Weekend Preview: Live Music, A Re-Imagined Iliad, And Some TNT
August 9, 2012 1:04 p.m.
Seth Combs: a freelance writer in San Diego
Rosemary Bystrack: author of the music blog SD Dialed In
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Those brave enough to venture outside the house in a San Diego heat wave will be richly rewarded this weekend. There's a downtown art party, homer's classic Iliad, and lots of music. Rosemary Bystrack is author of the music blog SD Dialed In.
BYSTRACK: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: And Seth Combs, freelance arts and music writer.
COMBS: Hi, thanks.
CAVANAUGH: TNT, the Thursday night thing, and that's tonight. It's been a while since they have had one. Remind us what this is
COMBS: They used to do them monthly. Now they do them quarterly. And I think the premise the whole time was to throw the mother of all art parties in the city. And something that incorporates the wine and cheese and socializing aspect of the gallery opening but also adding live music and art projects that patrons themselves can participate in. And offering food and drinks that you can't find at your typical gallery or museum opening.
CAVANAUGH: What is the focus of this one?
COMBS: They picked a really good exhibition. They're calling it TNT live local. And it'll be centered around this exhibition, a mixed media exhibition that focuses on what is probably my favorite San Diego neighborhood, which is City Heights. Margaret noble grew up here, and it's this loving tribute to this neighborhood she grew up in. It's a very comfortable and gritty area if you're ever ventured to City Heights.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah! Live right near there. I understand you said something about food you can't get at another gallery. Is there special food and music?
COMBS: Yeah, they always bring out some cool food aspect. They're doing the milogastrotruck. They have amazing food. I hope they have the peach burgers this time.
CAVANAUGH: Peach burgers?
COMBS: Yeah, it's unreal. And there will be break dancer, '80s arcade games, art projects for the people, and then they also have music from marquee quark who's a DJ in town, and a band called Mrs. Magician.
CAVANAUGH: Museum of contemporary art's TNT party is tonight. For something much more regimented, the final Pacific Beach concert on the green will be hosted on Sunday at Kate sessions park, featuring the U.S. Navy big band. What is the venue like?
BYSTRACK: Well, it's at Kate sessions park, so it's basically the hillside. I went last weekend, and I couldn't believe how many people were there. Close to 1,000 I would say. And families come out, they spend the whole day there, they bring their blankets, and the kids just have a blast. Obviously rockola is more, you know, '80s cover band, that kind of thing. The U.S. Navy big band will be a different experience. But as far as the venue, they have a trailer as a stage, but I believe for this because it's such a massive band, they'll just be seated at the top of the park.
CAVANAUGH: Tell us about the U.S. Navy's big band. What is the live show like?
BYSTRACK: As far as I know, I believe it's a 45-piece band, and they do standards and patriotic songs. So obviously all the families that come out every week will definitely enjoy it.
CAVANAUGH: There's a long history in San Diego with the U.S. Navy band. Can you tell us about that?
BYSTRACK: As far as I know, the big band has been around since the '20s. And San Diego has a long military tradition here. So they're used at special events, they do summer pops with the San Diego symphony. They also are just sort of used as a recruiting mechanism as public events.
CAVANAUGH: You probably can hear them from quite a distance.
[ LAUGHTER ]
BYSTRACK: I believe so! And Kate session, it's at the top of the hill, it's a beautiful lookout spot.
CAVANAUGH: The soda bar is hosting a dual-record release party.
COMBS: Don't let the name fool you. It's probably the closest thing you can get to a soda is like a beer float or something.
[ LAUGHTER ]
COMBS: But it's a true to form load as heck drinks are strong kind of rock club. Leave the kids at home.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, all right! Fair enough. What can you tell us about the bands involved?
COMBS: Well, I'm really excited about the show. The first band is a local 9-piece called Kata. And I've been following them pretty closely. They play dense, heavily layered orchestral -- I hate to call it hard rock, but that's the closest thing. The record they're releasing, it's on iTunes and Amazons already, it's called the rising. It's over an hour long. There's one song that's like 15 minutes, two drummers, a string section. I feel like they're going to be playing Coachella in a few years. I would compare their music to a harder version of explosions in the sky. They're the band that did the Friday night lights sound tracks and stuff for the football movie.
CAVANAUGH: And sleeping people?
COMBS: Oh, yes. How dare I forget them! They have been around for quite a while, almost a decade. The and they are a 4-piece. And they have a really interesting history. One of the members went on to play in New York with a band called the dirty projectors, who are very, very big now. They're playing with BYork and David bern from talking heads. The sleeping people, they had so many lineup changes that they stopped playing. But now they're back. And they play similar, hard driving rock, instrumental mostly. And they're releasing a new EP as well. It's only two songs, but it's pretty great considering everybody thought they were broken up.
CAVANAUGH: Andrew Byrd is giving a concert at the Spreckles theatre at Friday night at 7:00. You referred to Andrew Byrd on your music blog as the whistling troubadour.
BYSTRACK: He's known -- he had a music career before going solo, in the early 2 thousands he started a solo career. And one of his main instruments is actually his whistling. He has this talent for it. He's so much more vibrant and a little more eccentric than your average singer songwriter. Of
CAVANAUGH: What can we expect from a concert?
BYSTRACK: You know, it's been a long time. I think the last time he was here was 2007 was a private listener show.
COMBS: On a boat or something, right?
BYSTRACK: He played on the Horneblower. And it was just him and his guitar, and whistling and violin. So I don't know if this show will have a full band or just be him, but any show at Spreckles is always special.
CAVANAUGH: There might be more than Andrew Byrd and his whistling. The La Jolla Playhouse is presenting an Iliad, a reimagined classic. It starts on Saturday. How is this reimagined?
COMBS: I was reading about it, and it's really hard to explain. Anyone familiar with homer's Greek tragedy will appreciate that the -- what the writer and director Lisa Peterson is going for, what she did is she just took the original Iliad and had a sort of modern day recounting by someone on the stage. It's essentially a solo show. And she's reimagined it essentially as the narrator looking through the last 3,000 years of human folly by recounting the horrors of the trojan war, but noticing how those follies and those tragedies can relate to us through all our war, and all our modern day wars. And it sounds really hard to swallow, but it's really artistically bold. And James Ebert took it succinctly when he said they drive home the idea that the Iliad's tale is eternal and immediate, a poem of woe recited in different ways through the centuries, but always with the same narrative bone.
CAVANAUGH: Is there a performer that stands out?
COMBS: Yeah, there's only essentially one performer.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, really.
COMBS: It's sort of a solo show, and the character, the poet, played by Henry warroness, and he's a highly accomplished Shakespearean actor. He's accompanied on stage sometimes by a musician. But for the most part, it's a sole so show.
CAVANAUGH: The San Diego music awards charity soft ball game, we're going to be talking about that, and then a little bit about the music awards themselves. Let me go to you, rosy. It's the charity soft ball game Saturday, it benefits the San Diego music foundation. What is this foundation? Remind us what it does.
BYSTRACK: The San Diego music foundation raises money to put Taylor guitars in schools. That's the basis of the charity, all the events they put on raise money for this one purpose to, put guitars in our schools.
CAVANAUGH: Is this an annual event?
BYSTRACK: I believe this is the first time they're doing it
COMBS: I believe this is the first soft ball tournament. And if it wasn't enough, I will be playing in the tournament. So you can come and see how horrible I am at sports.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: And it's right from the Olympics is on too. Compare and contrast! What can we see besides Seth at this event?
BYSTRACK: Apparently there's going to be four teams. And as far as I know, they're still looking for players. It's a $20 donation. You get a shirt, they're going to have some beer, woodstock pizza, and it's going to be a good time. It's going to be a fun day to hang out and see people in the daylight that you might only see at night.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: The 22nd annual San Diego music awards are this coming Monday at Humphreys by the bay. You're both in the music world here. We're going to be talking about the awards more in depth on Monday. Could you two quickly tell me if there's a band or category you're looking forward to?
COMBS: I am definitely looking forward to seeing Mrs. Magician who you mentioned previously win best new artist. I'm pulling for those guys. Past music award experience, I don't remember a whole lot of them. And I think that's a good thing.
[ LAUGHTER ]
COMBS: I remember certain aspects. But I don't think they're repeatable.
BYSTRACK: It's a lot of fun. There's performances, then you see everyone congregate at the back bar.
BYSTRACK: And people like us who make very little money trying to sponge off the people who make more money in the industry, we accept bribes and drinks.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: Gotcha! We're going to be having a segment on the awards coming up on Monday. Thanks so much.
COMBS: Thank you. Will
BYSTRACK: Thank you for having us.