05/05/2011

Cinco de Mayo is here, along with Mother’s day and with it Fiesta Broadway.  Every year about this time, Los Angeles gets a little more colorful, and a lot more Mexican, as the Southland celebrates some of the people that make up its rich, mixed heritage. Let’s see what is out there this week to help the party along.

Thursday, May 5th, Cinco De Mayo is being celebrated all over the city, particularly on the Eastside.  Eastside Luv Wine Bar y QUEso will be rotating the mariachis from the plaza in and out of the bar from 6pm to 9pm, along with DJ Bryan, and rumors of free Pozole for some of the Early Birds. I might show up with my olla and see if I can bring some home to momma. There is no cover charge all night, and you can actually hit up the bar for a “Pozole Pass” @ http://www.twitter.com/eastsideluv13 .

Also on Cinco De Mayo, Calexico will be performing at the Echoplex along with Mariachi Luz De Luna.  Calexico is a group who’s forays into music have collected steam and depth over the years as they experiment in different genres.  Their ominous spaghetti westerns full of nylon string guitars meandering around the minor key intonations give a feeling of dread at times.  Other times, for example, say a Cinco De Mayo show, they blast out songs to dance and celebrate things like unexpected victories 149 years ago against the French.

The Rhythms are unmistakably Latin, and the idea of mixing a full mariachi band behind them sounds like a party. Mariachi Luz De Luna has joined them on the stage before, and as you can imagine, the mariachi sound overpowers the quieter acoustic guitar duo. If you can imagine a mariachi band at full volume, blasting horns and rhythm, abruptly breaking that blasting sound down to a single pair of acoustic guitars, barely audible above the crowd, and building back up to that blast, you will have an idea of the dynamics in this incredible show.

Calexico’s recognition of that dynamic is what gives the music it’s texture.  Range of style and tempo keep the mind interested, and the feet dancing.  Tickets are available via Ticketweb the show begins at 8:00 pm, cover is $20and the venue is 18 and over for the night.

Friday May 6th, Mr. T’s Bowl will host a night of Surf rock with The Insect Surfers, Thee Swank Bastards (From Las Vegas) and Ghosts of Searchlight. Also performing are The MuerTones, with your humble author on the bass guitar.

The Insect Surfers are regulars in the surf scene in SoCal, but Thee Swank Bastards are a group you dont get to see all that much outside of the Las Vegas area. They’re an extremely talented group who are known for wearing suits, performing with a hula-hoop spinning go-go dancer, and doing whole album versions of your favorite music in a surf style.  I’ve heard them play a Black Sabbath set completely surfed out, and as much as you may think you’d have to soften it up to make it happen, they kept the songs true to their original themes and feel.  In other words, the Sabbath songs  retained their creepy, bite the head off of a bat feel.  These guys are one of my favorite surf groups around, because they prove that you dont need to bubble gum up your sound to play to a crowd. It might not be widely accepted to add that much grit to a surf song, but then again this isn’t pop music, and Thee Swank Bastards have definitely found that nice middle ground. The venue is 21 and over only, and usually around $10.

On Saturday May 7th, Zola Jesus will be performing at The Satellite.  The sound of their music is big and spacious, using layers of vocals, keys and effects to produce ghostly screams placed carefully on top of noisy room sounds and stacks of reverb. At times it sounds like the band recorded in a church, with all the space you feel on the record.  Very artistically made recordings.

The sound almost reminds me of Concrete Blonde or Siouxsie and The Banshees, updated for modern ears and amped up a couple of levels. Music people constantly argue about the usage of digital vs.  analog recording media, and listening to Zola Jesus, you can only wonder where older performers would have taken their music, if you had an unlimited number of tracks and effects to play with. Zola Jesus explores that depth, and dives in headfirst.  Also performing are Naked on The Vague, and Hive Mind Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $12 advance, $14 at the door. 21 and over only.

Alberta Cross will began a residency at The Satellite on May 3rd, and will continue every Tuesday in May.  This is a band I’ve been really excited to see, blending all forms of rock and an extra touch of the blues into their mix.

This is your chance to catch the group all month long, and for only $5.  Also, I imagine this will be where the band hones their sound into a package which they will present in June at Bonnaroo, where they are featured performers.  Emotionally charged music, getting ready for a grand stage, this sounds like it will be a chance to see them at their best. Doors are at 8:30, and the show is 21 and over.

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