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In Plain Sight: The Hidden Treasures of Los Angeles – Part II

THE GRAND PERFORMANCE SERIES AT THE CALIFORNIA PLAZA

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At the top of where the Angel’s Flight Trolley once deposited its riders (and hopefully will again one day), nestled between a pair of impressive skyscrapers, you’ll find the California Plaza and one of L.A.’s best kept secrets, the Water Court.

An artfully designed combination of ponds, and water fountains that are visually striking during most of the year, and during the summer months an absolute haven of cooling misty nights to offset the scorching days.

It is also the home of the summer series Grand Performances, which if you never attended then you are missing out on one of the great Southland attractions. You will not see a more eclectic lineup anywhere of music, dance and straight out entertainment. Here’s the line up for the next two months:

The Water Court in Downtown Los Angeles (Courtesy of Grand Performances)

A nighttime view of the Grand Performances stage in the Water Court. (Courtesy of Grand Performances)

 

THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2016 4:30 PM
INTERNATIONAL DISCO AND FUNK WITH DJS JOEL QUIZON & RANI DE LEON

This evening will help you get your funk on even if you have no idea where your funk was last seen. An international spin-fest of vinyl from DJ’s Joel Quizon of Disco Manila and Rani de Leon of Dublab, Radio Afrique serving up disco and funk from the world round.

SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2016 8:00 PM
SE MUEVE: AQUI/HERE: IT MOVES

An exploration of Mexican American identity and creative prowess by a quartet of LA artists Maria Garcia, Yesika Salgado, Rafa Esparza, and Yosimar Reyes. What to expect from this show I can’t tell you, but I do know the works of two of the performers. Esparza is an artist responsible for some strikingly visual work of on-site art. In 2015 he created an environmental work for the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) that consisted of over 5,000 adobe bricks that he made himself. The exhibit was 70 feet deep and 35 feet wide and to walk in it was a sensorial experience akin to being engulfed by the presence of “earth.”

Yosimar Reyes is a poet/activist who employs his poetry to call attention to those in our society whose voice is seldom heard; the gay immigrant youth and the others displaced and dismissed in the US and the world over. A powerful spokesman for the lower working class he was acknowledged by The Advocate as one of the “13 LGBT Latinos Changing the World.”
“Poetry, movement, and site-specific performance art” is promised, and whatever that may be, I’m betting it’ll be darn interesting. A post show discussion to follow.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2016 8:00 PM
MBONGWANA STAR

Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has ruled the African music scene for decades and Congolese artists such as Papa Wemba and Le Grand Kallé don’t only fill concert halls throughout Africa but the world over. (The most popular song on the African continent is Indépendance Cha Cha by Kallé.) Known as Soukous, rock-rumba or ndule Congolese music is unlike anything you’ve ever encountered. Mbongwana Star, a Rolling Stone’s Coachella 2016 must-see pick, joins Congolese dance music to psycho-electronic grooves that enhance the roots of Congolese dance music with dubby squeaks and blurbs with bells, beats and synths plus powerful vocals.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 7, 2016 7:00 PM
SANUBAR TURSUN

Here in America we make the mistake of regarding the people of China as one large homogenous block, and nothing could be further from the truth. China is as large as the US and its population as diverse with 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. The ruling Han people have a checkered history when it comes to dealing with some of those minorities, but none more so than the Uyghur, a Turkic group and Muslin by faith, the Uyghur have a 6400 year history throughout Eastern and Central Asia. They have a deep commitment to their long culture and have proven to show little if any desire to assimilate into Han society which views them as an inferior breed.

Perhaps the most peaceful and least politicized muslins in the world up until recently, confiscation of their lands for commercial development and harsh crackdowns on the protests that arose in reaction to this has lead to increasing militant action on their part including a stabbing death of an American tourist during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and bloody attacks on regional train stations by knife welding assailants.
Considered the premiere songstress of China’s Uyghurs’ community, Sanubar Tursun’s appearance at the Water Court will likely be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2016 8:00 PM
HEIDI DUCKLER DANCE THEATRE – FISHEYES

The reigning queen of site-specific performance –

The Los Angeles Times

Heidi Duckler and her company has taken dance to communities in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Las Vegas, Montreal, Hong Kong, and Russia, and always shunning the conventional stage. Since 1985 they have presented dance recitals in Laundromats, a reflecting pool, a baseball diamond, a drained swimming pool and the Los Angeles River.

Adventurous, multidisciplinary, audacious and astonishing, Duckler seeks to redefine how audiences relate to dance by separating it from the traditional settings and forcing the audience to rediscover the performances free from the conventional confines.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2016 8:00 PM
DISCO MANILA

Big band disco style. During the ‘70s the pop music of the Philippines merged the sounds of American soul, pop, folk and jazz and sizzled it with traditional Filipino riffs, the result was called “The Manila Sound,” and its vibrant tunes managed against all odds to flourish during the Marcos-era.

This is a celebration of “The Manila Sound” and other classics of the Disco dance floor by those who first jived to it:

Spanky Rigor and Roger Rigor of VST & Co.

The Union:
Jet Montelibano (of Music & Magic)
Jessica Casas (of Something Special)
Nino de Jesus (of New Minstrels)
Jo-Ann Visitacion
Fulton Montoya

4700 Band:
Maricar Cabrera, Ninette Tenza, Alvin Reyes, Val Villar
Eva Caparas (of Music & Magic)
DJ set by Joel Quizon

House band:
Mar Manuel (keyboards/MD)
Edd Evidente (bass)
Myke Gonzaga (lead guitar)
Rollie Quizon (Drums)
Sean Baba (2nd keyboards)
Featuring a special performance by Mark Redito FKA Spazzkid

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2016 8:00 PM
THE WOMEN WHO SCORE: SOUNDTRACKS LIVE

When diversity in the industry is the battle cry on so many fronts, this performance could not be more appropriate. An evening of film, television and even video game music all by female composers, in an event intended as a showcase to raise awareness of women behind the scenes.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2016 8:00 PM
KIOSK WITH SPECIAL GUEST ARDESHIR FARAH

Rock has always been on the edge of respectability in this country but imagine being a rock band in Iran today. That’s what Kiosk is, the most popular rock band to appear in Iran since the Revolution. Founded by Arash Sobhani in Tehran in 2003 the band faced constant censorship and harassment from the Iranian ruling body forcing its musicians to immigrate to the West. Today after seven albums, blistering satirical lyrics, commenting on life in the Iranian theocracy as well as a combination of rock and the music of Persia, Kiosk is considered by many to be the soul of the Iranian Diaspora, And Sobhani’s lyrics and bittersweet songs of his homeland has been called “a guiding light for many.” Ardeshir Farah is an Iranian born guitarist ‎from Tehran and half of the guitar duo Strunz & Farah.

Farah and the Costa Rican born Jorge Strunz met in the US and have released 19 albums together with their particular brand of music described as a “cross between world fusion and Flamenco.” In 1992 their album “Américas” was nominated for a Grammy as Best World Music Album of the Year. They have collaborated with such diverse talents as Rubén Blades and Sting. Farah is considered a pioneer in blending of Iranian music with Western rock.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2016 7:00 PM
FUZON & FAREED AYAZ AND ABU MUHAMMAD QAWWAL

Fuzon & Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal are all consummate masters of Qawwali Sufi music, trained in a musical tradition over 700 years old. They are part of Delhi’s Qawwal Bachon ka Gharana, founded in the 14th century; it is the preeminent institute for the study of the Sufi devotional music. The evening will have a traditional structure to open, starting with an Ahamd, a song in Praise of God, then followed by an Ana’at, a song sung in praise of Muhammad. After that Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal and their Brothers will display their skills at joining together devotional and secular musical styles that have earned them international acclaim for over thirty years.

I’ve been going to these evenings for quite a while, attending everything from African Jazz trios, to a Theremin recital, and even a concert by Loudon Wainwright III (who is more than just Rufus’ dad!) There is no better way to spend an evening than sitting in the cool of the night, basking in the lights of downtown LA with a thousand or so good friends who you just don’t happen to know; all sharing in what is truly a Grand Performance.

grandmap.jpg

The California Plaza Address is located at
300 & 350 S. Grand Ave in downtown Los Angeles

Secure Underground Parking is available in the California Plaza parking garage.
Enter off Olive Street between 1st and 4th Streets.
A special event rate of $8 (cash only) is available 90 minutes before listed show times.

For Public Transportation:

The California Plaza is accessible by bus and rail.

Take the Metro Red or Purple Line, exiting at Pershing Square Station.

Use the north escalator leading to 4th and Hill Streets.

Walk one block to the bottom of California Plaza (4th and Olive Streets) and take the escalator up to the Plaza Level.

For your best route: www.metro.net.

For more information go to: www.grandperformances.org

There are no picnic tables, but that shouldn’t stop you from bringing a basket, and there are eateries on the Water Court that remain open for the performances.

Each concert runs about two hours.

Enjoy.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of the In Plain Sight: The Hidden Treasures of Los Angeles series by TVolution contributor Ernest Kearney)

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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest's stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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