Wednesday
Jun252014

Eddie Cota on Panoptica Orchestra and Federico Aubele

This year we're asking our musically and culturally inclined friends to write our evening programs. Here's Eddie Cota on the Panoptica Orchestra and Federico Aubele.

I can’t think of a better place than Los Angeles for a lineup like Panoptica Orchestra and Federico Aubuele to take the stage together. This city is moving so fast culturally and expanding its global sounds, it's if we have a direct line out to every creative hub around the world.

One of the most important hubs is just to the south, Tijuana. It seems like we have a strong cultural link that exchanges and supports each other’s art. It has only been the last few years that the media has paid attention to the burst of arts and culture over there. They describe it as this progressive and hip scene where only adventurous art-seekers dare to explore.

Panoptica has been pioneering the sounds of the city’s progressive culture for some time. He was one of the founders of electronic-Mexican group Nortec Collective. When I first heard this group, it blew my mind.   

The music felt so parallel to my experience of discovering where I belonged in Los Angeles when I moved here 10 years ago. Listening to them take a genre like Norteño and mash it up with electronic beats, provided a soundtrack for all those seeking to hold on to their cultural roots and also express creative exploration. Panoptica now with his own orchestra continues to redefine the soundscapes of this evolving culture, keeping the world tuned into where Mexico is headed musically. I’m more excited than ever to hear where he will take it.

Similar things can be said about Argentine artist Federico Aubele. You hear Latin folk influences, the tango rhythms, and his romantic Spanish lyrics. Federico has had his own journey in discovering his sound. He teamed up with electronic producers Thievery Corporation early in his career, and also moved to Berlin, which some consider the most progressive arts and culture scenes in the world. All these influences shine through his music of dark tempos and twisted folk.

What I love most about Los Angeles is that artists like Panoptica Orchestra and Federico Aubele can share the same stage and be embraced by an open-minded and diverse audience. Just like our city, these artists keep pushing the boundaries and bending rules of what culture means to them. Their music can be your guide as you set out to discover what it all means to you.

 

Eddie Cota is a Cultural Programmer working with venues and corporate brands to curate events in Los Angeles. He also freelances for the LA Weekly covering the global music scene.

Friday
Jun202014

Steve Hochman on Angélique Kidjo 

This year we're asking our musically and culturally inclined friends to write our evening programs. Here's Steve Hochman on Angélique Kidjo.

If ever an artist could justify the term world music, it’s Angélique Kidjo. From her start in Benin through her remarkable, ever-expanding visionary career, she’s had a truly global embrace. But back in a 2008 conversation she was having nothing of it:

“What does it mean?” she said of the term, a steely fire in her eyes. “Why do we categorize people?”

Of course, this was backstage at Staples Center, where she had just won the Contemporary World Music Grammy Award for her album Djin Djin. She was proud of the honor, make no mistake. “When they call my name, I’ll be there!” she assured, with a big grin.

But she was concerned about perceptions and implications of such divisions, something she’s fought since starting her career as a prodigiously talented youth in her small, coastal West African home town of Cotonou. 

“Through music, each one of us can take what is in us to move on in our life and make change in this world,” she elaborated. “In the globalization era, what I’m realizing as a mother… is that the identity of each of us is in danger. We all have to be recognized for what we do. There is only one humanity.”

That’s the thread through all of her music, whether he own bracing songs or interpretations ranging from Santana to Sidney Bechet, from Gershwin to traditional material of her homeland. It’s there strongly in her latest album EVE, her homage to African women, and her recent collaboration with composer Philip Glass, IFÉ: Three Yoruba Songs for Angelique Kidjo and the Orchestra Philharmonique Du Luxembourg.

Even more its in Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music, the memoir she published in January. But most profoundly, it’s in her life’s work in and beyond music, including her role since 2002 as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and with the Batonga Foundation, an organization she co-founded focusing on education for African girls.

And it was there through several subsequent conversations as she explored her cultural roots and influences and how they have flowered — continue to flower — in her art, in her life.

So what to call it? Simple:

“Let’s just call everything music.”

— Steve Hochman

Steve Hochman can be heard talking about music on KPCCs Take Two and the KQED-produced show The California Report. He has covered popular, and unpopular, music for 30 years as a long-time regular in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and contributor to Rolling Stone, Billboard and many other publications, as well as writing the weekly global music column Around the World for AOLs Spinner from 2008 through 2012. 

Thursday
Jun192014

First weekend of music 

With one week of shows under our belt, we're ready to dive on in to the rest of the summer (and the Watercourt... wait, don't do that). This weekend marks the start of what you probably know us for: BIG MUSIC CONCERTS.

Pack your picnics and gather up your friends and family. Here's what you can expect this weekend.

Saturday, June 20 @ 8pm // Angelique Kidjo

Know before you go: We're expecting a large crowd at this show, so you'll want to arrive early to snatch up seating space.

Supporter swag

  • Snap a photo in KCRW's photobooth
  • Spin for discounts and give-a-ways at Amoeba's prize wheel

CalPlaza Perks

Saturday, June 21 @ 7:30pm // Panoptica Orchestra, Federico Aubele

Know before you go: Don't be fooled by our routine 8pm concerts, this one starts at 7:30pm. That's an extra 30 minutes of music!

Friends of Grand Performances

  • The Wall Las Memorias Project
  • Council District 14, Councilmember José Huizar

CalPlaza Perks

On both nights, win a Dell Venue 8 tablet from our friends at Curacao. Enter in two easy steps:

  1. Follow us on Instagram @grandperfs and
  2. Tag your photos from the night with #grandperformances

 

Thursday
Jun192014

Big Man Bakes makes summer sweet

We're excited that our favorite DTLA cupcakery, Big Man Bakes is joining us for another seaon. Owner Chip Brown and his crew will be selling his delighful cups of heaven at this weekend's events, a delicious addition to our already sweet lineup.

Treat yourself to the best cupcakes Los Angeles has to offer and make sure you pastry connoisseurs bring cash to pick up an array of delectable treats to satisfy your evening sweet tooth. We encourage all those interested to check out the Big Man Bakes website for a list of all his BIG appetizing cupcake flavors.

Big Man Bakes will be selling cupcakes at the following shows:

Friday, June 20 Angelique Kidjo
Saturday, June 21 Panoptica Orchestra | Federico Aubele
Saturday, July 5 Stones Throw Picnic
Saturday, July 12 Adventures from Paradise: A Tribute to Minnie Riperton
Friday, July 18 Chop and Quench
Friday, August 1 Les Triplettes de Belleville
Saturday, August 2 People Get Ready: A Soundtrack of the the Civil Rights Movement
Friday, August 8 Los Dos Marks
Friday, September 5 DakhaBrakha | Carmen Rizzo
Saturday, September 6 Yuna

Sunday
Jun152014

From Germany to L.A. for I am Big Bird

Sesame Performers (from left to right): Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (Sesame Street), Julian Kleibeler (Sesamstrasse), Caroll Spinney (Sesame Street) with wife Deb, Travis Frost (Sesamstrasse)

Last week we got a phone call from two guys who were planning on flying from Germany to L.A. just for our screening of I am Big Bird (whaaaat?). As we kept talking, Travis and Julian told us that they are puppeteers on Sesamstrasse, the German version of Sesame Street. 

We've had audience members from all over, but it's pretty rare to have international vistors fly to L.A. just for one of our shows. Travis and Julian landed in L.A. Saturday afternoon, just a couple hours before the screening. We hooked them up with reserved seats and they had a great evening watching I am Big Bird. They re-connected with Caroll Spinney and even met Leslie a puppeteer on Sesame Street (she performs fairy in training, Abby Cadabby).

So cool to see the international Sesame Street connection! Are you coming to us from out of town? Give us a shout, we'd love to hear your story. 

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