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Events: The Album Leaf, North Park Festival Of The Arts, And Artist Victor Rodriquez

Audio

Aired 5/13/10

The North Park Festival of the Arts is Sunday, providing its share of live music for your weekend. But we also have music and arts suggestions for Friday and Saturday, including the return of The Album Leaf for a hometown performance.

"NewAbstract#5 (Blue Pill)" 2010. By Victor Rodriguez
Acrylic on canvas, 58" x 78"

Above: "NewAbstract#5 (Blue Pill)" 2010. By Victor Rodriguez Acrylic on canvas, 58" x 78"

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Are you in the mood for a little more music? Well, we've certainly got it on this weekend preview. From roots rock to rockin' movie stars to some North Park rockin' and altered sonic spaces. Like I said, lots and lots of music. Here to guide us through the events on this weekend preview are my guests. Liz Bradshaw is the curator of The Loft at UCSD. She’s worked in the music industry for many years. Liz, welcome back.

LIZ BRADSHAW (Curator of The Loft, University of California San Diego): Hi there.

CAVANAUGH: And Seth Combs is the arts and music editor for San Diego CityBeat. Good to see you, Seth.

SETH COMBS (Arts/Music Editor, San Diego CityBeat): Oh, thanks for having me back.

CAVANAUGH: Well, we’re going to start out with a band, Liz, called Halcyonaire. It’s playing at the Tin Can Ale House on Friday. What can you tell us about them?

BRADSHAW: That’s right, well, Halcyonaire are now based in San Diego but they’ve just recently relocated here from Oakland, actually. And they’re citing their influences across the board, everyone from Hank Williams to Neil Young, including also wildlife and nature…

CAVANAUGH: Ah.

BRADSHAW: …and redwood trees. And an interesting fact about the name, Halcyonaire that I discovered is that halcyon or genus halcyon is actually the kingfisher, the bird the kingfisher.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see.

BRADSHAW: And the tree variety of the kingfisher. And when one member of the band was playing on his own and he had some backup musicians, they had a record and it was Kingfisher and the Halcyonaires, which is how they got their name as the halcyonaire is the family of the halcyon, the kingfisher.

COMBS: I thought it was like…

BRADSHAW: There you go.

COMBS: …some kind of weird monetary value, like you’re not a zillionaire, you’re a halcyonaire.

BRADSHAW: A halcyonaire.

COMBS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: I just thought it sounded good.

BRADSHAW: I like it, too. I think it sounds great.

CAVANAUGH: They call their music California roots music. Does that sound right to you? Is that a good description?

BRADSHAW: Yeah, you know, I think it is. I think they’re really part this kind of new breed of California folksters and storytelling bands but less wispy and more bluesy and rock ‘n roll. There’s so many bands right now that have, you know, a plethora of instruments and kind of all sorts of stuff going on. The banjo features really heavily in this band and there’s a bunch of festivals up and down the west coast at the moment and one is the Woodsist Festival and run by a company called FolkYEAH so I think everybody’s into getting outside and getting down to the roots and listening to some music and with nature.

CAVANAUGH: Well…

BRADSHAW: It’s great.

CAVANAUGH: …let’s hear them in this rather unnatural setting of ours. This is Halcyonaire with “Silent Song the Lonely Sing.”

(audio of clip from Halcyonaire performing “Silent Song the Lonely Sing”)

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, California roots music. Oh, yeah. Do we know anything about their live shows?

BRADSHAW: I’m going to defer to Seth on this one because I haven’t actually had the pleasure of seeing them live, so he might be able to give a little bit more insight.

CAVANAUGH: Sure.

COMBS: I have seen them live and I have to correct Liz on one point. They’re actually from Escondido, I found out recently.

BRADSHAW: Oh, okay.

COMBS: They’re from Escondido. Moved up to Oakland, moved back.

BRADSHAW: Oh, there you go.

COMBS: One of our staff members at CityBeat, Carissa Casares, she told me that and I was like, wow, that’s a surprise. Anyway, but, yeah, have seen them live. They are really raucous and, you know, have a lot of shout – like a lot of call and response and really kind of get the crowd, you know, into it and interactive as well. They’re a really fun band to see. I don’t know if you could tell from like that audio sample but they’re actually really, really fun. They remind me a lot of a band like Deer Tick or there’s a band called Cold War Kids who are really fun onstage and they remind me of them a lot.

CAVANAUGH: So the Halcyonaire and the band that’s opening for them, River City, play the Tin Can Ale House on Friday night. Seth, The Album Leaf is a San Diego act, found success beyond Southern California. Tell us about them.

COMBS: Well, yeah, there’s that whole rock ‘n roll cliché where a band says like, oh, well we’re big in Japan.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, right.

COMBS: Well, they really are big in Japan. And they’re big elsewhere. I shouldn’t say ‘they,’ I should say ‘he.’

CAVANAUGH: He, yeah.

COMBS: It’s mainly the musical project from a gentleman named Jimmy LaValle and he’s had a lot of success for the project. It’s this great ambient music but it’s so much more than that. A lot of what we call ambient music is often boring and Jimmy’s music is relatively exciting. His music has been featured in television shows and commercials, and he’s developed quite the following because of this unique approach to the genre. And he’s played in a ton of local San Diego bands over the years, and he recently relocated to Santa Cruz with his…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

COMBS: …with his wife because she was – she goes to school up there.

CAVANAUGH: He’s coming back, though, this weekend to San Diego to perform with a lot of the local musicians he’s been playing with for years. Is that right?

COMBS: Yeah, well, like I – as I mentioned, he’s been in a ton of local bands himself, and he’s been working primarily as far as a live setting goes, he composes all the music himself. However, when he plays live, he’s always had this group of like 8 or so core musicians, Drew Andrews is one of them, he’s a – he’s a local singer/songwriter and he plays guitar with Jimmy and the band. And, I mean, I could go on for days and days about all the local musicians that Jimmy collaborates with but I don’t think we have that much time.

CAVANAUGH: Well, his latest album is called “A Chorus of Storytellers,” and we have a track from it. It’s called “Falling From the Sun,” so let’s hear it. This is Album Leaf.

(clip from Album Leaf performing “Falling From the Sun”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s “Falling From the Sun” from the album “Chorus of Storytellers” by Album Leaf. So what is an Album Leaf show like? He’s been in so many bands, I mean, you know, what is this one like?

COMBS: Well, I’ve seen the band The Album Leaf…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

COMBS: …play in everything from small clubs to large theatres. This particular show is in a theatre, the North Park Birch Theatre. And this particular show is – I expect them to pull out like all the orchestral stops. They have been playing from – on their tour, as they go city to city, they’ve been playing with local like chamber music ensembles.

CAVANAUGH: Really?

COMBS: And they will have a local string section playing with them at this show. And one more thing I should bring up. This is sort of a new turn of events, I actually got a text from Jimmy a couple days ago, I ended up calling him yesterday. This will be his last show playing with these core musicians I was just mentioning, ever. I mean, he says that he wants to take his music in a more minimal direction and that he’ll continue playing with a few of them but that, for the most part, most of them seem to want to move on with their own careers and he said that this San Diego show will be the last time he ever plays with this group of musicians.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, well…

COMBS: So one-time only.

CAVANAUGH: …the last show, The Album Leaf show, the last one, plays at the Birch North Park Theatre this Friday night. Liz, a group called the Klagfarmers performs at The Loft on Saturday night. So who are the Klagfarmers?

BRADSHAW: Well, the Klagfarmers are actually a collective group of both MA and Ph.D. students from the music department on the UC San Diego campus. They’re from a sound installation art class, which sounds very interesting, and they’re led by Professor Katharina Rosenberger, who approached The Loft a few months ago to say I’ve got this class, we’re doing some devised pieces and site specific pieces and we love The Loft and we’d love to create some pieces specifically for The Loft. And so that’s just what this is. They’re a group of musicians, performance artists, sound artists and visual artists who have all created these individual pieces to bring to The Loft kind of for one night only for people to interact with and listen to.

CAVANAUGH: That, you know, in reading about this, they said that they’re going to create altered sonic spaces. What does that mean to you, Liz?

BRADSHAW: Ahh, you really put me on the spot. You know, I – it’s a number of different experiences. I can tell you that there’s going to be some singing pipes and so one of the students has created these pipes from six to ten hoses, a bunch of funnels, three to six computer speakers, about five or six different music players, identified a space in The Loft and he’s working with the interior and the infrastructure that’s already there to create this soundmaker that people’s voices and the general noise around is going to interact with and kind of set off. So there’s that. There’s going to be people giving tuba lessons. Something called a…

COMBS: Yeah.

BRADSHAW: Yeah, right? That’s an awesome instrument if you’ve ever seen one of those live. And then something called signal painting with an electronic art piece that moves with noise. So it looks a bit like one of those clapometers where, you know, the audience claps loudly and whoever gets the biggest light wins or…

CAVANAUGH: Yes, yes.

BRADSHAW: …what have you. And so it’s something very similar to that. And also a toy piano that one of the musicians will be playing, so that will be one of the performance pieces. And, eerily, it plays songs itself when nobody’s playing.

CAVANAUGH: Ahh…

BRADSHAW: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Another one of a kind experience at The Loft.

BRADSHAW: It’s seriously going to be one of a kind and actually so it’s less of kind of a sit down and watch performance, more of a whole opening experience, so you’ll go in…

CAVANAUGH: Take a tuba lesson kind of a night.

BRADSHAW: That’s right, so you’ll wander ‘round and kind of in between interact. There’ll be spotlights on different performers around the space. It’s going to be really fun.

CAVANAUGH: The Klagfarmers, one of a kind experience, they perform at The Loft on the campus of UCSD, and the showtime is 8:00 p.m. Seth, we have to talk about the North Park Festival of the Arts. It’s this Sunday. And tell us what sets this festival apart.

COMBS: That’s a great question, Maureen, and you want to know why? Because every week there seems like there’s some arts festival and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of all the arts festivals. Like this one you want to go to because I’m – it really seems to be that it really does have something for everyone whereas a lot of people claim that, you know, their arts festival does.

CAVANAUGH: So you’re cranky about other arts festivals but you like this one.

COMBS: I’m just – Yeah, I like this one. There’s visual art, there’s dance, there’s music, there’s spoken word, there’s handmade crafts, food, activities for kids. There’s a frickin’ bike valet for heaven’s sake.

BRADSHAW: I thought for a minute you were announcing your love for the arts outside in San Diego.

CAVANAUGH: And, of course, live music.

COMBS: Yes, there is live music. And there’s a ton of great bands performing. There’s a guy named Josh Damigo. There’s a band—I just saw them last night, in fact—called Roxy Jones. Wirepony, Lights On, Dabbers. There’s an international music stage where it’s, you know, it’ll be more international bands or, yeah.

CAVANAUGH: Well, you mentioned Josh Damigo, so let’s hear something from Josh Damigo. He’ll be performing at the North Park Festival this weekend. This is “Pocket Change.”

(clip of Josh Damigo performing “Pocket Change”)

CAVANAUGH: That’s “Pocket Change” by Josh Damigo, one of the performers at the North Park Festival of the Arts this weekend. Did you mention another band, Roxy Jones?

COMBS: Yeah, I did mention Roxy Jones.

CAVANAUGH: And going to be at North Park?

COMBS: Yeah, they will be at the North Park Festival of the Arts. Like I said, I just saw them last night, and they’re a super kind of more noise punk band and it’s – it just kind of speaks, you know, about the festival itself and that there’s just so many different kinds of bands playing. Obviously, like I sort of fall into like this indie rock niche or whatever but, you know, Josh is, you know, obviously, acoustic singer/songwriter.

CAVANAUGH: Right, right.

COMBS: There’s all kinds of music there.

CAVANAUGH: Now one of the things about this that may change your, you know, may be the reason that you’re crankiness has changed over the Festival of the Arts is the money raised from the festival goes back to the neighborhood, right?

COMBS: Yeah, it all goes back to the North Park Main Street, which is a association that is mainly focused on just improving the revitalization of the neighborhood, the – and the North Park Business District, in general, you know, their whole M.O. is that they try and get more businesses there and from – If you’ve been to North Park lately, you can tell they’re doing a good job.

CAVANAUGH: That’s true. The North Park Festival of the Arts takes place on Sunday. It runs from ten to six from University between 30th and 32nd Streets. Liz, the Lt. Dan Band plays the Belly Up on Saturday. There’s a reason they’re called the Lt. Dan Band from Lt. Dan from “Forrest Gump.” What is that reason?

BRADSHAW: Well, that’s exactly it. So – And so Gary Sinese – it’s Gary Sinese and the Lt. Dan Band.

CAVANAUGH: The actor Gary Sinese.

BRADSHAW: The actor Gary Sinese from “CSI New York” and formerly of…

CAVANAUGH: “Forrest Gump.”

BRADSHAW: …Lt. Dan fame in “Forrest Gump.” He’s made many trips playing music and doing various USO shows and he was always just instantly recognizable as Lt. Dan, so that’s what he became known as. It just kind of seemed natural to them and it was a natural fit so…

CAVANAUGH: So who else is in the band? What kind of music do they play?

BRADSHAW: Well, so the Lt. Dan Band, they’re a covers band, they’re a good-times band. He formed a band with a musician called Kimo Williams and then there’s a ton of other musicians, mostly from the Chicago area. They cover everything from Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Hendrix, then there’s contemporary songs by Kelly Clarkson, Evanescence, Beyonce, the Zac Brown Band, so it goes right across the board there.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

BRADSHAW: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: One of the big questions about the bands that have, you know, actors up front, you know, are they really any good?

BRADSHAW: Well, you know, they’ve been going for a long time. They’ve been playing shows since 2004, and for the past five years they’ve been doing an average of 30 to 40 shows a year, which is, you know, nothing to sniff at for sure, and a good 75% of those have been for the USO, charities or benefits. And so there’s obviously a pretty hefty fan base out there and I think the types of shows that they’ve been playing, obviously, you know, it’s kind of light relief and fun for, you know, people that don’t generally, you know, have that amount of kind of music and laughter and fun on a day-to-day basis. So I think they’ve really got their place in those areas. So…

CAVANAUGH: I want to have that amount of laughter, music and fun on a day-to-day basis.

BRADSHAW: Yeah, all the time. You should get them on your show.

CAVANAUGH: Here’s the Lt. Dan Band with their cover of “Piece of My Heart.”

(clip of the Lt. Dan Band performing “Piece of My Heart”)

CAVANAUGH: We should point out that’s not Gary Sinese on vocals.

BRADSHAW: I don’t think it is, no, I mean…

COMBS: Not unless he’s like a castrato now.

BRADSHAW: He’s super talented.

CAVANAUGH: I wish we knew who were on vocals. But I want to tell everyone the Lt. Dan Band with Gary Sinese plays the Belly Up Tavern on Saturday night. Let’s move to our only really quiet event. It’s new abstract paintings at Scott White Contemporary Art. The new exhibit is by a painter from Mexico City. His name is Victor Rodriguez. It opens this weekend. So, Seth, tell us about this artist.

COMBS: Well, he’s from Mexico City originally. I think he’s currently living in Brooklyn. Pretty young. He just turned 40. And this is quite a coup for the local gallery scene in that he’s an artist, in my opinion, that will, you know, be looked back on as one that’s truly doing amazing things in this era that he’s living in. He’s had some great solo shows internationally and his work’s already been purchased by the Museum of Contemporary Art here in San Diego. I mean, when a museum of that caliber purchases your work, I think it, you know, sort of speaks volumes as to where he’s going and what he’s doing.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. And his form of painting is sometimes referred to as hyperrealism or photorealism. Explain for us what that is, if you would.

COMBS: Right. He’s considered one of the more modern day leaders of this particular kind of art. Photorealism actually started back in the sixties and it’s essentially what it sounds like, a painter takes a picture and basically renders a painting that’s almost identical to that, so it almost looks like a photo but it’s actually a painting. Hyperrealism is just a bit of an offshoot of this because it’s so much more than just a painting because in the mega-pixel, high resolution world we live in, you know, making a painting of a photograph is even more involved than it used to be and there’s more emphasis on the details, just tiny, tiny, minute details. Rodriguez does this amazingly but is also, you know, has like a bit of a subversive twist.

CAVANAUGH: A subversive and almost at times a surrealist twist in the elements that he adds to some of his pieces.

COMBS: Oh, no, absolutely. I mean, you know, these are called the new abstract paintings because they are very abstract in a lot of ways. You know, it – What he does is he takes these almost pictures and puts them within the pictures. It’s – it’s – I can’t even really describe it. It’s something you really have to see for yourself. It’s – Yeah, I’m having a hard time, at a loss, because I’m thinking…

CAVANAUGH: It’s very hard to describe anything…

COMBS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: …that visual and that new on – with words. So people do have to go see it. One last word about this, if we may, though. These are very big pictures, aren’t they?

COMBS: They are. Most of them are seven feet and larger, so obviously they can knock you on your butt within – just in their grandiosity. And I mentioned in CityBeat this week the process of viewing one of these. It’s filled with like double takes, you know, like you’re looking at it and then you’ll be walking – you’ll be walking out the door and then you’ll see it again and you’ll be like, oh, wait, I didn’t see that before. It’s – They’re huge and they’re just, yeah, they just – they really hit you. They’re really amazing.

CAVANAUGH: Will Victor Rodriguez be at the opening?

COMBS: I just got an e-mail about that today. I didn’t actually know and then I e-mailed the Scott White Gallery and, yes, he will be. So…

CAVANAUGH: All right.

COMBS: …I’m looking forward to meeting him.

CAVANAUGH: Fabulous. New abstract paintings opens at Scott White Contemporary Art on Friday. The opening reception is from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Liz and Seth, thank you so much. We got through a lot.

COMBS: We…

BRADSHAW: Thanks for having me.

COMBS: Yeah, we did. Thank you for having me.

CAVANAUGH: Lots to do this weekend. I want to let everyone know that These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, with senior producer Natalie Walsh. Our Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our production assistants are Jordan Wicht, and Rachel Ferguson. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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