Top Cultural Events in Los Angeles: March 15-21


by Tom Nguyen

Top shows this week: La Chamba‘s fundraiser show, Chico Mann & Captain Planet album release show, Ethio Cali‘s tribute to musicians who recently passed on: David Axelrod, Leon Ware, Doug Lunn, and hang player Manu Delago. Julieta Venegas, Gaby Moreno and Jungle Fire are playing in OC. Indigenous rapper ALAS & more are performing a benefit for Casa Solidaria del Sur and a very rare opportunity to see Shardé Thomas and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, playing fife & drum blues, a vanishing tradition directly descended from African slaves. Get your boogie on with Dinamita, Chulita Vinyl Club, Discostan, Chester Whitmore and The Floor Improv.

Last chance to see Confessions of an Arab Woman, and Chicanas, Cholas y Chisme’s Su Frida Calo at CASA 0101 and The Cruise at LATC open this week. March 16 is the anniversary of the killing of Latasha Harlins, and California African American Museum will have a discussion with Latasha’s aunt and original members of Black Lives Matter. Transgender activist and immigrant Bamby Salcedo will speak at CSULA followed by a screening of Raising Zoey. Mexika New Year at Mariachi Plaza, Native American Festival in Long Beach, A Week of French Language Cinema at Theatre Raymond Kabbaz, Santa Monica Airport and Montebello art walks.

MUSIC

La Chamba Go Fund Me Launch Party
La Cita Bar (Downtown)
Wed. March 15, 9pm, $10, 21+
After all these years, we’re finally dropping our full length album. It has been a struggle and a long road- we are done tracking and mastering 13 songs. We’ve made this far, but need your help to get our album entitled “Ecos De La Selva” finallly replicated and packaged. Please spread the love by helping us raise funds for our first full-length album. La Chamba W/ Zapoteca Roots (Deeply Rooted Sonidero Cumbia) & Dj Fresko
Dj Glenn Red, GetDown Collective DJS
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Chicano Batman: Pizza Party for Fans & New Single to celebrate their Aug. 28 Homecoming show!

Don’t worry if you missed out–I asked about their new single for you.

Chicano Batman. From right to left: Gabriel Villa, Eduardo Arenas, Carlos Arevalo, and Bardo Martínez.

Chicano Batman. From right to left: Gabriel Villa, Eduardo Arenas, Carlos Arevalo, and Bardo Martínez.

by Amanda Wang

(LOS ANGELES) — It’s August 18th, a bright Tuesday on the Westside. For SoCal band Chicano Batman, the year has had in store for them the spoils of Coachella and opening for Jack White. Next up is a grand homecoming on August 28th as headliners at the El Rey. Though they’ve just wrapped up their tour with Alabama Shakes, Chicano Batman celebrates by throwing a humble kickback with pizza for their loyal Angeleno fans.

Pictured with Jack White.

Pictured with Jack White. Photo: David James Swanson.

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Abstrakto: The New Sound of Los Angeles

IMG_0225by Lilly Flor del Valle

(HOLLYWOOD)– What could be more fun than hanging out at the Blind Dragon listening to the fresh musical stylings of Abstrakto, live? Well, not much. Abstrakto is the new music project from multi-Grammy winning lead singer and trumpeter from Ozomatli, Asdru Sierra, and actor/producer Balthazar Getty. The self-titled debut album, released under Getty’s independent label, Purple Haus, is a musical experience with a heavy noir cinematic feel. One of their songs, “Amar A Todos” will be featured featured in Robert Rodriguez‘s “Matador” TV show on El Rey Network in an upcoming episode.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sierra and Getty to learn about how this duo came to be. You’d think these well-known musicians met at an awards ceremony, recording studio, or maybe through their networks but they met at their kids’ school. Soon after meeting, Sierra was invited to collaborate on the critically acclaimed album “Solardrive” produced by Getty, also released under Purple Haus. Their creative collaboration began a friendship that would lead to the creation of Abstrakto in late 2013.

Sierra’s songwriting and instrumentation along with Getty’s classic “producer/reducer” talents ties everything together to become Abstrakto. The group recognizes the importance of the Raza demographic and plan to focus on reaching them through various ways: movies, commercial placements, touring and collaborations with different artists. They’ve already worked with Bomba Estereo!

Getty describes himself as a “producer/reducer” because he pushes people to their full potential to extract the absolute best sound. Sierra can record a trumpet solo, numerous times and Getty will pick the track with the best take. His wide skill set made it possible for Getty to direct and act in the music video for Abstrakto’s “Marcando Paso” and even designed the artwork for the album cover.

For Sierra, this is the most cinematic and personal album he’s recorded to date. The songs contain a range of themes inspired by Shakespeare along with capturing moments of the human experience. As a Mexican immigrant growing up in Los Angeles, Sierra’s music breaks down stereotypes with hopes to inspire generations to continue breaking down barriers of misrepresentation in the media.

The highlight of thIMG_0232e night came when Abstrakto took the stage and performed tracks from the album. As the trumpet filled the room, nobody could stay seated. Getty held it down on the turntable for Sierra to take flight. Abstrakto, two guys with a vision and the sound to match.

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

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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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Chicanas Who Rock and more American Sabor at CSULA


Three generations of Chicana musicians, humorously calling themselves Las ChiChis (CHIcanas CHIngonas), joined in a historic collaboration tonight at CSULA’s Music Hall. The small theater quickly filled up with overflow seating outside in the lobby as Lysa Flores, famed Chicana activista, actresss and songwriter, opened the show backed by East LA Taiko. The unique pairing of Chicana rock with Japanese drumming ended with a rousing taiko set performed by all of them together.

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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 →

Free Outdoor Summer Concerts & Activities all over LA

Ahhh my favorite part of the year! There’s so much to do all over LA during the summer and the best things in life really are free! From outdoor movies & Shakespeare theater, to dance, yoga, zumba and drumming classes, to live music featuring local talent as well as bands from around the world, there is something for everyone and fun for the whole family!

If looking at the list below (in order of when they start) is too daunting, you can find a great calendar that keeps track of most of the free music events at SoCal Summer Concerts. I’ll update this with my picks for can’t-miss shows soon!

FULL LIST

10 Years of Long Beach Park Jam! Help Keep It Going Strong!


I moved to Long Beach 2 years ago and one of the things that really personifies Long Beach is it’s diversity and community-driven events. We’ve got the great eats in Cambodia Town, free yoga on the bluff overlooking the ocean every morning, an annual funk fest and many other great events in the revitalized downtown area, the Retro Row with its independent stores, dive bars and Art Deco theater, and a great sense of community that has spawned groups like the Long Beach Time Exchange and Green Long Beach. My favorite yearly event in Long Beach is the one that attracted me to move to Long Beach in the first place: the Long Beach Park Jam. It’s a free community picnic, potluck and party every first Sunday during the summer months, that brings people together in the spirit of music, dance and art, and fun for the whole family. Continue Reading →

Hola Mexico Film Festival: Film + Food + Music! May 15-22


Last night was the opening night of the 5th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival and it’s the most ambitious to date! Here are the details from their site:

For the first time, in addition to celebrated and award-winning films, Hola Mexico will include food and music festivals, bringing together some of the best chefs and musical performances from Mexico. Continue Reading →