Guests: Valerie Scher is an arts journalist.
Enrique Limon writes the "Man-About-Town" blog for San Diego CityBeat and is editor for the website El Zonkey Show.
Related Story: Weekend Preview: From Christmas To Chaos
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. The weekend before Christmas can be hectic, but it's always a good idea to lighten up your holiday panic with some holiday fun. We've got some -- a few great activities to add to your list on the weekend preview. Joining me today are Valerie Scher, arts journalist, and Enrique Limon who writes the man about town blog for San Diego City beat, and is editor of the website El Zonke show.
SCHER: Thank you Maureen
LIMON: Thank you Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Are you enjoying the holidays?
LIMON: I'm loving it. I'm knee deep in tinsel and ornaments and loving life.
CAVANAUGH: Let's start with a very traditional holiday experience for San Diego, Valerie. It's the lamb's players an American Christmas at the hotel dell. One of the stand-byes of the holiday season.
SCHER: If you can imagine an extravagant kind of dinner theatre in a historic bawl room, then you have an idea of what this is like. I went for the first time on Sunday, which was opening night. The premise is that you are attending a Christmas party given by a family by the name of Marshall. There's live music, dancing, jokes, stories, lots of singing, including a barber shop quartet. It's supposed to be 100 years ago. So we're back in 1911. As we eat, we are entertained. There was even a champagne toast that went something like "champagne to our real friends and real pain to our sham friends."
CAVANAUGH: That's good! This has been going on for 20 years, this event. Has it changed over the years?
SCHER: Well, it's a clever idea because the costumes and indeed, the show, changes according to the year in which it is set. Next year, the Christmas party will be set in 1912 because it will be 2012. The following year it will be 1913, etc. So the topical references change from year to year. And the setting is spectacular. San Diego is so fortunate to have the hotel dell, this Victorian master piece, twinkling with white lights in a circular ballroom, chandeliers, lights, garlands, a Christmas tree. It takes you back to a different ear A. It's like time travel
CAVANAUGH: How is the food?
SCHER: The food, I have to say, is yummy. It comes care of the hotel dell's kitchen and its executive chef, who is John Chelton. The menu is posted on the Lamb's players website. There are hors d'oeuvres, soup, salad, pumpkin cheese cake for dessert. At my table, some people didn't want meat. So they got something else. That was okay. And at the end, the kitchen staff came out and took a bow, which I thought was really nice
CAVANAUGH: That is nice. Well, the traditional lamb's players, an American Christmas, continues at the hotel dell accord until Christmas eve. Enrique, shapes and smiles is a new show opening at subtext gallery. What type of art will be showcased?
LIMON: Well, like we say in Mexico, a little bit of everything. The Chile de dulce, de Manteca. Something savory, something sweet, something fatty. Plush toys, home goods, and beyond.
CAVANAUGH: The show is by Jolby. Who are they?
LIMON: It's actually a design and illustration duo. They're now from Portland, but technically -- they started year in San Diego. And it's Josh Kennion and ColbyNicholls.
CAVANAUGH: They're based out of Portland. Is this their first show here in San Diego?
LIMON: Not at all. This is their second show at subtext. And I spoke it the gallery owner and he billed it as a "blowout sequel" to the show they focused in fall 2010
CAVANAUGH: Is this the kind of show where you go and you're encouraged to buy things?
LIMON: Most definitely
CAVANAUGH: I got that feeling
LIMON: And I just want to say to everyone out there, one hard person to shop for on your list, support local art. Support local artist yous. Talk about the perfect holiday stocking stuffer.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Shapes and smiles by Jolby opens Friday, are runs through January 16th. So you can even use your Christmas money at subtext gallery in little Italy. Back to you for another holiday-themed production. The California ballet's nutcracker and opening this week. It's said to be the biggest and oldest production in the area. Is that true?
SCHER: I would say yes, Maureen. California ballet has presented full-length nutcrackers since 1971. And according to the company, this Saturday marks the 440th performance. That's a whole lot of nutcrackers
CAVANAUGH: That's a whole lot of little girls!
SCHER: Aside from its age, what helps distinguish California ballet's production from other local nutcrackers is that there are so many youngsters from its school, including some teeny, tiny tots who are so cute. Also Tchaikovsky's music is performed by members of the Chicago symphony, so you've got a high standard of musical performance. And the venue is really large. The civic theatre. With about 3,000 seats
CAVANAUGH: You recently wrote about the financial side of this holiday production. What do we need to know about that?
SCHER: My story was for the December issue of San Diego magazine, and I talk about how crucial the nutcracker is to many ballet companies. It's the biggest money-maker in the ballet world. So it's a very lucrative, crowd-pleaser. Of San Diego is fortunate to have a variety of productions, all of which have a good chance of bringing in much-needed ticket revenue in these hard times. Most companies really need the money. It's not about getting rich. It's about survival. And California ballet, for instance, hopes to clear well over $100,000
CAVANAUGH: When I used to read events for KPBS, there would be one nutcracker after another after another. And I wondered, is there really enough of an audience for all these separate productions, Valerie?
SCHER: Well, we certainly hope so. And I think one of the great things about the nutcracker, having reviewed and written about nutcracker performances for so many years, is that the ballet is open to interpretation.
SCHER: So no two nutcrackers are going to be exactly the same. And of course, each production will have its own audience, at least we hope so
CAVANAUGH: Now, is there any chance to meet the cast of this production?
SCHER: Yeah. Audience members are invited to meet the cast right after matinee performances. Of these meet and greets are alled sugar plumb parties. And you know the --
LIMON: I like that one.
SCHER: And the nutcracker, of course, appeals to the young and not so young. I never get tired of seeing a nutcracker.
CAVANAUGH: The California ballet's production of nutcracker opens Saturday, and runs through December 23rd at the civic theatre. Here's a story that was broken by our arts producer, Angela Carone. The issue is back on the KPBS blog, culturelust. It's a move to cover over the caliente mural. What is the caliente mural?
LIMON: It is a vintage advertisement painted on the side of the historic California theatre downtown that advertised Tijuana's agua caliente race track during its heyday.
CAVANAUGH: When was it put up?
LIMON: According to Soho, the save our heritage organization, at least 1960. My mom -- my grandfather was actually the general administrator and the manager for agua caliente back in the day. My mom got married in 61. She has memories of this mural being up before she ever got married. So it's at least 60 years
CAVANAUGH: What's happening to it?
LIMON: It's on the verge of being painted over and potentially replaced with a beer advertisement due to a hasty and somewhat irregular decision from the city.
CAVANAUGH: It has no actual official status as any kind of historic anything; is that right?
LIMON: Well, no, that's a loophole. It's not. It is attached to one that is, which is the California theatre
CAVANAUGH: That's very interesting. You have somewhat of an activist event with save the caliente mural that's happening Friday in Barrio Logan
LIMON: Yes am
CAVANAUGH: What is -- tell us about what you want to do
LIMON: Friday from 2:00 to 6:00, they're helping out with the cause. We're doing a three live silk screening of T-shirt event with a save the historic caliente mural slogan on them. The designer, Pablo Stanley belted out a couple really cool designs. You can bring your own T-shirt or 531 there at Roots at cost.
CAVANAUGH: That's fabulous. If people are unable to come on Friday, can they still support this cause?
LIMON: Most definitely. Lots of galleryists, Robert pinkis sign aid petition we have going on. Go to changeorganize, sign the petition. And we have full support from the save our heritage foundation. Let's preserve what makes the city great. Let's preserve our character. And on a personal note, I'm out to preserve something that strikes a cord with me as well
CAVANAUGH: Well, if you're not quite career what we're talking about, you can see it online at KPBS.org, culture lust, look at the caliente mural. And if you'd like to attend the event, it's Friday at Roots factory in Barrio Logan. We move onto more holiday music, Valerie. The San Diego symphony holiday pops program starts this Friday. What pieces can people expect to be played this year?
SCHER: All kinds of music that will put them in a fest I have been, holiday mood. Everything from the Christmas song, better known as chestnuts roasting on an open fire. To feliz navidad. Of and the famous hallelujah chorus from handle's Messiah. On Sunday afternoon, the family festival version will be presented. It's shorter, it's about an hour long, and more suited to children's attention spans. When my children were young, they enjoyed it. And im-- sure other kids will too.
CAVANAUGH: Singer John pagano, I hope I'm siing that correctly, will be performing this year.
SCHER: There will be a variety of other guests. You can expect members of the San Diego master corral, and the San Diego children's choir, as well as musicians from mariachi sham pana Avin. And lively and engaging and well known to pops audiences
CAVANAUGH: That's fascinating. You went to high school with --?
LIMON: Yeah, downtown TJ, all the way.
CAVANAUGH: That's fabulous. Now, what are the chances that the audience is going to have some sort of sing-along at these event, Valerie?
SCHER: I believe there will be, Maureen. And I hope you will be singing along as well. By all means, people should join in. Nobody cares if you can't sing in tune. The whole point is to have fun and get in the spirit of the season. I can't sing very well, but if I'm willing to try, anybody can do it.
CAVANAUGH: All right, fine. If you can hold it for a couple of days, then the San Diego symphony's holiday pops is this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Copley symphony hall. Now we come to coo coo chaos. Of the band headlining a show at soda bar. Jackson of the band was with us Friday. Tell us about this band.
LIMON: It's fronted precisely by Jackson and Scott wheeler. It's an amalgamation of amazing musician who sprung from the ranks of other local projects like black mamba, and vision of a dying world. And a band with one of the coolest names around
CAVANAUGH: Coo coo chaos
LIMON: Oh, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: We have a little clip from him, a little clip from cuckoo chaos. It's from thirds requirement debut album, it's called Jesus American flag fish.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: That is from San Diego band, cuckoo chaos, their cut, Jesus American flag fish. Didn't they win an award at last year's San Diego music awards?
LIMON: They won best alternate I have been act after less than ten performances. .
CAVANAUGH: That must be some sort of record. Of will there be anybody else playing with them at this show?
LIMON: Y2 other local bands. You've got tourism, a new project, and gray ghost master mind. And one of the big live acts, jam welSaxon, which is fronted by Jackson's baby brother, Keith.
CAVANAUGH: And why is it so good?
LIMON: I think it's just the raw talent that Keith has. Of and he's gone through some -- diving completely into the rock star lifestyle. He's freshly sober, stronger than ever, someone I respect and admire. And I can only wish to be around as long as he is. Because what he's putting out there is just amazing
CAVANAUGH: Cuckoo chaos, jam welSaxon and tourism play Friday at soda bar in Northpark. I have been speaking with Valerie Scher, arts journalist, and Enrique Limon of San Diego City beat. You've made this a pleasure. And thank you both so much.
SCHER: Thank you, Maureen.