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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.

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? 🙂

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

Why Oakland is Becoming Pretty Much My Favorite

2 May

One of my favorite street-art installations in Oakland. Cute!

I moved to San Francisco from the East Coast back in 1999.  In over a decade, I barely made my way across the bridge to Oakland–  probably fewer times than I could count on one hand.  It seemed like an entire world away (particularly without a car), and why would I ever leave SF when I had everything I needed right outside my door?

I was a bit apprehensive about moving to Oakland this past December, but I was ready for a change, having resided in almost every single district in San Francisco since having moved there.  Not to mention the fact that cheaper rent sounded pretty damn good, given the recent slash to my income.  So, here I am.

I have to say, Oakland almost immediately put a spell on me.  Yes, it’s true, there are some bad neighborhoods, and I am definitely a lot more wary about going out after dark by myself in certain parts of town, but I think it’s really unfortunate what an incredibly bad rap this place has received!  Aside from all of the negative stuff the media constantly focuses on, there are so many beautiful areas, a rich cultural history, a great sense of community, a happening arts scene, and let’s not forget that it is now an up-and-coming culinary hotspot.

I want to make sure that no San Franciscans do what I did and waste ten years thinking Oakland isn’t worth the trip.  So, I am starting a series of posts with brief snippets and shots from around my new home… things that make me smile on an almost daily basis.  In sharing this with y’all, I hope that you enjoy, discover, get off your a**es, and come give us a visit us sometime! 🙂

Trinh Mai: Paintings to Get Lost In (Tomorrow in SF!)

27 Apr

They Come For Me, 2009, mixed media on canvas, 40 x 90" triptych

I am absolutely infatuated with this woman’s artwork.  I came across some thumbnail images of Trinh Mai’s paintings on Facebook, and was immediately transfixed.  Upon visiting her Facebook page I proceeded to squander over an hour of my evening just scrolling through her creations one by one, completely mesmerized.  There is a dreamy, ethereal quality to her art (which includes some beautiful ceramic pieces as well) that I find extremely soothing.  Even the music on her website is calming and seductive (think sexy bossa-lounge).  I just love her use of stencils in several pieces, like this one:

Says The Crow II, 2010, mixed media 6 x 6"

You can check out her goods in person tomorrow, at a benefit for the Japanese Red Cross Relief Effort at Mina Dresden Gallery @ 312 Valencia Street in San Francisco (see below for details).

In the meantime, I highly recommend visiting her site www.trinhmai.com.

Thank you, Trinh, for allowing the use of these images in my blog.  Please keep your beautiful work coming!  🙂

TT