouraged the crowd to get up and dance, and more people followed suit. I felt the beat in my feet too, and I only wish that I had someone to dance with. Maybe next time.

The National | Jimmy Kimmel Live | August 12, 2013

IMG_2395

The National has been around for a while, since the late 90s, releasing the first full length album in 2001, but I really didn’t start listening to them until their album “Boxer” (which is still my favorite The National album), which was released in 2007. Since then, I’ve been high on their music and their melodramatic, punk, indie rock sound. They released “Trouble Will Find Me” in 2013, and I was really hoping to get tickets to see them perform live, having heard that it was a great show to catch. I knew that they were schedule to perform two concerts in Los Angeles, at The Greek and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but as fate would have it tickets had sold out before I had the chance to purchase them. Scouring the web for tickets through sites like Stubhub and Barry Tickets, tickets, even for the nosebleed seats, were in the triple digits, and a little more that I wanted to spend.

Fast forward to the Saturday eve they were playing at The Greek, I was having drinks at my watering hole, when a couple sitting next to me starting talking about the tickets they had for the Sunday show at the cemetery. I was about to lament about the fact that I didn’t get tickets, when a friend of mine, who I have been having drinks with for years at the bar, mentioned that The National was the featured artist for Jimmy Kimmel Live, August 12, and would be performing a mini-concert as part of Jimmy Kimmel’s summer concert series.

I jokingly asked if he could sneak me in, and to my surprise he said that he worked on set for the late night talk show, and offered that if I wanted to go, even though tickets were no longer available, he would sneak me in for the concert. How ironic that after 10 years of seeing him, and having drinking with him, in the bar I only now discovered what he did for a living… I took him up on the offer.

Having negotiating a $20 parking fee to $10 in Hollywood, I walked over to the alley he told me that he would meet me at. Without having to go through security, he led me to the concert area and left me to devices. Unaware that I wasn’t allowed to bring a camera into the concert area, I was able to take a few pictures with my camera before security told me to put it away.

DSC02973

DSC02972

DSC02971

The National played 5 songs, but at the end of the day, it was better than never having seen them at all. Looking at the set lists for their shows at the Greek and Hollywood Forever, I was still envious that I wasn’t able to get those tickets, but beggars can’t be choosers, and I was extremely grateful that I have friends willing to hook me up every once and a while. The set list for Jimmy Kimmel was as follows:

  1. Graceless
  2. This is the Last Time
  3. Don’t Swallow The Cap
  4. Sea Of Love
  5. Pink Rabbits

 

Tijuana Tears | The Virgil | July 24, 2013

DSC02246

The first time I heard Tijuana Tears play, it was at a ridiculously awesome house party at Frank Sinatra’s old mansion (Toddchella). What I remember most from their set that night was that their original songs were solid. For any recording artist, it’s the songs that matter most. Style and talent can get you far, but if the material you’re performing isn’t any good … well … then you’re career is going to be pretty short. These guys had some original songs that I really got into. If I’ve never heard the song before, and I’m singing the hook half way through “Phantasmic Consciousness”, I’m pretty sure that song is a keeper.

IMG_2288

I finally got a chance to see them again live at a venue in Silver Lake called The Virgil. By the time I walked into the venue, I noticed a small group already crowded around the merchandise table to buy the band’s newest screen-print t-shirt. The band before them was still playing and I walked around the venue to check out the digs. I bumped into a couple of the guys in the band, and they genuinely thanked me for coming out to see them play. Very appreciative. Very humble. Reza noticed the music pins on lapel of my concert backpack, and ran over to the merchandise booth to grab me one. Although I had only hung out with them once before, their kindness went a long way to make me feel like family.

IMG_2235

The guys took to the small stage and started their set off with a new song that I hadn’t heard before, and continued to rock through songs from the 5 song EP they released in 2012, which you can download from their bandcamp site by naming your own price: http://tijuanatears.bandcamp.com/album/phantasmic-consciousness.

They played all of the songs that I remember them playing from that raucous evening months ago, and I still enjoyed each song, and the way they performed, as much I did then. This time sober. They filled the room with an infectious energy, and while looking around between songs, all I could was smiles. And if the audience wasn’t smiling, they were singing along. After the set, Matt M. (the guitarist) shot me a text with the set list. The first song of their set was, at the time, untitled, but after checking out some other clips online, it seems they’ve titled it “The Narrows”. The setlist texted is below:

IMG_2290

They have a gig coming up at The Satellite Monday, August 12th 2013. If you happen to be in Los Angeles that evening, and you like what you see/hear in the video link below, I highly recommend that you see these guys play. If you’re busy that night, you should go ahead and check out their website (http://www.tijuanatears.com) to find the links to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud and catch them at a small venue before they’re playing bigger ones.