American Contemporary Ballet’s Nutcracker: A Creative Feat!

American Contemporary Ballet’s Nutcracker is an experience like you’ve never had.

American Contemporary Ballet cast members
Mingle with ACB cast members during the post-show reception.

ACB’s marketing is coy about the immersive experience of their show and for good reason. I won’t spill any of their secrets. You have to attend the show to find out, but I can tell you the following:

  • Kids get closeup and individual attention. You can see their sense of wonder. They looked like kids from Norman Rockwell prints.
  • The music septet is spectacular. Not really a surprise, as ACB always puts emphasis on quality music. The surprise is hearing Nutcracker in this format.
  • There is a pre-show. Several types of performers greet the audience as they enter the ‘suite.’
  • The audience is seated in a creative winter setting. It looks like a winter Neverland. Dancers whiz by the audience members like winter fairies.

I may post some photos after the series concludes. Or maybe not. This could be a secret worth keeping for another year.

Southland Nutcrackers to Fit Your Taste and Budget

Nutcracker suite ballet orange county los angeles county irvine anaheim chrismas holidays kids

I am a ballet fanatic, so I will always opt for the Nutcracker with the best dancing. In other words, the priciest option. That option may not be for you. Perhaps  you require a venue where you can have a nearby holiday experience with the kids and still have money remaining for dinner. I love my nephews, but $110 ballet tickets for them would’ve been a waste!  Most kids aren’t dance critics, but seeing fun costumes and characters on stage will excite for the season.

What follows is a list of local Nutcrackers and what I believe they offer. I included the list price. Check Goldstar for deals. Most of these are Goldstar.

Don’t forget that there will be a high-definition broadcast of The Bolshoi performing The Nutcracker on December 17. These events are thrilling,  are affordable (around $17) and play at several movie theaters.

Orange County

American Ballet Theater at Segerstrom Center for The Arts

Priciest option ($119 – $29) but awesome dancers, awesome live orchestra and always great costumes. Thankfully, Segerstrom lists which principal dancers will be in each show. This is your chance to get your little girls to see Misty Copeland. There are also some other fantastic ABT dancers such as Daniil Simkin. He defies gravity!

 

Festival Ballet at the Irvine Barclay Theater

Mid-priced at $45. Festival Ballet gives me some local pride. Their young dancers are impressive. The Barclay is small, so all the seats are good. Also, The Festival Ballet brings in celeb dancers from other companies. Maria Kochetcova performs on Dec. 17.  She is anti-gravitational, similar to Daniil Simkin. Also, Irina Drovovenko, star of TV shows The Americans and Flesh and Bone, performs on Dec. 20 – 21. The only downside: no live orchestra.

 

Anaheim Ballet with the Irvine Symphony at City National Grove of Anaheim Theater

Lower priced at $25 – $17. I have not seen The Anaheim Ballet, but some of my dance friends say it is respectable. Live orchestra.

 

Tustin Dance Center at Plummer Auditorium (Fullerton)

Lowest priced at $17 – $11 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Ballet Repertory Theatre of Huntington Beach at Golden West College Main Stage

Second lowest priced at $19 – $15 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Sunrise Ballet at the Servite Theater (Anaheim)

Low priced at $20 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Laguna Ballet at The McKinney Theater

Low priced  at $26 – $22 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Coast City Ballet at Huntington Beach Historical Theater

Low priced at $25 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Maple Conservatory Ballet at Portola High School (Irvine)

Low priced at $30 – $24 from a local dance studio. No other info.

 

Los Angeles County

American Contemporary Ballet in Downtown LA

Pricey at $105 – $40. This is the ensemble to see if you are a big dance fan want to experience something new. I’ve written before about the unique experience of an ACB show. You are inches away from the stage, the live music is fantastic, the show is educational, the studio has a loft vibe about it and there is an artist reception after the show. The downside: This is not the full show – it is 60 minutes in length.

 

Miami City Ballet at The Music Center

The priciest option at $125 – $34. Live orchestra (plus parking). This ensemble is big on the B-word: Balanchine, so we can expect some sharp choreography. They also claim new costumes, new sets and a world premiere. The premier may be the sets/costumes or perhaps it is the first time The Miami City Ballet does the Balanchine choreography.  The Music Center offers all the nearby architecture that will dazzle the kids and the out-of-town guests. There is also plenty of convenient dining on the grounds and a big courtyard where the kids can run around.

 

Los Angeles Ballet at various locations

Pricey at $84 ($119 with live orchestra). Los Angeles Ballet is respectable. I’ve enjoyed their performances

 

Moscow Ballet at the Wiltern

Second priciest option at $123 – $66. I am embarrassed. I have not heard about The Moscow Ballet. Their web page is effusive about the sets and special effects. In my snobby way, I think that Russians maintain a high standard when it comes to ballet, so I would take a gamble on it. No mention of a live orchestra. Of course, The Wiltern is an Art Deco masterpiece.

 

Long Beach Ballet at Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Terrace Theater

Less expensive than some at $75 – $35. Full orchestra. Other than that, I know nothing about this ensemble or the venue.

 

Debbie Allen Dance Academy Hot Chocolate Nutcracker at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

Expensive at $110 – $50. This sounds like something to see if you are bored of Nutcracker. A mashup.  That’s all I know.

 

Westside Academy of Ballet at The Broad Stage

Reasonable at $45. I haven’t seen them but I know that they have great instructors.

 

San Pedro Ballet at The Warner Grand Annex

Reasonable at $29 – $19 from a local dance studio. No other info except that they discovered Misty Copeland.

 

Palos Verdes Ballet at The Norris Pavilion for the Performing Arts

Reasonable at $35 – $25. Reasonable at $34 – $24. Local studio claims their dancers earn scholarships to name-brand companies.

 

South Bay Ballet at The Marsee Auditorium

Reasonable at $34 – $24. Local studio claims their dancers go on to name-brand companies.

Diana’s Finds: A Hidden Gem in the Southland’s Art World

Diana Ghoukassian has one of the most interesting and original art collections that you will find in the southland. This is due to her unique approach, her crusade to rescue art from the landfill and her instincts on what is beautiful.

Diana Ghoukassian bistango irvine gallery art
Diana Ghoukassian

Diana, who goes by the moniker Diana G, considers herself an art salvager. She says “I am not an art speculator. I look for art that moves me, not for name brand artists. For me, art and money are not related. I don’t mind selling inexpensive art as long as it is intrinsically beautiful.” Indeed, her sources are estate sales, garage sales and consignments rather than the usual art world destinations. Her typical source is looking to downsize or clear out some space. “I can’t bear the thought of beautiful objects getting thrown out,” says Diana G.  “I rescue them.”

Untitled by Sally Glenn Diana Ghoukassian art abstrct gallery irvine bistango
Untitled by Sally Glenn. Rescued by Diana G.

The typical gallery owner researches artists before buying. Diana G, as an instinctive buyer, takes the opposite approach. As she puts it, “I don’t know about the artist I’ve purchased until I get to my computer and do some research. I love finding out who the artists are. I get such a sense of excitement when I discover these works have histories.” Of course, some of her acquisitions will remain mysteries in terms of artist and provenance, but they are still worthy of our attention.

 

The Hidden Gallery

Diana's Finds art gallery irvine bistango
Diana’s Finds

Diana’s Finds opened five years ago on the ground floor of the iconic Atrium Building in Irvine. Her gallery is immaculate and does not look like the result of salvage purchases. You are forgiven for not knowing of it since it is not visible from the street. She is open by appointment, and I can attest that she responds quickly to emails and phone calls. You really must drop by if you are interested in original art or looking for a consignee.

Owning a gallery, especially one with a challenging location, was not Diana G’s goal. It became a necessity given the 2000+ works she acquired over 27 years. It was her own time to downsize.

Diana Ghoukassian irvine art gallery bistango
Photographs by Diana G

She has about 80 works on display and about 100 works posted on Artprice.com. She would like to post more but Artprice.com only accepts works by listed artists. Plus, there is that time-intensive process of uploading the works (photography, cropping, cataloging, etc.), which is challenging for a sole proprietor who also has a family life. Despite her modest presence on Artprice, the site is influential, and her works have appeal. She receives 200 + views a day and has shipped internationally. At the time of this writing, Diana G was prepping a shipment to Qatar.

 

Art as a Family Mission

Adjacent to the gallery is Bistango Restaurant. This is no coincidence. Diana’s husband, John G, founded Bistango 30 years ago. The Ghoukassians’ original vision for Bistango was to showcase fine art. They hired Venice-based architect Michael Carapetian to design the restaurant for that mission. Bistango continues to accomplish that mission to this day. At any given time, they have 100+ works by 10+ artists on display.  Bistango rotates their artists every quarter and announces the new exhibits with free opening receptions. Diana rotates her gallery collection in synch with these Bistango events and opens her doors to the reception attendees. Bistango showcased 138 exhibitions of 2200+ internationally-based artists since 1987. Curating these exhibits since the beginning is art consultant Antoinette Sullivan.

Bistango art gallery ghoukassian irvine
Art abounds at Bistango

 

Art as a Second Act

John G’s escape from Iran and his American restaurant successes are impressive stories and were covered in the  Orange County media. What is also impressive is Diana G’s acquisition trajectory upon her arrival to the USA. Prior to her arrival, she was educating herself and whetting her appetite. She consumed art books, attended art history classes at university and attended museums and galleries in Europe. She had no time for collecting during her child rearing years in France. Furthermore, Paris prices were exorbitant. Nevertheless, she managed to acquire her first big winner in Paris: a work by Theo Tobiasse. It remains on display in her home 30+ years later.  Once she arrived in the USA, she hiked her art collecting to warp speed. Simple math tells us that she acquired about 75 works per year since her arrival.

 

“I paint with my lens”

Diana G creates. “I paint with my lens” is her motto. She is an award-winning photographer with works displayed over the years at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA), Newport Beach Art Center, UCI and the Orange County Fair. Her approach to photography is similar to her approach to art: She looks for what moves her. She says “All my shots are impulsive. I find the extraordinary in ordinary things.” She does not stage her shots and she does little in terms of retouching. Many of her shots are snapped from a moving vehicle. As she puts it, “imperfections are very much part of my art.”

Diana Ghoukassian Bistango art gallery photography Irvine
Diana G with one of her award-winning photographs

She had no photography training and she has no photographer influences. It happened organically due to her circumstances. There were no books on photography in Iran and little photography to view aside from official portraits. Despite her prodigious consumption of art books and classes in Europe and Iran, none of them addressed photography. Once she arrived in the USA, she started snapping like crazy. (over 50,000 photographs so far!) Eventually she was able procure a large collection of photography books.

Diana Ghoukassian photography art gallery Irvine Bistango
405 North by Diana G

You can see some of her work at her gallery and on her Instagram account. “My camera and I are inseparable” she says. That is easy to believe given 50,000 photographs.

Part of the Real Story

I started this blog so I could spread the news about the abundant arts events and venues in the area. Soon I was struck by the resourceful, community-minded, creative people I was meeting along the way. They have a do-it-yourself, entrepreneurial spirit that make these things happen. Diana G is one of those people. They are the real story about the arts in Orange County.

 

Host a Music Salon With Groupmuse

Your home music salon thanks to Groupmuse
Your home music salon thanks to Groupmuse

I am in awe of music salon hosts. They really know the right people – artists and willing patrons – to pull off such an event, especially since these events are undermarketed. The only reason I know of them is due to Jim Eninger’s chamber music newsletter.

The good news is that you and I can be salon music hosts thanks to Groupmuse. Groupmuse is a network of musicians, fans and hosts. The great news is that 1) there is no fee for you to host an event, 2) Groupmuse finds you available (and compatible) local musicians for your times/preferences, 3) Groupmuse markets the event to a local community of classical music fans and 4) The musicians get paid – Groupmuse collects $10 from attendees who sign up. Of course, additional contributions to the musicians are always appreciated.

If you’re not ready to host, you can sign up as an attendee. Attendees receive weekly emails on the upcoming Groupmuse salons.

I am overjoyed because this removes objections that our friends may have about attending classical music events. There is no long commute, no parking fees, no need to dress up, free food/drinks (depending on who supplies what) and a relaxing home atmosphere.

The other benefit with Groupmuse: we get to meet other like-minded souls in our community. Anybody who knows me has heard my complaint that the Internet has turned people into shut-ins. Life is so much more enriching when you experience great things with other people, especially the arts. And when you experience the arts, the arts will live a lot longer!

Devata Sessions Provides Meaningful Music Experiences for a Web World

Devata Active’s mission is to create content to support and empower people to live their truest, most inspired lives no matter where they are located. Devata started this mission by offering online, on-demand yoga and fitness classes featuring passionate teachers with strong followings. Next, they expanded by creating podcasts and interviews with people living inspired lives in business, yoga, art and adventure. Devata’s latest chapter: Devata Sesssions, a series of transformative, livestreamed music performances.

Devata Sessions: Restoring the human touch in a digital world
Devata Sessions: Restoring the human touch in a digital world

Devata delivered on this chapter by livestreaming a free concert and interview with Huntington Beach-based singer/songwriter Krista Marina. The event was launched on Aug. 26 at their Fountain Valley-based recording studio. They were ecstatic with the results and more events are scheduled. I saw the video performance and can say that Devata accomplished their mission. There was something so poised and magnetic about Krista on my little screen.

Kristina Marina livestreamed from Devata Active studios
Kristina Marina livestreamed from Devata Active studios

You may ask how yoga lead to concerts. Melanie Cherney, founder of Devata Active, has your answer: “Music, art and yoga are natural fits. They all really come from and return us to the same place – that place of heightened inspiration and connection. Before I was a practicing yoga, I was actually an art student. I remember falling into a meditative state while painting similar to what I experience in my yoga practice.”

Alex Barbarian and Melanie Cherney Devata Active

Melanie added “Music wasn’t part of Devata’s original plan, but it developed as a natural evolution of our larger vision. Music takes us deeper into ourselves. As a teacher, music has been a very helpful tool to move my students deeper into their yoga practice. I used to spend hours working on my class playlist, picking out the right songs and arranging them so that the music would support the experience I was hoping to create in the class. My students would always comment on it and come up after class asking about a particular song that they connected with. I realized that music was one more platform we could offer in our mission to make people feel more alive.”

The first step in offering that platform was to recruit musicians using the same criteria Devata uses for instructors: Target artists who are passionate and really care about connecting with their audiences. It is that urge to connect that restores the human touch in a digital platform.

Alex Barbarian, Devata Active’s Creative Director as well as a musician, producer and DJ, had an additional goal in the project: Create a resource for up-and-coming artists to promote themselves. According to Alex, “New artists are focused on composing and performance. They may not have the headroom or budget for quality video production, livestreaming or self-promotion. But the reality nowadays is musicians are pressured to do it all AND at the same time. Devata has the means and equipment to help them along while allowing us to deliver something special to our audiences.”

Devata Active’s next session is the DJ artist THRD.  “THRD knows that a human element is necessary to keep things organic and to connect with an audience over livestream. To that end, he is bringing in singers and musicians to accompany him,” says Alex.

DJ artist THRD
DJ artist THRD livestreaming on Sept. 23

THRD’s performance will be livestreamed on Sept 23 at 6:00 pm PST. More information is available here.

I have firsthand experience at the isolation wrought by technology and telecommuting as well as the need to experience art and beauty with others. Fortunately, we have kindred spirits such as Melanie and Alex who  are making the best of the digital world while mitigating its dehumanizing aspects.

 

 

 

Gypsy Jazz comes to Costa Mesa!

Chamberlain Trio

Gypsy jazz is a beguiling, guitar-driven, pre-WW2 mix of classical Eastern European, Romani folk, French and improvisational sources. That may sound like an esoteric blend, but the sound is truly accessible and playful. Some listeners liken it to soundtrack music to Woody Allen movies.

Gypsy jazz is hard to find. When it is available, you should consume it ASAP! Which is why I am happy to say that Costa Mesa’s Boathouse Collective will host The Chamberlain Trio on Sept. 9. The show is FREE!

I stumbled upon Chamberlain Trio by accident at an arts event and was hooked. Unfortunately, this ensemble has no internet presence, so there is little I can tell you about them.  I do have proof that they are fantastic: Listen to these music clips on SoundCloud.

Boathouse Collective
The Boathouse Collective

The Boathouse Collective is an exciting story all on their own and the media has that covered here, here and here. Indeed, the stars are aligning with The Chamberlain Trio appearing at The Boathouse Collective.

Can’t Miss Concerts At Laguna Art Festivals

Summer in Laguna means art festivals and their accompanying concerts, specifically, The Sawdust Festival and the Laguna Festival of the Arts. Some of these concerts are outstanding. Combine that with the low entry fee, the canyon vibe and the art and you have the ingredients for unforgettable picnics. Pack the good wine and consider buying a Passport To The Arts if you are visiting more than once this season.

Laguna Festival of the Arts

The choices are overwhelming since these festivals have live music every day, sometimes several times per day. Thankfully, you have me to introduce you to the hidden gems.

Rating and ranking pop or jazz music is a slippery slope. There is no accounting for taste and I am bound to offend somebody by what I omit. That said, here are some local bands that impress me and, in my humble opinion, deserve a close listen. Of course, all these and more are listed in my calendar section.

In chronological order:

July 15
Hot Club De Bop at Sawdust. These cats combine three of my favorite genres: The Great American Songbook, gypsy jazz and a touch of rockabilly. They have no website but they have several songs on YouTube.

40 AMP Fuse at Sawdust. Southern rock, blues and country from the tightest bands you’ve never heard of. These guys will drive you to dance. Check out their full concert on YouTube.

40 AMP Fuse

July 19
Evan Stone Trio featuring Nick Mancini at the Laguna Festival of the Arts. You must experience Nick Mancini! He plays the vibraphone with such expression and gestures. It is like watching an old movie mad scientist. Here is proof.  Evan Stone runs a very tight backing jazz ensemble. I’ve seen him many times when he’s backed (and produced) Nancy Sanchez, one of my favorite local songbirds.

Nick Mancini

July 21
Salty Suites at Sawdust. Salty Suites plays a combination of bluegrass, depression-era and Americana. Here is their YouTube channel.  Their singer, Chelsea Williams, was such an magnetic celebrity busker in Santa Monica, that she was recruited to act and sing in a Chevrolet commercial.

Salty Suites

July 22
Elaine Miles & John Chiondini at the Sawdust Festival. Jazz vocalist and guitarist duo. Wonderful artists who are bad at maintaining their web presence. Some dogged research on my part uncovered some great YouTubes of their work. Dig on her sultry, resonant voice on this old favorite.  John Chiodini used to play guitar for Peggy Lee. Can you ask for a stronger credential than that?

July 27
Black Tongued Bells at Sawdust. Fantastic band with a weird name (it is from a Dylan Thomas poem). Their website says it best: The Black Tongued Bells’ American Swamp Music is a steamy gumbo of gothic-gospel juju, hopped up rock & roll, and dirt-pounding juke joint blues. Here is an example.

Black Tongued Bells

July 30
Salty Suites at Sawdust. See the previous description.

July 31
Hot Club De Bop at Sawdust. See the previous description.

August 1
Ilya Serov at Laguna Festival of the Arts. Ilya Serov is a triple threat: Jazz singer, trumpeter, and telegenic good looks. See for yourself.

Ilya Serov

August 8
Salty Suites at the Festival of the Arts. See the previous description.

August 11
Black Tongued Bells at Sawdust. See the previous description.

August 15
Female Jazz Vocalist Lineup at Laguna Festival of the Arts. Artists include Brynn Stanley, Gina Saputo and Lia Booth.

August 17
Salty Suites at Sawdust. See the previous description.

August 25
Salty Suites at Sawdust. See the previous description.

August 26
Elaine Miles & John Chiondini at the Sawdust Festival. See the previous description.

August 28
Quattrosound at the Festival of the Arts. I saw Quattrosound last year and they overflowed in talent, originality and playfulness. They pull from the entire pop spectrum (and global spectrum, too). The big draw for me is Leah Zeger, their violinist/vocalist. I’ve seen her as part of Gonzalo Bergara’s gypsy jazz quartet. Here is my video from their performance last year’s festival of the arts.

Quattrosound

August 29
Judith Owen and Leland Sklar at the Laguna Festival of the Arts. Anybody who listened to 1970’s rock knows Leland Sklar. You probably don’t know Judith Own and it is time you did! She’s pop-oriented, a prolific songwriter and runs both up-tempo and pensive. Some videos are here and here.

Judith Owen and Leland Sklar

August 30
Hot Club De Bop at Sawdust. See the previous description.

September 3
Salty Suites at Sawdust. See the previous description.

 

This Bountiful Weekend

This is one of those weekends for us culture vultures where the stars align. But the issue is we must make hard choices. Partaking in one means missing another. If only we could clone ourselves.

So many muses. So little time.
So many muses. So little time.

The following are but a few of the events on my radar for the weekend.
Ballet
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersberg at Segerstrom. The best mix imaginable of classical ballet and modern ballet.
American Contemporary Ballet in Downtown LA. Intimate setting, live music, an insightful show featuring the choreography from the 1800’s, fabulous views. A real community event.

Art
Moholy-Nagy exhibit at LACMA. It ends Sunday!
53rd annual Newport Beach Art Exhibition.  150 artists!
Laguna Plein Air Painters Association’s 3rd Annual Dinner Party & Miniature Auction Fundraiser.
Artists of Mexico opening reception at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.
Lush: Landscape architecture opening at MAK Center (Schindler House).
Spectrum-Gestalt opening reception at bG Art Gallery (Bergamot Station).
Joe Ray opening reception at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art.

Classical Music
Corona Del Mar Baroque Music Festival. Rarely is this period covered in the local chamber music scene.
Classical guitar recital at Chapman. Free!
Los Angeles Doctors Symphony. A doctor will be in the house.

Jazz
Django Reinhardt Festival at Theatre Raymond Kabbaz. FINALLY, LA has a gypsy jazz event!
Elizabeth Lamers at Bacchus. She’s a real Great American Songbird. Free!
Wolfgang Schalk at LACMA. He’s got the John Scofield thing going on. Free! But get there early.
Orange County Ragtime Society. Yes, it is a thing.

Pop, Americana and Retro Music
The nice thing about summer are the number of free outdoor concerts.

Fete De La Musique in Laguna Beach. Innumerable outdoor live music acts throughout the city.
Cypress Summer Concert on the Green.
Rolling Stones Tribute Band at the OC Marketplace.
Life Could be a Dream. Jukebox musical at the Stage Door Theater. Not free, but I hear it is worth it.

Food, Drink, Misc.

OC Night Market. Wildly popular. There must be a reason.
Classic Volkswagen Show at the OC Fairgrounds. Who does not like the old Beetles, Karmann Ghias and the two-toned vans? I’ll tell you who: Mean people.

LA Has a Gypsy Jazz Festival!

Django Reinhardt Festival
This is great news as gypsy jazz shows are hard to find in the southland. Such is the pity as gypsy jazz such a playful and accessible style. People love it when they first hear it. You will too.

Gypsy jazz, also known as manouche music, was invented in Paris in 1934 by Romani-Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt and French-Italian violinist Stephane Grappelli. Grappelli also invented violin jazz at that time. Manouche was an immediate hit and took Europe by storm (and, subsequently, post-war USA). Django’s band was called the Hot Club Quintet. To this day, some bands will include ‘Hot Club’ in their title if they specialize in gypsy jazz.

Django Reinhardt

There are superlatives aplenty about Django, the band and the style, all of them deserved. Every famous jazz and rock guitarist cites Django as an influence.

Django

The sound is a blend of Romani folk, Hungarian/Romanian classical and the freedom that comes with jazz. While that sounds like an aggressive mix, it is truly a gentle, clever and timeless style. When you hear it, you can imagine yourself in a pre-war European café having an espresso with Kurt Weil.

 
So, enough words. Here is some proof. This link takes you to rare footage of the Hot Club Quintet. This link takes you to Sammy Daussat, who will be playing at the festival. In the video, he is doing a gypsy take on All of Me. Indeed, the most pleasurable experience for me are gypsy renditions of the Great American Songbook.

 
The festival will be held at Theater Raymond Kabbaz, on the campus of Le Lycee De Francais Los Angeles. The theater is only one in LA dedicated to French art forms. TRK has hosted many gypsy jazz musicians over the years. This is their first festival-sized gypsy jazz event. They plan to do more. I could not be happier!

Since you will be hooked, I thought I would do you the favor of providing a list of local musicians who specialize in the style. You’re welcome!

Hot Club of Los Angeles. They perform most Mondays at the Cinema Bar in Culver City. Great Band but not so great about maintaining their calendar.

Ganzalo Bergara. Musical phenom. Born in Argentina and started as a blues musician. He travels the world but is based in LA.

Leah Zeger. Leah played violin with Ganzalo Bergara. She now has a solo career and several side projects. One of her projects is Quattrosound. They will be playing at the Laguna Festival of the Arts in August. Don’t miss them!

 
Hedgehog Swing. I have not seen them, but I want to. They play mostly in Long Beach.

 
Trio Dinicu. Incredible ensemble. They will be playing at the festival. Their focus are the Hungaria-Romanian classical roots to gypsy jazz.

Black Market Trust. They fuse gypsy with pop songs from the 1960’s, e.g. Beatles and Beach Boys.  My friends love them.

The Vignatis. They fuse rockabilly and gypsy jazz. They call their style gypsybilly.
Chamberlain Trio. These guys are brilliant but they have no calendar at all! You might be able to catch their shows if you follow their leader, A.J. Minette, on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Icy Hot Club of California.

Rockabilly Lives In Southern California

That is, when you can find it. You must track the individual bands (if they are trackable) in order to locate the shows. If you are an old fart like me, the idea of the late night club scene is way too much work. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive, easy and daytime rockabilly experience that happens every June at the OC Marketplace (AKA, The OC Swap Meet). This was a multi-weekend affair. Now it is limited to one weekend so catch it while you can! Given that rockabilly fandom spans generations, you might find rockabilly bands at some Disney properties.

Rockabilly Weekend at the OC Marketplace

For the uninitiated, rockabilly is that music style pioneered by early Elvis and Gene Vincent. It was resurrected in the late 70’s, most notably by the Stray Cats. A popular variant, psychobilly, emerged that mixed rockabilly, punk and 50’s horror B-movie themes/images (Not a family friendly genre. The Cramps are the best example). Resurrection continues with acts such as Reverend Horton Heat.

One of the draws to rockabilly are the mid-century visuals: clothes, hairstyles, partner dancing, cars, architecture and interior design. Indeed, mid-century has been the rage for the last 30 years and shows no sign of abating. Rockabilly promoters understand this and now include showcases such as car shows, dance contests, beauty contests and specialty vendors.

Rockabilly Style
Rockabilly Style

If you’ve followed rockabilly just a little over the years you may have noticed that Latinos have always embraced it and added their own spin (sometimes it is known as razabilly). Indeed, some of the initiators of the rockabilly revival were Latino (Big Sandy, The Paladins). This is due to reasons too numerous to list here. A big takeaway is the best rockabilly attire, dance moves, cars and bands are from Latinos.

Razabilly
Rockabilly meets Dia de los Muertos

Rockabilly Resources

Local Bands
The Alterbillies
The Buzz Jumpers
The Centuries
Hank Biggs and the Hardtops
The Hula Girls
The Jackpot Club
The Johnny Deadly Trio
The Rayford Brothers
Ry Bradley
Seat Belt
Sidewynders

Venues
Beatnik Bandito. Records, memorabilia, merch, and live bands, including rockabilly

Don The Beachcomber. Americana-oriented bands, including rockabilly

Rockabilly LA. A rockabilly event listing.

Roadkill Ranch and Boutique. Vintage and rockabilly attire.

Events
So Cal Hoedown. A full day of rockabilly, contests and showcases in Santa Ana on August 5.

The Voodoo Lounge. Several psychobilly bands. One night only: June 17 at the Airliner in LA.
Voodoo Lounge