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Events: Camp Confab, Flash Mobs And San Diego Music Awards


We'll talk about a camping expedition for foodies, an evening of South Asian and Persian dance, and some interesting films screening over the weekend. Our culture scouts Maya Kroth and Kelly Bennett give us their weekend picks.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. The San Diego Music Awards salute local bands and performers, a number of visual art shows open around town, a dream camp for foodies, and a birthday dance performance for famed Indian musician Ravi Shankar. That and more, coming up now on the Weekend Preview. I’d like to introduce my guests. Maya Kroth is editor of Where San Diego and Performances magazine. Maya, good morning.

MAYA KROTH (Editor, Where San Diego and Performances Magazine): Good morning. Thanks for having me.

CAVANAUGH: Kelly Bennett is the new arts editor at (sic). Kelly, good morning.

KELLY BENNETT (Arts Editor, Good morning. Good to be here.

CAVANAUGH: And the arts section of (sic) is launching today.

BENNETT: Today, exactly, so if you go to and forward slash arts, in just a little bit we’ll be launching our arts blog, which is going to be called Behind the Scene.



CAVANAUGH: Okay. San Diego Music Awards, Maya, let’s start there. Lots of local musicians will be celebrated this Sunday, and how long has the Music Awards – San Diego Music Awards been around?

KROTH: This is their 20th anniversary, believe it or not. The music awards…


KROTH: Almost old enough to drink, that’s true.

CAVANAUGH: And who does the voting for these awards?

KROTH: It’s – There’s lots and lots of categories and about half of them are voted on by the public via an online ballot and then there’s another half that are more specific to actual releases, Best Song, Album of the Year, things like that, that are voted on by a special committee called the San Diego Music Academy. It’s made up of music reviewers and bloggers, bookers, promoters, people that kind of have been listening to these releases for the last year.

CAVANAUGH: So which categories are really competitive this year?

KROTH: I think, you know, San Diego tends to be kind of a rock ‘n roll heavy town, so all of the pop and rock and alternative rock categories seem to always be a little bit more contentious. And I think this year in Best Rock Album it’ll probably be a pretty good showdown between Dirty Sweet and Transfer, who are both very popular local bands that both put out really great releases this year.

CAVANAUGH: Are there any shoo-ins? I mean, anything that we know pretty much is going to win?

KROTH: I’m pretty sure Wavves is going to walk away with something. It’s Wavves with two vees. It’s the moniker for Nathan Williams, who’s a musician that was nominated in three categories, big ones, Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. And Wavves was probably one of the biggest breakout bands from San Diego. They got ink in the New York Times and Mother Jones and Wired and lots of national attention.

CAVANAUGH: Now when an artist or a band wins a San Diego Music Award, how does that influence their career?

KROTH: You know, I mean, San Diego Music Awards are not the Grammys, obviously, but I think it never can hurt if you’re a band that’s starting out and you’re trying to woo a record label or a booking agent, you know, to prove that you’ve gotten this kind of attention in your hometown and you can potentially get it in other towns. But I actually thought we should, you know, we have a nominee in the studio with us.


KROTH: Maybe we should ask her opinion.

BENNETT: The band that I play with, which is called Joel P. West and the Tree Ring, we’re nominated for Best Americana. And what’s funny to see in these – funny and great to see in these categories often is that you see—this is certainly the case for us—you see friends up against friends. You know, a lot of the other bands in our category, John Meeks and Gayle Skidmore, and I’m going to forget a bunch of people, but we go see their shows or we end up booked on the same night at various places. So it’s a fun sort of community feel to look down the list of those bands that you can vote for…

KROTH: Uh-huh.

BENNETT: …or that you can express some support for and see a bunch of people that you’re, you know, that you’re seeing anyway.

CAVANAUGH: And, of course, we have had the multi-talented Kelly Bennett performing with Joel P. West and the Tree Ring right here in our studio, so…

BENNETT: Exactly.

CAVANAUGH: …good luck. One last question about the Music Awards. What is – What do people get for the ticket price? I mean, are there drinks involved? Is there an open bar?

KROTH: There’s definitely drinks involved but, no, it’s not an open bar. But you wouldn’t know it the way the booze flows at these things. No, but, you know, for $30.00 you do get to see a bunch of great performers, the Night Marchers, the Nervous Wreckords, Miss Ericka Davies, a lot of really top tier talent are going to all be performing. Plus, remember Iron Butterfly?

CAVANAUGH: I do. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

KROTH: Yeah, they’re going to be there receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. So, and on top of that, you kind of get the satisfaction of knowing that your ticket is going to support arts education in schools because they donate a chunk of the proceeds to Taylor Guitars for schools.

CAVANAUGH: The San Diego Music Awards takes place Sunday at Humphrey’s By the Bay. It starts at 7:00. We move on to MCASD’s alt.pictureshows. It’s the eighth annual alt.pictureshows. It’s happening tonight at the downtown location of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Kelly, tell us about this event.

BENNETT: This is a one-night, short film festival and instead of sitting in a dark theater and just waiting for someone behind the scenes to put film after film after film on, you take a little bit more control. You actually – they like to call it physical channel surfing. So you move from room to room.


BENNETT: I think there’s six rooms and there’s more than 20 movies. So they have a really interesting program lined up. Whether it’s by sort of topic or similar kind of films, so there’s a room of, you know, animated short films or there’s a room of, I think, horror short films. So you kind of can do a bit of running around. I think CityBeat’s film critic, Anders Wright, said yesterday don’t take too long having a cocktail or you’ll miss precious time to see as much of this program as you can.

CAVANAUGH: There’s not exactly enough time to see actually all of the films involved.

BENNETT: No, so you really have to be choosy.

CAVANAUGH: Now, are there any local filmmakers showing this year?

BENNETT: Yeah, Giancarlo Ruiz shot a film in Tijuana, I believe, and that screened at Cannes earlier this year. And then also there’s a duo, Anna O’Cain and San Diego State professor Richard Kelly – or Keely, I think, produced a two channel video installation called “Gulf” about Hurricane Katrina. And so that’s a kind of a timely – I think it was just the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this summer, right?


BENNETT: So it’s kind of a timely installation and that – and those folks are local.

CAVANAUGH: And they’ve added the new SDSU Gallery. Now where is that in location with the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art?

BENNETT: It’s right near the MCASD Kettner location, it’s right there on Broadway. So I wasn’t able to figure out, you know, which of the rooms is going to have, you know, is going to be at that gallery…


BENNETT: …but there are six of these sort of thematically grouped film selections that will be streaming there tonight.

CAVANAUGH: Now, is this an age – I mean, what kind of age audience are we kind of looking for? Is this a family event?

BENNETT: There is a disclaimer there that some of the films aren’t rated.


BENNETT: So that’s sort of a, I think, probably a red flag that if you’re bringing young kids, you should probably be near the exit in case something crazy happens on the screen that you don’t want your kids to see. But – And the, you know, like I said, there is a room of horror shorts, so…


BENNETT: …some kids are probably into horror but, you know, you parents might not be.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. That’s a draw and a repel right there. alt.pictureshows is tonight only from 7:00 to 10:00 at MCASD downtown and SDSU’s downtown Gallery. Camping for foodies will take place at Suzie’s Farm in Imperial Beach this Friday. What will campers be doing, Maya?

KROTH: Oh, my gosh, so much. I’m so excited this event is happening. They will be camping, obviously, on a certified organic farm down in IB and enjoying some amazing food that’s going to be prepared by some of San Diego’s top chefs who are also, some of whom are also going to be camping out right there with the regular campers. And then there’s also, over the course of the weekend, a wide variety of educational programming on anything from craft beer and coffee and cheese to composting workshops and things like that. And then just more fun, scenic things like horseback riding on the beach or they’re giving tours of the Tijuana estuary and the wetlands right there in the area.

CAVANAUGH: There is a YouTube video on the website here for Suzie’s Farm about this particular event and it just goes on and on and on what these people are going to be doing during this camp. What is it called? Camp Confab?

KROTH: Camp Confab. And that name comes from a group of chefs called Cooks Confab, which is a group of top San Diego chefs that have gotten together every couple of months to put on fun tasting events like this. Usually, it’ll be devoted to one ingredient or another. They’ll all make a dish that has something to do with beef, or something to do with beer, or pork, or eggs or something like that, so this weekend they decided to expand it and make it this two-day camping blowout.

CAVANAUGH: Now the tickets are pricey. Tell us how much it costs and where that money’s going to.

KROTH: Yeah, it’s $225.00 but—but—more than half of that is tax deductible and proceeds are going to Slow Food Urban San Diego, which is our local chapter of the National Slow Food organization. They do a lot of great programming and events throughout the year. But there’s also another option if you don’t want to stay overnight, if you’re not the camping type. You can pay $175.00 for a non-overnight ticket and just enjoy the daytime workshops and the dinner.

CAVANAUGH: Now when it comes to the camping part of it, I mean, will tents be provided, sleeping provisions? Or do you have to bring your own stuff?

KROTH: It’s BYOT but, you know, a lot of people, if you’re not an outdoorsy type of person, they’re also having special rates at the Lowe’s Coronado nearby so you can sleep in a luxurious bed while everybody else is out there in the dirt.

CAVANAUGH: And say good morning. Camp Confab is taking place this Friday and Saturday at Suzie’s Farm in Imperial Beach. Timothy Horn is at Lux Art Institute. He has a new art exhibit opening. What can you tell us about this, Kelly?

BENNETT: Timothy Horn is a really interesting artist who takes these pictures and forms of jewelry from the 18th century and blows them up to large scale sculptures that look, some of them, like giant chandeliers, like big hair barrettes or earrings. And there’s a really interesting intersection there. He was born in Australia but, I think, lives in New Mexico now. Really interesting intersection between the natural world, seaweed and coral and moss and all sorts of sort of natural almost lacy forms, and this sort of gaudy baroque, very ornate style of work that he likes to create. So it’s a really interesting, I think, idea and concept behind his art.

CAVANAUGH: And the kinds of things that he uses to actually recreate these historical pieces of jewelry and stuff, some sort of salt? Rock salt and things of that nature, sometimes plastics?

BENNETT: Right. Rubber, blown glass, rock sugar, very much associated with these kind of natural forms he finds, whether those are in old engravings or old models or models that he makes himself. One of the things that I read he’s going to be doing here at Lux is actually making some models of some of the marine plants and other seaweed that he finds.

CAVANAUGH: So he’s going to be actually working during this exhibit?

BENNETT: Yeah. Lux is an interesting place because they bring in artists, I think usually four or five a season, from other places to actually live there on site in Encinitas. I just got a little tour of the condo where they live a couple of weeks ago. And they live there and they work there for about a month. And the work is shown from now, I think, until October 30th. So if you head up there between now and the 9th of October, you can see him at work. You can see him, I think he was talking about, you know, collecting specimens, making wax models of them, and then later he incorporates the bronze and the rock sugar and the cast crystal…


BENNETT: …and all of that to make these – he’s got a carriage, he’s got giant chandeliers, he’s got these other sculptures. So it’s an interesting process.

CAVANAUGH: And there appears to be a special on admission?

BENNETT: Right. If you go to San – it’s San Diego Arts Month, as announced this week, I think, at city council, and if you go to you can print out an arts pass that gets you two-for-one admission to Lux through the end of the month and I think several other deals on other museum admissions and different things, too. So it’s worth checking out.

CAVANAUGH: Timothy Horn’s work will be on display today and will be available for viewing through October 30th at the Lux Art Institute. Horn will be working in the studio starting today and until October 9th.

KROTH: Does he mind if you lick the rock sugar sculptures?

BENNETT: That’s a good question. Some of these artists, I’ve heard, have a better attitude about the interaction than others.

CAVANAUGH: I feel an arrest on the horizon there, Maya.

BENNETT: Exactly.

KROTH: Did I just cross a line?

CAVANAUGH: Are you in – You’re interested in a couple of films that are going to be screened this weekend. Tell us about those, Maya.

KROTH: Well, I’m trying to become fluent in Spanish so that’s why…


KROTH: …I’m personally interested. But, yeah, there are two Spanish language films that are being screened at the Hazard Center Cinemas this weekend as part of the Cinema en tu Idioma series which is put on by the San Diego Latino Film Festival. First is a quirky Mexican film called “Cinco Dias Sin Nora,” or “Nora’s Will” is the English title. Picked up a slew of awards at festivals around the world. And the other is “Celda 211” or “Cell 211” is a prison movie from Spain. I watched them both last night. Very different films but very interesting and worthwhile in their own way.

CAVANAUGH: Now, “Cinco Dias Sin Nora” was part of of the San Diego Latino Film Festival earlier this year. Are they screening films year round now?

KROTH: Not quite year round. The festival proper happens in March and this series happens in the fall. They usually do a week of programming once a month from August through about November. And some of the films like “Cinco Dias” were popular films that they’re just bringing back because they were, you know, such hits. And then others like “Celda 211” were just great films that they had an opportunity to screen at this time so they brought it to our market.

CAVANAUGH: So “Celda 211” is a bit of a prison movie. What is “Cinco Dias Sin Nora?”

KROTH: Okay, it’s about a woman who commits suicide over Passover and then leaves her atheist husband to navigate this gauntlet of complicated Jewish laws in order to handle her funeral.


KROTH: And, believe it or not, it’s a comedy. I know it doesn’t sound like it could be but…


KROTH: No words. No words.

CAVANAUGH: “Cinco Dias Sin Nora” and “Celda 211” opens Friday, runs – they run through September 16th at Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas. Left speechless by that. Now we move on to the Art Produce Garden and Dance Flash Mob, an art project in North Park’s Art Produce Gallery this weekend is about to take place. Tell us about it, Kelly.

BENNETT: Doesn’t that sound exciting? It’s the opening celebration for Art Produce Garden. Artist David Krimmel has taken this idea of growing wheat on the business corridor of North Park and there’s actually a wheat field in North Park behind Jefferson Elementary School opened this spring. And there’s other folks in North Park who are growing their own wheat in their own gardens as well. And it’s kind of this community gathering around wheat, so there’s going to be all sorts of verbs that you don’t hear very often like threshing and winnowing and milling happening. Actually a bicycle-powered grain mill there this weekend on Saturday. So it’s a big celebration of wheat and, I think, a really interesting window into how something that we don’t see just growing all the time, wheat, especially in the urban places like North Park. You know, how does our food actually get to us? Any kind of window into that, I think, is an interesting…


BENNETT: …and somewhat trendy thing to talk about.

CAVANAUGH: Could be a bakery in the future.

BENNETT: Exactly.

CAVANAUGH: Now there’s part of this is that there will be a flash mob on the streets of North Park. What is a flash mob?

BENNETT: It’s when a big group of people, usually organized somewhat on the down low through social media or word of mouth gather in a certain place to have a big generally choreographed or coordinated movement, whether that’s a dance or some other kind of activity. Some of them have gathered, you know, Applause, big groups just…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.

BENNETT: …suddenly start applauding in New York or something like that. So that’s a flash mob. And in this case, it’s going to be a dance flash mob.

CAVANAUGH: Now, we’ve all seen these videos on YouTubes where – YouTube, that is, where people, a large bunch of people start dancing in Grand Central Station or something like that.


CAVANAUGH: So how are these people going to learn the dance moves?

BENNETT: Right, so if they wanted to learn the dance moves, they wanted to be part of the flash mob for Saturday, those folks went to Eveoke Dance Theatre in North Park on Wednesday and learned all the steps and they’re going to be dancing from Jefferson Elementary, from right around that same place where the wheat field is, down the streets to Art Produce. So I guess they have to cross University, which will be an interesting sight.

CAVANAUGH: Now will there be live music?

BENNETT: Yes, there’s a two-piece band called the Brother Gunderson that will be playing and there’s another performance art, I think, where someone’s going to be performing the "Vegetable Monologues.” And I think a few different things there, too. And one thing that I found interesting, if you can’t make it on Saturday, Thursdays for the rest of the month and I think in next month, too, at the North Park Farmers Market you can learn about this wheat garden, you can learn how to winnow wheat and actually make pizza dough with these folks in the North Park Farmers Market.

CAVANAUGH: Other people can.


CAVANAUGH: Art Produce Garden will kick off their participatory public art wheat harvest—that is not easy to say…


CAVANAUGH: …this Saturday at 4:30 in the afternoon. This Friday, Little Italy’s Kettner Nights is happening. Tell us about that. That’s a – This is a recurring thing.

KROTH: It is. It’s an art walk that happens every other month up in the northern part of the arts district in Little Italy. A lot of galleries and studios and the shops stay open late. It runs from about 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night. And it’s just, you know, it’s a happening. It’s social, it’s kind of see and be seen. A lot of galleries have wine or snacks or music, something to make it just a little bit extra.

CAVANAUGH: What will you – What are the things to look for at this?

KROTH: Well, part of the charm of it is just to wander the neighborhood and kind of stumble upon things. But one show that really caught my eye was a showcase of vintage Italian posters at Meyer Fine Art on Kettner. It’s almost 100 Italian posters that date back as far as 1898 and it’s intriguing because we’ve seen a lot with French poster art, everybody’s mad about French poster art. We just had that, you know, Toulouse Lautrec show at SDMA but Italian posters aren’t quite as celebrated and the gallerist was telling me it’s largely because there just aren’t that many. A lot of them haven’t survived, you know, regime changes and wars and they, you know, there was thousands of beautiful posters that were destroyed when the Fascists took over because they were reflecting bourgeois values.


KROTH: And then after World War II, they destroyed all the ones created under Fascism because they reflected Fascist values. So…

CAVANAUGH: So it goes with art. Kettner Nights will be featuring vintage Italian posters. That’s tomorrow night from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And renowned Indian dancer Shoba Sharma will be performing at the San Diego Museum of Art on Sunday. Tell us about this performance, Kelly.

BENNETT: She has – she’s a master of Bharatha Natyam style of Indian dance which is very elaborate dancing. She’s a – There was a U-T story about it this weekend. She said some of these gestures have been around 2000 years and every movement can tell a whole story about a character and where that character lived and what kind of income or wealth he had. So she’s going to be performing this Sunday for the opening of a new exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art called “Temple, Palace, Mosque.”

CAVANAUGH: And it’s in three parts?

BENNETT: Right, so it’s each piece of the dance corresponds to a room of the gallery for “Temple, Palace, Mosque.”


BENNETT: And the performance itself is called “Shamsa: Light of God” and that is really interestingly – in relation to – in any kind of Persian manuscript, there would be this sunburst, this ornate sunburst at the top to somewhat coat or cover the manuscript, you know, the following manuscript with inspiration and divine inspiration, I suppose. So to call this dance “Shamsa” is to, you know, somewhat give an invocation for this exhibit, this “Temple, Palace, Mosque.”

CAVANAUGH: Now this performance also serves to honor maestro Ravi Shankar on his 90th birthday. Will he be in attendance?

BENNETT: Yeah, that’s what we’re hearing. He lives in San Diego County so he’ll be there. He’s, of course, the sitar virtuoso who really popularized sitar music, has been given a ton of Indian accolades for his career but also is the one, you know, who taught George Harrison, from the Beatles, sitar, I think, or at least got him excited about it. And, yes, he’ll be there on Sunday for this event.

CAVANAUGH: Shoba Sharma will perform “Shamsa: Light of God” this Sunday in the James S. Copley Auditorium at the San Diego Museum of Art at 5:00 p.m. I want to thank you both so much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Congratulations, Kelly, on the launch of the new Arts section at Voice of San Diego and for being nominated for a San Diego…

BENNETT: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: …Music Award. Maya, just congratulations for being you.

KROTH: Aww… Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: I’d like to let everyone know that These Days is produced by Angela Carone, Hank Crook, Megan Burke, and Pat Finn. Senior producer is Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen. Our production assistant is Hilary Andrews. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh. I hope you have a great rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.

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