Amoeblog

Cruise to Mexico: Part 1

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

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

st. jude
'Sup.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Sherman Oaks

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

 Map of Sherman Oaks
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.

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Happy Texas Independence Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2009 11:21am | Post a Comment

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the newly independent country organized itself into several states. In the northern Coahuila y Tejas, there were many Native peoples like the Alabama, Apache, Aranama, Atakapa, Caddo, Comanche, Coahuiltecan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa and Wichita that the nearly bankrupt Mexican government had little resources to subjugate. So they invited immigrants from the US, called Texians, to help keep down the aborigines.

Soon the immigrants outnumbered the Mexicans and Natives put together. These Texian immigrants made little to no effort to assimilate into their adopted country -- they they self-segregated, carried guns everywhere, didn't learn "the language" (Spanish) and wrote signs in English. Even though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the Texians (who numbered about 30,000) simply ignored Mexican law and brought 5,000 slaves. Before long, Mexican president Bustamante sought to restrict futher American immigration to Mexico, recognizing they were up to no good. Before long, the Texians took up arms and ultimately gained independence from Mexico.

Joel McCrea
Joel McCrea, not Texian, but played one on the radio

By 1850, Texians started referring to themselves most commonly as Texans. The Texas Almanac of 1857 waxed purple about the mere dropping of the letter "i," continuing the Texan tradition of making something out of nothing, moaning [in Chris Elliot's fancy lad voice] "Texian...has more euphony, and is better adapted to the conscience of poets who shall hereafter celebrate our deeds in sonorous strains than the harsh, abrupt, ungainly, appellation Texan -- impossible to rhyme with anything but the merest doggerel."

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