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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Editorial: Los Angeles Theatre is Not Dead

If you have to do the following to argue for the virtues of one theatrical show in Los Angeles, perhaps you shouldn't:
  • Begin the article, claiming that Los Angeles Theatre is bad.
  • Heavily suggest that the following ingredients of this one show, might  "save" LA Theatre -
    • Hollywood starlets (a number of whom are children of more established stars)
    • film-based stories
    • famous Hollywood director
  • Close the article, by now claiming that Los Angeles Theatre is dead, but the show you just reviewed is not and might even establish people's careers (assuming they're an actor) 
These are the focal points of one Jimmy Im article on Vanity Fair regarding For the Record.   I haven't seen this show, so I won't go into any details on how entertaining it might be.  A cabaret show based on a mash-up of one director's Hollywood films sounds entertaining enough by itself, so I don't quite understand why Im thought it necessary to be a flamethrower toward the community where that show resides.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Review: "A Song At Twilight" is a Must-See

(L–R) Roxanne Hart, Sharon Lawrence, Bruce Davison Photo by Michael Lamont

I viewed A Song of Twilight without knowing much of the background story or the timeframe.  My understanding of the show was that it was about a celebrated author Sir Hugo Latymer (Bruce Davison) in his later years, who - after living a life of wealth, fame, and luxury - is confronted about the details of a past love.  At first we think this might be Carlotta Gray (Sharon Lawrence) who is having dinner at Latymer's suite, set-up by his secretary-wife of twenty years Hilde Latymer (Roxanne Hart), but as the best of plays reveal, the story is much more complicated than the set-up.
It is 1960s Europe and Hugo has formed an image that has conformed to its standards.  In this later point of his life, he is confronted with the fact that his actions have not been without consequences.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Re-Cap Paleyfest 2014: Community

From Left-to-Right: Michael Schneider (Moderator), Joel McHale, Jim Rash,
Yvette Brown, Danny Pudi, Gillan Jacobs, Dan Harmon, and Chris McKenna

On Wednesday, March 26th the cast and producers of Community arrived to the Dolby Theatre for their unprecedented fifth appearance at Paleyfest. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Re-Cap Paleyfest 2014: The Mindy Project

The cast of "The Mindy Project" on-stage at the Dolby Theatre
The cast of "The Mindy Project" on-stage at the Dolby Theatre
for Paleyfest 2014.

On Tuesday, March 25th the cast of The Mindy Project arrived at the Dolby Theatre for their second Paleyfest event.  The event kicked off with scenes from the Paley Center archives featuring Mindy Kaling on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Monday, March 24, 2014

Re-Cap Paleyfest 2014: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel at Paleyfest:
(Left to Right) Felicia Day (moderator), Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell
Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet,
Ian de Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Jeb Whedon,
and Maurissa Tanchareon
Sunday, March 23rd offered an excellent afternoon event for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans fortunate enough to attend the Paleyfest 2014 event.  If you missed our live-tweets or want a little bit more context on our adventure, read on!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Re-Cap Paleyfest 2014: Sleepy Hollow

"Don't Lose Your Head" - Sleepy Hollow Promo Poster
I was fortunate enough to be in the audience on Wednesday, March 19th's Paleyfest for my new favorite television show, Sleepy Hollow.  It's one of those shows that is brilliantly written - funny while still keeping you on the edge of your seat with its twists and turns - and supported by an amazingly talented and diverse cast.  But if you're reading this, I probably don't have to convince you that.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emmylou Harris Again Teams with Vince Gill to Raise Funds for Country Music All for the Hall at Club Nokia

Back in September 2011, I wrote about how AEG LIVE  in partnership with Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, and under the leadership of Vince Gill, organized a fundraiser at Club Nokia, as a "guitar pull' branded as All for the Hall.  It returned to LA Live on March 4, 2014, again with Vince Gill bringing long-time friend Emmylou Harris, and this time inviting Ann and Nancy Wilson (the sisters of Heart) and Jason Mraz, along with a surprise performance by Holly Williams, while also introducing rising Country star Camaron "Cam" Ochs.  Prior to the fundraising concert were dinner and cocktails for those buying tables for either $10,000 or $25,000 on the Club Nokia floor, and also individual floor tickets for $1,000.  In addition, two floors of upstairs reserved seating were available with tickets ranging from $50 to $125 that were filled to capacity., I had the chance to again interview Vince Gill and Emmy Lou Harris, and to also interview for the first time fundraising host Rita Wilson and guest artist Holly Williams (singing in the next picture).  Each of the artists contributed their time in this seventh version of the All for the Hall fundraiser that has an objective now of raising operating reserve funds for a greatly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and contributions are always appreciated..

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through M.I.T.'s Male Math Maze

Gioia De Cari in "Truth Values"

I had the opportunity last night to see Gioia De Cari perform her auto-biographical one-woman show Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through M.I.T.'s Male Math Maze.  De Cari transforms herself into over 30 characters to tell her own story of being a female mathematics PhD student at M.I.T.  Her story is filled with moments of true hilarity, but crosses often and deftly into serious topics of gender inequality, gender bias, and expectations - society's and her own. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

LA Events for Women's History Month 2014

Rosie the Riveter - "We Can Do It!"

March is designated as Women's History Month! While I'm all for celebrating the accomplishments and rich history of women all year round, I'm very happy that we have a month designated to focus on the theme of women.  Here's a selection of events from our calendar that celebrate not only women's history, but also women's stories, accomplishments, and art.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writing from CA - Exile and Place: Who Gets to Speak for L.A.?

Left-to-Right: Lisa See, Naomi Hirahara, Hector Tobar, Lynell George, and Brighde Mullins at "Exile and Place" in Tales from Two Cities Photo by Gary Leonard
Left-to-Right: Lisa See, Naomi Hirahara,
Hector Tobar, Lynell George, and Brighde Mullins
at "Exile and Place" in Tales from Two Cities
Photo by Gary Leonard

The second conference of Writing from California: Tales from Two Cities took place at the Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles from February 20-22, 2014 .  This two-part conference in Northern and Southern California, offered insight into how writing - poetry, fiction, non-fiction, print and digital - in the state has been influenced by these regions of California.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

ALOUD at Central Library: Love, Mathematics, and the X-Files

Edward Frankel and Chris Carter Photo by Gary Leonard
Edward Frankel and Chris Carter
Photo by Gary Leonard

At first glance, one might wonder what Love, Mathematics, and The X-Files might have in common. This ALOUD event held on February 13th, 2014 - the day before Valentine's Day of course - isn't your average picture of romance, but perhaps it should be. Taking in the conversation between mathematician and author Edward Frankel and The X-Files creator Chris Carter (who also recently launched the excellent pilot The After on Amazon Pilot Season),  it was easy to understand the deep mystery of math and in its importance in our everyday lives. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#TchaikItOut at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Experience Tchaikovsky with the LA Phil and the incredible musicians of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. TchaikovskyFest at Walt Disney Concert Hall offers concert experiences that feature Tchaikovsky's symphonies and more!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

dineLA at Badmaash

dineLA Winter 2014 Menu at Badmaash

Hoping to not let dineLA completely pass us by, my friends and I decided to check out Badmaash - an Indian Gastropub - on the last day of LA's Restaurant Week.  As we were all fairly central to Downtown, I hopped on the Red Line and - true to the spirit of Downtown L.A. - we all walked to the restaurant.  Grabbing a pre-dinner drink at nearby Edison, we then settled in at Badmaash to explore their dineLA menu.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Editorial: Experiencing LA for My Birthday

Free Day Tickets for LACMA
Free Day Tickets at LACMA

LACMA - Urban Lights by Chris Burden

This year the stars aligned and my birthday turned out to be the same day as the Museums Free-For-All.  I took it as a sign that the best way to experience my birthday this year was going to one of my favorite places - Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) - with some of my favorite people.  Given the museum's location near Fairfax/Wilshire, I was also inspired to add in one of my favorite eateries to the itinerary - Canter's Deli!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

dineLA: Jan 20-31, 2014

While you discover new and favorite museums at this Saturday's Museums-Free-For-All, you should also make plans to experience new and favorite restaurants with DineLA - Restaurant Week which began on January 20th and runs through January 31st.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This Weekend: L.A. Times Travel Show (Jan 18th & 19th)

Los Angeles times Travel Show
This weekend the 16th Annual L.A. Times Travel Show arrives at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan 18th and Jan 19th. Whether you're a regular traveler or just looking to travel more, this is the perfect event to gain insight and ideas. A number of the show's taglines tell you all the reasons you should travel more:

  • "No one ever wishes they traveled less."
  • "A touch screen is no substitute for touch."
The travel trade show also offers guest speakers, including some famous headliners and many well-known travel authors.  Headliners this year include Henry Rollins, Alyssa Milano, Adam Richman, and Arthur Frommer.  Many exhibitors will also be on-hand to provide show-only specials and trip giveaways - it's also the perfect opportunity to talk directly with experts in the industry about destinations around the world.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Casual Fridays: Have a Drink with the LA Phil

Spend your Friday nights with the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Casual Fridays gives you special access to the musicians, the music and more. Enjoy a breakdown of the night’s performance from the artists’ perspective with our TalkBack (Q&A) discussion on stage. Then, grab drinks and continue the conversation at our post-concert lounge, where you can meet and engage with members the orchestra.

Museums Free-For-All: Free Museum Admission on January 25th 2014

Enjoy free admission to participating museums on Saturday, January 25th 2014 with the ninth annual Museums Free-For-All.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Destination Spotlight: Homestead Museum

Stained Glass at the Homestead Museum

If you grew up in the San Gabriel Valley like I did,  "Baldwin" (Park) and "Temple" (City) and "Workman" (Road) are probably familiar places. It's in the familiarity of street names and city names where I think history so often stares us right in the face, asking us to learn more while we most often look on.  In the days of Google searching and wandering through the maze of Wikipedia, maybe it's even easier to say you know something because you read it on the Internet (and therefore it must be true).  But tucked away in the City of Industry is an experience worth visiting - the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, a historical landmark that can take you back in time to 1830-1930.