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.

A casual atmosphere, Hear NoHo is a nice way to experience live music. The venues are small enough that you can appreciate the intimacy of a performance. Dialogue is more easily exchanged between the musicians and audience. While you're not tethered to your seat for an entire set (most of which last only 30-40 minutes), careful when and on whom you walk out. You may be the butt of a joke. It's all in good fun, though, and the musicians are genuinely grateful to have an audience, even if for a few minutes.

Kenzie Alexander, one of the event organizers and owner of Cella Gallery on Lankershim Blvd, describes it as a "mini music festival."

"We wanted to do an art walk for the NoHo area, but there weren't enough galleries [concentrated] in one area..." So was born Hear NoHo.

On this night that I attended, the crowd was a little sparse, with a handful of people at each location. But I was assured by other festival goers that the crowds would fill in as the evening drew on. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay to see the crowds gather. (pictured above: Alysse Fischer and her band at NoHo Arts Center)

So, if you're into less crowd and more "personal" time with the musicians, come early. Stay late if you like the energy of a slightly larger crowd. The sets are short, and $10 gets you access to all locations and an eclectic sampling of what this neighborhood has to offer. Hear NoHo takes place the first Thursdays of every month. The next mini-festival is April 1.


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