Before television encouraged Americans to spend so much time on their collective rear ends, it was very common for folks to spend their free time honing multiple creative talents to entertain themselves and others at parties and gatherings. Walt Disney’s animators were no different… the men who spent much of their lives bringing iconic Disney films to life chose to blow off steam by assembling a surprisingly tight seven-piece Dixieland band they called the Firehouse Five Plus Two.
According to Disney legend Ward Kimball, who led the band and also played trombone, Walt was fine with their group hobby as long as the quality of their work didn’t suffer. Apparently they juggled their workloads just fine: the band stayed together for nearly 30 years, released over a dozen records, and toured various clubs, jazz fests, fairs and colleges until the early 1970s.
The painfully adorable/ talented Kate Micucci will be returning to her show at the Steve Allen Theater in March. You can also catch her performing around town as Oates of Garfunkel and Oates, as ukulele girl on Scrubs reruns, or in many other cute videos on You Tube.
To answer this question definitively for everyone, let’s just forget about her overexposure and penchant for hair hats and flash back in time for a moment to watch a fresh-faced 19 year-old named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – a talented, ambitious and rebellious girl virtually identical to so many in the crowd here – sing about her sick ambition of making it big in “Hollywood” and losing her reflection. Which… she did on both counts, really.
But truth be told, I kinda liked Stefani Germanotta better… illegal though it would be, I find myself wanting to buy underage Lady Gaga a beer. But hey, I’m sure she can well afford to buy her own now.
SERIES: Visions of the Ambassador
During the roaring 20s and 30s, the Ambassador Hotel’s nightclub “house bands” quickly became the most popular orchestras in the world. An issue of (the then-popular and catchy-named) Talking Machine World magazine identified Abe Lyman’s California Ambassador Orchestra (see video clip above) as “Los Angeles’ most famous popular musical organization” in 1923.
“Abe Lyman (August 4, 1897 – October 23, 1957) was a popular bandleader from the 1920s to the 1940s. He made recordings, appeared in films and provided the music for numerous radio shows, including Your Hit Parade… For an engagement at the Cocoanut Grove in The Ambassador Hotel on April 1, 1922, Abe added a violinist and saxophonist. Opening night drew a large crowd of 1500 guests in the Cocoanut Grove, plus another 500 more outside.”
For a five year run in the 30s, a dapper group of musicians known as Gus Arnheim’s Orchestra (see video below) was then stationed at the Cocoanut Grove and widely considered to be the most popular band on the West coast. In 1930, the band began to feature male singing trio The Rhythm Boys, featuring a young singer named Bing Crosby. Arnheim Orchestra alumni also included Stan Kenton, Russ Columbo (seen playing violin and singing in the middle of the trio in the clip below), Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, and actor Fred McMurray (on saxophone).
Since a lot of people don’t know much about the history of the Central Avenue jazz scene that happened in Los Angeles, to accompany my last post noting Mama’s passing I decided to expand on it. The neighborhood played such a crucial and historic part not just in jazz history, but in African American history as well, it’s a worthy point to add.
The top jazz club on Central Avenue during its heyday was Club Alabam and *the* place to stay was the Dunbar Hotel, with a guest list that regularly included the likes of Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Lena Horne. Originally known as the Somerville Hotel, the structure was erected in 1928 entirely by black contractors, laborers and craftsmen and black community members helped John Somerville and his wife Vada to finance the entire project.
In 1907 Jamaican-born John Alexander Somerville became the first African American to graduate from the USC School of Dentistry. He earned the highest grade-point average in the class of 1907, and had passed the State Dental Board examination six months before graduation. His wife, Vada Watson Somerville, became the school’s first African-American woman graduate in 1918, going on to achieve distinction as the first black woman licensed to practice dentistry in California. Besides managing a successful practice, the Somervilles were instrumental in opening the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. John Somerville also contributed to the local landscape by developing upscale properties. He was the second African-American member of the Chamber of Commerce and served on the Los Angeles Police Commission from 1949 to 1953.” SOURCE
After the jump is a video discussing the important role the Dunbar played in American history and a vintage postcard of the hotel circa 1938 (according to the card, the room rates at the time were $1 per day and $5 a week).
*CLICK ON THE SQUARE IMAGE BELOW TO LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY*
Where: The roof top of the Republic Liquor Store, corner of 7th and Main, Downtown
When: 3pm Friday, March 27, 1987
What: A rumor spread throughout the city that the band U2 was about to shoot a live music video on a rooftop Downtown. Coincidentally, many 20-somethings suffered flu-like symptoms and left work early that day.
Details: U2′s Joshua Tree album was released on March 9th, 1987 to an immediate buzz. Irish director Meiert Avis was hired to rush a video for the third single and the chosen song, “Where The Streets Have No Name,” was to set be performed live to playback. For dramatic effect they chose to film on an unexpected and very public location – the roof of a Skid Row liquor store in the middle of a workday.
WHAT: A very special Fast Times at Ridgemont High-themed night featuring totally rad special guests and performers.
WHEN: October 21, 2009, 8:45-11:55pm
WHERE: Cafe Cordiale , 14015 Ventura Blvd
PRICE: No cover, but reservations highly recommended (call 818 789-1985), as it may sell out. Dinner served till 10:30pm. And no, they don’t serve pizza. Sorry.
DETAILS: All ages. Free parking. Hosted by Donovan Lyman. Guest lineup includes, but is not limited to:
- 9pm - Taylor Negron (who played the pizza delivery guy in the film) with Logan Heftel
- 9:40pm – Poppa’s KitchenBob Romanus who played Damone in the film)
- 10:20 – Comedian Barry Sobel w/ Zachariah Selwyn
- Also on the bill is Jody Whitesides & Adora Vida performing music from the film.
And don’t forget… no shirt, no shoes, no dice.
I’ll be adding more stuff to our event calendar tonight, so check back tomorrow!
All come from somewhere
To live in sunshine
Their funky exile
High-heeled and faded
Drivin’ sleek new sports cars
With their New York cowboys
Hiding up in the mountains
Laying low in the canyons
Goin’ nowhere on the streets
With their Spanish names (more…)
When: Tonight (8/29), 8-11pm
420 North Fairfax
“In the late 1940’s, Herman Leonard’s passion for jazz brought him to the swinging clubs of Broadway, 52nd Street and Harlem. With the camera as his free ticket, he photographed and developed friendships with some of the greats of jazz history including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and many more.
A year’s apprenticeship with Yasuf Karsh provided invaluable experience photographing the likes of Albert Einstein, Harry S. Truman and Clark Gable. In 1956 Leonard was chosen to be Marlon Brando’s personal photographer for an extensive research trip to the Far East. In the late 1950’s Leonard headed for Paris where he worked in fashion and advertising and served as the European photographer for Playboy Magazine.
First, let me just say that the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock has brought what is perhaps the best ABC News story headline I have ever seen. Although wow, the article’s pretty depressing.
Anyhow, in honor of this auspicious anniversary of the biggest day in naked muddy hippie history, I’m posting Arlo Guthrie’s Woodstock performance of “Coming into Los Angeles.” In case you were not aware, this song was written in 1968 about illegal drug smuggling – SURPRISE!!!!! Yeah, that’s a shocker, I know. But I digress. In 2007 LA Times reporter Geoff Boucher asked Arlo to speak a little more in depth about the story behind the song… you can read his comments after the jump.
There are few things we can truly count on in life,
but we can always count on Marty & Elayne to be…
Marty & Elayne.
‘Cuz they’ve got us… under their dermis.
All last week I was racking my poor little head brainstorming how to list upcoming Los Angeles events in a way that would be easy to maintain for me and as useful and user-friendly as possible for you.
Speaking for myself, sometimes time flies by too fast… I see so many great events online that I really want to check out and promptly forget about until the day after they’re over. Or there will be a repeat event and I’ll forget whether it’s the third or the fourth Wednesday. Or I’ll have a night free and toy with the idea of doing a google search to find out what’s happening outside of my apartment but out of laziness will just end up just sitting in front of the tv watching reruns of Monk I’ve already seen instead.
So with my own lameness/laziness in mind, I think I’ve come up with a great solution that makes HiddenLA’s Event Listing easy, convenient and more inspiring to use. You’ll have to let me know what you think. I’m pretty happy with it. Check out a full explanation of the cool new interactive features after the jump.
Just one little request… if you appreciate the resource I’ve created for you, it would rock my world if you would please take a moment to throw a coupla bucks into my Ginger Cocktail Fund so I can go out tonight and toast myself for workin’ my butt off trying to create something you’d like. ‘Cuz I really did! :)
In Los Angeles, even jazz legends on flying carpets get traffic tickets.
In this video, the Dave Brubeck Quartet is shown riding a magic carpet over an L.A. freeway while performing Blue Rondo A la Turk. This performance was a segment on the Vic Damone-hosted variety television show The Lively Ones and aired July 25, 1962.
Note: this listing will be updated during the week as we see fit, and we try to include FREEEEE events whenever possible. :)
THROUGH 7/26 – US Open of Surfing
7/23 – Latin Dance Championship; Summer Nights on the Boulevard in Atwater
7/24 – Disco Dancing Downtown Under The Stars; Classic Rock Night at the LA Zoo
7/25 – Battle of the Tribute Bands; Heritage Park Silent Movie Night
7/26 – Dessert Decadence
THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 26
What: U.S. OPEN OF SURFING New and improved with added skateboarding!
When: Daily through July 26
Where: Huntington Beach Pier, PCH & Main Street, Huntington Beach
Details: I’m allergic to the sun and have a fear of the ocean and large crowds. Some lame native Southern Californian I am, huh? Although this event sounds like it would be everything I don’t like, I grew up around surfers so I love the peoplewatching at surfing competitions. Plus the ocean’s always pretty to look at… I just don’t want to get in it ‘cuz there are bitey things in there. Yeah, I’m a complex girl.
From the event site: “What’s the closest thing to watching the world’s best surfers compete in a full-on stadium atmosphere? Look no further than Huntington Beach in July, when up to 500,000 people will find their way to the real Surf City, post up in the sand and cheer on their heroes at the Pier. It’s been that way for 50 years now, starting with the US Championships in 1959 and evolving to today: the Hurley US Open of Surfing.” (more…)
Note: this listing will be updated during the week as we see fit, and we try to include FREEEEE events whenever possible. :)
7/14-19 – Shakespeare at Our Lady of the Angels
Every Thursday – Outdoor Movies at the Grove
7/16 – Poncho Sanchez in Baldwin Park; Dreaming of India: A Cultural Block Party at CAFAM
7/17 – Horse racing and 80s music with The Romantics
TUESDAY, JULY 14 THROUGH SUNDAY JULY 19
What: Shakespeare Festival/LA’s 24th Annual Summer Festival presents AQUILA Theatre in “AS YOU LIKE IT”
When: July 14-19, 2009, 8pm – Box office opens at 7pm
Where: The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Plaza, 555 West Temple Street , Downtown
Price: General admission tickets are FREEEEE! Patrons are invited to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Food Bank of Southern California
Details: Shakespeare Festival/LA will hold its 24th annual Summer Festival with a presentation of AQUILA THEATRE in As You Like It, the U.S. debut of the world-class touring production. The performance on July 16 will feature ASL translators for the hearing impaired. On July 17, actors will translate the performance into Spanish, the transmission of which patrons will be able to hear through headphones that will be made available. (more…)
I was gonna take a day off but then an emergency came up: late Los Angeles news icon and Hal Fishman rival George Putnam got me all worked up about “the wild flagrant abuses of the god-given gift of sex.” It’s enough to make a decent home-spun girl-next-door like me just pig biting mad!
In today’s featured flashback video (Perversions For Profit, 1965) George Putnam excitedly exposed himself as a soldier against the sex-mad degeneration of America. This highly informative and visually titillating little “scare” film was funded by financier Charles Keating – yes, that Charles Keating – and sure, George sounded strangely turned on throughout this whole film, but could you blame him? He passionately wanted to save America from depravity… but his hot descriptions of perversion, sexy “censored” images and details of massive profit sure made it all sound even more exciting and attractive! Va va vooom! A few decades later, his adopted homeland became the porn capital of the world. Sigh. Poor George. Score one for the Devil.
Interested in resurrecting George’s battle against the plague of filth in 2009? His handy moral guidelines are listed after the jump (along with part two of the video). They seem to be a lot of work though. An easier way to keep your halo intact would probably be just to poke out your eyeballs since according to George, very few blind people join nudist colonies. No eyeballs = no perversions! Problem solved!
Note: Event listings are updated during the week as we see fit.
Now through 8/31/09 – Photography: The Billboard Show
7/9/09 – Downtown LA Artwalk
7/10-12/09 – Echo Park Community Festival
7/11/09 – Historic North Hollywood Walking Tour, 80′s Prom Party
7/12/09 – Bastille Day Los Angeles; Art and Poetry with Exene Cervenka
ONGOING THROUGH AUGUST 31st
What: THE BILLBOARD SHOW Selling the California Lifestyle – Photographic Landscapes of the 1950s & 1960s
Where: Take My Picture Gary Leonard 860 South Broadway, Downtown (213) 622-2256
When: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am–2pm & 3–6pm; Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am–2pm; Saturdays 12–6pm; Sundays 12–3pm
Details: “Ever since taking a photograph of the Dodgers as a little boy in 1959, Gary Leonard has documented the mercurial landscape of Los Angeles, from the political to the cultural and economic. A former employee of billboard advertising company Pacific Outdoor recently gave Leonard thousands of billboard slides, a hundred of which are now on view at Leonard’s gallery, Take My Picture (named after his column in various regional publications). Advertising everything from funeral services and early fax machines to civic defense and entertainment, the images provide a rare historical survey of mid-century American commercial design, proving that, much like one of his influences, Weegee, Gary Leonard has an excellent sense of timing.” (SOURCE)
UPDATE: As of January 18, 2010 Betty Bryant’s show at Street is on hiatus. :(
*To launch the image gallery for this HiddenLA Pick, please click on the tasty drink below.*
What: Your own private jazz concert… featuring Betty Bryant singing her heart out
Where: Feniger’s Street, 742 Highland Avenue, Hollywood (323) 461-7813
When: Thursdays 7:15-11 pm and Sundays 6:15-10pm
Some of the best secrets in this town are hidden in full view. You may not have seen the wonderful jazz pianist and vocalist Betty Bryant but if you’ve eaten at the new hotspot Street in Hollywood she just might have seen you. A long-time fan, when chef Susan Feniger took over the old Highland Grounds location, she had her architect create an upstairs nook with the specific purpose of giving Betty a place to play and sing her heart out to the diners below… and that’s exactly what she does every Thursday and Sunday night. Accompanied by long-time bass player Tom Gargano, Betty seranades the dining masses below from her own private catbird seat above them. The secret is this: few diners wonder where the music’s coming from so they’re missing out on where the real fun is. (more…)
THURSDAY, JULY 2ND
SUMMER SEASON BEGINS
Santa Monica Pier TWILIGHT DANCE SERIES
Place: Santa Monica Pier parking lot (on the pier)
Time: 7-10pm every Wednesday thru 9/3
Details: No alcohol is allowed (Dang!). Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash. You are more than welcomed to bring your own seating but seats will be available for rental. The full 2009 concert lineup is as follows:
July 2 – Playing for Change and Bushman;
July 9 – Joan Baez and Tift Merritt;
July 16 – Sgt. Garcia, Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca;
July 23 – Squirrel Nut Zippers and Johnny Vana & The Big Band Alumni;
July 30 – Thomas Mapfuno and The Blacks Unlimited;
August 6 – Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women and Paul Thorn;
August 13 – Idan Raichel Project and Elijah Emanuel;
August 20 – Venice and Lucas Nelson & The Promise of the Real;
August 27 – Lila Downs and Very Be Careful;
September 3 – An evening with music icon Patti Smith and her band.
Here’s today’s fun little flashback: a local news report on the California mod scene of the 1980s. Ahhh, Chuck Henry and Johnny Mountain were so hep.