Don’t Miss This Band: The Family Crest

26 Jan
photo courtesy of Ryan Chua

A little while back I was driving home from a friend’s party while tuned in to CALX, the UC Berkeley radio station, and I was immediately intrigued by the performance that evening, broadcasted live from their studio.  So much so, that long after arriving home I stayed inside the car just so that I could hear the remainder of the show without interruption.  And when it was finished, I did exactly what any other music enthusiast would have done:  I raced inside, I made a bee-line to my computer and I Googled the little chickadees!  During my initial research, I found that The Family Crest had an upcoming show at Cafe du Nord.  Needless to say, five clicks later (thanks, technology) two tickets were mine!

Blown away is sort of an understatement when speaking about this performance. Part indie-rock, part European folk music (I think I detected a little bit of Klezmer in a song or two), and 100% pure joy, this is a band of true entertainers and passionate musicians, whose love for their craft is both palpable and infectious.  Each of the seven band members were a blast to watch, most of whom switched effortlessly from one instrument to another (guitar, flute, cello, trumpet, and the vibes, to name a few) provided backup vocals, and all of whom thoroughly, sincerely, and unabashedly Rocked Out.  Also thrown in the mix were a number of random musicians who kept popping out of the audience throughout the show – a violinist here, an opera singer there – including an entire horn section, concealed behind the coat check, only becoming known to the audience after simultaneously joining in on one of the first songs of the set.  The surprises just kept coming!

Lead singer Liam McCormick is a vocal virtuoso – a cross between Jeff Buckley and Chet Baker at times, with an unbelievable range, power and genuine soulfulness that is one in a million.  This is of course, not to overshadow McCormick’s skills as a lyricist.  The guy is a true poet and a storyteller; a refreshing quality among a vast sea of local singer/songwriters whose words tend to underwhelm.   Combined with the group’s talent as a whole (really, every single member is so incredibly talented, and each one of them shines on stage), their energy, synchronisity, chemistry and phenomenal stage presence moved the entire crowd to dance, clap, stomp, and at times even sing along.   I am so grateful to have caught them when I did, because there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they are going to BLOW UP… and soon!

The Family Crest is currently  on tour, so for the next couple of months they won’t be playing in SF, but I highly encourage you to check out their music in the meantime, and definitely plan on seeing them perform at least once!  I promise, they will not disappoint.  I will be standing by when they return home, only this time, rather than an intrigued newcomer I will be a full-fledged F-A-N. 🙂  Cheers to a band that uplifts and inspires…keep it coming, guys!


Feed Your Belly, Mind and Soul at SOMArts Monthly Gathering

11 Nov

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a SOMArts monthly workshop called Feast of Words.  Feast of Words is a monthly potluck hosted by Irina Zadov and Lex Leifheit, where writers and foodies come together on the 3rd Tuesday of each month to eat, write, and share.

I am so excited to be in-the-know about this incredible event, which has been going on for over a year now.  It combines all of my favorite things into one evening- food, community and art.  The theme changes from month to month, so the vibe and the cuisine is always different.  Just show up, preferably with a dish to pass (but if you aren’t a master chef don’t worry), enjoy a meal with other creative-minded people, and prepare to be inspired.

Discover local chefs and writers, learn more about local cultures and flavors, bring a dish on the monthly theme, or participate in on-the-spot writing to win edible and literary prizes! Don’t consider yourself a writer?  Don’t fret: there’s also a no-host bar, so you can throw a glass of wine (or two) into the mix, and be amazed at how effortlessly the creative juices start to flow :).

What: Feast of Words: A Literary Potluck

When: Tuesday, November 15, 7PM (house opens at 6:30PM)

Where: 934 Brannan St. (Between 8th & 9th)

How Much: $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 with a
potluck dish, cash bar.

What Else: This month’s theme is is “Objectified”- For more details and to buy tickets, click  here.

me? a do-gooder?!

24 May

“You are a do-gooder, Livia.”  A friend said this to me the other day.  I have to admit that I was nothing less than shocked to hear these words being uttered, particularly since it was evident that it was a completely genuine statement.

above: exhibits a & b…guilty!

“Hell, no!”  I immediately retorted, as if I had been deeply insulted by the (subjective) observation.  I kind of surprised myself at having such a knee-jerk reaction, and really had to step back for a second to try and judge the situation from afar.

OK.  So here I am, having spent most of my life identifying with what I guess is the East Coast in me: a realist, a cynic, a sarcastic and salty broad who never stops to speak to those poor canvassers looking for support on street corners- no time to talk about saving the whales, the children, or the environment.  It took me until just a couple of years ago to even fathom composting at home, and I still occasionally throw a banana peel in the trash can, if it’s an arm’s length closer.  I am guilty of assuming that at least some of the people living in their vans by Ocean Beach are probably doing so because it’s cool, and they likely go home every Christmas to a very wealthy family and a perfectly manicured lawn in Evanston, Illinois.  As bad as it sounds, I think these things sometimes.

However, for the past year I have been, for the most part, working for free.  I left behind a steady paycheck and a  full-time job to do this.  Aside from the non-profit I helped launch, I have been assisting various other local organizations in any way I could- utilizing my background in PR or planning events, tending bar or working the door at fundraisers, recruiting volunteers, and generally adding an additional voice to these little known groups, for no other reason I can think of than this: something about each one of their missions compelled me to do so.  Abuse, illiteracy, inequality, lack of resources; these things bother me, and I admire the people who spend their lives trying to change them.  I’d like to lend those people a hand.  So I guess in other words: I (cringe) care.

It occurred to me in that moment that for the first time in my entire life, I  have to come clean and admit it, no matter how much I can’t seem to identify with the notion:

Lately, I’ve sort of become a “do-gooder”.

Oaklandish: Why I Love Oakland #4674

19 May

Cranes Reflection

Above: “Cranes Reflection” tee by local artist Ivan Lima (click image to view on Oaklandish website)

Speaking of Oakland love, you can’t really get much better than local company and winner of nineteen “Best of the East Bay” Awards,  Oaklandish.  Originating from a street-art campaign (you know how I love those!), the Oakland “roots” logo to which it gave birth has not only become synonymous with the city itself, it has quickly evolved into a popular apparel brand worn by every age, race, and demographic in the East Bay.  But wait!  The love grows: Oaklandish not only works with local artists who design the coolest and most unique neighborhood-centric tees, hoodies and children’s clothing, they also turn around and give 10% of every purchase right back to the community that makes them.  They’ve also created the Oakland Innovators Award, a fund that offers annual grants to those organizations and individuals who are doing pioneering work in the community.  How’s that for remembering where you come from? 🙂

“New” Bay 2 Breakers…Love it or Hate it?

16 May

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a GREAT time yesterday at the 100th edition of Bay to Breakers!  I went as part of the SFSMILES crew (that’s the start-up non-profit that I am involved in, in case you haven’t read some of my earlier posts about us).  Dressed in our wackiest mix of red, black and white to match our logo, we marched the streets of San Francisco with thousands of others, our SFSMILES banner proudly in hand, completely stoked and ready to spread the word about our one-year-old charity.

I have to give it up to this year’s race organizers and PR team (congrats to David Perry, who was hired by Zazzle to promote this year’s new- and much opposed- rules), they did a great job of keeping the event more organized, clean, and dry (sans alcohol, that is).  That being said, it still seemed like there was an abundance of revelers openly drinking in the streets, and many race-goers (myself included) who managed to slip in an out of the race rather freely, despite being unregistered and secured in for the most part, behind barricades.  There were only a few small hurdles we had to overcome, such as staff checking registration numbers on the way back in from the port-a-potties-something we easily avoided by simply slipping through an open gap in the gate a few yards down.   Also, I did refrain from carrying alcohol in my backpack, for fear of the dreaded check-points that had been so highly publicized  in the weeks leading up to the race.  However, a few blocks after joining in around Hayes and Scott Streets, it became clear that I had absolutely nothing to be worried about, and could easily have swung by a corner store for a fifth of Jameson, had I really wanted to.

So… much nudity as usual (wouldn’t be SF without several sightings of wrinkled old hoo-hoos!), and the same unique, outrageous, inventive costumes that have donned race-goers for years.  What was missing in my opinion, were the team floats!   I have to say, this was a shame.  It was hard for me to imagine a B2B without these fun little spectacles, and once it actually happened, there was definitely an ominous void in their place.  (It is also much more difficult to get any attention as a group; it’s kinda hard to stand out in a wild costume when everyone else and their mother is wearing one as well!)


All of that said, I personally didn’t  miss any of the super sloppy drunkenness (probably because there was still a lot of it going on) or vomiting in the streets that have always been less than desirable side-effects of B2B.  San Franciscans were just as spirited, fun and crazy as they have always been, and I think yesterday’s race proves that they always will be- no matter what rules are imposed upon them!

Stern Grove Festival Fever!

12 May
Stern Grove, San Francisco.

Image via Wikipedia

So geared up for this years’ Stern Grove Festival!  You really can’t get much better: a FREE concert series (now in it’s 74th year) that takes place every Sunday afternoon in June, July and August at Stern Grove Park in San Francisco.  It’s such an amazing setting for a daytime concert- literally hidden inside a grove of enormous trees, and when the weather is nice, there is absolutely nothing like it…  especially if you get there early enough to snag a spot for a picnic blanket (this is more difficult than it sounds)!  If you really like to be prepared, stop by Bi-Rite Market near Dolores Park and pick up some delicious gourmet goodies…and don’t forget the bottle of wine!

Check out this year’s lineup which includes The English Beat, The San Francisco Symphony, & Neko Case, among an incredible group of diverse performances.  Then mark your calendar for your faves, and get ready for summer fun!

The 2011 Stern Grove Festival is happening Sundays at 2pm from June 19 – August 21, 2011 @ Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

Dimanche: Who are you?

9 May

I spotted some adorable stickers plastered around Lakeshore Drive in Oakland a few weeks back and fell in love- however, when I went to get a snapshot last week, it turned out that they had been torn down!  Fortunately, I discovered that they were apparently just part of a series by the artist (who remains unknown), and today I found these little cuties while walking around Lake Merritt.

There seems to be an ongoing theme of dancing skeletons, reminiscent of one of my favorite games from childhood, "Operation" (Wasn't your favorite body part the funny bone?)

The character has a little thinking cloud above its head, with the word “Dimanche” inside.  Meaning “Sunday” in French, I am assuming that this could be the artist’s alias.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the 1960 publication Dimanche – Le Journal d’un Seul Jour (Sunday – The Newspaper for Only One Day) by French artist Yves Klein?  Or perhaps it’s just a profession of love, for the laziest day of the week?

image courtesy of Wikipedia