Saturday, November 09, 2013

20 Years Later: "Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers" and "Midnight Marauders"

I remember Nov. 8, 1993 fairly well because that was the night I was able to purchase A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight Marauders," a full day before it went on sale to the public.
The rest of the world is celebrating Nov. 9 as the 20th anniversary of the release of two classic hip-hop albums, the aforementioned "Midnight Marauders" and Wu-Tang Clan's debut "Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers." Two weeks later, Snoop's "Doggystyle" was released, making November 1993 a pivotal time for hip-hop music.
But Nov. 8 was special for me because as a holiday employee at Sam Goody, one of the job perks was the opportunity to purchase new album releases a day before they went on sale to the public. We had to wait until the end of our shift to buy it, but there was some cache in having the tape ahead of the rest of Salinas.
In the pre-internet days, this was the closest I ever got to an album leak, and it was glorious.
Both albums had an immediate impact on me and my circle of friends. We would go back and forth on the Wu-Tang "torture" scenarios like rounds of the dozens. We would recite "The Killer" skit to one another as if it was secret code. And even the east side cholos I grew up with could get behind the oldies samples on "Can It Be That It Was All So Simple."
Midnight Marauders was special to me because it was one of the first albums I analyzed critically. There were subtle mysteries to unlock, the first one being 'what was the hook really saying in "Electric Relaxation?'
Later, when I learned the "Lyrics to Go" sample was actually a Minnie Ripperton vocal loop, it was an eye-opener. So much texture to the production. So much innovation.
These albums had instant appeal to rap nerds like myself, at a time when rap nerdom was relegated to a die-hard few.
Reflecting 20 years later, I feel old, but happy that my 17-year-old self was forward-thinking enough to appreciate classic hip-hop music. I have yet to outgrow these albums, and I will have to give them a listen sometime soon to enjoy them all over again.

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Monterey Museum of Art names Charlotte Eyerman as new Executive Director

Charlotte Eyerman has been named executive director of the Monterey Museum of Art, it was announced Thursday.

Eyerman emerged as the choice after a roughly eight-month long national search. She fills the role left vacant by E. Michael Whittington, who announced his resignation in January.

Eyerman, who lives in Los Angeles, currently serves as director of the French Regional American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a consortium of 26 major museums.

Eyerman previously did strategic and curatorial work for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and has extensive curatorial and consultant  experience at several Southern California museums and galleries, including work with Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, the Pasadena Arts Council, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Eyerman is expected to move to the Monterey Peninsula sometime in October. She will be in attendance for the Aug. 25 closing ceremony of “Return to the Sea: Saltworks” by Motoi Yamamoto.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cali Roots and the future of Monterey Peninsula music

I absolutely dig this logo

    On Monday, organizers of the wildly successful California Roots Music & Art Festival announced an east coast version, "California Roots — The Carolina Sessions," Oct. 26 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
  It's an impressive accomplishment — a niche musical genre festival building momentum over a short period of time (the first festival was held in 2010), evolving into a 7,500-person-a-day, three-day event.
 To put it in perspective, the Monterey Jazz Festival, still the grand daddy of all regional music festivals, achieved its record three-day attendance watermark of 40,000-plus attendees in 2006 and 2007.
 That was accomplished 49 and 50 years after MJF was established. The jazz festival also had the benefit of a major corporate sponsor in Verizon.
 With total attendance of 22,500 at this year's event, Cali-Roots has grown to more than half that size of MJF. It did it independently, in less than five years.
 Cali-Roots organizers, chief among them founder Jeff Monser and lead organizer Dan Sheehan, are to be commended for establishing a solid brand and business model in the ever-so-fickle concert promotion industry.
 I can't say with any certainty that there's a lesson to be learned from the festival's success, but the evidence does bode well for contemporary music fans on the Monterey Peninsula.
 That is, when shows featuring young, hot, well-known musical artists with established buzz and loyal fan bases are announced, fans will show up from all over the region.
 I saw it last year with the Mumford & Sons "Gentlemen of the Road" tour stop, which brought in 10,000 people.
 It continued in April when Band of Horses performed a sold-out show at the Golden State Theater.
 Cali-Roots got it right by booking acts with strong touring experience and solid digital album sales. This year's headlining acts — Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid and Matisyahu — certainly fit those bills.
 It also helped that the Central Coast has a strong local reggae-rock music scene. Local acts like Wasted Noise and Matt Masih & The Messengers were rewarded for their hard work with spots on this year's Cali-Roots bill.
 As it stands, the Central Coast can regard itself as the national reggae-rock capital.
 Cali-Roots is in the process of establishing a year-round local presence. On July 5, it hosted J-Boog at the Fox Theater in Salinas. VIP tickets sold out before the doors even opened.
 That's not to say that anything with the reggae-rock tag is destined to sell-out locally. But it's proof positive that when promoters identify the right musical and cultural movement at the right time, and are able to cater to that audience, it can be very successful here on the Central Coast.
 The next test will be the First City Festival, which is promoted by Goldenvoice, the promotion company that organizes the Coachela Music & Arts Festival. With that built in brand recognition should serve FCF well.
 I predict a good turnout, anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 people a day. That still won't match up with Cali-Roots.
 Once First City Festival is done, we'll countdown the days until the 2014 Cali-Roots Festival lineup is announced.
 And we'll see if Cali-Roots can ultimately become the biggest music festival on the Central Coast. Period.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best Bets: Arden Park Roots in Concert Saturday, May 18 at Casa Sorrento in Salinas

   What: Arden Park Roots in concert
   Where: Casa Sorrento, 393 Salinas St., Salinas
   When: 9 p.m. Saturday, May 18
   Sacramento's Arden Park Roots deliver funky, crowd-pleasing California Reggae-Rock that has earned them loads of accolades in thestate capital. 
   The band has taken the Sacramento music awards, aka "The Sammies," twice for "Best Reggae/Rock/Funk band." In 2012, the band was inducted into the "Sammies" Hall of Fame. 
   The band has been on the road grinding and spreading its conscious vibe, touring the east coast and performing songs from its most recent album, “Pipe Dreams.” 
   $5 cover. For information, call 757-2720, or see

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Best Bets: Clyde Carson and more in concert Friday, May 17 at Fox Theater in Salinas

   What: Clyde Carson, HD of Bearfaced, Lil Raider, J-Blaze, Jay Rezz and more in concert

   Where: Fox Theater Salinas, 241 Main St., Salinas
   When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 17
   Oakland rapper Clyde Carson first saw success as front man for popular Bay Area act The Team. 
   Regional hits like "Hyphy Juice" and 2012's "Slow Down" helped Carson maintain a presence on the radio airwaves, while his recent mixtape "Something To Speak About" helped fuel the recent Bay Area rap revival.                                                                                                                 
Salinas rapper Jay Rezz performs
Friday at Fox Theater Salinas
  Friday's show also features performances from HD of Bearfaced, Lil Raider, J-Blaze, Lil Ro, Yung-D, Varcity, Yung Ant, Thomas Alex and up and coming Salinas rapper Jay Rezz. 

  $20 advance tickets available at Tickle Me Pink, 1294 N. Main St., Salinas. For information, call 510-827-0444 or 229-9907.

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Best Bets: Forrest Day & The Suborbitals Thursday, May 16 @ Carmel Bar & Grill

What: Forrest Day, The Suborbitals in concert
Where: Carmel Bar and Grill, 3601 The Barnyard, Carmel
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16
   Locals pining for the days of Monterey Live (count us among them) get a double dose of nostalgia Thursday night in Carmel. Bay Area firestarter Forest Day brings his jolly band of misfits and songs from his new album, "The Second." 
   There's no real way to describe the sound and energy, so we'll just say this — imagine The Muppet's "Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem" band come to life. Yup, that about sums itup. 
   Opening is the masked men of The Suborbitals and their own category-defying brand of style and sound. En Vivo Monterey. Siempre!
   $15 cover. This show is 21 and over. See or

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

City of Salinas and Youth Commission announce Salinas Youth Poet Laureate competition

  The City of Salinas and the city's Youth Commission hosts a poetry competition at 6 p.m. June 1 to find the city's first Youth Poet Laureate.
  The competition takes place at Sherwood Hall, 940 North Main St., Salinas. It is open to any Salinas resident age 13-19.
  The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and serve for one year as the city's poet laureate.
  For information, call 758-7217. See the press release below for full information.

Name of Organization: City of Salinas, Youth Commission
Event: Salinas Youth Poet Laureate
Date: Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:00pm.
Place: Sherwood Hall, 940 North Main Street
Fee: Contest Entry and Event Admission Free

   Become the first Salinas Youth Poet Laureate for one year and receive $1000.00! The contest is open to any resident of Salinas aged 13-19.
   All styles of poetry are welcome. Poetry performed must be original work. Term of the Poet Laureate is for one year.
   For information, call 758-7217 or email  See our Face Book page Salinas Youth Poet for more information.

   For more information call: 758-7476

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Video: "The Legend" by Arwa Awan

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Pacific Grove High School student Arwa Awan performs "The Legend" by Garrett Hongo at the 2013 California Poetry Out Loud state competition. Awan took first prize and will represent California at the national Poetry Out Loud competition this spring in Washington D.C.

Awan is the thirs Pacific Grove High School student to win the state competition since 2010. Previous winners were Morgan Brown (2010) and Robert Marchand (2011).

Awan won the Monterey County competition in 2012.

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