journeys.

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bernin’.

Civic Duty: CHECK! Here I am outside my local polling place on Tuesday June 7th, having just done my part to make sure the seeds of change and revolution keep growing. Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders are just the beginning. Keep it real and spread the good word.

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shady stuff…not.

For this week’s quotes o’ wisdom, I’ve turned to the director of comedic actor Jim Carrey’s (if you saw last week’s post, see what I did there?) movies, TOM SHADYAC (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar). If you’d like to know more as to why I’ve chosen him, be sure to watch the documentary about his life, career and recent spiritual awakening, titled “I AM.”

TOM SHADYAC

“I think true success is intrinsic…It’s love. It’s kindness. It’s community.”

“I hope people start to look at their lives as the most powerful, creative act they will ever offer this world.”


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blues travelers.

Last Friday night, I made the twelve-minute drive out to Claremont CA to attend a super cool concert. Though I support live music on a regular–almost weekly–basis, it’s a blessing when I can drive under ten miles, stay out of L.A. city proper one less night a week, and still catch a new up and coming band from halfway around the world. Fortunately, with the nearby Coachella Festival luring in so many of these would-be world stars, opportunities like this are more likely for Southern Californians in the month of April (I saw Kinshasa’s Mbongwana Star a few weeks ago!).

On this particular night, I caught up with Algerian quintet IMARHAN, whose familial ties to recent desert blues trailblazers Tinariwen have helped forge their young and fresh take on traditional Tuareg sounds. They began by delving into a handful of deep, beautiful, slow burning grinders, while a string of fierce and funky uptempo numbers closed their fantastic 90-minute set, stirring the relatively small but welcoming audience into a dancing frenzy. Considering their home is literally on the other side of the planet, I couldn’t believe this was a free show!

I’ve been in bliss listening to the vinyl LP that I brought home that night. Be sure to grab one for yourself! Out on City Slang imprint, it hits the stores (and online sites) on Friday April 29th!

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imarhan album cover


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kings, queens & troubadours.

Last night’s show at West Hollywood’s famed TROUBADOUR concert venue was blast, thanks to a soulful, lovely and lively show by NYC’s EMILY KING! She’s on tour promoting her new album The Switch. You’ll be completely enamored by the songs, the album, and by Emily’s voice, probably finding yourself listening over and over, memorizing and soon singing every lyric, every verse, every melody. Much respect as well to acoustic soul king DAVID RYAN HARRIS, who opened the show and held court with his singalong-worthy tunes (even though we arrived only in time to catch his last number). Of course, much love to the beautiful queens, ALMA, AMANDA and DORENYSE, with whom I had the honor of dining prior and attending the show. Just another royally fantastic evening enjoying Los Angeles and her vibrant culture.

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Above: Emily King’s guitar tech tunes up the axe minutes before the band hits the stage.

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a quiet continuum.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I found this copy of Thoreau’s Walden at a used bookstore, one of those tied to a good works project for the incarcerated. There’s something kinda magical about used books (and used records, of course!). I like to think that they have an unknown history that may run as deep as the stories inside them. And that your experience with the work extends the continuum, as the insight you hopefully gain from it diffuses into the universe through you. This particular copy has an inscription on the front leaf that reads “Dean Neufeld / Jan 11, 1976”. That was just over 40 years ago!

I read excepts from Walden back in junior year high school English class, then again in full as a college literature major. I’m looking forward to finding out if all these years of living since then will have enriched my understanding of this classic from the Romantic period of American thought. I definitely feel that with the current state of our world and our society, more and more people can relate to Thoreau’s deliberate self sequestration.

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elemental hero.

It’s been a heavy posting day for me, with this being my fifth of the afternoon. However, I can’t sign off today without paying respects to one of my early musical heroes, MAURICE WHITE, of EARTH WIND & FIRE. Their music, with his voice in the lead position for much of it, was seminal in my musical education with its soulfulness, funkiness, and its well-informed incorporation of rhythms from around the world, especially those of Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. I suppose that my affinity for international sounds began with the music of EWF, having been exposed to their music at a young age via older cousins who had their album covers pinned to their bedroom walls and the vinyl on their old turntable platters whenever I’d visit.  Since then, my musical journey has just been a trip back to where those sounds originated.

With that, back in February 2010, I was invited to play a live set at DJ PHATRICK’s “DEVIL’S PIE” event, which at the time was held in the northeast Los Angeles community of Glassell Park at the Verdugo Bar. They asked their visiting deejays to play a mix of songs that paid tribute to the work of a favorite musical artist. I chose EWF. Inspired by the collection of songs I chose for that night, I would later record a mix that would commemorate EWF’s 40th anniversary as a band in 2011-2012. It’s been posted here in the sidebar of this blogsite since…please scroll down and click the green ‘MIXCRATE’ widget and you’ll be taken straight to it. You’ll be able to stream or download the mix from the Devil’s Pie Soul Mixcrate page, where a complete track list is also posted. Hope you enjoy it!

I’m not sure who took this photo of Maurice white heading toward the Pyramids at Giza, but it’s a perfect way to remember him in his element. Rest in Peace.

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CA(FAM).

On Saturday January 30th, the La Junta Sound System were invited to play records out in the courtyard of the Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) on Los Angeles’ Museum Row/Miracle Mile/Wilshire District. Though Yukicito was missing in action due to his extensive preparations for upcoming samba performances in Brazil, I was with the ‘mano DEGRUVME from 11am-5pm mixing everything from soul jazz to future soul, cumbia to samba, disco to nu-disco, highlife to afrobeat, Stevie to Marvin to Michael, and more! We received some great feedback and–dare I say!–compliments from the CAFAM staff as well as museumgoers. We also were asked for quite a few La Junta business cards, while Degruvme even sent some lucky guests on their ways with a free copy of his brand new ECHOES OF A DREAM EP. Below are just a few shots I snapped as we were setting up shop for the day. Much love to CAFAM’s SASHA ALI (aka MISS MODULAR RADIO) for the invitation, plus sincere personal thanks to some friends that came through to peep the exhibitions and hang for bit: M’DAYA& SHAWN, SHEILA G, DARRELL & (MEESH)ELLE, TAMARA, and ROBERTO.

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Above:  La Junta Sound System’s ‘degruvme’ welcoming early museumgoers out on the courtyard at the Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM).

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Above:  degruvme shining behind the turntables.

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Above: Just a few of the records I brought along for the day’s musical journey around the world (front-to-back): AZTECA “Pyramid of the Moon”(Oakland Latin funk/rock); DEXTER STORY “Wondem” (Ethiopian-inspired L.A. soul); OS BATUQUEIROS “Deus Tem Mais Pra Dar” (pagode-style samba).