East LA Interchange documentary about Boyle Heights history premieres Sunday July 26 at Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles

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by Tom Nguyen

It is often said that one cannot understand the present without knowing the past. East LA Interchange, a documentary by Betsy Kalin about Boyle Heights history, is premiering Sunday, July 26, during a very apt time when the community is responding to issues of gentrification, immigrant rights, violence and housing and economic challenges with community organizing and grass roots activism. The film reminds us community solidarity and political activism in the face of many challenges has always been a part of Boyle Heights history.

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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.

Afro Funke 10 Year Anniversary featuring Ozomatli Thu June 27


The weekly world music night Afro Funke at Zanzibar, Santa Monica will be celebrating 10 years going strong this Thursday, June 27 with Ozomatli in the house! The people behind Afro Funke are Rocky Dawuni, Cary Sullivan and DJs Jeremy Sole (KCRW) and Glenn Red (Eclectica) and they have been faithfully bringing great global music and culture every week to the west side in Los Angeles.

I had an opportunity to ask them a few questions about the upcoming celebration: Continue Reading →

3+ Subsuelo Parties this Week June 19-22!

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Subsuelo just got done celebrating their 2nd anniversary last month and within the last year, they’ve quickly grown from an underground monthly event in a small intimate bar in Boyle Heights to throwing big special events with partners like Mad Decent and Nickodemus. The Subsuelo crew have a quickly growing, glowing reputation for collaborating with other great artists to create something genre-defying and with such a unique blend of world-crossing music all in one night, it’s no wonder they seem to be everywhere in LA these days! If you thought 3 Subsuelo parties in one month was intense — can you handle THREE+ of THEM…this WEEK?!? (Why the +? Keep reading….)

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