More than just a Free Summer Events List! 2017

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by Tom Nguyen

Let me be frank: I’m not a fan of these lists of free summer concerts all the big publications and cool kids come out with every year, for many reasons:

  1. Like how do you call yourself the “The Ultimate List” when you’re missing great free events like Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks in Leimert Park, Central Avenue Jazz Festival in South LA and Watts Towers Day of the Drum (that’s in its 136th year???) just to name a few. I’ll tell you why: These folks who deign to be authorities on Los Angeles either don’t step foot in communities of color or don’t care to include POC events.
  2. Then just because you have events in POC and immigrant communities doesn’t make it a culturally relevant and genuine event. Chinatown Summer Nights for example: seeing KCRW DJs spinning for a bunch of hipsters wearing Chinese coolie hats like a costume, while the neighborhood of mostly immigrant and poor folks is gentrifying, makes me want to puke.
  3. Yes there’s a lot of great free concerts bringing in great international acts as well as featuring local talent…Grand Performances, Skirball Cultural Center and Levitt Pavilion (kudos to Spaceland for their curation this summer!). But if you only focused on free free free, you’d miss out on other venues and nonprofit orgs like Hollywood Bowl, Ford Theatres, JACCC, MOLAA putting on amazing shows.
  4. Not every worthy band gets selected to play these free summer concert platforms, so I think it’s important to support our local bands during the summer as well as amazing visiting acts coming through.
  5. Where are the cultural and community festivals? Where are the film festivals? Again with those free lists…it doesn’t take a genius to just look at a bunch of calendars and compile them into a list. But if you’re not interacting and participating in communities of color and immigrant diaspora, you’re going to miss events like Hollywood Carnival, Nisei Week Japanese Festival in Little Tokyo, Cambodia Town Film Festival in Long Beach and so much deeper appreciation and awareness of the diversity of LA.

So if you only care about free concerts, read no further, and don’t even bother with those other lists…just go to socalsummerconcerts.com. I don’t know who puts that calendar together but it’s very convenient. Now if you do care about a wider range of summer events in LA, and you do care about supporting both local bands and venues who work hard to put on cultural relevant and important shows, then welcome. I spent a good week initially putting this list together and I will never call it a complete or ultimate list…I will continually add to the list as I hear of more events. And if you want a reminder of more awesome upcoming events as well as ticket giveaways to many of these shows, subscribe to our newsletter! Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: June 14-20


by Tom Nguyen

Folks, I decided last night that this will be my last weekly curated list of events. I’ve been putting out this list, without fail, week in and week out, holidays or not, illness or not, since 2011…first within the Couchsurfing.com Los Angeles forum to help travelers get a deeper sense of LA, then on my humble first blog, and finally here the last 4 years.

It was never really widely read and that’s ok…I don’t do this for any popularity and I’m so grateful whenever I meet someone who’s been following my site and is a fan of my curation of LA’s cultural scene. Focusing on under-acknowledged, vibrant and rich happenings in LA’s communities of color and immigrant diaspora will always be my passion and labor of love.

However, the sacrifice that it’s entailed…never being able to go out on Mondays and Tuesdays to devote hours and hours of weekly research until 5am, is starting to take a toll on my well-being, as I also juggle my startup company CultureGap.LA, a people of color and immigrant company, passionate about promoting the cultural arts all over SoCal.

So friends, it’s time for me to hang up my cultural hat here. Thank you so much for the folks who’ve supported my work! After I put out my list of summer events later this week, you can still find me most active on our Instagram and Facebook, subscribe to our newsletter for ticket giveaways, and if you love to write about the arts, can shoot decent pictures and want to attend shows, shoot me your resume and writing samples to tom at enclave.la. Peace out and enjoy the Summer!

MUSIC

The Altons Present: Final Summer Of Luv
Eastside Luv Bar (Boyle Heights)
Wed. June 14, 8pm, Free, 21+
So all things must come to an end and why not end it with a BANG.
Join us wednessday June 14th for the final night of our East Side Luv residancy. We will be joined by some good friends . Vinyl Frontier Crew spinning all night!

Teebs
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Little Tokyo)
Thu. June 15, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Free, All ages
Spaceland Presents x MOCA | The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles x Alpha Pup Records Present: Teebs at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA + Milo (Rapsmith), Josef Leimberg, (DJ) NOBODY Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: June 7-13


by Tom Nguyen

With all that’s going on this week, I still consider it a “quiet” week before all the free summer concerts everywhere start to kick into full gear! Support the homies this week: one of my newest favorite bands Earth Arrow, Sister Mantos, Nancy Sanchez CD release party, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Quetzal, Sin Color and La Junta, and the Brazilian music community is joining forces to put on Choro and Afro-Roots and Funk + Forró Dance Party. Another Brazilian band Boogarins are here, plus we’re giving away tickets to Los Cafres and Locos por Juana with Tropico Modular, a Palenke Soultribe side project. Hola Mexico, one of my favorite film festivals, and Mixed Remixed, the largest celebration of interracial, mixed race experience in the nation, are happening in downtown, as well as many more great cultural and outdoor events all over SoCal, like Dia de San Juan Puerto Rican festival in Long Beach, CicLAvia from Glendale to Atwater Village, Playboy Jazz FestivalLA Pride, the many art walks & more!

MUSIC

Earth Arrow, Sister Mantos, Oscura Luna +dj Selvatica
The Offbeat (Highland Park)
Wed. June 7, 9pm, Free, 21+
One of my newest favorite bands, Earth Arrow…socially conscious and defiant, unabashed and fiery, watching them perform is what one friend described as “what it must have felt like being in radical Oakland in the 70s!” They describe themselves as “a Los Angeles Afro-cuban hip hop based band focusing on reviving ancient african and indigenous rhythms and dance .Earth Arrow is a reflection of the fire that burns in the hearts of all who live in colonized lands across the world. A pioneer of indigenous blues sounds, they set out to defy expectations and explore new realms of emotional intensity while incorporating modern hip hop and jazz sabor. Ancient and modern, the guitar licks, piano solos, and percussions hail from the ancestors and channels their visions for the future. Humbly playing to spread truth, justice, and light over the lands. The 6th sun is here.”

Boogarins w/ Jjuujjuu
Bootleg Theater
Thu. June 8, 8pm, $12-$14, 21+
Boogarins’ Fernando “Dino” Almeida and Benke Ferraz began playing music together as teenagers in the central Brazilian city of Goiânia– recording psychedelic pop in their parents’ gardens, filtering their country’s rich musical history through a very modern lens.

Nancy Sanchez: American Novio CD Release
Resident (Downtown)
Fri. June 9, 8pm, Free, 21+
Its finally here! I am so excited for this release of my new album American Novio. I am so grateful to all the musicians, Eugene Toale and Mares Entertainment for making this happen. Come celebrate this release along with our friends El Haru Kuroi and DJ Glenn Red.

Brazilla presents: Choro and Afro-Roots
Zebulon LA (Frogtown)
Fri. June 9, 9pm, $15, 21+
Braziilla is a blessing to protect the musical legacy of the Brazilian diaspora into Los Angeles. Brazilla is a collective of musicians and artists involved with music. Most of us are Brazilian although not all. Our mission is to protect and expand the influential legacy of our mother culture in all its diversity and radically. Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for May 31-June 6


by Tom Nguyen

The first week of June is exploding with events! Don’t miss Los Cambalache at Aratani World Series season finale. Julieta Venegas, Hot 8 Brass Band from NOLA, acoustic guitarist/singer Jennah Bell, and avante-garde group Filastine & Nova at Zebulon a new venue with really eclectic programming of world musicMy favs Selenamos and YANGA are at La Cita and Cuban music fans, don’t miss Cuban American Music Festival with a stacked lineup: Los Van Van signer Yeni Valdes, DJ Guajiro, Charanga Cubana, Changui Majadero, Rumbankete and the Arsenio Rodriguez Project. Also San Miguel with dance teacher Katie Hernandez at The Mint. More places to shake your booty at NuTropic, CuLosAngeles, WOMXN Sound of Cumbia with Cuicani, TheLIFT, and bring the whole family to FandangObon and Viver Brasil’s Samba in the Streets dance & drum series. 12th annual Lummis Day is happening and please support artists, artisans and vital causes in our communities of color at Barrio de Artes with La Junta, Caracol END of Spring MarketplaceFree Red Fawn! FundraiserSave Eastside Café Fundraiser BrunchAlternative Facts: music, poetry, & art show.

MUSIC

Jennah Bell
Hotel Cafe (Hollywood)
May 31, 9pm, $10, 21+
In 2012 Jennah Bell, a young singer-songwriter with a guitar and a fierce folksy sound, stole the hearts of the leaders of okayplayer.com…After listening to the recording, okayplayer.com decided to release it as a live EP under its record label. It was a decision that spoke to Bell’s promising sound and musical sophistication. Now at age 26, her music has evolved even further. Her latest EP titled Anatomy is proof of that growth. With a range of melancholy and sweet tunes, the five-track project is the equivalent of a warm slice of apple pie. ~ Beyond Classically Beautiful on Huffington Post

Selenamos w/ Yanga, Dj Fresko
La Cita (Downtown)
June 1, 9pm, $10, 21+
Hi Folks, Selenamos is back to La Cita Bar this June 1st with Yanga, and friends…Selenamos?? #letsSelena #Cumbiaritmos Celebrate the first day of June with some tropical rhythms! Come dance Cumbia, Afro Caribbean rhythms and much more. Dj Fresko and guests will be playing the best tropical music on vinyl

Aleks Syntek Invites You To Discover The Music Of San Miguel
The Mint (Mid-City)
June 1, 8:30pm, $10-$15, 21+
En esta noche especial presentaremos mi nuevo álbum “Un Poquito de Amor Everyday” Producido por Cecilia Noël, Colin Hay from (Men At Work) y Un servidor. Tendremos el placer de tener como invitado especial al gran Aleks Syntek. También contaremos con la presencia de Kati Hernández (Cuba’s Dance Star in LA) Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: May 24-30


by Tom Nguyen

This weekend is the traditional start of LA’s summer and plenty to do! Bomba Estereo plays in LA & LIB, Mon Laferte plays HOB but my can’t miss show is Ana Tijoux with Shadia Mansour, Maya Jupiter and Ceci Bastida! More visiting artists to catch are Wafia, Amalia Mondragon, Mariachi Flor de Toloache as well as great local bands Las CafeterasTropi Corillo at Que Bola, Cutty Flam and too many to list at Todd Simon’s Hodgepodge. Get your boogie on at La Junta, SubsueloChulita Vinyl Club celebrating 1 year, Afrolituation and MOM LA’s California Sol, and many more great events below!

MUSIC

Bomba Estereo
The Mayan (Downtown)
May 24, 8pm, $27, All ages

Que Bola: Tropi Corillo and Cuba Rumba
Treehouse Lounge (Chinatown)
May 25, 9pm-2am, $5-$8, 21+
Cambio en Colores (Change in Color) Records brings you a new night this summer at a new location in Chinatown. Showcasing talent we are working with from all over the world and locally. Dj’s Jeremy Sole and Glenn Red. Musica en Vivo: El Tropi Corillo de Los Ángeles and Cuba Rumba.

Hodgepodge #7
General Lee’s (Chinatown)
May 25, 9pm, Free, 21+
Musicians jamming w/ records * DJ’s jamming w/ musicans. Good people & Magnificent drinks. Join us for another fun, laid back night at General Lee’s curated by LA’s music maestro, Todd Simon. This time, featuring: Houseshoes, Jimetta Rose Smith, Seano (Sean Osborn), Jake Najor, Sonido Papichambu (Simon Guzman Velez), Wesley Singerman, Kahlil Cummings, Tracy Wannomae + someone killer Continue Reading →

Our Top Cultural Picks in Los Angeles: May 17-23


by Tom Nguyen

Back to summer sunshine this week and wow, what a eventful week it is! So many amazing artists from around the word: Tunisian singer Emel Mathtlouthi, British Ugandan singer Michael Kiwanuka, Janka Nabay from Sierra Leone, Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, and tons of eclectic artists at Joshua Tree Music Festival, from amazing bands like Mokoomba from Zimbabwe to local favorites like Orgone. Get your groove on at Subsuelo‘s 6 year anniversary, Noche Boricua, Very Be Careful, Patrice Roberts at Hollywood Carnival‘s next event, and Africa in America‘s Congolese Dance workshops. Catch special weekend only performances of They Shoot Mexicans, Don’t They?, 2nd Annual Como Tu Mujer, 1st Annual East LA Comic Con, see Alvaro D. Marquez‘s art at Self Help Graphics, and LA Phil premieres Björk Digital, a VR experience. Also, many community orgs worthy of your support this week…come support their fundraisers: CHIRLA, Ron Finley Project, South Central Farm, and CharLA: All Things Connected, an important discussion on building solidarity between communities of color, and many more great events below!

MUSIC

Emel Mathlouthi
The Echo (Echo Park)
May 17, 8:30pm, $17.50, 18+
Prominent Tunisian Singer/Songwriter Emel returns with Ensen, out now. Emel will tour to support the record, but her concerts go far beyond the sounds on the album. “I never perform the same way twice. I am more of a theatre person than a studio artist; the songs take on multiple lives once the recording is done. I’m very free with my vocals. I often take unexpected, spontaneous paths with the feel of the moment.”

Michael Kiwanuka
Fonda Theatre (Hollywood)
May 18, 8pm, $20, All ages
Having taken a deep breath and relaxed into his musical approach, Kiwanuka is back, and has delivered his eagerly anticipated second album – and it packs a powerful punch. If his last album was about returning home again, this is about leaving it behind and stepping out – and finding himself outside his comfort zone. Love & Hate is an outward-looking, drenched with emotional density and rich, soulful production at the helm. Continue Reading →

Despite injury, Gabriel Garzón-Montano shines at Troubadour 


Story and photos by Johan Moreno

The day before his sold out show at The Troubadour, Gabriel Garzón-Montano sent this message out on his Twitter account: “I think I fractured my left foot. I was having fun shaking my ass for you guys, but I’ll be on crutches or sitting for these shows. Alas.”

Los Angeles holds a special place for Montano. His latest release, “Jardín,” was imprinted by Highland Park’s Stones Throw Records and has been in heavy rotation on KCRW, which has raised his profile. But besides a set of Stones Throw showcases and an album release show at Amoeba Music, this was his first official headlining show in Los Angeles.

However, Montano’s injury did not stop him from performing an electric set in front of an eager crowd at the intimate West Hollywood venue. And yes, he even found the energy to groove around for a few songs. Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: May 10-16


by Tom Nguyen

There’s a new music venue in town: Zebulon LA and I like their eclectic programming of world music. I don’t know if they ever had a grand opening or if this is a soft launch, but Mia Doi Todd and SK Kakraba are performing this week. Gabriel Garzon-Montano plays a sold-out Troubadour, and 3 of my LA favs together at The Broad Stage: Jungle Fire/Ethio Cali/Mexico68! Syrian wedding singer turned techno cult figure Omar Souleyman is here too! LA Plaza kicks off its free summer of salsa with Ricardo Lemvo, Barrio Funky features YANGA, El Santo Golpe & Glenn Red. And many more great art, film, cultural and community events this beautiful week!

MUSIC

Mia Doi Todd, Bart Davenport, Oguri & more
Zebulon LA (Frogtown)
Thu. May 11, 8pm, $10, 21+
Dance performance by Oguri! Performance by Bart Davenport! Poetry readings by Saul Williams and Jimetta Rose!

Gabriel Garzon-Montano w/ Space People
Troubadour (West Hollywood)
Thu. May 11, 8pm, $15-$17, All ages
On his debut LP, Jardín, Gabriel Garzón-Montano sings of the struggles and uncertainties of the many-layered game that is America today, from the specific doubt and double consciousness of the first-generation hustle, to the universal challenges of love, legacy, and exploring the maze of one’s own mind. A child of immigrant parents – a child of Brooklyn, NY – Garzón-Montano’s aesthetic is an extension of his French-Colombian heritage, a pastiche of Bach sonatas, cumbia records, and the machine gun funk that echoes to this day from behind half-rolled tints up and down Nostrand Ave.

SK Kakraba + Fell Runner
Zebulon LA (Frogtown)
Fri. May 12, 8pm, $8-$10, 21+
SK Kakraba solo at 9pm, Fell Runner at 10pm, SK Kakraba Band at 11pm w/ DJ sets from Adam Reese Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: May 3-9


by Tom Nguyen

Cinco de Mayo weekend: Lots of community festivals below for the whole family and come support some of our favorite LA musicians and DJs: Ozomatli and Irene Diaz at Eclectic Music Festival, Buyepongo, Quitapenas and Chico Mann & Captain Planet at NHM, La Chamba and Subsuelo at La Bulla, La Santa Cecilia, Sheela Bringi, Brainstory, É Arenas, Chola Orange, Selenamos, Sin Color, Mariachi Manchester, ECNO, Aztlan Underground, LECHE. Dope visiting musicians/DJs this week: Silverio, Los Master Plus, Toshi Reagon, Oddisee and it’s gonna be Afro-Latino fire on the dance floors with MPeach (NY/Venezuela) at CuLosAngeles and Thombs (Colombia) and Leo Justi and MC Carol both from Brazil at PluggedIn.LA.

LATC premieres The Sweetheart Deal, Star Montana‘s photography is featured at Main Museum, Kyogen at Aratani Theater and more great arts below. UCLA Film & Television Archive is showing a rare film Parting from Afghanistan as well as a celebration of Iranian cinema. Hammer Museum, The Markaz, Downtown Independent and USC School of Cinematic Arts also host important documentaries.

MUSIC

Silverio & Los Master Plus
Los Globos (Silver Lake)
Wed. May 3, 8pm-2am, $25, 21+
Te esperamos este próximo 3 de mayo a nuestra gran FIESTA celebración y baile con su majestad imperial SILVERIO y los reyes del vacilón. LOS MASTER PLUS! Además: Dj Hips del Conjunto Nueva Ola (ECNO)

Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely
UCLA Royce Hall
Thu. May 4, 8pm, $15-$39, All ages
Toshi Reagon is an American folk and blues musician from a family of socially conscious singers. Her parents were part of The Freedom Singers during the civil rights struggle and the singer, who is lesbian, is just as outspoken about issues of equal justice and human rights in her music.

First Fridays with Buyepongo, Chico Mann & Captain Planet, Quitapenas
Natural History Museum (Exposition Park)
Fri. May 5, 5pm-10pm, $18, All ages
Tour: “Food for Thought” with Richard Hayden, NHMLA Head Gardener. Discussion: “How Green is Your Plate” with Rachel Surls, Ph.D and Judith Gerber moderated by Los Angeles Times Journalist Patt Morrison. DJ Lounge: KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez and special guest Subsuelo. Music: Buyepongo and Chico Mann & Captain Planet and 7pm pop-up performance by QUITA PENAS! More great Cinco de Mayo shows all over SoCal:
Selenamos Cinco de MayO @ Eastside Luv Bar
Cinco De Mayo with ECNO @ La Cita Bar
La Chamba and El Santo Golpe @ Malo
Morrisseynco De Mayo w/ Mariachi Manchester @ Spikes Bar & Billiards
Cinco De Mayo Celebration with: Quinto Sol, Aztlan Underground, DJs Costa & Ethos @ Alex’s Bar Continue Reading →

Our Cultural Picks for Los Angeles: April 26-May 2


by Tom Nguyen

Summer is pretty much here, folks…weather’s hot, Grand Performances just announced their summer concert lineup and La Junta is kicking off a month early this Sunday! Today is also Denim Day to raise awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter performing. Flowers RDM kicked off to a great start last month, celebrating Afro-Caribbean artists and diaspora here in LA, and is back! More great shows: Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha, Chicano Batman, Rumbankete and really special: The Bronzeville Union, a supergroup playing 40s jazz, commemorating the forgotten history of the African American community of Bronzeville in Little Tokyo, as part of the 33rd Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Film fans should also not miss the 12th Edition South East European Film Festival. April 29th is the 25th anniversary of the LA Uprising. Don’t miss Community Coalition’s Reimagine Justice exhibit before it ends this weekend and a lot of community events like Future Fest – March, Rally, and Community Festival, The LA Uprising: 25 Years Later at Hammer Museum, Las Fotos Project Feminist Uprising exhibit, Tia Chucha’s Celebrating Words Festival and many more great community and cultural events below! 

MUSIC

Denim Day 2017: Aloe Blacc + Maya Jupiter
Third Street Promenade (Santa Monica)
Wed. Apr. 26, 4pm-9pm, Free, All ages
The GUESS Foundation + Peace Over Violence in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica invite you to support Denim Day 2017 on Wednesday, April 26th at Third Street Promenade Santa Monica. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) we invite you to WEAR JEANS WITH A PURPOSE and join us at this FREE public event. At 6PM, enjoy a LIVE outdoor performance by Aloe Blacc & Maya Jupiter (stage on the 3rd Street and Wilshire block).

Flowers RDM: Spring Edition
Los Globos (Silver Lake)
Thu. Apr. 27, 9pm-2am, $12-$15, 21+
Flowers RDM: the space of Rhythm Delight Music where Afro Caribbean vibes intersect with the diversity of the LA music scene… It’s time to bloom together and build gardens…not walls! Come ready to explore and vibe to the sounds of soul, hip hop and the heartbeat of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. In this edition Artist and Producer, Aponte, brings his friends that represent the diversity of LA, OC, and Puerto Rico. This month’s artists have roots in Mexico, Panama, and Cuba and bring their talent and personal perspective to the LA backdrop. Special Guests Include: Pegasus Warning, Weapons of Mass Creation, basico3 from Guatemala and more!

Dakhabrakha & Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares
Walt Disney Concert Hall (Downtown)
Fri. Apr. 28, 8pm-11pm, $41, All ages
Dressed in striking traditional costumes, the multi-instrumental quartet from Ukraine DakhaBrakha (“give/take” in Ukrainian) mixes Eastern Europe’s folklore and rhythms with the urban avant-garde. Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices), the celebrated all-female folk choir, opens the evening with harmonies and arrangements that showcase the characteristic timbres and rhythms of traditional Bulgarian music. Continue Reading →