Some cultural options for your weekend itinerary
May 24, 2012 1:16 p.m.
Kelly Bennett, arts editor for voiceofsandiego.org.
Peter Holslin, music editor for San Diego CityBeat.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. The beach boys' reunion tour comes to San Diego. We'll be talking about an incredible range of musical attractions playing in our town, including a satirical opera from World war two, celebrations from a jazz legend. It's the weekend preview. My guest, Kelly Bennett is arts editor for voice of San Diego.
BENNETT: Thanks for having me.
CAVANAUGH: And Peter Holslin is music editor for San Diego City beat.
HOLSLIN: Great to see you Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: What makes this tour so significant?
HOLSLIN: It's their 50th anniversary. Bryan Wilson.
[ LAUGHTER ]
HOLSLIN: The mad genius songwriter of the beach boys is touring with his band mates again for the first time in 2 decades.
CAVANAUGH: Wow. Let me just play a little beach boys, just in case there are people out there who don't remember. Here's some of the classic beach boys sound. Heroes and villains.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: Can we expect to hear a lot more classics like that?
HOLSLIN: Yeah, I was actually -- I heard that the set list for one of their recent show, it was like 40 songs long. Of it covered all the hits, all the B-sides, cover songs. So yeah, personally, I'm really hoping to hear this song Vegetables from the smiley-smile album. It's the weirdest song.
CAVANAUGH: That's No. 32 on the play list.
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CAVANAUGH: The beach boys perform Friday at Cricket wireless amphitheater in Chula Vista. Now talk about something completely different, Kelly. Derwiser von-Atlantic.
BENNETT: This was a forbidden opera kept from being performed by the Nazis because of political content. While the composer didn't survive, the manuscript did. And it's being presented next week.
CAVANAUGH: The backstory of this opera is heartbreaking. It's amazing that it survived. What is it about?
BENNETT: It takes a character, Kaiser, who's very thinly veiled as Hitler, and pits him against death. And so there's of course there's epic themes of life and death surrounding any stories you hear about Nazi era Germany, and the holocaust. As the characters surround this Hitler-like character, you see all the dark and provocative sides of a fable. It's set in an imaginary kingdom.
CAVANAUGH: What is the music like?
BENNETT: Dramatic and dark as you can expect. It harkens to a lot of the German composers traditions, which are very heavy. This little chamber orchestra that will be performing. But it alludes to a little bit of the dance music from the 40s. So there are touches of the shimmy and the blues, and some of the music you would otherwise associate with that era.
CAVANAUGH: And the singers, who's performing?
BENNETT: Several graduate singers from UCSD as well as some guest artists coming in. Led by a couple of UCSD faculty. The music department is really known for experimentation, for bringing new or unknown works to the audience. So there's a lot of interesting stuff.
CAVANAUGH: Wednesday May 30th, Friday June 1st, and Saturday June 2nd at UCSD. A change of pace. I love this city is happening on Sunday. Tell us about event.
HOLSLIN: I love this city is a day-long music festival devoted to a style of music called EDM, which is shorthand for electronic dance music. So basically you can expect a lot of glow stick, a lot of neon-colored clothing, and a lot of overblown, loud base, and dancing and revelry.
CAVANAUGH: When you say neon clothing, you 19booty shorts don't you?
HOLSLIN: Yeah, I do.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: Because that's what you wrote!
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CAVANAUGH: Now, I don't know if I say this right. Skill Rex?
HOLSLIN: It's actually Skrillex.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, I'm getting that mixed up. Here's drawn a lot of media attention.
HOLSLIN: He's basically the headliner. And he's sort of responsible for bringing this base-heavy music genre called dub step to a broad, mainstream American audience. He's become a lightning rod. The music is overblown, crazy and wacky, and it's got this sort of bro, frat house feel to it, but it's also a bit catchy, you know? To his credit.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let's hear a track from Skrillex. Scary monsters and nice sprights.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: Kelly is at the door right now, trying to hold those frat boys out! Whoa! Who else is performing at a love this city?
HOLSLIN: There's two dozen acts total. And there's pretty -- that's a huge lineup. But some of the highlights are the crystal method, it's an American electronic duo, are pretty influential, and they're doing a DJ set. And LA dub stepper named 12th planet. He's another really popular LA dub step again. And then Wolfgang Gotne. I don't know if I pronounced that right. Lots of big names.
CAVANAUGH: Sunday at Cricket wireless amphitheater in Chula Vista. That'll be a change from the beach boys. This Saturday is miles Davis' birthday. Some local jazz musicians are praying tribute.
BENNETT: It's a quintet called ESP that got together in the 90s in San Diego. And they've got obviously the Trumpet is featured. But a Quintet made up of drum, saxophone, Trumpet and keyboard.
CAVANAUGH: Do they play together frequently?
BENNETT: Well, they have been around for a while. Local jazz fans I'm sure have seen if not the Quintet, different members playing around town. But dizzy is the organization putting the concert on called this a rare performance. So it's possible that they have been on a bit of a hiatus.
CAVANAUGH: But it's not at the old dizzy's.
BENNETT: They're kind of nomadic now. Especially has downtown has changed so frequently. But dizzy's most recently were kind of in the bottom floor of a condo building, and they're not able to use that space anymore. They have been migrating for their concert, but still putting them on. This one for Miles Davis, the celebration is at the crate music company in La Mesa.
CAVANAUGH: On Sunday Gilbert Castellanos presents a special tribute to some local jazz legends.
BENNETT: Gill is working on a really interesting theatre piece about the history of San Diego jazz. Of I imagine that was some of the inspiration for putting on this tribute show. But he's a rallier of local jazz talent. Daniel Jackson, Marshall Hawkins, and I assume gill Castellanos on Trumpet as well. These are some of the best musicians in San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: Friday at McCray music company in La Mesa. Mrs. Magician playing Saturday at the soda bar.
HOLSLIN: Lthey have been compared to the beach boys and Bryan Wilson. But I would also compare them to, like, bands like waves and best coast. Basically they play like really retro kind of surf punk. And they had this acidic sense of humor, and then they're slackers but hard-working ambitious slackers. And their music is just so catchy, like their songs, when you listen to their songs, every song, they came out with this new album called strange heaven, and every song is, like, wow! This is so catchy!
CAVANAUGH: And they're also strangely obsessed with religious themes. A song called Heaven.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: What are they like live?
HOLSLIN: Well, they're noisy, and they're poppy, and they kind of got a punk vibe. But I wouldn't say people are going to be, like, moshing to it. It's like hipster punk, maybe.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah. Well, thank you for that. Mrs. Magician performs with New Mexico and ditches Saturday at the soda bar in City Heights. It's also going to be a record release party. Kelly, we made it to the strawberry festival. I can barely believe it. We only have 45 seconds. Oh, not that much. We are basically out of time. The Vista strawberry festival happening Sunday.
BENNETT: Apparently, going back a few decade, Vista was known as the strawberry capital of the world. Some places in Europe still call strawberries Vistas because it's what used to be printed on the box.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, right.
BENNETT: And one of the highlights is a pie-eating contest that a marine from Pendleton won last year. Different age categories. If you're a kid, you don't have to try to beat the Marines. But there's a ton of different activities going on. A shortcake pageant type thing, and all sorts of things. Seems like a really fun day in Vista.
CAVANAUGH: And it has a really, really good picture of a strawberry pie on the website, let me tell you! Sunday in downtown Vista. Thank you so much.
BENNETT: Thank you for having us.
HOLSLIN: Thank you Maureen.