Alright, so I believe that this will be the last blog entry for a couple months. I’ve had one hell of a year, and I think New Years is a good stopping point for the moment. I may pick up the torch again in a couple months, but until then I’ve got some things to figure out and some ideas to follow through. I want to thank everybody who has been reading this at all over the last eight months; I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my travels as much as I’ve enjoyed doing the traveling. If you’re subscribed to this blog, you’ll automatically get a notification when I start posting again this Spring, but otherwise feel free to follow my show dates and listen for new music at http://www.reverbnation.com/ansonkrekeler. I’ve also got some music available to purchase online at http://ansonkrekeler.bandcamp.com/album/orange-coastline, in case you’d like an album and I’m not in your city. I’m always interested in feedback and communication, so if you send me an email, I’ll be sure to respond. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, thanks for being part of the journey, and hopefully I can take you along for the next chapter.
When I got back to Los Angeles I decided to try my luck playing on Venice Beach, so I brought my guitar and walked up and down the boardwalk scoping out a place to set up. It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, and the whole area was packed. The length of the boardwalk is marked on one side in rectangular sections for vendors to set up and sell their goods, and the city of Venice makes money by selling permits to utilize these spots. Even some musicians go the extra mile and get a permit so that they have a solid place to set up, and in Venice there is no rule against amplified music. As a result, its not uncommon to find musicians with full PA systems, sometimes just jamming along with music that they have playing through their speakers. On that day there was a guy who played an electric violin, and he did just that; played live violin over some pre-recorded tracks. He was pretty damn good too, and I’m always intrigued by a “bodiless” instrument, so I watched for a song or two and threw him a dollar.
As I walked down the boardwalk, I didn’t find a single spot that didn’t have a vendor already set up, so I decided to move closer to the ocean and just practice some newer songs. I found a comfortable spot near a bike path and pulled out the guitar, and even though the guitar case was closed, I had a little fourish-year-old girl walk up and hand me a dollar right after the first song, and her mother smiled at me as I thanked her. I turned around and there was a twenty-something girl with two beautiful dogs behind me, who was smiling about the unexpected tip. We talked for a minute while I met her puppy dogs and then I looked back at the beach and played another song. When I finished, she turned to me and told me that she is a singer, and she offered to have me come in and play a song or two at her show the following night. I told her I’d be happy to play some music, so the next night I walked into Danny’s Deli with a guitar, and she ran up to give me a huge hug. It turned out that she was a jazz singer, and that her band was made up of four badass musicians; stand up bass, drums/brushes, piano, and an assortment of trumpets. They played all sorts of jazz standards, and she had one hell of a voice to add to the mix. The show went from 7-10pm, and I played three or four songs at the first set break and then two more during the second break. I hung out with some of her friends at a booth in the front, and then afterwards I met the band and a couple other good people. Needless to say, I had a good time hanging out on a Wednesday night, and then suddenly it was becoming New Years weekend.
After my two day stint along the beach I headed back to Pasadena, which I’ve always maintained is some kind of blend between California and the midwest. There are a bunch of deciduous trees like oaks and maples providing lots of shade, but there are also streets that are lined with palm trees and other semi-tropical plants. Its a pretty relaxed place, and Old Town Pasadena is a great place to set up and play music on the street. Anyway, I headed there to visit with a friend, and I ended up staying at his place for the whole weekend, taking several trips to electronic music and art shows, and many more trips to the grocery store to keep the red wine flowing..
On Thursday night I didn’t do anything spectacular; we just hung out with some Pinot Noir and listened to music at the house, and it was quite nice. It was probably necessary considering the craziness that ensued the following evening. It was still a late night, but it was pretty relaxed. On the last Friday of the year, we all became part of a posse that went downtown to see a band called Beats Antique in a show put on by the Do Lab. The Do Lab is a performance based art and music production company that focuses on electronic music and does a great job incorporating several forms of artistic expression. In this case there were several artists set up along one side of the venue creating “live art” as music was being performed on stage, not to mention the stage show which included a whole dancing troupe. There was one artist who was featured on one side of the stage while Beats Antique was performing, and to watch him add layers and re-create his painting in a different color scheme with the music was mesmerizing. Do Lab pulled out all the kicks though; a light show, belly dancing, all sorts of incredible costumes and choreography, and then they topped it all off with an explosion of confetti. It was more than just three musicians up on stage playing their music, it was an all out performance. If you want to check out Beats Antique and some of their music, they’ve got some stuff posted at www.beatsantique.com/
Because it was New Years weekend, there were tons of people that got all dressed up for the show; sparkling make-up, full on costumes, capes, hats, light up swords- it was awesome. The show was packed, and you couldn’t help but dance because the whole crowd was moving; a typical side effect of rhythm heavy dance music. I saw a bunch of friends that I hadn’t seen in years, and it was my official introduction to a scene that I knew very little about. It was definitely a good Friday night, and when we got back to the house we had some leftover wine..
After all that craziness on Friday, a rather quiet New Years was in order. I went with two friends to a small warehouse in Santa Monica to see the Earth Harp and a piece of performance art called Phadroid.. Each of these will require a bit of an explanation, but I can assure you that they were both amazing, and perfect for a laid back evening. The Earth Harp is an instrument that was created by William Close, who is also the founder of the MASS Ensemble. He specializes in designing unconventional instruments that utilize the environment to influence the sounds created. The Earth Harp, for instance, was originally designed to stretch across a valley and use the lay of the land as the acoustic amplification, much the way the body of an acoustic guitar is used to amplify the vibrations of the strings. It is the largest stringed instrument in the world, with strings that stretch for more than 1000 feet. The instrument is played by using resin coated gloves, and dragging the hand along a given string to create vibrations and produce a sound much akin to that of a cello, except much deeper. In this case, the show was in the inventor’s art studio, so the art installation was stretched from one side of the warehouse to the other, and the audience sat under the strings, thus taking an active role as part of the instrument’s amplification. It was a really neat concept. He had other models of instruments he had created lining the walls, as well as a few pre-cursers to the current Earth Harp. If you’d like to read more about this awesome instrument, you can check it out at http://earthharp.wordpress.com/about/
The other featured art installation that night was like candy for the eyes. It was created by Android Jones and his wife Phaedra, hence the name: Android + Phaedra = Phadroid. The concept was rather interesting; Phaedra dressed up wearing all white, including a white dress and shawl, and a white mask to cover her face entirely, and then she danced to mellow electronic music in front of a white wall. In the mean time, her husband was near a projector, and he would control the projections of all sorts of kaleidoscopic designs onto the wall in conjunction with the music, and Phaedra would melt into the projections as she danced. At first I thought the projections were was similar to a screen saver, based on algorithms and other trends in the music, but then I realized that Android was literally standing by the projector with a pad, manually adjusting the projected image to adapt to how his wife was dancing. It was fascinating. At one point there was a concentration of white light on the wall about the size of a softball, and it seemed as if she was holding it in her hands. As she raised her hands above her head gracefully in dance, the ball of light followed, and when the music hit a changing point she “threw it down” and the projections got crazy and colorful again. It was like a living, breathing piece of art. It was a really neat thing to see played out in front of us, and the pillows and beanbags throughout the warehouse made for a really comfortable atmosphere.
The rest of the weekend was spent mostly just hanging out, although we did go on a short hike and made a stop at Griffith Observatory to catch an awesome view of Los Angeles. Also we made a trip downtown to visit a friend at the bar where he works, and somehow we all stuffed ourselves beyond our capacities with extremely greasy food. I guess my stomach has built up a bit of an immunity from so much McDonald’s, but even I was feeling pretty rough, and the other two friends I had come with were just dying.. We went back to Pasadena and nursed our tummyaches and then called it a fairly early night, my first early night in a couple weeks. It was necessary though; the next day I had an interview with a music production company for a an internship position and I didn’t want to be completely drained.
I got dropped off at the train station and worked my way into Hollywood, and then had an interview with a guy from Kick-Mix Productions. The whole company is owned by a guy who goes by DJ Kick-Mix, and he’s been working in the industry since he was about fifteen. They own a lot of sound, stage and lighting equipment, and they’ve been concentrating on the event production aspect of the company for the last several years, but now the owner wants to concentrate on his career as a DJ. Translated, that means he wants to start touring, and with my recent experiences touring the whole western US, I was offered the intern position before the interview was even over. It’s an unpaid internship, but it’s a good way to get my foot in the door, and it looks good on a resume when it comes to applying elsewhere. Basically my job is to do exactly what I’ve been doing since last year: doing research on venues, booking, etc, and to create a database from which to work. The only difference is that this time the focus is on nightclubs and other venues where a DJ might be necessary, as opposed to restaurants and coffee shops where an acoustic guitar fits a little better. So as a result I spend four hours a week hanging out in an awesome building, listening to music and doing research. I’m not sure what the long term plans are, but I’ve been actively searching for a job as well, and given a little time, I’m sure something’ll come together.. But in the mean time I’m keepin’ my tummy full with a little help from a guitar.. Til the Spring..