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Events: Imogen Heap, Josh Ritter, Fred Hocks, Performance Art

Correction: The Art After Dark - Swing Time Salute is Friday, June 18, from 7-10 p.m.

Audio

Aired 6/17/10

Music and visual art are abundant this weekend. Imogen Heap, Josh Ritter, performance art, a San Diego painter from mid-century, and gringos in their underwear. It's the Weekend Preview.

Erykah Badu plays Humphrey's on Tuesday, June 22nd.
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Above: Erykah Badu plays Humphrey's on Tuesday, June 22nd.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. San Diego is brimming over this weekend with art shows and music. Internationally known performers like Erykah Badu and local celebrities like the late San Diego painter Fred Hocks will have their work featured. And there are some out of the ordinary arts and music events coming up as well. Here to tell us more about them are my guests. Kinsee Morlan, good morning, Kinsee.

KINSEE MORLAN (Arts & Entertainment Editor, San Diego CityBeat): Good morning. It’s nice to be on the show.

CAVANAUGH: And Seth Combs.

SETH COMBS (Editor, Pacific San Diego Magazine): Hi, there. Thank you for having me.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I specifically did not mention your titles because all of this is just a little bit confusing and we have to straighten it out, okay?

MORLAN: The passing of torches.

COMBS: Somewhat.

CAVANAUGH: The two of you have been passing the torch at CityBeat’s Arts Editor’s position, back and forth.

COMBS: It’s a tag team.

CAVANAUGH: First it was Kinsee. Then it was Seth. And now it’s Kinsee again. So, Seth, what becomes of you?

COMBS: I am now the editor at Pacific San Diego magazine.

CAVANAUGH: Well, congratulations.

COMBS: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Why did you make that switch?

COMBS: Well, it wasn’t really a planned switch but it just sort of came about and the publisher believed in my vision and I believe that I can turn it into a better magazine and – and it is a great magazine already but I think it can be better.

CAVANAUGH: Terrific. Now, Kinsee, welcome back to San Diego and to CityBeat. You’ve been way out of town for about the last year or so.

MORLAN: Tiny mountain town in Colorado. We started in a town of 1500 people, eventually moved to a town of 20,000 people, and then decided that we missed the big city, so I’m back and I’m glad to be back with CityBeat.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right, then, so let me get your titles now. Kinsee Morlan is the arts and entertainment editor at San Diego CityBeat.

MORLAN: That’s right.

CAVANAUGH: Seth Combs, editor of Pacific San Diego magazine.

COMBS: Yep.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, so we straightened that one out. Okay, so let’s start with our Weekend Preview with the Oceanside Museum of Art, “Art After Dark.” Kinsee, there are a few different things going on at the museum tomorrow night. It’s kind of a mix of music and art. Tell us about the program.

MORLAN: Yes, I’ve been to one of these events once before and if you’ve never traveled up to the Oceanside Museum of Art, it’s worth it and it’s especially worth it for the “Art After Dark” programs. It’s sort of a giant blend of art and music. There’ll be live painting, a video piece will be projected on the front of the museum, and once you’re inside you can check the four regional art exhibits that are on view right now. It’s a World War II show, “Plastic Fantastic” by artist Allison Renshaw, an impressionist show of Southern California, and a west coast drawing exhibit that just opened last week.

CAVANAUGH: That’s a lot going on. Now, will there be artists on site?

MORLAN: Yes, Glen Schulte and Chris Monsoon from a group called, quote, the Collective. I actually tried to find their website but that’s a pretty common term, so I don’t know too much about them, but they will be live painting. Multimedia artist Lisa Hutton will sort of greet you at the door with a projection on the façade of the museum and that projection is examining the salute, kind of the protocol behind the military…

CAVANAUGH: Right, right, right.

MORLAN: …salute, so…

CAVANAUGH: That’s the military theme for this. I saw that on the web. It seems so interesting. Tell us a little bit more about, what, people are going to be able to create posters?

MORLAN: Yeah. Well, Oceanside, I did a big cover story on Oceanside a few years ago because I’m kind of in love with the town. It’s got this quirky kind of small town feel to it and it’s got a huge military influence.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

MORLAN: If you’ve ever been up there, there’s a bunch of bases right around there. And then they have this, you know, OMA, the Oceanside Museum of Art is special in that it only does regional art exhibits. So one of their regional art shows is the World War II show, and it’s pretty stellar and it’s kind of all in celebration of that one exhibit which will be on view, I think, through October. So you can make a poster and I think the two top winners – Basically you go, it’s a booth, you stop by, you do the design, they supply the materials, and the top two winners get a membership at OMA, so it’s pretty cool.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, really?

MORLAN: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: So you get to design your own World War II poster, which is so crazy.

MORLAN: Yeah, I mean, it’s cool. You can – I mean, there’s also a tattoo booth where you can go get your military tattoo. You can play Battleship and Risk. So it’s really fun. I mean, it kind of activates the art exhibits because, you know, we all know that the museum experience can be kind of sterile but at special events like this, it really does bring it to life and make it more engaging for everyone.

CAVANAUGH: So that’s the Oceanside Museum of Art’s “Art After Dark.” It takes place tonight from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. So we’re moving on to music, Seth. Grammy-winning artist Imogen Heap will be at Humphrey’s this weekend. What can you tell us about her?

COMBS: Well, she’s an English singer and composer who has three solo albums under her belt. She started off in a group called Frou Frou back in 2002 with another gentleman, and they released one album. It didn’t really go anywhere but since then she’s been recording her own music and to great success. She won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album for her latest album, which is called “Elipse.” And I don’t know, she’s been able to garner a lot of fans sort of all over the music spectrum from, you know, the middle-aged adult contemporary crowd to 20-something club-goers to indie rock snob geeks like me.

MORLAN: It was that one song she did, the “Hide and Seek” song.

COMBS: Right. And it was featured a lot on like – I think like the “OC” had it on like twice…

MORLAN: Umm-hmm.

COMBS: …and it was in their like series finale and people were like what is that? And it’s almost like this vocoder acapella thing going on and it doesn’t sound like a potential hit at all.

CAVANAUGH: Ah, okay.

COMBS: But because it was loved by so many people who were, you know, in charge of television shows or something, people, I guess, decided they had to like it, too.

MORLAN: It’s beautiful.

COMBS: It is.

MORLAN: It’s so beautiful and it’s different. It’s not like anything you’ve ever heard before.

COMBS: Yeah, that’s true.

CAVANAUGH: Well, that’s good because I was going to ask you, Seth, if this is like, you know, if her sound is like really poppy, you know, real pop style. But it sounds like it’s not. How would you describe her music?

COMBS: Well, it’s rooted in the singing. She has a great voice. She has a – it’s very reminiscent of like Kate Bush or Sinead O’Connor but as to the music, I suppose it could be compared to someone like Bjork. I mean, she ranges from very minimal like electronic textures to heavy, grandiose synpop, lots of bleeps and blupes and big choruses. It’s poppy. It’s poppy at times.

CAVANAUGH: All right. Well, let’s hear a little of it. This is “Swoon” from Imogen Heap’s 2009 album “Elipse.”

(audio of Imogen Heap singing “Swoon” from the album “Elipse”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s Imogen Heap from “Swoon.” It’s called “Elipse” (sic). And, Seth, what’s her live show like? I hear that she doesn’t do encores.

COMBS: Well, I’ll get to the encores in a second.

CAVANAUGH: All right.

COMBS: The reviews I’ve read have been – have all been extremely positive. Her voice sounds amazing live, reportedly. And like from the clips I’ve seen on the net it seems it’s a very visceral experience. She usually performs alone in some kind of bizarre get-up and she’s surrounded by all kinds of keyboards and sampling gadgets and she has a lot of banter in between songs that a lot of people enjoy and it’s funny but I read one review in the Seattle Weekly where the reviewer quoted someone as saying, ‘this is not a flight of the Concord show concert.’

MORLAN: Umm.

COMBS: Or, flight of the Concords concert, you know, less talking, more playing, please.

CAVANAUGH: Ahh…

COMBS: As for the encore, she usually plays close to two hours and she’s been known to leave it at that. I mean, two hours is a pretty good show. But I’m not sure she’s ever not done an encore. I think there’s been a few times where people were clapping and she didn’t come out and people were like, well, you know, what the heck here.

CAVANAUGH: Well, when she’s done, she’s done.

COMBS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

MORLAN: She’s a diva.

COMBS: Yeah.

MORLAN: She does what she wants.

COMBS: She’ll be on that VH1 special with like Aretha Franklin or somebody.

CAVANAUGH: Imogen Heap will be at Humphrey’s on Saturday night. Now this next event, Gringo Chon (sp), is that correct?

MORLAN: Wow. Nice work.

CAVANAUGH: Kinsee, it’s a unique photography show happening in Tijuana, featuring the work of Derrik Chinn, who is a frequent guest here on Weekend Preview. But Derrik apparently does photography, too.

MORLAN: He does. You know, I used to be his neighbor down in Tijuana and every time we’d leave the house he would have his little Canon Point and Shoot and we would all sort of get annoyed. Like, okay, Derrik, that’s enough photos for the night. Let’s – let’s move on. Since I’ve been gone, he got himself a nice digital SLR, and for my birthday he gave me some of his prints. He’s done everything from the Tijuana prom queen series to a series on piñatas, and a really interesting take on self-portraits. So I think this is actually his first solo show coming up.

CAVANAUGH: What is “Gringo Chon?” What does it mean?

MORLAN: Oh, well, it’s pretty simple. Gringo…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

MORLAN: …is white boy. And Chon is kind of short for chones or chones, it’s Mexican underwear.

CAVANAUGH: I see.

MORLAN: Or just underwear. Yes, so that’s what it is. It’s…

CAVANAUGH: Okay, so we have people in their underwear in these photographs?

MORLAN: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

MORLAN: We have American men in Mexican underwear. But…

COMBS: You have one of them on your show right now.

CAVANAUGH: I’m – Too much information there.

MORLAN: But it gets deeper. It gets deeper. Derrik does this thing called Turista Libre, which he takes people from the States on tours in Tijuana and shows them kind of the side that isn’t drugs and violence and really focuses on the positive. So he really likes taking Americans out of their comfort zone and putting them into situations they would never be in. So he did all of these shoots in Tijuana, right? You went down to Mexico.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, you’re in it, huh, Seth?

COMBS: Yeah, I am in – I’m in some Bart Simpson orange skivvies. And I’m looking hot.

MORLAN: It’s also an examination of masculinity.

COMBS: Oh, yeah, you can get deep with it. I mean, I’m just standing around in some underwear.

MORLAN: Well, okay, but how did it make you feel? I mean, Mexican underwear, let me just explain because my husband has a few.

COMBS: Again, TMI.

MORLAN: They are very colorful, they’re small. They look almost like feminine girl undies. And it’s kind of interesting because Mexican men who are very machismo and ‘all that is man’ wear there, you know, Bart Simpson – I mean, they look like underwear your mom would buy you.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

MORLAN: And so it’s kind of an examination of that. It’s also an examination of, you know, taking Americans out of their comfort zone. So – But basically you will – visually, you’ll see Seth and others in their underwear.

CAVANAUGH: Well…

COMBS: That – well, that was a very good description, yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Where is this show held, and what’s the best way to get there from the border because there will be thousands now wanting to check out Seth in his underwear.

MORLAN: I’m going to gringo this up for you because…

COMBS: Thousands minus 999.

MORLAN: So the gringo version, what you need to do is go to the border, park on the U.S. side. It’s like $7.00 in those lots that are right there. Walk over, get in a cab, preferably not one of the yellow cabs. Get in a white cab because the yellow cabs will rip you off more so than the white cabs. And then tell your cab driver that you want to go to ICBC, that’s ICBC, it’s a cultural center, and 9 times out of 10 they won’t know where that is so what you need to do is say take me to Palacio Municipal or the City Hall, Zona Rio. So all of those key words will get you there. There’s also a map on Facebook if you search Gringo Chon.

CAVANAUGH: And we’ll probably have it on our website, too, KPBS.org.

MORLAN: Great.

CAVANAUGH: Gringo Chon in all its glory shows this Friday night from 7:00 to 10:00, as we’ve been saying at the Instituto Cultural de Baja California in Tijuana. Now, speaking of being scantily clad, Erykah Badu is in town, playing here early next week. She’s caught some controversy for her recent video “Window Seat.” What happened there?

COMBS: Well, I thought it was a great video but it did upset a lot of people. And basically it was one extended shot of her walking through Dallas where she’s originally from. I think she’s based in New York now but she’s walking through the streets of Dallas and she’s slowly stripping off her clothes in broad daylight and you can tell it wasn’t staged just by some of the expressions on people’s faces. There’s like little kids around and there’s actually one guy towards the beginning of the video that sees her taking off all her clothes and he’s like kind of running behind her and picking up her clothes and sort of trying to tell her as if she didn’t know. You know…

CAVANAUGH: You’re not in a dream. This is real.

COMBS: Yeah. Yeah, you know, he’s like – he’s like, hey, you dropped – Okay, you’re taking off more clothes, all right. And then so by the end, she’s naked and – and then she kind of is mock assassinated right in the same area – and you realize it’s the same area that JFK was.

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

COMBS: And she’s lying on the ground and she – her voice comes over on this voiceover and says ‘they who play it safe are quick to assassinate what they do not understand.’ And she’s just kind of naked, lying naked on the road. And, yes, and, yeah, she wasn’t arrested for it but she was later charged with disorderly conduct.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I mean, so what’s the music like?

COMBS: Oh, the music, yeah, well…

MORLAN: Oh, that.

COMBS: Well, it’s a great song, “Window Seat.” I actually haven’t listened to her new album all the way through. It’s called “New America Part 2.” And – But, I mean, but she’s still all over the place. She has, you know, a lot of just kind of vintage R&B kind of sounding stuff as well as just more experimental messing with, you know, electronics and stuff like that. But she’s always kind of, you know, trying to, you know, I guess get her name out there somewhere whether it’s just by being an innovative musician or making a video where she’s running around the streets naked.

CAVANAUGH: Well, Seth, I know that you’re also interested in her opening act, Janelle Monáe.

COMBS: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: Can you tell us a little bit about her because she’s got a kind of an alter ego that she goes under.

COMBS: Yeah, she has a lot. She’s kind of like a five-foot, I think, she’s like just five foot zero…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

COMBS: …David Bowie or some kind of thing. I mean, she –Yeah, her new album’s called “The Arch Android,” and she seems to just have a lot of alter egos actually. I mean, she really runs the gamut as far as her music goes. I mean, one minute she’s like doing rock, one minute she’s doing pop, she’s doing R&B, she’s doing funk, and, you know, it’s not to imply that she’s fickle but she really likes to do all – I mean, she opens her new album with this grandiose orchestral suite and, from what I hear, you know, she – and she has an amazing voice.

CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s…

COMBS: She sounds like a, you know, prepubescent Michael Jackson or something.

CAVANAUGH: We have a clip. We have some of Monáe’s music. This is “Tightrope” from her album “The Arch Android.”

(audio clip of Janelle Monáe performing “Tightrope” from the album “The Arch Android”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s Janelle Monáe from her album “The Arch Android,” opening act for Erykah Badu but not an opening act very long, do you think?

COMBS: Oh, no.

CAVANAUGH: I mean, she’s fabulous.

COMBS: Yeah, I mean, I was checking out some clips of her live, you know, in preparing for this show and she is a heck of a performer. She really – she’s all over. She’s running around the stage and, you know, getting in people’s faces. And she’s so cute. She has – she’s really – she has like this pompadour and she wear…

MORLAN: Like a three-foot pompadour. It’s huge.

COMBS: Yeah, she wears this big pompadour and she wears like these vintage tuxes and she’s really a great entertainer, and I – I remembered this last night again when I was doing research. She was actually in this Outcast, the hip hop group from Atlanta. She’s actually from Atlanta, as well, and she was in their feature film that just bombed at the box office. It was called “Idyllwild” and anybody who’s ever seen that, like me and like probably three other people, remember her from it. It was probably the only memorable part in the whole movie was this cameo it had. Nobody knew who she was at the time but she’s been just kind of, you know, garnering more and more buzz and she’s actually got signed to Diddy or P. Diddy or Puff Daddy or whatever his name is these days, his record label, so, you know, she has some backing behind her.

CAVANAUGH: So Erykah Badu and Janelle Monáe play Humphrey’s next Tuesday night. Kinsee, there’s a sale going on for the local painter Fred Hocks. Now tell us who he was.

MORLAN: He is the dean of San Diego moderns. He moved to the States from Germany when he was 16, he ended up here in the 1930s and from there he just sort of dominated and was a huge inspiration for expressionist abstract artists. Started a bunch of things in San Diego, some which still exist today. He was always doing some pretty avant – especially for the thirties. You know, now we look at it and it’s widely accepted as art but at the time it was sort of him doing these things that no one, especially in San Diego, had ever seen before, and trying to get the general public to accept it as art so…

CAVANAUGH: Now you call him the dean of the – of modern San Diego art. What role did he play in the San Diego art scene?

MORLAN: Well, he came here and he taught for several private art schools, so he kind of became this elder artist that all the younger painters looked up to. He also started this group called the Allied Arts Council. And they were everything from artists to architects to dancers and they brought in, you know, kind of world famous other artists at the time and did programs that were really meant to get the general public to accept modern art and architecture.

CAVANAUGH: So, Kinsee, why is there a sale of his work now?

MORLAN: It’s sort of a long story but I’ll cut it short in saying that he had an ex-wife. The ex-wife passed away and a friend inherited 100 or so of his works and finally decided that his stuff really belongs in San Diego. So that friend is bringing it all down this week and it’ll be on show and on sale for two days. So even if you’re not a collector, I mean, it is a show, too, so go – and talk to the guys behind the show know so much, and you can go and learn – I mean, I’m just blazing through all this stuff that Hocks did.

CAVANAUGH: Sure, yeah. Yeah, uh-huh.

MORLAN: But go learn about the art. I mean, that’s the best thing about art, is learning about what the art means.

CAVANAUGH: Right. The sale will take place at Ronis Fine Art in Golden Hill. That’s on Saturday and Sunday from ten to four. Seth, we have to power through…

COMBS: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …and talk about Josh Ritter. He’s playing at the Belly Up next week. Josh is a singer/songwriter. Tell us a little bit about him.

COMBS: He’s not John Ritter’s son.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, that’s what we were saying.

COMBS: He’s from Moscow, Idaho.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

COMBS: And I believe he’s still based there. He’s recorded six albums and he’s earned quite the following through, I would say, word of mouth and through his live shows. And I don’t think he’ll ever sell a million records but he seems like the type of guy destined to be one of those artists that’ll always be under the radar but has a bunch of loyal fans.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, let’s hear an example of his work. This song is “Rattling Locks.” It’s from his new album “So Runs the World Away.”

(audio clip of Josh Ritter performing “Rattling Locks” from the album “So Runs the World Away”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s singer/songwriter Josh Ritter, who will be on our show next week, so our listeners and we’ll all be able to get to know him a little bit better. Are his shows, Seth, are they a little low key?

COMBS: They’re like Janelle Monáe, they’re kind of all over the place. They…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, really?

COMBS: Oh, yeah, I mean, he has – You couldn’t really tell from that track but his music ranges from, you know, kind of folky ballads to, you know, country barnburners and it can be, you know, one minute he can be playing with a band then he can kind of shoo them off and, you know, he’ll just play just a really kind of intimate, you know, just me and you kind of…

CAVANAUGH: Oh.

COMBS: …song and it’s, you know, it’s kind of all over the place. So – But it’s really, really good. I mean, he’s one of those guys who has these really kind of, you know, he has great lyrics and people kind of really connect to him in the live setting.

CAVANAUGH: And Josh Ritter will be at the Belly Up Tavern next Tuesday. And, Kinsee, our final event now, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is having a performance art event to go along with their exhibit of local artists, called “Here Not There.” There are a lot of performance artists involved in this.

MORLAN: There is. It’s, you know, performance art is not the most popular form of art.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

MORLAN: So it’s awesome to know that there are so many performance artists in San Diego. And this weekend will be no exception. They’re all going to be doing their thing at the museum and it’s going to be pretty phenomenal.

CAVANAUGH: My last question, I’m sorry but it has to be, anything controversial viewers might want to brace themselves for?

MORLAN: There’s one piece that’s a little erotic, so…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm. We can take it.

MORLAN: Well, that’s the best part about performance art. You know, I can try to describe the pieces that are going to be…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

MORLAN: …performed but I’ll sound like a nut. So the best part about performance art is that you just have to go and experience it.

CAVANAUGH: And you can go experience “Here Not There” Performance Evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Saturday night from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. I want to thank you both so much. We got through a lot. I really appreciate it. There’s a lot going on.

COMBS: There always is.

MORLAN: Yes. It was fun to be on the show with you.

COMBS: Yes, thank you for having me again.

CAVANAUGH: And let me do this. Kinsee Morlan is the arts and entertainment editor at San Diego CityBeat. Seth Combs is now the editor of Pacific San Diego magazine. Thank you both.

COMBS: Thank you.

MORLAN: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to let everyone know that These Days is produced by Angela Carone, Hank Crook, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, Julien Pearce, and senior producer Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our production assistant is Hilary Andrews. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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