Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flash Mobs and Downtown Drums

"But few things were more curious than what was staged on Friday evening, at the south end of Union Square near East 14th Street. More than a thousand people, most of them young, gathered for a dance party without audible music, known as a silent rave.

It was striking for what could not be heard."
-New York Times, "For 1,000 Solo Dancers, a Soundtrack of Silence"

There's been a phenomenon of flash mobs--public collaborations of silly and harmless, but staged, activities that first started in 2003. Last Friday, 1000 people gathered at NY's Union Square to collectively dance in silence to their own iPod playlists. Back in January, over 200 "Improv Everywhere Agents" simply froze in place at the same time for a duration of five minutes at Grand Central Station.

Can LA do something like this too? Please??

There's just something about these flash mobs... CNN once called the participants "jokers [who] gather en masse at a moment's notice, perform an inane activity and then disperse quickly". But I think there's something deeper than just a propensity for silliness and a beauty in the way a large number of people can come together seemingly out of nowhere, regardless of backgrounds, circumstances, and everyone's independent and oftentimes, me-centric, schedules. For those precious moments, there's an unspoken understanding that time is theirs to share.

But in the meantime, LA does offer great community building events, like the Music Center's "Drum Downtown". Start your Saturday mornings by the beat of your own drum in Drum Downtown's outdoor group drumming experience on the Music Center Plaza. A fun, entry-level experience for all ages creating improvised rhythms and making music in the moment. The first of five Drum Downtown events will be held on Saturday, May 10th from 10:00am to 11:30am.

"Community"... that's the key word in all of this, flash mobs or not.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Marketing Assistant

LA Live Promotes Stagecoach 2008

Last November, the Nokia Theater at LA Live opened with the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks and were followed by Sugarland and Little Big Town. LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles which is owned and operated by AEG is also the co-promoter with Golden Voice of the Stagecoach Country and Western music festival set for the first weekend of May in Indio.

This European style festival with a family emphasis is out in the desert at the Empire Polo Grounds. It opens on Friday night May 2 and continues all day on Saturday and Sunday, May 3rd and 4th. If you were priced out of the market when the Eagles opened at the Nokia, Stagecoach offers the opportunity to see them and many other big named country and western influenced artists. Single day tickets are available along with those for the entire 3 day weekend. A year ago, I wrote about what the first year of Stagecoach was like.

As many followers of American Idol now know, the LA Live Nokia Theater will be the location of the final competion for season 7 switching from the Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland. A side note - In years past when the contestants went to Hollywood, they found themselves on Broadway at the Orpheum. Although this current season it was Pasadena, but the Orpheum hopes to have American Idol return next season. Anyway, this AEG American Idol connection is going to Stagecoach with Grammy award winner Carrie Underwood being one of the main headliners and also appearing will be Kelly Pickler who has been making a name for herself with her first CD and music videos.

Other major headliners include: Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Big & Rich, Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift and Gretchen Wilson. All of which will be on the big stage with crowds that will be around 25,000 people. But there are other stages that you can see many other lesser names who are well known in their own country western genre, and it is here that you can see them perform in more intimate settings. Several days before the event, Stagecoach will announce the exact time slot of the already announced day for each performer. Stagecoach will also benefit this year from an additional 20 acres that have been added to the site to create a more open feeling for Coachella Music Festival which is this weekend (needed for its much larger audience).

Just like last year, the Stagecoach festival is reaching out to families. Kids that are 14 and under are free to the festival. There are many activities geared for children, and there are water misting machines and shade as it might get really hot. They even have a camping area set up for families setting them up far enough away from the other 2 camping areas, so that sleep is possible. There is a separate fee for camping, and they have established a separate area for tent camping away from all of the RVs.

Nokia plaza at LA Live has featured a huge banner promoting Stagecoach. With AEG's cross promotion of venues, expect to see other Country and Western acts at the Nokia and other AEG venues, as they work to develop and promote the various forms of country music which in turn will help to grow the Stagecoach Festival in Indio and country music in Southern California. You can also look forward to the Grammy Museum in Fall 2008 at LA Live.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Beauty in Walking Away"

Walking away from what's seemingly safe and diving into a world of uncertainty--that seemed to be the theme of the night at the Hotel Cafe Tour's final show at the El Rey on Sunday. Cary Brothers (er, one person, not a band of brothers... thanks Chuck!), Meiko, Priscilla Ahn, Marie Digby, and Ingrid Michaelson were among the handful of musicians giving it their best, dotting their performances with stories here and there of their difficult journeys to where they are now. Musicians who simply love what they do and want to share it with us, whatever it takes. At the end of the night--I've never seen so many encore performances in one sitting--all the musicians repeatedly gathered on stage, sharing with us random songs, covers, collaborations and more. It's as though they didn't want the night to end either, despite probably being tired from weeks on end in one tour bus.

I admit, just like most enamored fans, I have a tendency to place musicians on another level... Like those US Weekly articles spotlighting celebrities doing ordinary things around town ("They eat!" "They push their own shopping carts!" "They wear sweatpants too!"), I often find myself wondering how on earth someone would run away from Marie Digby's confessions of "I like you" or leave Ingrid Michaelson with broken promises. I mean, really... how???

But they're human too. And have far more depth than the mass produced packaging that recording companies are so good at putting together. And the concert brought it back to that. A bunch of friends jamming together, doing what they do best and being vulnerable with us through their words and performances, and hoping that maybe... just maybe, it'll resonate with us too.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Culture Marketing Assistant

Quick Lunch: Farmers Market

Farmers Market SaladUsually when I have my Farmers Market lunch, it's from one of the many great food vendors sharing space with the stalls of fresh produce, but today, I was just on the search to supplement the lunch I brought from home.

I'm a big fan of what I call renegade cooking (throwing things together and hoping they taste okay!). Pictured is my renegade salad.

Ingredients? Romaine lettuce ($1 for a head), tomato (25 cents for one), left over Parmesan cheese blend from a time the office had Pizza Hut, and Balsamic Vinegarette from the office fridge.

The watermelon aguas frescas also pictured? I wasn't about to make that myself !

Looking for a farmers market near you? You don't need to go far! Check out's extensive Farmers Market Listings.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Earth Day in LA

LA is a place known more for its car-friendliness (have you seen the traffic out there?), but that doesn't mean it's lacking in more eco-friendly options (especially as those gas prices rise). So take some time out to learn how to boost the green power in your life. Experience the arts and cultural offerings of LA and save the world in your own way...

  • Film - Into Action: Greening the Earth Film & Discussions: Brought to you by the Armory Center for the Arts, City of Pasadena, and Patagonia Pasadena, explore the world in a green way through film and conversation.
    ExperienceLA Go Metro! Tip:
    Take the Gold Line and get off at Memorial Park station. (April 15th and April 22nd)

  • Festival - Wilshire Center Earth Day/Car Free Day: Leave the car at home and head to this festival on Wilshire Blvd. See more than 100 exhibit booths and enjoy the music and speakers on the festival's three stages. Kids will enjoy the children's stage and programs and everyone can enjoy all of the event's food offerings.
    ExperienceLA Go Metro! Tip: Take the Purple Line and get off at Wilshire/Western. (April 22nd)

  • Music - Go Metro!: Earth Day Canon Concert: Celebrate Earth Day through song. Head to Union Station in your Metro-friendly way and get access to a concert by eco-friendly rock band Canon. The only way in is with a Metro ticket. Check out this video for more information.
    ExperienceLA Go Metro! Tip: Take the Red Line and get off at Union Station. (April 22nd)

  • Festival - Universal Studios Hollywood Eco-Fair: Celebrate earth day with celebrity appearances, over 30 educational displays, and even free parking for hybrids! Jump-start your earth-friendly behavior by supporting the hazardous waste disposal drive.
    ExperienceLA Go Metro! Tip:
    Take the Red Line and get off at Universal City Station. (April 26th)

  • Art - Natura: Mythology, Spirit, Memory: Join these LA artists in their poetic journey reflecting their relationship to the Earth. (April 12th-May 5th)

  • Festival - Worldfest: LA's Largest Earth Day Festival: In its 7th year, join this solar-powered celebration of food, music, the environment, and animals.
    ExperienceLA Go Metro! Tip: Take the Orange Line and get off at Woodley Station. (May 10th)

Go Green! Go Metro! Experience LA!

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator