From the Fairbanks Lawn to its Masonic Lodge, the cemetery has become a unique concert venue.
Never mind the more than slightly macabre fact that it's home to a hundreds of buried remains. Never mind that many of these graves host the bones of Tinseltown legends such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille, as well as musicians Art Pepper, Woody Herman and two members of the Ramones. And never mind that partying in the cemetery is a pastime usually relegated to teenage Goths and metal-heads.
Hollywood Forever, the 62-acre, 113-year-old graveyard abutting the Paramount Pictures lot, has unexpectedly become one of L.A.'s most beloved entertainment venues.
Thanks in part to archivist John Wyatt, who founded Hollywood Forever's' film series "Cinespia" 10 years ago, the cemetery now hosts thousands of people each summer for its outdoor weekend movie screenings. For several months, huge crowds gather on the wide spread of grass beside Fairbanks' tomb to listen to DJ sets, eat picnic dinners and enjoy such flicks as "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Dazed and Confused" and "Easy Rider."
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Increasingly, though, the cemetery is opening its gates to welcome musical acts into the same magical atmosphere, both outside on the lush green lawn and inside the grounds' elegant Masonic Lodge. Over the last few years, artists including Bon Iver, Belle & Sebastian, Hope Sandoval, the Swell Season, Broken Social Scene and others have played among the dead.
This summer, Troubadour booking agent Brian Smith and Hollywood Forever's Jay Boileau continue to combine forces to unleash a 2011 performance schedule that highlights the cemetery as one of America's unique concert venues.
"I presented Hollywood Forever's dream artists to Brian at the very beginning, when we first decided we were ready to do music at the cemetery," Boileau says.
"It is true collaboration," Smith adds. "My background is booking the artist and the work relating to them. Jay is very good at getting the details right. He has his eye on getting the highest-quality audio and production for the shows. We both work together on the creative details outside of simply putting on a concert."
The result of their efforts is a series of shows perfectly suited to each of the venue's unique spaces, such as the lush experimental pop of the Flaming Lips out on the Fairbanks Lawn or the raw energy of Appalachian folk singer Marideth Sisco inside the austere confines of the Masonic Lodge. Sisco is performing in Los Angeles for the first time and will be part of an evening with the other musical contributors to the soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated film " Winter's Bone."