Culture Lust Weekend: UCSD’s MFA Open Studio, Busker Festival, And THREAD
Thursday, April 8, 2010
UCSD’s MFA program is one of the most prestigious in the country, making its annual open studio an art-world bellwether for up-and-coming creatives. Stop by this Saturday from 3 – 8 p.m. for a primer on 48 of the next generation gallery darlings. The event also features a self-curated group exhibit.
Graphic designer Brian Flynn counts Juxtapoz, Nike, and Microsoft as collaborators, and this weekend, you can see his work in Little Italy in an exhibit called "Only in Your Fondest Dreams," at Subtext.
Violinist (and UCSD professor) János Négyesy has been crafting his abstract digital “paintings” for 20 years, his medium of choice ranging from the early 90’s Pixel Paint to Photoshop. A unique take on the world’s technology timeline, they’ll be on display at Suture starting this weekend.
Brush up on your local sartorial I.Q. while perusing the wares at THREAD Show, which, for the first time ever, will also include home accessories for sale. Akin to a real-life, carefully curated Etsy, expect unique finds aplenty, but be sure to get there early for first dibs.
Thousands of sweaty hipsters will make their annual pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley next weekend for its grown-up incarnation, but take the tyke to the New Children’s Museum this Saturday for Kidchella, an all-day music fest for the pre-k crop. Headlining? Hullabalo, Rhythm Child, BITS Band and Paul Green School of Rock, a real-life take on Jack Black’s on-screen academy.
A nod to local legend Buddy Blue, who passed away in 2006, will take place in La Mesa this Saturday at Pete’s Place. Expect plenty of swing, jump blues and rockabilly from the likes of The Farmers, Tomcat Courtney, and more.
The Balboa Theatre will transform into a bygone era this Saturday at 2 p.m. with its Big Band Broadcast, a 40s-style tribute to the genre (replete with wigs, station call letters, and vintage bandstands). Mark Ferguson, who’s played alongside Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Natalie Cole, will perform with his orchestra; Holly Larocque is set to sing.
Bill Frisell will bring his Grammy-award winning strings and vocals to Anthology next week, with pianist Jason Moran and drummer Kenny Wollesen completing the trio. Frisell’s genre-spanning C.V. includes over 120 collaborations (To wit: Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, and Norah Jones), plus 40 albums of his own, so head over next Wednesday for a seriously sophisticated mid-week nightcap.
Peek into the creative process of one of the area’s most talented troupes at Malashock Dance this weekend, as head choreographer John Malashock begins brainstorming dance pieces for his upcoming SDMA collabo, The Floating World. If you've ever wondered what the creative relationship between choreographer and dancer is like, this is the perfect chance to be a fly on the studio wall.
The Hutchins Consort will strum some musical Microtonality (coined by Charles Ives and meaning “the notes between the cracks”) into the The Neurosciences Institute this Saturday, featuring works by Bach and cameos from composers Dr. Alan Lechusza and Barry Wood. Don’t worry if microtonality is way over your head – you’re meant to learn more by listening to the music.
Spanning genres and local venues is Trummerflora’s 9th Annual Spring Reverb, featuring an amalgam of jazz, improv, hip-hop, and more. Musicians from across the country trek into town for this, but you can stop by one of its three locations -Desi’n’Friends (Thursday), The Museum of Making Music (Friday), and the Kava Lounge (Saturday and Sunday) – to catch them in action.
Famed folk rocker Arlo Guthrie recently re-discovered a tape from his stint at the original Woodstock, and to celebrate its 40th anniversary, his family is staging a nation-wide tour. "The Guthrie Family Rides Again," will visit the California Center for the Arts next Wednesday. The performance includes Arlo’s son, Abe, and daughters, Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee, all successful musicians in their own right. The Guthrie grandkids will also strum along.
Despite his street name, underground hip-hop artist Sleep (aka Chris Tafoya) is lightning-swift with the rhymes, which you can catch in motion at The Loft this Sunday.
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Adam Green is back from SXSW and will croon at The Casbah this Friday. Of you get there early, you’ll be treated to tracks from the Portland-based The Dead Trees.
Also at The Casbah is the Tijuana-based Bostich and Fussible of Nortec Collective. They’ll perform tonight at 8.
Totally trippy 60’s acid trips spawned in a Harvard science lab? Fresh off a NYT book review, author Don Lattin’s got it covered in “The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered In a New Age for America,” and he’ll be in town today at Book Works if you want to discuss it in person.
Think that corner statue’s been staring at you for the past 30 minutes? If you’re in Seaport Village this weekend, you’re not just being paranoid – yep, the 2010 Busker Festival is here, where street performers from all corners of the county will convene to show off their stilts, juggling acts, magic tricks, and more. They’ll be here Saturday and Sunday from 12 - 5 p.m., and on Saturday after 7 p.m. The performers are given free reign for Buskers After Dark, delivering 18-plus (and we’re assuming R-rated) versions of their wickedest tricks. Admission is free, but tips are, of course, encouraged.
The work of some of UCSD’s freshest playwrights will hit the stage starting next Wednesday as its Baldwin New Play Festival kicks off with Everything Nice, penned by 2010 MFA grad Stephanie Timm. The performance features a protagonist with a 20-year secret, which is well kept until a high school reunion prods it to the surface.
Coinciding with the Cygnet’s production of "Sweeney Todd" is another Sondheim work, the oft-overlooked "Passion." The play, which has never before been seen on an S.D. stage, features a 19th century Italian army captain caught in the throes, of, well, passion, but of the unrequited variety. It’ll be here Monday and Tuesday night only.
Interpretative dance and performance art for optimists is at Sushi this weekend with Patricia Sandback’s "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries," a two-act dance and theater piece that encourages culture junkies to take note –soap operas, television cooking shows, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, and Lucia Di Lammermoor are all referenced during the performance, for those savvy enough to spot them. The piece borrows its title from a famous Depression-era pick-me-up credo, and, just as it was then, is meant to be ironic in the context of the times. Catch the show this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. This Weekend Preview is all about music. Almost. We'll listen to the work of a group of exciting musicians coming to town, including an artist who calls himself the world's fastest rapper—and he just may be. Then, we'll slow things down just a bit to talk about a dance theater performance coming up at Sushi. Here to introduce us to all of that is my guest, Liz Bradshaw. She’s curator of The Loft at UCSD and has worked in the music industry for many years. Liz, welcome back.
LIZ BRADSHAW (Curator, The Loft, University of California San Diego): Good morning.
CAVANAUGH: Now let’s start off with Citizen Cope playing at Sound Wave House, which is in the old Cane’s – which is the old Cane’s in Mission Beach. So who is Citizen Cope?
BRADSHAW: So Citizen Cope—his real name is Clarence Greenwood—and he’s actually out of New York, Brooklyn, New York, although to listen to it, for me, he sounds very much like a west coast artist or an Australian artist, I’m almost that chilled out. So he’s been recording albums since 2002 and this is actually his fourth LP, which has been released on his own label. I know throughout the years he got bounced around from kind of label to label just because he’s difficult to pin down to one genre, and so I think that sort of a lot of the major labels didn’t really know what to do with him exactly or, you know, where quite to put him. Does he fit into hip-hop? Does he fit into jazz? Or reggae or any of those things. And – But he’s a really, really interesting artist and over the years he’s actually guested with the likes of Dido and Carlos Santana, who are pretty big names so…
CAVANAUGH: So this new album that you’re talking about is called “The Rainwater.”
CAVANAUGH: What do you think of it?
BRADSHAW: I – You know, I really like it a lot. I – Citizen Cope is a name that I’ve heard over the years but I’ve never really – I’ve never really listened to him a lot until the last couple of weeks. It’s such a mixed bag of hip-hop, of jazz, there’s keys in there, quite stripped down simple songs, but not in a way that is at all boring. His styles remind me very much of – you can be listening to one song and the beginning of it sounds a bit like the beginning of a Manu Chao dance song and then there’s a number of sort of Australian-New Zealand artists…
BRADSHAW: …that he reminds me of like The Beautiful Girls that have kind of, you know, that kind of jam band progressive folk-jazz, hip-hop, all sorts of stuff going on. So it’s really fun stuff.
CAVANAUGH: Well, you’re doing a great job in kind of describing this but let’s actually listen to a track from Citizen Cope. It’s “I Couldn’t Explain Why.”
(audio of Citizen Cope performing “I Couldn’t Explain Why”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s Citizen Cope with “I Couldn’t Explain Why.” Do you know anything about Citizen Cope’s live shows?
BRADSHAW: Not firsthand but from reading quite a few reviews, they all say the shows are pretty intense and he says himself, actually, that his shows are pretty intense. He also says that he used to struggle a lot with stage fright which, over the years, he’s really, really started to overcome. But I think it kind of makes for very kind of deep, meaningful performances and he really loses himself in the music and the audience, from what I’ve seen from lots of live reviews, you know, go the same way, and everybody gets really into it and…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, uh-huh.
BRADSHAW: …you know, is just grooving and singing along throughout the concert. So I think it’s going to be a really great show.
CAVANAUGH: Citizen Cope plays the Sound Wave House in Mission Beach tonight. So Liz Bradshaw is here and we’re going to continue on with singer/songwriter Adam Green. He’ll play the early show at the Casbah on Friday night, and a lot of listeners might know this musician from his former band, the Moldy Peaches. So who are they and how did Adam Green go solo?
BRADSHAW: So the Moldy Peaches were around from around ’99 to 2003, 2004 is the main part of their career. The main members, the two main members, of the Moldy Peaches were Adam Green and Kimya Dawson. By the time they were signed to Rough Trade Records out of the UK, they’d expanded to a six-piece. They went on hiatus. They got back together. They actually lost a member to an overdose…
BRADSHAW: …and they enjoyed an international tour with The Strokes as well, kind of in – I think that was in 2003. They went on a hiatus. I don’t think it was anything, you know, vicious in the way that they broke up and had a big argument. They just decided to kind of go off and do their own solo stuff for a while. And then they briefly got back together in the sort of 2007, 2008 period when there was a song on the “Juno” soundtrack.
CAVANAUGH: On the “Juno” soundtrack.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah. Well, let’s hear a song from the “Juno” soundtrack so people know who we’re talking about. This is Adam Green and Kimya Dawson with “Anyone Else But You.”
(audio of clip from “Anyone Else But You”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s Adam Green and Kimya Dawson, “Anyone Else But You,” from the “Juno” soundtrack. So Green has a solo career now, a new album called “Minor Love.” So how would you describe his solo work? Is it like that? Or is it very different?
BRADSHAW: Yeah, it is in a way but I think it’s very quirky pop. I actually just became familiar with Adam Green on his last solo album which is an album called “Sixes and Sevens,” and completely fell in love with this song called “Tropical Island” on there because it was my afternoon pick-me-up for about three months. But I really – He actually uses a lot of rhymes, I know just by listening intently. All of his songs seem to have, you know, they’re based around characters. They’re almost quite theatrical. He’s got this really distinctive deep voice that I really like, super catchy. He reminds me a lot of a group called the Divine Comedy with a singer called Neil Hannon. He’s got that, you know, sort of great deep, you know, brilliant voice as far as I’m concerned, and I like the sort of twisted tales that he has as part of his songs. So, yeah, super fun – super fun music and I think it’s pretty distinctive.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s hear a little of Adam Green’s new album. This is Adam Green with “What Makes Him Act So Bad.”
(audio of clip from Green performing “What Makes Him Act So Bad”)
CAVANAUGH: That is Adam Green, “What Makes Him Act So Bad.” Sounds a little like Lou Reed.
BRADSHAW: It’s great. I love it.
CAVANAUGH: So you saw Green perform at South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago. What kind of live show does he put on?
BRADSHAW: A very fun one. He – I don’t think he stopped between songs, not for the whole set. It was actually the first time I’d seen him and I’ve been dying to see this guy for ages and the show is at like midnight. It was a super-late show. You know, everyone had had a really long day watching shows. He is notorious for stage diving and crowd surfing.
BRADSHAW: The guy loves to crowd surf. And it’s awesome. Super fun, and he’s still got his microphone, halfway through the song, still singing. I think people can expect to see shirt ripping. He was swinging his microphone around a lot. He doesn’t stop dancing throughout the whole set or at least not when I saw him. So it was a really energetic show. Like I say, it was a later show that I went to see. This is an earlier show. But I maybe expect…
CAVANAUGH: Don’t be surprised.
BRADSHAW: Maybe expect the unexpected, is what I’ll say.
CAVANAUGH: Don’t be surprised if the dive happens.
CAVANAUGH: Adam Green plays the early show at the Casbah this Friday night. The next music act is actually at the venue that you program, UCSD’s The Loft, Liz.
BRADSHAW: Yes, definitely.
CAVANAUGH: And it’s a hip-hop artist who goes by the name of Sleep. Tell us about him.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, so Sleep—his real name is Chris Tafoya—and he is part of a hip-hop collective out of the Pacific Northwest called the Old Dominion. He is signed to a record label that’s based out of Rhode Island that’s actually owned and operated by an indie sort of spoken word hip-hop star really called Sage Francis. He’s a really real like rootsy, streetsy hip-hop artist. He, you know, he speaks a lot to past experiences in his life. It’s pretty gritty stuff and it’s quite intense. It’s very interesting though, very interesting.
CAVANAUGH: He – I have seen an article that called him the fastest rapper in the world.
BRADSHAW: He’s quick. And that’s – if you read sort of any article about him, that’s what it’ll say. And Sage Francis, who owns the record label, actually has written his biography on that record label website and it does kind of – You know, he’s created a lot of notoriety for being, you know, one of the fastest emcees but, interestingly enough, you can – what he’s saying doesn’t really get lost. For me, you can still kind of – his words still come across so it’s not just, oh, I’m the fastest rapper in the world, it’s like yes, I can rap really quickly but it’s because I’ve got a lot to say and I’m going to fit it into this like three-minute track.
CAVANAUGH: Well, we’ve got to hear this now. This is Sleep with “Talk About It.”
(audio of Sleep performing “Talk About It”)
CAVANAUGH: That is Sleep with “Talk About It.” And some of that was, you know, electronic but a lot of that was just him talking really, really, really fast.
BRADSHAW: Lots of practicing, I think, over the years.
CAVANAUGH: What kind of following does he have?
BRADSHAW: You know, he has a pretty underground following to be honest with you. He’s, you know, he’s never been one of those like Billboard chart hip-hop artists. His fans are a very loyal crowd. The part of the collective that he’s with and the record label that he’s on, a lot of the artists come from a spoken word poetry slam and very kind of very much based around activism, so they’re all really, really passionate people and I think his fans are really the same way. He’s not a hugely known artist but I would definitely encourage anybody who’s a lover of hip-hop to go along and kind of experience Sleep because he’s a really amazing artist. And he’s intense but I actually saw Sage Francis, who owns the record label that he’s on, about – nearly 10 years ago now and it completely blew me away and that is sort of why I picked up on these guys and I’m really fascinated by their performances so…
CAVANAUGH: Well, the hip-hop artist Sleep performs at The Loft on the campus of UCSD on Sunday night. And now, as I promised, a little bit of dance, a little performance. Sushi is hosting a work by director and choreographer Patricia Sandback. It’s called “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Now what can people expect from this dance and theatre piece?
BRADSHAW: They can expect to laugh. People can expect to laugh. It’s a two-act dance theatre work borrowing images from both opera and TV to examine life’s big questions of why we’re here and where we’re going. I’ve also been told that audiences are likely to be shocked, to be shaking their heads in disbelief also whilst laughing at the same time. So…
CAVANAUGH: Also whilst laughing.
CAVANAUGH: I love that.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, absolutely.
CAVANAUGH: So there’s also a lot of music considering, you know, it’s a dance piece you would expect in it, but a really big range of music featured in this show and including Louis Armstrong’s version of “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.
BRADSHAW: Yeah. You’ll also hear music from irreverent jazz artist Uri Caine, from Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys, you’ll hear Les Yeux Noirs with “Vats of Grieving Chains (sounds like),” which will be excellent. And the humming chorus from “Madame Butterfly.” And then, of course, the title track, so a very eclectic mix there, I think.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, it certainly is.
BRADSHAW: All great artists.
CAVANAUGH: Tell us about the choreographer, Patricia Sandback.
BRADSHAW: Yeah, so she’s originally from Minnesota. And Patricia Sandback is actually on faculty at San Diego State University. She’s choreographed some 130 pieces of work over her career and has really established a reputation for wit and theatricality that she encompasses in her work. And so I think from what we’ve heard here, that’s – this sounds like a really good example of the wit and, you know, the theatrics as this is very much, you know, one part kind of a take on television and then the opera there as well. This piece actually premiered last spring at San Diego State University, and it’s a piece that I hear that has been kind of brewing in her mind…
BRADSHAW: …for some years. And so when she was asked by the artistic director—and my apologies if I pronounce this incorrectly—the Mojalet Dance Collective, she was asked to choreograph a piece for them so it fitted in perfectly with their dances.
CAVANAUGH: “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” will be performed at Sushi Friday through Sunday. Well, it was all you, Liz, and you did great. Thank you.
BRADSHAW: Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: Liz Bradshaw is the curator at The Loft at UCSD. These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, and senior producer Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our director today is Chris Maui (sp). Our production assistants are Jordan Wicht and Rachel Ferguson. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.