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September 21st, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
I do not even know were to begin. Anything I say will not be descriptive or powerful enough to describe what I just witnessed. I wish I could simply show you the video of the show! Imagine taking a blender, and putting Frankenstein, Houdini, Eminem, and Rachamimov in it. Whip it up, sprinkle it with LSD and watch your creation grow. You get a maddening, charismatic, piano virtuoso and genius that can seduce you and rap as well! Chilly Gonzalez is a man on his own trip. I want to know what he drinks from. He know he defies it all, and easily, accepts, with a tinge of narcissism that he is a musical genius. He constantly reminds us he is. But in reality, spend a few minutes with him as he arranges a musical experience that encompasses a piano serenade, rapping deluge that is both raw and energetic, a fireside chat and audience participation, and you know you will only feed his ego and come ultimately to his own conclusion--that yes he is a genius but now you accept it on your own terms not his! It took me a few minutes of watching his performance that other night to know that one of his performances is unlike any other I have seen. Luckily for us, the man, hunched over a piano, as if born of the instrument, weaves a story that is so f*%#@! amazing live, that you are left with a willingness to surrender to him and just go along for the ride.
Imagine being in an artist studio, watching a life size, blank canvas in front you, and the painter getting ready to work. The painter probably has some idea of where they are going, you are just along for the ride. Before your eyes, you see the masterpiece start to develop, paint, colors, textures coming together. You anticipate some finality to its journey that you are so blessed to be part of. The artist pays no attention to you. After all, the painting is their gift to you. You recognize, along with a few others, that what is happening cannot be replicated. Then it hits you. You are in the presence of a genius. Chilly is a man on a mission, bringing showmanship, brilliant compositions and incredible music to us. It is his gift to us. After all, we are part of his landscape for the night. He controls it, ever so perfectly and brings you to its zenith, his performance is his creation, but it is for us to enjoy.
Chilly played Largo the other night. Dressed in a robe, lavender socks, slippers, and with a maddening, whimsical, I am here to wow you smirk, he took the stage and rocked my entire world. It was like being at Disneyland the first time as a child- a magical world that I had dreamed about and where anything was possible. With Chilly, what you get is an artist that drains himself on stage to put on a performance you will never forget. It is rich, textured, elaborate and so dam smooth. Through his virtuoso piano playing, switch ups to his alter ego rapper personality, and audience interaction, Chilly can carry any room. And we love him for it! Try to withstand his charisma and you will only fail because he captures you, so easily by the intensity that makes him Chilly on stage. It does not hurt that mid way through his set, he brought out the one and only Feist, and together they set the stage on fire. Together, the chemistry they shared made for so many laughs. If watching them perform together just a few feet in front of me was not enough, we were all there to help them both crowd surf above the Largo seats as they jumped into the audience! Unreal...I left the show feeling like a kid again. Chilly I owe you for a night that I will never forget.
September 13th, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
I love this city. Los Angeles. Art, museums, free shows and its people make it possible for an amazing night to happen when you need it most. Friday night was no different. Thanks to the great folks at LACMA, they made one of my dreams come true. In their Friday series, "Jazz at LACMA," all of us in attendance were given the wonderful gift of listening to Les McCann featuring the Javon Jackson Quintet perform. Les McCann...seriously what else can be said about this guy that has not been said already! In anticipation for his show, I walked around like a nervous little child, record in hand hoping for the rare opportunity to meet Les, maybe get a few seconds alone with him so he could autograph an album of his that is part of my collection.
I could not have planned this any better. Unprepared and jittery, I found myself standing next to Les in the hallway as he was being escorted outside for his gig. Seriously this was fate! A massive crowd outside was eagerly awaiting the jazz master and here I was, next to him, with only two other people. This was my chance to meet one of my idols. I introduced myself and was in heaven. With grace and humility, he and his friends, stopped, smiled, asked me for a pen(the first one ran out so luckily I had a spare!) and he signed a copy of "The Gospel Truth," an album that was recorded on Pacific Jazz probably over forty years ago. I was so moved and so happy, the inner music geek was free. I clenched my album. I had what I wanted and the music had not even started!
Les is a treasure of the Jazz world, a revolutionary and a Los Angeles guy since he moved here a long, long time ago. Here we were, all of us on this beautiful September evening about to witness a very special night. The crowd was so amped, they even applauded during LACMA's video retrospective of Les. That was quickly followed by Les being awarded the Los Angeles Jazz Treasure award. Les is and will always be a jazz innovator, bangin' since the 1950's with a sound all his, unique, powerful, soulful and simply Les. When Les finally got on stage, the moment was set. For the older people in the audience, an opportunity to reflect on what this man meant to so many of them. For the youngsters in the crowd, a rarity, watching a legend from an era past on the keys dazzle with a grace and funky spirit that would rival anyone doing their thing today! Les after all these years, still kills it on stage with a presence and class that is out of this dam world. For me, it was simply an amazing night in the city I love so much. Listening to live music, meeting cool new people, complete with an album signing that I will remember always. LACMA has some incredible Friday nights shows coming up. For more information, check here:
September 7th, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
After a couple of seconds. A hush. All eyes and ears towards the stage. And on JBM. As they should be. And so started a performance that will last a life time. JBM started his set the other night at the Hotel Cafe with a serenade, an acoustic melody and took us instantly on an amazing night of live music. JBM powered his set with a stunning sound, an intensity, powerful enough to ring through the cavernous Grand Canyon with a voice capable of seducing the dead and rising the hopes of those in the audience. He promised us great things with his music, where we were capable of getting lost in a world were anything is possible. JBM's music, simply beautiful was delivered with enough goose bumps to let you know you were in the presence of something great.
JBM has been getting great reviews and buzz lately for his album. But the true beauty and resonance of his music is to be experienced live. As I looked across the Hotel Cafe, I saw a stunned audience, captivated, with every note by the astonishing beauty of his music touching us all so differently this night. I could have listened to JBM perform for hours. He inspired us to come along with him for another song. And another, each one more riveting and touching. This nights performance was gift for those of us lucky to be here! He moved us all with his humility and sensational music. If you are so lucky as to catch him on one of his remaining dates, you will be part of a musical experience like no other. He has a few more shows coming up.
Sep 7 2010 8:00P, NEW PARISH Oakland, CA
Sep 10 2010 8:00P, Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA
Sep 11 2010 8:00P, Media Club Vancouver, BC
Sep 14 2010 8:00P, Harlow's Sacramento, CA
Sep 15 2010 8:00P, Spaceland Los Angeles, CA
Sep 16 2010 8:00P, Detroit Bar Costa Mesa, CA
August 25th, 2010
By Billy Bennight
Bonnie and I headed down to Sunset Junction after an hour or so of Kibitzing where we had a short pow wow with Karen and I was very much surprised to see the Rev, Chili Ciltch and her sister Lauren. It's a rarity to see them being they're from San Diego. I was so delighted to see them and the promise of seeing them later was going to make the day more special. Once on our way Bonnie and I grabbed a couple of Cuban Pork Sandwiches while soaking up the vibe, enjoying ourselves while slowly roasting under the still very intense sun and pavement radiating heat. As time went by Bonnie wilted under the burning bright sun and sought refuge in her casa. I returned later with guns blazing for Mayer Hawthorne and the Country, Soul Motown inspired style music. It was tough getting back stage and Karen joined in soon with a rescue beer, Old 'E as she likes to call it, the quart size, OG style. While I was waiting for that blessed event Mayer stepped out of his tent and started doing scales, warming up his voice, as I looked on, I was rather surprised to seeing someone do that, while wearing a tight sixties inspired suit with lapel and cuff’s but it made him stand out from the crowd. Soon the jams started rolling out right after the sound check. There was a good size crowd tightly packed of eager listeners of this version of revamped Soul and R&B. Mayer didn't spare a moment getting his fans involved and getting their groove on! Mayer being inspired by the music of his youth and in Ann Arbor near Detroit has captured the spirit and the purity of the genre making great catchy and melodic tunes. Poise and talent oozed from him from the moment he hit the stage. I wanted to go to a GoGo, what? I was at a GoGo! You can feel the Marvin Gay, Smokey Robinson and the Temptations rattling around in his head coming out in his voice and into his music. He had great presence and at one point his very own GoGo dancers pranced around on the stage, giving the crowd what they paid for! Karen and I stepped out after my photo opt had passed to get a better look at Mayer's show and surprisingly enough ran into Chili and Lauren again. It was truly great to have a little fun with some of the funnier sisters on the planet enjoying a great band.
After Mayer's close and after the tedium of "handling", we were off to tonight highly anticipated show by Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros. Edward Sharpe was just coming home after a 2 1/2 month’s touring and the anticipation at the Junction was running feverishly high for a local favorite and for a band that has been receiving increasing attention as a rising star in the music industry. Edward Sharpe's show was so anticipated and with people so eager to see them, we nearly didn't get in for photos. We had all the power bracelets and one of Sunset Junction honchos in attendance pressing for security to let us pass. For the next 10 minutes it got really crazy with security back stage. But good triumphed over evil and we scattered to the front and witnessed the amazing show that proceeded. Once getting to the front we could see the crowd was nearly unmanageable, people as far back as the eye could see. People were sandwiched, pressed against the fence. The security had to brace their bodies forcefully against the front fence to keep it from collapsing from underneath the people's weight as the show got started. Photographers were dry humping each other to get in close for the money shot. The energy was electric all around us and as the band went into their set a roar from the crowd set in.
Bang, Alex was everywhere like a manic street preacher or a Hari Krishna on speed or being tassered: him all jangly, bouncing from the stage to deep into the audience in an instance. He played jubilant, moody and thoughtful: working the audience to a frenzy as the show progressed, as music and stage show combined. While being just as manic in their popish Freak Folk ways, styled to the teeth, but in a casual folksy way, Alex and associates deliver a compelling, delirious, delicious show that makes you want to sing along while being seduced by Alex's shenanigans on stage. This groups savvy presentation feels like a psychedelic Johnny Cash and June Carter show, a crazy hoedown, a Hipster Hee Haw, that's both sophisticated and home spun at the same time. The musicianship was keenly there, hitting all the marks, as all in the audience waited for every move with baited breath. Alex killed song after song but was generous enough to share the stage with others and Jade his female counterpart. Jade's “River Wont Flow” had a nice down home quality to it, showcasing her singing while giving Alex enough time to rest so he could deliver the second half of the show. Later Alex nailed “Home,” as everyone joined in to sing the course, as if their lives depended on it for as far as the ear could hear. You could laterally feel the song's impact on everyone in attendance. It was that palpable! It was stunning and vital like your first love or the unbridled passion of youthful infatuation: all was given and all was returned as the show blazed into Sunday night. It was a remarkable way to end Sunset Junction and it was something completely appropriate and sufficiently inspiring to do justice to Sunset Junction's 30th Anniversary. It was amazing, it completed the weekend and bid a proper adieu to this year's summer.
August 25th, 2010
By Billy Bennight
Saturday at Sunset Junction seemed to move in slowly with the escalating summer heat. Meeting up with Karen, who was deluged in getting the party started with the heavily sought after wrist bands for access to this year's 30th anniversary of Sunset Junction. We had a brief visit, catching up, gossiping a bit and with the valuable wrist bands for access, I was off to the honey pot of music and activities. Once inside the Junction I spent some time listening to the melodic alternative sound of Saint Hotel, a favorite among local Hipsters. Saint Motel, closed their set as I chowed down to tacos and sipping my margarita in the Junction's very first VIP area. Soon I headed out to cruise the blvd. bathed in white hot sun past El Cid and the ever thickening crowd as I moved to the historic center of Junction activity near Good. I found myself still drawn by the slightest bit of peckishness, despite my 2 gratis tacos and cocktails, to a historic Junction fav of El Conquistadors. There I dined on a taco, enchilada and a chili relano combination plate to gut busting effect.
At this point I sauntered out of the fine establishment to encounter the ever growing crowds moving over to the Sanborn Stage near Jiffy Lube to discover a long time favorite, The B Side Players. A favorite party band from San Diego they have many a holiday party thrown by Kirk Edwards I often attended over the years. They always deliver a tasty combination of R&B and Reggae. Karlos lit the stage chill delivery and tasty vocalise. They preformed a solid rumbling and throbbing reggae dominated set that pleased a dedicated and enthusiastic crowd. I made a special point to go back stage to say Hi to Karlos and do a little chit chat of our mutual interest, being we are all of the San Diego scene, we have friend in common. It was time well spent as we reminisced about our friend Luis Güereña Tijuana No! of whom we both miss a great deal.
One of the nicer aspects of Sunset Junction is it's fluidity and diversity, which means you can go anywhere and find entertainment.I soon found myself at the Bates stage where Dam Funk, was tuned up and turned to see a good size crowd ready to sway and shake it to what was going down with there electro-funky cool vibe. Wait a minute I did I just taste a little bit of savory Rick James in his vocal delivery? Hum, that was good! Soon I got the SOS from Dita who was hanging over at El Cid with her posse where cocktails and shenanigans were being delivered on a regular basis. We laughed and played for about an hour when it was time to run back to catch Miles Davis' Bitches Brew 40th anniversary Remix. These cats were heavy and they were on it as they roared through the set, working Miles' Bitches Brew to the point of tasty perfection with remix master DJ J Rocc, manning the wheels of steel. The crowd was transfixed as the band was focused on laying down those famous fat tracks form this Jazz genius. The only thing that was missing was a smokey club and Miles' himself.
It was hard to break away, but the Bad Brains were calling and after 28 years we were going to have our reunion. I first caught Bad Brains, at the International Blend in San Diego, so many years ago and to re-connect after their heyday to catch them now in their legendary status as one of the most innovative bands of the time by crossing Punk and Reggae is going to be a real treat. So I could feel the heat form street for the Rock Steady Beat! There was delight written all over HR's face as he entered the stage. From the first moment HR was in control and the fans were ready for frenzy and ecstasy slamming around at the center of the legendary Junction. They eased into their set with a couple reggae numbers imbuing us all with the Love Jah as the sweet raga dropped. But the band turned up the energy with whip snap rioting speed with Sail On and Regulator. The crowd got unhinged and went insane with a slam pit some 25 feet in proportion, with arms, elbows, folks floating above the fray of the pit and stage dives and jumping from a sign on the side of this manic crowd: a tornado of flesh and spit. After about 10 minutes of this HR wound it down just a bit with Jah Love and I and I Survive with the sweetest Dub mixing as the songs lingered, only to crank it up tighter near the end with Re-ignite and Pay to Cum. The night was spent but the crowd and the band were hoping for an encore when the Fire Chief shut it down to everyone’s disappointment. It was such a great ride as Bad Brains delivered and delivered only to be put down by the man. HR was generous and sent all off with his blessings. What a great day of revelry the first Day of Sunset Junction and so much to look forward to Sunday's line up.
August 23rd, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
I fall in love with the music of Sarah Jaffe more and more with each play. Unfortunately I missed her the last time she passed through Los Angeles. But I was determined to see her live this time. After all, I had a feeling that watching her live would blow me away. I was correct. As I anticipated her set at the Hotel Cafe the other night, I took it all in. Sarah has been working, recording, touring feverishly and people are starting to notice what an amazing talent she is. Within a few seconds of her set, I was thankful to be in the audience. As she started strumming, singing, we were greeted with this angelic voice and I was captivated.
A few more seconds and now all eyes were instantly on her. People noticed immediately they were in for a real treat. With a few notes we had drowned in the power of her singing and I would not take my eyes off of her for the rest of the set. As Sarah's set grew, her beauty as a performer was evident. She made us laugh, she moved us with her melodies. A relaxed interplay with the audience had us enjoying every moment of this night's performance.
Listening to Sarah live gave me goose bumps. Those lucky of us to be here this night were part of a magical performance driven by a voice that is both triumphant and sweet, strong and delicate and fights for your attention. It is a voice that is lively and whose resonance will be around for years. It is so wonderful to see a performer on the verge of greatness. We were so lucky to be invited into her world this night. Listening to her gives me hope and for anyone that gets a chance to see on her tour you do not want to miss being part of the Sarah Jaffe experience. Instantly she will seduce you and leave you wanting more.
Aug 24 2010 8:00P, Doug Fir Portland, OR
Aug 25 2010 8:00P, HIGH DIVE Seattle, Washington
Aug 27 2010 8:00P, Kilby Court Salt Lake Cith, UT
Aug 28 2010 8:00P, HI DIVE Denver, Colorado
Aug 29 2010 9:00P, The Waiting Room Omaha, Nebraska
Aug 30 2010 8:00P, Vaudville Mews Des Moines, Iowa
Aug 31 2010 8:00P, Schuba’s Chicago, IL
Sep 1 2010 8:00P, The Mill Iowa City, IA
Sep 2 2010 8:00P, Billiken Club St Louis, MO
Sep 3 2010 7:00P, Replay Lounge Lawrence, KS
Sep 11 2010 8:00P, The Granada Dallas, TX
Sep 25 2010 7:00P, The Ghost Room Austin, TX
Sep 30 2010 7:00P, Mucky Duck Houston, TX
August 16th, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
By: Billy Bennight
Confirmed Road Dogs The Dollyrots returned to Los Angeles after months of extensive touring throughout the US and Europe. I've caught part of their shows in Austin and at The Disney House of Blues in the Orange County when they were opening for the Buzzcocks. Unfortunately, on each of these occasions I was too embroiled in various intrigues to tap into what The Dollyrots were throwing down. I picked them up at their CD release party for their new release "A Little Messed Up" at The Bootleg Theater. Ingenue, a new band with a good sound opened for them, setting the mood for the rest of the night's events of fun and energy.
The Dollyrots took the stage with overwhelming presences with the bass heavy thumper "Out Of L.A." that transitioned to the track "Some Girls" off their new album. They kept the set moving and Rockin' for the better part of a half hour before they slowed it down to an impromptu sing a long ditty about vagina's, going for a laugh, before they plowed into the second part of their set with the cover of Melanie Safka's "Brand New Key." This featured Kelly's "Ultra Gurlie" vocals on the reinterpreted rived up "Rocker" and then streamed right into "Watch Me Go (Kissed Me, Killed Me)," the whole time the band keeping the energy high and fierce, because there's nothing but high energy when The Dollyrots are on the stage. They closed their set with their big radio hit "Because I'm Awesome." The Bootleg Theater crowd egged them on for a raucous encore that ended it all with a burning version of Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation." The devoted crowd lingered for the band to come out, mingled and played: capping the night was an opportunity for playful photo opts and autographs that will send the Dollyrots on their touring way's once again across the US and into Europe again, for what appears to me as to be the hardest working band in Rock N' Roll!
August 16th, 2010
By Cathleen Robertson
Nouela Johnston, a.k.a. People Eating People, played Seattle’s historic Fremont Abbey for a Bumbershoot preview at Round 63 recently. Rounds at the Abbey consist of poets, painters and singers in a multimedia performance, all acoustic and all on-the-fly.
I had seen PEP at the Crocodile last year, and the chance to see her in an improve situation was a show I couldn’t resist. Johnston is basically a solo keyboardist who is occasionally accompanied by a drummer, but she doesn’t need any backing musicians, especially when she has a pair of perfectly good feet and hands to use for percussion. Her songs are plaintive, jazzy, poppy and gritty all at once. For example, “For Now” is simple, musically, until you listen to the lyrics: a wistful, melancholic love song that is so personal- and common to us all – that it will stick in your head for days.
A more lively, but wickedly sarcastic song “I Hate All My Friends” belies a sweet exterior and impressive vocal range. I don’t know who pissed her off, but now everyone knows about it. Johnston changes tempo and key signatures enough to prevent anyone thinking every song is the same. Razor-sharp riffs evident on “Building Armor” highlight her familiarity with the 61-keys better than any other song on her self-titled debut CD, but my favorite song is “Rain, Rain” because the lyrics are so perceptive and frank, and I wish I had written them.
I hope the Seattle radio station managers are listening; this girl needs to be in their rotation. People Eating People is scheduled to be at Bumbershoot on September 6th and then she heads to Portland for MusicFest NW on September 10th.
May 28th, 2010
A few words. Just a few words about the incredibly talented Emily Jane White. There is an elegance to her voice. A sadness that is so similar it touches us all.Through it all there is a resonance of such a mature voice that it transcends everything prior to this moment. So there I was last night, at the end of a combative day with the universe, its people, its roadways, pissed off and needing a break from the trivial and wanting to be uplifted to something totally outside of myself.
Luckily, I was at the Hotel Cafe and was taken on a much needed escape through the beautiful acoustic story telling of Emily. There were far too few people to see Emily sing last night but this will change as word of her amazing talent begins to be heard louder and louder. Standing there and peeling off the layers of the day that had weighed me down, I thought about how being part of this show was about something larger. The lucky ones in attendance were witnessing one of the great voices of this generation serenade us. Emily's music is divinely inspired with a voice that will carry her sounds across this world leaving all those feeling blessed to have seen her live and so thankful for the experience. Tour Dates:
May 28 - Pehrspace - LA, CA
May 29 - Gypsy Den - Santa Ana, CA
May 30 - Orange County, CA
May 31 - Soda Bar - San Diego, CA
June 5 - Cafe Coda - Chico, CA
June 6 - The Rotture - Portland, OR
June 7 - Sunset Tavern - Seattle, WA
May 11th, 2010
By. Billy Bennight
Triple Cobra came to my attention at SXSW at the legendary Continental Club for Alejandro Escavedo and Friend's special Sunday show. I was talking to Paul Volpe, bassist of Triple Cobra, in San Francisco and I was really wanting to take a keener appraisal of Triple Cobra. Their set was so amazing that they set the tone of expectation for the rest of that evening gang busting party at The Continental. So now, with them in Los Angeles, Bob and I focused on making Triple Cobra's only LA at Molly Malone's gig as they wound up their first nation wide junket after SXSW. I wanted to see if they were the band that I fell in lust with only a month ago with their sassy balls out prancing glamorous ass shaking Glitter banging brand of Rock N' Roll. Well guess what? They are!
Having the moxie and presence of early Jane's Addiction they the hit Molly Malone's crowd with a full on Glam assault from the moment they pounced on the stage with some 5 Glitter slamming anthems, It's Not Too Late, Live Fast and Die Beautiful, Glitterlust, Halloween and Trash they shocked and awed. For nearly 20 minutes they didn't stop drilling in deep with the relentless passion in the music that left most of Molly's patron stunned and the faithful delirious and wanting more!
While their sensibilities draw on the obvious references of Bowie, Queen and Gun N' Roses they are their own band with Attiss Ngoval's larger than life stage presence ala Mick Jagger and dancing Dolls D'aria Rose and Athena Valbracht frolic on stage in custom made head dresses and sultry body conscious corsets while delivering backing vocals to match Attiss' vocal fervor. The power writhes from a formidable rhythm section creating a pounding presence with riffy and tasty guitar leads augmented further by excellent choreography by D'aria Rose & Ngoval. They are more than a band, they are a show of no nonsense hedonism and glorious fun! My $8 was handsomely rewarded for a solid hour as this San Francisco band named after a kama sutra position, held their performance standards high throughout their entire set. The band did not disappoint but brought it and some at Molly Malone's matching and exceeding my first impression of the band in Austin a month ago.
So if you're hunting for beauty, think you deserve an outrageously glorious performance by top notch entertainers and you desire the razors edge of hedonism you need to look no further than Triple Cobra: manic gutter glitter romp that will rock your soul and your booty!