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.


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.
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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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

Get Your Chamber Music Before it Goes on Vacation!

Typical summer chamber music program
Typical summer chamber music program

Everybody cheers the arrival of summer except me. Why? Because the various chamber music ensembles go on summer hiatus. Granted, there are some big, blustery orchestral works that come out for the summer, sometimes outdoors, but that is not my thing. Small is beautiful!

That said, there a FEW summer chamber events, most notably, The Music Guild in Brentwood, Sundays Live at LACMA and, on occasion, Sunday concerts at the Nixon Library.

What follows are the notable FINAL chamber events for the season. All of them are captured in my Culture Calendar.
Trio Céleste Presents: The Evolution of Ludwig van Beethoven (June 4 at UCI). I can’t say enough about Trio Celeste. Besides touring the world, they run Chamber Music | OC. Chamber Music | OC is one of the most dynamic classical music organizations in the country dedicated to advancing the art of chamber music through performance, education, and community outreach. A product of this organization: The Young Artists Program. This is the only full-scholarship program of its kind in Southern California.

Trio Celeste
Trio Celeste

Chamber Music | OC Rising Stars Recital (June 11 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Rancho Santa Margarita). The Rising Stars Recital features the best and brightest from the above mentioned Chamber Music | OC Young Artist Program.

Le Salon De Musiques (June 4 at The Dorothy Chandler Pavillion). Le Salon is the ultimate chamber music experience. It includes a pre-show discussion, champagne plus Q & A with the musicians and a catered meal, all in an intimate setting and a great view of downtown.

Le Salon De Musiques
Le Salon De Musiques

Music and Conversation (June 10 at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts). I have not attended these events but I know I will love them. Music and wine in an art gallery and at the low price of $20.

Music and Conversation at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts
Music and Conversation at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Corona Del Mar Baroque Music Festival (June 18 – 25, multiple locations). This series is in its 37th season, and let me tell you, some of those seasons were lean – we’re talking ONE performance for the year. Now it is back and stronger than ever. What sets this series apart is, of course, is their focus on an earlier era. They have at least one event that kids might like: Fencing set to baroque music.

Veterans Tell Their Stories at Heroes Hall (OC Fairgrounds)

voices veterans storytelling project

Storytelling is a primal activity and it is making a welcome comeback in our overly-connected age. We encounter it increasingly often via popular downloads such as The Moth, NPR Storycorps, and wildly popular podcasts such as The Serial. We may be unwittingly subject to storytelling through modern sales and marketing techniques. A common mantra among marketing gurus: Don’t talk about the product or service – Tell a story instead. I think this is happening because we need it. We lose touch with primal practices when we become bubbleized smartphone users.

Indeed, storytelling has been with us since the dawn of time. It’s what we did when we were crowded around the campfire after hunting down dinner. It entertained us, especially when there were no written languages or when illiteracy was the norm. Storytelling provided metaphors for living. Think of the Greek epics, classical mythology or the household stories from the Brothers Grimm. Of course, there are bedtime stories and those modern day ghost stories shared at summer camp and sleepovers.

A recent therapy for at-risk kids, recovering addicts and PTSD sufferers: Storytelling. Which brings us to the upcoming Veterans Storytelling Project. Imagine the stories that are made when people leave their homes, are dropped headfirst into a very different and challenging culture, forced to work harmoniously with strangers from all walks of life and becoming best friends with those strangers. Add to that, having to experience extremely foreign lands and customs, extreme conditions of terror (and valor) and having to come home and adjust to the old life. These stories will be compelling!

Voices: Veterans Storytelling Project is part of the Veterans Initiative in the Arts. It is a program that empowers veterans to use theater to talk about their experiences and help the community understand the life of a veteran. Over the course of six weeks, interested veterans participated in weekly workshops that will culminate in a public performance at Heroes Hall Veterans Museum at the OC Fairgrounds on May 23.

The event is FREE but you must reserve tickets.

Support for Veterans Initiative in the Arts comes from the California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Orange County, Chance Theater, and Heroes Hall Veterans Foundation and OC Fair & Event Center.

Recitals and Arts Finals on Campus

Ballet Student

A ritual for college students of the arts: spring recitals and group performances. Often these performances are the culmination of a semester’s effort. Now is the time to catch these. The window is closing soon as these schools move to their summer hiatus. All of these events are low priced or free.

I must offer my apologies as I am a little late with this blog entry. USC, which offers a robust set of student performances, has cycled through their spring shows. Never fear. There are still several other student shows you can take in over the next few weeks.

What follows are links to various colleges’ arts calendars. Some of these schools have multiple arts calendars depending on the disciple and the nature of the performance. I try to capture them in my culture calendar, but it is a challenge. There are so many to list and the data entry is time consuming! Any suggestions?

Cal State Fullerton master arts calendar

Cal State Long Beach dance calendar

Cal State Long Beach music calendar

Cal State Long Beach theater arts calendar

Cal State Long Beach art calendar

El Camino College master arts calendar

Chapman College master arts calendar

Colburn School master arts calendar

Orange Coast College master arts calendar 

Orange County School of the Arts master arts calendar

Saddleback College master arts calendar

Santa Monica College master arts calendar

UC Irvine master arts calendar

UCLA Herb Albert School of Music calendar

UCLA School for the Arts and Architecture calendar

UCLA School of World Arts and Cultures/Dance calendar

USC School of Dramatic Arts calendar

USC Roski School of Art and Design calendar

USC Thornton School of Music calendar

USC has the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance……but they have no event listing!