Red O Opens in Santa Monica. Order the Steak!

Carne Asada BravaWhen most people think of celebrity chef Rick Bayless, they think of upscale Mexican food. After all, Bayless’ Frontera Grill in Chicago prides itself on its regional Mexican cuisine, with a menu that includes suaderno, birria and moles. Red O has a slightly different take on things. Yes, there are still traditional Mexican dishes like tamales, cochinita pibil and carnitas, plus authentic sauces from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Baja. However, Red O is really looking to make its mark as a steak and seafood house, and it succeeds.

The decor is resort-inspired, with a palapa roof, colorful tiles, and cabanas out back, but it’s still very recognizable as an upscale steakhouse. It’s the kind of place you would take your meat-and-potatoes boss or dad when you are tired of the same old thing but don’t want to scare them. The beef and seafood at Red O are of the highest quality and the cooking is spot-on. Your guests will definitely be impressed. The prices are equal to the quality, but hey, you might get a raise. Or maybe dad will finally give you his old Roadster.

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Defy Theatre’s Spring Awakening: Arouses Extreme Musicality, Certain Outrage, and a Bunch of Other…Y’know…Stimulating Stuff…

Photo Courtesy of Defy Theatre

Photo Courtesy of Defy Theatre

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a world wherein people nearly 17 years of age still had no idea where babies came from; an existence in which teenage boys were tormented by dreams of ladies’ legs (and God knows how they’d even have the wherewithal to imagine what they looked like since they were pretty much covered up 24/7 to the point of probable musings of hair adorning them just as their own), where any kind of sexual discovery under the heavy hand of religion, “decency” or proper education could get you maligned, banned or exterminated in some way?!? No, we are not musing some faraway foreign land; forget and calm yourselves concerning any atavistic and overly conservative piece of bigoted bullshit legislation.  We’re talkin’ good ol’ fashioned Germany in the Continue reading

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Upcoming: Ascencia Urban Blues Festival Featuring Walter Trout/Guitar Shorty

EMAIL-VERSION-390x600-2If you’re a lover of The Blues, and you know I am, then you do not want to miss this.  On Saturday August 29, Raleigh Studios is hosting the best damn blues-fest this side of the Crossroads festival.  Walter Trout and Guitar Shorty are the headliners.  Also on the bill are Arthur Adams, The Americans, The Scorch Sisters, The Trout Brothers Band, Little Faith, and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton.   For those of you who don’t know, Walter Trout is not only one of the best living guitarists around (don’t believe me? Check him out for yourself), but he’s being joined by Guitar Shorty.  This highly regarded duo teamed up in 2006 on “Full Circle” on the track “Wrapped Around Your Finger”.  My iTunes tells me this is the most played song in my 4000+ song ipod.  No wonder.   I’m seriously addicted to this track and the CD from which it comes.  Walter Trout is THAT GOOD!  And combined with Guitar Shorty?  It’s like Jimi Hendrix meets Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

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Here’s A Look At The Spheres at MacArthur Park

All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

This last weekend was the beginning of an art project 7 years in the making by Portraits of Hope that was approved in early May. Ed Massey and Bernie Massey head up the organization Portraits of Hope that focus public art projects that involve community with a focus of getting those involving the disadvantaged and those with disabilities. The organization has been responsible for creating many large scale public art projects in the past by using playful and colorful designs. This latest installment, “The Spheres at MacArthur Park“, will last for approximately 4 weeks. The project is intended to bring the focus back the lake and the park as a place, where the community can experience a sense of joy and unity. My friend Robin Blanchard put it best when she wrote: “This is a project that is designed to bring the community together to enjoy underused/under-appreciated or in this case mostly economic-class divided spaces. From what I saw Sunday it was working great. I saw a huge cross-section of Angelenos; including, the usual park patrons and lots of kids and lots of smiles.”  The photos that follow are intended to encourage you all to engage this unique experience and, for that matter, all the world out there waiting to be known and enjoyed!

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2001: A Space Odyssey / Hollywood Bowl, 8/18/15

hollywoodbowl

Photo by Rick Whitmore.

Sitting under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl was the ideal setting for experiencing Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by conductor Brad Lubman, gave a stellar performance of the classical works used in the film. It was riveting to hear these powerful works live. As the film began, the orchestra played the familiar opening strains of the iconic fanfare “Sunrise,” from the Richard Strauss tone poem “Also sprach Zarathustra.” The work is synonymous with the film, and is the piece most associated with it. The lilting waltz “The Blue Danube” created a serene aural backdrop as space ships glided gracefully and noiselessly; the jarring, hypnotic “Requiem,” composed by Gyorgy Ligeti, is used whenever the black monolith is present.

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How’d Ya Like A Knuckle Sandwich? Knuckle & Claw Brings the East Coast to Silverlake

Mini Lobster RollsSometimes a restaurant opens here in LA and it is immediately apparent that it was someone’s dream. You can tell because it has so much heart. But heart isn’t enough to make it in this town; you have to produce. Diners in LA demand delicious, innovative, quality food. The LA Beat first started seeing Knuckle and Claw at local food events, and they immediately charmed us. The owners and employees are so friendly. Each one is personally invested in their restaurant. And they have the food to back it up.

The dreamers were 24 year-old fiancees Nikki Booth and Chloe Dahl (yes, there is a relation to Roald, but not to Jeff). Booth grew up in Hawaii, developing a serious love of seafood, and Chloe grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, where lobsters are a staple. After living together in New York, they packed up their belongings and set off to California, kind of like that popular scene from “I Love Lucy,” without so much singing. Starting out at Eastside Farmer’s Markets, they developed the best recipes and relationships with top East Coast seafood purveyors. Secrecy and mystery surround “Nikki’s Secret Seasoning.” It’s a traditional seasoning with a “new take” inspired by her years in Hawaii. But no one will tell you a single ingredient. Not one. Continue reading

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Singer Barbara Morrison is Ready for Long Beach’s Upcoming New Blues Festival II

New Blues Revolution Bill MCU. Photo by Ed simon for The Los Angeles Beat
The New Blues Festival II returns to Long Beach this year, expanded to two days and two stages with an even larger roster of musical stars. James Harman, Bernie Pearl, Teddy Lee Hooker, the New Blues Revolution, the Delgado Brothers, Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams and Bluespower, Kid Ramos, Laurie Morvan, 2000 Lbs. Of Blues, Crooked Eyed Tommy and the George Foster Band are just some of the performers at this two-day event. All in all, there will be over 30 blues acts at the New Blues Festival II.

BARBARA MORRISON PHOTO courtesy of Doug Deutsch PROne of the highlights of Saturday’s lineup will be the performance of vocalist Barbara Morrison, chanteuse extraordinaire, showcasing many classic blues and jazz pieces. Barbara, who has performed with a veritable Who’s Who of musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Keb Mo’, Kenny Burrell, Carlos Santana, Etta James, Jimmy Smith, Dr. John and Buddy Guy, took some time to talk about music and the upcoming Festival.

Q: Barbara, what do you think the connection between jazz and the blues is?

BM: Well, I think they’re one and the same, really. There’s more improvisation in jazz but the connection is the feeling. ‘The way you make me feel’ as Michael Jackson would say. ‘The way you make me feel’,……..I think jazz is a little more complicated, the blues has repetitive chords in almost every song but some forms you get in jazz also. Blues is the basic is the bottom is the base for jazz. Continue reading

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Movies ‘Till Dawn: Reagan-Era Nightmares

12 a.m. – “Scarecrows” – Horror

product_images_modal_ScarecrowsBRCover72dpi(1988, Scream Factory) This supernatural thriller opens on an energetic note, with a gang of soldiers turned thieves, fresh from a big payroll heist, forced to land a stolen getaway plane (and its kidnapped pilot) into a remote rural area after one of their number bails out with the loot. The remainder’s search brings them to a desolate farmhouse, populated only by an array of scarecrows; that the latter come to life and terrorize the intruders is not so much of a surprise as how the exceedingly low budget doesn’t hamper director William Wesley from generating some genuinely suspenseful scenes, or special effect makeup designer Norm Cabrera (“The Walking Dead”) from crafting creatures which suggest a rural take on E.C. Comics’ ambulatory corpses. Shout Factory’s Blu-ray includes two commentary tracks – one with Wesley and producer Cami Winikoff, who seem quite floored that they pulled off the picture, and a second with co-writer Richard Jeffries, cinematographer Peter Deming (“The Cabin in the Woods”) and composer Terry Plumeri – as well as interviews with Cabrera, who made his professional debut on this film while still a teenager, and co-star Ted “The Wolfman” Vernon, a longtime veteran of the Florida cult movie scene. Original storyboards and a theatrical trailer round out the set. Continue reading

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Taylor Swift Staples Center Takeover 08/22/15

Photo by Ivor Levene

Photo by Ivor Levene

Last night I had a front-row seat to the spectacle that is a Taylor Swift takeover of The Staples Center.  Trying to do a review of something on this scale can be daunting, even more so since it wasn’t the first night of a multi-night show.  It would also appear that a lot of what I had intended to write seems as though it’s been written, pretty much verbatim already.  I’m pretty sure my mind (and my notes) aren’t being read by anyone, so I’ll put it down to something that isn’t that spontaneous. Not that there’s anything wrong with that though. A lot of people, many of them pretty young showed up last night for something special, and that takes a lot to deliver on.  A lot of rehearsal, choreography, lighting, sound, and all the other elements that go into this kind of spectacle. This is less a Taylor Swift concert, and more of an interactive experience. The only thing that’s missing is virtual reality, allowing Swift to reach out and touch each member of her audience, something she gets pretty close to in person.

The evening started off with Vance Joy, the first of two “opening” acts. I was actually surprised that there weren’t more people in their seats for Joy, given that he signed a five-album deal with Atlantic Records back in 2013. Five albums?  That’s a pretty big deal, in any era.  His set, basically an acoustic-based outing went over well enough, over top of the screams of the younger crowd which seemed to be screaming to just kind of warm up. Everywhere you looked, there were people dressed in lighted clothing, holding lighted signs, or just kind of lit. Were they selling batteries at the merch stands? I’d like that concession.

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Heart At The Bowl: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Zeppelin Show

Heart at The Bowl

Heart at The Bowl

Here we are again music fans, another night at one of my most favored venues, The Hollywood Bowl. A pearl in the necklace of Los Angeles. How can one be seated here and not be moved by the history and ambience of the theater? This is the place I saw on my tiny little black and white TV way back then when Ann Margrock did the Watusi with Fred Flintstone. The Bowl isn’t just a venue, it’s a living, breathing thing and I love this place!

Liv Warfield was the first act here tonight. In what can best be described as Grace Jones look with a horn section that would make Henry Mancini jealous, we were given a portend to the evening by Ms. Warfield. With some very lush horns, incendiary guitars, and a very cool Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by Thomas Wilkins, Liv Warfield was a good choice to open the evening. Why? I think this kind of music goes down great at the Bowl. To quote myself; ‘I love opening bands, they open you up to new music”. I am not the least bit surprised that she was selected by Prince as a member of his New Power Generation.

Now, I can’t be familiar with every band, but I did my research, and did my listening. I’ve read other writers talk of being hard-pressed to describe the show, and now I fully understand. What I heard prior to tonight on the internet was good, but this is one live act you have to HEAR to appreciate. If you like your music with a jazzy, big-band-ish sound, you would have loved this show. All you need to do is put together the sound of all those horns and that voice, and the acoustics of The Bowl and you have for one exciting band. The Hollywood Bowl was after all built for exactly this kind of music. It’s funny how that can work out sometimes. I would have liked to have heard more horns and less strings at times, but it’s still an amazing feat of auditory engineering, how they manage to mesh up the orchestra and the band. Liv Warfield laid it down, belted it out, and PRODUCED! I’m putting her album on my list. Continue reading

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