Airbnb is having a slick celebrity-studded Festival in Downtown LA and no one is talking about it


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by Tom Nguyen

This morning, I noticed a musician friend announce on Facebook he would be performing on the same stage with bands like Maroon 5 at Airbnb Open 2016, a festival hosted by Airbnb in downtown Los Angeles November 17-19. It’s an annual community gathering and festival of hosting that brought together 5000 hosts from 110 countries at last year’s festival in Paris, France. This year, the festival offers music, art, food and talks by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher, and according to their press release, will “highlight the thriving downtown area of LA, taking place across four historic theatres and involving many local restaurants, cafes and other small businesses.”

It sounds great doesn’t it? It’s just no one in our communities knows about it because there is a vacuum of press that this is happening this week. LA Times, LA Weekly and which regularly write about neighborhood complaints about Airbnb, the effects of these short term rentals on LA’s already insufficient supply of renta units, and the city’s efforts to regulate them, are curiously silent. The only news I found were on My News LA and Timeout back in July when the festival was first announced.

Curbed.LA wrote a great piece “Airbnb vs. the city: How short-term rentals are changing urban neighborhoods” just last week. The article gives a good summary of Airbnb’s history from its founding in San Francisco in 2007, it’s tremendous growth, estimated to grow 89% from $900 million in 2015 to an estimated $1.7 billion this year, and how cities across the country are increasingly cracking down and grappling with how to enforce and regulate what are essentially illegal hotels. Curbed.LA says “2016 has been a year of backlash against illegal short-term rentals.” It’s no wonder Airbnb and its high powered PR are staying mum on this week’s festival. If the festival flies under the radar the way their short term rentals do, away from too much scrutiny, Airbnb and their gathered hosts won’t have to answer difficult questions, like those posed by and a few other critics I found while searching under #AirbnbOpen hashtag on Twitter.

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Forget Halloween…Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2014 in LA & SoCal!

by Tom Nguyen

October means a popular holiday is creeping up fast: the one time of the year the living and the dead mingle, and children and adults alike dress up. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m referring to the culturally rich celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and there is no shortage of where to celebrate in our beautifully diverse Los Angeles and nearby areas! Especially with Halloween Oct. 31 falling on Friday, there are going to be multiple opportunities to celebrate Day of the Dead on both Saturday Nov. 1 and Sunday Nov. 2, as well as the weekends before and after!

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Brazilian Day San Diego Sept. 7! Brazilian Day Los Angeles postponed until 2015!

by Tom Nguyen

(Update 9/2/14Brazilian Independence Day Celebration in Hermosa Beach has been moved to Saturday, September 6, 2014.)

While the traditional end of summer for many is Labor Day weekend, for me the beautiful summer wasn’t over until the joyous celebrations of Brazilian Independence! I would look forward to a double dose of celebrations with both Brazilian communities in LA and San Diego. Alas, this year’s Brazilian Day Los Angeles festival has been postponed until 2015, due to a cut in funding and a rise in the cost of having it at the La Brea Tar Pits. However, the new leadership for the festival, which has taken place since 2006, has high hopes for finding a new location in 2015.

The much larger Brazilian Day San Diego on Sunday, September 7, touted as the biggest Brazilian Festival on the West Coast, attracts over 50,000 people each year and is always worth the drive down from LA! Blocks of Pacific Beach are closed on Garnett Avenue for the free, all-ages festivities and parade, and the friendly, energetic Brazilian community embraces everyone in the fun!

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Culture Collide Lineup Announced! One of our Favorite Festivals!

by Tom Nguyen

Hands down, there is no other festival in LA like Culture Collide where you can see emerging independent bands from so many countries all in one weekend, up close and personal in venues across Echo Park! We love the fact that we never recognize most names on the roster each year…they really do search far & wide all over the globe for an eclectic selection of acts that most often are reaching LA audiences for the 1st time!

If you love discovering new rising stars in intimate venues, you’re in for a treat! Our 2 favorite discoveries last year were Adi Ulmansky from Israel, the talented bad-ass who went from technical glitches her 1st day to having Moby show up to her last show, and Maya Vik from Norway, who’s bringing back Prince’s 80s Minneapolis funk and making it her own. We can’t wait to see who captures our musical hearts this year!

This year’s headliners are Cloud Nothings (USA), Nina Persson (Sweden), Quantic (Colombia) and Until the Ribbon Breaks (UK) and there are so many more bands! We love the festival’s international happy hours too, pairing music with food and drinks from the artist’s homeland. In its 5th year, the fun will run October 16-18 and tickets are $35. Start getting acquainted with the artists announced so far and follow Culture Collide on Twitter for latest updates and more bands to be added!


1st Ever Supersonico Lineup Announced & Why LA deserves more World Music Festivals like this!

by Tom Nguyen

(Update 7/10/14: Did some research and found out this festival have been long in the making by Latin Alternative Music Conference and Nacional Records founder Tomas Cookman and Coachella promoter Goldenvoice. They get why LA needs this so bad and we thank you!)

We couldn’t believe our eyes at first when we saw the lineup. You know those fake Coachella lineups that appear every year as people fantasize their dream lineup? This 1st ever Supersonico pretty much sums up our wet dream of a Latin Alternative festival!

Cafe Tacvba, Calle 13, Ana Tijoux, La Vida Boheme, Bomba Estereo, Nortec Collective presents Bostich & Fussible…like Anthony Valadez of KCRW said, “the promoters could have stopped with the 3 of the names and this would have been huge but instead they went deep.” Yeah no kidding! Great to see them also feature some of our favorite local acts like La Santa Cecilia, Ceci Bastida, Jungle Fire, Subsuelo, Kita Klane, LA tastemakers DJs Valadez and Raul Campos and incredibly, more artists are to be announced!

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Hollywood Bowl Summer Season Picks!

JanelleMonae Who doesn’t love the iconic Hollywood Bowl, the premiere outdoor summer venue in LA? There’s something for everyone from an eclectic lineup of global talent from different genres, to great jazz and classical music. On top of that, it sits up near the picturesque Hollywood Hills and is one of the only venues where you bring your own food and wine and enjoy a picnic with your favorite music under the stars! I’m especially a big fan of the KCRW-sponsored World Festival concert series there each season! The Hollywood Bowl Summer season starts Sat., June 14 and runs through Sun., Sep. 28 and here are my picks: Continue Reading →

Bombazo Fandango: A Unique Music Event of the People and For the People!

Courtesy of Richard Estrada

At the 4th Annual Bombazo Fandango on Saturday night February 8, 2014 we were told and shown that there is a reason some music lasts throughout the centuries, and other music can’t seem to make it through a decade. Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba and Son Jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico are both musical forms that stand the test of time. Why? Because this isn’t just music for the sake of music. This music is about community! Both are fusions of African, indigenous, and Spanish influences. Not only are the influences cultural, they are historical and at the same time timeless since many of these communities are still experiencing some of the persisting consequences brought about by colonization, slavery, and oppression. This music uplifts, this music resists, this music is why our peoples persist! Continue Reading →

Grigris Film Premiere and Karamo Susso at Cameras d’Afrique Opening Night

One of this week’s can’t miss events is the opening night of the Cameras d’Afrique: The Films of West Africa festival at LACMA on Thursday, October 3. The month-long festival is a rare opportunity for American movie-goers to see a diversity of films of the West African region from the past 50 years, from recent cinema to groundbreaking classics. The opening night features 2 films by accomplished Chadian director, Mahamat Saleh Haroun: his 1999 debut feature film Bye Bye Africa and the US premiere of his latest film, Grigris, which won the Vulcan Award at Cannes International Film Festival this year.

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FILTER Magazine’s 4th Annual Culture Collide Part 1: International Acts

FILTER Magazine
‘s Culture Collide music festival is probably the most underrated music festival in all of LA — since its inception in 2010, they’ve managed to bring together an impressive and unique global lineup of indie and emerging artists each year. Their motto “The World converges in Los Angeles…no passport needed” is no exaggeration. Last year, there were 80-some bands from 25 countries over a 4 day period, all for a pittance of just $20! The price for this year’s festival from October 10-12 is $30 which is still incredible — we don’t know how they manage to fly in so many bands from all over the place for that price!

When there are so many bands to see and we have to pick and choose — our preference of seeing bands is in order of how far they’ve come to play in LA so let’s start with the international bands first. Each year’s lineups are a balance of familiar headliners to emerging, obscure talents just waiting to be discovered! If you’re one of those musical hipsters who like to brag “I was listening to them long before I even knew who they were”, you won’t be disappointed with this year’s lineup. Click on the genres below to explore the many great bands coming to our shores and peep the lineup schedule!

Acoustic/Folk/Soul     Electronica      Hip Hop/Rap      Pop        Rock



My Love Affair with Colombia: Celebrating its Music and Independence

I admit it — before I lost my job a few years ago in the bad economy and bought a one-way ticket to South America, there were only 2 things I knew about Colombian music: Shakira and salsa music. After backpacking for 5 months through the continent, ending in Colombia, I so fell in love with the country and the people that I returned a second time the same year. I not only came away with an appreciation for a beautiful country which has gotten an undeserved bad rap because of its history of civil war and drug violence, I also made wonderful new friends for life.

Colombia today is flourishing and it’s a land of great beauty, history, culture, fashion, art, music, dance and creativity and we are influenced by Colombia here. For example, CicLAvia, the quaterly event to reclaim LA’s streets from car traffic so people can enjoy the urban landscape on foot and bicycles, was started in Bogota.

posterColombianos are at the top of my list of the most warm, generous and friendly people I’ve ever met in my life. I traveled using the CouchSurfing online travel network and met and stayed with so many wonderful local people, who showed me a genuine experience of Colombia, not a touristy one. One in particular, Carol, is a graphic designer who works for the city government in Medellin. If  you travel there, the beautiful map of its brilliant metro system is her handiwork. I met Carol through the  and she took time out to take me on many tours of the ‘Eternal City of Spring’. After I returned to the US, being fellow music lovers, we’ve kept in touch on Facebook by sharing new music discoveries with each other and thanks to her, I’ve been so enriched with the diversity of Colombian music! Continue Reading →