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California Fool's Gold's Guide to Los Angeles's Revival Cinemas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 22, 2014 10:34am | Post a Comment
 

Hollywood Cinerama, Los Angeles, 2003 (image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

No city on Earth is more closely associated with motion pictures than Los Angeles. 10% of all movie theaters in the entire country are located in California and Los Angeles County is home to over 100 of them. Although most of Los Angeles's theaters, like those throughout the country, showcase only the latest Hollywood product, there are also specialty theaters which show art films, adult films, classic films, experimental films, foreign films, independent films, revival films, &c. I've previously written about Southern California's drive-in theaters (For Ozoners Only) and overlooked commercial foreign language cinemas (Los Angeles's Secret, Foreign Language Movie Theater Scene). This is my guide to the repertory cinemas or revival houses. 

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Show Recap: Joel Jerome at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, November 19, 2014 02:53pm | Post a Comment

Joel Jerome brought his seven-man band to Amoeba Hollywood Nov. 18 for a set of songs from his excellent new solo record, Psychedelic Thrifstore Folk, as well as his catalog of songs from his days fronting dios.

They started with the “Everybody Wants Somebody,” jangling forth on a Kinksy arrangement until it slowed down for an extended sunlit singalong chorus. The band layered jangling acoustics, steel guitar, horse-clopping percussion, chimes, saxophone into a perfectly orchestrated mass, showing Jerome’s ability to dress these songs in whatever he sees fit and still have them come through as well-written songs to the core. Jerome introduced singer/songwriter Miguel Mendez for the next song, the Mendez-written “You Got Me All Wrong,” off the first dios album, which was also included on one of The O.C. mixes back in the day. The band faithfully tore through “You Got Me All Wrong” and went into another Mendez song, Thrifstore’s dreamy “I’m Dumb After All,” with Mendez taking lead and Jerome singing backup and snaking country licks around lines like “I wanna die with the radio blasting.”

Thriftstore’s cool, Doors-tinged opener “Stay in Bed” came next, followed by “Tell Me Thing,” off the third dios album, We Are Dios. The song was the set’s show-stopper, its sexy opening riff grabbing you and setting the stage for Jerome’s spine-tingling lead vocal and killer psych-rock solo. They finished the set with a new song he said would be on an upcoming album he hoped would be out next year, a glam-blues stomper that left us excited for whatever the prolific Jerome is up to next.

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Joel Jerome Chats With the Amoeblog Before His Performance Nov. 18 at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Billy Gil, November 14, 2014 03:45pm | Post a Comment

Joel Jerome has been one of the best songwriters in L.A. for years under a number of guises—with his bands, dios, dios (malos) and Babies on Acid. Recently, he’s been going under his own name, under which he’s released the Beck covers album When Beck Was Cool and now a collection of his own songs called Psychedelic Thriftstore Folk. It’s perhaps the most direct and honed release he’s put out yet, consisting of songs new and old that have been whittled down to pop perfection in his home studio in Echo Park. I caught up with him a bit before his Amoeba Hollywood performance Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. Instead of teasing you with some “quirky” factoid about our interview, why don’t you just take two minutes and read it??

What made you change the name under which you record, from dios/dios malos to Babies on Acid and finally Joel Jerome?

Joel: I finally decided to have everything I do under one umbrella, one name, since I write, arrange, produce and record all my music. I decided to just have it under my name so I could have the freedom of having different players for different shows. I’m the one busting my ass for this, so I may as well take full responsibility and have it all go under my name.

One of the things I've always liked about your music is that you keep songs around and rework them. Are you sometimes not satisfied with the way something came out, or you just have new ideas for how to record the songs?

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Notes From a Grumpy Old Man: The Real Zombie Apocalypse is Dull and Ordinary

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 23, 2013 08:38am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles has sure changed.

Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.

When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues  were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.

Much like most of America, the economic downturn of seventies and eighties turned many big cities into slightly controlled wastelands. But because of it, the music thrived. Los Angeles gave us great punk bands such as X, The Bags, The Weirdos, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Gun Club, The Germs, just to name a brief few. Amazing roots rock in The Blasters and Los Lobos. Even Psyche got a re-hash, with The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and Opal, who soon became Mazzy Star. Weirdo outsider metal from Jane’s Addition and as much as I abhor hair metal, Guns N’Roses and Motley Crüe  has to be given their due, They owe everything to L.A. Rap music? N.W.A. and Freestyle Fellowship, just those two groups spawned a million imitators, all with attitude. If  you are new to Los Angeles and you think L.A. is rough now. Listen to all these groups and hear what it was really once like.

There was once a push to preserves culture and not co-op. The World Stage in Leimert Park and people like Billy Higgins, Dwight Trible and Horace Tapscott went in the tradition of John Coltrane in preserving black culture and not turning it into smooth jazz or pseudo-classical dribble that most modern jazz sounds like today. Chalino Sanchez made his career in the clubs of South Gate. He was already widely popular with the Mexican immigrant community before he started to make the news with violence at his shows. Then there were all the bands from East Los, such as Ozomatli and Quetzal, who took risks in their incarnations by mixing traditional music with modern music. They brought culture and pride to kids that had no idea what that meant and they brought fresh sounds to traditionalists who were stuck in the past. They received a lot of crap from purists and hipsters alike but because of them, now anyone can mix Son Jarocho with Hip-Hop regardless if they are any good at either style and everyone thinks they’re geniuses. Let us not forget the many underground bands, party crews, back yard punk gigs, warehouse parties that have all their own history in Los Angeles as well. It's not to say that all music from L.A. from the back in the good ol'days is better than the music that comes out now, it's just different. I feel it said more.

Now there are parts of L.A. that feel like a college town, and its sad. I see things that make my stomach cringe. I saw a barefoot girl walk into a once seedy dive without anyone telling her to put her damn shoes on. Knowing my Los Angeles history, I can still feel the filth of these places underneath my feet and I’m wearing shoes. The entitled, they just don’t seem to care. They walk back to their cars from the clubs drunk and screaming, waking up people who have to work early the next day. It's nothing new, especially if you live by a club, but now there are neither policeman or gangsters in sight to regulate the neighborhood. As I get older and the audience that I deejay in front of gets younger and seemingly more naive, I feel the guilt that I’m facilitating someone’s future nightmare by contributing the soundtrack to it. I watch as frat boys shove drinks down young ladies throats so they can take them home because “They paid for the drinks” It’s not to assume it wasn’t always like this, but the entitled make it so overt, so obvious, that it’s hard to ignore.

The record stores and bookstores all have the same things. Used Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours LPs are suddenly at collector’s prices and the dull and ordinary don’t argue, they just pay the price. The coffee is served in a beaker and it costs a small paycheck, almost everywhere. The menus have changed. The Mexican restaurants have vegetarian options, without the scorn from the waitress when you try to explain that you are vegan. Salsa is served on the side instead of being put inside a burrito as to cut cost from all the returned food because ii's too spicy for bland palates. Everything is easy for them because let’s face it, they have money. It’s beyond gentrification; it’s the zombie apocalypse and it’s boring.

So after a rough night in the college town once known as Los Angeles, I started to think about all these thoughts in my head. I was too tired to write them out and quite frankly, it was late and I just needed some brain eraser. For some reason I started to think, “What would Black Flag and N.W.A. do if they took a time machine and were transported into future Los Angeles in the boring zombie apocalypse of 2013?”

Yes, I had no clue what they would do either.

So instead, I transplanted myself into a Black Flag show from 1982 via YouTube and rediscovered the virtues of Black Flag. The noise they made during that show could kill a thousand zombies today. The line-up from the gig I watched was astonishing. It consisted of Greg Ginn and Dez Cadena on guitar, Chuck on bass, Henry on vocals and the short-lived line-up concluded with former D.O.A. and future Danzig drummer Chuck Biscuits on drums. The video was horrible quality. The audio was absolutely unlistenable, but it relaxed me like a lullaby. Soon I curled up in a ball and fell fast asleep with Rollins screaming on the top of his lungs while Biscuits pounded the drums with complete recklessness. I was soon far, oh so far, from the dull and ordinary zombie apocalypse.








 

Digging the scene at "This Ain't a Scene" with a gangsta lean

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 14, 2012 02:08pm | Post a Comment

This past Saturday, I went to the 1650 Gallery in Echo Park to check out the opening of This Ain’t a Scene: The Vibrant Music Community of East LA which was co-presented by Radio Free Silver Lake and compiled by Jackie Lam. Radio Free Silver Lake is a website focused on Indie music in Los Angeles.
*****
    
Pendersleigh maps

Note: The “East LA” of the subtitle could be construed as a bit misleading.. East Los (whose vibrant music community produced performers like Black Eyed Peas, Cannibal & the Headhunters, Hope Sandoval, J-vibe, Kid Frost, Lalo Guerrero, Los Lobos, Los IllegalsLouie Perez, Luis Villegas, Quetzal, Suzanna Guzman, Taboo, The Bags, The Blazers, Thee Midniters and Tierra and  supported live venues like Club 469Eastside Nightclub, El Club BaionKennedy Hall, The Lamp Lighter, The M ClubRudy's Past House and Vex) is not represented here. The bands and venues depicted in this show are, if I’m not mistaken, all from Echo Park, P-Town and Silver Lake -- three neighborhoods in the eastern portion of Central LA that belong to a region that no one has named with a widely-accepted term.) Enough quibbling about geography and nomenclature from me… let's start the show.
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The participating photographers include Angela Holtzen, Ben Hoste, Carl Pocket, Gabriela Gonzalez, George Tapia, Jeff Koga, Laurie Scavo, Levent Buyukgural, Michael Gomez Burton, Michele Evans, Miriam Brummel, Olivia Hemaratanatorn, Rollence Patugan, Sterling Andrews, Timothy Norris, and Zoe-Ruth Erwin. Click here for mini bios on Radio Free Silver Lake.


Live acoustic music was provided by Andrew Spitser from Radars to the Sky, Kelli Noftle from Miniature Soap, Rob Danson from Death to Anders, Ryan Fuller of Fort King, and The Smugg Brothers

Of the bands depicted, I only recognized The Warlocks and Dios as acts that I can say I’ve knowingly heard before -- some of the names sounded familiar too. For someone who’s worked at and for record shops for over ten years, my ignorance of indie rock is vast... and judging by the prevalence of beards and plaid shirts in the photos, I’m guessing that’s what kind of music most of the subjects make. (Also, I recognized The Echo and Echoplex, Pehspace, Satellite, Silverlake Lounge and Spaceland).

Kelli Noftle performed Prince's "When You Were Mine"


Some would find my lack of knowledge a hindrance, I liked to think that allowed me to evaluate the photos as art and not get bogged down by the subjects. The exhibit includes band portraits as well as snapshots of rehearsals, behind-the-scenes photos, and photos of live performances. Although I didn’t recognize the subjects, I liked George Tapia’s use of color, Levent Buyukgural’s command of atmosphere and the sense of immediacy in Jeff Koga’s pictures. However, I was most taken with the photographs of Zoe-Ruth Erwin. You can see them on the galleries website here – or better yet, go to the gallery and check them out for yourself! And check out future art openings in this charming gallery space too. Next up is Wanderlust: Travels Near and Far... I'm planning on being there.


The Smugg Brothers doing their version of "Sin City"

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