Snarky Puppy | The Troubadour | 8/2/14 [PHOTOS]

Ever since Snarky Puppy beat my favorite neo-soul band of 2013, Hiatus Kaiyote for the Best R&B Performance Grammy this year, I had to look them up and figure out who they were.

I’ll admit … the first video clip  supporting their release of “Family Dinner- Volume 1”. It was Lalah Hathaway singing a song titled “Something” … and she harmonized with herself… let me say that again … SHE HARMONIZED WITH HERSELF!!!

That video was mind blowing, and I’ll have to admit the music, separate from the mind-blowing vocal gymnastics performed by Lalah, was pretty damn good.

Based out of New York, the band is led by Michael League, a Grammy Award-winning bassist. It’s players are part of collective that features nearly 40 musicians. They affectionately refer to themselves as “The Farm” and for this evening, they had 9 of them play at The Troubadour.

With the 10 players cramped on the stage, their music, which is a fusion of jazz, rock and funk, was loud and funky. I won’t lie, though … if you were hoping for some vocalists to jump onto the stage to join them for a song or two, you would have been disappointed. It was an all instrumental set with only the audience singing along with the chants on a song … the name of which totally escapes me, but you can see the video below.

I’m not one to complain though. When you have that many talented musicians on stage, it’s easy for me to get lost in some robust, Grammy Award winning music.

BINKBEATS Performs and Recreates J. Dilla Beats Solo. Dope. (VIDEO)

I’ve been a big fan of J Dilla’s since  Slum Village released “Fantastic Vol. 2“, so whenever someone posts some new J Dilla material, or music inspired by J Dilla, I take the time to check it out.

The video clip above released on Youtube back on December 20, 2013, but I just stumbled upon it. I’d never heard of BINKBEATS until now, but I’ll have to say that he’s impressed me with this 7 minute video. Performing all of the instruments himself, he’s able to recreate some of J Dilla’s unique sounds live to create a wonderful “live” video that mixes in four of J Dilla’s beats: “Make’em NV”, “E=MC”, “Wont’ Do” and “Fall in Love”.  I’ve found videos of the foregoing tracks that you can check out, and compare, below.

Well done BINKBEATS. I’m sure J Dilla would be happy.

Robert Glasper Experiment | The Troubadour | 1/24/14


If you are visiting Los Angeles, and music is your thing, hitting up a show at the Troubadour  (or another iconic performance venue) should be on your list of things to do. If you are a Los Angeles resident, and you haven’t been to the Troubadour … shame on you. I kid … kind of.

With a maximum capacity of 400,  the Troubadour has hosted music royalty like Elton John, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Radiohead, Prince, Nine Inch Nails, and the list goes on. Hell, even John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were kicked out of the club for heckling the Smothers Brothers back in the 70s. Needless to say, the tiny, iconic venue has a lot of history. As soon as I heard that The Robert Glasper Experiment was playing a gig there the Friday before the 2014 Grammy Awards, I immediately purchased a ticket.

Now, I was lucky enough to catch his performance at the Roxy in 2013, so I knew that it was a going to be a show filled with musicianship (and a special guest or two) that couldn’t be missed. That show at the Roxy was amazing, and my only regret was that I didn’t have a camera good enough to take pictures in a low lighted setting. That experience made me invest in a new camera that could.

Armed with a capable camera (you can check out some of my concert pics at my Instagram account [@Methodman13]), I got to the Troubadour with the hopes of staking out some prime real estate for the show, only to be told by the bouncers that I couldn’t’ bring my pocket sized, point and shoot camera into the venue. I could respect the policy for the show as they apparently were filming the evening for Robert’s forthcoming documentary titled “Of Dreams To Come: Robert Glasper” [To learn more about that project, head over to the website for more info]. Of course, the first thing I noticed when I got inside were people who had snuck their cameras into the venue, using the their flash no less. A bit of a bummer, as I literally had front row “seats”; but I learned that if I’m ever asked if I have a camera on my person, I am going to say, “No.” Little white lies never killed anybody, right?

I wasn’t going to let my not being able to bring the camera into the venue put a damper on the evening, and apparently the music gods saw fit to bless me with some great music karma. Let’s see ..

1. For the first time … ever … a group of three taller gentlemen, standing at least 6 feet tall each, offered to move around to give me an unobstructed view of the stage. Yeah, I’m short, and yeah, I totally appreciated that. It was a very cool gesture.

2. As expected, the music was beyond amazing, and special guests like Javier StarksAlgebra Blessett (who sang “Calls”), Wayne Brady (who covered an amazing version of Coldplay’s “Yellow”), Grammy Award winning songwriter PJ Morton (performing a song he co-wrote with Robert called “No Worries”), an amazing vocalist and Grammy nominated artist B. Slade, prolific trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and Malcolm Jamal Warner joining the incomproble Lalah Hathaway to perform a moving and powerful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America”, made the evening’s performance that much more memorable.

3.  I stood next to a pair of wonderful ladies who grooved with me throughout the set, even nudging my shoulder when songs hit magic moments of musicality, and who Robert poured drinks to from the stage (more to come on them later).

4. As soon as Robert ended his set, I took a chance, called out his name and asked for the small piece of paper that I noticed was resting on one of his keyboards. That small piece of paper was his “partial setlist”, and he gladly gave it to me.

5. My friend Terrace Martin was at the show, and happened to be on stage at the end of Robert’s set after I received the setlist, and I was personally introduced to him.

6. Robert spent time after the set greeting his fans, friends and family, so I waited until the crowd dispersed a bit before I approached him to ask for his signatures on my three Robert Glasper LPs. I started to apologize for interrupting him, when one of the wonderful ladies, who happened to be standing next to Robert at that moment, looked at him and basically vouched for me. THAT was freaking awesome.

If there are forces that control the destiny of musicians and those who love music, they were definitely watching over me that evening. Word can’t describe my glee when it was all said and done, and it’ll take a lot for the other concerts I plan on going to this year to compare. Hopefully, the music gods will be keeping an eye out on me …

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.

Terrace Martin | The Virgil | 1/22/14


A tip for any avid concert goer living in Los Angeles: ALWAYS  find a concert or two to go to during Grammy Week. During the week immediately preceding the awards ceremony, amazing musical talent from all over the world flocks to Los Angeles to join in the celebration of music, whether to attend the ceremony as a nominee, to perform in the city of angels to showcase their own musical abilities for the throngs of A&R, talent agents, talent managers, critics and fans who happen to be in town to celebrate music with them or to just play gigs with their friends. Continue reading

Yancy Deron, Yung Miss & Quiz | The Virgil | 1/22/14


Opening for Terrace Martin at the Virgil, were three acts: Quiz, Yung Miss and Yancy Deron. Each held their own, performing their sets admirably and with good energy, positively setting the table and mood for the evening’s headliner.  Below are video clips of their performances and a slideshow with some pictures from the evening. I was particularly impressed with Yung Miss’ set. Her vocal ability had a rawness that evoked memories of a younger Lauren Hill.

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.

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


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.

Iza | Culture Collide | 10/10/13

Click here to check out the other bands that I saw perform at Culture Collide 2013


Earlier this year (2013), Snoop threw up some beats he had cobbled together onto his Soundcloud account, giving other musicians on Soundcloud the opportunity to record melodies and lyrics on top of them for fun. It so happened that an amazingly unique vocalist from Poland caught Snoop’s ear. Her name was Iza Lach p/k/a “Iza” and Snoop decided to scoop up this hidden jewel of a talent before anybody else could releasing several EPs executed produced by Snoop (as Berhane Sound System) and released under Snoop’s wife’s imprint label “Boss Lady Entertainment”.

When I heard the tracks she had recorded, I got excited. Like, being a kid and finding the toy in the cereal box kind of excited. Iza’s voice and vocal technique is so unique that I couldn’t really compare it to anything that I’ve heard before … and I listen to a lot of music. Maybe a souled out Portishead with a Sade vibe? I don’t know. All I know was that I wanted to hear more.

When management told me that she would be performing in Los Angeles, I knew that I had to buy a ticket. She performed three sets at Culture Collide, but unfortunately I was only able to attend her first one on Thursday as I was already attending a friend’s wedding on the Saturday she was scheduled to perform twice.

The performance I attended was in a small lounge of a restaurant, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to watch her perform live for the first time. Backed by a full band (drums, guitar, bass and Iza playing keys), the music filled the intimate setting, drowning out the drunken chatter of the guys hitting on girls at the bar.

Iza's setlist at the first of three of her scheduled performances at Culture Collide.
Iza’s setlist at the first of three of her scheduled performances at Culture Collide.

She played songs that I was familiar with, and also sang some songs that I didn’t remember hearing before. But the part of the performance that really impressed me was when Iza shed her coy and seductive sound and rocked out the refrain of a song. It was unexpected, but pleasantly surprising. I loved it.

I probably would have loved watching her performance that was scheduled in the church venue, but c’est la vie. One can only hope that she gets to perform in Los Angeles sooner rather than later.

To check out some of Iza’s music, check out her Bandcamp page. Support independent music!

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.

Click here to check out the other bands that I saw perform at Culture Collide 2013

Deap Vally | The Port Of Los Angeles | September 14, 2013

Click here to check out the other blog entries I wrote up for the bands (The Section Quartet, Nightmare & The Cat and Dead Sara) I was able to catch at the 2013 Port Of Los Angeles Lobster Festival.

Deap Valley
Deap Valley

Deap Vally is a Los Angeles based rock band consisting of Lindsey Troy (guitar and vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums and vocals). From what has been written about them, the two met at a crochet class. Their music, however, is anything but pedestrian. Following the path that the The White Stripes and The Black Keys blazed, Deap Vally’s sound is a mix of hard rock and blues … only they do it a little sexier.

Dressed in halter tops and short jean shorts, they took the stage to even more drunken cat calls than the female in the prior act was subject to. The two girls, visually speaking, at least from my vantage point, couldn’t have been more different. Lindsey was petit and blond. Julie was tall and redheaded. They both looked rock and roll, and they proved it. The cat calls stopped as soon as they started playing.

Deap Vally's setlis.
Deap Vally’s setlis.

Raw and gritty, loud and grimy, and filled with attitude, while watching the rocking duo perform, it was hard for me to not oogle. I was particularly fixated on the drummer.  With her curly red hair thrashing around her set, and her long leg stomping the high hat, I’ll have to say that a dirty thought may have crossed my mind here and there.

Some may say that Deap Vally’s style of music may have already been done, but that didn’t seem to bother their fans, who made sure that they told all “newbies” before the set that the band was really good.

I liked their set and wouldn’t mind catching them play a smaller, more intimate gig in Los Angeles.

Deap Vally's Julie Edwards.
Deap Vally’s Julie Edwards.
Deap Vally's Lindsey Troy
Deap Vally’s Lindsey Troy
Deap Vally's Julie Edwards.
Deap Vally’s Julie Edwards.
Deap Vally's Julie Edwards.
Deap Vally’s Julie Edwards.

Young, Gifted & Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone | California Plaza | July 5, 2013


If Nina Simone were alive today, she would have celebrated her 80th birthday in April. Having passed away ten years ago, Grand Performances and KCRW organized a free evening concert in the heart of downtown Los Angeles celebrating her life. Hosted by KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel, it was an evening that touched on a wide selection of Nina’s vast catalogue. From the upbeat melodies “Ain’t Got No/ I Got Life”, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and “See-Line Woman” to the soulful vibes of “Wild Is The Wind” and “Backlash Blues” to the anthemic “Young, Gifted and Black”, it was a tremendous evening of well rehearsed, beautiful music.


There were females voices aplenty that helped bring Nina’s music to life: Georgia Anne MuldrowJimetta RoseJoi Gilliam (whose sheer red dress definitely caught everyone’s eye), Patrice QuinnSonja Marie, and Waberi Jordan. But it was perhaps the sole male vocalist who evoked the most oohs and aahs from the audience: Dwight Trible.


With his robust baritone voice, Dwight Trible sang his two  selections with such soulful vigor , it almost overshadowed the rest of the musicians of the evening. He sang with such a pure sense of being in the moment, that it made audience members look to their neighbor in awe.

Grand Performances is a summer concert series that is open to the public. This was the first concert of this series that I have ever attended, and subject to me being able to get there early enough to snag a good location at the venue, I would plan on attending another Grand Performances event.  It definitely seemed to be  a well organized, family friendly event.

What Made Milwaukee Famous | Central SAPC | 5/19/13


It’s hard to get friends to check out new bands … on a Sunday. LOL.

Years ago, a buddy of mine introduced me to a band named What Made Milwaukee Famous (“WMMFamous”). He played me a song call “Cheap Wine” and I was hooked. I tried following the band, but it didn’t seem that they were particularly active. I chalked them up as a casualty of the music industry, and figured I’d only hear their tracks when they popped up in my iTunes playlist.

I thought it was a shame, because their music was really good (I’m a huge fan of their second album “What Doesn’t Kill Us”) and it seemed that they were making good progress with getting their music out there to the masses.  After all, they were one of the few unsigned acts to ever play Austin City Limits, supported the Smashing Pumpkins and Franz Ferdinand, and they had a deal with Barsuk Records (home of Death Cab for Cutie, Ra Ra Riot, etc.).

One day, I got a notice about WMMFamous playing a local bar in Santa Monica, and I jumped at getting some tickets. Their gig was on a Sunday, so I knew it’d be a tough sell, but I tried spreading the word. Unfortunately, no one wanted to come out.  Their loss.

After running some errands during the day, I got to the venue early. Central SAPC is a lot nicer than it’s predecessor, 14 Below. I was one of the first people to get there, and relaxed on a couch in the performance room. The couches were comfy, and the music the bar was playing was good.  I could have taken a nap. Hung out with the staff for a minute, and they were very accommodating.

The first act that played was band named Only You, fronted by a singer named Rachel Fannan.  It was a refreshing sound, a kind of modernized throw back to Americana.  Kinda like Roy Orbison if his music was sung by Fiona Apple.  I enjoyed Only You and “liked” Rachel’s Facebook fan page. It’ll be interesting to watch how her band’s music develops.

After Only You, WMMFamous began setting up. I started to get anxious. The band was able to pull in a modest crowd considering it was a Sunday. It certainly wasn’t empty, but I was able to get a nice spot up front with a stool. The band started the set, and I was both happy and sad.  Happy that I was there enjoying their music, and sad that I couldn’t recruit people to the show.

People have compared WMMFamous to bands like Spoon and the Wrens, but I think those comparisons are really just based on the fact that they are all indie-rock bands. Granted, my own real perspective of WMMFamous was their album “What Doesn’t Kill Us”, but that album is musically, in my opinion, wonderfully complex. There are elements from different types of musical genres that permeate that record, and though some critics may have criticized it, I loved it. It’s high production value, catchy melodies, and general feel-good mood get my thumbs up.  Plus the lead singer (Michael Kingcaid) is solid.  If I had to describe them, I’d want to say that they were kind of like Jellyfish, if Jellyfish grew up in Austen. That’s just what I’m thinking…

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 1.18.49 AMThe set was excellent.  Musically, and vocally, the band hit all of the songs that I was a fan of.  Michael’s voice sounded as good live, as it did on the album, and that was impressive.  Because of the intimate nature of the venue, Michael was able to banter with the audience.  He told us how the band loves it in Los Angeles, and wants to head out here more often, if not permanently.  He acknowledged that there were long-time fans in audience, and dedicated some of the “oldies” to us. He told us about all of the shit that happened on the way to Los Angeles, like the tire blowing out on the highway. I yelled, “It’s rock and roll”. He replied, “It would have been rock and roll if we just left it busted,” then laughed.

IMG_1307After their set, the band hit the bar and the merchandise table.  I picked up the first, and most recent albums to round out my collection, and also picked up some very cool vinyl singles.  Each of the covers was a hand cut, glued, made and numbered, and the vinyl itself was actually not vinyl at all.IMG_1314

I spoke with Michael briefly and asked him why the band hadn’t released any music in a while, and he gave me the break down.  Not going to air it out here, and someone’s probably already written about it (And I was right … click here to read an article of the tough road Michael Kingcaid has been on), but needless to say, life can get tough. He was a real congenial dude, and he told me that the band plans on coming back out to Los Angeles for future gigs.  I sure hope so. Maybe it’ll be on a Friday or Saturday, and it’ll be an easier sell to my friends…

Michael Kingcaid. Lead Singer and founder of What Made Milwaukee Famous
Michael Kingcaid. Lead Singer and founder of What Made Milwaukee Famous