Events: Pamela Z, TNT, And Marshall Crenshaw
Musical performances by Pamela Z and Marshall Crenshaw top our weekend to-do list, along with TNT and a family friendly St. Patrick's Day parade.
Nina Garin is a features and entertainment reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune.
George Varga is the pop music critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, you're listening to These Days on KPBS. We spring forward early Sunday morning, losing an hour, so it's just as well we get an early start on this weekend. On this weekend preview, San Diego celebrates saint Patrick's day, Carlsbad is once again blazing with spring colors, and a number of veteran musicians come to down am I'd like to welcome my guests, Nina Garin is a features and entertainment reporter for the Union Tribune. Nina, welcome.
GARIN: Good morning.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And George Varga is the pop music critic for the San Diego Union Tribune. George, good morning.
VARGA: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hey, George, lemme start with you. Marshall Crenshaw is playing AMSD concerts. He's had a long career. Remind us about him.
VARGA: Well, he would be the quintessential cult artist. And even if people don't rise his name, they've heard his music performed by other people. Anyone who saw the academy award winning 1987 movie, La Bamba, would have seen Marshall Crenshaw portraying Buddy Holly very easily. He was also in the Buddy Holly inspired movie Peggy sue got married a few years later. He's been making great albums going back to the early 1980s, never made it in a big way, but in terms of musical quality, endurance and inspiring other performers, he's, you know, as good as anybody I can think of.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So when he's not portraying other musical giants, what is his music like? Can you describe it for us?
VARGA: I'll try. He's a native of Detroit. And so he grew up hearing, you know, the classic motown that a lot of people grew up on, and the British invasion rock. And so I think he would agree that between the Beatles and motown and non-motown Rand B that that kind of created the triumverate for him that he built upon. And he later on portrayed John Lennon in the beetle mania touring stage show. So I think his music draws from all of those above influences along with the beach boys, Phil specter, the Everly Brothers, but like any good musician, it's not who you're inspiring by, it's what you do with that inspiration, but you build upon it, twist it, and [CHECK] he does that very well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, let's listen to one of his songs. Here is for her love.
(Audio Recording Played).
And that is Marshall Crenshaw performing one of his songs, for her love. Now, Marshall Crenshaw will be performing as part of a concert series that takes place in a local church. Remind us if you would, George, who puts these concerts on, and what the series is like.
VARGA: Yeah, it was born in 2003 as acoustic music San Diego, and they've now kind of truncated that name. The man behind it is a guy named Cary Driscol, a native San Diegan if I recall from talking to him one time, might have attended gross month college, and Tom waits was a class maim of his at the time. [CHECK] crusty guy but really nice, and a total labor of love. I mean, he has now done, I believe close to 300 concerts at acoustic music San Diego. Or AMSD, as he now calls it. He's had legendary people like Al Cooper and Jeffrey Winchester. He's had up and coming artists like Jacky king and [CHECK] and he tends to focus on acoustic singer song writers but also he's had complete bands play there. And the fact that it's in a church is unique in that none of the performers that I've been able to determine have any direct connection to the united Methodist church. And Al Cooper who is Jewish, I think, totally had great relish in being in that setting.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me remind our audience then that Marshall Crenshaw plays Thursday night, that's tonight at AMSD concerts located in the normal heights united Methodist church building between school street and Adams avenue. Let's move on, Nina, to TNT, the museum of contemporary art holding their Thursday night thing. TNT. What's this event?
GARIN: Well, it's like a party at the museum. You can mingle, have cocktails, meet up with your friends and see the latest exhibitions they have there. You can even chat with artists, and they are gonna have take-home crafts tonight too. So it's just like a fun night with friend.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, tonight is called sensory over load, and I was reading a little bit about it, it really sounds like that --
GARIN: Yeah, there's gonna be something for every sense.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You see, hear, eat.
GARIN: And we're gonna talk about smell in a little bit. But first there's gonna be exhibits, I don't really know that much about art, but from what I can tell, Jennifer Stein camp is a digital [CHECK] moving flowers and trees on this video, and it's inspire bide Marie curie and atomic energy. So that should be interesting. And there's gonna be a five channel video installation by Joan Jonas, she loses a lot of movement and music in her pieces. Of the and then we have Cuban worn parent Raul Corvero, he has, like, a giant oil painting that's made up of nine separate smaller printings. And each of the small are paintings is its own thing. And then may make up something bigger.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.
GARIN: So that's a lot --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To see. And then to hear.
GARIN: Yes, right.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: They're gonna have live music right?
GARIN: They are gonna have live music.
RIH2: And they're two, wonderful, wonderful bands, some of the best we have in town. It is [CHECK] and Coo-Coo Chaos, and these are bands that are fronted or they have the Millgaten brothers which are two brothers in San Diego putting up some great bands. Coo coo chaos is not actually chaotic at all. It's smart and melodic and really fun. And Jamuel Saxon is electronic and atmospheric, and it's gonna be great for your ears.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, what about the smell?
GARIN: That -- it took about two e-mails for the museum to kind of happened, and I still really don't totally understand of it's something you have to see.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Or smell.
GARIN: Or smell, there's gonna be something called a sense scape. So there's a local artist and he's created a different scent for every Zip Code in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I believe he's been on this show.
GARIN: You go up and tell them what your zip code is, and depending on where that is, you get a smell, and you wear that smell, and then you all walk around, and then all the scents together create a scent scape of so I'm curious what the --
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It sounds like there's a lot going on. Plus the Mijo Gastrotruck, right?
GARIN: Oh, yeah. Delicious.
CAVANAUGH: Thursday Night Thing takes place tonight at the museum of contemporary art downtown. George, back to you, and Pamela Z, performing at the loft on Saturday. Now, he's kind of a seminal figure as a composer and music. Tell us about her.
VARGA: Well, although not widely known in the mainstream, she's important and seminal, I would agree with you. A reference I give people is if they like Lori Anderson, Meredith Monk or San Diego born and raised Diamando Galas, that Pamela is a contemporary of theirs. It doesn't mean she sounds like any of them, but if you were gonna put her in a school of very creative vocal artists, she would very, very comfortably there. She's operatically trained like Diamando Galas, she is a very accomplished multimedia performer. So I don't know that there will be an older element to her performance like TNT will be having, but apart from that, I think all the other senses will be highly engaged by her performance.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, her latest work is called baggage allowance. What is that like?
VARGA: Well, if I told you it was an album about macramé, would you believe me?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I don't know. Convince me.
VARGA: It sounds trite to say that certain pieces of music speak for themselves, and you really need to hear it. You really do need to hear it because as visual as her live performances tend to be, the music paints a very vivid picture that I really think will be very different for everyone hearing it, depending on what reference points you might bring to it. I'm not trying to avoid the question, but I think it would be misleading for me to tell you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sure. Well, we do have a lot cut from a previous album called delay. And here's what her music sounds like. Here is bone music.
(Audio Recording Played).
That's an excerpt from Pamela Z's bone music from the album a delay is better. And George, I can see why you didn't want to describe it.
VARGA: I have that on my ring tone, by the way.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, she uses video in her performances as well, right?
VARGA: She does. And it's highly complex and very, very synchronized, and beyond the video footage that she uses, she wears a middy controlled outfit that enables her to manipulate the sound through her movement on stage. And then in addition to that, she is not only sampling but processing her voice live in real time. So it's really like a one woman orchestra, both musically and visually. And I think the loft at UCSD is probably a very good venue for people who haven't heard about her to go and find out about her.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It is indescribable, but it is really, really fascinating. I want to let everyone know that Pamela Z will give a short concert at the loft at UCSD on Saturday night. Now we get to something that's a little bit more mainstream, especially if you have a name like mine. It's the saint Patrick's day parade, [CHECK] it's in Balboa Park, is this a big parade, Nina?
GARIN: Well, it's not the big event that happens on Thursday at the gas lamp where they put green Astroturf on the streets. But it's a good size. There are several thousand in Balboa Park.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And is it a kind of family friendly --
GARIN: Well, yeah, the one that happens in the gas lamp is just an excuse to brink a lot of beer. But this one will have some traditional Irish culture, and it's put on by the Irish Congress of Southern California. So there's kids in the parade and things for families to do.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any special things we should look for in the parade?
GARIN: Well, there'll be the regular drill teams, clowns, and horses, but you'll also see Irish dancers and bag pipes, of course, and it's said there'll be a representative from the Irish government. But I don't know what that means.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: They don't tell us?
GARIN: No. And then you'll get like the smiling Irishmen 2011, Irishman of the year, those kind of --
CAVANAUGH: There's an Irish festival that following the parade in Balboa Park. What's going on there?
GARIN: Okay, well, there'll be a beer garden of course with plenty of Guinness, food, carnival rides, and also there will be a Celtic village. And there's going to be a troop of renaissance reenactors, and it says they will portray the daily drama of house McFeon? So that's what it says. So they'll be kind of explaining history and they'll be doing demonstrations and story telling and all -- a bunch of fun stuff.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So that's the San Diego saint Patrick's day parade as opposed to the saint Patrick's day in the gas lamp, which is next week.
GARIN: On actual saint Patrick's day.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The saint Patrick's day separate takes place at ten in the morning in Balboa Park on Saturday. Now, George, we go to indie fest. This is really a crammed packed event. [CHECK].
VARGA: Who did a very good preview of the event today.
GARIN: Thank you.
VARGA: Indie fest, a little bit of quick history, began in 2004 as a one day event with 25 bands and has grown -- being in Hillcrest the first year, the last few years, it was at and around the birch Northpark theatre. And it outgrew that venue last year with a record crowd. So this year they're moving to the [CHECK] in Point Loma. And the name is really very descriptive. It is a festival of indie music, and by indie music, we mean bands or solo performers who are not signed to major record labels and given how the major record labels are all dying anyhow, that might be a good move. But people who have done it themselves, they have their own records, they promote their own music, and they are viable doing that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And since this is sort of a collaboration here, let me ask Nina, what did you feature in your article about the indie fest?
GARIN: I wrote about the new location and the fact that it's bigger and it's actually more accessible to families. I know that the organizers were excited that it wasn't gonna be in the streets of Northpark, which can be kind of dangerous if you're having kids around. And they're very excited to have kids experience live music. And it's, you know, a great experience for a young child. And so this'll be open for more families and just kind of a more festival atmosphere.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So George, what kind of music -- I know it's indie music, but what kind of indie bands are gonna be playing?
VARGA: A great array. You have everything from rock, folk, hip hop, world music, electron ca, country, jazz, there's even one kind of avant-garde classical ensemble that'll be playing. So I think it's a musical menu that no matter what your favorite is, you will definitely hear something new or different and hopefully like that too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is it expensive to get an all weekend pass on the indie fest?
VARGA: I would bounce that back to Nina. But I think given the fault of music that you'll be hearing, it seems pretty reasonable it me, and I'm happy to tell you the exact price if you would like me to.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, actually, I'm also wondering too, when I looked at the website, I also saw that there are films being screened. Is that true?
GARIN: Yeah, your pass is good for two days, there's only music on Saturday. And Sunday it's film. So there'll be film on Saturday too. But Sunday is all film, and they're gonna have a red carpet, and they're gonna have some -- actually some pretty well known Mexican actors come back, I don't remember their names. But -- so the Sunday is all movies.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sunday all movies, Saturday all music.
GARIN: And there will be movies on Sunday[SIC] too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right.
VARGA: And kids will be [CHECK].
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Artist industry mixer at Humphreys, it continues Saturday through Sunday at liberty station. And we do have a chance here, I think, to actually talk about the Carlsbad flower fields.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us, you know, we know what they are. And I know how to say the names of these flowers too, renunculus.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us about it, Nina for people who haven't seen it.
GARIN: Well, I don't know if you were a little, did you ever wish you could walk on a rainbow? I think that this is the closest that we'll get. It's a giant field of ranunculus, I think that's how you say it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes.
GARIN: And you are welcome to walk around, have picnic, kind of just experience the bright, beautiful colors of the spring flowers.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you know, because I am challenged, because I grew up in a city, they looked like kind of looked like roses to me, but describe how they're planted in the rows and all of that.
GARIN: Okay, well, I found out they're from the butter cap family. So for future reference. They are planted by row of color. So you have, like, the yellow, the orange, the red, pink, so it just is a magnificent site. And it's also by the water. So you even have, like, a coastal view.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Very pretty.
GARIN: It's really breath taking and something every San Diegan should importance.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, how are they? Are they actually in bloom now?
GARIN: So they are starting to bloom.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.
GARIN: They are mature -- they have mature growth, and the colors are not totally totally there yet. But I think mid-March is mid-April is the peek. So -- we'll be in mid-March soon.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah. That's right, like, next week. Now, do they also offer special events.
GARIN: They do. They have a little bit of everything, they have a theme day for kids, the red hat day for mother's day, [CHECK] and they even have, like, sales, bonsai sale, rose sales and arts and crafts so there's a little bit of everything. And parking is free.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And it's a really big sign of spring. The flower fields in Carlsbad open seven days a week until the first week of May. We're not gonna really get a chance to talk about Mike Watt, I'm afraid, George, but we will be able to hear his music on the way out. So I want to really thank you both, Nina Garin and George Varga. Thank you for talking with us. I appreciate it.
GARIN: Thank you.
VARGA: Thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And have a good weekend yourself.