Celebrating its 10th anniversary, LA’s Angel City Jazz Festival is known for focusing on the future of jazz, while nurturing a deep respect for its history. This year, Angel City has a special evening planned for the Ford, with singer/multi-instrumentalist Xenia Rubinos and composer/band leader Lauren Baba’s theBABAorchestra.
Behind the Scenes
Wayne Kramer – one of Rolling Stone’s greatest guitarists of all time and co-founder of what many rock historians consider to be one of the very first punk bands, Detroit’s legendary MC5 -- is a true soul survivor. He’s conquered a serious drug addiction, served time for selling cocaine, sadly outlived three of his four MC5 bandmates and, after an against-all-odds comeback in the 1990s, is living his best life at age 70. He regularly composes music for film and television, pays it forward with his tireless activism, and continues to spread his revolutionary former band’s message.
Finding a Line is something we do, not just something we see. It’s not just a performance, it’s a process. And while we can seek it on our own, we can only find it together. Finding a Line at the Ford is part of an ongoing, community-sourced public art project at the intersection of music, art, photography, filmmaking and whatever else is inspired by the creative act of skateboarding.
Imagine having your most profound existential musings and quiet introspections matched thought for thought by a string quartet… At Ford Theatres on September 6, as part of the provocative IGNITE @ the FORD! series, hip-hop poet Saul Williams will perform with neo classical Mivos Quartet, a string ensemble devoted to performing works of contemporary composers and presenting new music to diverse audiences. The two will perform in the most intimate of settings, with the audience seated on the stage.
Each year at the end of summer, ¡Viva La Tradición! at the Ford celebrates a mariachi great. The show has grown so popular that this year it’s extending to two evenings for the first time. I had to find out more, so I spoke with producer, singer and Las Colibrí band-leader Susie García. This year’s show is a tribute to Don Pepe Martínez, the world-renowned mariachi who passed away in 2014. Don Pepe was the director of the Jalisco, Mexico-based Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán for 40 years of the group’s renowned 120-year history.
Unicorns and moonbeams! That magical stuff will spool at the Ford Amphitheatre when the beloved outdoor stage winds toward summer’s-end 2018. Lending unusual piquancy in a special dance-weekend are full-evening works by up-and-coming choreographers: Marjani Forté-Saunders (Aug 24, 25) and Stephanie Zaletel (Aug 26 only). To accommodate the intimate, experimental nature of these dance performances, the Ford has launched a new small-scaled seating configuration. Downtown Manhattan meets the Cahuenga Pass. Check it out!
When I met him, I was way too shy to tell hip-hop artist Omar Offendum that his album SyrianamericanA was a staple on my running mix for years. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Omar is a Syrian American rapper and poet, who has legit Jay-Z status in the Arab American community. But to relegate his work to one community would be a disservice. He’s popular all over the world and his infectious and intellectual music speaks to anyone who’s felt marginalized or, as he puts it, “hybridized.”
Outfest Under the Stars screenings bring some of the Ford’s most energized, fun and memorable audiences. As a queer person myself, it is affirming to see a venue I love hosting such an unabashedly out and proud crowd. From a gaggle of bearded Dorothys at a Wizard of Oz singalong to a first-look screening of the latest Ghostbusters iteration, the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival has always made the Ford’s stunning Hollywood hills setting a little more alive and a lot more sparkly.
When I last caught up with TAIKOPROJECT in 2016, they were in the midst of a collaboration with Chicano rock band Quetzal. At the time, TAIKOPROJECT’s Executive Director Bryan Yamami talked about “honoring tradition by turning it on its head.” What TAIKOPROJECT does in each performance is remind us that even an art form as ancient and culturally rooted as Japanese taiko drumming can be fiercely and unapologetically contemporary.
I meet with Arianne MacBean, the director of The Collective Memory Project, on an overcast LA morning at the Ford, where she and her company are in rehearsal. It’s unnervingly quiet here during the day, the only sound the wind through the trees, underscored by the drone of traffic from the 101.