musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Echo Park

Introducing… Brendan Eder Ensemble

It was some kind of serendipity that I happened to have this music from the experimental classical, electronic, lounge, folk Echo Park-based Brendan Eder Ensemble sitting in my inbox. It has just been announced that they’ll be adding their delightful woodwinds to music from fellow Eastside L.A. band Haunted Summer at The Troudadour on January 6. Yeah, it’s a ways off, but it’s a special show that will also feature So Many Wizards and Summer Twins.

Brendan Eder is a composer and producer, creating film scores and leading this ensemble that blends many different genres and styles. Their debut recording is expansive in range, moving from crisp classical sounds with a driving jazzy and at times hip-hop beats to a personal favorite of mine, the fluttering and glittering romantic vibe of “Pastorale.” From there, it gets even more exotic with the appropriately titled “Panther,” which sounds like a sleek romp through a beckoning jungle. “Start” is far more experimental, while “Vamp” is not surprisingly seductive with its ear-tickling percussive bits and hand claps. “Vulnerability” is deliciously complex, and the recording closes with a gorgeous piece called “Cache.” Floating in time and space with meandering clarinet, it very much feels like Shavasana after a particularly rigorous Vinyasa Flow session.

The ensemble features Henry Soloman on alto sax, Andrew Leonard on clarinets, Sarah Robinson on flute, Paul Curtis on bassoon and Sam Wilkes on bass.

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Fort King: Everything Falls Apart (a tribute to Charles Bukowski and the Hollywood Park Racetrack)

It’s time to briefly check in with a favorite L.A. band, Fort King. They created a simply stunning video tribute to two Los Angeles legends, Charles Bukowski and the Hollywood Park Racetrack, scripted to the soundtrack of their lovely and haunting song, “Everything Falls Apart.” Singer-songwriter Matthew Teardrop (of Manhattan Murder Mystery) stars as Bukowski. The video is directed by Mike James and features cameos by Rob Danson as a bartender at Lot 1 and Ryan Fuller as a racetrack janitor.

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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 (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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Lost and Found (VI of XII)

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

Ryan Fuller and Rob Danson of Fort King, at The Echo

Ryan Fuller and Rob Danson of Fort King, at The Echo

Part VI: Echo Park Rising, Sunday

Upon waking on Sunday morning, the second day of the Echo Park Rising Festival, I was badly in need of loud music, comfort food and a cozy spot to curl into a fetal position. Preferably all at once. I had a strange dream during the night. There was a paranoid and delusional crack head who had left a cryptic message on my friend’s cell phone, threatening to come by the house and quite possibly do us bodily harm. In a dazed panic, we discussed various options (call the police, take a posse back to the house, not go home that night and stay elsewhere, etc.), while standing in a drunken crowd that included a throng of KXLU DJs on the sidewalk outside the Lot 1 Cafe in the middle of the night. As the fog began to clear from my sleep-deprived brain, I realized it was not a dream. After an hour of strategizing our next move, we actually listened to the message and determined that he was not a serious threat after all. As it happened, our sleep was only disturbed by the usual roving dogs and ghetto birds. At a friend’s suggestion (thank you, Rob Danson), I grabbed my stuff, scrambled back to Lot 1 and found the safe haven, satisfying brunch and healing music I was looking for.

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Lost and Found (IV of XII)

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

Manhattan Murder Mystery, at the Echoplex

Manhattan Murder Mystery, at the Echoplex

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.

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Lost and Found (III of XII)

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

Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles

Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles

Part III: Echo Park

While on this trip, I started thinking about predilection and perception; on the power of preconceived thoughts in creating your own reality. I thought about the internal rhythms of people and of places, of being “in sync” as opposed to “out of sync,” and wondered if a particular person might be better suited to one part of the world rather than another. I thought of being closed and of being open, and maybe being a little too open. I contemplated the line that separates hyper-perception and madness — and wondered if maybe they were the same thing, and there wasn’t a line at all.

All of this was churning in my head as I sat in standstill traffic on the 405 in a rented Hyundai, on my way to Echo Park.

My plan was, for two weeks, to live a slice of Los Angeles city life, as a resident and not as a tourist, and see if it suited me. There are a lot of misconceptions about L.A. Contrary to the opinions of many Bostonians, it’s not just about the superficial glitz of Hollywood. Nor is it NCIS or a West Coast version of The Wire. In the Echo Park neighborhood where I was staying, there are working class families with kids playing in the street, and musicians lugging around equipment and playing shows in all sorts of small clubs, bars, coffee houses, performance art spaces, record stores and occasionally people’s homes. Despite being a stone’s throw from downtown L.A., it has a very livable, cozy and artsy neighborhood feel, much like New York’s Lower East Side or the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Nearby Silver Lake and Los Feliz are a tad more upscale and comparable to Greenwich Village; that is, if you can imagine those areas with almost constant sunshine and substantial stretches of woods and greenery.

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Lost and Found (I of XII)

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

Elysian Park, Echo Park in Los Angeles

Elysian Park, Echo Park in Los Angeles

Part I: An Introduction

Every city has a soul. It might be the accumulation of individual experiences filtered through architecture and landscape. There are the natural forms that are the foundations handed down from ancient times, with the hopes, dreams and fears of those people as faint imprints on every surface and in the ether. There is every generation that followed, each one leaving its mark, taking from and then giving back ashes and essence.

The concept of people traveling West to seek their fortune and destiny dates back to early pioneer days. Besides the trappings and currency of what they seek, nothing much has changed. Whether it’s the promise of gold, the lure of celebrity or just a place to make a fresh start, that shared yearning, and at the end of so many dreams disillusionment and realization, continues to bind them. The human experience of searching for something more.

My trip to Los Angeles was not so much a vacation as it was a reconnaissance mission. A vision quest, if you will. I wanted to meet some of the people I had been writing to and writing about from across this great expanse, but even more than that, I wanted a sense of the place — and a sense of myself. The walls had been pushing in, deep within a cavern from where there seemed to be no escape and no clear sense of direction. I needed to understand why. The feeling was that of being pulled from a stagnant swamp and dropped into something vital and brimming with possibilities, madly churning and metamorphosing, with occasional flashes of great beauty.


Still to come: sacred spaces at 30,000 feet; magic, madness and great places to walk and eat in Silver Lake and Echo Park; the musical mecca of the east side of Los Angeles, centering around the Echo Park Rising Festival; Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach; Solstice Canyon in Malibu; catching up with old friends and famous family; and did I mention music?

Bands to come: Black Hi-Lighter, Young Hunting, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Olin & the Moon, Haunted Summer, Moses Campbell, Kan Wakan, The Happy Hollows (electric and acoustic), The Henry Clay People, Spencer Livingston, Holes & Hearts, The Wild Reeds, Fort King, Helene Renaut, Sun Rai, Warships, George Glass, 123Death, Midnight Cities, Pretty Flowers, Delta Spirit, The Airborne Toxic Event, Infantree, The Diamond Light and whomever that was who played at Tribal Cafe on 8/15…

30 minutes before landing in Los Angeles

30 minutes before landing in Los Angeles

Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake

Andy and Joey Siara of The Henry Clay People, at their final show

Andy and Joey Siara of The Henry Clay People, at their final show


The Happy Hollows on a backyard deck for Echo Park Rising

The Happy Hollows on a backyard deck for Echo Park Rising

Malcolm Sosa's new band 123Death at Los Globos

Malcolm Sosa's new band 123Death at Los Globos

Fort King at Echo Country Outpost

Fort King at Echo Country Outpost


The Airborne Toxic Event with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa

The Airborne Toxic Event with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

Solstice Canyon, Malibu

Elysian Park, Echo Park, Los Angeles

Elysian Park, Echo Park, Los Angeles


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Silverlake Band Update! (part 1) – September 15, 2009

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a little while are no doubt aware that I have “a thing” for The Airborne Toxic Event. Through them, I’ve discovered a whole bunch of wonderful bands, who – if not actually based there – are often found playing in clubs in this cool and interesting area of East Los Angeles that includes Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park. A wide variety of influences, styles and personalities, they share a joy of performing, an absolute lack of pretension, a kind of camaraderie — and oh yeah, they’re all really fucking good as well.

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