January 31, 2012: Unitards

Posted by phil blankenship, January 31, 2012 11:45pm | Post a Comment

Revved-Up Rockabilly Valentine's Day Party w/ The Chop Tops, Thee Merry Widows & The Badmen in Oakland!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 31, 2012 05:49pm | Post a Comment
Are you ready for a revved-up rockabilly Valentine's Day party?! So are we!

Catch The Chop Tops, Thee Merry Widows, and The Badmen at Oakland Metro on February 11th!

All ages are welcome and tickets are $10 - $13. Get your tickets HERE!

Oakland Metro the chop tops thee merry widows badmen valentine's day

Korean Psych-Folk Classic, NOW, Back On Wax!

Posted by Kells, January 31, 2012 03:53pm | Post a Comment
Sometimes nothing brings more pride and satisfaction to the Amoeba Music experience than browsing the selections in vinyl new arrivals and finding a classic, diamond-in-the-rough title like Now by Kim Jung Mi and songwriter/producer/arranger/guitar shaman Shin Joong Hyun properly reissued with loving care!

Recorded in 1973 during the height of Korea's rock music scene, this little elemental wonder, reminiscent of Fairport Convention's savvy blending of folk-tradition-meets-kaleidoscopic-rock, is chock full of poetic musings about springtime weather patterns and other precious things voiced by Shin's protegée Kim Jung Mi - a bookish wallflower-cum-chanteuse à la Marianne Faithful or Francois Hardy. The newly reissued version of this quintessence of psychedelia features Korean/English lyric translations, rare photos, re-mastered audio, and comprehensive liner notes by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes and Shin Joong Hyun expert Jae-Myeong Ro (director of the Korean Classical Music Record Museum, and author of the book Shin Joong Hyun and Beautiful Country. The 180 gram vinyl version of Now comes in a deluxe old-style jacket, avec obi, and has a full color insert with liner notes and rare photos. Scoop yours up soon!

Also, it must be said that this record rates high on the list of apropos album artwork in relation to the record's overall sound. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! Click play on the album's opening track below and have a long, lingering look at that cover photo. Careful now, overexposure might lead to excessive use of the word "vibe" as a verb and an unconscious referral to the word "energy" in the plural form.

Kim Jung Mi - "Haenim"

In the silent film era, most movies made for black audiences (known as Race Films) were made by small studios, mostly based in the Midwest. With the rise of Hollywood's dominance during the sound era, Hollywood studios began to make few, but bigger budget black films like MGM's Hallelujah (1929) and Warner Bros' Green Pastures (1936). Though blackface remained popular, seen in such Hollywood films as The Phantom, Amos 'n' Andy in Check and Double Check, Babes in Arms, Swingtime, and Wonder Bar, Hollywood also began employing black actors like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Butterfly McQueen, Dorothy Dandridge, Etta McDaniel, Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Lena Horne, Lincoln "Stepin Fetchit" Perry -- albeit not generally in what most today would consider especially desirable roles.

An audience at Club Alabam in 1945

In the music world, even jazz superstars like Duke Ellington couldn't stay in white hotels while playing in Los Angeles and they usually lodged in South Central. Beginning in the 1930s, South Central became the premier center of West Coast jazz, fostering local and touring musicians and as a result acquired the nickname of "the Harlem of the West." In 1934, black musician Herb Jeffries left the Earl Hines Orchestra and moved to Los Angeles where he became a popular MC and singer at the famed Club Alabam, then the hottest local hot spot on the jazz and blues scene. In Hollywood, Jeffries encountered Jed Buell, a poverty row producer with a background in B-westerns, and soon began starring in a series of black Westerns.

In 1940, Los Angeles had a black population of 63,774; more than all fellow-western cities like Oakland, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle combined. In 1941, the US entered World War II. The same year, Reverend Clayton Russell formed the Negro Victory Committee with the aim of creating jobs for blacks in war industry. Further south, Watts had also been open to blacks at least since the 1920s, originally developed as a labor camp for workers on the Pacific Electric Railway. During the 1940s, its population became mostly black.

A family in Bronzeville in 1943

With roughly 140,000 blacks arriving from the South and Midwest to fill the newly opened factories during the decade, the few areas where blacks could live grew increasingly crowded. With the Japanese-American population of nearby Little Tokyo having been relocated to concentration camps, the exploding black population moved in and the area became known as "Bronzeville." Though designed for 30,000, it became home to 70,000. More black enclaves opened up on the Eastside, including the Furlong Tract between 50th and 55th Streets. As early as the late 1930s, West Adams and Jefferson Park, part of South LA's Westside, had first selectively opened up to LA's few truly wealthy blacks. One of the first, businessman Norman Houston, bought a home in what the area in 1938. Previously nicknamed "Little New Orleans" for its population of newly-arrived Creoles, it was soon nicknamed "Sugar Hill" for its wealthy blacks. However, Houston waited almost three years to move in, justifiably afraid of white hostility. Famous black actresses like Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers followed, as did more successful black businessmen.

In addition to the wartime industries, Hollywood began to attract more black actors and entertainers. Among many others, Eartha Kitt, Hadda Brooks, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier made their film debuts during the '40s. MGM released lavish, black cinema spectacles like Cabin in the Sky (1943). Independent black cinema, largely as a result of the talent and audience drain, died.

Meanwhile, enraged by the rise of the black "Sugar Hill," suits began to come to court in Los Angeles and elsewhere over the legality of segregation. The case of Shelley v. Kraemer, based on an incident in Missouriwas brought to the Supreme Court, who ended the legal enforcement of racist covenants in 1948. As a result, the black population of Los Angeles began to finally overflow its long cramped confines. Some whites formed anti-black gangs like The Spook Hunters with the intention of terrorizing blacks into staying out of till-then white enclaves of Compton, Downey, Huntington Park, and Lynwood.

On the other Side of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Antelope Valley, Sun Village was established to lure would-be black homeowners to the distant Mojave Desert. In 1947, Pasadena resident Jackie Robinson crossed baseball's color barrier and Sun Village even established a Jackie Robinson Park. Sun Village would prove a somewhat successful experiment for a time, reaching a peak of around 2,000 black residents in the 1960s. Today its black population is still a larger percentage than LA's. 

In the 1950s, Los Angles was a manufacturing and industrial powerhouse that rivaled the great Midwestern cities of the Rust Belt and the East Coast. The black population had grown to around 170,000 and parts of Midtown like Country Club Park, Harvard Heights, Mid-City, and Pico del Mar saw their black populations grow significantly. A steady influx of blacks, mostly from Louisiana and Texas, moved to Pasadena and in the process shifting its demographics so that then (and even today) it became more black than Los Angeles.

With the rising medium of television, the film industry began to feel its first serious competition. In the 1950s, there were only two black TV shows, The Beulah Show and Amos & Andy. Hollywood responded with more big, black-themed films like United Artists' The Joe Louis Story (1953), 20th Century Fox's Carmen Jones (1954), and Columbia Pictures' Porgy & Bess (1959). Black actors like Billy Dee Williams and Ossie Davis among others began their film acting careers during the decade.

It was also during the 1950s, 1953 to be exact, that Santa Monica-born Ike Jones graduated from UCLA's film school, the first black filmmaker to do so.

The Slausons

The Spook Hunters remained an active force and, in response, black protectionist gangs including The Devil Hunters, The Slausons, The Businessmen, The Farmers, and The Gladiators formed to oppose them. Gang violence between black Eastside gangs (those east of Main) and black Westside gangs (those west of Main) arose too but was still primarily territorial and rarely resulted in deaths. There were only six gang-related deaths in the city in 1960, which at the time caused considerable alarm. The Spook Hunters were nothing but a bad memory by 1960 and significant numbers of blacks moved to suburbs, notably Altadena, Monrovia, Pomona, and Santa Monica.

By 1960, Los Angeles had the fifth largest black population in the US, and one larger than any city in the South. Hollywood made well-meaning, more sensitive black films like Columbia Pictures' A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and actors including Fred Williamson, Greg Morris, Jackée Harry, Paul Winfield, Redd Fox, and Yaphet Koto began appearing on screen. On TV, shows like I, Spy, Julia, and The Bill Cosby Show offered very different portrayals of blacks than their predecessors in the 1950s.

In 1963, Vantile Whitfield and Frank Silvera co-founded the American Theatre of Being. Silvera, through his work on James Baldwin's Amen Corner, was the first black production designer to work on Broadway. The following year Whitfield formed the Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles (PASLA) to promote performing arts among for "inner city" children.

All was not well, however. On August 11, 1965, 21-year-old Marquette Frye was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The situation intensified as more and more people became involved and the Watts Riots erupted. Four days later, 34 people were dead, 1,034 were injured and $40 million dollars of property damage had resulted. 103rd Street was particularly affected and the smoking rubble became widely known as "Charcoal Alley."

After the riots ended, most of South LA's factories began to close or move away. Many blacks that could afford to left the Eastside for more affluent and/or apparently stable Westside neighborhoods like Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, Ingelwood, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, and View Park-Windsor Hills. As the black population spread, "South Central," which had previously and accurately been used to describe the largely black neighborhood along South Central Avenue, became shorthand for "any and all black neighborhoods south of the 10 Freeway section separating Midtown from South LA (completed in 1964).

At the same time, a New Great Migration began, with many blacks leaving the rusting and crumbling industrial sectors of northern, western and midwestern cities and returning to the traditionally black deep South.

In the wake of the riots, Maulana Karenga and Hakim Jamal formed the black nationalist US Organization, or Organization Us. An emerging black nationalism across the ocean began to be evidenced in Africa with the beginning of post-colonial black African Cinema. Senegalese author-cum-director Ousmane Sembene made the first black African film, 1964's La Noire de... In 1967, Mauritanian director Med Hondo made Soleil O. In 1969, an African film festival, FESPACO, would be established in Burkina Faso. In the US, the US Organization drew much of their philosophy and inspiration from the rising Afrocentric movement occurring in African motherland.


In 1966, down in Oakland, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Communist-inspired Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, felt tremendously threatened by the rise of black nationalism, which he felt was a threat to the "internal security of the country." He supervised the creation and operation of a program called COINTELPRO which, among other things, sought to undermine black nationalism, especially by creating and exploiting rivalries between different movements through a variety of deeply disturbing means. Things reached a head between the Marx-and-Mao loving Panthers and the Afrocentric US on January 17, 1969, when Los Angeles Panther captain Bunchy Carter and deputy minister John Huggins were killed in Campbell Hall at UCLA in a gunfight with US members.

In LA, both organizations had associations with local street gangs. The Panthers were loosely aligned with The Slausons of the Eastside whereas US were on friendlier terms with the Westside's Gladiators. Both black nationalist organizations began to decline in strength and numbers following the deadly shoot-out. As a result, new, less-disciplined groups like The Baby Cribs (later The Crips) were formed on the Eastside by a teenager named Raymond Washington and his friends. The teen gang never approached the organization or purpose of the Panthers but were clearly inspired by their glamor and power.

There were more positive developments too. 1969, Compton elected California's first black mayor, Douglas Dollarhide. The same year, Gordon Parks made The Learning Tree at Warner Bros studios in Burbank, the first Hollywood film directed by a black filmmaker. 1970, Melvin van Peebles made Watermelon Man in Toluca Lake for Columbia. The two basically kicked off the Blaxploitation movement alongside Ossie Davis, who filmed Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) in New York. Parks' follow-up was Shaft (1971), and Van Peebles's was Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971).

By 1970, there were 763,000 black Angelenos. Following LA's de-industrialization, black unemployment was high, especially as jobs held by unionized-blacks began to be taken increasingly by newly-arrived, non-unionized Latinos from Mexico and Central-America. In 1972, the Crips had moved from assault and robberies to murder when a non-gang affiliated 16-year-old named Robert Ballou Jr. was beaten to death for his leather jacket by twenty Crips after a Curtis Mayfield and Wilson Pickett concert at the Hollywood Palladium. As their numbers and violence spread, so too did their influence, which by then stretched south to Compton and west to Inglewood. By the end of the year, there were 29 gang-related deaths. In part to counter their influence and following the murder of an LA Brim (17-year-old Frederick "Lil Country" Garrett) by a Crip, the Pirus, the Lueders Park Hustlers, the LA Brims, the Denver Lanes and the Bishops joined forces as the Bloods in late '72. That year there were eighteen documented gangs in LA. Within six years, that number would jump to 60 -- 45 of which were Crip or Blood sets.

The seminal, independent Killer of Sheep was filmed in Watts in by Charles Burnett over the weekend from 1972 to 1973 with additional shooting in 1975. Its style elicited comparisons to the Italian Neo-Realist movement. In 1977, Burnett submitted the film as his MFA thesis at UCLA. Along with Ben Caldwell, Haile Gerima, Jamaa Fanaka, Larry Clark, and Julie Dash, he was part of the so-called LA Rebellion film movement, also known as the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers.

In 1973, LA elected Tom Bradley as mayor, the first black mayor of a major western American city. He went on to serve for 20 years, the longest tenure of any mayor in the city's history. During his tenure he oversaw LA host the Olympics in 1984, LA pass Chicago as the second largest city in the country, and unfortunately, the Los Angeles Riots, shortly after which his popularity declined and he retired.

In 1974, Soviet and Cuban-backed Marxists ended Emperor Haile Selassie I's near 44 year rule of Ethiopia and ignited a civil war. At the same time, Eritrea continued its violent war of independence and in 1977 Somalia invaded the disputed Ogaden region. Significant numbers of Ethiopians fled to the US as a result, primarily to Washington DC and Los Angeles. Although the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 finally raised the cap on the number of Asians that could move to the US, African limits remained low. One of them, Fekere Gebre-Mariam, left Ethiopia in 1971. After she opened Rosalind's on Fairfax, more Ethiopian businesses began establishing themselves in the area. The area was officially designated Little Ethiopia in 2002. Of all of the Southland's many ethnic neighborhoods (including Cambodia Town, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Little Seoul, Koreatown, Little Arabia, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, Little Central AmericaLittle India, Little Osaka, Little Saigon, Little Taipei, Little Tegucigalpa, Little Tokyo, Tehrangeles, and Thai Town), Little Ethiopia is the only recognized African one.

In 1976, Negro History Week was extended and re-christened Black History Month, a result of years of effort by the Carter G. Woodson-founded Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. That same year, the US increased immigration limits to 20,000 for any country in the Western Hemisphere. Large numbers of Jamaicans and Belizeans made their way to Los Angeles, -- largely to Compton, Gramercy Park, View Park-Windsor Hills in the case of Jamaicans, and Athens and Vermont Square in the case of Belizeans.

The California African American Museum opened in 1981 in Exposition Park. It was first located within the California Museum of Science and Industry until the 1984 completion of a building built specifically for it and designed by black architects Jack Haywood and Vince Proby. Its free and open to the public Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10am-5pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm, and has both a permanent collection and special exhibitions.

After the 1982 release of New York's Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock," electro took hold from New York to Miami to LA. On the West Coast, Compton became the center of the electro scene. Compton was then home to Arabian Prince, World Class Wreckin' Cru (comprised of Shakespeare, Dr. Dre, Cli-N-Tel, Michel'le, and DJ Yella) and Detroit native The Unknown DJ. Just outside of Compton was Alonzo Williams's club, Eve After Dark, which hosted all of them as well as local rap and electro acts like LA Dream Team and Egyptian Lover.

Although the '80s tend to be remembered for colorful Valley Girl fashions, whimsical New Romantics, and glamorous hedomism, it was often a pretty dark time for many who actually lived through it. AIDS proliferated and President Reagan cut federal expenditures for low-cost housing from $32 billion in 1981 to a paltry $7 billion in 1987, radically increasing the country's homeless population by dumping mentally ill Americans onto the streets. Refugees fled civil wars in Central America whose flames were fanned by the Regan administration, which funded right wing death squads in the name of combating Communism. Crack hit LA in 1983, hitting black communities especially hard and making bad situation worse.

Gang violence in South LA exploded and as a result, many Eastside black families continued to decamp to the Westside, the Harbor, and other destinations. With crime rates soaring, serial killers like Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. (the so-called Grim Sleeper), Louis Craine, Michael Hughes, and at least two other serial killers terrorized South LA, mainly targeting young black women in their killing sprees.

Against the backdrop of this dystopian nightmare, electro was soon displaced by another, much harder edged black musical form -- gangsta rap. Like electro, its roots were in the East Coast with artists like LA transplant/New Jersey-native and former electro artist Ice T, Philadelphia's Schoolly D, and New York's Toddy Tee pioneering the genre. However, it was in LA that it resonated most loudly. In 1986, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince, and Ice Cube joined forces with the small-time drug dealer and Kelly Park Compton Crip Eazy-E to form gangsta rap's most famous group, N.W.A. Priority Records' first release was 1987's N.W.A. and the Posse, a compilation of tracks from N.W.A, Eazy-E, Rappinstine, and a group that had relocated from Dallas, the Fila Fresh Crew. Shortly after N.W.A. and Eazy-E achieved notoriety, Compton's Most Wanted and 2nd II None began making music with a similar bent and attitude. A Tree Top Piru, DJ Quik, pioneered a truly West Coast gangsta variant, G-Funk.

From 1985 to 1990, 61,773 blacks moved out of Los Angeles County to other counties of the Southland. Many more blacks left California altogether, most often for Southern states like Florida, Texas, Georgia, and other areas of America's so-called Black Belt.

In the East Coast, notes of black positivity were sounded by the Native Tongues, Five Percenters, and the Afrocentric rappers of the Blackwatch movement. On the West Coast, in December of 1989, the owner (and her son) of the Good Life Cafe health center in Leimert Park began fostering and promoting a conscious rap scene in LA. Their open mic nights evolved into Project Blowed, which in 1994 released their first compilation, produced by Aceyalone and Abstract Rude. Today the workshop is the longest continuously-running open-mic in the Hip-Hop scene.

Images of light-hearted black positivity and thoughtful expression began to appear on screen around the same time, with shows like In Living Color (filmed in Hollywood) and the films of Spike Lee scoring mainstream hits. After many years in Hollywood with almost no films with black casts, things changed for a brief moment. New Line filmed 1990's House Party in Monrovia and Culver City. 1991's Boyz N the Hood was filmed in Inglewood.

A few months before it was released in theaters, the beating Rodney King at the hands of five LAPD officers in the Lake View Terrace neighborhood was caught on video tape by an unseen private citizen, George Holliday. After 56 baton blows and six kicks, King was admitted to a hospital where he was found to have a fractured facial bone, a broken right ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations. The footage was first shown on KTLA and then thousands of times more across the globe.

Not two weeks later, on March 16, 1991, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins was shot and killed on tape by a Korean-American store owner named Soon Ja Du after a scuffle between the two at Empire Liquor in Vermont Vista. On November 15, Du was sentenced to community service, probation, and a fine. Again, the footage was broadcast repeatedly by the news media. On April 29, 1992, all five of the cops in the Rodney King trial were acquitted of assault and two were given with the lesser charge of excessive force. The following night, the LA Riots exploded, starting in South LA's Westside.

White truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck and beaten by four black men while news helicopters filmed it. Later, at the same intersection, Guatemalan-American Fidel Lopez was pulled from his truck, robbed, beaten unconscious and defiled with black paint by the mob. One black man, Reverend Bennie Newton, threw himself on Lopez to protect him, famously yelling "Kill him and you have to kill me too!" Although the Rodney King verdict was the immediate catalyst, more than 2,000 Korean-owned businesses were destroyed. Asian-American journalist K.W. Lee described it as "America’s first media-fanned urban pogrom." 53 people died (ten at the hands of LAPD officers) and property damages approached the $1 billion mark. Half of those arrested and a third of those killed were Latino.

In what was a positive turn after one of LA's ugliest chapters, hopeful expressions of black LA appeared with the 1992 establishment of the Pan-African Film Festival by Ayuko Babo, designed to further cultural and racial tolerance through film, art, and other expressions. Originally screened at the no-longer existent Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatres in West Hollywood, they moved to Crenshaw's Magic Johnson 15 in 1996 and flourished there for more than ten years before relocating again.

Also in 1992, Thomas "Tommy the Clown" Johnson formed the Hip Hop Clowns in Compton, in which dancers would dress as clowns and perform at children's birthday parties and other entertainment functions. Clowning would evolve into Krumping at the hands of Ceasare "Tight Eyez" Willis and Jo'Artis "Big Mijo" Ratti, documented in the 2005 film Rize.

In Hollywood, Stephen Milburn Anderson's South Central and the Hughes Brothers' Menace II Society, primarily filmed in Watts, were continuations of the "hood movie" subgenre, but film's like F. Gary Gray's Friday (1995), filmed largely in Athens, seemed to reflect a lightening mood in black Los Angeles that continued with black middle class comedies like 1999's The Wood (filmed in Inglewood) and 2000's UPN series Girlfriends, and the reality show Baldwin Hills, which depicted the lives of black teenagers in LA's affluent Baldwin Hills neighborhood.

In the 2000s, the Eighth District Empowerment Congress began the Naming Neighborhoods project with the goal of fostering pride and community by giving new neighborhood names to communities that had previously existed within the large and largely black Crenshaw district and South LA areas hat were previously lumped together colloquially as "South Central" or "The 'Hood." As a result, Angeles Mesa, Arlington Park, Baldwin Vista, Cameo Plaza, Canterbury KnollsCentury Cove, Century Palms, Crenshaw Manor, Broadway Square, King Estates, Magnolia Square, Manchester Square, Morningside Circle, Vermont Vista, and Westpark Terrace were born.

By 2010, LA's black population had dropped to under 10% as blacks continued to leave the city. Only the communities of Athens, Baldwin Hills, Chesterfield Square, Crenshaw Manor, Gramercy Park, Hyde Park, Jefferson Park, Leimert Park, Manchester Square, View Park-Windsor Hills, and West Compton retain black majorities today as black and other Angelenos began to more fully integrate.

Although racist skinheads had terrorized largely black and Latino Section 8 housing residents in the Antelope Valley, by the 21st century an LA Times analysis found that Lancaster has more blocks with a "substantial" mix (meaning that at least a quarter of the residents are white and a quarter are black) than any community in LA, or any other city in the county for that matter.

Although Hollywood currently exhibits no interest in making black films for black audiences, a thriving independent Black Cinema persists beneath the mainstream radar. In newer black music, the Jerkin' scene appeared around 2009, suggesting more cultural integration with black and mainstream culture, with fashions obviously drawn from the rave and skater scenes. In general, Black LA continues to overcome setbacks and move forward.

In conclusion, although I sometimes feel like Black History Month has been co-opted by corporations like Coke and McDonald's or reduced to an academic exercise, it goes without saying that history is being written constantly and that the future of black history is no different. There are ongoing, healthy debates about the importance and significance of Black History Month. Los Angeles and America still struggle with racial and class inequalities and tension, but I'm no pessimist. Believe it or not, to me it seems like we're mostly moving down the right path - celebrating our differences and erasing the imagined ones. Only time will tell. Happy Black History Month!  

As a side note, if I have time this month I'd like to visit and blog about the most-voted-for black majority communities or those with significance to black history. In the former category, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, and Manchester Square are currently in the lead. In the latter, Lancaster, Manchester Square, and Watts lead. So if you'd like to vote for any communities of Los Angeles Countyvote here. I've you'd like to vote for any communities in Orange Countyclick here. And finally, if you'd like to vote for any neighborhoods of Los Angelesvote here.

Become a fan of Eric's Blog on Facebook!

New Ana Tijoux Album "La Bala" Out Jan 31 + Free Download

Posted by Rachael McGovern, January 30, 2012 12:49pm | Post a Comment

Chilean MC Ana Tijoux is releasing her new album, La Bala (Nacional Records), on January 31. I've been eagerly waiting its arrival, curious to hear it and witness her evolution.

I first became familiar with Tijoux through her What's In My Bag? video and the infectious title track from her last album, "1977." One of the things that most interested me about her What's In My Bag? video came toward the end -- a conversation about where to file her music in Amoeba, in Latin Pop or Hip-Hop. She views Hip-Hop as one language, regardless of whether the actual words are in English, French, Spanish or whatever. But she is also aware that she is representing Latin America (and Latin American Hip-Hop) to the world.

Tijoux, who was born in France to a French mother and Chilean father, raps and sings in Spanish and French. She released two albums in the late '90s with a Chilean Hip-Hop group Makiza and then collaborated with Mexican singer/songwriter Julieta Venegas. They had a hit with "Eres Para Mi" from Venegas' 2006 album, Limon y Sal. Tijoux's 2007 solo debut album, Kaos (Oveja Negra), earned her nominations for "Best New Artist" and "Best Urban Artist" by the MTV Latin America VMAs. She received further acclaim and success, particulary in the US, with her outstanding album, 1977 (Nacional, 2010). She toured like crazy, including performing at South by Southwest and Lollapallooza, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban album.

Continue reading...

Worst Film Crud of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 30, 2012 01:50am | Post a Comment

These are films that I either suffered through, or whose trailers assaulted me while waiting to see something else.

Not So Bad Once You Get to Know Them


These are two individuals who made careers out of dehumanizing others. Yet, we're supposed to sympathize with them because one was a repressed gay man and the other a woman who faced off against men and is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Fuck them both. There are many legitimate ways to approach biopics about interestingly evil people (e.g. Downfall), but a liberalized understanding is not one of them. 

Monstrous Genetic Mutations


I've previously expressed my horror at seeing simple 2D cartoonish figures rendered in photorealistic 3D detail. Who needs to count the black lines in Scooby's iris or see the snot dripping from his nose to get into the plot? But this grotesque disfiguration has really reached its aesthetic nadir with Spielberg's adaptation of the comic famous for its clear line style, Hergé's TinTin. Rather than believe Spielberg can't see how hideous these deformed monsters look, I suspect that this kind of adaptation is really a simulation of a live action adaptation. Ultimately, it's a portent of a later stage of the technological revolution in which actors and much of the old film crew will be out of a job. A perfectly realistic CG star can't join a union. Of course, that'll only happen if they can digitally create the voices, too, which brings me to why the Muppets are dead and should not be brought back as zombies. Maybe Gallagher and Sam Kinison can be safely simulated by a close relative, but there is no muppet without the original muppeteer. Kermit and Fozzie might look the same, but they're obviously defective clones, being revealed as recovering stroke victims upon opening their mouths. (Not that I've ever been much of a fan of the Muppet movies, which tend to identify more with the lame humans than the characters of interest.)

Continue reading...

Tu Cárcel: A Tale Of Working Men, Los Bukis and Lila Downs

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 29, 2012 11:59pm | Post a Comment

My guiltiest pleasure in Latin music has to be the songs written by Marco Antonio Solis during the years he was fronting Los Bukis. There is not a time when a Bukis song comes blasting out of a car or jukebox in a Mexican restaurant/bar where I don’t smile inside. Solis was the master of the balada, or ballads. Although Los Bukis music will forever be dated by their matching suits and that stock 80’s Latin Pop sound, the core of his songs were brilliant.

I didn’t always feel that way. One of my first jobs out of high school in the late 80's was working at a warehouse that custom cut various pieces of foam for Aerospace companies. It was there I discovered a few things. The first thing I discovered is that manual labor sucks. The pay was bad and so were the early work hours for someone who was in the mist of his partying years. The upside is that I had no stress. I lived cheaply and the hours of mindless repetition of cutting and rolling foam around a tube left my mind free to be creative. I wrote songs and stories frequently in my head, sometimes writing my ideas quickly on any scratch piece of paper during my fifteen-minute break.

I discovered that this foam we had called Temper-Foam, was great to sleep on. It was used for the Space Shuttle for shock absorption. We used it to nap on during our half an hour lunch break. I would immediately knock out once I laid down on it. If I had a late gig the night before I wouldn’t have time to sleep. I’d go straight to work and that 30- minute nap made me feel like I slept all night. We now know it as Tempur-Pedic, the company that makes expensive beds and pillows.

Another thing I liked were my co-workers. All of them were great guys coming from all parts of Mexico, South and Central America. There was Marco, who had his first child when I first started, then proceeded to knock up his wife every year after that. By the time I left the job he had five kids. Naturally, he always looked tired but took care of me like a little brother. He made sure I was always fed, which was something I couldn’t seem to do for myself being so young and stupid at the time. There was his brother-in-law, Beto, who was training to be a radio announcer. He eventually got a job in Texas as a radio host for a Regional Mexican station. There were the guys my age, Arturo and a kid we called “El Morro” Then there was Segundo (Yes, that was his real name) from Argentina who ironically was the laziest worker at the job. The Mexicans got a kick out of that because it validated all their preconceived notions about Argentineans. There was Oscar from El Salvador, escaping the war torn country in the mist of the revolution. He was one of the toughest guys I knew. He had to be to escape the war. Then there was my personal favorite. We called him "El Bombero" (The Fireman) because he was a certified fireman in Tijuana. He kept his certificate in his wallet. He resembled Super Mario, with the mustache and the overalls. I’d imagine him as Super Mario trying to fight a fire in TJ, climbing the video game ladders with a pixilated water hose while jumping over the flaming rolling barrels.

All day was the usually workingman’s banter. We would make fun of each other. We make fun of each other’s country or small town if someone was from the same region. We questioned each other’s sexuality, we brag about crap we did or didn’t do. It male- bonding that only one could understand if you worked in sweat shop conditions. It didn’t matter if you were an intellectual and above it. It didn’t matter if you went to school and well read. It didn’t matter if you treated your wife, girlfriend and kids with the utmost respect once you got home. You talked a lot of crap all day just to get through the day.

Musically I was in my extreme phase. It had to be gangster rap, hardcore punk, free jazz or noise bands or I didn’t like it. My co-workers couldn’t have been more different. We listened to KLOVE on the radio all day. KLOVE is Los Angeles biggest Latin Pop station then and still to this day. To be subjected to KLOVE “Radio Romantica” for eight hours a day was a shock to my system. The endless baladas by likes of Luis Miguel, Ana Gabriel, Ricardo Montaner, Juan Gabriel and other pop sensations used to make me physically ill, I kid you not. What’s worse is that KLOVE usually repeats every song once every couple of hours. I would hear the same saccharine romantic ballads at least four or five times a day. Anytime I grumbled my co-workers would laugh at me and say, “What’s wrong, you’re not a romantic?

While listening to the same play lists multiple times a day, I started to know all the lyrics. When Los Bukis would come on the radio, my jokes on how such macho guys could love such pansy music subsided. That Marco Antonio Solis, he sure could write a song. Yes, Los Bukis music was filled with bad fluffy synth sounds that made them sound like a slightly tropical version of Air Supply with those awful 80’s Linn drum rolls. But to me, hearing a Los Bukis song on the radio were like a breathe of fresh air while working in a sewer. It all smelled of sewer but for three minutes and thirty seconds you could swear you smelled the forest.

So why did I take you on a trip down my memory lane? While checking out the new Lila Downs CD, Pecados Y Milagros, out on 1/31, I noticed she covered one of my favorite Los Bukis songs, “Tu Cárcel”. although there are many versions “Tu Cárcel”  covered by such artists as Los Enanitos Verdes, Marisela and Tito Nieves, none are as stripped down as Lila Downs version. It’s acoustic guitar, bass, slight horns, harp and her big voice. If you didn’t know the original version, you could swear it was an old ranchera done by the likes of Jose Alfredo Jimenez or Chavela Vargas. It’s a fine treatment of a song that I always liked but was embarrassed to admit that I did. Pecados Y Milagros as a whole is one of Lila’s best work in quite some time. You can compare both versions of “Tu Cárcel” by going here and here.

Guest Amoblogger JR Valrey Presents "The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month"

Posted by Billyjam, January 29, 2012 09:50pm | Post a Comment
Guest Amoeblogger JR Valrey pictured here on the air at KPFA Berkeley

For this special Black History Month Amoeblog we've invited author/journalist/broadcaster/activist JR Valrey (a.k.a. the People's Minister of Information) to be a guest contributor and to write the following insightful piece, accurately titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. The Oakland-based Valrey, who was interviewed & profiled on the Amoeblog last month, is known for his work on KPFA radio, his contributions to the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, and his recently published book Block Reportin'. The book, which will soon be available for sale in Amoeba Hollywood's ever-expanding book section, features interviews with such important black cultural figures as political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, hip-hop emcee/poet/actor Mos Def, former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, comedian/social satirist Paul Mooney, and the late, great, highly influential Gil Scott Heron. In the spring of this year Valrey plans to publish his second book, Unfinished Business: Block Reportin' 2. For more info and insights on JR Valrey, visit the blockreportradio website. Thanks for your contribution to the Amoeblog JR Valrey!

Continue reading...

January 29, 2012: The Grey

Posted by phil blankenship, January 29, 2012 05:36pm | Post a Comment

Black [gay] History Month, 2012

Posted by Job O Brother, January 29, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment

Ethel Merman’s voice makes my stomach acids sour and the very idea of shopping for clothes gives me a panic attack; despite these and other suspicious facts, I am a member of the LGBT community. For this reason, the issue of equal rights is ever-present in my mind.

There’s been a lot written and said about comparing the history of intolerance between racial minorities and the gay community, most especially in late 2008 when Prop. 8 was passed in the state of California amidst reports that large numbers of black people, urged by their church heads, voted to end the briefly instituted marriage equality of the state.

There were, of course, many exceptions to this and I don’t mean to angle this as a blacks-versus-gays situation – it's far more complicated than anything I'll do justice to here – but it did shine a light on an issue that often ruffles feathers. Knowing my place here on the Amoeblog as “light entertainment,” I will eschew any prolonged essays on the matter (for great, long-winded crap like that you should check out Charles Reece’s blog), but I will say that equal rights for all people is not only a victimless proposition, it’s one that benefits all people. Whether you think it’s appropriate to compare the struggle for gay equality with those of racial minorities, the fact is that everyone should have the same basic, human rights.

It would be one thing if a child was struck with bone marrow cancer every time two lesbians kissed, but kids, that’s just not the way it is and the sooner we let the gays get married, the sooner they can set up homes that will raise the property value of your block.

Continue reading...

January 28, 2012: One For The Money

Posted by phil blankenship, January 28, 2012 09:52pm | Post a Comment

January 27, 2012: The Wicker Tree

Posted by phil blankenship, January 27, 2012 11:03pm | Post a Comment

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 01.27.12: E-Lit, Bas-One, DJ Quest, Doomtree, Gangrene, Rocker T + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 27, 2012 08:33pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Eleven Week Ending 01:27:12

1) Gangrene Vodka and Ayahuasca (Decon)

2) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)

3) Moka Only & Chief Crickets (Feelin Music)

4) The Roots Undun (MCA)

5) Lazerbeak Lava Bangers (Doomtree)

Thanks again to diehard hip-hop music fanatic E-Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba store for this week's top five chart plus overview of some of the new releases for this exciting new year in hip-hop including the brand new 20 track Lazerbeak album Lava Bangers from the gifted member of the midwest hip-hop collective Doomtree who coincidentally will be doing a special Amoeba Music Berkeley in-store on Monday, Jan 30th 2012 in advance of their Slims San Francisco show the following night, Jan 31st. They will also be playing Santa Cruz the following night (Feb 1st) at the Catalyst (show info here) and Hollywood's Troubadour on Thursday Feb 2nd on a recommended bill with 2Mex. If you are in the East Bay on Monday (Jan 30th) do yourself a favor and stop into Amoeba Berkeley for the Doomtree family in-store since, as E Lit points out in the above video, it will be a great opportunity to meet and chat with such collective talents as Dessa, P.O.S., Sims, and Lazerbeak. More Doomtree Amoeba in-store info here

Continue reading...

The Black Power Mixtape Captures An Important Period In Black History in America

Posted by Billyjam, January 27, 2012 04:59pm | Post a Comment
The Black Power Mixtape trailer

Welcome to the kick-off of the 2012 Black History Month Amoeblog series in which, over the upcoming month of February 2012, we will honor Black History Month via a series of blogs covering an array of black history and culture pieces from the various Amoeblog contributors. This latest Amoeblog series will continue the tradition of honoring Black History Month here on the Amoeblog not just in February but all year round with pieces such as Eric Brightwell's thought-provoking Happy MLK Day. Yo, whatever happened to peace? Amoeblog from two weeks ago. Eric Brighwell will be among the many of us Amoebloggers posting articles on Black History Month. Oakland author / journalist / broadcaster JR Valrey, who was recently profiled here on the Amoeblog about his latest book Block Reportin', will be a guest Amoeblogger for Black History Month and contribute an article on his views on black history and culture titled The Black Experience Study Guide: My Top 7 Books, Movies, and Albums for Black History Month. I plan on posting several Black History Month 2012 Amoeblogs including this one on the highly recommended, recently released The Black Power Mixtape DVD.

Continue reading...

San Francisco's Noise Pop Festival Celebrates 20 Years! Feb. 21 - 26

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 26, 2012 10:52am | Post a Comment
noise pop 2012 san francisco

Since 1993, the Noise Pop Music Festival has been celebrating the best in independent music and culture in the Bay Area. 2012 marks their 20th anniversary! That's 20 years of championing independent music, film, art, food, and literature.

Join Amoeba Music and Noise Pop from February 21st - February 26th for a toast to two decades ofDie Antwoord independent culture in the Bay Area. This year's musical lineup includes The Flaimin LipsBuilt to Spill, Archers of Loaf, Cursive, Die Antwoord, Bob Mould, Surfer BloodGrimes, Budos Band, The Fresh & Onlys, Release The Sunbirdand, so much more. But that's not all! Noisepop 2012 also boasts impressive art shows all around town, a rockin' film series with screenings at the Roxie and Artists Television Access (ATA) (read more about that HERE), a festive pop-up shop (located in The Bold Italic Headquarters at 34 Page Street) that's just brimming withevents, and the Culture Club happenings at Public Works.

With so many concurrent events, there's undoubtedly something for everyone every day of the festival. Events are continuously being added to their fantabulous schedule, so stay tuned for updates!

Continue reading...

January 25, 2012: Pina 3D

Posted by phil blankenship, January 25, 2012 11:17pm | Post a Comment

Local SF Bands Unite for Blaze Foley Record Release and Tribute Show!

Posted by Kells, January 25, 2012 04:49pm | Post a Comment
Blaze Foley's songs have been celebrated and covered by so many notable Country and Western heavy hitters like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, John Prine and Lyle Lovett that one could hardly say the man's work has gone unsung. However, despite his music being some of the best, most hauntingly honest and soul-stirring country yarns ever spun, his true voice and vision have long gone unheard and under-appreciated by mainstream Country audiences. This Thursday night at Amnesia will certainly prove to be something of a comeuppance fest for fans of Foley's works in the form of an album release and tribute show featuring a fresh & hot line-up of local San Francisco artists curated by Secret Seven Records. This is going to be the kind of show that feels balanced on choice cosmic alignment and I have a feeling that several impeccable answers to that silly old "what becomes a a legend most?" question will be provided as the night progresses.

For more info on Blaze Foley check out the Secret Seven record release profile here, read about his biography Living In The Woods In A Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley by Sybil Rosen here and check out info on the documentary film, Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah, here. There is also a special episode of the Astral Maps podcast dedicated to the works of Blaze Foley, featuring a guest appearance by Greg Gardener - the man behind the curtains at Secret Seven records, here. Incidentally, if you ever just want to talk it out concerning your esteem for lost country greats, all things Blaze and/or outlaw country in general be sure to seek out Astral Maps podcasters Andrew K. and Sterling the next time you visit Amoeba Music in San Francisco, feel free to let 'em know I sent ya!

Here is the trailer for Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah. Do come out and spread love for local musicians as they celebrate the life and work of Blaze Foley - it's going to be a phenomenal show!

Blaze Foley documentary trailer

Help So Many Wizards Play the U.K.!

Posted by Billy Gil, January 25, 2012 01:20pm | Post a Comment
Beloved L.A. indie popsters So Many Wizards have been on the up-and-up for years now, playing all over the city and releasing increasingly impressive EPs. Now, they're set to release a full-length record, Warm Nothing, through local label JAXART and play SXSW, but before that, they have a tour planned for the U.K. The only problem: getting there.

Watch this video to hear it from the band themselves — your donation helps pay for flights, visas, transportation and even the mixing and mastering of the album. So if you'd like to donate, head to IndieGoGo and place a donation. You'll get more than just the satisfaction of helping a young local band play for the NME set: a $5 donation gets you a rare So Many Wizards B-side; a $10 donation gets you a free digital copy of the new album the day it is finished; a $20 donation gets you their complete digital discography; a $30 donation gets you the discography and a T-shirt; and a $50 donation gets both a signed copy of the "Inner City/Best Friends 7" and a signed copy of the full-length CD, along with the other perks. More donation packages are avaialble upwards of $50 as well. So help them make it happen!

Help So Many Wizards Make It Happen from Nima Kazerouni on Vimeo.

Read my interview with the band a while back.

So Many Wizards U.K. tour dates:

Continue reading...

Sidewalk Sale at Amoeba Hollywood on Jan 28

Posted by Amoebite, January 25, 2012 12:26pm | Post a Comment
The forecast for this weekend is clear and sunny so our rescheduled sidewalk sale will be this Saturday, January 28 from noon-5pm. There will be plenty of bargains on CDs, vinyl, DVDs, box sets, toys and more! See you there!

All sidewalk sales are final. Store credit cannot be used to purchase items from the sidewalk sale.

Sidewalk Sale   Sidewalk Sale

Celsius 7's Freestyle @ Amoeba Berkeley

Posted by Billyjam, January 25, 2012 11:53am | Post a Comment

Yesterday after stopping by Amoeba Music Berkeley to talk with E-Lit at the East Bay Amoeba about the new hip-hop releases of the week (check back here on Friday for the latest Hip-Hop Weekly Rap Up Amoeblog) I ran into local indie hip-hop talent Celsius 7 outside the store on Telegraph Avenue who - on the spot - did the above freestyle rap. Celsius 7, who has been interviewed here on the Amoeblog a couple of times including five years ago around the time he released his debut solo album Wanderlust, officially began his hip-hop career back in 1995 when he formed the group Psychokinetics along with his best friend Domingo (aka Spidey). The group, that soonafter added iLL MEDia and Dj Denizen to the lineup, never officially broke up but haven't done anything as a crew in years.

Without Psychokinetics Celsius 7 has remained active in hip-hop as a solo artist and his lomgtime musical partner Spidey even makes a cameo on his latest solo album Life Well Spent. The longtime East Bay emcee/producer who, as he explained in his second Amoeblog interview a few months ago when his latest CD first dropped, that the album had been in the works since 2008 when he first started writing some of the new songs adding that, "I worked diligently on Life Well Spent for probably about the last year....It just took me awhile to find inspiration as I was maybe a little bored with my chosen creative outlet. Once I started getting all these good beats from all these producers I solicited, it all pretty much wrote itself. Sometimes that's all you need; the right beat."

Continue reading...

Mike Doughty's Memoir About Drugs, Sex & Soul Coughing

Posted by Rachael McGovern, January 25, 2012 11:44am | Post a Comment

The Book of Drugs - Mike DoughtyFor most of my life I have been an avid reader, but for the last six months - or even a year if I'm being honest with myself - I've struggled to finish books, forcing myself to make the time to read. Happily, that streak has been broken with the new memoir by Mike Doughty, The Book of Drugs (Da Capo Press, 2012). I read it the first time in about two days, inhaling it as fast as I could between work and sleep. As soon as I finished it, I began reading it again. 

Mike Doughty is a solo artist today, but I came to know him as the frontman for Soul Coughing. The book's primary plotline is about his relationship with drugs, the trajectory of his addictions, and his recovery. But the secondary plot is about his relationship with, and to, his former band. Admittedly, that is why I picked up the book. Addiction in and of itself isn't as interesting to me as the person who is telling the story of addiction, and I was very interested in what Mike Doughty, the former lead singer, guitarist and lyricists for one of my favorite bands, had to say.

One of the things that I most appreciated about Soul Coughing was the mixture of intelligence and quirkiness, the wordplay and the soundplay (we'll pretend that's an actual word). Doughty uses those strengths in The Book of Drugs, telling his story with humor, wit, honesty, self-reflection, anger, passion, and sorrow. (For someone who says he was out of touch with his feelings for so long due to his addictions, he has come a long way in accessing those emotions and laying them on the page.) 

For me, the most salient scene from the book that illustrates how much his addiction affected him involved his daily trip to the ATM four blocks away. He would call his dealer and then descend his apartment building's stairs (a thirty minute process one way), walk down the block, and across a larger intersection. The whole trip - four blocks - took him ninety minutes, sometimes two hours. The fact that the ordeal of walking a few blocks seemed to him like a natural side effect of aging (he was thirty-something at the time), and not a by-product of his drug habit, was heartbreaking.

Continue reading...

January 24, 2012: We Bought A Zoo

Posted by phil blankenship, January 24, 2012 11:12pm | Post a Comment

Album Picks: Porcelain Raft, Howler, Common

Posted by Billy Gil, January 24, 2012 12:01pm | Post a Comment
Hey y'all! Here are my album picks for January:

Porcelain RaftPorcelain Raft – Strange Weekend

Porcelain Raft, aka Italian-born Mauro Remiddi, makes the kind of wide-eyed romantic pop that borrows from various genres — lo-fi, soul, indie pop and shoegaze — but ends up in its own emotional territory due to Remiddi’s bedroom-recording aesthetics. “Drifting In and Out” appropriately sees its swooning electronics and new wave guitars come in and out of focus in what feels like falling asleep with the radio on. Strange Weekend works because its filled with tiny surprises, like the way Remiddi suddenly gets all glam in “Shapeless & Gone,” like an electro-twee Marc Bolan, or the psych-hop beats that pull back the marvelously affecting “Unless You Speak From Your Heart” from preciousness. It’s not the first time at the rodeo for Remiddi, a 37-year-old veteran of indie pop, previously in the band Sunny Day Sets Fire; perhaps that’s why he gets nearly everything right on his first solo full-length record.

HowlerHowler – America Give Up

What a pleasure Howler’s debut, America Give Up, is. Already this early into 2012, we have the year’s most irresistible album, 10 songs from a band weaned on the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain and Guided By Voices. Much like their forebears in The Strokes (how’s that for making us all feel old), Howler has a way of distilling somewhat obvious and oversaturated influences into three-minute gems that get pretty much everything right. — dig the swaying romanticism of “Too Much Blood,” or the surf-gaze of “America,” or the snarky indie rock of “Back of Your Neck” (featuring the too-good lyrics “you think we’re Bonnie and Clyde, but both of them fuckin’ died”). If you can stop playing this on repeat, you’re stronger than we are.

CommonCommon – The Dreamer/The Believer

Continue reading...

Fakin' The Funk: Bait Rap Cases in which Cops Create Fake Rap Businesses to Entrap Criminals

Posted by Billyjam, January 24, 2012 08:45am | Post a Comment
No doubt you're aware of Bait Car - the engaging popular reality TV show on the truTV channel that follows, via tiny hidden video cameras, the exploits of opportunist car thieves who can't pass up the temptation of an empty unlocked car with its engine idling & keys clearly in the ignition crying out "Steal Me!" Of course, as the show's title implies, it is merely bait laid out by police as part of an elaborate entrapment scheme. This entrapment approach as a means of catching "bad guys" has become increasingly more common by law enforcement agencies in recent years. Examples include the NYPD entrapment scheme in which the cops planted "drunks" asleep on subway benches apparently with their wallets or purses open to thieves. Another example that, like Bait Car made for good reality TV, was the predator entrapment practice that would become popular Chris Hansen hosted TV show To Catch A Predator. Two recent cases of entrapment, that would have made for some interesting TV viewing, are two specific cases by law enforcement that are stranger than fiction and each involved rap music as bait.  The two cases, both highly complex and involving approximately one year each, took place in Washington DC and in the UK one and four months ago respectively.  

As reported by several news and hip-hop outlets last month in Washington DC cops along with ATF agents wound up an intricate one year undercover sting operation that entailed agents posing as “music industry insiders” running a "fictional rap label" and amounted to authorities  making numerous arrests and confiscating over $7.2 million in drugs and 161 weapons. The DC sting, which began in November 2010 and went to great lengths to ensure results, involved D.C. police creating the Manic Enterprisess studio in Northeast Washington, even going so far as to create for the fictional label the fictional rap artist Richie Valdez. (Note that unfortunately - and oddly - no images or music reviews or website links seem to exist of this fake rapper.)  Next, reportedly, agents then told the underground world and black market that they were seeking to purchase weapons and drugs which resulted in money, drugs, and weapons: 161 firearms including a rocket launcher, 29 assault weapons, 80 pounds of methamphetamine, 21 pounds of cocaine, 1.25 gallons of PCP, 24 pounds of marijuana, and undisclosed amounts of heroin and ecstasy.

Continue reading...

New Grimes Single "Genesis" From Forthcoming Album

Posted by Rachael McGovern, January 23, 2012 08:07pm | Post a Comment

I am thoroughly obsessed with the new Grimes single, "Genesis." I wasn't familiar with her until hearing this track and now I can't wait to hear the full album, Visions (out 2/21 on 4AD), to see if she can pull off what she has done so masterfully in this initial single - that is, combining the most seemingly disparate genres into one coherent piece of music and somehow making it work.

Grimes"Genesis" starts with this synthy piano bit that could come from an Enya album or something. Then her ethereal vocals kick in around the 0:39 mark. I can't, for the life of me, understand what she's saying, but it's beautiful. But then at 1:02 the track veers left into the world of electronic beats. Every time the track is over, I hit repeat to see if I can finally, finally make some sense of it on the next listen. So far, no dice. 

free download is offering a free download of "Genesis" by Grimes.

Grimes is the project of Canadian Claire Boucher and Visions is her fourth release in two years (it's also her first for 4AD). 4AD and Arbitus Records describe the influences on her new album "as wide as Enya, TLC and Aphex Twin, whilst drawing from genres like New Jack Swing, IDM, New Age, K-pop, Industrial and glitch resulting in a record that is both otherworldly and futuristic." 

Continue reading...

Red Bull Music Academy Events in San Francisco This Week

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 23, 2012 04:11pm | Post a Comment
The Red Bull Music Academy 2012 will be held in New York City, September 30th - November 2nd. Music makers, vocalists, and DJs are invited to apply from February 2nd to April 2nd. The application phase will kick off in style in San Francisco with three days of concerts and parties all around town! Check out these events:

Red Bull Music Academy presents New York City to the SF Bay: JAZZ
The GARY BARTZ Project with featured guests BILAL & ALOE BLACC

January 25th at Yoshi's SF
Get tickets HERE!

Grammy Award winning jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz began making waves on the jazz scene during its prime in New York City and never slowed down. Mr. Bartz was formally trained at Julliard; however, it’s the time alongside jazz greats like Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and McCoy Tyner that has placed him as a legend in the game. R&B icon, Bilal, serves as featured vocalist for the Gary Bartz Project, and for this special night only, soul sensation and 2006 RBMA Participant, Aloe Blacc, will join them on stage.

red bull music academy

Red Bull Music Academy presents New York City to the SF Bay: Hip Hop 
Featuring DJ Sets from DJ Stretch Armstrong (Plant Music) & DJ Bobbito Garcia (Kool Bob Love)
Opening set by DJ Shortkut (Invisibl Skratch Piklz/Beat Junkies)

January 26th at Mighty 
Get tickets HERE!

Continue reading...

Seasons Take Us By Storm, One Season at a Time

Posted by Billy Gil, January 23, 2012 04:04pm | Post a Comment
The first time I heard Highland Park's Seasons was a song called “Light, Lost,” from their Winter EP, released in June 2010. I was immediately taken with its languid guitar-work and gorgeous melodies, not to mention the way the song takes a sharp left near the end and picks up into an indie-dance gem — sucker for tempo changes, right here.

But what really gets me about Seasons is the passion they clearly put into each song. Through their three released “season” EPs — Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn, the last one just released this month —  Seasons aren’t afraid to change things up sonically or thematically. So what you get is a landscape painting of a band across its releases rather than a portrait. Though overall I might classify the music as epic spacefaring rock of the variety you don’t see too often these days — Slowdive, Smashing Pumpkins and, more recently, The Arcade Fire come to mind — there’s also a strong twee vibe running throughout, echoing Sarah Records and C86 bands, not to mention an electro streak that keeps things vibrant.

The band consists of longtime friends who like to go by their first names — John sings and plays guitar and keys; Nik does the same; Adam plays bass and guitar; Erik plays drums; Ray handles beats, keys and bass; and Kaitlin, violin and vocals. During the day, these people occupy such various jobs as teacher, florist, Trader Joe’s team member and Grammy Museum usher.
In the summer of 2006, they came up with the idea to do a set of EPs each with a mood to set the tone for feelings that arise during a particular season.
“We let the climate changes and the way people and ourselves reacted to each season inspire us to write each one, with the intention of releasing them when we were finished even if they season they were written in was over,” John explains.
The Autumn EP begins with “Monday Night” (available as a free download), a lighthearted danceable ode to getting up and out at the beginning of the work week — which, by the way, you should do tonight and/or next Monday to see the band play at the Echo as part of its January residency. The EP continues with the strings-and-bells laden yet hard-charging “These United States,” which nicely features singer Nik's growling, yearning vocals. The EP’s closer, “Lazy Bones,” is sort of meat-and-potatoes Seasons, a six-minute-plus psychedelic heart-on-sleeve power ballad. Meanwhile, “Number of the Beat” is their most outward flirtation with dance music thus far, although its striking violin playing still lands it firmly in orchestral pop territory.

“I think we just tend to write songs that sound a certain way as we feel them coming to us,” John says. “We could have written a whole electronic album [when we started the EPs in 2008], but that wasn't how we were feeling then, so this album has more of a electronic feel to it at times because its just what came to us.”
The band has been playing each of its “season” EPs on different nights, decorating the set to match the corresponding season, so each residency night has been quite a different experience. Take last week’s show, for example, when Sexy Sax Man of the meme below showed up to play a solo onstage — is that something you’d want to miss?

Seasons will go back into the studio in late spring/early summer with their producer, Raymond Richards (Local Natives), to record a new full-length album. For now, the band completes their residency tonight at the Echo (presented alongside The 704 blog) with The Health Club, Downtown Union and Manhattan Murder Mystery. They close it out next Monday, Jan. 30 (presented with Feed Your Head), with Robotanists, Little Red Lung and Paulie Pesh. The shows are at 8:30 p.m. 18+, and, as always with these Echo residencies, FREE.

2011 Oscar Nomination Predictions by Brad & Jackie...

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 22, 2012 09:41pm | Post a Comment
We are once again right in the middle of awards season. The Golden Globes were this last weekend. And the Oscars are about 5 weeks away. The Oscar Nominations come out this Tuesday the 24th of January. So this is the time of year when I like to get together with my coworker Jackie and talk about what we think will be nominated. What we hope is nominated. I basically like to pretend that we are members of the Academy putting in our votes for the various Oscar categories. We are sadly without our moderator Miss Ess from the last couple of years. If you are feeling nostalgic for last years Oscars, here is our Oscar nomination predictions for 2010 blog from last year. So it will be just Jackie and I this year. We both see a ton of movies every year and of course have our opinions about what are favorite films and performances were.

Are you ready. Here we go...

Jackie! Are you ready for this? I seriously can't believe it is already time for this. I have been trying to catch up the last couple of weeks and see all the movies that I need to see. I am still a bit behind. But I saw Tin Tin on Sunday and just saw Young Adult last week. So I am almost there. We should start off first by talking about the host. I was happy that Brett Ratner resigned from the show. I was really not looking forward to a show produced by him. I had come to accept Eddie Murphy as the host. But after he dropped out too I was really hoping for some interesting choices. I think the show should always be hosted by a comedian. Last year just didn't really work. I still think Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon would be great together. But we are getting Billy Crystal this year. I actually think he did a great job in years past as the host. So I think it will be a fun show again. Maybe not as edgy as I had hoped. But it is the Oscars. I expect him to come out on a horse wearing a Hawaiian Shirt with a baseball bat and maybe a dragon tattoo. Maybe dressed up as a maid or a bridesmaid. But maybe he will surprise us all with some amazing material and jokes. I am looking forward to the show as always. Regardless of who the host is. Jackie...Thoughts on the host. Are you hoping for a When Harry Met Sally reunion on stage. Or maybe he could come out with Carol Kane in their makeup from The Princess Bride.

Brett Ratner producing the show didn't bother me (his segment in New York, I Love You was very enjoyable); I was skeptical about his choice of Eddie Murphy as host--who I believe would have been rather lazy.  I'm happy to see Billy Crystal again.  What more can I say?  When I think of my favorite Oscar shows, most of them are with Billy & the opening montages & monologues. 

Lets get on to the Oscar predictions. We might as well start with Best Picture. There have been 10 nominees the last couple of years. Which I don't mind. But I think I might like what they are doing this year better. There will be between 5 and 10 this year depending on how many different pictures get picked as #1 by the different members of the Academy. I am really keeping my fingers crossed for Drive. It remains one of my favorites of the year and I would love to see it sneak in there. I just posted my
top ten movies of 2011 which are The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Beginners, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Bridesmaids, Midnight In Paris, Weekend, Shame, & Attack The Block. Although I just saw Young Adult last night. And I think it might have sneaked in my top ten if I had seen it earlier. These are not necessarily the ten movies that I would pick for best picture though. The Descendants and The Artist just won the best picture Golden Globe for Drama and Comedy/Musical. I can guarantee you that those two films will be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. The Social Network and The Kids Are Alright both won the Globes last year and both went on to be nominated. But I doubt The Kids Are Alright would be nominated under this years rules. I just don't think enough people picked it as their #1 film. The other four dramas nominated for Golden Globes last year went on to be nominated for the Oscar. However the other four comedies did not.  This is usually the case. All five Golden Globes dramas get nominated for the Oscar. And sometimes the  winner of the comedy category goes on to the Oscars. The Hangover won the Golden Globe two years ago. But even with 10 films nominated for the best picture Oscar two years go, it still didn't get picked. So that means the best picture nominees will most likely be The Artist, The Descendants, War Horse, Hugo, The Help, & Moneyball. The Ides of March did sneak into a sixth spot for the Globes Drama. But I doubt it will at the Oscars. I think there will probably be 7 nominees this year. And I predict that Midnight In Paris will be the 7th nominee. Although I would love to see Drive in there. And would not be surprised to see Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Tree of Life, or Bridesmaids sneak in there. If there had to be ten then I think that Tree of Life, Dragon Tattoo, and Drive would all be in the final 10. I think that The Artist will win the best picture category.  

Here are my nominee predictions for Best Picture, in order of confidence:
                 1-The Artist
                 2-The Descendants
                 4-The Help
                 5-Midnight In Paris
                 6-War Horse
                 7-The Tree of Life
                 9-The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
                10-Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
                I could also see any of these possibly making the cut further down the list: The Ides of March, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Iron Lady, Shame, or Carnage.

It seems that everyone knew a year ago that the best actress race would be between Glenn Close and Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams walked away with the Golden Globes this year. And we all know they will both be nominated for Best Actress. Natalie Portman and Annette Bening won the globes last year. And Natalie went on to win the Oscar. Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock won the Globes in 2010. And Sandra went on to win the Oscar.
I think Viola Davis will take the 4th spot for best actress. Halle Berry did win the Oscar in 2002 without winning the Globe so I think Viola still has a chance of winning. And it looks like either Viola or Meryl will win this one. I think Tilda Swinton will take the last spot for We Need To Talk About Kevin. But I would love to see Charlize Theron for Young Adult and Rooney Mara for Girl With The Dragon Tatoo in this group. Those were two of my favorite performances this year. So I think the nominees with my Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, & Tilda Swinton. I predict that Meryl Streep wins this year.

For Best Actress nominees, I predict:
                Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
                Viola Davis (The Help)
                Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
                Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin)
                Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

               No real surprises here.  Streep's portrayal was as close to the real person as I've seen.  Berenice Bejo (The Artist) could easily qualify for lead actress, but I think they're pushing her for the supporting role.  There's still Jodie Foster or Kate Winslet for Carnage.

George Clooney and Jean Dujardin won the globes for acting this year. I really think Jean Dujardin was the best Actor this year. I think he will win this one. And I hope that he does. George will most certainly get nominated this year as well. I still do not get all the fuss about Moneyball this year. But I predict that Brad Pitt will get nominated for this film. I am also thinking Michael Fassbender will be nominated for Shame. This was one of my favorite performances of the year. I think that Michael will walk away with the Oscar one of these years. But not this year. I really hope that Gary Oldman sneaks into the fifth spot for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But I think that Leonardo DiCaprio will be the fifth nominee for J. Edgar. I was not a fan of the movie but I think people are a fan of his performance. I would also love to see Ryan Gosling sneak into this category for Drive. But it will probably not happen. So I think the nominees with be George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt Michael Fassbender, & Leonardo DiCaprio. I think that Jean will win.

Nominees for Best Actor, I predict:
                  Demian Bechir (A Better Life)
                  George Clooney (The Descendants)
                  Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar)
                  Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
                  Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

         I'm conflicted over Leonardo DiCaprio, because J. Edgar was not a well-received film; but I believe Academy voters love biopic performances where an actor ages.  Michael Fassbender may have a slim chance with A Dangerous Method; but his greater performance, in Shame, might have been a bit too cold for most viewers.  Gary Oldman might be a surprise for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but Bechir's SAG nomination convinces me he'll get named.  Ryan Gosling (Drive), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50) & Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) are deserving of honorable mentions.

Octavia Spencer walked away with the Best Supporting Actress Globe for the Help. I am sure she will be nominated for the Oscar and will probably win. Jessica Chastain will also be nominated for The Help. And I think Berenice Bejo will be nominated for The Artist. Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs and Shailene Woodley  for The Descendants were the other two globe nominees and will most likely be the last two oscar nominees. One of them dressed in drag and the other one cried under water! But I do think that Melissa McCarthy will sneak into this category and take the place of Janet McTeer. Christopher Plummer won the Best Supporting Actor Globe for The Beginners. I think he should and will win the Oscar. I think that Jonah Hill will be nominated for Moneyball and Albert Brooks will be nominated for Drive. I think Kenneth Branagh will take the fourth place for My Week With Marilyn. Viggo Mortensen was nominated for the globe for supporting actor. And he might take the fifth nomination spot. But I would love to see Patton Oswalt take this spot for his performance in Young Adult and I think he might. It seems that the actor and actress to win the supporting globes also always win the Oscars. It happened with Christain Bale and Melissa Leo last year. And it happened with Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz in 2010. Heath Ledger and Kate Winslet won the globes in 2009. Heath went on to win the supporting actor oscar. And Kate Winslet went on to win the Best Actress oscar for The Reader even though she won the Supporting Actress Globe. Penelope Cruz won the Supporting Actress Oscar that year. So my Supporting Actress predictions are Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo, Melissa McCarthy, & Shailene Woodley. I think the Supporting Actors will be Christopher Plummer, Jonah Hill, Albert Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, and Patton Oswalt.

Nominee predictions for Best Supporting Actor
                         Kenneth Brannagh (My Week With Marilyn)
                         Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
                         Nick Nolte (Warrior)
                         Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
I can't confidently name the fifth! I could see any of these on the list:
                       Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
                       Albert Brooks (Drive)
                       Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)
                       Armie Hammer (J. Edgar)
                       Ben Kingsley (Hugo)
                       Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
      Also, two young actors could play spoiler: Asa Butterfield (Hugo) and Thomas Horn (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).  Other memorable standouts: Adrian Brody (Midnight In Paris) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo).
       Nominee predictions for Best Supporting Actress:              
                      Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
                      Jessica Chastain (The Help)
                      Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
                      Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
                      Octavia Spencer (The Help)

            There's a chance that Carey Mulligan might get in there for her great performance in Shame, possibly over Melissa McCarthy or Janet McTeer. 

Martin Scorcese won the globe for Hugo for Best Directing. This is another movie that I think was overrated. I just didn't like it and found it boring and tedious. But I think he has a good chance of winning the Oscar as well. But I think The Artist might sweep the Oscars and take this category as well. I think the best director nominees will be Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Martin Scorcese for Hugo, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris, and David Fincher for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I think Nicolas Winding Refn should be nominated for Drive. But I don't think he will be. Steven Spielberg might get nominated for War Horse. Terrence Malick might get nominated for Tree of Life.

Nominee Predictions for Best Director:
                      Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris)
                      Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
                      Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
                      Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
                      Steven Spielberg (War Horse)

             I can't see Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close) gaining momentum at this point.  Spielberg didn't get a Director's Guild nomination, so I could see David Fincher replacing him.  I chose Spielberg because I felt Academy voters may favor the story of War Horse over the dark material in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Woody Allen won the screenplay category for the Globes. I am sure Midnight In Paris will get nominated for Original Screenplay along with The Artist, Bridesmaids & Young Adult. I think 50/50 will take the fifth spot. I think that The Descendants and Moneyball will both get nominated for Adapted Screenplay. Hugo and The Help will also probably be nominated. I think Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy will probably sneak into the fifth spot. Although it might be Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, We Need To Talk About Kevin or War Horse. I think that The Artist will win the Original Screenplay and The Descendants will win Adapted Screenplay. Diablo Cody won the Oscar in 2007 for Juno so I don't think she will win again.

Jackie: Nominee Predictions for Original Screenplay:
                 Midnight In Paris
              The Artist
              Win Win
              Young Adult

              Could also see any of these in place of either
              Young Adult or Bridesmaids:
              The Tree Of Life, 50/50
              A Separation, Beginners
              Martha Marcy May Marlene or Shame

         Nominee Predictions for Best Adapted Screenplay:
               The Descendants
               The Help
               The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Others that could bump Dragon Tattoo:
                Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
                War Horse
                The Ides of March

The Adventures of Tintin won the globe for best animated feature this year. I think it will do the same at the oscars. It is a big epic animated fim by Steven Spielberg. I think it goes on a bit too long. But I did enjoy it. This is one of those years where Pixar will probably not win. Toy Story 3 did win last year. But I don't think enough people cared about Cars 2. And I think Brave will win next year. The other nominess will probably be Rango & Puss In Boots. Arthur Christmas was the fifth globe nominee but I think there will only be 3 or 4 oscar nominated animated films.

Nominee Predictions for Best Animated Feature (2-5 could be nominated)      
                      1. Rango
                      2. Arthur Christmas
                      3. Puss In Boots
                      4. Rio
                      5. Adventures of Tintin

               Other titles that may come up:
                     Kung Fu Panda 2
                     Chico & Rita
                     Cars 2
                     Gnomeo & Juliet

OK. That is our predictions for the oscar nominations. See how we did on Tuesday Morning. The Oscars take place on Sunday February 26th.

January 22, 2012: Haywire

Posted by phil blankenship, January 22, 2012 12:44pm | Post a Comment

Go Niners: Rappers Support Their Team With New 49ers Rap Anthems for Today's Big Game

Posted by Billyjam, January 22, 2012 09:45am | Post a Comment

Even those Bay Area residents who are normally non-plussed about sports can't ignore the excitement brewing in the days/hours lead up to today's important hometown football game when the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants in the NFC championship at 3pm (6pm EST) at Candlestick Park. This game is of nail-biting importance for football fans in the Bay since it offers a shot at the Super Bowl for their beloved Niners who are the underdog in today's sold-out game. Artists feeling this excitement that had to express their feelings via hip-hop include such local rap artists as Bailey and his uplifting 49er rap anthem "Who's Got It Better Than Us" and San Francisco collective of Equipto, Baldhead Rick, Shag Nasty, Curt Sak, Ike Plump and Sellassie who, with production from JDef, under the name S.C.O. (Solidarity Co Op) have collaborated on the "49ers Anthem" song "Faithfully" (Solidarity Records). The video for the song above, which was shot in part at The Ave Bar on Ocean Ave in San Francisco, was made by Tony Rain for Strive Films while the song can be downloaded for free here.

Early this morning I caught up with longtime SF hiip-hop head and "Faithfully Niners Anthem" producer JDef (aka self-described "old school JDEF from KCSF/Bomb Mag./Rymskeme/KNT days!") to ask him how he and the guys got the idea for the song and how to structure it? "Basically, I had had this idea for a while. Sampling the Journey song for a Forty-Niner song just seem to go together perfectly. I wanted to really try and get working on it after the Philly game," he explained. "But it kept getting pushed back because of other things and plus I was getting caught up in the moment of each win. I always had Equipto in mind and wasn't sure who else to put on it, I just knew they had to be a "FORTY-NINER FAITHFUL". So one day, I had a recording session with Nim-One (F.M.D. of FM2O) at my studio and we were working on a song feat. Equipto.

Continue reading...

The Art of the LP Cover- Headwraps

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, January 21, 2012 11:59pm | Post a Comment

January 21, 2012: Miss Bala

Posted by phil blankenship, January 21, 2012 10:30pm | Post a Comment

Remembering Etta James (1938 - 2012)

Posted by Billyjam, January 21, 2012 08:18am | Post a Comment
Wow. What a sad week it has been for blues, R&B, and funk fans with the passing of Jimmy Castor, Johnny Otis, and then yesterday morning (Jan. 20th) more sad news arrived with word that Etta James had died in Riverside, California following complications from leukemia, which she had been undergoing treatment for for some years. She was 73 years of age but was just about to celebrate her 74th birthday next week. 

Born in LA and raised in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, Etta James (who won four Grammys in her lifetime) was loved by music fans worldwide and was inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her music could be filed under blues, R&B, rock and roll, and even jazz sometimes (her album Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday won her a jazz Grammy). Even though James is best known for her soothing soulful rendition of "At Last," I personally always thought of the singer, who I saw in concert many times and was always blown away by her performances, as a gritty soulful blues singer since she always brought so much raw emotion and passion to her music. As anyone who has ever seen James in concert will attest, she brought sexy (or "raunchy" as some said) to her stage act in which she always gave it her all.


James was discovered by Johnny Otis, who in a tragic twist of coincidence passed just 3 days earlier this week, back when she was just a teen and recorded her first record when she was only 15. That record was “Roll With Me Henry,” which -- because of its sexual innuendo -- had its title changed to “The Wallflower" and as such became a 1954 hit on Billboard's Rhythm-and-Blues chart. A year later, a more whitewashed, toned-down version of the song retitled "Dance with me Henry" by white singer Georgia Gibbs became a mainstream number one Billboard pop charts hit. Understandably, that bummed out the black singer who had created the song.

Continue reading...

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 01.21.12: E-Lit, Moka Only & Chief, Los Rakas feat E40, Moe Green, + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 21, 2012 08:08am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Eleven

1) Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)

2) The Roots Undun (MCA)

3) Luckyiam I Love Haters (L-R-G)

4) Moka Only & Chief Crickets (Feelin Music)

5) Flash Bang Grenada 10 Haters (Hellfyre Club)

Thanks to E-Lit at the Berkeley Amoeba for this week's top five chart plus overview of some of the new releases which, as E-Lit notes, is traditionally never too many in January as things just begin to pick up in the new year for new music releases. Of those new and recent releases just out (some late 2011) are ones from the ever-prolific Bay Area artist The Jacka, Bay Area underground hip-hopper Gee Soul, and the unique union that is Moka Only & Chief's Crickets which pairs Canadian rapper/producer Moka Only with equally talented Swiss producer  / beatmaker Chief for what E Lit wisely chooses as one of the best recent indie hip-hop releases. For proof check out the video below of the title track of “Crickets." The album is brimming with material like this which, while definitely hip-hop, can be filed under electronic or other - IE the sort of hip-hop album that people who normally don't like rap will like.  This is not the first time the Canadian and the Swiss hip-hop talents have collaborated. Four years ago they worked together on the tracks “Felt Before” and “Do Work.” This paved the way for Moka Only's 2008 album Lowdown Suite 2 - The Box to be released on Chief’s label Feelin’ Music on which this latest release also appears.

Continue reading...

Hit-And-Run Victim DJ Toph One Talks About Music in Recovery, Dangers of Cycling in the City, & this Weekend's Benefits in his Honor

Posted by Billyjam, January 20, 2012 10:00am | Post a Comment
In an overwhelmingly positive display of heartfelt support for much loved longtime San Francisco music ambassador & avid cyclist TOPH ONE, who was recently the victim of a nasty hit-and-run accident on his bicycle, local Bay Area DJs (myself included) have rallied together to help raise funds for the injured DJ/writer/rider's rising medical expenses
via two separate fundraisers in San Francisco this weekend: tonight Friday(Jan 20th) at Public Works and on Sunday (Jan 22nd) at SOM Bar in the Mission - scroll down for full details. 

This morning the Amoeblog caught up with the native San Francisco DJ born Christopher Evans who, despite all he is dealing with ("pain, meds, bed positioning, etc.") since been rushed in serious condition to intensive care in SFGH (San Francisco General Hospital) twelve days ago, was in a surprisingly upbeat good frame of mind.  But then that is the kind of guy Toph is and always has been - looking on the positive and loving life.

Toph One has long been a renaissance man and diehard music fanatic (hip-hop, funk, reggae - anything good he's dug up and spun) known for his talents as a writer (both a graffiti writer and a music scribe who wrote for XLR8R and other outlets), and as a DJ who has tirelessly been spinning music in Bay Area clubs forever - and often spinning 10 times in a one week stretch. He also promoted his own Red Wine Social and Pepper parties for many years. In short Toph One loves music and life. He also has much love and compassion for others including those who are suffering from AIDS and each year he religiously participates in the AIDS/LifeCycle to raise funds & awareness in the annual "ride to end AIDS" and is hoping to be able to make a recovery in time to participate in this year's event in five months time.

Continue reading...

The Late, Great Etta James

Posted by Charles Reece, January 20, 2012 08:54am | Post a Comment

Her voice makes jelly of my innards. Etta James dead at 73. Two of my favorites:

"I'd Rather Go Blind"

"The Wallflower (Roll with Me, Henry)"

Bay Area Native / Rhythm & Blues Legend Johnny Otis Dead At Age 90

Posted by Billyjam, January 19, 2012 10:27pm | Post a Comment
Johnny Otis aka "The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues" died on Tuesday at his SoCal home in Altadena. Otis, who had been in poor health for the past several years, was 90 years of age and no exact cause of death has been announced so far.

Otis was not just an accomplished musician and bandleader/talent scout with a keen ear for true talent but he was also a talented radio DJ with a distinctive on-air voice. I met him at KPFA years ago when he used to host an entertaining and educational Saturday morning music show on that and other Pacifica stations up until seven years ago.

Otis, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, earned the title of "The Godfather of Rhythm & Blues" due to his band from the late 1940s into the 50's forging a sound that melded jazz of the big band era with the pre-rockNroll spirit of raw church gospel mixed with blues - IE rhythm and blues or early rock'n'roll. As bandleader or A&R talent Otis' taste was impeccable. Artists he discovered and helped launch careers of included Jackie Wilson, Etta James, and Big Mama Thornton.

Otis was a Bay Area cat through and through. He was born in Vallejo to Greek parents (many listeners were shocked to discover he was not Black) and grew up in South Berkeley. He would later move to SoCal. As well as bandleader and sometime singer Otis played drums, piano, and vibraphone. In the early 1950's he scored fifteen hit singles on Billboard's rhythm-and-blues chart including the number one hit single "Double Crossing Blues."

Continue reading...

January 19, 2012: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Posted by phil blankenship, January 19, 2012 10:26pm | Post a Comment

January 18, 2012: Contraband

Posted by phil blankenship, January 18, 2012 08:26pm | Post a Comment

LA Area Swap Meets in February!

Posted by Amoebite, January 18, 2012 07:35pm | Post a Comment
Hey Los Angeles! The Amoeblog is looking out for your record swap needs this February. Get out your calendars and clear these dates!

Sunday, February 5th: Amoeba makes a repeat appearance at one of the Southland's biggest and best record swap meets, Pasadena City College's Flea Market and Record Swap. With over 500 vendors, the Flea Market features antiques and collectibles, records, tools, clothes, toys and much more, not to mention food and good company.
The Flea Market and Record Swap is from 8am-3pm. Look for the Amoeba booth located in the Bonnie St. parking structure (Lot 5) on the 3rd Level. We'll have a great selection of vinyl, so come out and enjoy your Sunday with us! 

More info HERE.


Sunday, February 12th: Visit us in Claremont, California at the KSPC CD & Record Swap! We’ll be at the Smith Campus Center Ballroom from 10am-4pm with over 25 other vendors. $2.00 admission or free with a Claremont Colleges ID! Free parking too!

KSPC record swap

"How I Got Here" with Robbie Kowal of SunsetSF - Part I in new Dave Paul Guest Amoeblogger Series

Posted by Billyjam, January 18, 2012 10:34am | Post a Comment
Welcome to the first installment in a new guest Amoeblog series by Dave Paul called How I Got Here featuring an interview with Robbie Kowal of SunsetSF promotions company. This seven part guest series, which will run about once a week, will profile various folks in the entertainment industry "from doormen, DJ’s and promoters to venue owners, managers, and booking agents" and will, said Paul, "In their own words find out how they got where they are, and where they are going." Paul noted that upcoming How I Got Here profiles will include DJ Z-Trip (Los Angeles), Traci P of R.A.W. Entertainment (Las Vegas), Anthony Sanchez of Runaway Productions (Portland), Mike Maietta of CEG Presents (New York) Gabe Gurrola of Kons Photography + Design (Portland), and Michael Krouse of Madrone Art Bar (San Francisco).

Dave Paul, who has been profiled & interviewed himself here on the Amoeblog, began his music career back in 1984 when he started out as a mobile DJ. This wise career move would lead to Dave getting on the radio as college spinning hip-hop in its formative years. In 1991 Paul launched the long defunct but still revered Bomb Hip-Hop Magazine and in 1996 he morphed the magazine into Bomb Hip-Hop Records label which got named  "one of the fifteen independent labels that matter" by Rolling Stone magazine. As a club DJ Dave Paul has played in clubs throughout the US, and Europe. As a club promotor he's been producing his Prince and Michael Jackson themed parties for close to a decade now.  You can contact Dave Paul at - [email protected]
Guest Amoeblogger Dave Paul: You’re originally from Boston and lived in New Orleans for five years. How did you end up in San Francisco?

Continue reading...

January 17, 2012: Carnage

Posted by phil blankenship, January 17, 2012 09:30pm | Post a Comment

New Album by First Aid Kit Due Out Jan 24

Posted by Amoebite, January 17, 2012 07:13pm | Post a Comment
first aid kitSwedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg are releasing their sophomore full-length album as First Aid Kit, The Lion's Roar (Wichita Recordings), next week. Aside from being beautiful, they're also young, talented, and strongly influenced by American country music.

First Aid Kit gained attention in 2008 on YouTube with their cover of a Fleet Foxes song (looking very, very young) and they released their debut full-length album, The Big Black and The Blue (Wichita Recordings, 2009), at the tender ages of 17 and 19. We were fortunate enough to have First Aid Kit do a Green Room Session at Amoeba Hollywood when they were supporting The Big Black and The Blue.

First Aid Kit Green Room Session

Their new album, The Lion's Roar, was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska with Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes) and again capitalizes on the beauty of their harmonies. Like many of their songs, the title track begins quietly with a single voice and builds to their harmonies on the chorus. "The Lion's Roar" is a strong opener for the album, with a passionate chorus:

"...and I'm a goddman coward but then again so are you. And the lions roar, the lions roar." 

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar by Wichita Recordings

On "Emmylou," they pay tribute to Emmylou Harris, June Carter, Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash, and the joy of singing with someone you love:

Continue reading...

Noir City's Eddie Muller Recommends His Favorite Noir Classics and Tells Us What's In His Bag!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 17, 2012 04:49pm | Post a Comment
The "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller is an author, filmmaker, film noir historian, and a San Francisco native.eddie muller noir city foundation amoeba Muller is also the founder and President of The Film Noir Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicating to preserving film noir movies. In 2003, Muller and the Film Noir Foundation held the first Noir City film festival, which is now the largest Amoeba Berkeley noir selection dvd eddie muller noir city foundationnoir-specific event in the US! This year, Noir City celebrates its 10th anniversary with a 10-day festival at the Castro Theatre January 20 - 29th. Read all about it on the Amoeblog!

In honor of the big festival, Amoeba San Francisco and Amoeba Berkeley have set up displays of selections from Muller's Top 25 Noir Films list! If you're going to trust anyone's taste in film, it's this guy's! Come on down to either Bay Area location and browse this terrific selection. You won't be dissapointed!

Additionally, Muller had the chance to stop by Amoeba San Francisco for a little shopping recently and talked with Amoeba's Audra about what was in his bag! 

Continue reading...

Those only live to get radical - or - Little hand says it's time to rock and roll

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 17, 2012 09:36am | Post a Comment

A new compilation of SoCal bands titled Who invented the Mirror has just been released and is available exclusively at Amoeba. One of the bands featured thereon, Those, recently released their debut, We Cure Nothing, just before Christmas.

The name of the band, Those (assuming it's the plural pronoun of "that" and not the village in Nepal), seems calculatedly obscure and at the same time reminiscent of Them, The Who, The The, They, Them, Them! or It. The they behind those are John Cason (guitar), Eric Spolans (ex-The Not Today and 000 Records - guitar), JJ Watson (bass and horns), Brett Strobridge (drums), and Emily Grant (keys). It was recorded and engineered by Chris Reynolds at Dangerbird Studios in Silver Lake.

The song titles are all quotes taken from mainstream films of the 1980s, cult-classic films of the 1990s, and Billy Wilder's 1950 classic Sunset Blvd. The title of the album, We Cure Nothing, is possibly a reference to a 1971 Arthur Hiller film, The Hospital. It would seem, then, that movies are on Those's mind(s).

Continue reading...

January 16, 2012: Joyful Noise

Posted by phil blankenship, January 16, 2012 09:46pm | Post a Comment

Jimmy Castor R.I.P.

Posted by Billyjam, January 16, 2012 02:05pm | Post a Comment

Jimmy Castor Bunch "It's Just Begun"

For the past few hours word that the beloved American funk musician Jimmy Castor had died has been flying round the Interweb - albeit without final confirmation from any reliable source. Unfortunately though that sad confirmation of the passing of Jimmy Castor has just arrived through his good friend Cliff Perkins. Castor was 64 years of age and so far cause of death is not confirmed. Castor will be remembered by for  songs like his oft-sampled 1972 million selling hit single "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" but more importantly his influence on hip-hop music - the song "It's Just Begun" is among those select records that is a key part of the foundation of hip-hop itself - long being a staple of hip-hop DJs and B-boys to break to.

Jimmy Castor Bunch "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" (1972)

The saxophonist, singer, band leader began his career as a doo-wop singer in the fifties replacing Frankie Lymon in The Teenagers in 1957. By 1960 he had switched to playing saxophone. Sixties hits for the artist included his own 1966 Smash Records single "Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You" and Dave "Baby" Cortez's "Rinky Dink" on which he played sax.

Castor's real success came in the 70's as leader of The Jimmy Castor Bunch whose 1972 album, It's Just Begun, was popular back then and - thanks to hip-hop endlessly sampling his music - ever since. The album's two hits - the title track and the aforementioned "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" - have been sampled a lot as have much of Castor's other funk releases. The spoken intro of "Troglodyte" - "What we're gonna do right here is go back..." - is one of the most sampled soundbites in hip-hop history.

Congratulations to the Winner of the Gibson Flying V Guitar

Posted by Amoebite, January 16, 2012 01:14pm | Post a Comment
Gibson Guitar Winner
Congratulations to Brandon, the lucky winner of our Gibson Guitar contest! Brandon won a limited edition Gibson Silverburst Flying V guitar with a case and a $50 Amoeba gift certificate.

Thanks to our friends at TrueTone Music and Gibson for the guitar!

And thanks to Brandon's family (Karen, Cisco, Sophia and Alex) for their patience listening to him wail out on his brand new axe.

gibson guitar winner     gibson guitar winner

gibson guitar winner with family

Follow @AmoebaBerkeley on Twitter to Win a Rolling Stones Canvas Poster

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 16, 2012 12:46pm | Post a Comment
Follow @AmoebaBerkeley on Twitter for a chance to win this Rolling Stones "Some Girls" canvas poster!
Rolling Stones Some Girls Poster

On Valentine’s Day (February 14) tune in to the @AmoebaBerkeley Twitter feed for a Rolling Stones trivia contest.

Two correct responses will be chosen randomly by the end of the day who will win the Grand Prize (18" x 24" canvas poster) and Second Place (used Limited Edition 1994 Mini LP Style CD version of Some Girls).  

Happy Birthday, The Life of Riley! - or - What a revoltin' development this is!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 16, 2012 12:22pm | Post a Comment
On this day, in 1944, The Life of Riley premiered on the Blue network (later known as ABC).

The Life of Riley began with an audition taping on July 25, 1943 after its creation by Irving Brecher. Over the course of roughly 320 episodes, it established itself as one of the most enduringly funny sitcoms on Old Time Radio. It's final episode on ABC aired on July 8, 1945. After moving to the NBC radio network, it aired again from August 8, 1945 until its final episode aired on June 29, 1951.

The main character, Chester A. Riley, was played by William Bendix. His wife, Peg, his son, Junior, and his daughter, Babs, were all played by more than one actor. Both his co-worker/neighbor, Gillis, as well as audience favorite, Digby "Digger" O'Dell (the "friendly undertaker") were both played by John Brown. At various times it was sponsored by the American Meat Institute, Teel Dentifrice, Dreft, Prell Shampoo, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.


In 1949 it was adapted into a feature film that was co-written by Brecher and Groucho Marx. That same year it also debuted as a television series starring a pre-Honeymooners Jackie Gleason in the title role that ran for 26 episodes (Bendix's contract with RKO prevented him from appearing on NBC TV). It returned in 1953 with Bendix again in the title role and again with Marx as a writer. It proved much more successful and ran for six seasons until 1958, when it was also adapted into a Dell comic book.

The series followed the day-to-day doings of the working class, Irish-American Riley family, nominally headed by the bumbling Chester Riley, who supported his brood by working, like many post-War Southern Californians, at an aircraft plant, in this case as a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft. In reality, Chester Riley was the dimmest bulb in the drawer, and usually misinformed by Gillis. 

As originally developed (as The Flotsam Family), the title role was to have been played by Groucho Marx but the sponsors had difficultly envisioning Marx's brainy, unhinged comedy being reigned in for the much straighter role as the somewhat dense head-of-household. Bendix was cast after Brecher saw his appearance in 1942's McGuerins from Brooklyn and it was renamed. 

If you ask me, the humor, unlike that of a lot of radio sitcoms, still holds up today (the same thing can be said about The Great Gildersleeve). The sitcom formula of the confounded father who barely maintains even a semblance of authority over children can be seen and heard in comedies like The Honeymooners, The Flintstones, All in the Family, Robin Harris's Bebe's Kids routine, Married... with Children, The Bernie Mac Show and The War at Home

You can listen to episodes online by clicking here or check in Amoeba's back room for CDs, which come through used occasionally in the Spoken Word section. 


Become a fan of Eric's Blog on Facebook!

Sidewalk Sale at Amoeba Hollywood on Jan 21

Posted by Amoebite, January 16, 2012 11:46am | Post a Comment
UPDATE 1/20: Unfortunately we have to postpone our sidewalk sale due to a 100% rain forecast for Saturday. Hard to argue with a 100% forecast, right? We'll post updates on the blog for the next one.


Amoeba Hollywood is breaking out the balloons, the crates, and the deals for a sidewalk sale on Saturday, January 21 from noon-5pm. There will be plenty of bargains on CDs, vinyl, DVDs, box sets, toys and more! See you there!

All sidewalk sales are final. Store credit cannot be used to purchase items from the sidewalk sale.

Sidewalk Sale   Sidewalk Sale

Happy MLK Day - Yo, whatever happened to peace?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 16, 2012 08:19am | Post a Comment

Today the USA celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (1929-1968). As we all know, Dr. King preached nonviolent activism in the global civil rights movement. Ironically, the other two persons honored with national holidays are Christopher Columbus and George Washington, two powerful slaveowners who advocated (and in Washington's case, waged) genocidal violence against people who fought for their civil rights.

Calls for the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day began almost as soon as King was assassinated in 1968 but it wasn't until 1983 that president Ronald Reagan signed it into law, over the objections of vocal opponents including Senator Jesse Helms and then-Arizona Congressman John McCain -- primarily over King's objections to the US's bloody invasion of Vietnam.

Outside of the US, the holiday is observed in Hiroshima, Toronto and probably elsewhere. But let's not get it twisted, his principles of nonviolence, as well as those of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi before him, were not merely calls to pacifism -- silently accepting the rule and direction of those in power. On the contrary, they were calls to action. 

Today, one of the most articulate (if not loudest) voice on behalf of  the civil rights deprived of the world's indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories is UNPO, or, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The idea was conceived by Tibetan activist Tsering Jampa and Uyghur activist Erkin Alptekin, who were dismayed by blood-lusting global media's single-minded focus on violent struggles for independence such as have characterized Palestine's fruitless struggle through 65 years of occupation.

Although nonviolent struggles continue to be comparatively ignored, several former UNPO members who embraced and practiced nonviolent struggle have succeeded in gaining autonomy, including Abkhazia, Armenia, East Timor, Estonia, Georgia, and Latvia. Other former members, like Aceh, Albanians in Macedonia, Bougainville, and Gagauzia have withdrawn their membership after their nonviolent struggles achieved agreeable settlements with the states that govern them.

If you wish to support peaceful struggle, please consider making a donation by clicking here. If you wish to read about civil rights struggles and issues of autonomy for under-recognized people around the world that I've acknowledged on this blog, check out whichever regions interest you: Balochistan, Chechnya, East Turkestan, Little Bangladesh, Ngulu Mapu, Ossetia, Palestine, Papua, Southern Africa's Bushmen, Tatarstan, Unrecognized Caucasia, Unrecognized Eastern Europe, Unrecognized North Asia, and Unrecognized South Asia.

On a final note, no doubt President Obama will invoke King's name and say some nice things about him today. Just remember, candidate Obama promised to spend more of our money on the military than any president in history. President Obama merely kept his word, every year since taking office spending over $680 billion on funding two wars, proliferating nuclear weapons and the military's over $500 billion "base budget." As MacGruber said, "Oh mamma, that's a whole lotta wampum." Meanwhile we spend less than $34 billion annually on foreign economic aid. I have to wonder what the world might look like if those figures were reversed. Don't just pay lip service to the Reverend, but take a moment to actually consider his words. RIP Dr. King and PEACE! 


Tyrion Gets His: One Golden Globe for Game of Thrones

Posted by Charles Reece, January 16, 2012 07:44am | Post a Comment

I watched the goddamn Golden Globes for Ricky Gervais. I was surprised that the Foreign Press Association
chose correctly: Peter Dinklage won for Best Supporting Actor on a TV show.

Check out the Game of Thones soundtrack on

Taking Discos Inmigrantes on the Road

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, January 15, 2012 11:43pm | Post a Comment
Discos Inmigrantes, my radio show on returns on Tuesday, January 17th at 8PM-10pm PST. My guest this week will be Arshia Haqqani, aka Aruna Irani from Discostan, playing nostalgic LPs from her native India and other worldly treats. As always, Discos Inmigrantes is all analog, all LPs and 7’ singles. To check out the show or to listen to past shows, go to

On Saturday, January 21st, I’ll be taking Discos Inmigrantes on the road. First, with an in-store DJ set at Amoeba San Francisco in celebration of the compilation, Juan Lennon Presents: 213 Cumbia Vol. 1. I’ll be playing tracks off of 213 Cumbia as well as vintage Cumbia. My set will be from 2pm-4pm.

Later that night I'll be at Brick and Mortar at the 213 Cumbia Release party with my L.A. homies Buyepongo and San Francisco’s own Cumbia Tokeson.  Brick and Mortar is located at 1710 Mission St., San Francisco. Show starts at 9 pm

Once I return to Los Angeles, I have two shows. The first is in Boyle Heights for a Radio Sombra fundraiser called Transmission. Myself, along with fellow Radio Sombra DJ’s Reyes (Arts & Grooves) and Libre (Radio Merkado Negro), will be broadcasting live from the M Bar. The M Bar is at 1846 E. 1st Street In Boyle Heights.

Finally, I will be at Craft & Folk Museum for the opening of two new art exhibits. I’ll be playing a two-hour set from 6-8 pm for the opening of Máximo González: Playful and Deconstructing Perestroika…finally, a chance to mix my love of Mexican and Russia music!

The Craft & Folk Museum is located at 5814 Wilshire Boulevard (at Curson) in Los Angeles across the Street from the La Brea Tarpits

January 15, 2012: The Divide

Posted by phil blankenship, January 15, 2012 09:09pm | Post a Comment

Deep Desert Dial-A-Song: Music From Saharan Cellphones

Posted by Kells, January 15, 2012 04:24pm | Post a Comment
Music From Saharan Cellphones is not only the first record I have ever bought comprising of music culled from cellular phones but it's also the first to feature a tracklist what includes bitrate info in the notes.
But that's not the only info packed into the incredibly informative insert, oh no. Included within are detailed explanations pertaining to each individual song along with notes on the instrumentation for each respective track and insightful remarks as to the personal relevance of these oft swapped compositions from both the collectors' and the musicians' points of view. Also, if you feared plunking down your hard earned cash for another mysterious, untold vinyl oddment be aware that the "behind the music" info-throwdown continues on the back of the tracklist wherein the demystification of this record begins and the essentialness of it's inception becomes fully realized and, in a sense, re-mystified. In short: Christopher Kirkley begot his sahelsounds label to capture an amazing collection of contemporary West African jammage that is nothing if not a true adventure in hi-fi for the 21st century. And apparently there's more to come.
The songs that comprise Music From Saharan Cellphones were mp3s culled from memory cards of cellphones in West Africa where trading songs via wireless transfer was common before the word "smartphone" became an everyday term stateside. All of the songs presented on the LP are the spoils of an armchair musicologist, the aforementioned Kirkley. who based his immersion out of the Nothern Malian town of Kidal. While there Kirkley began gathering whole collections of MP3s and later got it together to track down the artists to collaborate on a commercial release (via Mississippi records) with sixty percent of the proceeds going directly to the artists themselves - I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult a task that was. The variance in musical style is curiously wild with traditional instruments mixing-it-up with the likes of Groovebox, Autotune,a myriad of synths and the seemingly compulsory presence of Taureg guitar with influences reminiscent of everything from Jil Jilala to Tupac Shakur, Algerian Rai to Mauritanian Jagwa.

This record is an absolute must if you, like Sunshine Anderson, feel like you've heard it all before. Check out the opening track below and hop on your chance to buy it here - I have a feeling this one will go quick!

Group Anmattaf (a.k.a. Baye) - Tinariwen

January 15, 2012: The Sitter

Posted by phil blankenship, January 15, 2012 02:54pm | Post a Comment

The Art of the LP Cover- New York, New York

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, January 14, 2012 01:50pm | Post a Comment

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending 01.13.12: E-Lit, The Roots, Planet Asia, Melissa Czarnik, Dregs One, Public Enemy, Z-Man & White Mic + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 13, 2012 11:30am | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music Berkeley Hip-Hop Top Five Week Ending 01:13:12

1) The Roots Undun (MCA)

2) Common The Dreamer/The Believer (Warner)

3) Pac Div The Div (RBC)

4) Onra Chino Series Pt 2 (All City)

5) Thirsty Fish Watergate (Mush)

Thanks to my man E-Lit for both the above latest top five hip-hop chart and the video interview in which the diehard Berkeley Amoeba employee/ hip-hop fanatic gives a nice run down of both brand new releases and some upcoming 2012 hip-hop releases that we should keep an eye out for. As E-Lit says and I fully agree 2012 looks like it is going to be a really exciting year for new hip-hop. E-Lit mentions some of the upcoming 2012 releases in the video clip above. I also mentioned some, including Gift of Gab's sure to be dope forthcoming 2012 album The Next Logical Progression, in last week's Amoeblog Weekly Rap Up and again in a recent Amoeblog on both Pep Love's forthcoming Rigmarole album on the Hiero label. Other upcoming 2012 releases to keep an eye out for include a new one from Blacastan and a DJ Premier produced joint by Big Shug that features guest spots from both M.O.P. and Fat Joe.

Continue reading...

Artists Unite In Benefit for Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier at Eastide Arts Alliance

Posted by Billyjam, January 12, 2012 08:22am | Post a Comment

Dregs One "Wake Up" (2011)

San Francisco's Dregs One, the conscious hip-hop artist featured in the above video for his uplifting 2011 song "Wake Up," will be among the numerous local artists uniting tomorrow night (January 13th) in a performance at the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland to both help spread awareness and raise money for  the legal defense funds of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier.  Aptly titled From Oakland to Freedom! Peltier Abu Jamal! Shut It Down! Free 'Em All this fundraiser has been inundated with artists wanting to donate their time and talent for a cause that strikes a nerve with so many. In addition to Dregs One artists scheduled to perform include Aztec, Fly Benzo, De-Colonized Rymerz, Sogorea Te Warriors, Salah Shambe, Eseibio The Automatic, Abdul Malik, Mestiza, Seneca, Jeremy Goodfeather, Mikhael, and Shango Abiola. The organizers, who say that there may even be some last minute additions to this line up, time permitting, in their official statement for the event say that, "We of Labor Black Brown as well as numerous allies are organizing a fundraiser for the Legal Defense of Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier." 

Yesterday I caught up with Dregs One to ask him why he and all these other artists were so willing to donate their time and collective talents to this event and what he sees as the importance and implications of this concert? "Even though Peltier and Abu-Jamal were locked up decades ago, it's beautiful that people are still fighting for their releaese - and ugly that they're still in prison," he said. "I think it's important for people to know that there are American citizens who are jailed as political prisoners and it's sad that more folks aren't informed of their story. Hopefully we can change that through the music we make and events like this one!," said Dregs One who did an instore performance at Amoeba San Francisco a couple of months ago for his latest album The Wake Up Call.

Continue reading...

January 10, 2012: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Posted by phil blankenship, January 10, 2012 09:22pm | Post a Comment

Winter Is Coming...This Spring!

Posted by Kells, January 10, 2012 03:52pm | Post a Comment
As you may already know, "the cold winds are rising" - much like my expectations when it comes to the adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series from sequential novels to the HBO-helmed Game of Thrones teleplay. Within a few months I find myself irrevocably hooked on the books, having thus far ruined every plot twist and intriguing turn through the season three finale (A Storm of Swords might just be the very best book in the series) and after having recently seen the first episode of season one, I have to admit that I'm beginning to feel a kinship with those people out there in the great wide nerdiverse that identify as gamers, though the alignment of said familiarity be chaotic neutral at best.

That said, I cannot waaaiiit for the proper DVD release of Game of Thrones season one; I just wanna hold it. That first episode was such satisfying viewing, even given my foreknowledge of what's to come, that I'm saving all my geeky esteem for the March 6 release date so I can dig leisurely into said boxed set, desperately laden with extra features and all. And if details like the three horn blasts that punctuate the season two teaser below don't make everyone of your hairs stand on end, shivering with dreadfully sweet anticipation, then consider your craven gamer ass on notice!

Check out the Game of Thones soundtrack!

Amoeba Presents Ruthie Foster at The GRAMMY Museum in LA: 1/31

Posted by Amoebite, January 10, 2012 03:35pm | Post a Comment
The GRAMMY Museum welcomes soulful singer Ruthie Foster to the Clive Davis Theater to celebrateRuthie Foster, Grammy Museum the release of her new album Let It Burna combustible blend of soul, blues, rock, folk, and gospel featuring an eclectic collection of cover songs ranging from Adele to Los Lobos and the Black Keys to Johnny Cash.

Foster will perform a selection of songs, take questions from the audience, and discuss (alongside Vice President of The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Scott Goldman) how the new album is her most personal journey yet. Showtime is 8pm.

Read more about this exciting event HERE!

Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster
Let It Burn
Blue Corn Music

Los Angeles Traffic: Listen Up -- It's Casual's "The Red Line," Directed by Jackass's Rick Kosick

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 10, 2012 09:46am | Post a Comment
Los Angeles traffic has driven Eddie Solis' and his hardcore punk duo It's Casual to the brink of madness...municipal outrage even. Dealing with the inequities of public transit in the most rawkin' way they know how, Its Casual has a new video for their song "The Red Line" and it's directed by photograher and Jackass Rick Kosick.

We highly recommend you check out their album The New Los Angeles. Their follow-up, The New Los Angeles II, made with producer Billy Anderson, will be out soon!

Center for Music National Service and MusicianCorps' MLK Day of Song & Service in SF this Monday

Posted by Billyjam, January 10, 2012 08:32am | Post a Comment

MLK Day of Music & Service 2011 in Oakland, CA

If you are in the Bay Area and seeking a rewarding and fun thing to do for this coming Monday's Martin Luther King Jr holiday then seriously consider  volunteering at John O'Connell High School in San Francisco with the Center for Music National Service and MusicianCorps' MLK Day of Song & Service on January 16, 2012. The upcoming event comes on the heels of last year's "wonderfully successful, daylong event at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), which brought together 250 community members and volunteers from a wide variety of ages and background to make music, paint murals and celebrate diversity" according to Alaia Zeno - the community programs & service leader with The Center for Music National Service (MNS) who recalled how at last year's premiere event, "Participants honored the spirit of MLK Day with a group performance of the classic Bill Withers soul song, “Lean On Me,” and came together to show the power of music, artistic expression and shared community." See above video.

For this year's MLK Day event participants/volunteers (all ages welcome), whether musicians or not, are invited to join in the fun and give back to the community at the same time. The emphasis for this year's event, according to organizers, is "focused more on beautifying the under-served public school setting we have selected. Led by MNS Staff and MusicianCorps Fellows, volunteers will focus their efforts on improving school grounds, organizing supplies in art classrooms, painting murals, and other small projects." Additionally folks who volunteer will have the opportunity to participate in a mid-day open mic performance as well as an end-of-day sing-along. This year's event, which runs from 10am to 4pm, takes place at John O'Connell High School in San Francisco's Mission District. Breakfast, snack, and lunch will be provided to all volunteers. To register and find out more information click here.  And below is a video from compiled from various sources including some national news reports (NPR, NBC) on MusicianCorps' work. Good stuff!

Continue reading...

January 9, 2012: War Horse

Posted by phil blankenship, January 9, 2012 10:39pm | Post a Comment

First Fridays at LA's Natural History Museum: 2/3

Posted by Amoebite, January 9, 2012 04:08pm | Post a Comment
Once a month, Los Angeles's Natural History Museum stays openlate and features live music, excitingFirst Fridays, NHM, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, LA scientific discussion, and behind-the-scenes curatorial tours as part of the First Friday program. Amoeba is excited to sponsor this fabulous series of live music, discussion, concessions, tours, DJs and more.

Join us on February 3rd from 5-10pm for a live performance from The Soft Moon and Light AsylumKCRW DJs Anthony Valadez and Mario Cotto, and a guest lectures from Dr. John Harris ("A Brief Sprint Through Human Evolution") and biological anthropologist Amy Parish  (“The New Science of Darwinian Feminism: Evolutionary Insights from Bonobo Social and Sexual Interactions”).

Find out more HERE!

The Soft Moon

Light Asylum

Dark Allies - Light Asylum from Grant Worth on Vimeo.

Souls of Splendor San Francisco Premiere Screening, Thursday 1/12

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 9, 2012 03:45pm | Post a Comment
Souls of Splendor -- a comedic short film about being Gay, Geek, and creatively lost in San Francisco -- isSouls of splendor, wayne shellabarger, gay geek having its premiere screening this Thursday, January 12th at the Delancey Street Screening Room (600 Embarcadero) in SF. The film comes in at under 25 minutes and includes a Q&A with the cast and crew.  Doors: 7:30pm, film: 8:00pm. Get your tickets online HERE!

Souls of Splendor features the story of Leo, a black, gay comic book store clerk and writer who is dealing with his complicated relationship to his art. He feels left behind by his ex-boyfriend (a successful white artist) and creatively stuck in a place of self-sabotage and distraction. Although steeped in the worlds of comic geeks and San Francisco gay culture, Leo feels alienated from both. He finds the success of others unfair but can't seem to budge from his creative rut. When he sits down to write, distractions abound in the form of video games and his alter-egos: a superhero named Captain Fabulous and Franz Kafka. After an overdue confrontation with his ex-boyfriend, Leo realized that metamorphosis comes from within and has nothing to do with fairness or luck.

Poster art by Amoeba's own Wayne Shellabarger!
Music by David Copenhafer and Adam Josef.

God Bless Los Lobos

Posted by Joe Goldmark, January 9, 2012 02:18pm | Post a Comment
To check out extensive LP label and price guides, head to the Vinyl Beat website!

What if there was a band that could play great rock & roll, cool R&B, plus hot Mexican and Chicano grooves?  On top of that, what if this band could also synthesize those influences into their own wonderful songs without losing any of the flavor or intensity of the various original genres?

Luckily for us, Los Lobos can do all this and more. Their body of recorded work is staggering in its breadth, beauty, and rhythmic groove. They are truly a national treasure and define the term “Americana band.”

David Hidalgo on lead guitar, vocals, and assorted other instruments gives the band a lot of its diversity and musical muscle. Steve Berlin on sax and keyboards is the newcomer in the band, having joined in 1983! Cesar Rosas is also an excellent lead guitar man and a soulful singer. Louie Perez writes much of the material, used to be the drummer, and now plays rhythm and sings. Last but certainly not least, Conrad Lozano always plays strong solid bass lines.

Other bands have successfully combined styles and, in some cases, created a whole new genre. However, I don’t think there’s ever been such an eclectic band as Los Lobos. As you can hear below, they cover a lot of bases.

"Chuco’s Cumbia"

"Kiko & The Lavendar Moon"

"Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes"

"Don’t Worry Baby"

"What’s Going On"

"Mexico Americano" (From the movie El Infierno)

Los Lobos interview from Amoeba Hollywood:

Los Lobos performance from Amoeba Hollywood on Aug 25, 2010:

Hieroglyphics founding member Pep Love's new album as much "Therapy" as Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, January 9, 2012 11:15am | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

2012 looks like it is going to be another great year for hip-hop especially Bay Area hip-hop with forthcoming releases from both new and established acts. These include the first solo release in over a decade from Pep Love of Oakland's long running Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective who will drop his anticipated new full-length Rigmarole via the Hiero Emporium on March 6th. 

The album, which is the first solo release (he has recorded stuff with his Hiero crew and others including respectively Casual and Zion I) from the Mississippi born East Bay emcee since 2001's Ascension, was described by the artist as therapeutic, coming to his aid at a challenging time in his personal life.

"[Rigmarole] was recorded during a time in my life when the music I was making was one of the few things that was actually working. It was therapy; it made me feel better. So there was a lot of learning, personal growth, and healing that continues to this very day. I was focused on where I was headed as a human being more than as a rapper or recording artist," he said of the new album's recording process, adding that, "In the process, I reinvented myself as an artist and discovered my love for what I do."

The therapeutic theme is evident in the album's lyrics too with the song "Reflections," which is produced by Unjust, examining his own life and where it is at  nowadays while in the lyrics of the track "Runaway Slave" the 37 year old emcee wears his heart on his sleeve and expresses how he sees his own personal mental/creative development as an individual who has been in the ever challenging rap music industry for so long.

Continue reading...

Best 11 Films of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 8, 2012 11:25pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Last year wasn't too good for movies, but it was great for scores. I can't remember a year where I listened and re-listened to so much music from films: Cliff Martinez electronic-based Drive, Contagion and The Lincoln Lawyer; Alexandre Desplat's The Tree of Life and The Ides of March; Alberto Iglesias' The Skin I Live In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;  and, probably my favorite of the year, The Chemical Brothers' Hanna (much better than Daft Punk's overrated TRON: Legacy). I'll be surprised if any but Desplat gets nominated for an Oscar, though. Another likely Oscar candidate is Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor's The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, which I really liked, but haven't yet had a chance to listen to it independently of the film. And Jeremy Schmidt's analog sound designs for Beyond the Black Rainbow are amazing (somewhere in the territory of Wendy Carlos' The Shining), but I'm not quite sure what's diegetic and extra-diegetic until an album is released.

As for my list of best films: most of these I enjoyed some parts of, while not exactly the whole. I'd say the overall best of the bunch are Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Meek's Cutoff and Super, but my favorite sequences of the year came from Hanna, Drive and Beyond the Black Rainbow.

13 Assassins - Takashi Miike

I never seem to tire of action films questioning when it's appropriate or moral to use violence. As I previously discussed, 13 Assassins does a good job of critiquing the aestheticization of violence while aestheticizing the violence. 

Drive - Nicolas Winding Refn

Unfortunately, the character of Driver is given more of a heroic purpose than the automaton of James Sallis' novel, but the film is still solid diversionary entertainment. Where it truly excels is in the visual pleasure of the opening chase sequence in which we follow Driver's coolly ritualized movements as he eludes cop cars and a helicopter's pervasive search light. This scene is every bit as great as the more action-oriented one from William Friedkin's The French Connection. After Driver switches cars, the credits roll as he drives around a Michael Mann-colored LA to Kavinsky's emulation of Italian softcore music, "Nightcall." This is icon-creation on a par with John Travolta's strut at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever. Pure cinematic bliss.

Hanna - Joe Wright

This is a fairly average girl with super-abilities tale (Colombiana is another example from 2011), except Hanna's escape from an underground, concrete prison. The rapid cutting and acute camera angles against geometrical architecture create an expressionistic  action sequence that I predict will one day be considered classic.

Meek's Cutoff - Kelly Reichardt

As I previously discussed, some critics confuse arduousness with boring. The difficulty that Reichardt conveys of a few settlers crossing an uncompromising landscape creates an affect of dread that no other Western has before. Usually, there would be a cut with the horses appearing in the next town as the cowboys size each other up. Here, there are no short cuts -- the wide-angled long shots always keep the possibility of death on the horizon. 

Super - James Gunn

For those who think superheroes are our modern day myths (cf. Grant Morrison), you should be mocked (here's my review).

The Skin I Live In - Pedro Almodóvar

Almodóvar applies his abstracted melodrama to body horror. While it's the most sanitized and sterile example of this squishy and sanguinary genre, it's also the most comically perverse.

Carré Blanc - Jean-Baptiste Léonetti

Capitalism as cannibalism is a timeless theme. See my previous (brief) review.

Martha Marcy May Marlene - Sean Durkin

Psychological character studies aren't exactly my cup of tea, but this one about the cult mindset is well-executed and about something that's more interesting than yet another fucking failed relationship (Blue Valentine) or sexual dysfunction (Shame).

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Tomas Alfredson

The story is so compacted that without having read the book or seen the BBC 5-hour adaptation, its resolution feels like one of Raymond Chandler's, a MacGuffin that's beside the point. I enjoyed the individual look of each character, how most of them were getting on in years, with implied stories of their own. George Smiley's version of events take precedent, but it never comes across as the absolute truth. The film delights in the objects and muted colors of the 70s, when brown was shit, green was puke and orange was burnt. And there's plenty of wide-angled spatial shots that seem to open onto other spaces from where someone else might be aiming a bullet. A beautiful rendition of ugly, late-Cold War paranoia.

Young Adult - Jason Reitman

If you're one of those people who still wishes Duckie had wound up with Andie at the end of Pretty in Pink, Young Adult provides you your pound of flesh. The nerd gets with the popular kid in the most base, pathetic way possible. The film has nothing but contempt for middle America, for both its haves and have-nots. The characters dream of being popular, or of being with the popular, or have ceased to dream altogether. This is nothing but mean-spirited elitism -- as refreshing as being splashed with cold urine. We could use more rom-coms like it.

Beyond the Black Rainbow - Panos Cosmatos

The opening of this film suggests Orwell's Big Brother as he would've actually occurred in early 80s America: a self-help guru on a late night informercial, verbally controlling us over gentle New Age drones. I'm not quite sure what Black Rainbow is about, but it involves an alien mama's boy trying to mentally dominate a telepathic girl in a series of visualized mental duels à la Charles Xavier. Maybe he wants to harness her power for a more effective adspeak. It unfortunately devolves into a conventional "last girl" escape sequence at the end, and is a bit too repetitious in places, but pot will help with all that. Don't miss it if you get the chance to see it.

The Art of the LP Cover- Gambling II

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, January 8, 2012 09:50pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Another batch of gambling themed covers, please check out part one here.

January 8, 2012: Beneath The Darkness

Posted by phil blankenship, January 8, 2012 04:32pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

A Night of Rumi & Classical Persian Music with Kayhan Kalhor: 2/2 in San Francisco

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 8, 2012 02:40pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Amoeba Music and CIIS Public Programs & Performances presentKayhan Kalhor, CIIS, San Francisco
A Night of Rumi and Classical Persian Music with Kayhan

Thursday, February 2, 2012 8:00PM
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Purchase tickets HERE or CALL: 415.392.4400

"...a master of the kamancheh."
- New York Times

Kayhan Kalhor is a master musician in the classical Persian tradition. His intricate melodies accompany the poetry of Rumi, sung in the haunting beauty of the original language. He also improvises instrumental pieces. This music inspires contemplation and meditation, linked through poetry to Sufism. The beauty of this music lies in the free-flowing melody lines, often compared to the designs of Persian carpets and miniature paintings.

Kalhor is a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and his compositions appear on all three of the Ensemble's albums.

Group discounts available for 10 or more.

Don’t miss your chance to see this dynamic performer—get your tickets today!

Continue reading...

my top ten movies of 2011...

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 7, 2012 01:45pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
I finally got my best movies of 2011 list finished. I thought I was really behind this year since it was already January 7th. But it seems that I also posted my top movies of 2010 on January 7th. So it must be meant to be. I am still a bit behind and have not seen everything that I wanted to see yet. I really want to see We Need To Talk About Kevin, Warrior, A Separation and Young Adult. Those might have ended up in my list but I really can't be sure. I also really liked The Muppets and Tree of Life which almost ended up in my list. I did cheat and do a top 12 last year. But I thought I should keep to only ten this year. These 10 movies are the movies that I fell in love with this year. I saw them all in the theater which I still think is the best place to see movies. These are the movies that I can't stop thinking about. The movies that I can't wait to see again...

The Artist
Michel Hazanavicius

Nicolas Winding Refn

The Skin I Live In
Pedro Almodovar

Mike Mills

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
David Fincher

Paul Feig

Midnight In Paris
Woody Allen

Andrew Haigh


Steve McQueen

Attack The Block
Joe Cornish

Hip-Hop Rap-Up, Week Ending Jan 7th 2012: Gift of Gab, 7 Immortals, Kid Cudi, Skillz, Wiz Khalifa, yU, Dudley Perkins + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 7, 2012 12:35pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

7 Immortals "Thursday Night Live" (2012)

Above is the brand new video/song from NJ native Shawn Lov who has been hard at work to bring in the new year with a bang by releasing a music video as part of an underground Hip-Hop coalition of pioneering artists from Trenton, NJ area called 7 Immortals which consists of many members that regularly recorded with the late, veteran Trenton NJ producer (and emcee) Tony D who is best known for his work with Poor Righteous Teachers and YZ. Produced by The Custodian of Records "Thursday Night Live" is the lead single from the forthcoming 7 Immortals album - one of the many new releases to drop in 2012.

Welcome to the new year of 2012 in hip-hop when there should be some real good releases (and lots of them) dropping; albeit most will be digital files since, of all genres, hip-hop seems to be releasing the least physical copies - ironic considering that the genre was built on vinyl records. As with the past numerous years 2012 got off to a start with Skillz (formerly MC Skillz) doing his always fun, annual wrap of the main happenings (hip-hop and mainstream news) of the previous year in a nicely wrapped up rap song. Uploaded on January 1st below is Skillz' "2011 Rap Up" with references to such folks as white Oakland rapper Kreayshawn and the late great golden era hip-hop star Heavy D. 

Skillz "2011 Rap Up" (2012)

Due out later this month is Kid Cudi's anticipated new album which will feature the popular Dot Da Genius produced-song "No One Believes Me" that was released in advance several months ago. The video below, directed by Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock), was featured on Fright Night movie soundtrack. Note that the album is not the follow up to 2010's Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager but rather the first release from the rock band he and Dot da Genius formed called WZRD (formerly Wizard).

Continue reading...

January 6, 2012: Drive w/ Albert Brooks Q&A

Posted by phil blankenship, January 6, 2012 10:13pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Could 2012 Be The Year For the Return of Lauryn Hill?

Posted by Billyjam, January 6, 2012 11:56am | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Every pop music artist's career goes through ups and downs & major changes and swings in popularity over time. It's only natural. You can only stay at the top of the Billboard charts for so long before you begin to slip. But of all  the once hugely popular artists of the past two decades Lauryn Hill's fall from grace seems to be the most dramatic.
Just 14 years ago Hill, who first came to fame as a member of the Fugees with such hits as their rendition of "Killing Me Softly with His Song," was on top of the world  with her groundbreaking debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill which sold 8 million copies, won her five Grammys, and topped near every chart and list even beating out Madonna for Album of the Year. Since then Hill's career went into a rapid downward spiral with the artist retreating from the spotlight, shunning publicity and the music industry at large, and spending time on raising her large family. But when, over the past several years, she has occasionally returned to the public eye to perform it has been to generally negative reviews and/or controversy like when she spoke out at the Vatican condemning the Catholic Church over its child sex abuse scandal. Furthermore she has been routinely portrayed in the media as just plain "crazy." For the legions of dedicated longtime Lauryn Hill fans, who continue to stand by the erratic performer - known for being chronically late and putting on disappointing renditions of her own hits - wanting to support their favorite artist has proven to be an incredibly frustrating endeavor. Regardless these fans seem to stand by Hill no matter what in the hopes that she will (literally) get her act together  and return to her greatness of yore. Luckily for them it seems that their patience with Hill, who headlines the Hollywood Palladium (buy tickets) on February 14th & The Warfied in SF on Feb 16th (tix go on sale today), might finally be paying off as it seems like Hill may be back on track and that 2012 might be the year for the return of Lauryn Hill. The last time she was in the Bay Area, late last August when she headlined the Rock the Bells (RTB) festival at Shoreline, she did an amazing encore that won a standing ovation from the remaining audience at the Mountain View amphitheater.

Continue reading...

R.I.P. Jennifer Miro, Singer of San Francisco's Seminal Punk Band The Nuns

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 5, 2012 11:37pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Jennifer "Miro" Anderson, singer of San Francisco's early punk band The Nuns, passed away at the age ofthe nuns, jennifer miro anderson, dominatrix, mistress jennifer 54 on December 16th in New York City as a result of complications from cancer. 

Getting their start in Marin, The Nuns began performing in the San Francisco in 1976 when they made their debut at the Mabuhay Gardens. By 1978, they had a show at Winterland Ballroom with The Avengers and Sex Pistols. The band split just a year later, but reunited in 1986 and again in 1997 with a more goth rock sheen. By this point, Jennifer Miro had become a popular fetish model and an aspiring screenwriter. Eventually, she went to work for a law office.

Despite suffering from both liver and lung cancer, Miro denied conventional treatment and painkillers, opting for exercise and homeopathic paths. 

Here is a clip from The Nun’s show at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in 1978.

Win a "Drive" Scorpion Jacket or "Drive" Prize Packs

Posted by Amoebite, January 5, 2012 08:27pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Drive JacketDrive is coming back to the Arclight Hollywood for a week-long run starting Friday, January 6. FilmDistrict is raffling off a scorpion jacket from the movie and 10 prize packs during the Q&A with Albert Brooks after the 7:20pm show in the theater on Friday night, January 6!

If tickets are sold out already for the Friday show, fear not. The film will play at the ArcLight through January 12, and the contest will be running all week long on The Drive Facebook page.

Here’s how to enter:

Take a picture of yourself next to the Drive poster in the main lobby of the Arclight Hollywood (by the coffee bar), then post this photo of yourself on the Drive Facebook page NO LATER THAN Thursday night, January 12, 2012.

Easy right?

One random and lucky contestant will win a scorpion jacket, and another 10 people will win Drive prize packs. 

Drive comes out on DVD/Blu-ray on January 31, but you can pre-order it now from (with free shipping to US addresses, of course):

Drive Blu-ray Drive
Nicolas Winding Refn
$26.98 - (Blu-ray) 

Amoeba Hollywood's Top 100 Albums of 2011

Posted by Amoebite, January 5, 2012 06:40pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Here are the Top 100 Best Sellers at Amoeba Hollywood in 2011:

1. Adele

Release Date: 2/22/2011
Foster the People 2. Foster the People

Release Date: 5/23/2011
Radiohead 3. Radiohead
King of Limbs
TBD Records

Release Date: 3/29/2011
Mumford & Sons

4. Mumford & Sons
Sigh No More
Glass Note

Hip-Hop Gives Back to Skid Row with Free 1/15 Concert feat. Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Kurupt, King T, Kid Frost, Egyptian Lover + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 5, 2012 10:40am | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Dubbed as both the Operation Skid Row Music Festival and the Occupy Skid Row Music Festival, on January 15th Chuck D and Public Enemy along with a dozen or more (mostly old school LA) hip-hop acts will put on a free concert for the down-on-their-luck residents of Los Angeles' desolate Skid Row district. The list of other performers for this wonderful free all afternoon event, that will also be open for free to anyone from anywhere who wishes to attend, includes Cypress Hill, Kurupt from the Dogg Pound, Mellow Man Ace and Zzyzzx, King T, Rapper's Rapp Group, Sir Jinx and General Population, OG Kid Frost, L.A. Posse, and the Egyptian Lover. What makes this concert significant is that all of these artists have agreed to perform for free as a an unselfish token in this new year for the homeless population of LA's famed Skid Row area which contains one of the largest stable populations of homeless persons in the USA. A 2011 study estimated that Skid Row's population was at over 4300 people!

As with so many of the worthy events and happenings associated with Skid Row that I hear about this one too is also linked directly back to General Jeff - the longtime LA hip-hop figure, friend of Amoeba, hip-hop golden age recording artist, & community activist/tireless supporter of the rights of LA's Skid Row community. General Jeff (real name Jeff Page) is Resident Director for Central City East/ Skid Row & is on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council as well as being VP of Outreach and Communications and is always down to volunteer his time, skills, and endless energy to the worthy residents of Skid Row with whom he has worked on behalf of for years. This morning I caught with General Jeff, who was up early busy at work while listening (he informed me) to the late great LA hip-hop artist Mausberg's Non-Fiction album.

Continue reading...

January 4, 2012: Pariah

Posted by phil blankenship, January 4, 2012 10:12pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Pasadena, The Crown City of Roses

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 4, 2012 09:23pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

The Pasadena skyline from the San Rafael Hills

Well, I can now admit (now that I'm finally done with it) that I honestly waited and prayed that another neighborhood or community would pass Pasadena in the polls. 

At the time of writing, Bunker Hill (in Downtown Los Angeles), El Monte (in the San Gabriel Valley), Lincoln Heights (in The Eastside) and Mt. Washington (in Northeast LA) are all tied for second place. All of those places seem comparatively way more manageable. Pasadena, I worried, is just too big to summarize in a single blog entry. True, I've tackled the larger (population-wise) Glendale as well as Long Beach (the second largest city in LA County -- after Los Angeles, of course). But even at ninth largest in population (also exceeded by the populations of Santa Clarita in Northwest County, Lancaster and Palmdale in the Antelope Valley, Pomona in the Pomona Valley and Torrance in the South Bay) but Pasadena is big in other ways -- almost too stuffed with culture and history to address in this format.  Alas, however, the people have spoken, so this entry is indeed about Pasadena. Now that I'm finally done, I hope it approaches adequate.

For this blog, I was accompanied by veteran travelling companion Diana Roark, who's been coming along on these exploratory missions since Season 4's episode 16, "Silver Lake - There goes the gayborhood" and Genevieve Liang, making her first appearance after an aborted mission to Compton in which the CARDIS broke down its penultimate time - before its complete annihilation. 

Before we begin, if you'd like to vote for any other communities of Los Angeles County, vote here. I've you'd to vote for any communities in Orange County, click here. And finally, if you'd like to vote for any neighborhoods of Los Angeles, vote here.


As I mentioned, Pasadena is only the ninth largest city in the county. It's bordered by Highland Park, Eagle Rock, South Pasadena, San Marino, Temple City, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, La Cañada Flintridge, and Altadena. Although modern day Pasadena is mostly located in the San Gabriel Valley, it was first settled near the foothills of the San Rafael range, a mountain range separated from the larger Verdugo Mountain range by the Verdugo Wash. Most of Pasadena is situated on a broad alluvial slope at the mouth of the Crescenta Valley, partially separated from the rest of the San Gabriel Valley proper by the Kinneloa Mesa at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in the east and the rolling hills of Chan Marino and South Pas to the south. Although with each annexation of the defenseless, unincorporated community of East Pasadena, the city Pasadena spreads further into the San Gabriel Valley proper.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Pasadena


The first time I visited Pasadena was in 1999 after I drove with my friend Seth (a Chino native) from Iowa City to the Southland. We went to Poo-Bah, a beloved local record store established in Pasadena in 1971. As someone new to California, my knowledge of Pasadena was pretty much limited to the Rose Parade and the Jan & Dean surf-pop song, "Little old lady from Pasadena," and I asked Seth if we could walk to the beach from where we were, not realizing that the Pacific was about 46 kilometers west. While we were in Poo-Bah, a commercial was being filmed explaining that some Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers would now be making out their checks to Southern California Edison. Poo-Bah had presumably been chosen in a bid to seem hip and edgy. Reinforcing this notion, the two characters explaining the change were introduced as "Duane" and "Mirth", a thinly-veiled reference to the recurring SNL stars of "Wayne's World" introduced a mere twelve years earlier. This immediately made me feel less intimidated by SoCal cool or the threat of culture shock. 


Marston's in Pasadena

Diana, Genevieve and I arrived in Pasadena on a crisp, clear, autumn day. We started off with a fine meal at Marston's, a well known local eatery established in a Craftsman home back in 1987.

Inside A'Float Sushi

When I first moved to LA and worked in Old Town Pasadena, one of the first places I ate regularly was A'Float Sushi, on account of their great selection of vegetarian sushi options. There's meat too, for the omnivores and "beady-eyed vegetarians," but I can't vouch for its quality. Also, the sushi comes on boats that circle the chefs in a moat, which is always fun.

When I discovered King Taco (#21), a new world was opened to me. King Taco was started in Cypress Park and is now a local chain - my favorite Mexican chain to this day. It was at the King Taco in Pasadena that I first heard Mikel Erentxun's Spanish language cover of either The Smiths' "Esta luz nunca se apagará" or a solo Morrissey's "Todo es igual siempre." In a weird poetic arc, years later when LATV aired the last episode of Los Ilegales, they played a countdown of the top Rock en Españolvideos of all time, broadcasting from the East Los location (#2) of King Taco and proclaiming Morrissey's English-language original "Everyday is like Sunday" the number one exemplar of the genre.

Other Pasadena joints I've enjoyed on several occasions include the wild, Armenian smorgasbord, Burger Continental; the delicious, if decadent, Gourmet Cobbler Factory; the Himalayan Cafe holds many culinary and personal memories, as does New Dehli Palace Cuisine of India. And finally, I have to give love to Orean the Health Express, the country's first and oldest Vegetarian fast food take-out joint, which appeals more to vegetarians motivated by ethics and environmentalism rather than health... like me!

Other eateries include: Alberto's Mexican FoodAKA - American BistroAll India Cafe, Amigo's RestaurantAndrea's Petting Zoo and BakeryArroyo Chop HouseArturo's Taco TruckAux DelicesAvanti CafeAzeen's Afghani RestaurantB-Man's Teriyaki & Burgers, Bar Celona, BC's Donuts, Barney's Limited, Beany's Cafe, Beckham Grill Restaurant, Beyond the Olive, Big City Hot Dogs, Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria, Bistro 45, Bobby's Place, Bonnie B's Smokin,

Brothers Pies N' Fries, Bua Na Thai Cuisine, Burrito Express, CHAM Korean Bistro, Cafe Cordova, Café Linda's, Café Santorini, Cafe Verde, Carmela Ice Cream, Celestino, Cherry on Top, Cheval Blanc, Chinese Cafe, Chinese Gourmet Breakfast, Corner Bakery Cafe, Crepe Studio, Culture 22, Cypress Best Burgers, D'odici Desserts, Daisy Mint, Dena Burgers, Dia de los Tacos, Dog Haus, Domenico's Italian Restaurant
, Dream Dinners Pasadena1810 Argentinean Restaurant, Einstein Bros Bagel,

El Chavo Taco Stop, El Metate, El Pollo Unico, El Portal Restaurant, El Taquito Mexicano Truck, El Toreo, Elements Kitchen, Ernie's Al Fresco, Euro Pane Bakery, Father Nature's Lavash Wraps, 54 Holly, Fortune Chinese Cuisine, Garni Meat Market, Gerlach's Grill, Gladstone Donut House, Go Go Sushi, Grand Chicken, Grandview Palace No 2, Green Earth Vegan Cuisine, Green Street Restaurant, Green Street Taqueria, Gyu-Kaku, Haiku Kitchen, Heidar Baba, Hey That's Amore,

Honeybaked Ham Co, House of Basturma, Houston's, Hungtington Memorial Hospital Cafeteria
Huntington Catering CompanyIchima, In-N-Out Burger, Indochine, Istanbul Catering, Jake's of Pasadena, Japon Bistro, KindKreme, King's Row Gastropub, Kingston Cafe, La Caravana Restaurante Salvadoreno, La Estrella, La Grande Orange Cafe, La Luce Cafe & Deli, Le Pain Quotidien, Lee's Hoagie House, Lemonade, 'Lette Macarons, Little Britain, Los Primos,

Louisiana Fried Chicken & Donuts, Lovebirds Cafe & Bakery, Luciano's Ristorante
, Lucky Boy Drive-InMa Jasmin's, Maison Akira, Mako Bowl, Malbec, Maria's Italian Kitchen, Matsuri, Mediterranean Cafe, Mezbaan Indian Cuisine, Mi Casa Mexican Food, Mignon Chocolate, Mijares Mexican Restaurant, Mr Goods Donuts Shop, My Vegan, New York Deli, Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen, Noda Sushi, n2 Catering, Numero Uno Pizza Pasta & More, O2 Sushi, Oba Sushi Izakaya, Panda Inn Restaurant,

Panos Bakery, PappaRich, Parkway Grill, Pasadena Fish Market, Pasadena Sandwich Company, Picante, Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream, Pita Jungle, Polkatots Cupcakes, Pollos Puebla #1, POP Champagne and Dessert Bar, Porta Via Italian Foods, Porto Alegre Churrascaria, Poster's Donuts, Pronto Donuts, Puebla Tacos No 3
, Pulley's, Quadrupel Brasserie, Qzilla BBQ, Rasta Taco, Roma Italian Deli and Grocery, Root Beer Joe's Sandwich Shop, Rosarito Mexican Food,

Rotisserie Chicken of California, Roy's Restaurant, Royal Donuts, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Russell's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sachi Sushi Restaurant, Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine, Saigon Noodle Restaurant, Saladish, Sandwiches by Connal's, Sanwich Story, Sausalito Mexican Restaurant, See's Candies, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletano, Sharky's Wood Fired Mexican Grill, Shogun Restaurant, Smitty's Grill, Soumarelo, Stonefire Grill, Sugar Fix, Super Burger,

Suriya Thai Restaurant, Sushi Ichi, Sushi Kimagure
, Sweet Art Cupcake, Tacos El Gallito, Tacos La Doña, Takes the Cake, Tastees Donut & Burger, Technique Restaurant, Tender Greens, Tenno Sushi and Seafood Grill, The Athenaeum, The Burger Shack, The Cheese Store of Pasadena, The Counter, The Habit Burger Grill, The Hat, The Kitchen For Exploring Foods, The Luggage Room Pizzeria, The Market on Holly, The Old Sasoon Bakery, The Original Tops, The Raymond Restaurant, The Royce,

The Slaw Dogs, The Vol 94, The White Hut, Three Dog Bakery, Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers, Tonny's Restaurant, Top Restaurant, Tortas 2 Die 4, Tortas Mexico, Tre Venezie Trattoria, 21 Choices
Tutti Gelati, Vero's Restaurant, Viktor Benes Bakery Pasadena, Vince's Deli, Violet's Cakes, Vrej Pastry, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Wok Master, Wokcano, Wonder Burgers, Yahaira's Cafe, Yard House, Yujean Kang's and Zankou Chicken. 


Old Town Pasadena

Pasadena is a city comprised of many neighborhoods: Allendale, Annandale, Arroyo Terrace, Arroyo del Mar, Banbury Oaks, Bellefontaine, Brigden Ranch, Brookside Park, Bungalow Heaven, California Village, Casa Grande, Catalina Villas, Chapman Woods, Civic Center, Daisy Villa, Devil's Gate, East Washington Village, Eaton Canyon, Garfield Heights, Governor Markham, Hastings Ranch, Historic Highlands, Jefferson Park, La Pintoresca, Lamanda Park, Lexington Heights, Lincoln-Villa, Linda Vista, Lower Arroyo, Madison Heights, Marceline, Monk Hill, Muir Heights, Normandie Heights, Oak Knoll, Old Town, Olive Heights, Orange Heights, Playhouse District, Prospect Park, Raymond Hill, San Rafael Hills, Sierra Madre Villa, South Lake, The Oaks, Victory Park, Villa Parke, and Washington Square. If you'd like to vote for any specific neighborhoods, therefore allowing me to get more in depth, vote for them in the LA County Communities poll.

Although Pasadena is sometimes mis-characterized as a sleepy, white suburb, the population of is actually highly diverse -- 39% white (mostly English), 33% Latino (mostly Mexican), 14% black, and 10% Asian (mostly Filipino).


The area that now makes up Pasadena was for roughly 8,000 years home to the the Hahamog'na branch of the Tongva. A Tongva fool trail, now known as Gabrielino Trail, ran from the present day location of the Rosebowl up along the Arroyo Seco, past NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory into the San Gabriel Mountains. In 1770, the Spanish invaded Tovangar and established the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in the San Gabriel Valley's Whittier Narrows (later it was moved to San Gabriel). That year a Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà passed through the area. This led the way for a Spanish conquest of the aboriginal population. Their leader, Hahamog'na, for whom the tribe was named, changed his name to Pascual upon his conversion to Christianity.

In 1832, California became part of Mexico. In 1833 the ranchos were secularized. In 1834, a land grant named Rancho del Rincon de San Pascual (so named because it was deeded on Easter Sunday) was given to Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and her spouse Juan Mariné by the Mexican governor José Figueroa.

Early American Pasadena

                                    Don Manuel Garfias                                                           Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson

In 1848, California became part of the USA, following the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. In 1852, California was granted statehood. 1859 The rancho's last Mexican owner, Manuel Garfias, sold the land to John Griffin and Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson, who established Lake Vineyard for muscat production. Benjamin Eaton, who worked for Griffin and Wilson, had first brought water from Arroyo Seco and Eaton Canyon in the 1860s to his vineyard, a development that made the growth of Altadena, Pasadena and South Pasadena (aka the Figueroas) possible. The group hoped it would help them develop and sell what they called San Pasqual Plantation, but by 1870, they gave up.

In 1872, a sickly doctor named Thomas Elliot sent an exploratory group west, led by Daniel M. Berry, in search of a warmer climate in which to establish a farm. In what's now Pasadena they established the Indiana Colony between Fair Oaks Avenue and the Arroyo Seco across from Lake Vineyard. A year later the Indiana Colony -- founded by settlers from Indiana, Iowa and Michigan -- of California formed to purchase approximately 4,000 acres from Wilson, Griffin and Eaton.

Mail for the Indiana Colony was addressed "Indiana Colony via Los Angeles," which was too much of a pain. Potential alternate names bandied about included Buena Vista, Hesperia, Indianola, Muscat, New Granada, and Orange Grove, among others. Finally, "Pasadena" was settled upon, an Ojibwe term which means "of the valley." In 1875, the residents of the colony included forty houses and a grove of 10,000 newly-planted citrus trees. In 1876, the Southern Pacific Railway arrived in neighboring Los Angeles and a real estate boom followed.

Pasadena, 1886

In 1880, the population of Pasadena was only 391. In 1885, the Southern Pacific reached Pasadena and the city was incorporated the following year with a much larger population of 2,700. Although the economy was fueled primarily by wine and brandy grapes (and walnuts and olives); the pressure of the temperance movement resulted in the ban of liquor in February 1887.

That year the Sunny Slope Winery was sold and the Altadena subdivision was launched -- although Pasadena would continue to annex portions of that city until 1956. To avoid annexation, South Pasadena incorporated in 1888. To this day, only neighboring East Pasadena remains unincorporated which is why Pasadena grows easterly. For the remainder of the 19th century, Pasadena was primarily a draw for vacationing Easterners and Middle Westerners -- especially consumptives and asthmatics. To serve them, the Los Angeles House Hotel opened in 1883. The first proper resort hotel in the area was the Raymond Hotel, which opened in 1886 atop Bacon Hill (later renamed Raymond Hill) in South Pasadena.

Tournament of Roses

Tournament of Roses Parade - 1893

In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses Parade was organized by The Valley Hunt Club, patterned after a European festival of roses and meant to showcase Pasadena's beauty and climate at a time that much of the US is in the throes of bleakest winter. In 1895, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association took over from the original organizers. A handegg game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of the parade and was originally known as "Tournament East-West football game." As a kid, primarily motivated by a predilection for underdogs, I always watched the Cotton Bowl Parade instead.


CalTech campus at twilight

The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) was founded in 1891 by Amos G. Throop as Throop University. It acquired its current name in 1920. 31 Caltech alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize and 66 have won the National Medal of Science or Technology.

39% of the student body is comprised of Asian-Americans and 35% white. The CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory is set at Caltech. Interestingly (but sadly not surprisingly as whitewashing is one of Hollywood's chief strengths) only one of the principle actors (Kunal Nayyar) on the show is Asian-American and the remaining (88%) are white.

One of Caltech's most famous graduates is Taiwanese-American astrophysicist Tyson Mao. The speedcuber (as competitive Rubik's Cube solvers refer to one another) co-founded the World Cube Association and in 2006 set the world record for the 3x3x3… blindfolded. That same year he appeared as a participant on CW's Beauty and the Geek. He's also appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, Good Morning America, Show Us Your Character, The Tonight Show, TWINS and Taiwan's 綜藝大哥大.

For urban spelunkers and fellow explorers, the fact that most buildings on the Caltech campus are connected by a network of steam tunnels, pipes, &c is titillating and the art found in them is testament to their popularity and the spirit of those who explore them. My friend (and Kayo Dot violinist) Mia Matsumiya -- who is famously small and thus able to squeeze into spaces that the rest of us can't -- explored the system and detailed her adventure (see here). 

California Cycleway

Pasadena resident Horace Dobbins started the the Cycle-way Company. In 1897, construction of an elevated, fourteen kilometer, wooden bike trail opened connecting Pasadena to Downtown Los Angeles was granted. Construction began in 1899. The stations were in the Moorish style where bikes could be repaired. The cycleway opened in 1900. Completion was never completed, however, and the 2 km cycleway only reached from near Hotel Green to the Raymond Hotel.

The early Pasadena hotel scene

Pasadena's Hotel Row in the 1930s

In the early 1900s, numerous Christian houses of worship popped up along Marengo Avenue, which resulted in its being regarded as an Avenue of Churches. Meanwhile, Colorado was quickly established as a hotel district. The Maryland Hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1914 and redesigned by Myron Hunt and rebuilt. Most of it was demolished in 1934 but the remaining residential tower of the Maryland has been a co-op since 1953. There was also the Constance Hotel, the Marengo Hotel and the Vista del Arroyo. Today, however, the best known is Castle Green.

Castle Green

Pasadena's Hotel Green

The Frederick Roehrig-designed Green Hotel began construction in 1887 and was completed in 1903, named after George Gill Green. He later added two more buildings to the structure -- Castle Green was the second building and was originally known as the Central Annex. In 1924, the Central Annex was subdivided into fifty apartments and renamed Castle Green. In the 1920s, one of the buildings caught fire after a guest fell asleep with a lit cigar in the smoking parlor.

It was afterward abandoned instead of repaired and sat empty until 1935, when it was further damaged by the Long Beach Earthquake and subsequently demolished completely. The surviving Castle Green is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Historic Register. It's been used in numerous films, commercials and TV series, including Buffy the vampire slayerThe last samurai, Deja vuWe were soldiersLittle rascalsThe stingThe time machineBobbyMurder, she wroteDallasWild at heartSneakers, BugsyThe man with two brainsSistersPuppetmasterMiracle on 34th Street and more. 

The Langham Huntington, Pasadena

The Hotel Wentworth was built by American Civil War veteran General Wentworth in 1906. It was designed by Charles Frederick Whittlesey in Spanish Mission Revival-style. After its 1911 purchase by Henry E. Huntington in 1911 it reopened in 1914 as The Huntington Hotel. In 1954 it changed to the Huntington Sheraton. When it failed to live up to new earthquake codes, it was closed. In 1988 it was demolished. It was rebuilt, incorporating its two ballrooms, in 1991 - using many of the original features. After a stint as a Ritz-Carlon, in 2007 it became the Langham Huntington, Pasadena.

Millionaire's Row

A modest Pasadena shelter on Millionaire's Row

In 1900, Pasadena's population was 9,117. In, 1901 Henry E. Huntington established the Pacific Electric Railway. Orange Grove quickly became the most desirable address for monied toffs and with 52 massive mansions lining it by 1902, it quickly came to be nicknamed "Millionaire's Row." Notable residents included Adolphus Busch, Aleister Crowley, David and Mary Gamble, L. Ron Hubbard, and William Wrigley Jr.

Behind Orange Grove lies Grand Avenue, another street lined with historic estates that were at various times home to Jared Torrance (founder of the city of Torrance), JB Van Nuys (founder of the city of Van Nuys), the Cox family (of Cox Communications) the Maxwell family (of Maxwell House), the Spaulding family (of the sporting goods company) and Howard Huntington, of the Huntington family.

On the day of our visit we stumbled across the Millard House, nicknamed La Minatura. Built in 1923, it was the first of Frank Lloyd Wright's four textile block houses, done in the Mayan Revival style.

Busch Gardens

German-born Missourian beer baron Adolphus Busch built the first Busch Gardens in Pasadena in 1905. When he died in 1913, his wife offered the park to Pasadena. The city passed and the gardens later appeared in films including The adventures of Beau geste, Robin Hood, The Canterville ghost, Carefree, Citizen Kane, Daddy-Long-Legs, Doctor Dolittle, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Duck soup, Frankenstein, Gone with the wind, It happened one night, Jack and the beanstalk, King of the jungle, Night and day, The silver lining, Son of Fury - The story of Benjamin Blake, The son of Tarzan, Stella Maris, Take a letter, darling, They died with their boots on, The three musketeers, and Watch on the Rhine. It closed in 1937.

Greene & Greene

1902-1913 was the major period of work by Greene & Greene, an architectural firm established by Ohioan brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. Their bungalow houses and "ultimate bungalows" are prime examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.

Robert R. Blacker House

Often referred to as the Blacker House, the Robert R. Blacker House was built in 1907 for Robert Roe Blacker (a retired Michigan lumberman) and his wife, Nellie Canfield. In the 1985 movie Back to the future, interior shots of Doc Brown's house were taken inside the home.

Also in 1985, Barton English and Michael Carey purchased the home. In what came to be known as "The rape of the Blacker House," English removed and sold many of the original fixtures and replaced them with cheaper replicas. As a result, Pasadena enacted an emergency ordinance in an attempt to limit the ability of Greene and Greene owners to dismantle or otherwise destroy artifacts tin their homes. known as the Blacker Ordinance, which attempted to limit the ability of people owning homes designed by Greene and Greene to dismantle or otherwise destroy artifacts therein.

Pasadena Motorcycle Club

The Pasadena Motorcycle Club formed in 1907, making it the third oldest motorcycle club in the US, just behind New York City's Yonkers Motorcycle Club (established in 1903) and the San Francisco Motorcycle Club (established in 1904).

Gamble House 

The Gamble House was built in 1908 as a winter residence for David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company. It remained in the Gamble family until 1966, when it was deeded to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with the USC School of Architecture. Today, two 5th year USC architecture students live in the house -- the selected students change yearly. It's exterior served as Doc Brown's house in Back to the future.

Colorado Street Bridge

In 1913, the Colorado Street Bridge opened, designed and built by Kansas City, Missouri firm J.A.L. Waddell. At first it was nicknamed the Arroyo Seco Bridge, after the river it spans, but it soon became better known as the Suicide Bridge after numerous people used it to jump to their deaths. It's been featured in several films including Alias, Seabiscuit and Sky High.

Pasadena Playhouse & Pasadena Theater

Pasadena's theater history began in 1888, with the opening of the Williams Hall Parlor Theatre. It was housed in a building that also contained Pasadena's first post office and first telephone. It has since been demolished. In 1911, the Clune Theater opened, showing vaudeville and film. It later became the Fox Pasadena Theater.

In 1916, actor/director Gilmor Brown took over a burlesque theater for his acting troupe, The Savoy Players. In 1917 he established the Community Playhouse Association of Pasadena, which evolved into the Pasadena Playhouse Association. In 1924, Pasadena's citizens raised sufficient funds to build a new Spanish Colonial Revival style theater designed by Elmer Grey. It was completed in 1925. He later began the Midsummer Drama Festivals at the Playhouse and the One-Act Play Tournament. The popularity of theater in Pasadena led none other than Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw to dub Pasadena "the Athens of the West." In 1969, after the death of Gilmor Brown in Palm Springs, the theater went bankrupt. After being shuttered for 17 years, it re-opened in 1986. In 2010, the theater once again filed for bankruptcy protection and cancelled its remaining season. It re-emerged from bankruptcy four months later. If you'd like to become more aware of and engaged in the rich local theater scene, please click here to join the Facebook group, Southland Theater!

Other significant theaters and theater companies include Jensen's Raymond Theatre opened in 1921 with a vaudeville performance, the Boston Court Performing Arts Center, the Ice House, the Furious Theatre Company (established 2002), and in 2011, A Noise Within relocated to Pasadena.

The Rose Bowl

In 1923, on the site of a former dump, the Myron Hunt-designed Rose Bowl opened, replacing Tournament Park as the location of the Tournament of Roses American Football game. It's also seen its share of historic music and sports performances. In 1988, Depeche Mode played their final show on the Music for the masses tour to a crowd of 60,453 people. It was filmed and resulted in the DA Pennebaker-directed documentary, 101. In 1996, the US played against Mexico (followed by LA Galaxy vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny) in a football game that attracted 92,216 spectators. In 2009, U2 played the first ever capacity crowd, 97,014, in the stadiums history in support of their album, No line on the horizon ad as part of their 360° tour. It also hosts a weekly flea market.

Civic Center

In 1927, Pasadena's Civic Center opened, including a beautiful library and a city hall designed by John Bakewell & Arthur Brown, who incorporated influences of early Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.

The beautiful library outside and in

Behind it, two large bronze portrait sculptures of brothers Jackie and Mack Robinson who, along with their mother, moved to Pasadena in 1920.


During World War II, Southern California turned into a major staging ground. Factories sprang up, especially in South LA and the Harbor. Pasadena attracted the higher end of manufacturing and scientific companies, most notably NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Segregation finally ended in 1948 and by 1950 Pasadena was, along with Bronzeville, South Central, Watts and parts of Midtown, one of the few areas with black majority neighborhoods. (However, the Pasadena Unified School District wasn't desegregated until 1969!) A steady influx of southern blacks, especially from Louisiana and Texas, made their new homes in Pasadena in the decade that followed.

One was James King Jr., a physical chemist who, after graduating from Morehouse in Atlanta, made his new home in Pasadena. There he spent five years at CalTech where he received an MS. Upon entering the private sector he first worked for Atomics International before attempting to develop a solar-powered car and subsequently working for decades at NASA JPL.

The Parrots of Pasadena

Pasadena and San Marino are home to a large number of naturalized parrots. They're theorized to have been released during a 1959 fire that destroyed Simpson's Garden-Town. According to Parrot Project of Los Angeles, there are as many as five different types of parrots, including the Red-Crowned Amazon Parrot.

The Doo Dah Parade

Declining property values attracted artists and bohemians and in 1976, the Doo Dah Parade was launched. The much-loved, zany answer to the classy Rose Parade offered a lighthearted change of pace during Pasadena's nadir and has occurred annually every May 1st.

Gangs of Pasadena

Pasadena began to experience a gang problem in the 1970s. Many Pasadenans moved to areas like the Inland Empire and parts of downtown were left abandoned. Crime soared and developers sought to destroy much of Old Town, catalyzing and invigorating Pasadena's preservation movement.

In the 1980s, Pasadena's crime problem continued. During that decade, Elrader "Ray Ray" Browning Jr ran his cocaine and heroin empire from Pasadena. In a 12 year period, prosecutors allege the kingpin ordered the murders of 60 to 70 people. He was arrested in 1987 and in '88 he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

The vacuum left after Browning's removal from the streets was filled by more gangs. The most famous episode of gang violence in the era took place in 1993, when three teenagers were murdered by Crips on Halloween. A memorial that reads "In memory of Stephen Coates and Reginald Crawford  November 18, 1993  John Muir Student Congress” was placed in honor of the victims.

Pasadena is still marked by the presence of gangs including North Side Pasadena, Pasadena Denver Lanes, Pasadena Latin Kings, South Side Pasadena and Varrio Pasadena Rifa but crime rate has fallen dramatically since the bad old days and is currently below the national median.


Pasadena is one of Los Angeles County's major art centers. In the early 20th century, Pasadena was home to the Arts and Craft Movement's Alson S. Clark, Ernest A. Batchelder, Guy Rose and Marion Wachtel. In 1909, the California Art Club was founded (and exists to this day). The Pasadena Society of Artists was founded in 1925.

The city is also renowned for its Arts Center, the Armory Center for the Arts, the Bunny Museum, art galleries (San Marino Gallery, Williamson Gallery, the Gold Bug, and Zephyr), and large number of public art pieces. Twice a year, Pasadenan cultural institutes participate in the free ArtNight Pasadena. Since its inception, it's also led to the development of PasadenART Weekend, a three-day event that includes ArtHeritage, ArtMarket, ArtNight, ArtWalk, and ArtPerformance. There's also the Pasadena Chalk Festival and Museums of the Arroyo Day.

Art Center

Art Center opened in 1930, founded by Tink Adams, who also served as the private college's director. It was originally located in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1947 it moved to Midtown's Hancock Park neighborhood. In 1965 it changed its name to Art Center College of Design although it is still usually referred to as Art Center. It moved to its current location in Pasadena in 1976.

Public Art

In the 1980s, the Public Art Program was launched, requiring the 1% of the building valuation of both new private development and municipal construction projects in the city is dedicated to public art.

 CalTech's Throop Memorial Garden  

        CalTech's Water Forms

Important public art collections exist at Art Center, CalTech and Pasadena City College. The city of Pasadena also offers public art walking tours.

Museums of Pasadena

Pasadena's best known museum is the Norton Simon. It was previously known as "The Pasadena Art Institute" and "The Pasadena Art Museum" and was established in 1969 Its collection includes Asian and European paintings and sculpture, as well as tapestries and woodblock prints. Surrounding it in the nicely landscaped grounds are more sculptures. In 1974, art collector Norton Simon absorbed the Pasadena Art Museum's debts and maintenance and in turn it was renamed in his honor. Simon died in 1993.

Other significant museums in Pasadena include The Pasadena Museum of History (established in 1924), Pacific Asian Museum (founded in 1971), the Kidspace Children’s Museum (established in 1979), and the Pasadena Museum of California Art (founded in 2002).


Although the Clune Theater, which opened in 1911, showed films alongside other forms of entertainment, Warner's Photoplay Theater, which opened in 1914, was the first Pasadena theater dedicated to the exhibition of photoplays… or films as most people refer to them these days.

Academy 6

The Academy 6 was originally a single screen theater known as The Egyptian, (not to be confused with Warner's Egyptian). By 1942 it was known as The Colorado and was sold to Fox and it became known as The Academy Theater. In the 1980s it was multiplexed and today it shows primarily second-run films at a discount price and boasts a nice selection of flavored popcorn seasonings. The downside? It's not exactly state-of-the-art and you need to make sure that there isn't some obstruction blocking your view. Also, it's pretty grimy so if you're put off by schmutz and stains, you might want to skip it or arrive after the lights have dimmed.

Laemmle's Playhouse Seven

The Laemmle's chain is LA County's premiere (only?) arthouse chain, with locations in Beverly Hills, Claremont, Encino, Lancaster, Santa Monica, Sawtelle and West Hills. The company began in 1938 when Max and Kurt Laemmle (cousins of Universal Pictures-founder Carl Laemmle) purchased their first theater in Highland Park. Today it's owned and operated by Max's son, Robert Laemmle, and his son, Greg Laemmle. The Pasadena location opened in 2000. It's also where I first saw Sisu play against a backdrop of Miyazaki clips.

Filming Locations

In addition to the aforementioned films and TV series filmed or set in Pasadena, there are over 1,000 more. The majestic Bundy House, built in 1914, served as the Mulray home in Chinatown and the governor's mansion on TV's Benson. The American Red Cross building served as JAG headquarters on that show of the same name. Arden Villa was featured on The A-Team, Dynasty, and Knightrider. The Walker House was seen on Brothers & sisters. In the film 2012, Pasadena was said to be the residence of Jackson Curtis and it was also, along with Glendale, the setting of Mildred Pierce.

Other films and series filmed in part or in whole in Pasadena include Arrested development, A warrior's heart, Blow, Bones, Bruce Almighty, CSI, CSI - Miami, Catch me if you can, Charmed, Crazy, stupid, love, Date night, Desperate housewives, Dexter, Dinner for schmucks, Enemy of the state, Fast & furious, Faster, Girl next door, Glee, Gone with the wind, Inception, Iron Man 2, Justified, Kill Bill, Knight and Day, Knocked up, Live free or die hard, Mad men, Matilda, NCIS, NCIS-Los Angeles, Old school, Parks and recreation, Pulp fiction, Scary movie, Seven pounds, Spider-Man 3, Stand by me, The 40 year old virgin, The Big Lebowski, The Closer, The Green Hornet, The Italian job, The Lincoln lawyer, The Muppets, The OC, The Terminator, The X-Files, The artist, The mentalist, The office, The prestige, The social network, Transformers, True blood, We bought a zoo, Wedding crashers, You again and way too many titles to mention any more! 

Pasadenan Actors


Pasadena is also the birthplace of  actors like Alison Brie, Christian Serratos, Dana MacDuff, Harry Hamlin, Jaleel White, James Deen, and Sally Field as well as TV chef, Julia Child.


Pasadena Media, created in 2007, is a non-profit organization governed by Pasadena Community Access Corporation (which was established in 1983). The organization currently oversees four television channels: The Arroyo Channel (Channel 32), KPAS (Channel 3), KLRN (Channel 95) and PCC TV (Channel 96) as well as a community media access center. Original programming includes Crown City News, Daheli LIVE, and Good Day Pasadena. From 1988-1998, Pasadena-raised/Chicago-born activist Michael Zinzun hosted and co-produced, with fellow activist and artist Nancy Buchanan, the fondly-remembered program, Message To The Grassroots.


Pasadena music events  and organizations

The Pasadena Symphony formed in 1928. The Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music opened in 1996. Boston Court Performing Arts Center presents concerts throughout the year, known as Music at the Court. Friends of the Levitt has offered free summer concerts in Memorial Park since 2002. The Arcadia-based California Philharmonic (CalPhil) performs two series in Pasadena, Cal Phil at the Ambassador Auditorium and Cal Phil Music Martinis & the Maestro in the Romanesque Room at Castle Green.

Bands and performers of Pasadena

Bands and performers from Pasadena include Dan Barrett, Jeff Deyo, Jerry Dixon, Kim Carnes, Poxy Boggards, Primordial Undermind, Red Delicious, Smegma, and most famously, Van Halen. In 2007, Pasadena band Ozma released an album called Pasadena.

Mom & Pop record stores

As far as I know, there are just two independent record stores left in Pasadena. There's the aforementioned Poo-Bah and Canterbury Records. I guess there's still a Penny Lane but when I used to work as a manager at that chain, they'd pretty much given up on music and were focussed on renting porn and selling postcards. Canterbury also sells a lot of DVDs but I used to go there for the cheap vinyl, usually after shopping at Target or eating Indian nearby.



In 1967, during the Golden Age of FM Radio, Tom and Raechel Donahue introduced the freeform format demo the basement of Pasadena Presbyterian Church, broadcasting as KPPC at 106.7. Early on air talent included David Lander, Dr. Demento, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean. They established the station as LA's premier underground station. In 1971 the entire staff was fired and in 1976 the station changed owners and reemerged as KROQ, which before long became one of, if not the, most influential station in the US. After it was purchased by new owners in 1986, it relocated to Burbank and later Los Angeles, where, in 1997, it lost the remainder of its edge when it became part of CBS.


Broadcasting from Pasadena City College (aka PCC - nicknamed "Pretty Close to College"), KPCC broadcasts at 89.3. In addition to carrying American public radio programs produced by APM, NPR, PRIit produces its own programs, including FilmWeekThe Madeleine Brand Show, AirTalk with Larry Mantle, Patt Morrison, Off-Ramp with John RabeThe Loh Down on Science, and others.


Pasadena is a fairly green city with many thousands of trees and numerous parks, including Allendale Park, Arroyo Seco Park, Brenner Park, Brookside Park and Golf Course, Central Park, Eaton Blanche Park, Eaton Canyon Park, Grant Park, Green Park, Hahamongna Watershed Park, Jefferson Recreation Center, La Pintoresca Park, McDonald Park, Pasadena Memorial Park (formerly Library Park), Robinson Park, San Rafael Park, Singer Park, Tournament Park, Victory Park, Villa Parke Community Center, and Vina Vieja Park.


For the thirsty, there are a lot of places in Pasadena to get a drink. I once went to the 35er out of curiosity. If millions of TVs blaring various sports in your face with a bunch of dudes is your idea of fun, then definitely check it out. Another time I went undercover as a frat boy to Old Towne Pub as a fascinating social experiment. There's Lucky Baldwin's, which appeals to Brit-tards and fans of good beer (but not food), although they seem to always be out of the first four varieties ordered on any given day. Out on the east side of Pasadena, I've been to the Colorado Bar numerous times, a pleasant and actual dive bar (and not some theme dive bar). The slightly more upscale Magnolia Lounge, on South Lake, is pretty nice too. On the day of our visit, we watched the sunset and enjoyed a few drinks at the Tap Room in the Langham.

Interestingly, there are seemingly (I don't feel like counting) more tea houses and coffee bars than bars it seems. Drinking spots include Andy's Coffee Shop, Bird Pick Tea & Herb, Bliss Cafe and Lounge, Boba World, Bodega Wine Bar, Cafe Alibi, Cafe Culture, Chado Tea Room, Coffee Cantata, Coffee by the Books, Congregation Ale House, Dog Haus Biergarten, Dullahan's, Eden Garden Bar & Grill, 1886, Gotta Java, Green Street Tavern, Half and Half Tea Express, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Jameson Brown Coffe Roasters, Jones Coffee Roasters, Juice it Up!, Le Petit Vendome, MOKA Cafe, Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies, Monopole Wine, Niko and Friends Cafe, Peet's Coffee & Tea, redwhite+bluezz, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, Rose Tree Cottage, Roxolana Restaurant & Wine Bar, Scarlet Tea Room & Fine Dining, Spitfire Saloon, T. Boyles Tavern, Tea Rose Garden, Tea Spots, The Boulevard, The Coffe Bean & Tea Leaf, The Coffee Barrel, The Crepevine Bistro & Wine Bar, The Nose Wine Bar, Tiffany's Coffee, Vertical Wine Bistro, and Zona Rosa Caffe.


Pasadena though a vibrant city, especially during the day, seems pretty sleepy at night. That being said, I've never set foot in any of nor attended the following: Club Menage, Esquire Bar & Lounge, Jake's Diner & Billiard Club, LIV Lounge, Lindy Groove, Lounge 54, The Granada LA, and Third Saturday Swing.

So, in conclusion, Pasadena is great and I will defend it against those who slag it but thank the lord I'm finally done with this entry. Until next time! Excelsior! 


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

Catching Up with Lateef the Truthspeaker

Posted by Billyjam, January 4, 2012 05:09am | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Throughout Lateef the Truthspeaker's recently released album FireWire on Quannum Projects the longtime Bay Area emcee / Solesides founding member shows nothing but pride and love for his hometown of Oakland,  CA. 
LiveWIre contains countless shout outs to "The Town" including mentions of Interstate 580, SoulBeat TV, and Skyline High School. In fact the East Oakland born & raised emcee even arranged a Skyline High School rap reunion of sorts on the new album's lead single "Oakland" which features cameos from two fellow alumni of the Oakland high school: Del the Funky Homosapien and The Grouch.

One morning last month I caught up with Lateef at World Ground Coffee cafe on MacArthur in East Oakland's Laurel District where he was grabbing a hot drink before heading out on the road, along with fellow Solesides/Quannum member Lyrics Born, to travel up to the North West to do some shows. The two emcees, who as well as having their own individual careers collaborate together as Latryx, (but had not in a long while) had just done two nights of "reunion" shows at The Independent in San Francisco along with such other local artists as Bayonics, Honor Roll, and Hopie Spitshard. "Awesome" was how Lateef described those two shows. In addition to being one of the founding members of the Solesides crew/hip-hop collective that morphed into Quannum Projects Lateef is also part of The Maroons (with Chief Xcel) and has another side career recording with Fatboy Slim. He told me that he and Lyrics Born were busy working on the long overdue follow up Latryx project - that he and Lyrics Born, along with some help from individuals like DJ Shadow and Chief XCel, began almost two full decades ago - but haven't released anything new in over a dozen years with the exception of a few new bits on a mixtape CD (and now a download for sale on LB's site) Latryical Madness Vol 1 mixed by DJ Zeph .  "We are about six songs into it [new Latryx album] right now with production on there by Amp Live, Cut Chemist, the Bangerz [formerly Finger Bangerz] are on there doing some stuff. And a few other cats as well: DJ Shadow and [Dan the] Automator is supposed to give us some stuff. And Chief Xcel is supposed to give us some stuff. We've got a bunch of stuff," he said.

Continue reading...

January 3, 2012: A Separation

Posted by phil blankenship, January 3, 2012 10:05pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Found: a cache of 150 "Lost" Thin Lizzy tapes containing up to 700 songs!

Posted by Kells, January 3, 2012 06:21pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Tremendous news for Thin Lizzy addicts announced today! According to the Belfast Telegraph a cache of up to 700 Thin Lizzy songs found among 'a treasure trove of tapes stashed away by Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott' have been slated for release later this year as a box set via Universal Music.

Apparently, shortly before the Dublin rocker's death in 1986, the then 36 year old Lynott gave a heap of 150 tapes to a third party for safe keeping - here's hoping the good folks at Universal treat the twenty-six year old find kind.

"This is an absolutely stunning find," Steve Hammonds, project manager behind the new Thin Lizzy box set, told the Irish Independent.

"In every group there's a member who lovingly collects their recordings and in Thin Lizzy that was Phil Lynott, because Lizzy was his baby and his band."

"There are out-takes, unheard versions of Thin Lizzy hits and, most exciting of all, material which was recorded but never released at the time," said Mr Hammonds.

The scheduled June release won't be the first collection in the last few years to feature archive work by the band as it follows on last year's Live At The BBC release, not to mention all those long-awaited deluxe remastered editions of Lizzy's back catalog. [and while we're on the subject, powers that be, howsabout getting around to taking the TBD out of the promised 2CD/DVD edish of Live and Dangerous equation already]

What's really rocking my clock is the fact that the newly unearthed recordings stretch from Thin Lizzy's years with Decca Records, beginning in 1971, to their Renegade album in 1981 - an era that is considered by many Lizzy enthusiasts to be not only Lizzy's finest hour, what with Jailbreak fitting snugly in the middle of those years, but also a rather terrifically crucial period in rock history. Consider this: what would Iron Maiden be like in 1984 had it not been for the Thin Lizzy of 1971-1981? I rest my case.

San Francisco’s Comedy Festival SF Sketchfest: 1/19 - 2/4!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 3, 2012 04:47pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
San Francisco’s comedy festival SF Sketchfest runs January 19th - February 4th in 15 venues acrossSF Sketchfest San Francisco!

SF Sketchfest, the most prestigious comedy festival on the West Coast, celebrates their 11th year by honoring the Upright Citizens Brigade with an in-person tribute and by welcoming Eddie Izzard,  Drew Carey, Jennifer Coolidge, David Cross, Rachel Dratch, Chris Elliott, Will Forte, Elliott Gould, John Hodgman, Sally Kellerman, Marc Maron, Bruce McCulloch, Christopher Meloni, Laraine Newman, Bob Odenkirk, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, John Slattery, Kevin Smith, Reggie Watts, Fred Willard, The Groundlings, the geeks behind w00tstock, the creators of Wet Hot American Summer, Release the Sunbird with Zach Rogue, and so much more!

Continue reading...

RAP NEWS Tells Us What to Expect in 2012 (with Guests Noam Chomsky & Anonymous)

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 3, 2012 12:42pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
Like your rap long, ponderous, and downright hilarious? Thanks to RAP NEWS (written and createdAnonymous, occupy, #occupy, occupy wall street, Rap News, 2012, Noam Chomsky by Hugo Farrant and Giordano Nanni in a home-studio in Melbourne, Australia), there's a constant stream of socio-politically relevant musical commentary addressing the global issues of today. Oh, and they wear funny wigs.

Their latest installment (episode 10) discusses the big one: 
What will happen? Will we see the poles shift or a paradigm shift? Will a rogue Sumerian planet smash into our solar system, plunging us into serfdom under the iron fist of a race of gold-hungry aliens? Or are the aliens already here? 

Bringing out the big guns -- Noam Chomsky and even an embodiment of Anonymous -- RAP NEWS crams in as many theories and arguments as possible about our impending end of days. Happy New Year!

-- Audra

(In which we return from where our roots are rooted.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2012 11:59am | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Home is where the hearth is. Downtown Nevada City, California.

The boyfriend and I have recently returned from frolicsome fun in my hometown of Nevada City, California. This year my most shiny of celebrations was neither Christmas nor New Years, but my sister Jacquie’s 50th birthday (for which I provided the cake, subsequently learning that Christmas day is a lousy time to buy baked goods).

Some highlights of the trip were…

Teaching my mother how to prepare absinthe. Who doesn’t love this quintessential Christmas pastime*? Equipped with a curvaceous reservoir glass and ornate, slotted spoon I enthusiastically gave a demonstration on how to prepare absinthe in both the traditional French method and the more dramatic (and efficient) Bohemian method. Both methods were merely informative, not practical, as my Mammy and me prefer our green fairy sans sucre.

My Mom, enjoying her beverage
(artist's depiction)

Armed with our booze and one clove cigarette each, we sat in her English garden and contentedly sinned with some of Satan’s most pleasingly perfumed indulgences. Once we felt sweetly weak-in-the-knees it was time to make some pie. (Drinking and driving is a bad idea, but drinking and pie making is a sign of advanced evolution in a species. Word.)

Mom has a recipe for Oregon Chess Pie – an heirloom handed down for generations which I’d never had the pleasure to consume. With the help of one of my best friends, Carrie, and her toddler daughter, Major, we set about to baking six slices of history. Here’s the recipe:

Continue reading...

January 2, 2012: The Iron Lady

Posted by phil blankenship, January 2, 2012 09:35pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

January 1, 2012: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Posted by phil blankenship, January 1, 2012 01:50pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share

Ten reasons why last year didn't suck: another Best Music of 2011 list

Posted by Kells, January 1, 2012 12:00pm | Post a Comment Bookmark and Share
2011, what can I say? A great year for music if not for anything else. So without further ado, I'm pleased to present my very own "Best of 2011" list, because listing is fun (unless, of course, you're on a ship in danger of capsizing). Let's sail on shall we, beginning with the top of the best, old Mr. Natural himself:

Little Wings

Black Grass

This apple made a monumental leap from the tree in that it was many years in the making. It seemed that Kyle Field, the man behind the Little Wings mystique, had gone on hiatus only to return on his own terms with this juicy bramble of soft melodies, surf-salted served with a side of Lil Wayne-influenced folk-rock jammage. Field spins wooly yarns that sound like a conversation gone unspoken in the moment regaining shape in memory, voiced to oneself longingly. It's introspective almost to a fault, but the overall sound and vibe offers enough volume and warming to light even the darkest reaches of your keep and stay the ghosts of Black Grass' pasts at bay. Without a doubt the best new record and best instore performance of the year.

Little Wings - "Black Grass"

The Sandwitches
Mrs. Jones Cookies
Empty Cellar

If there is one other record that, like the above, remains forever locked in my can't live without it file, it's this little wonder from local SF girl group The Sandwitches. Sounding simultaneously like girls-in-the-garage "golden oldies" and new rock Americana aging backwards in filigree, these ladies cast a lasting spell the likes of which their lo-fi, sun-bleached reverb-drenched contemporaries cannot compete with. Their harmonies are a dream, their melodies artful and unpredictable, often culminating in surprise endings and the lyrics are the stuff "my gournal" dreams are made of.

The Sandwitches - "Lightfoot"

Various Artists
Delta Swamp Rock
Soul Jazz

You gotta hand it to Soul Jazz, they do compilations so right they ought to write the book on how it's done. None of the music is new on this here two-disc collection of "sounds from the South: at the crossroads of rock, country and soul" but it is essential in that as it has been proven in several Amoeba households to make meal preparation and completion more enjoyable as well as addig to the overall success of dinner party enjoyment. I'd include more than one taste of this damn good comp if I could, but Barefoot Jerry deserves the spotlight. Best comp of the year!
Barefoot Jerry - "Smokies"

Blaze Foley
Clay Pigeons
Secret Seven

Emotionally speaking, this vinyl-only, career spanning collection of studio, home and intimate live recordings made between 1976 - 1988 is the exhumed backwoods treasure release of the year in my opinion. From the lauded likes of Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams and Merle Haggard it seems that Blaze Foley's honeyed voice, though largely unheard far and wide, has resonated within the hearts of all who have been lucky enough to have known his music. Thanks to the good folks at Secret Seven there's a little more country to love - I can't hear "Clay Pigeons" or "If I Could Only Fly" without shivering in my skin. Breathtaking!
Blaze Foley - "Clay Pigeons"

New Album

For a band that always earns a lot of attention for their innovative and experimental heavy rock forays, this album, along with the two others they released this year (in the same week!), received mixed reviews due to a shift in sonic leaning toward a more high-impact, electro J-pop aesthetic. While some might be quick to call it pussy, there is no question that Boris maintain a technical stranglehold on their medium as they splash out in new directions. This record is a definite slow-growing ember burning up a myriad of genres.

Boris - "Spoon"

Sun Araw
Ancient Romans
Sun Ark/Drag City

Ever had the urge to take a stroll through a Casio forest, plodding lazily alongside a meandering data stream? Sun Araw's imagineer of epic soundscape mit cosmic dub vibeage Cameron Stallones conjures up this year's, which is to say last year's, most gravity bong worthy heavy hitter, rivaled only by Peaking Light's 936 in my opinion. Still, at the rate this guy keeps slicing off chunks of shaman-level soundtracking for his listener's inner space explorations, administering mind-altaring substances aurally will be trending at an all time high, man.

Sun Araw - Ancient Romans

Little Roy
Battle For Seattle

And you thought the award for novelty album of the year sould have gone to Loutallica's Lulu - shame on you!

I cannot explain exactly why but this album of reggae covers of Nirvana's patent grunge sounds just fucking works. Hear me now and believe me later when you check it out below.

Little Roy - "Sliver" / "Dive"

Grace Sings Sludge
Last Year's Friend
Secret Seven

From one of the minds that conjures magic as the Sandwitches comes this cassette only, limited release offered by Secret Seven - a collection of home recordings and folksy warblings that ramble freely within their sonic confines like so many wild mares briefly harnessed within innocent fences. The layers Grace achieves on each track, be it quiet chiming, a little harmonica or spectral harmonies, add a gossamer of mystery and are pleasure to peek through as each song unfurls its fabric, some of which are apparently cover tunes. Here's hoping for a reissue.

Grace Sings Sludge - "Last Year's Friend"

Various Artists
West Indies Funk
Vols. 1- 3
Trans Air

The only other compilation to really get my steel drum fetish all hot and bothered this year was in fact a series of three comps put out by Trans Air sailing under the banner West Indies Funk.
Not only are all three of these little gems packed front to back with blazing soul and funk cover jams all rummed-up and sun-soaked but they also feature some deep cuts ripe for a right good airing on your hi-fi. Add to that the bonus Disc 'O' Lypso comp and you can bet your ass you've got a sweaty boogie party goin' on!

The East Side Symphony - "Hot Pants Road"

Veronica Falls
Veronica Falls

I fell pretty hard for this band while compiling material for a Halloween mixtape I make every year for a dear friend of mine - it was the single "Found Love in a Graveyard" that did it. They've got a certain sound that's all kinds of been heard before but in their case "heard it" never sounded so good. In short, they make bucking-the-trend seem so very passé. Plus, they manage to keep their broken-hearted cemetery pop jangly with just enough tambourine behind the barely there girl/boy vocal harmonies that make the whole affair, super 8 video and all, worthwhile.

Veronica Falls - "Found Love in a Graveyard"