musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: October 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

Lost and Found (XII of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

Elysian Park ~ Echo Park, Los Angeles

Elysian Park ~ Echo Park, Los Angeles

Part XII: An Elysian Park Sojourn, The Club Formerly Known as Spaceland and The World According To…

Under normal circumstances, as pleasurable as a vacation is, by the end of it, one is usually looking forward to going home. In my case, however, the vacation was weird, at times stressful and bizarre, at other times like a pleasant daydream filled with warm, engaging people — and I sincerely dreaded returning back to my life as an East Coast recluse. I don’t know why, but things just seemed easier for me there. Even as I struggled to find a happy balance between getting some promised work done, seeing bands, connecting with old and new friends and trying to support my haunted host, it still seemed to flow far more naturally and it all made sense somehow, when things in my life often don’t.

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Lost and Found (XI of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

Part XI: Time with friends, “Two Boys From Brooklyn” and a beautiful hike in Solstice Canyon

I was slowly coming out of a 10-day whirlwind, considering such heady issues as the role of fate in our lives, the soul’s journey, the seductive pull of despair and madness, the lives of struggling rock bands… I had the great fortune, while on this vision quest, to spend some quality time with old and new friends. It may just be me, or it may be that my internal rhythms just don’t jive with Boston’s internal rhythms, but this just doesn’t seem to happen here. It occurs to me, as I write this a startling two months later, that it’s the extensive effort required to connect with like-minded people in Boston that exhausts me and results, most of the time, in me being emotionally worn out and still alone. But I persist.

My 30-second therapy session at The CAMP, in the form of a succinct inspirational message -- you're welcome, no charge.

My 30-second therapy session at The CAMP, in the form of a succinct inspirational message -- you're welcome, no charge.

The morning after my strange experience at what I had thought would be one of the highlights of my trip, I had a very pleasant lunch at Native Foods, a wonderful vegan restaurant in an absolutely fantastic little alternative shopping center known as The CAMP. It was the antithesis of the Costa Mesa I had experienced the day before. My friend Tammy and I had a great lunch and “mutual debriefing” of the previous night’s Delta Spirit and Airborne show at the Wavelength Festival. Human nature and motivation continue to confound me, but it’s the ongoing search and struggle for understanding that’s most important.

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Lost and Found (X of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

The Airborne Toxic Event with the Pacific Symphony at the Pacific Amphitheatre

The Airborne Toxic Event with the Pacific Symphony at the Pacific Amphitheatre

Part X: Impressions of Costa Mesa, missteps at Laguna Beach and the Wavelength Festival with Delta Spirit and The Airborne Toxic Event

Driving around Costa Mesa, looking for a decent vegetarian breakfast, it occurred to me how much the city is like a sprawling Simsbury, Connecticut — or, for you Bostonians, perhaps Newton. There were the endless upscale shopping centers, pristine landscaping and not a single non-white person to be seen at the outdoor yuppie-style cafe I finally came across in one of the many fancy yet nondescript strip malls. Even the name was vaguely elitist: Haute Cakes. Perfect. Two haute couture women were sitting next to me, chattering non-stop, while their equally stuffy and primped little dog wound itself around my leg. The food was good but no match for the ‘Angel’s Mess’ at Millie’s in Silver Lake, which was life-affirming.

I was thinking about the importance of the show I would be seeing that night. I’d been a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event since 2008, and though they’ve performed with an orchestra before, this was the first time they’d done so in the Los Angeles area. It was part of the Wavelength Festival, and they’d be appearing with the 85-piece Pacific Symphony at the state-of-the-art Pacific Amphitheatre. Fellow Angelinos Delta Spirit, a marvelous band and headliner in their own right, was opening for them. Over the five years I’ve known Airborne, they’ve continuously raised their game. They’ve become more accomplished musicians and performers, and their musical arrangements, particularly for the orchestral shows, ever more impressive. I can’t imagine how much time and energy it takes to work out parts for 85 additional players. Add to this the majesty of performing in a world-class amphitheatre with a world-class symphony orchestra, in front of what most certainly would be Southern California’s finest in terms of sophisticated music aficionados. All of that was bound to add up to a beautiful experience, right?

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Lost and Found (IX of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

Blackwater Jukebox with Burly Temple frontman Alex Volz at Echo Country Outpost. I think.

Blackwater Jukebox with Burly Temple frontman Alex Volz at Echo Country Outpost. I think.

Part IX: A few of my favorite establishments, Urth Yoga, Echo Country Outpost and a 1am traffic jam to Costa Mesa

Out on my own now and free of amateur therapist duties, with my doomed work assignment (and dinner with cousin) behind me, I was free to relax and indulge ahead of my drive down to Costa Mesa. This day was all about hanging out in what will be, barring unforeseen circumstances, my home at some point in the future. I’d visited twice before but this time as I wandered around, I did so with the very serious thought in my head, “could I live here for a while and be happy?”

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Lost and Found (VIII of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

the view from The Grove's parking garage

the view from The Grove's parking garage

Part VIII: A missed deadline, a fall from grace and a brush with celebrity at The Grove

After the musical highs of the Echo Park Rising Festival and my cross-town Eastside L.A. Round-up live and in person, it was inevitable that the reality of my current situation would rear its methed-out head. There was the bleary haze of extreme fatigue, mixed with circular stories of hustlers and crackheads and being locked out, strung out and disoriented. This was not my personal experience. I was feeling freer to be my crazy self than ever before, but it seemed like my duty somehow and the least I could do to talk my addled friend through his misery and try to come up with some course of action. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: it was a fool’s errand.

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Introducing… Clara Berry & Wooldog

Drawn from the dark, enchanted seas off Southern New Hampshire, Clara Berry’s magical tales are intricately-woven pieces that dress themselves up differently for each new piece. Her haunting voice is yet another multicolored instrument in addition to a colorful buffet table that includes platters of pedal steel and baritone guitars, piano, bass, violins, violas, cello, percussion, trumpet, french horn, tuba and saxophone. That sounds like a cacophonous mess, but it’s not at all. It’s quite nice. Songs like “When This Mountain” and “Waltz for my Victims” are quieter and simpler, while “Air Traffic” is a fully orchestrated gem. There are many different shapes and colors, such as the dare I say avant-garde (and personal favorite) “Your Moon,” the jazzy “Boys,” the bluegrass-soaked “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and the bluesy “Stella.” Such is the journey taken on Berry’s new album, The Magician’s Wife.

On her second full-length album, Berry, who grew up in Southern Maine, is joined by Wooldog (Joe O’Neill), a musician from Boston’s South Shore whose influences include Billy Martin (Medeski Martin & Wood) and John Zorn, which explains where the avant-jazzy stuff comes from. The album features many Lowell-area musicians arranging and recording Berry’s songs, and was recorded by Bradford Swanson (Mason Jennings, The Bad Plus) at UMass Lowell. A local effort, to be sure.

They’ll be performing tomorrow night at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, and at Church on Monday, November 20, opening for Kill Madonna and The Swindlers.

Upcoming shows: 10/21 Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY; 11/1 live at the HIVE!, Kennebunk ME; 11/20 Church of Boston, Boston MA; 11/21 The Red Door, Portsmouth NH; 12/6 Slainte, Portland, ME; 12/14 Radio Bean, Burlington VT; and 12/27 St. Elmos, Alexandria VA.

Berry’s previous releases were Wave (2008) and the Creature 5-song EP (2010).

web | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | bandcamp

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Introducing… Los Angeles Police Department

You fall off, you get back on. Fall off again, get back on again… As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “so it goes.” Here’s a little something that floated into my inbox. It’s some very lovely lo-fi indie folk, and it’s from Los Angeles Police Department, which features the music of Ryan Pollie and might have four guys in the band. Which also gave me a little scare when I first received it, as I was certain they were asking for more money for that damned street cleaning ticket I got back in August. Fortunately, I was most pleasantly surprised. They recorded an album last year and just released the first single, “The Only One.” I really don’t know anything more about this band. Only that I like them. Hopefully you will, too. Oh yes, they’re from Los Angeles. Naturally.

facebook | twitter | soundcloud

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Lost and Found (VII of XII)

A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts

123Death at Los Globos, Silver Lake

123Death at Los Globos, Silver Lake

Part VII: Boardner’s in Hollywood to Los Globos in Silver Lake… and back again.

It was now Day 6 in my bleary haze of broken sleep and beautiful sights and sounds. Tuesday night — must be time for my personally-curated “Julie’s Eastside L.A. Welcoming Party” (or so it seemed). Former members of Death To Anders, Rademacher, Radars To The Sky and The Henry Clay People, all in new projects at two different clubs at opposite ends of town. It was also the night when I wondered why, despite all our technological advances, transporters haven’t yet been invented.

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It’s HONK! Festival time again! (Boston, Somerville & Cambridge Fri 10/11 – Sun 10/13)

Well damn, I almost missed the boat on this year’s Honk! Fest. It begins today and runs through Sunday, in and around Boston, Somerville and Cambridge. If you’re not familiar with Honk!, it’s an annual gathering of noisy and wildly festive guerrilla street theater with horns — and is a hell of a lot of fun. I dare you to stay in a somber autumn mood for very long with these merry pranksters running around. This is definitely NOT your daddy’s high school marching band — be prepared for anything and everything! SEE THE FULL SCHEDULE ~ and the COMPLETE LIST OF BANDS

official site | facebook | twitter | youtube highlights

This year’s new bands include:

Os Siderais

from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Perhaps Contraption

London, England

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party

Photo by Marc Sethi at Secret Garden Party


The Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club

New Orleans, Louisiana


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RadioBDC Live on the Square on Sunday, October 13 – FREE Concert at Union Square!

Are you looking for some FREE live music this weekend? RadioBDC (along with Budweiser, Goodwill Industries and FIVE cool Boston-based or Boston-born bands) will be showing Union Square in Somerville some big love. This happens on Sunday, October 13, starting at 12 noon. The Sheila Divine headlines, and also on the bill are American Authors, Speedy Ortiz, Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters and Rhett Price. This is a really strong lineup of local musicians. And Goodwill are going to have their trucks there, so bring along your old stuff to donate!


The Sheila Divine are something of a Boston tradition, with a hardcore “cult following” in, inexplicably, “Boston, Buffalo and Belgium.” They’ve been in business since 1997 with two hiatuses and two reunions, the most recent of which was in 2010. In 2012, they released a new album, The Things That Once Were. You can listen to more of them on bandcamp and read a little history lesson on Wikipedia.

American Authors formed back in 2006 at Berklee (known as The Blue Pages), although they’re now based in Brooklyn, NY. Gaining in popularity recently, their debut EP features the singles “Believer” and “Best Day of my Life” (heard in US and UK TV ads). They’re currently in the midst of a U.S. tour which continues through December.

Hailing from Northampton, Mass., Speedy Ortiz produce some nice, noisy garagy stuff,, with Sadie Dupuis on lead vocals and she and Matt Robidoux on dueling guitars. Their debut album (as a full band) was Major Arcana, and their most recent release was the “Ka-Prow!” and “Hexxy” single. A limited 7″ vinyl is available from Inflated Records. Here’s a little background info. They have shows this month and next around the East Coast, but not typically free ones, so get on it.

Founded in 2007, Sea Monsters are a musical collective led by Christian McNeill which started as an acoustic group of revolving songwriters performing together. They took up what became a three-year residency at Precinct Bar (in Union Square, so this appearance is quite appropriate and special). That residency garnered them a Boston Music Award and spun off into a recording session at the legendary Q Division Studios, the fruits of which became a debut single and subsequent Everything’s Up For Grabs album.

As it said in the Boston Globe back in August, “Homeless violinist to YouTube sensation.” Rhett Price is originally from Texas but was schooled at Berklee and is now based in Boston. He’s been getting some serious buzz recently with his cover of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble,” performed along with his friend Josh Knowles at a Red Line subway station. It’s well deserved attention, too. They’re amazing.

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