Tuesday, October 07, 2014

SHEL's Recent Performance at the Hotel Cafe In Hollywood

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of SHEL and interview the four twenty-something Holbrook sisters at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, an esteemed Los Angeles live music destination that had been on my list of venues to check out for many years.  When my music industry friend Angela suggested that I catch this performance of SHEL, I was totally unfamiliar with the band.  I did my usual research for going out to hear a band for the first time by watching the SHEL YouTube channel, reading reviews on the SHEL website, and scrolling through their posts on the SHEL Facebook page (with 18,000 fans). Wow I thought to myself, I can't believe that I am just discovering these four young women for the first time.   After seeing them perform, they were even better in person, then what can be seen on YouTube, as SHEL engaged a large enthusiastic audience within the confines of the Hotel Cafe.  They have great stage presence and I got some good pictures of SHEL under difficult low lighting at Hotel Cafe and my many photographs hosted on flickr can be seen below:

I have conjured up the label of alt-Americana band to describe SHEL due to their unpredictability of their musical style when combining keyboard, fiddle, percussion (including a squeezebox), and mandolin that showcased sounds of irish/celtic, classical, alt-folk, americana, alt-country, and steam punk.  These Holbrook sisters, Sarah, Hannah, Eva, and Liza, from Fort Collins, Colorado, now residing in Nashville, are in the recording studio for their second album, but it is a mystery as to the direction it might take.  Frankly, I was blown away by these accomplished musicians and songwriters, as they very well could be the next big thing.  It wasn't so long ago that Mumford and Sons were playing Hotel Cafe, and look at them now, and you could say that SHEL is what an all girls version of Mumford and Sons might be like.

Some writers have compared SHEL to the Dixie Chicks early in their career, but to me, SHEL reminds me of an all girls vocal version of the Punch Brothers, minus the esteemed sounds of Noam Pikelney's banjo.  I do have to acknowledge, however, that in the second half of the concert, electric guitars were introduced into the mix, as can be seen in my photographs. As one gets to know, SHEL, one discovers that Eva is an extraordinary designer of hats.  Thus, it is fun seeing what hat the Eva might be wearing that she designed.  In their officially produced videos, many times, you will see all of the girls in specially designed hats by Eva.  The hats are exquisite and quite fitting for their music,

What very well might launch  the awareness of SHEL is being part of the soundtrack for the upcoming Nicholas Spark's Best of Me movie performing Hold On. The soundtrack album was released today, October 7, 2014 and the movie is scheduled for release on October 17, 2014. Appearing with SHEL on stage for the last song was Gareth Dunlop from Ireland who recently collaborated with SHEL on Hold On for the Best of Me movie. The song can be seen on YouTube as a duet with Gareth and Eva the night they wrote the song,  On the Best of Me soundtrack album, they are appearing with many of my own favorites such as Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Colbie Caillat, and Kacey Musgraves.  Being a fan of the soundtrack, could very well get me to see the movie. Incidentally, Gareth Dunlop opened for SHEL at the Hotel Cafe.

SHEL skipped the September 2014 Nashville Americana conference, awards, and performance week to perform in Claremont for the Levitt Pavilion stage and then the Hotel Cafe.  I hope that their Pasadena sister Levitt stage noticed and might consider booking SHEL for summer 2015.  Again, thank you Angela for recommending SHEL and I had a great time interviewing these four young talented women of SHEL which can be seen here in my eight minute and a half minute hosted on my trekntravel YouTube channel below.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Gamble House Reinvents Itself for Pasadena's 2014 A x S Festival

You may have been driving along North Orange Grove Blvd in Pasadena over the last several weeks and wondered what was up with the large flying saucer (or enormous satellite dish) tilted up against the Ultimate Bungalow.  For the first time ever, the Gamble House in Pasadena is showcasing contemporary art within the confines of the historic Greene and Greene house that was once owned by the Gamble family of Procter and Gamble fame.  This static art along with performance art and various workshops are part of the 2014 A x S Festival in Pasadena that attempts to link up science and art at various locations in Pasadena.  Getting the Gamble House commission was the Los Angeles based Machine Project, and they selected the various artists to display their art during this run from September 19 - October 5, 2014.  Local artist Patrick Michael Ballard in addition to the artistic creativity of the saucer covered with the roses emblematic of the Tournament of Roses had to design a display structure that would not use the structural support off  this most historic house.  Then for someone like me who does own a California Bungalow, this playful Ultimate Bungalow sign from Jessica Cowley is much appreciated,and will live beyond the festival as a postcard available from the Gamble House museum store.

Paid guided tours of the Gamble House and the Machine Project installation can be booked online. What is also unique about this installation is that there will opportunities for self-guided tours of the Gamble House for free on the following dates  while also having a chance to watch the performance art:

Saturday, September 27: 12 pm - 10 pm (last entry at 9 pm)
Thursday, October 2nd 8 pm - 10 pm (last entry (9;30 pm)
Sunday, October 5th 12 pm - 4 pm.  Paid Guided tours with kids under 17 free (Family Day)

In addition, the Gamble House will be encouraging visitors to take photographs (for sharing on social media), as normally no pictures are allowed on the regularly scheduled tours.  I had an opportunity to see the installation right before it opened, and the following slide show hosted on flickr are my photographs.

For the above dates there will be many workshops led by the artists, including letter writing and embroidery and an opportunity to make soap as a homage to the iconic Ivory Soap of Procter and Gamble.  Details of the various workshops and performance art, including poetry readings, along with iced tea in the garden can be found on the Machine Project Field Guide website.  Several of the workshops have special fees that can be purchased online from the Machine Project website. For those who make it to the first special day on September 17, you will discover a Special Restaurant creating Swiss-Japanese fusion cuisine delivering small bites on a conveyor belt from the basement. Tickets for the guided Gamble House tours can be purchased online here.  For the first time visitor or a repeat visitor to the Gamble House, this is a unique opportunity to better understand the context of the house in the 21st century and to see how much of the special installation uses Greene and Greene architectural elements in their work.  The Machine Project intends to video the performance art and workshops so that those who missed it can vicariously enjoy the efforts of all involved.  But of course it is best viewed in person.

The A x S Festival is a project of the Pasadena Arts Council with a theme of Curiosity for 2014.  Lots to see and do during this 17 day Pasadena festival that promotes the intersection of art and science.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Today: National Train Day

Photo by Charity Tran/intellichick
You may want to head out to Union Station today for National Train Day!  It's an extra special one for Union Station because today is the historic station's 75th anniversary! 

Today: Free Comic Book Day

Quite a few people have told me that today is Free Comic Book Day.  This probably says a lot about my love of comic books and geekery (and that I have friends that know me so well)!  Since the day has just begun I thought it was best to share the news too!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wondercon 2014: A Re-Cap in Convention-Attending Tips

Wondercon 2014

Last weekend I ventured out to the Anaheim Convention Center for a geeky staycation - Wondercon 2014.  Wondercon is an excellent place to head out to learn about pop culture, comic books, superheroes, upcoming artists, and even to just check out the great cosplay. Unlike previous years, I attended the convention for all three days - adventuring as per lately with Elizabeth, the Nerdlush Diva! All in all I had a great weekend at Wondercon - I purchased a stack of comic books, learned about artists, enjoyed time with friends, and even made new friends!

As I was getting ready to write this post, it dawned on me that perhaps it would be more helpful to make this a casual recap including some hints and tips for experiencing conventions in general.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catching Up with New Orleans Based Gal Holiday and The Honky Tonk Revue

For fans of Louisiana music, whether it be jazz, country, americana, swing, zydeco, cajun, or blues, and living in Southern California, we are blessed with great festivals and music clubs, that are constantly booking touring Louisiana based bands.  Thus, when "Where's Andrew" from National Geographic Traveler posted on his twitter account in November 2011 that he had just witnessed the best music in the New Orleans French Quarter, I was very curious and intrigued.  This was Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue fronted by Vanessa Niemann playing old-time countrified swing.  I found the band's website and YouTube videos, and saw that they had taken up a music residency in Los Angeles, splitting their time in New Orleans, and noted that in December 2011, they were doing some very late night performances at Taix in Echo Park.  I was planning on seeing one of those performances, but I was just too tired to make the late night trek to Echo Park, but then I got lucky, and Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue got booked for Harvelle's in Long Beach.  Playing Harville's under the Congregation Ale House was like being booked into a roaring 20's speak-easy.

I was mesmerized hearing and seeing Gal Holiday perform country swing at Harvelle's, and at times, it was like hearing Patsy Cline channeling Wanda Jackson's rockabilly, and below are the pictures from that night.  Her small space dance moves on stage became hyptnotic, and later learned, they were a trademark of her performances.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

LA Heritage Day (4/27)

 Head out to El Pueblo Historical Monument to celebrate and learn more about Los Angeles history.  With over 200 heritage organizations participating, L.A. Heritage Day offers Southern California history through exhibits, booths, tours, museums, children's activities, presentations, giveaways, food, and more.