Save Music in Chinatown 10 recap with SISU, Carsick Cars, Chui Wan, and Alpine Decline

smic10h-sisu2

I was even more stressed out than usual about our tenth Save Music in Chinatown show. Was the previous evening’s Long Beach gig, which I also helped set up, going to turn out alright for the bands that were coming all the way from Beijing? Wasn’t it going to be extra difficult for the musicians, helpers, and attendees to make it to the Grand Star with Ciclavia happening on the same date that we set way back in the spring?

smic10a-alpine

It was less convenient getting to the Grand Star and parking cost twice as much, but everything turned out fine. Actually, excellent.

smic10b-chuiwan1

Really, how could those who made it to the show not be blown away by the raw chemistry of the Alpine Decline duo, soaring and psychedelic musicianship of Chui Wan, or buzzsaw riffs of the power trio Carsick Cars? The urgency and excitement of a new generation of artists who are out of their minds and inspired by the entire history of rock being unloaded on China all at once?

smic10c-chuiwan2

I was first introduced to Carsick Cars along with P.K.14 way back in 2007 when I stalked them for a magazine article and have been obsessed with Beijing’s underground music scene ever since. How amazing to see them in Chinatown.

smic10e-carsick1
And then there were the dark, swirling sounds of SISU. I became familiar with the band when I interviewed Sandy as one of the Dum Dum Girls and became a fan of her main musical outlet as well as a friend.

smic10d-chuiwan3

At first, SISU agreed to come out of seclusion to play as a stripped-down version for the cause but it wound up being a full-on headlining set with all four members along with a projector and fog machine!

smic10g-sisu

And then they played a cover of Sonic Youth’s “Little Trouble Girl,” arranging for a handful of kids including Eloise and her cousins to go onstage and sing backup. Wow.

For my favorite bands to play all-ages matinee fund raisers to support the unfunded music program at my daughter’s public elementary school in Chinatown is surreal. And for us to be embarking on our fourth year of shows is really incredible. We had no experience when we started this project and have gotten by only with the help of so many supporters.

smic10f-jimkaa

There are awesome bands, old friends and new friends, all of my family and so many community members, killer bake sale, and super cool raffle to make it a completely unique and excellent afternoon. But even better is the community that has grown over the years. To not only raise money and awareness to help kids but also create a scene in Chinatown is something we never anticipated and are always humbled by.

bakesale

Thanks to everyone who makes our shows possible, building on the punk rock tradition of the old Hong Kong Cafe and Madame Wong’s, and helping the largely underserved kids who live in Chinatown today. It not only gives them access to music education and a creative outlet, but empowers them with the DIY aesthetic.

smic10i-sisu3

The next Save Music in Chinatown all-ages matinee will take place in January or February. Follow this blog or like facebook.com/SaveMusicInChinatown for news.

crew

See you there!

 

Advertisements

Save Music in Chinatown 10 is here

smic10-squarecolor

You’d think organizing benefit concerts for the music program at our daughter’s elementary school would be be easy after three years. Not really. However, arranging for bands from Beijing whose records you can’t even buy at Amoeba probably isn’t the most sensible choice.

But how cool is it to have Carsick Cars, one of China’s most excellent and influential post-punk bands, playing to help underserved kids in Chinatown?

Or have Chui Wan return after blowing our minds at last school year’s sold-out show with Dengue Fever and Birdstriking?

Alpine Decline will be extra noisy and amazing, too. How have I missed them every time they’ve come through town before? Or even when they lived here?

My pals in SISU are coming out of hiatus to round out the bill. They were initially going to play a special set as a duo but have decided to bring out the entire band!

sisuatkchung

We’re lucky to have so many friends that make the shows happen. Sandy and Jules from SISU came on to our usual KCHUNG show with Gabie and Daryl (listen HERE) and of course there was the traditional two-hour hoot and warmup that is the Molotov Cocktail Hour on KXLU, as well.

senon

And what about the flyer that Senon Williams from Dengue Fever volunteered to make? When the bands play in front of the poster-sized image on Sunday, they’ll be like The Clash in the “Complete Control” video!

postermaking2

Plus supporters donating stuff for the raffle, families contributing to the bake sale, everyone spreading the word, and Nate behind the scenes… I hope Sunday’s show raises a decent amount of money for music education at Chinatown’s public school but no matter what happens (Is Ciclavia really happening  in Chinatown on the day we chose last spring?) I’ll be grateful for being part of such a rad community that makes it happen.

flyers2

See cool bands! Eat delicious cookies! Help kids in Chinatown! Get more info at the Facebook event page and save some dough by ordering tickets in advance at eventbrite.com.

—————————————————————————-

You can further support the Chinese bands that support us by seeing them in Long Beach on Saturday night and Cafe NELA on Sunday night:

smic10allthree-square2

 

 

 

Save Music in Chinatown 10 preview with the art of Senon Williams from Dengue Fever

smic_10_poster_w_eventbrite

I don’t remember what year I became a fan of Dengue Fever, but I was definitely driving from my home in Silver Lake to Sawtelle and listening to KXLU. I heard something that sounded like psychedelic garage rock with Cambodia vocals, and immediately called the station to get the scoop when I arrived at the GR office. The DJ informed me that it was a demo from a new local band called Dengue Fever, and then gave me Senon’s phone number saying he wouldn’t mind.

We became friends, and the band popped up in the magazine multiple times during its 16-year run. After the publication ran its course, I have remained a fan and we are still friends. I see the band as often as I can and, after starting benefit shows for the music program at my daughter’s school, they volunteered to play one for us. I’m still amazed that  a big band like that would perform on our tiny stage.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Senon, who has turned out to be an excellent, thought-provoking artist as well as a top-shelf bass player, told me that he would like to make a flyer for one of our shows. How could I not take him up on it? How could I not ask him about his flyer and his art?

senon2

Where did you get the idea for the flyer?
The idea popped into my head when I was thinking how to simply convey the idea that music is a basic need for kids.

Have you always had this secret life as an artist while being in a band?
I have been making art since I was a kid, drawing great medieval battles and torture chambers.

For the past few years, the computer began to rob the time I would contemplate my own thoughts. It feels good to be more present with my own mind as well as the tactical world. I have been working with ink on paper a long time, but my intense focus has given me technique and skill to freely experiment and use color.

When did you arrive at your painterly style paired with sly verbiage?
Words have been a part of my art for 20-30 years. Most of my work has been in sketchbooks, filling my downtime with no thought to put it out into the world—just a means to question or amuse myself with humanities-fraught existence.

senon4

Are you totally self-taught? Are there “real” artists or instructors that have influenced you along the way?
I never went to art school. But I have worked as an artist’s studio assistant and in galleries, and have visited the studios of many artists I admire. Life has been a good education; I keep my eyes and ears open. Recently, I visited artists Mel Kadel, Tyler Vlahovich, and Eddie Ruscha and came away with inspirations, ideas, and techniques to experiment with. I felt like I went to school right then.

Does it feel like you’re using totally different parts of your brain than when you make art or play music? Can you compare/contrast the feeling you have when doing either?
Music is a part of me and I will never stop… Musically, my highest heights have always been playing with others and our connection, at times it is as though my physicality on this earth is suspended.

Oddly, visual art is the opposite. I feel bonded with the materials I am using and have a physical connection to the paper or wood. It’s a very tactile experience. The ideas, though, come from a different place–very personal and introspective–until they are cast off and the rest of the world can do (or not do) what they want with it.

senon6

Was it difficult to put your art (and yourself as an artist) out there?
I met Laura Howe years ago when we were both working for art galleries. Now she owns an amazing boutique called Matrushka Construction, which sells all handmade clothes in Silver Lake. Ages ago, a few of my drawings were part of a group show in her store. Then, about a year ago, she asked me to have a solo show. I started to make art for it and the floodgates just broke wide open. ­­­

To promote that show, I had this idea to post one drawing per day until it opened. That was last April and I am still posting new work almost every day. I am not slowing down, and I feel there is not enough time in a day for me to do all I want to do. I can’t stop working.

Is it true that you paint when you’re in the van on tour? What is your setup?
I do draw while on the road, though not in the van. Too bumpy. I set up my inks and brushes as soon as I get to the hotel so if I have time to paint it is laid out and ready to go. The main problem is coming back after a show at 2:00 a.m. then working on the drawing into the wee hours.

I bring paper, Inks, paint, brushes, pencils, erasers, rags, and a knife (for safety).

Art shows against gun violence, benefits for music education… Can you talk about not only being creative but using your energy and presence for causes?
I care about this world and have always helped where I can. Small, kind acts can change the world in a huge way if enough of us take the time to feel for others. And I put my energy towards love and compassion so my children learn from my actions.

But I do hope humanity will look at itself as a whole one day and say, “I am kind.” And the people who are sour and embittered will say, “Forget it. It it ain’t worth it.”

senon1

Check out Senon’s work on Instagram and get Save Music in Chinatown 10 tickets at Eventbrite.

Save Music in Chinatown 6 on KCHUNG’s Crystalline Morphologies

kchungsmic6-1

Thanks to my longtime friend and Save Music in Chinatown supporter from the beginning Gabie Strong. She invited Nate Pottker and me onto her Crystalline Morphologies radio show on KCHUNG to talk about the cause, play some music related to the shows, and get the word out about our May 31 lineup.

For the first time, I actually tried to scribble down mini sets to play. Here’s how they went:

Anarchy Jerks – Oi! Oi! Oi!
Adolescents – Monolith of Mountlake Terrace, A Dish Best Served Cold
Mike Watt & The Black Gang – Rebel Girl
Brain Failure – Living in the City
—-
Dengue Fever – Glass of Wine (demo)
The Zeros – Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White
The Gears – Let’s Go To The Beach
Channel Three – Indian Summer
—-
Birdstriking – TV at 7PM
Carsick Cars – Ono
P.K. 14 – Voyagers (I think)
Dear Eloise – Castle
—-
The Bicycle Thief – Max, Jill Called (Live at Save Music In Chinatown 4)

kchungsmic6-2

I tried to play a Chui Wan song after Dear Eloise, but the CDR didn’t work. Bummer. Maybe you heard them on NPR lately anyway? I’ll try again on KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour next week…

In the meantime, stream or even download the show at http://archive.kchungradio.org/2015-05-21/Save_Music_In_Chinatown_6-05.21.2015.mp3.

Thanks, Gabie! Thanks, KCHUNG! Seeya May 31!

Save Music in Chinatown 6 preview: An interview with Birdstriking’s Zhou Nairen

birdstriking1a

How amazing  is it that rad underground bands from Beijing playing will be playing the next Save Music in Chinatown benefit? Zhou Nairen, the bassist from Birdstriking, answered some questions for us as the noise punk crew prepares for its first U.S. tour which includes our May 31 all-ages matinee at the Grand Star and a warm-up gig on May 30 at Cafe NELA.

MW: The album that’s being released here is new to us in the U.S. but old to you. How has your sound evolved since then? Are you playing newer songs as well?
ZN: Yes, we will play  new songs. And we’ve had a new guitar player since last year, so our sound is definitely changing–especially in our live performances. Our music has evolved to the next period and we have a different focus for our expression.

MW: You’re going to be joining Chui Wan when you arrive in the U.S. Have you been keeping in touch with them, seeing how things are going over here, and planning the Deadly Cradle Death set?
ZN: Yeah, we’re close and keep in touch all the time. We’ve known each other since both bands’ beginnings. We used to live together and have some other projects, such as Half Heavy Korean (Yan Yulong and me) and Deadly Cradle Death (He Fan and Liu Xinyu).

birdstriking2

MW: I think it’s cool that you’re hitting Olympia and I saw a K Records shirt in one of your portraits. Is that a pilgrimage? 
ZN: Haha, our drummer is a huge fan of Beat Happening and K Records, but he can’t attend the tour. So we have a guest drummer who is from Carsick Cars and also had a band with me before.

MW: Is there anything that the guys from P.K. 14, Carsick Cars, or other bands that have toured here have warned you about or told you to check out in the U.S.?
ZN: Not yet, but our vocalist He Fan is also in Carsick Cars, and I believe our tour manager, Ricky, can show us some great things. Also, my brother lives in Seattle and I hope to see him.

MW: I’m stoked you’ll be playing our benefit in Chinatown. As guys from China, what’s your take on Chinatowns?
ZN: This is gonna be a special. It’s our very first time playing in another environment of Chinese culture, so it will be powerful.

birdstriking1b

MW: Our show is an all-ages matinee, so little kids are able to attend. Do you play many shows like that? Is it weird playing during the day or without alcohol?
ZN: Yes, we’ve played some shows like that in Beijing. I think it’s cool ’cause everyone, even the kids, can come to the show. I love to enjoy the sunshine during the day. Haha, we’re okay without alcohol.

MW: There’s a Bruce Lee statue next to the bar where you’ll be playing. Is he cool in China these days? Or is he just old-fashioned?
ZN: I think he’s kind of old-fashioned but, yeah, he’s still an icon in China and cool for sure.

MW: What are you most interested in bringing back from the U.S.? Records? Photos? Recipes?
ZN: Of course records, photos, videos… But I most care about the instruments.

Catch Birdstriking with Chui Wan and Deadly Cradle Death at Save Music in Chinatown 6 on Sunday, May 31 at the Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown. Headlining the show will be Dengue Fever. Get info on Facebook, tickets at EventBrite.

Save Music in Chinatown 6: Dengue Fever, Birdstriking, Chui Wan, Deadly Cradle Death

smic6-photoflyer

I recently posted the Facebook event page and Eventbrite ticketing link for the next Save Music in Chinatown DIY benefit for music education at Castelar Elementary on Sunday, May 31 at the Grand Star. The all-ages matinee will feature my friends Dengue Fever, who used Cambodian garage rock as a launching pad and have crafted their own mind-blowing, genre-crushing, and danceable brand of music. Joining them will be very special guests, underground, psychedelic, and experimental rockers from Beijing, Birdstriking (featuring a He Fan from Carsick Cars), Chui Wan (in the country for the Austin Psych Fest), and a special set by Deadly Cradle Death (featuring members of Birdstriking and Chui Wan). As if that weren’t enough, DJ Loud Panda (Ricky from Brian Jonestown Massacre) will be playing killer Chinese rock in between bands. Rad!

Read more about the lineup at http://www.imprintculturelab.com/announcing-save-music-in-chinatown-6-dengue-fever-birdstriking-chui-wan-deadly-cradle-death/ and then get tickets if you’re down. I fully expect it to sell out.