Musicians


4TH JULY DRUM CIRCLE

The calendar on the Venice Beach Drum Circle website hasn’t been updated since 2007 but I believe dancers and performers gather every Sunday. I walked along Venice Beach yesterday late afternoon and at 6:30pm the drum circle was well under way.

The web site is still a great place to get information about the history of the Drum Circle and the many controversies surrounding it since the year 2000 when the site was created, including the Boardwalk Lottery, which sadly resulted in the exodus of true artists selling their work and the arrival of junk arts and crafts. I hadn’t been to Venice Beach in a long time and was truly saddened by the mediocrity of the art and jewelry on display.

According to DrumsOnTheWeb.com, which lists Drum Circles in the US and around the world, the Venice Beach drum circle dates back to the 1960’s.

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Echoes of Shakespeare, Hendrix and Kerouac charge solo artist/comedian/gifted guitarist R. Ernie Silva’s true-life tale about his odyssey across the great American outback. An 80’s break dance artist, Silva started performing at the age of 12 for NYC street music stations 107.5 WBLA and 98.7 KISS and at 17 was on the brutal stages of New York City’s standup comedy circuit. His fear of being yet another casualty of the street life of Brooklyn and the overdose of his older brother compelled him one night to run away in search of a more meaningful life.

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame follows Silva’s haunting, touching and often humorous journey through the Appalachian mountains of N. Carolina, across the Midwest on trains with the hobos and little tramps, a stop in a jail in Kansas and finally finding his way to Los Angeles.

Written by James Gabriel and R. Ernie Silva. Performed by R. Ernie Silva.

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame @ The Odyssey, Theater II, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, LA, CA 90025. Thursdays through Saturdays @ 8pm. Click here for more information.

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R. Ernie Silva.

I’m not sure this post belongs on a blog about Los Angeles. John Weller was British and died today or yesterday. To my generation, he was Paul Weller‘s dad and manager.

Recently I was watching the “Strange World” video on You Tube and I laughed when I saw John Weller introduce his son’s band as he did countless and countless times with the famous: “Put your hands together for the best band in the fucking world!”

John Weller deserves this Smiling Spider tribute because it’s rare for artists to be supported by their parents, especially when you’re as young as Paul Weller was when he started (he dropped off of high school to dedicate his life to music.)

John Weller wasn’t one of those parents who push their kids to become stars or hope it will make them rich and famous. John Weller was a cab driver and construction worker who drove his son and his band mates to rehearsals and concerts for the sole purpose of indulging a son he loved and of whom he was so protective that he made himself their band manager. Seeing from comments posted on various websites today, the memory of John Weller’s lively introduction to The Jam’s concerts is dear to many. Witnessing at the beginning of every concert the tight father-son relationship became a significant and healing ritual for an audience composed of angry teenagers who were probably estranged from their parents.

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Paul Weller turned 50 this year… still writing original material after all these years.

John Weller went on to manage his son’s affairs for the rest of his life. Paul Weller, who fronted one of the most famous British bands of the late 1970’s-early 1980’s, The Jam, then went on to form The Style Council in the mid 1980’s, is one of the few musicians from the punk rock era (The Jam had more of a 1960’s style but they came out of the early punk years and Paul Weller always said he was influenced by the Sex Pistols’ sound) to have had  a very successful solo career throughout the 1990’s and up until today. At 50, he just won the Best Solo Artist at the Brit Awards and just released a successfully acclaimed double album.

I don’t think I would remember John Weller today if I hadn’t caught the first few bars of The Jam’s “A Town Called Malice” on the radio a few months ago and hadn’t fallen in love with it all over again. And when I was in DC for the inauguration of our 44th President, the soundtrack in my head was The Style Council’s “Walls Come Tumbling Down.” So here’s a tribute to Paul Weller, the lasting artist, and John Weller, the dream dad who made it happen.

A very young Paul Weller tells us what he thinks of institutionalized education.

The Style Council – “Walls Come Tumbling Down” – mid 1980’s

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One thing I love about the Bootleg theater is that they often have great art work in the lobby and if you take the time to look at it you realize it was created especially for the show currently playing. Just received the following press release that I find terribly enticing. Tomorrow’s preview is Pay What You Can.

WHAT:
The bomb may have dropped out there, but the party’s just getting started in here. The REPO division and Bootleg Theater present the world premiere of Doomsday Kiss, a savagely funny, terrifying, and sexy multimedia collaboration between visual artists, writers, directors, actors and musicians riffing on the theme of doomsday. An art installation, four interwoven plays and musical performances combine to examine the complicated relationships between people facing certain annihilation.  The central character is Randal Maxit, a has-been designer of the apocalypse desperate to atone for his sins.  A lobby exhibition of Maxit’s life’s work (developed by artists from various mediums) offers a reference point before entering the theater.

WHO:
* Written by: Eva Anderson, Clay Hazelwood, Wesley Walker and Sharon Yablon
* Directed by: Adrian Alex Cruz, Andrew Hopper, Amber Skalski, Gordon Vandenberg
* Featuring: Shawn Buchholz, Hank Bunker, Alana Dietze, Michael Dunn, Jessica Hanna, Lily Holleman, Niamh McCormally, Ben Messmer, Gray Palmer, Babar Peerzada, Alina Phelan, Mickey Swenson, Tina Van Berkelaer, Annie Weirich, Jacqueline Wright
* Art installation curated by: Sandy Rodriquez
* Visual artists:  Ron Dotson, Jorge Javier Lopez, Isabelle Lutterodt, Derrick Maddox, Rigo Maldonado, Anne Martens, Guadalupe Rodriguez, Rebeka Rodriguez, Sandy Rodriguez, Brian Scott, Allessandro Thompson, Armando H. Torres, Vincent Villafranca, Victor Wilde and Scott Winterrowd
* Musicians: Toni Senatore and Cody Cameron
* Creative Director: Andrew Hopper
* Presented by: the REPO division and Bootleg Theater

WHEN:
Preview: April 16
Performances: April 17 through May 10
* Thursday at 8 pm: April 16 (preview)
* Fridays at 8 pm: April 17 (Opening Night), 24; May 1, 8
* Saturdays at 8 pm: April 18, 25; May 2, 9
* Sundays at 7pm: April 19, 26; May 3, 10

WHERE:
BOOTLEG THEATER
2220 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057

HOW:
213-389-3856 or http://www.bootlegtheater.com

TICKETS:
General Admission: $25
Students/seniors: $10
Preview performance: Pay what you can

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I took this picture a year ago at the corner of Melrose and Highland in Los Angeles. My spontaneous reaction to the idea that war in Iraq was over was a loud cheer and joy radiating from my very core. For a moment I connected to all the people in the world who ever experienced the end of a war, with a special fondness for the liberation that took place in the city where I grew up.

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Germans troops entered Paris on June 14, 1940. Picture source.

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Liberation of Paris: August 25, 1944. Picture source.

I watched the documentary “The US vs. John Lennon” this week and learned that the “War is Over if you Want It” posters were first conceived in 1969 by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. The famous couple used their own money to have the messages plastered in major cities all over the world with the added note: “Merry Christmas from John & Yoko.”

I’ve never paid much attention to Lennon in my life. I listened to the Beatles as a kid but didn’t follow his solo career nor his marriage to Yoko Ono. For the first time I understood the power of (these) two. Here was an artist, Lennon, at the peak of his career who meets an artist, Yoko, with whom he blends heart and soul and turns his beliefs into conceptual art. On their honeymoon, anticipating that they would be hounded by the press and photographers, they decided to stage “bed-ins” to protest one of the moral challenges of these revolutionary days: the Vietnam war.

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Photo source.

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