Amoeblog

Cruise to Mexico: Part 2

Posted by Job O Brother, September 27, 2010 03:52pm | Post a Comment

Bon voyage, bitches.

For the boyfriend and myself, going on a second cruise was like a couple of World War II veterans returning to Truk Lagoon – we knew in our hearts we were headed for a piece of paradise, but past experience kept us on edge, worried for the worst. (It’s hard to come back from a cruise where you order 1 bowl of chicken soup and, instead, are brought 14 bowls of rice and 26 hard boiled eggs.) At least this time, we had company: his mother, Chris, and his father, Fred – two people with lots of cruise experience.


Chris and Fred flew in from Texas, where they reside. Early in the morning, the four us took a shuttle to Los Angeles Pier. The driver of the shuttle was the slowest I think I’ve ever witnessed. I mean, kudos on being safe, but when your passengers start thinking they’d make better time on foot, you’ve got a problem. Seriously – he made the Peoplemover seem like the Starship Enterprise.

Once at the Pier, we were guided through a bewildering array of checkpoints, gates, lines, forms and again, more checkpoints. To add to the confusion, there were both mandatory forms and photos to be taken, and optional, “fun” photos and forms. The whole ordeal was kind of like being led to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, if, y’know, instead of wanting to exterminate people, the Nazis were obsessed with tricking them into buying family portraits superimposed on commuter mugs.

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Cruise to Mexico: Part 1

Posted by Job O Brother, September 20, 2010 04:34pm | Post a Comment

This last week, the boyfriend and I were treated to a seven day cruise to Mexico, courtesy of his parents, Chris and Fred, who also accompanied us. Those of you who know about our last ill-fated cruise may be surprised to learn we would go on another, but you know what they say…




Anyway, always keeping you, dear reader, in mind, I kept a log of events which I will be extrapolating here on my Amoeblog.

Just as soon as I finish unpacking and figure out where to put my souvenir statue of Saint Jude


'Sup.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Sherman Oaks

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 16, 2010 05:13pm | Post a Comment

Sherman Oaks from Mulholland

This blog is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods (as many as you'd like) to be the subject of future entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities (again, as many as you'd like), vote here. Should you also like to see blog entries about Orange County communities, click here.

 
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Sherman Oaks

Sherman Oaks is a neighborhood located in the southern portion of the San Fernando Valley, surrounded by Van Nuys and Valley Glen to the north, Valley Village to the northeast, Studio City to the east, West Hollywood to the southeast, Beverly Crest and Bel-Air to the south, Brentwood to the southwest, Encino to the west, and the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve to the northwest. For this episode I was joined by frequent traveling companion, Shimbles. It was a hot day, yet, for unknown reasons, he kept rolling up the windows so that he could listen to and sing along with the hits of Sugar Ray, Smashmouth and Collective Soul videos on his iPhone.

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New Latin Releases For February 2010

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 9, 2010 12:56am | Post a Comment

Nacional Records
seems to be the only choice these days for any Latin Alternative music these days. While releases by artists such as Mexican Institute Of Sound, The Nortec Collective and the Zizek crew show the electronic future of the genre, Banda De Turistas reaches back to 60’s era Kinks for inspiration. Magical Radiophonic Heart contains fifteen songs of garage/psyche/pop bliss that would please the kids discovering a past that they never knew. Those kids that look retro yet weren’t born when The Dukes Of Stratosphere first came out, let alone The Kinks! Banda De Turistas is available on CD only.

Speaking of retro, Vampi Soul just released a couple of reissues. Spiteri, a band of Venezuelan brothers (Charles & Jorge) who moved to England, hung out with the likes of Traffic, The Animals and Osibisa and, in 1973, released a gem of a debut album. Spiteri, or as it was known in Venezuela, Disco De La Culebra (The Snake Record…because the band logo was a cobra), which was their only proper album. They were supposed to be Venezuela’s answer to Santana. But like the band’s original press release stated, “Santana is a rock band influenced by Latin music…Spiteri are Latin musicians influenced by rock.” Within the heavy 70’s rock and onslaught of percussion, one can hear Spiteri’s Venezuelan roots. As Jorge Spiteri put it, the band played “With The Beatles and Traffic in our minds and Joe Cuba in our hearts.” Sadly, due to immigration problems, most of the band started to leave England and the brothers were left with a line-up that consisted of them with English musicians. The band soon broke up but not before recording a killer funk version of The Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man” that sounds like something Mandrill would have done. This release is available on CD and limited edition vinyl.

The other reissue Vampi Soul released this week is from El Gran Fellove, a totally underrated Cuban singer that made most of his career in Mexico. Born and raised in Cuba, he was a contemporary of the likes of Cachao, Perez Prado, Celia Cruz and Chano Pozo. He was known for his scatting, a style that he later dubbed the “Chua Chua.” El Gran Fellove could have been much bigger if it wasn’t for his loyalties. He was asked to play in both Machito and Tito Puente’s groups while performing in New York in the late fifties, but turned them down because he didn’t want to cause friction with the singers that those groups already had. On top of that, he had a career in Mexico. There, he starred in a few movies and released recordings on the RCA label. Vampi Soul's collection, Mango Mangue, focuses on the work he did in the 60’s on RCA, including the song “El Jamaiquino,” a Ska/Mambo fusion that has been the desires of deejays for many years. This release is available on CD and LP.

Dia De Los Muertos

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 2, 2009 02:31pm | Post a Comment

Every year I look forward to building my altar for Dia De Los Muertos. It’s become more important to me than Christmas or New Year's, and most certainly more than Thanksgiving. It's time for me to take time out and think of those who have left this world and look forward to their spiritual return via memories, stories and offerings. Besides images of family and friends that have passed on, I like to include musicians and artists who have inspired me in some way. This year, many great musicians from Latin America and Spain have passed. So this is my ofrenda to them. Pan De Muerto, Chocolate and Tequila for all spirits who visit. I hope you can include the souls listed below in your altar or in your thoughts today.

Mercedes Sosa (Argentina)
Argentine folk sing and outspoken activist. Along with Silvio Rodriguez, Victor Jara, Violeta Parra and many others, was part of the Nueva Canción movement. Nueva Cancion was the mixture of Latin American folk music and rock with progressive and politicized lyrics. Mercedes Sosa is not only respected in her native country, but around the world. Her most recent album, Cantora, contains collaborations with the likes of Shakira, Caetano Veloso and Luis Alberto Spinetta.

Jorge Reyes (Mexico)
Jorge Reyes started one of Mexico’s first progressive rock bands, Choc Mool, in the late 70’s/early 80’s. He played both guitar and flute while incorporating many indigenous instruments of Mexico. In 1985, Jorge went solo and released a series of new age albums based upon indigenous Mexican culture. He performed legendary concerts at famous Mexican archeological sites such Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza and his music was used for movies and television shows around the world. Coincidentally, he had an annual Dia De Los Muertos show at The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City that was widely popular.

Joe Cuba (Puerto Rico)
His real name was Gilberto Miguel Calderón, and he was from Puerto Rico, not Cuba. He was known as the "Father of Latin Boogaloo," the marriage between Soul and Latin music. His many hits include “Sock It To Me Baby” “Bang Bang” and “El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back To Georgia)." As a bandleader, he helped start up the careers of such future legends of Salsa as Cheo Feliciano, Ruben Blades, Charlie Palmeri and Jimmy Sabater.

Manny Oquendo (USA)
Manny was a self-taught percussionist that went on to play with some of the biggest names in Latin Music. He played with Tito Puente, Eddie Palmeri, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Rodriguez, among many others. Manny was instrumental in bringing the complicated Cuban rhythm Mozambique to Latin Jazz and Salsa. He, along with Bassist Andy Gonzalez, formed Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino and recorded the classic Concepts In Unity, which is a must hear for any percussionist. Soon after, Manny and Andy formed Libre, a group that Manny played with until January of 2009.

Maria Trinidad Perez de Miravete Mille aka Mari Trini (Spain)
As a child, Mari Trini suffered from various kidney ailments. She was told that her condition was incurable, so instead of dwelling on it, she became of Spain’s most popular singers. She first went to France and recorded an album in French before returning to Spain in the late 60’s. While in France, she was influenced by Jaques Brel and Juliette Greco, and even went as far as saying that she wanted to become the “Spanish Juliette Greco.” The fiercely independent Trini found herself at odds the oppressive Franco –era conservatism and she was exactly what Spain needed. Her songs became feminist anthems and her attire (wearing pants rather than dresses) influenced women in Spain to do the same. Mari became popular for her romantic songs although she was quiet about her own romantic life. She hid the fact that she was a lesbian for many years, often having to answer questions why she didn’t have a boyfriend. Her popularity waned over the years but many of her songs are considered classics, such as “Acércate,” “Un Hombre Marchó,” “Yo No Soy Esa” and Una Estrella En Mi Jardín.” In 2001, she recorded a comeback album with Los Panchos, re-recording her greatest hits "Trios" style.

Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez (Cuba)
Mainstream audiences knew Chachaito as the bassist for The Buena Vista Social Club. However, like the other musicians involved with BVSC, he had a long career before that. He came from a musical family. His father was Cuban composer Orestes Lopez and his uncle was the legendary bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez. As a teenager he started to play in many of Cuba’s big bands. At seventeen, he replaced his uncle in the group Arcana y sus Maravillas and soon after started playing with Orchestra Riverside. He played classical music during the day and with Cuban dance bands at night. At one point, he was part of the Cuban experimental group Irakere along with Chucho Valdés, Arturo Sandoval, and Paquito D'Rivera. His only solo album, the excellent Cachaito, came out in 2001. It is a blend of Cuban Music with Dub Reggae, Jazz and African music. Unfortunately, due to the Buena Vista Social Club hype, the album got lost in the shuffle. Revisiting it recently, it was years ahead of its time.

Honorable mention:
Ralph Mercado (Puerto Rico)-Salsa promoter and once head of RMM Records.
Quintin Cabrera (Uruguay)-Nueva Cancionero, wrote “Senor Presidente.”
Suma Paz (Argentina)-Folk singer who introduced the compositions of fellow Argentine Atahualpa Yupanqui to the rest of the world.
Ramón Piñon (Tejano)- He was the leader of his own conjunto for many years and is known for helping give Freddy Fender his start in the music business.
Edgardo Miranda (Puerto Rico) guitarist, played with Tito Puente and Cortijo.
Ricardo Abreu (Cuba) one of the infamous members of Los Papines, known as “the Harlem Globetrotters of Cuban percussion.”
Antonio Vega (Spain) Former lead singer of Nacha Pop, wrote the Spanish Rock anthem “La Chica De Ayer.”
Rafael Escalona (Colombia)- Vallenato songwriter, co-founder of the Vallenato Legend Festival.
Jesus Alfonso Miro (Cuba)- Musical director of Los Muñequitos De Mantanza.
Otilio Galíndez (Venezuela) - A songwriter and composer who wrote many Christmas related songs. His songs were covered by the likes of Mercedes Sosa, Pablo Milanes and Silvio Rodriguez.


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