Tag Archives: music

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!


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.

Magic in the Mission: The Red Poppy Art House

2 Apr

Part performance space/community center, part art gallery/dance studio, The Red Poppy Art House is more than just a sum of its     (p)arts.

In the background people are dancing.   Latin music floats through the air, mingling with the scent of burning incense and then meandering, intertwining with beams of sunlight and making its way through the artfully tattered curtain panels that languidly cover the windows.  It is Saturday, so there is a salsa class in session, and I try my best to focus on the conversation at hand, rather than on the ten or so people who are smiling and laughing as they follow along with the instructor.  The effervescent woman, who manages to make the steps look effortless from where I am sitting, has surely been doing this her entire life, and the ease and fluidity with which she moves is sensual and inspiring.

“The [Red]Poppy has this weird way of changing people…empowering them to quit their jobs and start from scratch;  to make-over their lives, so they are able to do what they have always wanted to do.” Meklit laughs and shakes her head, a sign that even after spending five years working at the Red Poppy Art House, she herself still has a hard time grasping its… um…well, its “power”. 

Meklit Hadero– a young, vivacious woman from Ethiopia whose exotic looks, laid back attitude and extraordinary eloquence seem to be perfectly punctuated by the signature white orchid worn behind one ear- has a laugh that is both intriguing and infectious.  Even more so is her story, which includes beginning her relationship with the Poppy several years ago, just as I had – as a naïve city dweller who just happened to stumble upon the space while en route elsewhere- and winding up as co-Director  and resident songstress of the original “Operational Arts Collective”.

We sit at the counter, sipping freshly brewed coffee out of mismatched tea cups – these, along with the little spoons we stir with, have all been donated by members of the community- and I take delight in the surprising charm of the lightly chipped porcelain I’ve been served with.  Next to me and throughout the space are second-hand vases filled with beautiful fresh flowers- an offering from a long-time neighbor, who brings several new bouquets each week to enliven the space.  The hand-me-down furniture, a whimsical array of old upholstered chairs, couches, and benches- has been pushed to the room’s perimeter, revealing weathered floorboards below, which serve today as a dance floor, and only add to the breezy, attic-like feel of the space.

I feel as if I am a guest in a secret garden parlor, straight out of a story book I might have read back grade school…complete with cozy window seats strewn with lush velvet pillows, a wooden ladder leading up to a hidden loft space (an excellent vantage point for live performances, I am told); there is even a friendly cat who has taken it upon herself to claim the space as her home… and I am convinced that at any moment some glowing, winged forest creature is going to pop out from behind the piano and whisper in my ear:

“…we are real, Livia…  But only if you believe…”

 The Red Poppy Art House is located at 2698 Folsom Street in San Francisco

SF: What I’m Talkin’ About!

24 Mar

San Francisco artists gather to raise funds for Japan! I was invited to this awesome event by one of my favorite local artists, Steve Javiel. If you are into giving, if you collect art, or if you just want to have fun, this one is a must-attend!

D20 Mixed Media on Canvas 40″ x 30″ by Steve Javiel

Surreality in Reality x Gallery Heist x Kokoro Studio present:


Saturday April 2nd, 2011 | 7PM – 12AM
Gallery Heist: 679 Geary St, SF
Kokoro Studio: 682 Geary St, SF

In response to the devastating disaster that has struck Japan, S.I.R, Gallery Heist & Kokoro Studio have joined together to raise money in an effort to provide relief and aid for the people effected by the earthquake and Tsunami.  Please join them for one night only salon-style art exhibition and performances.  All artwork will be priced at $100 or below.

100% of the proceeds will be donated to:

Give2Asia: Artists Help Japan – Earthquake&Tsunami 2011

For full details and list of participants, check out the Facebook page!

White Stripes-Shaped Hole in Your Heart?

7 Feb
The White Stripes (album)

Image via Wikipedia

There is definitely one in mine.  But after reading the below article in the most recent edition of Flavorwire, I am beginning to feel the wound heal. Still, counting down the days ’till a reunion tour…

Flavorwire » 10 Bands to Fill the White Stripes-Shaped Hole in Your Heart.

Calling All Musicians…World Wide Challenge!

30 Jan

Listen up y’all:  February is Record Production Month.  That means that if you are one of those artists (myself included) who has been procrastinating on starting the next “big” project, now is a better time than ever to get off your butt, roll up your sleeves, and GET F***IN’ CREATIVE!  One album in 28 days- NO EXCUSES.  Now, check it out…and don’t look back… take The RPM Challenge.

*East Bay Express will host a listening party on March 27th, playing one track off of each Bay Area album submitted!  (Location TBD)

Pining Away For Grand National

28 Jan

Grand National happens to be one of my favorite under-the-radar bands right now.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed to discover that along with this band- from the United Kingdom- San Francisco is also home to a band with the same name.  I only realized this after a good friend excitedly purchased a bunch of  tickets for us to attend to tonight’s show in SF.  (Apologies to the local band, I am sure you are great, it’s just…well, you’re just not the one we wanted.) No wonder tickets were only eight bucks a pop!  😦  So… in honor of the British version- whom I have been excited to see for weeks now, by the way- I have posted a song for your listening pleasure.