Sunday, May 31, 2009

BrokeDown Cadillac Up and Coming Country Band at The Mint

Several weeks ago, I spent an evening listening to Country Music at the historic mid-city The Mint nightclub, a bar and small plates restaurant on Pico Blvd. This was an intimate venue to see performers who were just starting out or had been performing for decades. The entire evening had caught my attention being able to see 3 sets of performers, each with unique styles. Opening at 8 pm was Chuck Mead, a multi-decade perfomer with his rockability style, who had recently launched a solo career. Next were the country-punk women, Smith and Pyle, two thirty-something Hollywood actors, creating a parallel music career. And then at 10 pm, and joking about looking to be under 21, Corri English also with a long Hollywood resume, lead singer for BrokeDown Cadillac, a group that had been discovered by Disney in Burbank and then featured in the recent film Race to Witch Mountain. Finally, there was a 4th performer that evening, but I needed to call it a night at 11 pm. I bought a CD from each performer to add to my diverse iTunes shuffled Country Music playlist.

BrokeDown Cadillac reminded me of falling in love with Gaelic Storm, a Celtic band, that gained international exposure, and a major break for their career, in the box-office smash Titanic. This week, Race to Witch Mountain after opening in March 2009 will break $100 million in world-wide box office, which should help BrokeDown Cadillac in building a base of loyal fans. BrokeDown Cadillac is a three year old partnership of Corri English from Atlanta, Georgia, and California native, Randy Dunham. Corri provides the vocals and co-song writing, with Randy writing songs and playing lead guitar. While listening to them, I wondered whether this was the beginning of a group like Sugarland. It was only later after reading Corri's official bio that I learned that she had co-wrote Sugarland's big hit, Fly Away from their debut CD. Corri as an actor has many screen credits that can be found on Internet Movie Database and Randy as an accomplished songwriter/musician has penned several screenplays and novels.

Corri English making use of her native Georgia accent with the country-rock sound provides the signature sound for BrokeDown Cadillac on their same named tune, BrokeDown Cadillac. A song that people should buy and download on iTunes, from their recently released debut CD "Somewhere in America." This was not the first time the five member BrokeDown Cadillac has played The Mint, as you can find several of their prior Mint performances on YouTube with links from BrokeDown Cadillac website. These videos show the great stage prescence of Corri English - must be that training as an actress. However, she did comment, during her May 2009 performance at The Mint, that having to follow Missi Pyle over the top stage performance style, was not going to be easy. Corri then picked up Missi's jacket that had accidentally been left on stage, and asked the audience what they thought? Should I put it on? Then she modeled it, performed with it on, and then set it aside.

I look forward to returning to The Mint for other Country music performances and since BrokeDown Cadillar and Smith and Pyle are both LA based, I suspect they will return again. However, BrokeDown Cadillac, as they become better known, will be seen in larger venues, and their music will begin to appear on mainstream Country radio and TV. You can see all of my photos taken that night of BrokeDown Cadillac, Chuck Mead, and Smith and Pyle on my Flickr pages.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Anime Expo 2009: Promo Video

Once again, Charity will be covering Anime Expo (see her 2008 recap post) as it makes its second year home at the LA Convention Center. But before we can let you know all the details of the event while it's going on, check out their new promo video after the jump!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Experience Historic Downtown - Last Remaining Seats and "Nights on the Town"

Rotated Photo!  Last Night - Last Remaining Seats opens at Th... on TwitpicLast night my friend Adam and I continued our tradition of LA Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats - classic movies in beautiful historic theatres (here's my post from my experience last year). And while sometimes traditions lose a bit of its flare as time goes by, this could never be the case with this LA Conservancy series.

It was the first time I had been at an Opening Night event for the series, and I dashed over to the Orpheum after most people had entered. But having gone to a couple events, I knew what I missed - a line wrapped around the block and then some of people hoping to get a good seat. By the time I got there, most of the seats were filled, but luckily for friends (and nice strangers who hold seats while there's no phone reception), I was able to have a seat saved!

The series kicked off last night with "The Sting" featuring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Prior to the show, we got a couple of treats - Bob Mitchell on the Orpheum's original 1928 "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ, a hilarious cartoon called "Confidence" from 1933 which featured how to conquer the depression with a dose of confidence (courtesy of President FDR), and host Charles Phoenix who interviewed special guests (who won Academy Awards for "The Sting") screenwriter David S. Ward and Producer Tony Bill who told us stories about Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Robert Shaw.

Prior to the event, I had never seen "The Sting" which is a great movie of twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. There was a little survey taken of the audience and a number of people there hadn't seen it either (so I didn't feel too much like the odd one out). Given the laughter and the clapping throughout the movie, I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one giving it five-stars.

While most of the series is sold out, at the time of this post, there are still tickets available for one event: MacunaĆ­ma. Get them while they last!

And whether you've got tickets or just want to explore Historic Core a little bit, one of the best parts about the Last Remaining Seats series is "Nights on the Town", restaurant specials before and after the event so that you can experience Historic Core Downtown LA and its delectable food offerings.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Manager/Editor

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"The Drop" at the GRAMMY Museum

When my favorite music artist has a new album coming out, I'm always on tenderhooks - pre-ordering off of iTunes or signing up for the packaged deal with the free poster or bonus CD.

But, while it's great to have music to listen to off my iPod as much as I want, the best part of a new album is possibly seeing the artist as they go out to promote it. I can't think of a better place to get this opportunity, but at the GRAMMY Museum!

Beginning June 8th with Nanci Griffith's The Loving Kind, the GRAMMY Museum begins its new program - "The Drop". "The Drop" features musicians and recording artists discussing their latest albums and projects on the intimate GRAMMY Soundstage.

On the line-up:
-Monday, June 8th: Songwriting Legend Nanci Griffith (New Album: The Loving Kind)
-Wednesday, June 10th: Critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Rhett Miller (New Album: Rhett Miller)
-Thursday, June 11th: Singer/songwriter Mandy Moore (New Album: Amanda Leigh)
-Monday, June 15th: Acclaimed Songwriter and "Someday, Someway" performer Marshall Crenshaw (New Album: Jaggedland)

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Manager

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Saturday: Koffeehouse Music Night in Malibu

Light dinner, open bar, and an exclusive/intimate night of music at the private estate where they film ABC's The Bachelor? Impossible? Not at all.

The Koffeehouse (who will have an awesome event at the Ford on July 25th) is raising money for Donate Life America and this Saturday - May 23rd, 2009 - will be hosting an intimate music event on the estate where ABC films The Bachelor. Music includes performances by Tyrone Wells, Chris Pierce, Sandi Thom, Sara Haze, Mozella, Trevor Hall, and Shawn Hlookoff. And just added - Lukas Rossi, winner of Mark Burnett's CBS reality show, Rock Star: Supernova!

Limited Tickets and Limited Time! Check out details on!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Manager

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last Minute Ticket Giveaway: Spring Jazz w/ Lori Bell and David Mackay

Tomorrow Boston Court Performing Arts Center welcomes Flutist/Composer Lori Bell and Pianist David Mackay for an evening of jazz. We have tickets to giveaway! Find out how after the jump!

To enter for a chance to win tickets, visit's Special Promotions Page and enter! You can also check out and enter to win our other great giveaways!

To win tickets you must enter by Friday, May 15th at 10:00am. You will be notified by email if you are a winner.

-ExperienceLA Staff

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike to Work Week - Starts Today

ExperienceLA is always in support of alternative methods of transportation. Even the best event can be hindered by things like parking and traffic and stress! And what's usually on the event list of life, but that daily work commute? So why not take this week to bring out that bike? And if you're already a commuter by bike, bask in all the offers you'll be getting this week!

Bike to Work Week starts today! And if you're in Downtown, on Wednesday, May 13th, join your fellow commuter bicyclists by attending the "Bike to Work Downtown LA Ride". Travel together along a brief 25-minute ride through Downtown and celebrate at a bicycle rally.

And guess what the YMCA is offering? An Open House for downtown residents and visitors looking to enjoy free classes, cardioa and strength machines, sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi at its 401 S. Hope Street location.

Thursday, May 14th, Metro is offering free rides to bicyclists on Metro buses and trains throughout Los Angeles County. Other participants of this offer include Beach Cities Transit, Commerce Municipal Bus Lines, Culver City Bus, Gardena Municipal Lines (no bike racks, just park your bike and ride with your helmet), Glendale Beeline, Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit, Pasadena ARTS Bus, Santa Clarita Transit, and Torrance Transit. Just board with a bicycle and/or bike helmet.

There's much more to Bike to Work Week. Check it out on -

-Charity Tran

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Looking Back at 2009 Stagecoach Country Music Festival: Part One

Three years in a row of great weather and music at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California, organized by Golden Voice and AEG during the weekend of April 24 and 25, 2009. What amazes me are the organizational abilities (and tastes in Country Music) of Golden Voice/AEG to pull off something of this scale two weekends in a row. Whereas, Coachella has tent camping, Stagecoach is set up with RV camping. Both are temporary small cities with their own social networks supported by temporary telecommunications infrastructure by ATT and Verizon along with public computers and WiFi, cellphone recharging, breakfasts and Bloody Mary's, ice, portable showers, etc.

With regard to the great weather in the day and cool evenings requiring warmer clothing, a Coachella Valley newspaper ran a headline something like "God is Country Fan" after 3 years in a row of searing weather at the Coachella Music Festival which ran the prior weekend. The other major difference is the Stagecoach fans can bring their folding chairs into the Polo Grounds which are not allowed during Coachella. Finally, I want to give a shout out to Altmans RV Rentals in Carson for hanging in there during tough economic times to provide another hassle free and quality RV rental for Stagecoach living.Almost their entire rental fleet was at Stagecoach.

There is one picture I wish I had taken and that was the security poster with the picture of approximately 50 wristbands reflecting the different types of tickets, vendors, performers, staff, VIP status, press, photographers, over 21 to drink (which changed on the second day), camping, etc. I wouldn't be surprised to see the organizers go to some wristbands with RFID chips next year, as it may make it easier to figure out who is allowed in certain areas in low light situations, and it may also, help in getting people through certain gates that became gridlocked with people traffic. I do want to give cudo's to the California Fire Department for making sure that there were well marked and wide fire lanes that helped to create expressways thru different parts of the venue.

Without the blazing heat, there sunstroke wasn't an issue at Stagecoach for these ERT personnel.

However, one problem was that in the desire of creating an atmosphere of 40,000 around the Mane Stage, the vendors seemed to have been set up relatively too close. Three huge screens make it possible for all to enjoy the stage show from where-ever one sets up. Each day when the gates opened, there was a mad dash for those with general admission tickets to set up their lawn chairs right behind those with the higher priced tickets in their corralled space. We choose to set up near one of the firelanes so we could easily find out seats, once it got dark. The Stagecoach Mane Stage at night with 40,000 people sitting in their folding chairs watching the performers on 3 huge video screens, and several more when Kenny Chesney performed, made me think of a modern drive-in movie theater of the 21st Century. And the setting with the sun going down was always spectacular.

With spaces safely secured, we headed off for the BBQ competition to get our five tastes for $10. There were over 50 competitors, most of which were selling to the public. Number one selling item was pulled pork, followed by beef brisket, then spareribs, tri-tip, and chicken. I tried many different types of brisket, some with sauce and others with lots of smoke. To learn more of the rules of a Kansas BBQ competition, I was told to check out the official KC BBQ site. Picture below is of 3 generations from Ribs A Rockin, followed by some BBQ closeup, and one of the many colorful BBQ displays to entice you to sample.

A carry-over from earlier Stagecoach events was the mechanical bull riding that drew a crowd cheering on all that were brave enough to pit themselves against the bull with 50 people or more watching. New to Stagecoach this year was Sony's Play Station Sing Star Country music karaoke video competition with well over a hundred people crowded into the booth to see who sounded like they could make onto the next Country Star competition. Ironically, I met Paulina Bozek,the executive producer of SingStar at E3 several years ago, and I am sure she would have loved seeing this fully interactive Stagecoach social scene.

Then there were the children actitivities that were organized by the Girl Scout Council of San Gregonio. The kids were having a great time doing arts and crafts, dressing up, playing games, and listening to age-appropriate music. Back again for this year was the hay bale maze. Several too tall kids were seen cheating.
What would be the West without horses, and so this year, the organizers brought in the Budweiser horses for a promotional stint. Here is one taking a morning stroll through one of the RV campgrounds.
Both Coachella and Stagecoach provided temporary weekend jobs for thousands working security, selling tshirts, working behind the scenes, running the campgrounds, and many other tasks that are required to put on a festival of this magnitude. Here is Sara who was one of such workers, selling Stagecoach souvenirs.
And of course Stagecoach is all about the fans of Country Music. Here are Miranda Lambert's fans trying to get a little closer to the music.

Keep watching the ExperienceLA Blog for Stagecoach Part 2 that features performance and music pictures, as I close with pictures of me doing Twitter posts from the RV Campground Interenet and WiFi Tent.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Spring Celebrations - May Festivals in LA

Well, spring is here and we certainly can tell at ExperienceLA. Everywhere you look, there is a festival celebrating something. And why not? The weather is warmer, the flowers are blooming - it's perfect weather for fun festivities! Here we've given you a list of festivals happening in and around the Los Angeles Area to give you a head start.

Family Festivals - Bring the Kids!

Art and Film Festivals (Mostly for Adults)

-Tiina Vuorenmaa,
ExperienceLA Staff