Category: Nate Jackson

Desert Daze brings 11-day local festival to the Coachella crowd

Desert Daze brings 11-day local festival to the Coachella crowd

The party that is Coachella is not just confined to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, Calif. Music fans who will be invading the desert communities in April know there are plenty of after-parties and mini-concerts to crash and/or attend in the area too. And now that the festival has virtually cloned itself for a second weekend (it'll be held April 13-15 and April 20-22), it presents indie festival planners such as Phil Pirrone with an interesting challenge: supplying all those extra road-weary travelers with something to do while they’re in town.

Pirrone and his crew, who are responsible for presenting a regular series of festivals called Moon Block Party in Pomona, recently announced the launch of Desert Daze, an 11-day festival centered at Dillon's Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., about a half-hour drive from Coachella. The plan for the festival, to be held April 12-22, is to present more than 100 bands and DJs from L.A. and beyond who will take over the modest desert venue from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

For Pirrone, who’s been organizing community festivals for years with varying success, providing a platform for local bands during such a crazy two-week period seemed ambitious but not impossible.

“We’ve always wanted to do an extended festival, and all these people being in the desert for an extended amount of time presented a perfect opportunity to make that happen,” he said.

The lineup, while it continues to grow, is already packed with local acts including the buzz-worthy psych rock of Long Beach's Crystal Antlers, Santa Ana's Free the Robots, L.A. favorites Dante Vs. Zombies and the D.C.-bred stoner rock outfit Dead Meadow. Desert Daze will feature an outdoor stage, an indoor stage and an intimate “bus stage” created from a gutted-out Greyhound bus-turned-music lounge.

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House of Blues launches free, monthly local band concert series

House of Blues launches free, monthly local band concert series

In L.A.'s music universe, there are a few things that can be considered a certified rite of passage. One of those is getting to see a show in the packed upper corridors of the Foundation Room inside West Hollywood's House of Blues. Getting in just became easier.

On Friday (today!), the chain's West Hollywood locale is opening up its intimate club space for a monthly series of concerts focusing on local bands. The gigs are free of charge, and start early at 7 p.m. No pricey clubhouse membership required.

Hosting a cavalcade of acts steeped in ambient electronica, boot stomping Americana and retro psychedelia, the new monthly series, dubbed "free {I AM} friday," kicks off Friday with six live sets in the Foundation Room's lasciviously detailed Parish extension. Tonight's concert serves as a triple album release celebration for East L.A. outfit the Zoo, Echo Park's Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, and Max and the Moon from Chino Hills.

Simultaneously, a slew of live art exhibitions and projection shows will take off in the Foundation Room. Though the event is free, be warned, parking at HOB is not. So if you really want to stick it to the man and avoid a $15 valet fee, skip happy hour to begin the hunt for street parking. Though the series is monthly, it does not, as of now, have a set day. Updates will be posted here.


Guitarist Billy Strange and the Elvis Presley years

After White House show, Mick Jagger says 'Every gig is a gig'

Pharrell on Oscars composing: 'I hadn't seen sheet music in 20 years'

--Nate Jackson

Photo: Crowds line up outside the House of Blues in West Hollywood. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Big Sir talks about creating a new album in the face of illness

Big Sir talks about creating new album in the face of illness

During 12 years of sonic partnership, vocalist Lisa Papineau and bassist Juan Alderete's mesh of meditative lyrics, electro-inflected boom-bap and prog-jazz has combined fury and philosophy in a way that doesn’t have to shout to be heard.

Formed in 1999, their band, Big Sir, brought together the operatic tone of Alderete's fretless bass with Papineau's penchant for soulful restraint. On Feb. 7 the band released "Before Gardens, After Gardens," their first album in six years, via Rodriguez Lopez/Sargent House.

Despite their positive outlook on an album over half a decade in the making, the inspiration it took to make it has taken a serious, very literal toll on their bodies.

Shortly after completing their previous album, "Und Die Scheiße Ändert Sich Immer" in 2006, Papinaeu and Alderete were both diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Alderete was found to have polycythemia vera, a rare bone marrow disease that makes the body produce too many red blood cells, while Papineau discovered she had multiple sclerosis. And just three weeks before the release of the album, heavily steeped in reflections on life and death, Papineau was also diagnosed with cancer.

Despite their health obstacles, both have been incessantly busy with projects ranging from Alderete’s work as the bassist for The Mars Volta to Papineau’s solo career and collaborations with artists like Air and M83 and ME & LP with Matt Embree of RX Bandits. But even with so many other projects to occupy their time, both admit that their shared sense of humor, affinity for bass and West Coast gangsta rap creates a bond that keeps them together.

Ahead of Big Sir's gig at Harvelle's in Long Beach on Monday, Papineau and Alderete spoke to Pop & Hiss about crafting their new album and facing mortality head-on.

Pop & Hiss: What is special about the chemistry you two have with this project as a bassist and vocalist?

Lisa Papineau: Musically for me, the thing I responded to as a singer was the tone of the fretless bass and how much like a voice it sounded and being able to kind of sing along with it, not like you’re a solo singer. And with this project, all the comments about my voice are "it's whispery sounding." Well, it’s not whispery and it took a lot to find an organic tone that’s playing along with the bassline and I don’t want to disrespect the space that bassline creates. I’m going to try to slip under it.

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Paris Hilton commits audio treason with 'Drunk Text'

Paris Hilton

What do you get when you combine a bored celebutaunt with a cheesy perfume ad, cellular indiscretions and sub-par gym techno? That question will be answered within seconds of clicking on Paris Hilton's video for "Drunk Text," her cringe-worthy attempt at Shatner-esque spoken word. The track, a collaboration between Hilton and the Colorado-based production duo Manufactured Superstars, takes a poetic journey through her flirtatious exploits with a guy during a night at a club.

As the video graces us with shots of her ruby red lips and cracker-dry monotone, Hilton waxes poetic on the finer points of naughty cellphone communication. It goes something like this:

"You take the word 'sex' and mix it with 'texting,' it's called 'sexting'/When you add drunk sexting, the words just don't make sense/It's just a hot mess of misspelled obscenities, body parts and run-on questions I'm not sure what it means to ask."

Speaking to E! Online about the video, Manufactured Superstars (a.k.a. Brad Roulier and Shawn Sabo) said Thursday that the video had been leaked, that it was not ready to be released and that they were trying to remove illegal copies from the Web. We have an embedded version of the video below as well as a link to it here, but you might want to check it out soon, since we don't know how long either will last.

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Styx, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon announce 2012 tour

Styx, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon Announce 2012 Tour
Sales of disposable lighters and headbands must have spiked Wednesday when it was announced that Styx, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent would be joining forces for the Midwest Rock'N'Roll Express tour.

The black light poster/Spandex-era acts announced that the 30-date outing, in which Styx will headline, will kick off May 1 in Hidalgo, Texas, and cross the country before winding up in Gilford, N.Y., on July 7, with an L.A. date scheduled for May 6 at the Greek Theatre.

So, it's time to ask yourself, how much power balladry can you stand?

Though stone-washed denim jackets, scissor kicks and wailing guitar heroes may seem to have gone the way of, well, stone-washed denim jackets, scissor kicks and wailing guitar heroes, their influence lives on in the compilation CDs available in pharmacy gift shops everywhere.

With years on the festival and casino circuit under their belts, this line-up of former arena rock staples will reprise that role with a vengeance across the heartland. The title of the tour is a proud homage for Illinois-bred bands Styx and REO Speedwagon (from Chicago and Champaign, respectively) and Nugent, who has roots in Detroit.

Press statements released Wednesday about the tour show that these  Midwestern rockers make no apologies for their corn-fed corniness:

"I am a Midwest boy, born and raised with Midwest values,” said REO Speedwagon singer-guitarist Kevin Cronin.  "In the Midwest we work hard, play hard, and rock hard.  I am proud to join my brothers in STYX and Ted Nugent to celebrate Midwest rock 'n roll and represent the greatest rock fans in the world.  I am ready to climb aboard the ‘Midwest Rock 'n Roll Express!’  Rock On baby!"

Styx singer Tommy Shaw is calling the tour a "Twang Fest of screaming guitars and big, sing-along choruses that continue to be the soundtrack for the misbehavior of our collective fan base."

Soundtrack for misbehavior? Really? This?

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Tim Kasher of Cursive explains the concept behind 'I Am Gemini'

Tim Kasher of Cursive talks the unveiling of new concept album "I Am Gemini"
Cursive fans are used to hearing frontman Tim Kasher scream tales of torture and crushing self-doubt, all while attempting to offer sobering life lessons. But when his band decided to go the concept album route for its latest release, the destructive love affairs and carnival metaphors of earlier albums such as "Domestica" and "The Ugly Organ" were replaced with a look at the darker side of a sibling rivalry.

The core of new album "I Am Gemini," released today via Saddle Creek, tells a surreal and psychoanalytic tale of twin brothers separated at birth, Cassius and Pollock. One is good and the other is evil, and their unexpected reunion in a creepy house ignites nothing short of a struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, as well as twin sisters conjoined at the head.

Even for a band that has reveled in a mix of post-punk rage and esoteric prose, "I Am Gemini" elevated the group's songwriting to dramatic extremes, Kasher joked in a recent phone coversation.

"We’ve always recognized ourselves as a very pretentious band, as far as our presentation, and this is probably the most excessive it’s gotten," Kasher said. "So I was approaching it much more as a musical than a rock opera."

Those who missed out on tickets to the band's sold-out Troubadour show Friday can catch Cursive at an Amoeba in-store Thursday at 7 p.m. Below, Kasher discusses the album's concept and how he embraced his inner playwright.

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Tweets that Pop: Chris Brown salutes Rihanna, triggering Twitter comments

Tweets that Pop: Chris Brown salutes Rihanna, triggering Twitter comments
Early Monday Chris Brown sent an all-caps “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBYN!” tweet out to Rihanna (a.k.a. Robyn Fenty), and Rihanna replied with a “Thanks!” Coupled with recent speculation that he’s on a remix of her single “Birthday Cake,” haters and defenders wasted no time weighing in:

“BREAKING: Rihanna to have Chris Brown inspired pinata at her birthday party. Happy Birthday Rihanna.” — @ NewsThatsFake

“Chris Brown & Rihanna: The New Bobby & Whitney” — @ RihannaWatch

“The fact that Chris Brown & Rihanna tweeted each other shows they are moving on & not holding onto the past. Other people should move on 2!” — @KizzleBrown

“Rihanna and Chris Brown are collaborating in studio for a new song. I'm sure it will be a hit!” — @VeryRudeTweets

“I would like @chrisbrown fight somebody that can defend themselves. Me curb stomping that ... would be a #wrestlemania moment” — @CMPunk

“Positivity regardless of how u feel! @CMpunk contact my assistant and I'll have em send u an autographed pic for my biggest FAN!!!” — @chrisbrown


Birthday amends: Chris Brown, Rihanna dancing around the cake

Watch it now: Jay-Z and Beyoncé's baby on 'Saturday Night Live'

Snap judgment: Bruce Springsteen's new song 'Easy Money'

--Nate Jackson

Photo: Chris Brown at the 54th annual Grammy Awards Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin to perform at Whitney Houston funeral

Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin to perform at Whitney Houston's Funeral

Whitney Houton’s funeral service Saturday will be graced by some major star power as friends and family pay tribute to the late singer. Iconic voices Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are slated to perform at Houston's memorial service in Newark, N.J., a representative for the singer's family told Reuters on Thursday.

Invitations also went out to the singer’s ex-husband Bobby Brown, her “The Bodyguard” costar Kevin Costner and Oprah Winfrey, among others. Houston’s longtime producer, Clive Davis, who held an annual pre-Grammy party at which Whitney was supposed to perform last Saturday before she died, will speak at the funeral.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, confirmed that Donnie McClurkin, Tyler Perry, Kim Burrell, Rickey Minor, Alicia Keys, Cece Winans -- who is godmother to Houston's child Bobbi Kristina -- and Houston’s cousin, Dionne Warwick, will be part of the funeral program.

FULL COVERAGE: Whitney Houston dies at 48

The noon service will be held at New Hope Baptist Church, which Houston attended and sang in while growing up. Newark police said streets would be shut down for six square blocks around the church. In an attempt to avoid a dangerous influx of people flocking to the area, the private service will streamed online and broadcast on network television.

Police have issued subpoenas for Houston’s medical records after the discovery of prescription drugs in the Beverly Hilton Hotel suite where Houston was found dead Saturday at age 48. An autopsy has been conducted, but the Los Angeles County coroner's office has not released details.


OBITUARY: Whitney Houston found dead

Funeral is invitation-only; no public memorial

Appreciation: A voice for the ages tarnished by addictions

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Stevie Wonder with Aretha Franklin last month at a BET Honors 2012 dinner in Washington. Credit: Kris Connor / Getty Images

The California Honeydrops take busking act onstage at the Mint

The California Honeydrops aren’t exactly the kind of busking band you can ignore in a subway tunnel. Though from Oakland, their Southern-fried jazz is so authentic that commuters may wonder whether they've somehow been transported to the Big Easy when they hear the band in BART's subway tunnels. For the last four years, the street musicians have thrived on creating a Mardi Gras-style party in BART stations.

 “When you’re playing on the street or in the subway, it’s like popping a song on the radio from out of nowhere, taking people by surprise,” said frontman and trumpeter Lech Wierzynski. “It’s the purest way to interact with the public.”

A few weeks ahead of their March European tour, the five-piece band of seasoned street players will play the Mint on Saturday, brandinshing a distinct blend of historic New Orleans culture and blue-eyed soul. Over the years, they’ve had plenty of YouTube documentation of their ability to play anywhere, anytime — especially rush hour.

Taking a look at videos of the band’s polished street performances, it's clear their Bay Area roots take a back seat to the jumping rhythms of Dixieland jazz. The sound, flush with brass, bass, melodica and tub bass, is meant to inspire your best second-line dance moves — a stylish form of strutting and dancing among New Orleans natives during block parties, parades, even funerals.

The Honeydrops' ability to get people into their act is something that directly translates into their nightclub shows, where they usually spend more time offstage than on.

“When we play, we’re always down on the dance floor and letting loose and dancing with people,” Wierzynski said. “And whatever state or country we play, everyone has their own little bit of culture they put into it, adding a little bit of what they do. When we tour, it’s all part of the endless challenge of finding out who the next crowd is gonna be.”

Check out the videos of their famous busking performances below:

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Quick Chat: John McCrea of Cake

Cake new !

Cake's members have always considered themselves a band of pop music outsiders. Formed in the early '90s amid the backdrop of the Seattle explosion, the horns, hooks and dry wit of songs like “The Distance” and the Gloria Gaynor cover “I Will Survive” were a comically offbeat answer to the bombast of grunge. After seven years between albums, the band got another bite at the mainstream when their 2011 album “Showroom of Compassion” (recorded independently at their solar-powered studio in Sacramento) debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 despite selling only 44,000 copies in its first week.

At the time it was the lowest-selling No. 1 album in SoundScan history. But for a band that still operates under the pop-culture radar, they see it as a major win for the little guy. Stopping in L.A. at the Palladium for the first time in several years, frontman John McCrea talked to Pop & Hiss about Cake’s recent success.

Who is your audience these days?

It’s weird. I thought that it would just be a lot of older, Generation X people, but on the road each year we get more people that haven’t heard us before that are all ages. We get a lot of high school kids, even some seniors dig us.

Any opinion on the fact that your latest record debuted as the lowest-selling No. 1 album on the charts, ever?

In a period of precipitous decline in the record business, we’ve looked at it pretty positively. Cake’s not a band that’s supposed to be No. 1 on any charts. So it definitely stretched our imaginations to be No. 1, even fleetingly. We sold about the same amount of copies that we did for our previous album, which was seven years earlier. So it seems like we’ve built a pretty trusted relationship with our fans.

What’s been the best part of releasing your new music independently?

It’s clean, it’s a feeling of self-reliance — that we’re investing in ourselves. Between recording the album in a solar-powered studio and self-releasing our album, it’s part of the general inclination on Cake’s part to become more self-reliant and less dependent on what I think are failing infrastructures.

You’re well-known for launching participatory contests with your fans. Any new ones on the horizon?

We are doing this contest where our trumpet player Vince DiFiore scored our song “Federal Funding” for marching bands and so a lot of high school and college marching bands are entering a contest where they learn that song, play it and send in a video. We’re gonna choose one of them as a grand prize winner. I think we’ll end up putting them in a new Cake video.


Personal playlist: Fred Armisen

Quick chat: Oscar-nominated composer Alberto Iglesias

Quick chat: Butch Walker on avoiding rock 'n' roll 'comfort food'

— Nate Jackson

Photo: Frontman John McCrea, far right, with Cake band mates, from left, Paulo Baldi, Vince DiFiore, Xan McCurdy and Gabe Nelson. Credit: Robert McKnight.


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