To and From the Heart: Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe & Daniel Ho

taiwu 001On my day off yesterday, I had the fortune of finding out about a free educational presentation by the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe and Daniel Ho at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana from a friend who heard them interviewed on KPFK that same morning. I’m so glad I made the drive down to OC to catch them!

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Selah Sue and Bushwalla at El Rey Mon Aug. 26!


Here’s a tip for discovering new music from abroad before it hits US shores — get to know travelers or even host one in your home! It was 2 years ago, I was taking a Belgian CouchSurfer named Julie on a surf trip during her summer internship in LA. While listening to music during the car ride, I joked that I never heard of any good music coming from Belgium. Being a musician herself, she personally took offense, plugged her iPod into my car radio, and proceeded to school me…in the ways of Selah Sue

Wow I was immediately hooked from the opening guitar riff and her distinctive voice and cadence as she sings and raps in a blend of soul and reggae. I immediately drove home and youtubed her, finding this live performance very early in her musical career:

How does such a young girl with piercing blue eyes from a small Belgium town channel such ragga soul and command such emotional depth? Coming from a non-musical family, a music career was far from any of her thoughts as a teen. Learning to play acoustic guitar at 15, Selah Sue simply wanted to write songs as a way to deal with her teenage anxieties. “I had all these worries and depressions that I wrote down, it was a way of structuring my thoughts,” she writes on her bio. Many of her songs touch on her insecurities and coming out of her shell through her music.

And the rest is destiny: playing open mics in high school and posting her music on Myspace garnered her an instant growing fan base and offers from music producers, which she rejected early on because she wanted to write and sing her own songs. Selah Sue saved the songs she wrote as a teen, like Raggamuffin, for her self-titled debut album released in 2011. Julie left me a copy before she returned to Belgium and I’ve had it on repeat ever since.

Selah Sue writes songs like an old soul, influenced by the funk, soul and reggae rawness of her idols Lauren Hill, Erykah Badu and Bob Marley. Her stage name is in homage to Lauren Hill, whose daughter is named Selah.

I’ve also read she’s a very private person. I finally got to see her live at last year’s UCLA Jazz and Reggae Fest which I believe was one of her first performances in the US. After her set, as she walked offstage to the artist area, I and another “early adopter” who knew her music screamed at the top of our lungs “SELAH SUE” to get her attention and motioning her to come over. I think we were too eager and scared her away, as she shyly retreated away. She played acoustically that day without a backing band and she’s at her most introspective and vulnerable on songs like Mommy, when it’s just her and her guitar.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Selah Sue again and seeing how quickly she’s matured as an artist at just 24 years young on a sky-rocketing trajectory. You may have already heard her voice and not known it.

I know I’ll be ready tomorrow for my spoonful of Selah Sue’s intense soul-baring music tomorrow at the El Rey Theatre., with Bushwalla, the self-proclaimed Original Gangster from Cleveland. It’s an all ages show at 8pm and tickets are just $17.

New Music Discovery: Dom La Nena. LA Shows June 1-2


(UPDATE: 5/31/13: Just saw my blog featured on Dom La Nena’s Facebook page where she says these shows are her very FIRST shows in the US, so you definitely don’t want to miss them!)
Thanks to KCRW, I just discovered Dom La Nena who was born in Brazil, lives in France and studied cello in Argentina. Her music is as intricate as her upbringing, spanning 3 countries, 3 languages and an early calling to the cello. Born Dominique Pinto in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Allegre, Dom started playing piano around age 5 but very soon fell in love with the cello and wanted to devote her life to it. She moved with her family to Paris, France when she was eight so her father could pursue his doctorate while she continued studying cello. Upon returning to Brazil 5 years later, Dom could not find a cello teacher and started writing letters to acclaimed American cellist Christine Walevska, known as “the goddess of the cello”. With Walevska’s encouragement and her parents’ support, Dom moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina at the age of 13 to study with Walevska until she returned to France at age 18. Her song “No Meu Pais” exquisitely captures her uprooted life without any one place to call home.

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The Record Company Tour, New Video and Free EP Download!


I love The Record Company. I first saw them at School Night at Bardot and they blew me away with their raw rock and blues. They just released a new video for their song This Crooked City and recently announced their 2013 tour which will start here in Los Angeles and take them through Canada. Catch them at one of their remaining shows in Southern California before they leave and download their EP Superdead for free here.

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Alice Russell with Shafiq Husayn Saturday May 4


(Update 4/25/13: Here are other opportunities to see or hear Alice Russell:
Wed May 1: US TV Debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Thu May 2: Free in-store performance at Amoeba Records in Hollywood
Fri May 3: Live on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic on 89.9FM or stream online. You can also preview her new 5th album To Dust now here. She’s starting her US and Europe tour for the new album and here are her other show dates.)
LA, you don’t want to miss Alice Russell‘s show in LA on Saturday, May 4! I saw her the first time at ArtDontSleep‘s That 70s Soul show and they are partnering with Spaceland for this show to be held at the First Unitarian Church, which is a very fitting venue for this spectacular UK soul singer who grew up singing in gospel choirs. There will be an opening performance by Shafiq Husayn featuring The Dove Society and Dj sets by Seano. Get your tickets now! You can also catch Shafiq Husayn this Saturday, April 28, at the monthly THIS event at NOLA’s in downtown.

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Music, Dance, Film, Art & Cultural events Apr. 22 – Apr. 28

weekly list
Happy Earth Day! There are Earth Day events all month into May but really…every day should be Earth Day! And there are a bizillion film festivals this week. Another gorgeous sunny Spring week with so going on! Here are just some of the very many awesome events happening around LA! Do you have an LA hidden treasure or great cause people should know about? Let me know! Have a great week, Angelenos…dedicating this song to you all! Continue reading

Paris Combo US Tour with New Album


By the time a friend introduced me to the wonderful eclectic music of Paris Combo, the group was already well into a long hiatus after their 2004 album Motifs. Their music is a blend of French cabaret, rumba, flamenco, Gypsy swing, cool jazz, African, Latin and Middle Eastern styles that defies easy categorization. My long wait to hear them live is over! They will be touring the US in April and May, playing new songs from their 5th studio recording, simply titled “5”. Here are their tour dates/cities:
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