One of the highlights of our upcoming season for me is Mavis Staples and Billy Bragg: The Hope, Love & Justice tour Nov. 5.
I mean really, yes I am mostly a hyper-emotional sucker who regularly tears up at the “Star Spangled Banner” but I think it would be hard for any music or arts lover to not to get behind the ideas of hope, love and justice.
Looking at our whole lineup of roots music this year has me waxing philosophical about the power of music to inspire, and also waxing nostalgic about my experiences with performing arts and music in Los Angeles.
The first time I’d ever heard of Billy Bragg was also a big first for my Los Angeles music life.
It was sometime in late 2000-early 2001. I’d been living in Orange County for a short while (I know, I know, it was for a job) and had a friend in town who wanted to drive up to the Knitting Factory on Hollywood Blvd. The now-defunct club was hosting Billy Bragg and this was my first live-music experience in Los Angeles outside of a few nights with a friend’s band at Brennan’s in Marina Del Rey. (I have a soft spot for that place too.)
Anyway, being the Teamster’s daughter I am, that first night at the Knitting Factory (RIP) helped instigate an undying love for Billy Bragg, especially punctuated by the Mermaid Avenue albums, which subsequently inspired my unrelenting passion for Wilco. (Side note: Did you know Jeff Tweedy produced Mavis Staples’ forthcoming album You Are Not Alone?) Also, if you’ve never seen this movie, you should totally check it out.
Obviously, ten years later, I’ve had countless more inspiring live-music experiences all around this amazing city— including feeling the Hollywood Bowl practically levitate in an Underworld glow, nights under the stars at the Greek theater with everyone from the Mars Volta to Tori Amos, countless evenings perched aloft the stage at the Troubador, where one evening many years ago, an Alexi Murdoch performance brought an image to my mind that resulted in my purchase of a sewing machine, which in turn resulted in such a wealth of projects to come out of my tiny apartment that it has often been dubbed “the sweat shop.”
In short… music inspires. I’ve always felt like seeing live music was such a powerful experience. I don’t care how big or small the venue is, or if you’re close enough to see the sweat on the artist’s face or so far away you need binoculars. To me, from that first thrum of sound, you’re part of it. You’re part of something that didn’t exist before and wouldn’t exist the same way if you weren’t there.
I had a few of those moments in Royce Hall last spring, most notably with Tinariwen, Baaba Maal and the Blind Boys of Alabama. I anticipate many more of those such moments this season, especially thanks to our roots lineup. I hope you’ll join us for one or more of those events.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your comments about acts or venues in this town that have inspired YOU over the years.
Hit me back below!