Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Classical, Contemporary and Surreal: The JACCC's 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration

Last night, I had the privilege to experience the wide variety of performances at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC)'s 30th Anniversary Celebration. It was a night of traditional Japanese music, contemporary jazz and a deliciously surreal moment that renewed my love of "mixing cultures" in L.A.

The night opened up with a classical Japanese set with Kenny Endo and Kaoru Watanabe. As I listened to the traditional flute and drum music, I was transported back to Japan and all I loved about the culture when suddenly the two bullseyes were pierced with arrows. A uniquely Japanese opening.

Then, Abe Lagrimas, Jr. joined them as Kenny Endo pounded away at the Odaiko. While there are many types of drum beats, taiko drumming has two levels. On the first level, there is the neat, clean and controlled feel trying to hold back the fiery energy below.

The show continued with performances by contemporary jazz pianist Keiko Matsui. One of the songs from her 23 albums, Deep Blue, was inspired by the fact that the oceans of the world connect all the continents like music connecting people. Not only music, but cultural experiences of all kinds connect us.

We were also treated to happy-go-lucky Hawaiian music from five-time GRAMMY Award winner Daniel Ho. If ever one needs a quick pick-me-up from a stressful day, his music would do the trick.

The show ended with the west coast debut of Jero, the first African-American enka singer. Closing my eyes, I felt like I was back in Japan listening to those romantic Japanese ballads (think of the ending song on Kill Bill Vol. 1) at a karaoke bar or on Kohaku Uta Gassen, the traditional Japanese New Year's music program. Opening them up, there was a young, handsome Black man on stage in a tux and baseball cap (tilted to the side). It was the surrealist moment of the night, and one in which made me appreciate living in Los Angeles.

After the show, was a reception on the plaza with delicious hors d'oeuvres and desserts. The 30th Anniversary Gala Celebration was compliation of the great performances at the JACCC and Aratani Theatre. Jero is performing tonight to a packed house, and Kenny Endo will be performing this Saturday. After this great evening, I look forward to other events that the JACCC have to offer.

-Tiina Vuorenmaa

Monday, March 29, 2010

Say 'Hello!' to Beta!

We recently launched Beta!

Check it out...

  • New Look-and-Feel
  • Event Mapping
  • Social Media Feeds - Blog, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook
  • New Features
  • Explore our Partnerships and Portals
  • ...and more!!
...after you've explored, let us know your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions!  Fill our Beta Feedback Form!

-ExperienceLA Staff

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Bus Service: Go Metro to Dodgers Games

As a Dodgers fan reliant on public transit, it's nice to hear that there's a new bus service to the stadium - so not only can I "Think Blue" but see it too.  Details after the jump...

Thanks to a grant by Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC), Metro will start the Dodgers Stadium Express beginning April 1st.  More details:

  • Cost: Dodgers game ticket holders ride free; without tickets base fare is $1.25.
  • Route: From Union Station (Patsaouras Bus Plaza - Bay 3) to Dodgers Stadium via Sunset Blvd. and Cesar Chavez Avenue
  • Drop-off/Pick-up: Passengers will be dropped off and picked up in the Dodgers parking lot behind Left/Center field.  
  • Time: Buses will run every 10 minutes, 90 minutes before the game starts until the 3rd Inning.  From then until the 7th Inning, buses will run every 30 minutes.  Return service goes from the 7th inning onward until 30 minutes after the game ends. 
Need more info?  Check out Metro's blog - The Source:

Think Blue!  

-Charity Tran

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Uncover the literary side of Los Angeles

To honor Los Angeles' literary contributions, this year's Silver Lake Jubilee Festival will host a Literary Village. Never been to one? Neither have I. So what can one expect? More than just books. More than just newspapers. More than just printed text on paper. (Pictured at left: David Shook, poet & curator of the Literary Village. Photo by Julie Towner of Crown Jules Photography) 

A tent where festival attendees passively engage with product would not do justice to what Los Angeles has produced for American literature. Instead, David Shook, a poet himself and curator of the Literary Village, along with festival organizers are planning what they hope to be a much more immersive experience. In addition to publishers having their material and printed works on display, writers and poets will read excerpts from their creations. Student works (including newspapers and short anthologies) from the 826la after school program will also be featured. There is also talk of a spontaneous literature project, which will be in collaboration with the Art Village, though no details were available at the time of this writing. However, David did hint that it would be an opportunity for festival-goers to contribute to LA's literary heritage.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Experience Variety: Museums

What I love about Los Angeles is not only the sheer volume of events, but the variety of any given type of experience.  Museums in particular allow you to explore the gamut of history, music, and culture.  Have you been to a museum lately?  Check out the following selection of events all over LA that caught my eye...

  • U.S. History & Society: Breach of Peace: Photographs of Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge
    The Skirball Cultural Center hosts contemporary photos by Eric Etheridge showing former Freedom Riders (who converged on Jackson, Mississippi to challenge state segregation laws) next to their origianl mugshots.  The exhibition examines each subject's involvement with the Civil Rights movement, takes a look at who they are today, and provides their unique perspectives. 
    Now until April 11, 2010
  • L.A. History: Justin Gershuny: A Retrospective
    Heritage Square Museum honors the life of Beverly Hills resident Justin Gershuny.  Gershuny recently passed on late 2009 and the exhibition features watercolors created by Gershuny who was an architect who had utilized his knowledge and talents for countless restoration proejcts including Heritage Square.
    Now until March 28, 2010
  • World History: Secrets of the Silk Road
    The Bowers Museum in Orange County opens this exhibition on March 27th.  Featuring well-perserved mummies and artifacts of the people who lived along the ancient Silk Road.  This is the first time these mummies will be featured in the United States. 
    Opens March 27th and runs until July 25th 2010
  • Music: The GRAMMY Museum
    The GRAMMY Museum hosts a number of programs in addition to their music history collection and interactive exhibitions.  Upcoming programs include A Celebration of Hawaiian Music, a family friendly program featuring GRAMMY Award-winning artist/producer Daniel Ho where families should come ready to sing, dance, and learn the basics of hula (March 20th 2010) and Fender Presents John 5: Professor of Shredology (March 31st 2010).
  • Film and Literature: Hammer Museum Lectures, Readings, and Screenings
    In addition to their ongoing exhibitions, the Hammer Museum features film screenings, reading series, and lectures.  Upcoming events include family flicks like Watership Down (March 21st 2010), readings by Sheila Heti (March 24th 2010), and Bike Night (April 8th 2010)
-Charity Tran

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sounds of a community: Hear NoHo

Here's something I love: when communities come together and create something they can call their own. That's exactly what North Hollywood did about 7 months ago when they started the monthly Hear NoHo Music Festival. While most cities have art walks, North Hollywood decided to celebrate its musical side.

Much like the art walks around LA, Hear NoHo is another example of a community coming together to support local artists. Businesses from shops to galleries and theatres lend their spaces to the event. Musicians get a free space to play. Audiences get to discover some new, local (as well as not local) music and possibly a new theatre or gallery in their backyard. Businesses get the benefit of exposure to new patrons. It's a win-win-win situation for all.

Must Love Cats - and Dance!

This Tuesday, I went to the opening night of one of the longest running, most anticipated (at least by me!), and very emotionally-charged musicals, CATS. I say emotionally-charged not because the musical has moments of joy, laughter, mystery, sadness and more, but that discussions about the musical always end up with people loving it or hating it, in the same way people love or hate cats (not kittens, of course - everyone loves kittens).

Of course, this is a generalization, and one does not need to love cats in order to enjoy the musical, CATS - but it helps. An interest in dance, especially modern dance, and a fondness for 80s nostalgia (especially leg warmers) also help. When I had first seen CATS in L.A., way back when, I could only remember the amazing makeup, costumes and large, "cat-sized" household objects of the extensive set. Now, I realized how talented and full of energy the cast must be in order to pull off what seemed to be a continuous dance movement. Rarely was there a still moment on stage. If the "cats" weren't dancing or singing, they were pawing, purring and playing like... well, cats!

For those anticipating the return of the magic and mystery, these performances will not disappoint. I've memorized every song from the musical, and still I enjoyed singing along (okay - actually just mouthing the words - I didn't want to ruin it for everyone else!) to my favorite ones. I was also pleasantly surprised by the extensive amount of dancing (not on the soundtrack!) and the little quirks of a live performance. The Rum Tum Tugger's (overly) confident drawl got extra laughs, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser's (slightly) skewed duet gave a neat twist to their song of mischief and mayhem,  and Skimbleshanks extra cheeriness (my personal favorite) really hit the spot (I always felt that Skimbleshanks was too uptight on the CD).

The first musical I saw as a young child was CATS, and from then on I was hooked. A variety of music, modern dance, leg warmers and cats all wrapped up with a splash of 80s nostalgia - what's not to love?

-Tiina Vuorenmaa

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pausing to appreciate Los Angeles parks

Ok, I know it's something we see everyday - trash on the side of the road. Here in LA, and everywhere across the country, there's litter. It's a sad reality of the world we live in. But, I don't think I've ever been impacted so greatly as when I was at Balboa Park a couple weekends ago. I think we've all seen those demonstrations of what the bottom of our rivers, lakes and oceans look like with trash. What I saw in real life was unbelievable and unforgettable.