Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Floor 39 : Huffin' & Puffin'


It's almost the 3 year anniversary of The Floor!!

This eve I re-evaluated the whole night from the bar to the bandstand, from the v.i.p. to hanging out in the parking lot. Damn! Some talent was there!

The Floor familia continues to grow and evolve. Walter Davis' handpicked house band is funkier and deeper; the crowd is prettier (and sweatier); the dancers, the players, all the contributors rockin' the King-King in a joyous unison makes for an incredible nightclub experience. Minus Carolina who was in Portland on business, the night was a pure joy and kicked off by Sascha introducing the crowd to Ombrey Degrate and Jeremy Erwin's Phoenix Soul (above); a multi-vocalist project backed by a 7 piece collection of musicians.

With DJ Uniek on the wheels of steel and MC's KG Superstar (left), Paris Paul and Vakisha Coleman (bottom photo) keeping the crowd hyped, Walter Davis led the group through 2 sets of blistering jamming, hitting on various styles including afro-cuban, modern jazz, bolearic beats, burlesque-y flim-flam and the hot funk!

For the whole photo album from the night, click [here].

Big shout-outs to (above l—r) Sophie, Alex, Lizbeth & "El BBQ De Raymond Castellon"!! A raise-the-roof "whoop! whoop!" to Liinda, "Lips", Roman, Pake, Julian, Shadarius, Justine (top left), Charlene, Eric, Kimberly, Jhila, Tiffany Bong, The Club Bullies, Mela & Magnolia Memoir and of course - Vakisha (below)!!
Thanks always to Walter, Carolina and Sascha!

Next month's The Floor will be July 28 and have a "Havana Nights" theme!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


It was a perfect day.
It started at midnight
celebrating with the guys
in the back of Mal's club after a gig.

As the sun rose red and
we sobered up with the morning,
we retraced the first steps of mankind
on the western shores
of this bleached continent.

Talk is cheap.
But the bar tab wasn't.
JOE'S serves food and drink-
but me and Mal are insatiable onuses.
They brought liquor
and shots
and beer
and hearty vittles.
We dined.
And imbibed.
And enjoyed.

The girls were beautiful
and horny
and drunk
and as Walter's sax siren wailed on,
they began to undulate.
They climbed the furniture.
Then pole dancing.
The stripping off of their sweaters.

The music was funky, fresh, loud and heavy.
There was dancing and drunkeness
both of which are permitted and encouraged.
They played jazz from their heart and
funk for their soul and
on Sundays they play the same songs
in reverse order and
call it gospel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out / About

Part 1.
I started the night over at Angel's with pianist Julian Le and his downright uptight trio of jazzateers, who filled the room with cool sounds and laid back style. I've long loved this joint. It's an all-ages venue with unique bookings, lovely atmosphere, friendly staff and great food. K.G. Superstar debuted his lounge act here last year and brought me in to spit some poetry. "The Red Velvet Cake Review" - as it was called - was on Sunday nights and ran for a full season. For TRVCR, K.G. employed some heavy hitters to back him including Walter Davis, Asa Watkins and Marcas Johnson as well as Matt Lucich & Alexander Burke from Magnolia Memoir. More recently, this was the very spot where Julian (aka the LeJ Trio) held a massive release party just a few weeks ago.

While enjoying the music, I had the Mac 'n' Cheese and a deep fried pickle. (I didn't take a picture of it.) I wasn't there to eat however. I was there to listen. Julian's group (bass /drums /sax) met at UCLA and they have honed their considerable skills to create musical, inventive jazz. Ably rivaling old skool cats for musicality and technique, Le is the man in control. His playing is concise and humble except when the energy in the room compels him to jam recklessly with a wide grin on his face. Tonight the room is under-populated, but I've seen it full & sweaty (the aforementioned release party). When Le hits his groove and starts soloing, his confidence shines and he does fancy hand moves and the grin won't leave his face; that's where he starts to show his very unique-ness.  

Part 2.
Magnolia Memoir were doing their weekly Wednesday concert at The Edison. This night they were hosting burlesque beauty and international dance star Carolina Cerisola. Tap dancers Sarah Reich and Kelsey McCowan were also scheduled to perform. Also on hand were Floor familia, i.e. dancers Minn Vo, Brian Lee, Rebecca Tuohino and Stefanie Klausman who performed some of their dazzling lindy and swing choreography. I hung out with a non-dancing Sascha Escandon while all this perpetual motion was happening.

It's always a pleasure to see Magnolia Memoir; this crew of impeccably dressed talent led by vocalist Mela Lee also features Gordon Bash (bass, vox), Alexander Burke (keys, vibes), Matt Lucich (drums) and Aron Forbes (guitar). Their set mixes favorite tracks from their 1st album with an ample amount of new material. Although still "Memoir-esque", the new stuff incorporates previously unheard sonics that are predictors of this band's genuine evolution. Delightfully and ernest-ly, tonight,  their cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" kicked the energy in the room into high gear.

 Carolina did a wild improv burlesque number that had everybody smiling from ear to ear. The happiness continued as Sarah and Kelsey threw down with their tap shoes to release their modern mantra - the percussive bliss - these women are the leaders of the new-millennium school of dance choreography. 

Such great music and performances and conversation - it's truly a joy to be hanging out right here tonight. 

Part 3.
"Chillin'" is my favorite way to enjoy Harvelle's.
I go for the music, but it's the place I like to be whenever. 
And on Wednesdays, it's where House Of Vibe All-Stars are. Peace to the HOVAS homies Corey, Amy Lou, Deploi, Shaunte, Kris & Amber, Greg, T-Smidi, and repping Monday nights Seth Murphy, Jon Swift, Mike Gunn and Ultralove. (In absentia - Ijeoma Njaka and drummers Pete and Fish.) Music is more important than most things and the House Of Vibe are huge advocates of this message. "Life Without Music" is their pathos-filled set closer that examines this concept. We thank the powers that be at the end of each HOVAS performance that music exists in this time and space. Thank you HOV! Thank you Brew!

And there was Heather.

Drunk, down (she lost her phone) and here at 2 a.m. - hungry and without a ride, I took her out for breakfast and after, deposited her at her front door.  

From the East side to the Westside, downtown to the beach, I swim in this rich city full of beautiful chords and exciting people, artists who do what they do, creating original work - pushing boundries, exploring new avenues and inroads and succeeding again and again.

This full-time poet salutes them all.