Friday, February 19, 2010

Urbanology - Class Is In Session: Alicia Keys' "Unthinkable (I'm Ready)"

Review: Cystal Holt
Alicia Keys - Unthinkable (I'm Ready)

I'm ready indeed for more songs like this from Keys. I like the sexy side of life she's showing and now that she's put those lesbian rumors to rest by bedding Swizz Beatz (much to the chagrin of his wife ... ex-wife). The pairing of Keys with Drake isn't hurting my ears or my eyes either. Is it too soon to hope for a sultry music video starring the two as star crossed lovas - rhymes with under the covas. Some slinky hugs and kisses are in order. Hopefully, Swizz doesn't have Keys locked in a guilded cage ala Hova/Beyonz. Jay-Z wouldn't let Usher up on it in "Naughty Girl" OR Sean Paul in the "Baby Boy" video, but let Michael Eely cuddle in Halo? I guess he figures once you've bed Halle Berry, one can only go down. Anyway, add this to your sex mix right after Robin Thicke's mochachocolata "Sex Therapy."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Urbanology - Class Is In Session: The Color Purple

Review: Crystal Holt
The Color Purple

I had the privilege of seeing this play’s first run in New York on Broadway and I was hoping to catch the LA version with Fantasia, but alas she was not there and I was “treated” to her understudy. Now, I pulled the understudy in New York as well, but that experience left me with the feeling of “if this is the understudy, who the hell is the lead.” The L.A. version was not the same experience. While this young lady definitely pulled it together in the end, it took her a while to get there and several emotional songs left me sans goosebumps. Rufus Bonds, Jr’s portrayal of Mister left me wondering who he blew to get the role. He neither had the acting chops nor the range for the role. And his physically in places reduced me to inappropriate giggles. In the land of lost angels, I’m quite certain there was SOMEONE far more talented to fill the shoes in this vital role.

Stu James really did shine as Harpo and I’m not saying that because he’s high yellow and fine. He had the acting range, singing range and physical presence to pull off the role, and not once did he shirk away from the romance he shared with his female counterpart Sophia, played by the hefty, beautiful and I’m sure 10 years older Felicia P. Fields. James and Fields played their relationship quite convincingly which was very refreshing. Fields’ physical presence ran shivers down my spine and delighted the audience. “Hell No” is now my official theme song for life.

Angela Robinson was properly cast as Shug Avery and while I liked her swagger and the timbre of her voice, she could stand to emote a bit more energy, volume and presence. Her character should have in theory outshone everyone else – which she managed to eclipse everyone BUT Sophia. But I’m sure Fields is never easy to eclipse in any role she deigns to play.

One can only imagine what prowess Fantasia brings to the role, but I will argue that she’s hardly ugly enough to be Cely. It would have been engaging to see her interact with Fields, James and even LaToya London’s Nettie. And while the play has some pretty memorable songs, several from Steven Spielberg’s film will be sorely missed – especially “Sister” and “God’s Going to Tell You Something.” Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch Fantasia in the role… or a shooting star … or a unicorn or maybe not.

Urbanology - Class Is In Session: Gucci Mane & His "Musical Shenanigans

Review: Crystal Holt

Gucci Mane

Call me old fashioned or an elitist, but I like my lyricists to be intelligent. Scratch that; I prefer not only the individual to be experienced in both street and book, but have that knowledge, that gift of worldliness to be expressed in the song. I want a good beat AND lyrics. I want cake AND icing, the Moon AND the motherfucking sky … galaxy … alternate dimensions. I want effort AND perfection. Otherwise in the landscape of music the artist gets lost and the consumer gets bored, not unlike a new magazine in the busy and loud sea of the newsstand.

What exactly am I supposed to be impressed by? His love of yellow? Fuck chicks, sells drugs, one-up dudes, kick-ball-change, repeat. Jewelry, jewelry, misogyny, drop name brand, name drop athlete, uninvention, electric slide, repeat. Mush mouth, bass, bass, simple refrain, Phantom, kilo, sing off key, macarena, stanky leg, repeat. <<**Yawn**>>

And did he do videos for EVERY song? Must have been stocking up for jail. This album would have been really good and progressive in 1993 when I was growing up in the hood. But I have grown and evolved since then and it’s just a little too 4th grade vocabulary worksheet for me. Sure Lil Wayne and Ursher (yeah, I spelled it that way on purpose) do what they can, but as gutta as Wayne still claims to be, that motherfucker reads and has evolved beyond Master P/The Block is Hot.

I give this album a half a bag of Redhot Riplets, two bites of hot pickle and a sip of grape Crush. That’s the ghetto equivalent of 2 stars on Netflix or 1 mic from The Source, you know, back when THAT was still relevant.

The Vernacular Expressions of Art

Sirron Norris Studio and Gallery Grand Opening
The Vernacular Expressions of Art
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review Lorna Pacheco
Photos Joseph O'Neill and Lorna Pacheco

Lately, the atmosphere of art has been marginalized. Creative instincts have been malnourished and stunted due to programs being cut in the public school system. Many fear that art will soon be monopolized by the private sector. However, there is at least one place where it thrives in a very grass roots way. Artist Sirron Norris (his name is a palindrome), a local legend, has come to the rescue as he has discovered the anecdote.

His mission: to make his art accessible to all. Norris’ new studio and gallery opened earlier this month in The Mission. A diverse and huge crowd of children and adults filled his gallery and poured out onto the street. The concept: bring street art into a gallery space. Normally, high-end art galleries are associated with wealth, soft music and an art gallery curator. Norris aims to change that by creating a high-end space that is for the community, for children, for families, aspiring artists, students, any anyone walking down the street.

“Art should not be intimidating and neither should galleries,” says Norris. He lived up to his word on Saturday. Kids were lined up to play the 3-D interactive video game where they could walk into Norris’ paintings. The gallery featured his artwork, clothing, stickers, art books, toys and the studio was the center of commerce. A favorite instillation was a diorama of San Francisco-styled Victorian buildings made of recycled materials. DJ Eric Chavez aka “The Fog” was spinning raw, uncut funk and classic, underground hip-hop on his turntables. Cookies and milk for the kids, wine and cheese for the adults. It was a unique, colorful scene, filled with splendor as his works of art evoked a vibe of euphoria. One sees it and thinks, Anime meets Hanna Barbera meets graffiti inspired work. Norris defines his style as “cartoon literalism.” His work interprets social issues such as race, segregation and gentrification, through symbolism, toned down by the use of cartoon caricatures.

He plans on offering cartoon classes for the youth for only $15 per class starting mid February. The large storefront window allows for public viewing of live painting. As this process comes to life, it helps break the disconnect of what one buys and how things are created. Next time you are in San Francisco, stop by this gem of a gallery. As demonstrated at his opening, the San Francisco community seems to appreciate Sirron Norris for breathing new life back into the art sector and for doing it in a new funky, street-savvy style.

Sirron Norris is an artist, educator, muralist, painter and commercial artist in San Francisco. In the last 11 years he has created over 15 murals all over the city, including “Victorion, El Defensor de la Mision” in Balmy Alley in the Mission district ( His “blue bear” murals are famous and located all over in SF. Among other projects, he has worked on Fox’s animated series Bob’s Burgers (be on the lookout early 2011). His new gallery and studio is located in the Mission at 1406 Valencia Street at 25th. For more information please go to or Facebook.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Show Pick For This Evening: The Antlers and Editors at The Wiltern

Photo: Ben Ritter

Head over to The Wiltern tonight to hear The Antlers and Editors perform their latest releases, Hospice and In The Light And On This Evening, respectively. Both are decent records and both bands put on great shows. If you can't make the show, be sure to check out the records.

Photo: Kevin Westenberg

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mark Your Calendars (or the creepy clowns will get you...)

Seriously. Am I the only who feels totally uncomfortable when I look at this flyer? Okay. So what? That's not the point. K Bro has put together a neat little line up of sonic goodness. This show is 18+ so tell all the kids. As an added bonus, if you want to get on the $5 cover list, you can email get the hook up. Holler!

Glacier Hiking
Go West Young Man

Yours truly will be working the merch booth so be sure to stop by and support the artists. Kevin is really good about having goodies for everyone at the table...even you broke folk.

Sonic Treat of the Day: Still Life Still's "Kid"

Hey. Here's a little something for your dome this afternoon: Still Life Still. They're from Canada. Shocking. I should just marry Canada already because I like most things Canadian. Any who, Still Life Still is one of these things I like so allow me to share...

CLICK HERE to get yourself your very own copy of "Kid"

You can catch Still Life Still live on Wednesday night at The Troubadour.

As an added bonus, why don't you feast your eyes on the video for Girls Come Too's first single, "Pastel" - and yes, that's Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene making two lil cameos.

And The Nominees Are...

Cheers to all of our local musicians that are nominated for an OC Music Award this year. OC Weekly's Jim Washburn will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Yay!! We've noted some of our favorites with links. Be sure to check them out if you haven't already. Without further ado, the list of nominees...

Best Album – Released in 2009
“Asleep in the Wake” - Melanoid
“Beggars” - Thrice
“In Search of Solid Ground” - Saosin
“Place and Stage” - Dusty Rhodes and the River Band
“Portable Record Player” – Michael Ubaldini

Best Song – Released in 2009
“El Capitan” – The Steelwells
“How it Feels” - Aushua
“Oh Goodbye” – The Colourist
“Storm” – Atreyu
“Walk Like a Gentleman” – Eye Alaska

Best New Artist – New to 2009 Music Scene
The Colourist
I Hate You Just Kidding
She Screams Remedy
The Steelwells

Best Alternative
Eye Alaska

Best Blues
Parker Macy Blues
Mississippi Man
Roman Alexander and the Robbery
Savage City
Walter Trout

Best Club DJ
Bobby Soul
DJ Dan Sena
DJ Oldboy
Free the Robots
Rachael Starr

Best Country/Americana
Billy Kernkamp
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band
The Fallen Stars
Michael Ubaldini
Pawn Shop Kings

Best Electronic
Break the Circus
Color Theory
Electric Valentine
Free the Robots

Best Folk
Argyle Smile
Barrett Johnson
I Hate You Just Kidding
Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob
Yellow Red Sparks

Best Hip Hop
The Dirty Heads
Loose Logic
My Hero

Best Indie
The Color Turning
The New Limb
The Steelwells
The Union Line
Young The Giant

Best Jazz
Dana Parker
Rare Form Band
Riff Raff
Todd Oliver
Translucent Ham Sandwich Band

Best Latin
Boogaloo Assassins
Chris Williams
Miguel Garcia and the Vaquetones
Robert Anthony Aviles
Soul Hustlers

Best Metal
Avenged Sevenfold
Death by Stereo

Best Pop
The Bolts
Cambria Detken
Molly Jensen
The Sequence
Stacy Clark

Best Punk
The Adolescents
Franki Doll & The Broken Toys

Best Rock
Dusty Rhodes and the River Band

Best Surf
Gantez Warrior
Hindu Pirates
Marc B
The Eliminators
The Growlers

Best World
The Dirty Heads
Pilot Touhil
Reel Big Fish

Orange County Impact Award
Sugar Ray

Lifetime Achievement Award
Jim Washburn

The Grove in Anaheim will host the award show on March 6th. Support your local scene and artists. Tickets to the award show are available via Ticketmaster. We'll definitely be there. Hope to see you there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Residency - The Echo Hosts The Useless Keys

The Useless Keys are house sitting for The Echo on Monday nights in February. Haven't heard the band or seen them live yet? Click here to have a listen. This week, the band is joined by Spirit Vine and The Arms. A little birdy named K Bro told me Warpaint was going to be the surprise guest for tonight. Oh, werd? You better go...

As always, Mondays at The Echo are free and open to cats and kittens that are 21 and over.