Carlita Loves Music

Come with me on my musical journey…

Electro birds flap, clap, sway and fly away- Theresa Andersson and Mwahaha at the Troubadour June 8, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 7:32 pm
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Perused the Troubadour calender yet again ( yes, I am a live music freak/dork with internet access) and happily stumbled upon Theresa Andersson. Clicked on her links and discovered she was an impressive, barefoot one-woman band that I definitely wanted to check out. Have to admit I had a bias against electronics replacing real musicians, but as I heard she was a blend of 60′s soul sounds, pop, folk and dixieland jazz from her adopted New Orleans, my curiousity piqued. Mwahaha, an electronic pop group opened the show and the vibe initially started very laidback as the crowd seemed shy and took a while to loosen up. Towards the end of their 80′s “Weird Science meets Skrillex”  set, people started coming out of their shell and getting into the music.

Next came Theresa with her trademark pedals, drums, violin, tambourine, record player and guitar, I immediately wondered how she’d play all these things by herself. Playing her violin like a ukelele, she stomped, clapped, jammed on her tambourine and her lively spirit was infectious to which the crowd immediately responded. She looked like she was having a great time whether there was an audience there or not, which is the mark of my favorite type of artist, the type of person who loves to get down on stage regardless of who is there.  She did eventually include the audience, looping us singing two different choruses into a song, which was pretty cool.  As one might suspect, she has impeccable rhythm, as someone would to be right on the beat to use pedals properly and her drum beats were dope. Would love to see her collabo with a hip-hop artist as I could see her in that space with the right person. Had a great time, listening to her live discography, new and old as she simultaneously took us to NOLA Mardi Gras and Woodstock, which made me want to get a tambourine or an umbrella and join her joyous street parade.

 

We (experimental) jammin’ – UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival Day 1 with Sonnymoon, Selah Sue, Thundercat, Gary Clark Jr, Booker T. Jones, The Roots and India Carney May 29, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 7:39 pm
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Debating what to do this past Memorial weekend, I thankfully had a few choices. Gladly obtaining media passes at the last minute to attend the UCLA Jazz Reggae festival, I was so glad I did. In its 26th year, Day 1 called Jam Day featured hip-hop, reggae, folk, experimental jazz, blues, soul and rock artists all swirling together to entertain  Los Angelenos. I had gone to this festival previously, as I happened to walk by as a grad student a few years ago and found out there was a concert going on with India Arie headlining accidentally. Whoever put together this lineup knew what was up. Besides the headliners who were Grammy-winning platinum selling artists, Shaggy and the Roots respectively, each line-up featured some up and coming artists who are about to be put on. I always love to see artists right before they are about to break because the world is still theirs to conquer and they’re looking to make their marks.

Staking out an area for the press by the stage, we were told ahead of time that artists may or may not grant interviews or photo ops so we didn’t know who would or wouldn’t be available. Kicking off Day 1, India Carney who won a UCLA singing competition, breezily sang a few songs and reminded me of a mix of India Arie and Anita Baker. Outer galaxy dwellers, Sonnymoon went on next, bringing their unique combo of experimental and alternative jazz and pop to the stage. Before the show, I listened to a few cuts like “Near Me” and their Drake cover, “Houstatlantavegas”, which teetered on the R&B line, making them cross at least 3 or 4 genres of music, a rare feat  nowadays. Afterwards, I caught up with them and talked about crossing genres, asked why they had so many hip-hop fans and how they got started. Singing/producer combos have been done before but definitely not in this way. Reading Twitter today, SPIN just reviewed their latest album so I expect them to get more media attention in the future.

Next up was Selah Sue, who I was most excited to see, a new soul reggae ragga singer from Belgium. Listening to her songs, “Fyah Fyah”, “Raggamuffin” and “Break”, I liked her immediately. Sounding a little like Nelly Furtado, Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill, she had a chill vibe, singing about a dark time in her life, winning fans over by the end of her set. Preparing to release her album in August stateside after doing well in Europe, I spoke to her before she went on about this upcoming release, her summer plans and her meeting Prince. She was very nice, humble and down-to-earth. Check her out this week in NY and at the Roots’ picnic in Philly as she won’t be back this way for a while!

Thundercat went next and really jammed throughout his set. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s the son of acclaimed drummer, Ronald Bruner, and has been the bassist you may have heard on key albums by Erykah Badu, J Davey, Miguel, Suicidal Tendencies and Sa-Ra Creative Partners recently. He’s now ventured into solo waters with the Flying Lotus produced “Golden Age of the Apocalypse”. I talked to him after his experimental funk and jazz set about his favorite Thundercats character (as he got his name from the show) and what his favorite new albums are. He’s a funny dude and I vowed to explore his discography further after meeting him.

Blues guitar legend in the making, Gary Clark Jr. and living legend, Booker T. Jones, then took the stage for their sets shredding the guitar and organs respectively. Questlove even jumped on the drums during Booker T’s encore. Last up were the Roots who worked Beastie Boys, Donna Summer and Guns ‘N’ Roses covers, as well as doing crowdpleasers like “The Next Movement” and “Break You Off” into their set. Overall I walked away with a greater appreciation of those that came before and excited about what more is to come from this collective motley crew of artists.

 

Picture Perfect Nice Guy- Eric Roberson at Anthology SD April 27, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 8:32 pm
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Periodically checking out the schedule for Anthology, saw Eric Roberson was coming to town and I was down immediately. Sadly missed him and Lalah Hathaway at Club Nokia earlier in the month so I was definitely going this time. Have had his song, “Picture Perfect” on repeat for the past few weeks. Checked out “Left” and “Mr. Nice Guy” before the show to have some familiarity and he is picking up where Brian McKnight left off in the non-cheesy love song writing category.

Starting the show around 7:45 pm, he and his bandmate/backup singer welcomed the crowd, began joking and continued throughout the 90 minute set. He had a naturally funny, laidback style about him as you feel he wants to entertain and hopes the concertgoer has a good time. It’s refreshing to see because some other R&B males either are busy dancing, acknowledge the crowd in a generic way or want to freak some girl brought on stage. For the most part, he kept it PG-13 or G, though he did discuss pregnancy and stated “pregnancy sex is the best!”, which was jokingly TMI. Highlights included the improv song with words like “rollerskates”, “avengers” and “Jersey”. Thought it was great when he invited any woman to sing with him onstage for “Dealing” which I would have loved to do but I didn’t know all the words.I laughed all night and enjoyed the show. Having a meet and greet after the show, he was dynamic, friendly and interacted with each fan, giving everyone a unique experience. I told him I was thinking of reviewing his CD for a music site I write for and he encouraged me to do so as long as it wasn’t a bad review. That made me laugh as he skillfully made me and each woman he met that night, respectfully feel like a “Pretty Girl”. Telling the audience during the show that he’s been an independent artist who needs support, he has mine as I was glad to meet this picture perfect nice guy.

 

Cherishing freedom, denouncing corruption and lies- Nneka+Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew at the Troubadour March 13, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 4:55 pm
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Randomly perusing the Troubadour calendar to see who would be in town in March, I stumbled upon Nneka. Wasn’t familiar with her music so I went to Youtube and listened to “Africans” and “Heartbeat”. The “Fight The Power” message coupled with a dope reggae groove, resonated. Knew I had to check her out live. Listening to “Concrete Jungle” and “Soul Is Heavy” prior to the show, I was in the perfect frame of mind to get a little slice of the original motherland here in LA.

Starting the show with a combo of reggae and hip-hop was Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew.  A group hailing from Sierra Leone, they spoke of the senseless civil war being fought over diamonds in their homeland, influencing their music, leading them to be featured on the soundtrack for the movie, “Blood Diamond”. During the show, castmembers from the play “Fela” jumped on stage to dance for a few songs and they fit right in with the political activism theme of the night.

Nneka took the stage, a little timid at first, and welcomed the audience, calling her set “our personal therapy session”.  Found it interesting there were times when she would speak to the crowd but not look at the audience. Performing several songs from her album, “Soul Is Heavy” and a few from “Concrete Jungle” , she dropped pearls of wisdom about God, love, corruption and greed along the way. Clearly not concerned with the vain glitz and glamour other bring to performances,  she wondered if she buttoned the shirt she was wearing correctly. Towards the end, she discussed sacrificing herself to music and made references to the cause, which I would assume is putting a critical lens on the imbalance of power and exploitation by foreign interests in her homeland of Nigeria.  Favorite moments of the night were “Suffri” which she explained means “Take it Easy” in pigeon English, and “V.I.P” where she made the audience repeat “Vagabonds in Power”.  Walked away from the show pensive and I definitely will never look at the acronym VIP in the same way again.

 

I’ll Take You There- The Grammy Foundation’s One Night Only event with Sharon Osbourne, Jonny Lang, Dave Koz, Ledisi and Bret Michaels et. al at the Saban Theatre February 10, 2012

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Having attended the “Word Revolution”, the Grammy Foundation’s homage to hip-hop last year, I was  naturally curious about how this year’s tribute to live music and the venues that support it,would unfold.  Entitled, “One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience”, they recruited an interesting cast of rock, R&B, pop and country characters to play and host.

Starting off softly with the Colburn orchestra, who must have had at least 60 members playing on stage and Sharon Osbourne coming out in a ball gown, I was wondering if this night would cater to the “ladies who lunch and attend charity events” crowd. Sharon, surprisingly demure, set the tone for the evening and welcomed everyone to the event.

Cleverly picking a few famous small concert venues known for a particular style of music to highlight as if we were there, they featured artists like Dave Koz and Trombone Shorty, the latter I had never heard of who held a note on the trombone for a good 5 minutes without breathing, generating a standing ovation at the Savoy. Next came Ledisi and Mavis Staples at the Apollo who got the audience to its feet singing,”I’ll Take You There”. We also heard A Fine Frenzy and L.P., the latter another artist I had never heard of but discovered she has a strong voice, at the Troubadour. Shelby Lynne, whose toned legs I aspire to have one day, took us to Nashville at the Opry.

Keeping the show moving, sharing co-host duties with Sharon was Steve Vai, who famously played with Frank Zappa, snuck in some curse words and made fun of the Kardashians along the way. He introduced Jonny Lang and The Voice’s Beverly McClellan who rocked the house and made me a fan of both instantly.

After a brief rundown of the famous charity concerts such as Live Aid that raised 233 million to fight world hunger, Mark Martel did the Queen medley Freddie Mercury rocked at that 1980′s Live Aid concert. I sang along to every word. Wrapping up the night, Sharon took off the demure façade, went back to her real cursing self and told the crowd they weren’t at a “f-in funeral” so they had to get up for Bret Michaels. Performing three Poison songs including the eternal “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, I definitely was transported to the 80′s hairband scene immediately. Although his music isn’t my cup of tea, he earned my musical respect (personally? Um I saw Rock of Love)  for genuinely loving to be on stage and being grateful to the fans who have enabled him to do so. Was a great charitable night of music and truly loved the artists that got your mama to dance.

 

Chessboxin with the Killa Bees- Wu Tang Clan at Club Nokia January 23, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 5:25 pm
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NYC Early 90′s. Baggy jeans that required constant pulling up. Sweatshirts with army jackets. Timberland boots. If you were there, you remember. We were impressionable teenagers, living in the city producing music that continues to live on forever, in the midst of one of the greatest golden eras of hip-hop.  The idea of a rap supergroup was in its heyday. Will give props to anyone who can STILL name all Wu Tang members (FYI Wu includes Inspecktah Deck, Raekwon, Ghostface, Method Man, Rza, Gza, U-God, Masta Killa, and ODB). Could hold out hope, that will be the question to a Jeopardy answer one day (not likely). Nostalgically listening to “Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)”, that era seems like yesterday.  Am still amazed with that many members in a group how they were able to get all of them on tracks.

Learning that the Clan was coming through LA again, I wanted to stroll down memory lane again.  Having seen Method Man and Redman and Raekwon and Ghostface at earlier Rock the Bells shows, I knew Wu would be hype live. Was definitely looking forward to throwing up the Wu sign and observing the dynamics of the collective crew together. After a few mediocre opening acts (with one-act having one member that only came on stage to drink out of a red plastic frat boy party cup and smoke) minus the house DJ who played some decent songs, Wu Tang emerged from the gravel pit around 11 PM with one member spraying champagne on the audience. Missing Raekwon and Ghostface (not happy about that) but plus Cappadonna and Streetlife ( uh ok), the sold-out place went nuts.  They did all the classics with Method Man, doing the heavy lifting trying to make up for the missing members, also performing his classic solo joints like “Bring the Pain”.  He played to the crowd all night, encouraging moshing, jumping and then eventually crowd surfing.  They also did a tribute to their deceased member, ODB, with “Shimmy Ya”. Have to admit cringing a little at the references of women in some of the songs and am not a fan of the girls in bikinis that were in their videos but I appreciated it for what it was at the time.

Ending the set with my favorite song of theirs, “Protect Ya Neck”, the crowd knew every single word including kids who couldn’t have been more than fetuses when their début album came out. But that’s the beautiful thing about classic hip-hop, the youth will discover it all over again. The ruckus was brought and yes C. still R.E.AM.

 

Free For All, Songs AND Truths for Me- James Morrison at the Sayers Club January 20, 2012

Filed under: Music — carlitasconcerts @ 4:26 pm
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James Morrison, the sandy-haired reluctant rising pop star, who’s often been called the modern-day Sam Cooke/Stevie Wonder combo, caught my ears’ attention four years ago with his simply poignant, “Undiscovered”.  As a key part of the British soul pop invasion along with Duffy, Amy Winehouse and Adele, he managed to carve his own gravely voice (which I adore) niche speaking to the secretly overly sensitive analytic.

Have waited for years to see him live and the perfect opportunity arose when he decided to do two secret FREE showcases of his new album, “The Awakening” in LA and NYC. Announcing on Facebook where to show up the night before, there was no way I was going to miss him this time. Prior to going to a venue I’ve never been to, I check out the Yelp reviews to see what the public has to say about it (dorky, yes I know). Posters previously commented about the rude security folks at the door and the difficulty to get into this exclusive club with no sign or real door. Sadly, I agree. Apparently there was a guest list when we were told there was no guest list and two out of the three security guys made rude comments to girls merely asking questions about why folks seemed to skip the line of people who were waiting for hours. Definitely did not earn high marks for customer service.

Thankfully, I know James had nothing to do with that Hollywood protocol and that did not detract from his beautiful performance. There were about 60-70 people in a cozy living room setting with plenty of couches around and light fixtures modeled like candelabra dimmed to set the mood.  Speaking of the mood, has anyone else noticed a disproportionate amount of melancholy songs have come from musicians from the U.K. (just me?, um ok) ? Not sure if it’s the weather or people are more depressed there but I say, keep them coming. :)

James came on stage with his band around 8:30 PM, said hello with a sheepish smile and he was going to sing new songs then proceeded to sing “In My Dreams”.  Throughout the set, he explained the central themes on his new album-the death of his father and easing uncomfortably back into his long-term relationship at home after being on the road for over a year. There’s a shy awkwardness about him when he’s just talking that the female majority crowd just ate right up (including myself), giggling when he’d draw attention to this quality in the banter between his songs. But as soon as he starts singing, he would turn into a confident “I could get any chick in here if I wanted to” macho performer. Very interesting thing to witness.

Getting to see him in such an intimate setting for the first time was the best thing ever. Ending his set with “You Give Me Something” and “Wonderful World”, the small crowd clapped and sang along. Towards the end, he mentioned he would be back in the April/May timeframe with a full band. Yay. Listened to a few songs before coming to the show but nothing compares to getting the soulful, raw experience in person. Fav songs of the night were “Person I Should Have Been” and the MJ influenced ” Slave To The Music”.  I immediately bought the deluxe version of his album with live versions of the songs as soon as I got home. Why? Because he made it real for me.

 

 
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