Yes indeed, it’s high time we checked into our favorite Los Angeles bands and see what everyone’s been up to and has coming up, in these final days of 2013. We begin with the glam rock fun of Black Hi-Lighter, whom I had the great pleasure of seeing in person back in August during Echo Park Rising. They released a new single, NU4NYC, back in November and were recently featured in a few podcasts — Straight To Your Head (in the UK) and the first podcast from new label Phaedra Records.
Tag: Black Hi-lighter
A Los Angeles story of madness and awakening, in twelve parts
Part IV: Echo Part Rising, Saturday Afternoon
I woke up on a floor in Echo Park to discover it was Charles Bukowski’s birthday. The public radio station KCRW, broadcasting from Santa Monica, was airing a special in honor of the legendary author, short story writer, novelist and poet. As I listened to his friend Harry Dean Stanton’s beautiful reading of the stark and gorgeous Bluebird, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to prepare for the Echo Park Rising Festival than with streetwise and poignant words from this prolific Angeleno.
In the aftermath of the reading, I thought of my first few days in Los Angeles. There was the massive decompression at Echo Park Lake from so many layers of stress, and just wandering around the streets of Echo Park and Silver Lake in contemplation and what I’ll call “life evaluation.” My friend’s barrage of stories of his current state of mind and recent miseries, his supporting characters of the kind that Bukowski might like to write about, if he were still here. There was the young and naive female sub-letter he found on Craigslist, who put his belongings in bags and tossed them out into the yard, crashed his car and ran back to Pennsylvania after just a few days in the big city. The crack addict and “crack whore” hooker, who stole the car and took it on a joyride. The police. The disorientation. The restless days, locked out and temporarily among the lost and the homeless, out on the streets. The crack addict’s ex-wife and her ominous warnings, and other sordid and sundry characters who had come in and out of his life, wearing him down, taking, not giving, and leaving just a hollow shell in their wake. And through his and my sleepless nights, mysterious packs of barking dogs, like roving canine gangs. Interwoven with the dogs were the ubiquitous ghetto birds. It was horrible and yet gloriously romantic grit.
Besides just the joy of being there (and not being on the East Coast), there was that which strengthened and sustained me: a neighborhood that was relaxed, easy-going and filled with working-class Latino families. Bright, never-ending sunshine. The Tribal Cafe a short walk down the street, with their vegetarian Mexican dishes, amazing kale salads and powerful energy drinks. All of it dirt cheap and in a casual, bohemian setting. Tired as hell but strangely energized, I grabbed my things and headed out for an afternoon and evening of fine music with some old and new friends. It was time for Echo Park Rising.
Wow, is it July already? Those of you who have been here before will know that I’ve had “a thing” for musicians who live and work on the Eastside of Los Angeles — Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Eagle Rock, etc. — whom I first discovered back in 2008 when I came across this little indie rock band on MySpace called The Airborne Toxic Event. It started with a few of their friends, and as they say, the rest is history. Let’s see what everyone’s up to.
I’ve decided this will be my last round-up, though I’ll continue to try to keep up with my favorites separately, of course. I’m also excited to be taking a long-overdue trip to my “musical mecca” next month and will hopefully be able to catch a lot of these folks in their natural habitat. Musings to follow.
Dearly Departed: unfortunately, two of my favorites are definitely gone — The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast. I would give links to their goodbye pages and songs to remember them by, but it appears they’ve both taken down their sites. Bummer. Bands who plan on breaking up this year: please leave something up, ok? Whatever shit happened, you still have fans.