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!


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.

15th Annual Spring Joshua Tree Music Festival
Joshua Tree Lake
May 18-21, $70-$100, All ages
A family-friendly global music experience in the magical Mojave, with continuous live music, yoga from sunrise to sunset, an action-packed Kidsville, magical visual arts, inspiring playshops, world market, Astronomy Theatre + more. Plus there’s just ONE live stage at a time so you don’t miss a beat!

Metro Art Presents: Desert Cahuilla Birdsingers
Union Station (Downtown)
May 19, 4pm-6pm, Free, All ages
The Desert Cahuilla Birdsingers are an ensemble of vocalists comprised of members originally from the Cahuilla, Mojave, and Quechan Nations of Southern California and Arizona. The group is dedicated to preserving and revitalizing the tradition of “Bird,” a social song and dance creating a narrative depicting the beginning of creation, the struggle of surviving and the triumph of all who succeed.

Echoplex (Echo Park)
May 19, 6pm, $12.50-$14.50, All ages
Jambinai sound less like a band than a force of nature, fusing the full dramatic range of post-rock dynamics to Korean folk roots to create an exhilarating, vivid and unique fusion. Their instrumental music is coloured by Kim’s fiddle-like haegum, Ilwoo Lee’s guitar and piri (a Korean flute made of bamboo) and Eun Youg Sim’s geomungo, a Korean zither.

Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang
Zebulon LA (Frogtown)
May 20, 8pm-1am, $10-$12, 21+
Sierra Leonean singer Janka Nabay exclaims: “All I am about is making history,” a modest goal for someone who revived a fading musical treasure, made it big back home, escaped war and chaos, and still managed to write and play songs while working at American fast-food fryers. Now, at last, Nabay hits his stride with Brooklyn indie experimenters-turned-acolytes The Bubu Gang (with members of Skeletons, Chairlift, Starring, Saadi, and Highlife) on his first album-length release in the West, En Yay Sah (“I’m Scared” Luaka Bop; CD/LP/digital release: August 7, 2012).

Chucho Valdés
The Luckman (CSULA)
May 20, 8pm, $20-$50, All ages
Winner of six Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards, the Cuban pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Chucho Valdés has been a key figure in the evolution of Afro-Cuban jazz for the past 50 years. The son of celebrated Havana musician Bebo Valdés, Chucho was already recognized as a formidable pianist when he launched his celebrated group Irakare in 1973 with a phenomenal cast that included Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval.

2nd Annual Como Tu Mujer, Homenaje a Rocio Durcal
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
May 21, 6pm-9pm, $20-$65, 21+
The evening will recreate the magic of her live performances with Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar, Ballet Folkorico de Los Angeles, a world class pop band, and the voice of Grammy nominated artist Stephanie Amaro. The gorgeous vocals of Julian Torres will also be a special feature paying tribute to the late icon Juan Gabriel. The concert will run approximately 2.5 hours with a 20 minute intermission. Food and adult beverages will be served in keeping with our “Mexico meets Spain” theme. This is the perfect gift for Mami as it will be held the Sunday after Mother’s Day!

May 17 “jazz” records w/ carlos niño, shafiq husayn & rani de leon
May 17 ¡Benefit for CHirLA! Egrets On Ergot/Sister Mantos
May 18 Los Amigos Invisibles
May 18 Nancy Sanchez
May 19 Rodriguez & Arum Rae
May 19 SUDAMERICANA + BMI Latin Showcase featuring Mitre
May 20 The Vision of Moholy-Nagy and Contemporary Music
May 20 Asian American Music Festival
May 21 Brilliant Strings “Swift Walkers” (v35)
May 22 Kikagaku Moyo


Subsuelo 6 Year Anniversary
Eastside Luv (Boyle Heights)
May 17, 9pm, $5, 21+
Subsuelo started as a house party in Boyle Heights back in 2011 and evolved into a monthly performance at Eastside Luv where friends get down to cumbia, hip-hop, salsa, house, reggaeton, dancehall, baile funk, kuduro and all kinds of new weird global bass variations. Along with the DJs, Subsuelo also features a live flamenco band that performs traditional cante jondo and experiments with genre-bending fusions and collaborations.

Noche Boricua featuring live Bomba by Cunya
El Floridita (Hollywood)
May 18, 9pm, $10, 21+
Join us for a Bomba dance lesson featuring live Afro-Puerto Rican bomba music by Cunya and DJ sets by martiNEAU – this is a cultural event you won’t want to miss!

Very Be Careful Enter the Cumbia
Mal’s Bar (Historic South Central)
May 20, 9pm, $10, 21+
Ninoska Arte presents: A night of Martial “Arts” like Kung Fu, Painting, Jewelry, and Cumbiaaaaaa.

Carnival 360
Globe Theater (Downtown)
May 20, 9pm-2am, $35, 21+
Carnival 360 consist of a group of events that are created to fill the void out of Carnival Season here in Los Angeles. This edition of Carnival 360 will feature Patrice Roberts live in concert at The Globe Theater in downtown LA. This will also serve as the first warm up event as we move into Carnival Season here in Hollywood CA. Get your tickets now as this one is not to be missed!

Africa In America Presents Master Congolese Dance Workshops
Lula Washington Dance Studio and Your Neighborhood Studio
May 20-21, $15-$20, All ages
Africa In America Presents its 1st Congolese Dance Workshops with no other than the Queen herself Mabiba Baegne. And for the first time in Southern California, she will be supported by Master Drummers Kiazi Malonga and Rocssy Mahania!! Classes will be held in Encinitas and Los Angeles, CA on May 19th-21st. Both Los Angeles classes are $20 each, however, you can pay only $15 when you take both workshops.

May 19 ¡Dinamita! XLVII w/ guests Niño Francois and Gomez Comes Alive
May 19 Forró in L.A. & Pé de Forró May’s Party
May 19 Cumbiatón 


Native Voices’ 23rd Festival of New Plays
The Autry (Griffith Park)
May 17-18, Free, All ages
Experience staged readings of new works that explore questions of solidarity and community, spirituality and culture, environment and economic success, and the often contentious relationships that emerge. An audience talkback follows each reading. The Festival of New Plays is presented by Native Voices, the country’s only Equity theatre company dedicated to supporting Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nation theatre artists.

Al Norte y P’atras” (North and Back) by Alvaro D. Marquez
Self Help Graphics (Boyle Heights)
May 18, Free, All ages
Al Norte y P’atras” (North and Back) presents a visual narrative of Mexican migration to the United States through a series of twelve hand-embellished, limited edition linocut prints. Using figurative expression and comics’ aesthetic grammar to tell the story of an undocumented Mexican farmer and his journey north, this project touches on various themes in current research on migration: the perils of the journey north, the use of technology to mediate familial relations across borders, the everyday rhythm of existence for some undocumented people, and the structural and historical factors that both push and pull migrants into the diaspora. In doing so, this show will challenge conventional distinctions between “high art” and vernacular/popular art, explore the relations between art and historical memory, and utilize visual narratives as a decolonial gesture. As part of this exhibition, visitors will be asked to participate in re-envisioning the chronology of migration through an interactive installation piece.

They Shoot Mexicans, Don’t They?

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse
May 18-21, $25, All ages
Experience the historic Playhouse in a unique way, through the site-specific staging of this original theaterwork remounted by About Productions for The Latin Wave event series. The participatory play is loosely based upon About…Productions’ Producing Artistic Director Theresa Chavez’s family of Californios who settled in Los Angeles in 1771, ran the Ramirez Dance Studio opposite the Playhouse, and performed in The Mission Play. Touted as “exquisite” by the Los Angeles Times in its original production in 2006, this immersive experience tells the story of a New York producer’s scheme plot to make a silent movie of the fabled Mission Play spotlighting the era when motion pictures first began to incorporate Latino history and culture into their storyline. Features live music from members of the LA-based, Grammy-winning, Chicano rock band Quetzal, with choreography by Francisco Martinez.

Björk Digital
Magic Box at the Reef (Downtown/Historic South Central)
May 19-Jun. 4, $35, 13+
The LA Phil is thrilled to present the West Coast premiere of Björk Digital, an exhibition of groundbreaking VR video works featuring music from Björk’s latest album, Vulnicura. A pioneer in music, art, and technology, Björk has worked with a collection of world-renowned directors, programmers, and visual artists to create a series of innovative virtual reality works displayed throughout a series of rooms. Björk Digital will invite guests to experience these immersive works through the latest in virtual reality technology.

1st Annual East LA Comic Con
El Gallo Plaza (East LA)
May 20, 11am-7pm, Free, All ages
Announcing the first annual East LA Comic Con! Saturday May 20th at the El Gallo Plaza right in the heart of downtown East LA. Come on out to this free, family friendly event filled with comics, collectibles, artist and creators as well as cosplay and maybe a surprise guest or two.

May 17 An Evening with the National Book Awards
May 19 Ari Project 2017: Tradition in Motion
May 20 Artist Walk-through: Star Montana
May 21 Art . Equity . LA: a conversation with lgbt communities of color


Revolutionary Motherhood
977 1/2 Chung King Road (Chinatown)
May 18, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Free, All ages
Please join AF3IRM Los Angeles in our 2nd annual celebration, dialogue, and sharing amongst mothers. Mother’s Day, originally an anti-war call, is the perfect time for us to gather, strategize, and build in this time of fascism.

Lessons on Genocide: Surviving the Khmer Rouge
Benjamin Franklin Public Library (Boyle Heights)
May 20, 2pm-4pm, Free, All ages
On April 17, 1975 the Khmer Rouge took over the capital city of Phnom Penh initiating a genocide on its people that would last unitil 1979 and resulted in the deaths of over 1.7 million Cambodians. Join us as we discuss living under the Khmer Rouge Regime, the immigrant experience, and the importance of helping refugees. Moderator: Chan En Hopson is Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Khmer Parent Association, a nonprofit organization focusing on health and educational issues for youth, women and families, and providing scholarships for higher education.

Dig This!
Moonwater Farm (Compton)
May 20, 2pm-9pm, $10 donation, All ages
This permacultural music & arts festival honoring mother Nature is focused on community and sustainability within urban landscapes. A community benefit for The Ron Finley Project. Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

South Central Farm – Bring It Back Event!
Art Share LA (Downtown)
May 20, 7pm-11pm, Free, All ages
Join us at this amazing event to draw unity and support to the cause of the South Central Farm. Come hang with Iconic Los Angeles street artist Teachr as he does live art, and check out a performance by Jurassic 5’s Soup J5 and grammy award winner Salvador Santana.

CharLA: All Things Connected
Community Coalition (South LA)
May 21, 2pm-5pm, $5 suggested donation, All ages
ARTIVIST ENTERTAINMENT and #CultureFix invite you to our 3rd CharLA (Chat): ALL THINGS CONNECTED…Building Solidarity Between Communities of Color. Join us for a special evening of discussion featuring our guest speakers Gina Belafonte (Co-Founder sankofa.org), Dr Melina Abdullah, Nobuko Miyamoto (Artistic Director of Great Leap Inc) and Meymuna Hussein-Cattan(Co-Founder Tiyya Foundation) and moderated by Nora Rahimian (Cultural Curator and Co-Founder of #CultureFix). With a special performance byOMAR OFFENDUM!

May 18 Can We All Get Along? 25 Years Later
May 18 Moving Day program in honor of APIA Heritage Month
May 20 6th Annual East Side Stories 2017
May 20 FemJam 2017: Jamming Feminism and Organizing Across LA!
May 20 African-Print Pop-Up Shop
May 20 Los Angeles Record Fair
May 21 Russian Cultural Festival
May 21 Festival Nicaraguense
May 20-21 Eaton Canyon Spring Awakening Festival  
May 20-21 Long Beach Pride
May 23 Un::fade::able – Reading at Art Share L.A.


Best Of
Goethe Institut of Los Angeles (Miracle Mile)
May 10-Jun. 28, Free, All ages
With our annual “Best of” film series we revisit some of the most exciting, successful, and sometimes overlooked German films of the past few years. From dramas to comedy, from epic to road movie, “Best of” is a 8-film series of recent gems and favorites of German cinema. Please note that all films are in German with English Subtitles.

The Journey Within
Pasadena Public Library
May 18, 5:30pm-8:30pm, Free, All ages
In a post 9/11 Pakistan faced with challenges of war and conflict, a quest for self-identity leads the inspirational journey of a music show to help reclaim the rich and vast musical heritage of this region. Join the USC Pacific Asia Museum Pakistan Arts Council for the last of the Pakistani film screenings this month on May 18th. We’re proud to announce the director Mian Adnan will be here from Pakistan for screening and Q&A after show.

Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS
USC School of Cinematic Arts
May 18, 7pm, Free w RSVP, All ages
Oscar-nominated filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested chronicle Syria’s descent into the unbridled chaos that allowed the rise of the Islamic State. Culled from nearly 1,000 hours of stunningly visceral footage, the film explores some of the horrific conditions that refugees commonly flee from, and shows their humanity and courage in the face of physical threats as well as a largely hostile political environment. Consequently, the filmmakers, who previously collaborated on a trio of films about the war in Afghanistan (Restrepo, The Last Patrol, and Korengal), also capture the Syrian war’s harrowing carnage and political and social consequences, while painting an alarming picture of the west’s role in the creation of ISIS.

L.A. OLA 2017 – Spanish Contemporary Cinema Showcase
Various theaters
May 18-21, Free-$12, All ages
L.A. OLA is an annual showcase of the best contemporary independent cinema from Spain in Los Angeles and New York City.

The Uhuruverse: A Psychedelic “Fight In Heels” Screening
660 N Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles
May 19, 9pm-12am, $10 donation, 18+
We are screening “FIGHT IN HEELS” in Los Angeles for our late-night lovers! This special event will include:
-LIVE PAINTING and an art display by PAK MAN
-A DJ/Beat Set with some of the producers from the original movie soundtrack!
-All the refreshments and accoutrements that can be expected at an after-hours/all-night shindig.
-A screening of #SNATCHPOWER‘s completely independent, sci-fi,#BLACKGIRLMAGIC-heavy, art film “FIGHT IN HEELS”!

The Seventh Art Stand: The Salesman and Omar
Cinefamily (Fairfax/Melrose)
May 19-20, $12, All ages
From Monday, May 8 through Sunday, May 14, The Frida Cinema will be joining over 50 cinemas across the U.S. in The Seventh Art Stand, a nationwide screening series presented by cinemas, museums, and community centers in 25 states, as an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia. These films highlight many of the issues faced by the Muslim community, as well as the Middle Eastern community in general, both in the Middle East and in the United States, and will range from dramas to documentaries to short films.

May 17 #LA92, NatGeo documentary about L.A. Riots @ The Village at Ed Gould Plaza
May 19 “Zoot Suit” Community Movie Night in South Central! @ Union del Barrio

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