Tag Archives: Fitz and the Tantrums

ARROYO SECO WEEKEND: TOP TEN

 

  1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! : Sprawled out on manicured green lawns nestled amongst shady scrub oaks, this event took on a decidedly sylvan aura. Strolling from stage to stage was literally a walk in the park, and it was always easy to find shelter from the persistent California sun.
  1. WAIT…DID I JUST SEE LOBSTER ROLLS?: A dazzling array of delectables was on hand, from gourmet grilled cheese to poke bowls, there was something for every palate – a far cry from the usual burgers and pizza (although upscale versions of those were offered as well). The fact that this delicious food was brought to the scene by local Pasadena and L.A. restaurants, and not national concession chains, made it all the more special.
  1. CHEERS, MATE!: To wash down your culinary selection, an equally extensive selection of libations was offered: from kombucha to cold brew, Chardonnay to IPA, virtually any food pairing was made possible. Again, it was local brewers, vintners and beverage gurus bringing us these tasty treats. A personal favorite: nitrogen-infused iced coffee – cold and surprisingly subtle.
  1. DON’T LOOK NOW… BUT YOU’RE LEARNING SOMETHING: Scattered throughout the venue were tents and exhibits sponsored by community organizations like the  Kidspace Children’s Museum, Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR), and Visit Pasadena  that presented mini-lessons in creative and captivating ways to an audience looking for something to fill the 15 minutes before the next band hit the stage.

 

  1. DAMMIT! I’M OUTTA SUNSCREEN!: No problem. There were General Store tents or carts posted literally every 500 feet  If you forgot your Claritin or needed that extra layer of Coppertone, it was readily on hand without having to walk back to the car. The tents also offered parasols and blankets to further ensure your comfort in style.

 

  1. EXCUSE ME, BUT CAN YOU DIRECT ME TO…? : Unlike other festival events we’ve attended, where trying to find a knowledgeable staff member can be like a quest for the Grail, this event was literally overstaffed. It was remarkably effortless to find a helpful and friendly employee to answer even the most inane of questions.

 

  1. KEEPIN’ IT GREEN: As part of the effort to appease the residents of Pasadena, and out of respect for the planet in general, it was obvious a tremendous amount of thought and preparation went into minimizing this event’s impact on the environment. Clean-burning generators, biodegradable food utensils, and differentiated waste receptacles were in full use. A veritable army of yellow-shirted waste management staff kept the venue virtually spotless.    
  1. THE ROAR OF THE CROWD: Perhaps due to the selection of bands, or the location, or the family-friendly nature of the event, this festival drew a delightful cross-section of folks who really seemed to be there more for the music than the party. Conspicuously absent from the event were the obnoxious slice of the concert-going population that seems hell-bent on drinking themselves to a point where they’re not likely to even remember what bands they saw play.
  1. ARTFULLY DONE!: Partnering with Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts Project brought a whole other layer of fun and culture to this festival. Giant inflatable Buckyballs and a quarter-mile long snake-like “Red Line” played with one’s sense of scale and provided great conversation and photo opportunities. One very popular exhibit allowed visitors to concoct their own fragrances by mixing aromatic essential oils as an expert parfumier described their characteristics and explained the chemistry behind the olfactory experience.
  1. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE MUSIC: Regardless of all the other trappings, any music festival lives or dies on the selection of music being presented. The promoters of this festival did an outstanding job of selecting an array of incredibly talented and important musical acts. Regardless of one’s musical tastes, the quality of the musicianship was undeniable. It was a real music lover’s dream to wander among the stages and discover, and rediscover, some truly terrific tunesmiths.   

 

 

Arroyo Seco Weekend
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Saturday on the Green – Arroyo Seco Weekend 2017

 

Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

This past Saturday, thousands of music lovers of all ages and descriptions descended upon peaceful Pasadena for Day One of the 1st Annual Arroyo Seco Weekend; and after a somewhat overly-long wait for the gates to open, the pleasantly mixed crowd was released upon the green to spend a delightful day soaked in sunshine and song. As vendors and staff finished the last bits of preparation, we joined the light sprinkling of spectators headed towards the first show on the Sycamore stage.

As we approached, lilting Celtic-tinged strains of acoustic guitar, banjo, and upright bass supported a trio of female voices in close-knit harmonies entreating us to be their “…fine companion …in the canyon” – we had found Baskery. This upbeat sister act from Sweden was a sweet surprise, and a great appetizer for the day ahead. They mixed their peppy originals with covers – including an excellent rendition of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and added a dash of charming, snappy patter.

Baskery by Caren Spitler

After taking in about half of their perky, pop-folk set, it was time for a bit of lunch over at one of the many rows of delicious “gastro-tents” scattered about the concourse. Along the way we were distracted some lovely music which lured us over to the Willow stage, a more intimate, covered venue, and our next happy discovery – Avery*Sunshine.

Avery*Sunshine – Arroyo Seco Weekend, by Caren Spitler

We walked up as she was finishing a story about being personally invited to sing at Aretha Franklin’s birthday party, twice, then she launched into a version of Ms. Franklin’s “Day Dreaming” that was rich and deeply soulful. She and her remarkable back-up band followed this up with her Al Green-inspired gospel hit “Won’t You Try” that morphed into a highly-unlikely, but thoroughly funky mash-up with James Brown’s “Sex Machine” and brought the house, er tent, down. “Sure feels good to me!”

At this point, the heat was upon us so we needed to find something to quench our thirst. Although there were numerous alcoholic options around us, including delicious wines and a dazzling array of craft beers, we opted for something lighter this round and filled our cups with guava kombucha and nitro-infused cold brew java. Refreshing indeed!

Heading across the bridge, we saw a massive multi-colored backdrop, reminiscent of a mid-century modern painting in front of which emerged the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, direct from New Orleans. These veteran jazz masters treated the crowd to a fresh gumbo of all the best flavors the Big Easy has to offer, from Bourbon Street swing to Basin Street boogie, and even a bit of the St.Louis Cemetery dirge. Every musical bar was beautifully arranged, and every soloist a virtuoso. Despite the now-oppressive heat, the crowd could not be held down, and was on its feet moving and shaking, happily clinging to every delicious note.

A quick stroll back across the lawn brought us again to the Sycamore stage where British blues legend John Mayall was just taking the stage with his trio. After Mr. Mayall noted that they were “the only blues band on the bill” and would “give it their best,” they launched into their set and promptly delivered on their promise. The band brought authentic, stripped-down, heartfelt blues, including a tune called “Moving on” and the serendipitously-titled “Gimme Some Gumbo.” Mayall showed his skills on guitar, as well as keyboard and harmonica, occasionally playing the last two at the same time. Double-fisted blues! This was definitely a Hall-of-fame moment with a world-class layer.

John Mayall – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com
John Mayall – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

But wait…it was time to head back to the Willow stage and catch a bit of what had to be the most unexpected, and quirkiest, name on the bill, Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. Mssr Goldblum arrived in a spiffy black suit with matching fedora and skinny black tie and dove right into a bout of lively give-and-take with the audience, including true or false quizzes and bits of trivia wrapped around swinging jazz tunes delivered by his very capable ensemble and dominated by his deft piano work. This is the same act he brings to local audiences every week at Rockwell Table and Stage, and it’s a crowd-pleaser. Highlight of the set: a jazz arrangement of “American Girl” dedicated to headliner Tom Petty.

Jeff Gioldblum – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com
Jeff Goldblum – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

By this point, hunger was an undeniable beast in our bellies, so we grabbed some scrumptious short rib and jalapeno sliders and enjoyed a solid set by Broken Social Scene. Though not particularly my flavor, the alt-rock outfit had plenty of people shaking it in the sunshine, and performed their material with skill and sincerity.

Broken Social Scene – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

Now, the time had arrived for what was one of my primary reasons for attending – the appearance of Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. Although he’s been recording and touring for over a decade, Bradley’s revivalist sound of authentic 60s funky soul is really catching fire and has recently been included in soundtracks for TV project like “Suits,” “Ray Donovan” and “Luke Cage” – as well as a documentary “Soul of America.” Following a heartfelt and remarkably tender introduction by a bandmate, “The Screaming Eagle of Soul” swooped onto the stage and dropped the most intense package of funky sweet soul directly onto the audiences fully-blown minds.

Arroyo Seco Weekend
Charles Bradley – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

Still recovering from a recent bout with stomach cancer, Mr Bradley humbly thanked his audience for their support throughout his illness, and dedicated his show to “the love that binds us all.” Tough and tender, the sexagenarian soul master then pounded the crowd with funky body blows like “Where do We Go From Here” and “Ain’t it a Sin” and followed up with sweet sonic caresses like “Strictly Reserved for You” and “Changes,” his amazing reinvention of the Sabbath single. I heard crowd members spontaneously breaking into the refrain long after the show was done.

A bit shagged from the heat and frivolity, we found a nice little hillock some distance from the Oaks stage but still in view of the massive video screens and well within earshot, and enjoyed the astonishing talent of Alabama Shakes.  Suffice it to say this act deserves every ounce of its fame. Hands down.

Alabama Shakes – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com
Alabama Shakes – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

After resting our weary feet for a bit, we headed back to catch the closing act on the Sycamore stage – The Meters. We were still some distance away when the lights came up, and all soul broke out. It was truly a “Come to Funky Jesus” moment as this legendary band tore it up for good. There was not a single body standing still as The Original Funkmasters wove their intricate rhythmic web and wrapped us all up in the grooves of classics like “Fire on the Bayou,” “Cissy Strut,” and their wicked reworking of the Beatles’ “Come Together” – with an added horn section riff that took that tune to the stratosphere. Like a fine cheese, this band has gotten more funky, and delicious, with age. After fifty minutes of full-tilt musical mastery, he band had worked their “Funky Miracle,” and we left with our lives fully Funkified.

The Meters – Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com
The Meters –
Arroyo Seco Weekend Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers closed the day with this stop on their 40th Anniversary Tour. Petty took the stage and, to the delight of the crowd, promised a “100% Rock and Roll Show.” To tell the truth, by this time we were well and truly bone-weary, and chose to enjoy his set from the relative comfort of a rickety picnic bench adjacent to our previous hillock. I’ll just say he sounded great, and the band delivered his signature tracks with punch and precision to the obvious pleasure of all in attendance.

This first round of the Arroyo Seco Weekend’s freshman outing provided an outstanding array of talent, too much to all be taken in by one pair of ears – truly an embarrassment of riches! The promoters have signed a 10-year agreement with the city with an option to extend beyond. If things continue at this rate, we’ve got us a winner, and right here in our own front yard!

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Festival photography by Alex Huggan alexhuggan.com

Additional images Caren Spitler

Fitz and the Tantrums as seen at KAABOO

Fitz and the Tantrums
KAABOO Del Mar
Del Mar Racetrack
Friday, September 18, 2015

We recently got to check out the Fitz & the Tantrums at KAABOO Del Mar this September. The band played an outstanding set of their genre-defying music, merging soul, rock, hip-hop, and high-energy pop. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs gave a spectacular performance. The fronting duet and the band deliver every moment with passion; they’re electric on the stage with a sound to match.

Check out our image gallery of the band in action.

 

Find Fitz and the Tantrums online:

 

Check out our other stories on KABOO Del Mar:

  1. KAABOO Del Mar
  2. Natty Vibes Interview 
  3. Natty Vibes
  4. Fairground Saints Interview
  5. Fairground Saints
  6. Ron Funches Interview
  7. Vendor Interviews
  8. Ki
  9. Neon Trees
  10. Delta Rae
  11. Chris D’Elia
  12. X
  13. The Apache Relay
  14. Minnie Driver
  15. Atmosphere Galeries

 

KAABOO Del Mar

KAABOO Del Mar
Del Mar Racetrack
Friday, September 18th – Sunday, September 20th
By Harriet Kaplan

KAABOO Del Mar aimed to be the ultimate entertainment adult escape geared toward a mature audience but managed to also draw younger people from pre-teens on up to the 20-year-olds and beyond attracting multi-generational crowds from the ages of 40 to 70-year-olds. The first inaugural KAABOO Del Mar was all about options of the upscale variety and was successful on every level from gourmet cuisine (which included plant-based and vegan food choices) to specialty wines, beers and liquor to necessary comfort items that included cabanas and high-end port-potties in private trailers with toilets and sinks. Imaginative, colorful and vivid art murals and installations were also heavily featured.

Editor Caren Spiter interviewed Amanda Lynn, KAABOO art curator, in a separate installment article. Held at the Del Mar Racetrack from Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 20, KAABOO set out to be more than just an elaborate music festival though there were seven stages of live music that showcased various genres of music from rap, pop, alternative, rock, funk, reggae and blues. Prominent headliners included No Doubt and Snoop Dogg along with several mainstream name acts (Zac Brown Band) throughout the three-day period and critically-acclaimed artists (X and Rodrigo Y Gabriela) performed as well.

Caren Spitler got an exclusive interview with Ulysses from Ozomati. www.theartofla.com also profiled California’s Fairground Saints and Hawaii’s Natty Vibrations. Most performances seen were imbued by passionate intensity and conviction onstage sometimes bordering on the theatrical and were epic in scale while others were more subtle and nuanced punctuated by smaller, quieter gestures. The staging was big, elaborate and well executed. Jumbotron screens made it possible to view what concertgoers couldn’t see if the size of the crowds got so large to obscure the eye level view.

The audience response was always one of constant dedication, enthusiasm and the energy level was very high despite the soaring hot temperatures and the resulting accompanying sweltering humidity  from mid-morning everyday until sundown. The only drawback with so many talented performers appearing in a massive festival was the competing time slots where the sets overlapped one another. The biggest challenge was trying to figure out if one should stay for most of a particular set or part of at the most expense of seeing others.

Comedy performances from up-and-comers and well-known acts were another entertainment component of KAABOO billed as Humor Me. www.theartofla.com got to see headliners Chris E’Elia and Ron Funches from NBC’s hit show, Undateable, and legendary SNL alum Tim Meadows perform. Caren Spitler did a phone interview with funnyman Funches also featured in a separate article installment. The large building/warehouse where the comedy was took place was boiling hot inside and ventilated by several large fans circulated the stagnant and stifling air but it wasn’t nearly enough to cool it down. It was incredibly uncomfortable to sit through the shows. Even the comedians discussed the absurdity/irony of having a comedy show in what they called a “barn” at the Del Mar Race Track as part of their acts. Uninspired material characterized by the plethora of ass, pussy and dicks jokes got old fast. When the comedians deviated from that timeworn script, and were inspired by other subject matter taken from their own lives, giving it a different twist, the sets took fire and managed to generate more laughs.

With a commitment to produce multiple KAABOO events in the future, including one already in the planning stages for 2016, the first one seemed to be off to promising start based on the high-quality and attention to every detail and care put into it that transcends and expands on the narrow concept of what this experience has traditionally looked like and felt to all senses.

https://www.kaaboodelmar.com/

Check out our other stories on  KABOO Del Mar:
  1. Natty Vibes Interview 
  2. Natty Vibes
  3. Fairground Saints Interview
  4. Fairground Saints
  5. Ron Funches Interview
  6. Vendor Interviews
  7. Ki
  8. Fitz and the Tantrums
  9. Neon Trees
  10. Delta Rae
  11. Chris D’Elia
  12. X
  13. The Apache Relay
  14. Minnie Driver
  15. Atmosphere Galeries