Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival has a Lineup of Pure Classics on their Blues Stage this Weekend

Canned Heat. Photo courtesy of cannedheatmusic

Canned Heat. Photo courtesy of cannedheatmusic

The Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Music Festival is always a good time, if just for the crawfish and the dancing. This year the festival has pulled in some big names and truly historical performers. The event features a Blues Stage and a Cajun and Zydeco stage.

Saturday the Blues Stage will go up the country with Canned Heat, veterans of both Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival. As The Beat’s Ed Simon recently explained, “The current lineup of Canned Heat features drummer/bandleader “Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra, a 45 year veteran of the band; Larry “The Mole” Taylor, the original bass player; and Dale Spaulding, who provides lead vocals, harmonica and guitar for Canned Heat. Also on guitar is John “JP” Paulus.” Read Ed’s interview with Fito de la Parra here.

Also on the bill Saturday are Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the band that helped usher in the return of swing in the 90s, and the guitar-heavy Royal Southern Brotherhood, who truly are music royalty with representatives from famous Southern families the Nevilles and the Allmans.  Be sure to arrive by noon to catch opening act Leo “Bud” Welch, a proverbial diamond in the rough. Playing blues and gospel for a select group of friends and family in Mississippi, Welch was a logger by trade. He was discovered by Fat Possum Records and released his first album, Sabougla Voices at the age of 81.

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Ted Lange’s “The Journals of Osborne P. Anderson”: Opens in a World Premiere to Awed and Standing Ovation!

(L-R) Gordon Goodman as John Brown and J.D. Hall as Frederick Douglass, Photo Courtesy of Mary Lange

(L-R) Gordon Goodman as John Brown and J.D. Hall as Frederick Douglass, Photo Courtesy of Mary Lange

People who need overthrowing?  This world will never experience a dearth of such disturbing denizens but none stand out so dramatically as slave owners and slave owner supporters the nation over–at the apex of the conflict that would ultimately foreshadow that of the Civil War! Other than that, I wouldn’t know where to begin or end, but author, actor, director Ted Lange does, and does so quite pointedly in his most freshly penned play, The Journals of Osborne P. Anderson.

It is a beautifully cloudy, somewhat blustery day as one approaches Theatre/Theater on Pico Blvd, not too far up the street from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (the only hot spot with which I am familiar in this neck of the lower thigh–chicken or human take your pick- Continue reading

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OC’s The Blind Pig has Created a Drink for Charity for Negroni Week

Blind Pig Negroni. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.The Negroni is considered one of the iconic classic cocktails of the 20th Century. Most accounts claim that it was invented in Florence, Italy in 1919 by Count Camillo Negroni. Whatever its origins, though it is a tasty drink that is coming back in popularity. Helping it along, Imbibe Magazine started Negroni Week in 2013 as a way to both bring back the drink’s popularity and also a way that restaurants and bars around the world could donate money to the charity of their choice for the week. Around the world, last year over 1,300 bars participated in Negroni Week, raising more than $120,000 for charity. This year, Negroni Week is taking place from June1 through June 7.

In Rancho Santa Margarita, The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar is one of the fine establishments taking part in the event. Tony Monaco, owner of The Blind Pig, said today that “We’re doing Miracles for Kids and we’re going to give 20 percent of our Negroni sales for that week to the Miracles for Kids charity. We’ve actually just found out about them, they’re a local non-profit and they basically give back so that parents of ill kids who have fatal diseases, they help support the parents with groceries and clothing. There’s one thing which caught our eye and that was a program they do, it’s called ‘Basket of Miracles’ and basically it’s a program where they’ll package fresh produce and fruits, so it runs parallel to our philosophy here at the Pig”. Continue reading

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ShipKicker Country Music Festival this Weekend at the Queen Mary features Parmalee

Parmalee.1. Photo courtesy of Parmalee

This Saturday and Sunday, it’s time to dust off your Tony Lamas, put your hat on straight and head on down to the Queen Mary in Long Beach for the inaugural ShipKicker Country Music Festival. Dustin Lynch will headline Saturday’s musical events along with top-line country performers such as Eric Paslay, Jukebox Mafia, River Road, jay Hollister, Brian Lynn Jones and Neil Morrow, who will treat the crowd to some real ‘ShipKicking’ music.

On Sunday, one of the best of the new country rock bands, Parmalee, will headline the festivities. Parmalee started in a big way with their debut album Feels Like Carolina and recently had their second consecutive Top 3 hit on country radio, Close Your Eyes. Their latest single, Already Callin’ You Mine, has been released and is already making big inroads on the country music charts. Matt Thomas, Parmalee’s lead guitarist, singer and one of the founders of Parmalee, recently spoke with me about Parmalee’s history, life on the road, the ShipKicker Country Music Festival and more. Continue reading

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The Donut Man is Worth the Drive

IMG_4776Glendora has made some questionable contributions to the world — Vince Neil and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, for example. But Glendora also produced The Surfaris, Misty Rowe of Hee Haw fame, and the founders of In-N-Out Burger. But perhaps the single greatest achievement of “the pride of the foothills” is The Donut Man’s strawberry donut.

Jim Nakano, aka The Donut Man, along with his wife and business partner, Miyoko, has been slinging his special fruit-filled delectables for over 40 years along the Western edge of Route 66. Elvis was one early fan, and Jim has been interviewed by the likes of Huell Howser and Alton Brown.

The strawberry donut, which has become a thing of legend, is a kind of a cross between a glazed donut and a strawberry pie. A delicate, sweet donut (like those used for jelly donuts) is halved and stuffed with fresh ripe strawberries and a sweet glaze. At first glance it looks so daunting you don’t expect to finish it, but suddenly it is gone and you wish you had ordered more. Strawberry donuts are in season from January until October. When they first appear, the demand is so great that the little shop can only sell strawberry donuts to the exclusion of all other donuts.

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Moscow Mules and the Ginger Beer Revolution, Part Two: The Taste Tests

Moscow Mule in a copper mug. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

In part one of this report, Chris Reed from Reed’s Inc. spoke about ginger beer, its history, Reed’s creation of their ginger products, why ginger is special and what the health benefits are, plus why ginger beer works so well in mixed cocktails. In part two, Reed’s Ginger Brew and several other ginger beers will be taste tested, both as a non-alcoholic drink and also in the famous Moscow Mule. The Moscow Mules were evaluated by a group of six, some who were big fans of the Moscow Mules and others who were trying a Mule for the first time. It was a tough job for the test group, but they survived the many adult libations they had to try.

The ginger beers used in this taste test were Reed’s Original Ginger Brew, Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, Reed’s Stronger Ginger Beer and Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew Light 55 Calories. One ginger beer that Chris Reed had mentioned as being a good ginger beer, Fever-Tree from the United Kingdom, was used for comparison as well as Trader Joe’s house brand Brewed Ginger Beer. No regular ginger ales were evaluated since generally they use artificial flavors and don’t have the true ginger taste of a ginger beer. For the Moscow Mule evaluation, Ketel One Vodka was used. To create a Dark and Stormy for evaluation, Zaya 12 year-old aged rum from Trinidad and Tobago was used. Most importantly, a copper mug was used for the Moscow Mule; while it can be prepared in a regular glass, the copper mug not only keeps the drink chilled better but adds to the authenticity of the drink. Continue reading

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Mick’s Karma Bar in Irvine and HachéLA in Silver Lake Present an Awesome Burger, French Style

Habanero Burger. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

There are hamburgers, and then there are hamburgers. In France, the upscale version of a hamburger is called steak haché, or chopped steak. At Mick’s Karma Burger in Irvine and its sister establishment, HachéLA in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles, owner Mick has taken the burger and elevated it to one of the best, tastiest burgers around. This is not your average ground beef patty, but instead a steak haché made out of all natural, 100% ground Angus sirloin. Right there comes the difference in taste, with an excellent flavor in the beef that is way above the taste of most other burger places.

Michael Schepers, or Mick as he’s known to most people, takes his burgers seriously. The meat is ground fresh, but mornings are not spent shaping patties and throwing them into the fridge for use later on. Instead, each steak haché is hand-formed after the order is placed so the meat maintains its juicy flavor and excellent texture. It is thick enough to enjoy and perfectly grilled, coming out in that magic spot between medium rare and medium that is just right for maintaining juiciness and texture.

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Flower Moon: The Empress Glinda

Ahh and here it comes. For us, a little before 9:15 because we get things first out here. It really is called the Flower Moon, Milk Moon, Mother’s Moon, Corn Planting Moon and all those things that tell you the frostbite is gone and those little seedlings are gonna make their way up a-okay. Think of Glinda: “It’s all right, you may all come out and thank her,” and you’ve got it.

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We Scope Out the New Haggen Store

HaggenOne day we looked up to discover our local Albertsons had become a Haggen overnight. With Albertsons and Safeways merging, they needed to sell off some of their stores. According to Supermarket News, 55 California Albertsons and 28 Vons have been acquired by Haggen (pronounced “hay-gen”) from Bellingham Washington.

In March, Southern California stores began the transformation. Store employees had the option of staying with Albertsons, or being hired by Haagen, so they are mostly the same people you already know. They now have a butcher/fishmonger ready to cut your grass-fed beef or even filet an entire salmon for you. There is a full bakery, florist and deli. The tri tip that is sold hot alongside the fried chicken is outstanding.

Each Haggen store works with smaller distributors as opposed to the bigger chains that send the same product from a central location to every store. This means the employees and customers have some say in which items are stocked. The Burbank location has finished the changeover in the fresh departments and is now working on changing over the dry goods. That means it’s a good time to pick up some clearance Albertsons merchandise.

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New American Theatre’s “63 Trillion”: Pricelessly Performed to Plentiful Applause!

Photo Courtesy of Ed Krieger

Photo Courtesy of Ed Krieger

What if the financial world as we knew it suddenly went “radioactive” and crashed more dramatically than in 2008? You’d see a lot more glassy-eyed, white knuckled white guys lope to safe deposit boxes than we’ve ever not seen the globe over. Or perhaps they would trot on out to the Boulevard below the office in which this particular play takes place and not a John in a Camaro and sunglasses would be any the wiser as to their true identity…

The fictional financial crash of 2015 (ad infinitum) is what 63 Trillion by John Bunzel embarks to explore. Set in an office high atop what looks like Sunset Boulevard–in deference to the set’s relief backdrop displaying half of Merv Griffin’s house and all houses beneath it on the most elevated peak of the Hollywood Hills–financial advisors this small Continue reading

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