Amoeba Hollywood Wraps Up 2007
There’s always lots of fun stuff happening here at the big Amoeba in beautiful downtown Hollywood CA. But 2007 was just bananas! Rock stars, reissues, bashes, balls, Beatles, etc. etc.! Should auld acquaintance be forgot, I shall now fire up my poor abused memory chip and attempt to recall all the good times from last year. For auld lang syne that is!
Surely the most memorable event of 2007 was our biggest in-store performance ever, when Paul McCartney played a “secret” 90-minute show on June 27! Yes that Paul McCartney, “the cute one” as teen Beatles fans knew him in the ‘60s! Sir Paul had just released his latest album in the Spring, his best in years, entitled Memory Almost Full and he wanted to celebrate with secret shows in London, New York and Los Angeles.
His choice of Amoeba as a venue (while enormously flattering and logistically terrifying to us) showed his true lifelong passion for music. What better way to show it than to play a career-capping concert in a room full of every kind of music from around the world, past present and future?
Suffice to say, the “secret” of his secret show got out somehow and next thing you know, we had a half-mile long line of fans camping out outside our building! 400 fans made it in at last (along with plenty of VIPs including Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne and more), and Paul showed that he’s no fossil – he rocked harder than most young’uns on a joyous set of Beatle favorites and his newest tunes.
When riot control calmed down sufficiently outside, we opened the front doors and let the music waft outside to the hundreds of fans still crowded outside to hear this historic event. After he left the stage, folks staggered blissfully off into the summer evening, while Sir Paul mingled amiably backstage and did a little CD browsing himself.
So THAT was why he wanted to play here… well, it was pretty much a dream come true for all us unreformed rockers here at Amoeba, rather like the Pope dropping by for orange juice and cookies at your local Sunday school. We’ll never forget it!
Paul McCartney Video from Amoeba Hollywood - June 27, 2007
Another massive highlight for us in 2007 was our big new releases on our very own musical imprint, Amoeba Records. We were very pleased to present, this past October, our fabulous dee-luxe double-disc set of a previously unheard live set by country-rock legends Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969. There are very few live recordings of this short-lived band in existence, and this one was thought lost until recently found in The Grateful Dead vaults. It turned out to be a pristine set that captured the band in top form on a set of album favorites and a few rare cover tunes never recorded elsewhere! Gram fans around the world (a devoted and ever-growing bunch) were thrilled to get their hands on it once it finally emerged on November 8th, and it’s been flying off the shelves and off the website ever since.
I can say, putting Amoeba affiliation aside and letting my love for Gram speak, that it is a really great album and several of the tracks were just revelatory for me, especially the unheard cover of “Undo the Right” -an upbeat breakup song, but also an unintentionally appropriate call for political change in America today! Fabulous book with liner notes from Pamela Des Barres and rare, gorgeous photos from Andee Nathanson as well. We’re pretty proud of it and we’re grateful we could be a part of bringing it out of a beautiful vault which kept it safe for years and into the hands of Gram lovers everywhere.
We kicked off the Gram release with a live extravaganza here at the store, featuring many local country-rockers paying tribute to the man who started it all by covering some of his classic tunes. Original Burrito Brother Chris Etheridge even sat in on bass! The Sin City All-Stars were fiery, Mike Stinson took it down-home, Dave Gleason showed off his soaring voice and fleet-fingered picking, Quincy Coleman shook the rafters and Amoeba Records recording artist Brandi Shearer got a little bit of country into her usual captivating and passionate vocalizing.
Brandi’s album on Amoeba Records, Close To Dark, was our other big release this Fall. It was produced by Larry Klein (known for his production work with Joni Mitchell and Madeleine Peyroux), and it’s a moody, slow-burning collection of tunes that fans of Feist, Sia or any other modern diva will love. Brandi’s star has been steadily rising through the years and this new album shows that she can make great, timeless music that should put her in the big leagues. If you love smoky, sultry ballads, a little bit rootsy, a little bit bluesy, a little bit jazzy, then check her stuff out on our website or pick up her excellent new CD!
Back in January we launched our awesome new website, which as you can see looks very groovy and is just packed with fun stuff to see, hear, do and buy. Even I, a web-illiterate man, can easily and enjoyably surf through it! It’s pretty much like an Amoeba store in virtual reality (I remember back in the ‘90s when virtual reality was gonna be a big deal). Now you can pretty much keep up on the life and times of the store no matter where you live, especially since we update the news, features, and photos constantly. So come on down to Amoeba dot com whenever you darn well please!
One of the coolest things about our new website is that we are now STREAMING LIVE all sorts of in-store concerts. As you may know, we have all kinds of exclusive and very cool free shows here from some of the best names in music, and sometimes they get a little crowded! Since they are free and so cool and all. Well NOW you can actually watch some of them online, as they happen live!
FOR EXAMPLE this past year we streamed live sets by Beirut, Talib Kweli, No Age, the Black Lips, Tegan & Sara, the Cribs, the Go! Team, the Noisettes, DJ Muggs & Sick Jacken, Lee Rocker, Jesu, and Galactic with soundboard quality reproduction and multi-camera editing!
Check out the in-store archive section of the website and see what I mean. I always say, if I may say so, that the live shows at Amoeba are a really unique way of seeing a band, since you’re not at some giant arena or dark noisy club – you get to see and hear the band close-up and undiluted, and they get to connect with their fans in a way they don’t usually get to, so you get some really special performances. In addition, they are free concerts and all ages ... an excellent way for people under 21 to see live music!
The bands often surprise themselves when they play here! Most everybody comes away from it feeling like they experienced something powerful and out of the ordinary. We also have one of a kind interviews with stars from Patti Smith to Lee Rocker!
And now you can share that on our website from the comfort of your home den or rumpus room. Stream it and see! Below is one fine example of the unique experience you can have by watching our video archive:
Tegan & Sara Video from Amoeba Hollywood - July 14, 2007
Also new and groovy on our website is the increased availability of stuff you can listen to and buy.
STUFF YOU CAN BUY: you can now check out our Music We Like picks every month, with reviews and MP3s you can listen to, and you can order those CDs too and we’ll ship ‘em to you. There’s all kinds of music featured on the site that you can check out and order, including our Home Grown series (unsigned local bands that we sponsor) as well as the music that plays each month at the Laemmle, Angelika and City Cinemas, in-store performers, Gram and Brandi, TV on the Radio’s Live at Amoeba EP, and more. You can even buy Amoeba gift certificates for the one you love and hip cool Amoeba t-shirts, hats and more! Our new website sure does a lot of new stuff!
If you are reading this, you may be IN the BLOG section of our website even now… our gigantic and ever-growing blog section features constantly updated contributions from Amoebites, covering everything from vignettes of life here at the crazy store to creative writing to local underground events. Our knowledgeable writers will expose you to things and music and movies you never knew existed, lifting the rock of reality to expose the dark, crawly life wriggling beneath! At least that’s what I think they’re doing… anyway, it is very entertaining and captures Amoeba life in real time. But is time real anyway? Woaoaoh! Not when you’re flying through the Amoeba blogosphere it isn’t! Just read it and see!
One of my favorite segments of the Amoeblog is contributed regularly by our outré movie expert Phil Blankenship, who regularly posts shocking and amazing VHS box covers of real movies that actually got made, featuring such a weird and unlikely array of titles, stars, and “concepts” that you will wonder all over again whether fiction is not stranger than truth. In 2007 Phil also started a very cool midnight movie series at the New Beverly Cinema, sponsored by Amoeba. The independently owned New Beverly has had a long life in Hollywood, as everything from a live stage to a grindhouse to a porn theater and now as one of the best revival movie houses in the city. Saturdays at midnight Phil unleashes a different untastefully chosen cult film on unsuspecting audiences. Worth attending!
Last Summer Amoeba returned to the Santa Monica Pier to sponsor once again the 23rd Annual Twilight Dance Series, featuring live music at the water’s edge every Thursday. It’s the perfect way to enjoy Summer in LA!
Last summer featured amazing performances by salsa bands, African artists and more. New York rock legend (and our new friend) Patti Smith blew our collective mind and local heroes Los Lobos brought it all back home for the grand finale.
The Amoeba booth at these things is always the party zone, where the flyers, stickers, fans, shirts and CDs fly fast and furious while we try to enjoy the music and the sunset all at the same time!
What else happened on our website… well, there were CONTESTS galore and the lucky winners of these things wound up going to see shows by Paul Weller, Spoon, Roseanne Cash, got merchandise from the Klaxons, and lots more… oh, and some lucky winners got to go see that exclusive small-venue secret show by Sonic Youth, to celebrate the re-release of Daydream Nation. So there’s another good reason to check out our website! Sign up for one of those contests and who knows what you’ll win…
Friday nights in 2007 also saw the debut of our new DJ series, RESONANCE, which features long-time Amoebite and one of the best selectors in L.A., our very own DJ Jun and his many special guests. Jun has been DJing all over town for years in a variety of styles, and so it’s a treat for us on Fridays to have him work his magic for us and the crowd. It’s definitely a fun night to be in the store! Jun is equally likely to pull out rare treats of hip-hop, house, reggae, downtempo, funk and even garage rock and lounge, usually all in the same set! And no one can mix the vinyl like that guy… it’s like he’s taunting me! It’s like he’s saying, you’ll never be able to perfectly mix two totally different tunes with live drums in a two-minute long seamless blend like this! Oh, maybe he’s not really saying that… maybe he’s just making the party hot every Friday night with classic vinyl mixed the way it used to be. Trust me, it’s a hotter set than you’ll pay good money for at a Hollywood club so come on down and dig it! I always do…
Looking way back to last February, I seem to remember that we had our wildest Mardi Gras celebration ever! Since we love the music and spirit of New Orleans, and we can’t always be there for the great day, for many years we’ve been celebrating Fat Tuesday here in the store with an outrageous parade and musical extravaganza, featuring floats, masks, noisemakers, bands, DJs, marching, cheering, dancing babies and more. Check out this year’s photos in the Photo Gallery to see! It really is the next best thing to being down South.
In 2007, DJ Crisceaux spun the tunes while a live horn & percussion ensemble played the second line. The King of Mardi Gras, our very own Terry Smith, led us around the store (with a James Brown float, a pirate float, a space chicken float and more) and then took it to the street! We paraded down Sunset, around Cahuenga and back up Ivar to the delight and bewilderment of rush hour motorists. It’s great fun and we welcome our customers to join the parade! And they do! You should too… Mardi Gras 2008 is coming up in February! Be here! Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Our other traditional Amoeba event was also a lot of fun in 2007… Amoebapalooza! In which 20 Amoeba bands, both real and made-up (mostly made-up) take to the King King stage for a mind-blowing blitz of 10-minute sets! This year we had Siouxsiecidal Tendencies (an incredible tribute band that went from “Spellbound” to “Institutionalized”), a tribute to grunge abomination Temple of the Dog (featuring a very hilarious Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell in full ‘90s biker shorts mode), tributes to Can, the Stooges, hair metal, Tom Waits and more. It’s the best (and funniest) show in town so next year dontcha miss it!
Speaking of the funniest show in town, another strong contender is Amoeba’s Saturday Charity Auctions, which happened in the store every Saturday at 4 p.m. and are hosted by Amoeba’s own stand-up comedy genius Brently Heilbron (at least, until he gets too famous to work here). But maybe he’ll keep doing them even then … we started the charity auctions after Hurricane Katrina to raise money to help rebuild the Gulf Coast, and they’ve been so popular that we’ve kept them going ever since.
We now donate the money we raise to a combination of charities, including several for global environmental action. The idea is simple: Brently auctions off a bunch of music collectibles (including things rare, weird, fabulous, old, funny and strange) for whatever you’ll pay for them, and then Amoeba matches your bid and the money goes to charity. It’s always a bargain and a great way to pick up some fun stuff, and when you throw in Brently’s hilarious stream-of-consciousness spiel, you’re getting way more than you bargained for! They are always funny and the stuff is always cool and cheap so come check them out the first Saturday of the month at 4pm (note new schedule). It’s for charity and it’s a great time!
My memory chip is starting to melt so that brings me to the end of the year… HOLIDAYS at Amoeba are always fabulous and this past December was no exception! We deck the store out with lights and wrap it like a Christmas present and so it’s the place to be to do all your holiday shopping. It was bustling as usual this year, especially our Holiday CD section, which is pretty much the best one on planet Earth and the only way you can find all sorts of out-of-print Holiday CDs.
We had several fun events this Holiday past, including concerts by Brandi Shearer and The Millen Sisters (who are two gorgeous gals who dress up in unbelievable outfits and sing Christmas carols by the Supremes and Eartha Kitt, and must be seen to be believed!
We also had a special charity auction from Brently and even a visit from the Jingle Cat! Who I thought did not exist, but he came to Amoeba and ran around the store and meowed into his pink mobile karaoke system while Jingle Cats carols played on the sound system! He even used the Amoeba kitty litter and then got into his sleigh and flew off into the night. Perhaps he will come again in 2008 to bring more Christmas cheer!
Well that’s all I’ve got for 2007… there was too much other stuff to write here but isn’t there always? If you were at the store for any of that then we thank you for sharing in our good times and we hope to see you back in 2008. If you haven’t been to an in-store or an Amoeba event then we invite you to check one out in the new year! And stay tuned here at this website space for ever-updated info. You don’t want to miss anything fun! From all of us here at the big Amoeba, thanks for a fun 2007 and best wishes for 2008!
The 2007 Breakdown from Amoeba San Francisco and
A wonderful way to begin a fresh, new year is to look back at what you were able to do by joining hands with others in the year just passed. To that end, so we can speculate wildly and dream about the magical things we'll be a part of in the upcoming months of non-stop possibility now called 2008 ... we have a look back at the year that was 2007. In January, we're still bumping and selling the holiday gifts and catching our breath in the stores, so the real madness kicks off in ...
February 2007, the month for lovers was Cracker'd for us as we came together for the free screening, nay the very premiere itself of Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven - First Annual Camp Out Live DVD, along with our friends The Bay Guardian and 12 Galaxies. Joining us were members of Camper Van Beethoven for an astounding acoustic performance. Then everyone got to hang out and get autographs and chat it up.
As February ended, the boxes of chocolates torn to hell and the red ribbons of proclaimed love gathered dust, we turned to The 2007 SF Noise Pop Festival - their 15th festival which is damn impressive; 2007's Noise Pop Festival brought us all the way into March at venues all over San Francisco!
Showcased were artists ranging from Ted Leo and The Pharmacists to Sebadoh were joined by bands Autolux, Black Angels, Clinic, Earlimart, French Kicks and Ghostland Observatory among other amazing bands, too numerous to mention.
Amoeba San Francisco loves to sponsor some film fests! 2007 brought us a plethora of cinematic delight as Spring in SF had The San Francisco International Film Festival from April to May with 120 unique programs that brought us live music as well: Jonathan Richman, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy of Xiu Xiu with an 13-piece ensemble orchestra and documentaries about Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, Brazilian musician Tom Zé, the history of punk music and more. In the Summer, we had 8 days and 80 films with The San Francisco Black Film Festival which ran in June, of course. Come Fall, we threw ourselves into the Late Night Picture Show at the Clay Theater with showcase films you could not let yourself miss.
Ensuring that we take our sponsorships to the far-flung areas of art, we were proud to be a part of the Four Seasons Distinguished Artists Concert Series - a series that has presented hundreds of world-acclaimed artists be it modern dance or symphony orchestra by sponsoring Spring's classical music recitals which included pianist Jeanne Stark-Iochmans, and baritone Thomas Buckner.
Also highlighted was another of our passions: The Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival, which was hosted at about a dozen different venues around The City, which included performances from many bands, such as I Am Spoonbender, Experimental Dental School, Ebb and Flow, Elephone, and Scrabbel.
Distinguished baritone, meet Elephone; somehow our sponsorships just flow into one another joining aural worlds in our heads that would otherwise remain disparate and strangers to many.
Naturally, our talented and hardworking promotions team do all that they can to bring such incredible and diverse talent to the concert stage at the top of Haight Street, San Francisco! It was quite a year for our stage, and although you can view the whole year in glorious pictures - many available for download - I will highlight just a few here, to warm our hearts and yours.
When your year starts off with Paul Reubens, better known as Pee Wee Herman, and heads straight into John Waters, you know your are in for one hell of a year!
Rounding out the strange and beautiful, we also hosted the Web's most beloved: Leslie & the Ly's!
Blonde Redhead and Dinosaur Jr
Kristin Hersh and Thurston Moore
High on Fire and Thelma Houston!
... and any while any recap of our San Francisco stage could never be comprehensive, I present to you the incredible Bleach 03 interview:
Over at Amoeba Berkeley, things got massive as they joined in the sponsorship for the 4th Annual FREE Berkeley World Music Festival over a lovely June weekend.
Amoeba fittingly presented the People’s Park Concert, featuring Brass Menažerie (Balkan Brass Band), Yassir Chadly, Bouchaib Abdelhabi, Stephen Kent, (Moroccan Traditions w/Didjeridu) and Samba Ngo (Congolese Dance Music).
I guess that was so much damn fun, they all looked at each other and asked that beautiful, fateful question:
"Hey man, why are we the only Amoeba Music store without a stage?"
First they immediately start having in-store concerts showcasing top quality names like Sir Richard Bishop, Cut Chemist and Busdriver - and the next thing you know, a stage is born in Berkeley and the full-blown concerts have begun!
Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead brought the Global Drums and more with wildly talented friends such as Giovanni Hidalgo and Sikiru Adepoju.
Minus The Bear came and filled the joint as did Pharoahe Monche. Other massive names have already graced the newborn stage ... talent like M.I.A., Vieux Farke Toure, Six Organs of Admittance.
Speaking of M.I.A., here's a wonderful opportunity to see her speak her mind!
M.I.A. Video from Amoeba Berkeley - July 28, 2007
Back in The City by the Bay, it was the Summer of Love 40th Anniversary! 1967 was a pretty amazing year for rock and no city was more important to spreading the gospel of peace and flower-power than San Francisco.
Amoeba celebrated the anniversary by featuring the highly-spirited, soulful sounds created during this time, bringing them to ears new and old with our Summer of Love brochure and a limited edition Amoeba tie-dyed t-shirt.
We also ran Electric Music for the Mind and Body - an in-house DJ Series every Sunday in July, featuring such guest DJs as Joel Gion and Brock Galland of The Dilettantes and Bay Area Music Legend, Russell Quan of The Mummies, The Bobby Teens, and The Phantom Surfers amongst his other bands!
No recap of Amoeba's activities in Amoeba's activities in 2007 could be all encompassing, we're just too damn busy and crazy about art for all of that! But to end this wistful glance at the year that was, I have to mention the delight of yet another round of Amoebapaloozas! The annual Amoebapalooza is a long-running, venerated celebration of the musical genius and mayhem found in the employees of Amoeba! One night per store, with scores of bands formed of Amoeba staffers, united to entertain with 15 minute sets! That's right, each band gets 15 minutes and every year the Amoeba employees at every store split off in their corners and form bands for one night of glory.
In June, the San Francisco store took over 12 Galaxies and was emceed by our delightful muse, Peaches Christ of Midnight Mass and as always had some wacky bands that come together for one night only, but also serious groups that put records out ... like 40Love!
(40Love will be showcasing their talent and their new album on the Haight Street stage this January 18th 2008. Free and all ages! Come around!)
July brought us Amoeba Berkeley's Amoebapalooza at the Stork Club in Oakland with hosts Wonway and Ranon. Their night of fame was sprinkled with such stellar bands as The Why Because, Jones Brigade and Franklin Lei and my personal favorite: Revenge of the Reg!
Well, that's a mere sampling from 2007, just enough to warm our creative jets and help us decide where we going next. What starts us off on our new year of endless possibility?
If you were lucky enough to be at the 1st annual Amoeba Art Show - we have our 2nd Amoeba Art Show coming your way on January 25th at The Space Gallery in San Francisco!
What can we say? We love art, we love bringing free concerts in our stores to people of all ages.
We love the opportunity that sponsorships give us to join hands with other wonderful people who want to bring you the beauty in life that every single person should have.
Corny? Maybe. Regardless:
A deep, heartfelt thanks to one and all, attendees and other sponsors as well, because none of this would happen without you showing up!
Thank you to every person who walks through our doors:
and last but never the least ... Hollywood