Monday, April 29, 2013

Fela! Makes Triumphant Return To Ahmanson

 

The music is infectious, the rhythm inhabits your sole (pun intended) and in an instant you are transported to a concert at the Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria, circa 1978.

This is the musical Fela!, currently playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

Audience members should come prepared to strap themselves in for a high-octane experience that takes them on a musical and historical ride that is inspiring, informative and completely entertaining.

“Fela!” is the true story of the legendary Nigerian musician FelaAnikulapo-Kuti, whose affecting Afrobeat rhythms is said to have sparked and reenergized a generation. Afrobeat is a mix of jazz, funk, highlife (a popular West African horn-based style) and traditional Yoruba music.

Determined and undeterred, Fela followed in the steps of his mother, FunmilayoRansome-Kuti, herself a civil rights defender. Through his pulsating music he challenged a military government he deemed tyrannical and dishonest and garnered a loyal following in the process.

Inspired by his mother, Fela defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his life and music to freeing his people and restoring their human dignity.

Fela’s story is both provocative and controversial.

It’s the ’70s and Fela, arguably one of the hottest and most popular musicians in Africa at the time, has a club called The Shrine. Club attendees were privy to a new sound Fela dubbed Afrobeat, which was a pounding eclectic rhythm that was clearly infectious. It was mixed with what some called incendiary lyrics about the repressive military dictatorship that ruled Nigeria at the time.  His music eventually found its way around the world, not surprisingly igniting a rather contentious relationship between the musician and the government.
Fearless of government reprisals, the iconic composer and performer wasn’t afraid to die for what he believed. He urged others to fight repression as he amassed a small army of his own and even surrounded his compound with electric wire.

An endearing, feared, reviled (by the government) and revered political and musical figure in African history, Fela’s story is not only told through music, but also some incredible dancing – choreographed by Tony-Award winner Bill T. Jones. Jones also conceived, directed and co-authored the book to the biographical musical.

Not an easy story to turn into a musical, the producers, directors and cast have essentially hit a home run.

This is a tough (in every sense of the word) show with an emotional subject matter, but the pay off is worth every drop of sweat and tears the actors exude.

The show moves from explaining Fela’s musical influences, to how he went about creating his unique sound. Honing his craft in New York, London and Los Angeles, Fela inhaled and digested the Black Power movement in America through a woman named Sandra Isadore who opened his mind to the writings of civil rights icons Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.


This year Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) plays Isadore. Her voice was a bit squeaky and she was a bit stiff opening night, but with her stage and performing experience, it’s a bet she’ll loosen up.

Fela’s spiritual and philosophical transformation was palatable.

The show, produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, is driven not only by the music and the choreography, but also by some powerful performances.
Adesola Osakalumi commands the stage in the role of Fela. He draws the audience in with his wit and his authentic presence. He fills the stage and the theater with his magnetic personality, paired with his robust performance, both of which effectively carry the show from beginning to end.
   
Melanie Marshall returns to the Ahmanson and remains a force to be reckoned with. She is impressive, portraying Fela’s fearless and unwavering mother, Funmilayo. She gives a bold, yet subtle performance that is affecting and gut-wrenching.
There is no weak link in this show, making Fela! a satisfying theatrical experience.
The dancers, with their enviable firm and beautifully cut bodies, are full of inexhaustible energy.  Like free spirited gazelles they move about the stage with their technically precise, yet free-styled gyrations. 


The efficient and splendid set design (Marina Draghici), mood lighting (Robert Wierzel) and costumes (Marina Draghici) assist in making this show a full package.

And, the music, of course, is exceptional!

“Fela!” is more than a play. It’s more than a musical. It’s an experience!

Kudos to everyone involved.

The musical opened on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, Nov. 23, 2009, after an acclaimed run Off-Broadway in 2008.
“Fela!” stars Adesola Osakalumi, Duain Richmond, Michelle Williams, Rsaan-Elijah “Talu” Green, Ismael Kouyate, Gelan Lambert, Lauren De Veaux, Shawn Alynda Fisher, Jason Herbert, Shakira Marshall, India McGee, Oneika Phillips, Kafi Pierre, Malaiyka Reid, Daniel Soto, Tricia M. Taitt, Ade Chike Torbert, Uyoata Udi, Jill Marie Vallery and Melanie Marshall.

Fela!, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones, and music and lyrics by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Maija Garcia is also a choreographer.

Fela!, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles;  Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. 1 and 6:30 p.m., no performance on Mondays, through May 5, 2013, $20-$85; www.centertheatregroup.org.

On the Donloe Scale, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (OK) and E (excellent), “Fela!” gets an E (Excellent).


Soweto Gospel Choir's 10th Anniversary Tour



   
South Africa's Grammy Award Winning Soweto Gospel Choir returns to Canada, as part of their 10th Anniversary Celebrations. The tour starts on June 15, 2013 in Thunder Bay, Ontario including a performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival on July 6. 

The Soweto Gospel Choir have been uplifting hearts with their voices since 2003.  Over the last 10 years Soweto Gospel Choir has brought joy into the lives of audiences all over the world. They have collaborated, recorded and performed with artists including Bono and U2,  Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Robert Plant, Celine Dion, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Peter Gabriel, Josh Grobin as well as Andre Rieu.  They have performed in front of  President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and of course their spiritual fathers, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  Their provocative, spiritual and uplifting voices have placed them on the world stage.  The choir holds the honor of being the first South African artists to perform at the Academy Awards as well as the recipients of many awards, including, two Grammy's, Billboard Music Awards and an Emmy.  With all their travels and sold out performances, the Soweto Gospel Choir remain dedicated to their beginnings.  In 2003, the Choir adopted the Aids Orphans Foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani.  The Choir has raised 1.4 million dollars to date, supporting the foundation's work with children affected by aids in South Africa.  Don't miss what the world applauds.  Spend an evening with the truly engaging spirits and remarkable voices of the Soweto Gospel Choir.

A Message from Soweto Gospel Choir:
"The Soweto Gospel Choir is excited to be touring Canada again as part of our 10th Anniversary celebration. On this tour we will be performing in many new cities giving us the chance to introduce the Choir's unique African spirit to new audiences."

Friday, April 26, 2013

'PAIN & GAIN' Is An Unbelievable True Story



By Darlene Donloe

If the film, Pain & Gain, was not a true story, no one would believe it.  

In theaters nationwide today, this movie is so unbelievable that one can’t fathom this movie having any amount of truth.

Michael Bay’s latest high-energy, action-comedy, set in 1990’s Miami, stars Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo, Dwayne Johnson as Paul Doyle and Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal, all steroid abusing bodybuilders who, in longing for the American dream, launch a kidnapping scheme and extortion ring that involves stealing Victor Kershaw’s (Tony Shaloub) entire wealth.

 (l-r) ANTHONY MACKIE, DWAYNE JOHNSON 
and MARK WAHLBERG

However, this bumbling trio is so inept they stumble at every turn. It’s not quite clear if the trio’s antics are hilarious or downright sad.

Lugo is a trainer at a gym, who has grown impatient with achieving the American dream.  After attending a wealth seminar led by Ken Jeong’s character Johnny Wu, and listening to one of his wealthy clients go on and on about his wealth and finances, Lugo decides to steal the man’s life and wealth. Wu insists all of his followers feel like ‘doers’ not ‘don’t-ers’. Once he’s fully indoctrinated, he enlists the help of Doyle and Doorbal.

 ANTHONY MACKIE, MARK WAHLBERG 
and DWAYNE JOHNSON

This trio is so Keystone-Cops-acting that they think they can simply kidnap Kershaw and force him to sign over all of his assets and not have anyone, including the bankers, his employees or even his family tip off the police.

Well, they were pretty much right. But, what they didn’t count on was Kershaw being a tough cookie.

 (l-r) DWAYNE JOHNSON, TONY SHALOUB 
and MARK WAHLBERG

WARNING: There is a lot of violence and brutality that is hard to stomach at times.

There are some exceptional performances in this film, including Wahlberg, Johnson, Mackie and Shaloub.  Rebel Wilson, who plays Robin Peck, who eventually marries Doorbal, Ed Harris, who plays former detective Ed DuBois and Rob Corddry, who plays gym owner John Mese, also provide fabulous performances.

ANTHONY MACKIE

Johnson really showcases his acting chops as a former criminal, now hilarious born again Christian.

Wahlberg has solidified the fact that he’s joined the ranks as one of the best action/comedy stars working today. 

Shaloub is spectacularly despicable as Kershaw, a filthy rich restaurant owner.

 REBEL WILSON

Rebel Wilson couldn’t be funnier.

Mackie holds up his end.

Pain & Gain (Paramount Pictures) is written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Michael Bay.

Pain & Gain, directed by Michael Bay, stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shaloub, Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson, Ed Harris and Ken Jeong.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable) O (OK) and E (excellent), Pain & Gain gets an O (OK).

MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, rough language throughout and drug use. Running time: 2 hr. 9 min.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

JAVEN Is Making His Mark In Entertainment

Javen
JAVEN

As an Award-winning Recording Artist, JAVEN has the dynamic talents of singer, songwriter, actor, speaker, and producer. With more than 10 years in the music industry, he has won multiple awards for his outstanding work and gained notable recognition across the country and around the world. 

JAVEN's impeccable stage presence led him to star in numerous productions. He was a lead in the theatrical production of "A Raisin in the Sun" and he starred in the Off-Broadway musical "The Rock and the Rabbi." JAVEN continued to earn parts in feature films like "One Night with the King" starring opposite Omar Sharif; the feature film "Abandoned" starring Britney Murphy; and the feature film "Preacher's Kid" starring Clifton Powell. As a songwriter, JAVEN wrote and recorded the hit single "One Step" which was featured in the 2010 feature film, "The Cross." 

While balancing an acting career, JAVEN actively produced and delivered attention garnering music that his fans could enjoy and appreciate. His first single, "Never Give Up on Love" from the self-titled CD "Javen," soared to the top 10 CCM charts. In 2003, he released his first independent CD, "Change," on his production label jRock Entertainment which was nominated for several awards topping the charts. In 2009, JAVEN released the "Keeping the Faith" CD, which included duets with Israel Houghton and Deitrick Haddon as well as the hit single, "None Like You." In 2010, JAVEN released the power-packed CD "Free" which included the hit single, "One Step," which was featured in the movie, "The Cross." As a songwriter JAVEN has several top music videos, hit singles, and awards. 

JAVEN has also served his community as a full-time worship leader at a mega-church for many years. He now travels doing over 130 dates per year singing and speaking across the country and around the world in locales as varied as Africa, Indonesia, Europe, Canada, Brazil, the Caribbean, and more. 

He is a spokesperson for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide; he is a consistent donor and supporter of Hope for Haiti, an incredible missions program that houses, feeds, educates and trains over 300 children in Haiti; and participates in several domestic mission programs that deal with homelessness, hunger, and poverty in the Los Angeles, CA area. 

JAVEN launched the Worship in the Now Conference, a powerful two-day seminar featuring great speakers, leaders and pastors on successful living, spiritual growth, and more which has toured major cities such as San Diego, CA; Atlanta, GA; and Tampa, FL. Carrying this vision forward, JAVEN has launched the Worship in the Now Ministries in South Florida to bring hope and encouragement to those in need. His much anticipated and long awaited Live CD Recording entitled "Worship in the Now" will be released on May 21, 2013. Also being released in 2013 is JAVEN's short book, "100 Things You Need to Know in Life," a gift to all of profound statements that have revolutionized his life. Through his message of both love and faith, JAVEN desires to see lives changed wherever he goes. You can keep up with this dynamic talent by logging on to www.javenonline.com, www.twitter.com/javenonline or www.facebook.com/MeetJaven.

Gil Robertson Asks 'Where Did Our Love Go?'

 

 By Darlene C. Donloe

Gil Robertson has long been a fixture in the entertainment community. He’s not only a seasoned publicist and entertainment and travel journalist, he is also the founder of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), a professional association that promotes African American film productions and provides cinema critique. For nearly two decades he has written his syndicated lifestyle column the Robertson Treatment, which is carried in 30 markets across the country. His work has appeared in Essence, Billboard, Black Enterprise, the Source, Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
 
Several years ago Robertson, who is originally from Los Angeles, but currently lives in Atlanta, threw his hat into the literary world and edited the books, Not in My Family: AIDS In the African American Community (2006) and Family Affair: What It Means To Be African-American Today (2009).

Now, he’s in the midst of a media blitz to publicize his latest tome, Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community, which, through various essays and personal reflections, examines critical issues like love, marriage and relationships that affect the quality of African American life. 


Starting this May, in support of the book, Robertson will set out on a Black Love Is Forever Tour, a series of community-based, Town Hall forums designed to address the relationship gap in the African American Community. The Black Love Is Forever Tour will hit eight markets beginning at Hammond House in Atlanta on May 14th and completing its run in Los Angeles on June 29th

“The time is certainly long overdue for an organized and constructive dialogue on the key issues impacting love and relationships in the African American community,” says Robertson about the tour. “This tour will explore the substantive issues related to our love status and identify strategies on how we can keep black love alive.”
I caught up with the always vocal, always opinionated Robertson recently to talk about his latest venture.

 GIL L. ROBERTSON, IV

DD: Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community.   Tell me about the title.

GR: The inspiration and impetus for the book is when I look at the world I grew up in and the family I grew up in and the love my parents had for each other and especially for their children, I just wasn’t seeing a lot of that in today’s world. I think the question is appropriate for today. I’m asking where did the love go in the black community in terms of how we treat each other and in terms of how we’re not coming together in loving, healthy relationships.

DD: Why is that?

GR: We have some severe mental health issues. I think that black men and women are angry with each other. We have allowed messages in pop culture to dilute our heads  and who we are and should be to one another. I’m not suggesting it’s by design. I think we’ve been duped into not understanding the long-term benefits of long, healthy relationships. We bought into the hype that we can do it ourselves. It’s easier to go through this journey with a partner instead of not having one.

DD: You have asked the question, Where Did Our Love Go?   What’s the answer and what kind of love are you talking about.

GR:  For the purpose of this book it’s addressing how two people, be it a man and woman or same sex, can come together with mutual respect and understanding and build a life together. What’s key to the realization of that idea is that you have to start with self love. If not, you can’t be of value to anyone else.

DD:  Why is this topic important? You could have done any number of projects. Why did you edit this book?

GR: Family is the root of society and of the community. Family and the institution of marriage are both important. Both are something our ancestors died for. At the close of slavery you had them entering into marriage because they recognized the benefits. It’s about building a healthy environment around them. It radiates around the world. Marriage and coupling is important.

DD: Are we to believe Black love is different from any other kind of love?

GR: Ain’t nothing in the world like black love. I think that’s why so many of us have held on much longer than we should have. That’s why people are falling over themselves trying to get with us. There is nothing like black love. It’s nothing like love in a black man and in a black woman.  There is something so powerful about the expression of what we do together. It’s so beautiful. I wish so many more of us could see it. It’s so rich.

DD: In the book you wrote a section called The Clock Is Still Ticking. It sounded like you have a five year plan.

GR: Because of my own shit I haven’t made myself available to being in a long-term relationship or marriage. My desire to not grow old alone is more important to me than my vanity. I will be married in five years.

DD: What did you find out about love and African American relationships that you didn’t know?

GR: I don’t think I learned anything new. I’ve always known that Black people strive to have love in their lives and that it’s important. I never thought love was something we didn’t place a priority on. I walked away with a profound sense of sadness that wonderful people have been unable to find a life partner. You ask yourself why? When you look at our counterparts, be they white, Latino or Asian, whenever you go out, the black person is the only single person up in the room. I learned that black people want love and are willing to make the sacrifices in their lives. I already knew this but it was validated.

DD: Lets talk about the essays. How were the essays chosen?  What was the criteria?

GR: Like my earlier projects I invited people to be a part of it. I went from there. I must say there were some specific things I wanted to hit upon. There were some people that I deliberately targeted. With the nature of publishing you need a sprinkling of celebrities in order for it to sell. The majority of the contributors are journalists. I’m proud to quarterback. I’m proud to provide a space where my talented colleagues can share their thoughtful ideas about love and relationships.

DD: So, what was your process in deciding who to include in the book?

GR: That’s a good question. Ultimately your goal for the book is for it to sell. You want people who bring value and can help you promote it and sell it.  You want people with influences within their communities and people who are able to write stories that are constructed well. Ultimately, those are the two things you consider in making a final selection.

DD: A series of Town Hall forums have been scheduled. Where are you going and why?

GR: The majority of the destinations are major population centers for black folks. The first one is May 14 at the Hammond House in Atlanta.  We are also going to Dallas, the Book Expo in New York, we’re doing a signing in Leimert Park in June. We will also be involved with the Urban League in  Chicago and General Motors in Detroit.

DD: What is the purpose of the forums?  Are you looking for a specific result?

GR: I want to get a conversation started. Folks can join us on Facebook and Twitter. We did a good job of representing the community. However, I want other voices. I want folks to feel like they are part of the conversation. We will be filming selected Town Halls for a documentary. I’m moving into the realm of being a producer. I’m excited about it. 

DD: Will there be a fourth book?

GR: The next book is on loss. It will focus on  losing someone you love that is important to you. In last decade I’ve lost my parents. The loss of my mother had a profound effect on me. There were times I was in it and would ask myself if anyone could relate to what I’m going through. Of course, I knew there were millions of people. In the middle of the storm it’s like you’re there all alone. I want to do a book that helps people. We’re probably going to expand it to people who have loss  children and those who have loss husbands who have gone to war or are imprisoned. It’s worth exploring that whole deal. My loss is concrete. What does it mean when you lose a father to the nation, someone like a John H. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., Tom Bradley and Coleman Young.

DD: What is the current status of African American relationships?

GR: It’s at a critical point. It’s on life support. We need to take active action, not passive action. We need to actively engage to turn this tide around. A black man can have no better partner than a black woman. A black woman will stick with you ‘til the ends of the earth. If a black man loves you, you are the sun in his universe. When you have to lead your man to do too many different things, you have a problem.

DD: It’s very clear you like black people. Besides the obvious, why?

GR: I guess I learned it from my parents who loved black people. When I grew up we had two sets of encyclopedias in our library. They invested in the encyclopedias. A lot of it had to do with when I was born at the height of the civil rights movement. We had a full set of African American encyclopedias. All during my formative years we were infused with that knowledge. We loved ourselves. I just loved everything about us. I grew up in a black neighborhood and I felt safe – always. In the media you would hear them say something about south central as if something was wrong with that. I always felt safe and protected in my neighborhood. My parents were smart. I never had a problem with black folks. As a journalist I’ve been about positive aspects of blackness. I’m a product of my parents. Sure I could live in the valley. I could live a lot of places, but when I drive pass [Chef] Marilyn’s, I’m in my element. I can also do Four Seasons with the best of them. But, let me walk up in Marilyn’s and I’m on fire.

For more information on the book visit: wheredidrlovego.com. Twitter: @wheredidrlovego and Facebook – blackloveisforever





Monday, April 22, 2013

MOCA, LA Continues Fundraising Success



RAISES $2.5 MILLION
AT
YESSSSS!
2013 MOCA GALA
CELEBRATING THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION URS FISCHER

CREATIVE DIRECTION BY ROB PRUITT

Los Angeles– Patrons of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles turned out in droves this Saturday to support the museum at its annual star-studded gala, which grossed $2.5 million. The gala's success comes on the heels of the Board of Trustees’ announcement that it has received commitments that raise the value of the endowment to $75 million toward the goal of boosting the museum's endowment to an initial $100 million.

The museum gala celebrated the opening of the first major U.S. museum retrospective of works by internationally acclaimed Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer, and is the first time an exhibition by a living artist has been presented at both MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

MOCA’s gala drew hundreds of international guests from the worlds of art, design, architecture, fashion, film, politics and music. In attendance were Gala Chairs Maria Arena Bell and Eli Broad, Honorary Gala Chairs Stephanie & Peter Brant, Ariel & Sarah Emanuel, Larry Gagosian, Eugenio Lopez, Maurice Marciano and Peter Morton, Dinner Chairs NancyJane & Mark Goldston, Carolyn Powers and Lilly Tartikoff Karatz & Bruce Karatz, Honorary Co-Chairs Dan Aloni, Jim Berkus, Irving & Jackie Blum, Eva & Michael Chow, Mandy & Cliff Einstein, Suzanne & David Johnson, Amalia Dayan & Adam Lindemann, Margaret and Dan Loeb, Rosette Delug, Dallas Price-Van Breda & Bob van Breda, Steven Roth & Kaayla Cevan, Carla & Fred Sands, Catharine Soros, Elham and Tony Salamé, Darren Star, Maria Seferian, Benjamin and Jennifer Silverman, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Jefery Levy, Lauren Taschen together with MOCA Trustees Chip Conlan, Laurent Degryse, Susan and David Gersh, Michael Harrison, Audrey Irmas, Steven Mnuchin, Sutton Stracke, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Herb Wesson, and Orna Amir Wolens. Red carpet arrivals of Hollywood celebrities, prominent figures in the art and entertainment fields, fashion icons, and renowned international and Los Angeles artists and art luminaries included: Doug Aitken, Edgar Arcenaux, Harry Brant, Tim Blum, Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance, Mark Bradford, Gavin Brown, Christine & Gabriel Chiu, China Chow, Dan Colen, Sadie Coles, Jeff Curry, Kyle DeWoody, Brendan Dugan, Jesse Dylan, Lisa Edelstein, Lisa Eisner, Ant Genn, Shepard Fairey, Urs Fischer, Danny Fuller, Cyprien Gaillard, Suzanne Geiss, Aileen Getty, Liz Goldwyn, Brian Grazer, Alan Hergott & Curt Shephard, Jennifer Herrema, Lady Victoria Hervey, Victoria Duffy Hopper, Thomas Houseago, Elliott Hundley, Alex Israel, Chris Johanson & Jo Jackson, Ben Jones, Miranda July, Miriam Katz, Bettina Korek, George Kotsiopoulos, Giada De Laurentiis, Malerie Marder, Nancy & Howard Marks, Barry McGee & Clare Rojas, Tobias Meyer, Jarl & Pam Mohn Anita and Mark Mothersbaugh, Laura Mulleavy, Vivi Nevo, Stavros Niarchos, Timothy Olyphant, Laura Owens, Ellen Pompeo, Paige Powell, Rob Pruitt, Wolfgang Puck & Gelilia Assefa, Charlotte Rampling, Shaun Caley Regen, Retna, Terry Richardson, Amanda Ross-Ho, Scott Rothkopf, David Salle, André Saraiva, , Julian Schnabel, Tony Shafrazi, Eckhard Schneider, Rick Ruben, Sumner Redstone, Lara Schnitger, Cameron Silver, Hedi Slimane, Josh Smith, Dean Spunt & Randy Randall of No Age, Craig Stecyk, Tara Subkoff, Jennifer Tilly, Steve Tisch, Gus Van Sant, Owen Wilson and Neville Wakefield.

"The success of this year’s gala demonstrates the extraordinary and growing support for the museum from around the world and in Los Angeles ”said MOCA board co-chair and gala chair Maria Arena Bell, “MOCA has set a standard among museum galas for once in a lifetime artist-directed experiences. To coincide with the opening of Urs Fischer’s major retrospective at MOCA, artist Rob Pruitt brilliantly conceived a cultural mash up of various things we expect at parties to create a truly unexpected, and entertaining celebration of Fischer’s work at MOCA.”

In mid-March, the museum's board of trustees launched a new fundraising campaign to boost the endowment to at least $100 million. Co-chaired by Board President Jeffrey Soros and long-time trustee Eugenio Lopez, the campaign boosted the value of the endowment from $22 million to more than $75 million in just four weeks through commitments ranging from $1 million to $10 million from more than 20 current and former trustees and MOCA patrons.

Entitled YESSSSS!, the gala was envisioned with creative direction by artist Rob Pruitt as a “culture” or “power” clash of mismatched ideas, complementing Urs Fischer’s propensity to bridge the banal and the fantastical through unexpected combinations. The collage-style evening mash up, where nothing worked with anything and everything had its place, began at Grand Avenue with a private preview of the exhibition Urs Fischer, a reception with cocktails provided by Russian Standard Vodka and a special performance by Los Angeles band No Age. After previewing the exhibition at Grand Avenue, guests boarded shuttles presenting a video by artist Cheech Marin giving an impromptu pottery lesson filmed while he was making clay sculptures for the exhibition, as they headed to The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for dinner and performances and a continuing preview of Fischer’s expansive sculpture installation presenting thousands of clay works made by the artist with the help of 1,500 people in L.A.

The Geffen building was transformed by a variety of incongruous, fantastical and absurd images. More than 650 gala guests were seated, donning Hawaiian leis, at Italian trattoria style tables covered in red and white checked table cloths with Chianti bottle drip candles. Centerpieces included bong vases with hemp, Rob Pruitt napkins covered in seemingly drug-induced doodles and waiters wearing t-shirts with phrases from a poem by artist Marc Hundley, that when taken together said “Amazing things/Are happening/In this world.” Burly men dressed as angels floated above the dinner guests, suspended from scissor lifts usually reserved for the installation of artwork and lights, while the music that filtered through the room included bird calls, whale songs, and the sounds of thunder and rain. The ambiance was occasionally punctuated by the flurry of dollar bills that exploded from a nearby money cannon. In keeping with the pomp of the evening, a special Ferrari valet area was available at both locations to accommodate guests arriving via Ferrari.

Video projections streamed across the walls over the course of the evening, alternating between images of the latest YouTube sensations, Internet cat memes, how-to videos, deep sea creatures, wild life documentaries, and a “Wolfgang-Puck-making-dinner” video. The outdoor lounge area, awash in underwater projections, was located conveniently close to the smoking area and a “4/20 buffet,” which included stoner favorites like hot dogs, mac and cheese, pizza, Chinese food, and a never-ending supply of junk food. The marijuana leaf logo featured prominently on the menus and on glittery pillows and throw blankets that adorned the beds and lounge chairs for guests to recline on during the night. 

Festivities continued with Renaissance Fair characters in costume, a goat petting zoo, and a giant panda directing the way to the restrooms. Guests had their pick between the taffy making area, the goat milk creamery, and an old-fashioned cotton candy machine spinning candy onto glowsticks. Smokey the Bear welcomed smokers to the smoking section and guests lined up to make their own digital flip books, many of whom donned the outlandish costumes and props that were on hand for them to have their fun. Guests sipped on fresh juice bar cocktails and wheatgrass shots while watching a bevy of hula dancers perform.    

A Parisian Style Bistro dinner courtesy of Wolfgang Puck Catering, included a first course of a frisee salad with julienne of bacon, poached egg, brioche croutons and sherry mustard vinaigrette, along with an assortment of Wolfgang Puck breads, rolls and lavosh with sweet butter. The first course had barely finished when the entire USC Trojans Marching Band took over the hall. Led by their baton twirler, and book-ended by tireless cheerleaders, the entire band in sunglasses marched between the many tables. By the time they filtered out of the hall, all of the guests were clapping and cheering. Accompanying the main course of a duo of roasted chicken with jus, grilled New York steak, roasted asparagus, frites and lyonnaise potatoes complimented by Wolfgang Puck Private Label wine, were musical performances by Mark Mothersbaugh, one of the most unique, subversive, and prolific composers and artists of the era who played the organ and synthesizer, and stand up and comedy appearances by Nick Kroll, Kumail Nanjiani and soap star and patch-clad Steven Nichols. The highlight of the evening came as legendary American sweethearts and pop superstars The Go-Go’s took the stage with a barefoot Belinda Carlisle, and brought all guests to their feet.  Artists, trustees, politicians, and celebrities rubbed shoulders as the dancing began to hit song “We Got the Beat.”

A vast spread of desserts, including an Ice Cream Sundae Bar, Spring Inspired French Macaroons, Mini Coffee Eclairs, Raspberry Creme Brulee Tarts, and Apple Tarte Tatin were devoured outside under the Geffen canopy strung with disco balls.  The after-party with performances by Jennifer Herrema and Black Bananas, and comedian Rory Scovel did in fact bring the guests to their feet once again dancing and chatting until late into the evening. Guests seemed loath to go home, avoiding the valet and shuttle services until the very last moment.

IMAGES: YESSSS! MOCA Gala 2013 in celebration of the opening of Urs Fischer—with creative direction by Rob Pruitt, Saturday, April 20, 2013, photos by Billy Farrell Agency.

ABOUT URS FISCHER
One of today’s most important contemporary artists, Fischer is known for using a range of media to express the transience of art and, concomitantly, the human condition. Jessica Morgan, Curator, International Art, at Tate Modern in London, is curating the exhibition, which will occupy both MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, from April 21, 2013, to August 19, 2013. Presenting his work of the last decade, the show will bring together for the first time Fischer’s many iconic works from leading international collections as well as recent productions and a special installation made by the artist with the help of 1500 people in LA. Each MOCA location will have a distinct character and approach responding and adapting to the unique spaces of the museum. Fischer will weave together the storyline of his work: skeletons will meet movie stars, toys will greet grave-like holes, and our accustomed sense of disinterested distance will be simultaneously embraced and destroyed.  

ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES (MOCA)
Founded in 1979, MOCA’s mission is to be the defining museum of contemporary art. The institution has achieved astonishing growth in its brief history—with three Los Angeles locations of architectural renown; more than 10,000 members; a world-class permanent collection of nearly 6,700 works international in scope and among the finest in the nation; hallmark education programs that are widely emulated; award-winning publications that present original scholarship; and groundbreaking monographic, touring, and thematic exhibitions of international repute that survey the art of our time. MOCA is a private not-for-profit institution supported by its members, corporate and foundation support, government grants, and retail and admission revenues. For 24-hour information on current exhibitions, education programs, and special events, call 213/626-6222 or access MOCA online at moca.org.

ABOUT ROB PRUITT
Since he emerged on the New York art scene in the late ‘80s, Rob Pruitt’s risk-taking investigations into American popular culture have taken many forms. From his notorious Cocaine Buffet (1998) and glitter portraits of pandas to such events as his ongoing Flea Market and Annual Art Awards, and a silvered Andy Warhol monument on public view, Pruitt has employed a post-Pop sensibility to playfully satirize the art world and its ambivalent relation to celebrity and popular culture. Pruitt’s diverse oeuvre made with his particular brand of iconoclastic humor and visual exuberance stays true to the spirit of disruption that has long been central to his practice. His first American survey, Rob Pruitt: An American Folk Artist, will be presented at the
Aspen Art Museum May 3 – July 14, 2013.
ABOUT THE GO-GO’s
Formed in Los Angeles in 1978, The Go-Go’s made history as the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.
From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts, to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, the internationally-loved pop hit-makers including classic line up of lead singer and 80’s pop icon Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Jane Wiedlin, helped cement the foundation of the early 80s pop-rock sound without the aid of outside composers, session players or creative compromise, and soared to become a pop phenomenon, while having a lot of fun and blazing a brand-new trail for the DIY ethic in general, and women in music in particular.

The band rose to fame during the early 1980s with a debut album, Beauty and the Beat, considered as one of the cornerstone albums of US new wave, breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. The album reached number one in the Billboard 200 chart, and reached triple platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums ever. Three decades later, The Go-Go’s continue to deliver every bit of the raw energy of their now-legendary punk beginnings.

ABOUT MARK MOTHERSBAUGH
Mark Mothersbaugh is one of this era’s most unique and prolific composers and artists. His subversive nature is present within both his music and artwork. Deeply aware of the ability of precise, multi-faceted artistic expression to deliver vital social commentary, he has perpetually challenged and redefined musical and visual boundaries.

With DEVO, his most successful music project, Mark was able to showcase his artistic abilities on a larger scale, and to millions of people. Through their films, videos, costumes, LP covers, stage shows, and printed materials, Mark and DEVO forever altered commonly held preconceptions of how a rock band should function in popular culture.

As an award winning composer and prolific artist, Mark Mothersbaugh is one of this generations biggest pop culture figures.

ABOUT NO AGE
Formed in 2005 and based in Los Angeles, No Age is a two-person experimental punk group consisting of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt. They played their first show at the New Image Art gallery and continue to have strong ties to the art world.

In 2010, No Age performed a live score at the RedCat Theatre in Los Angeles for the film Aanteni, directed by Todd Cole for the fashion designers Rodarte. In 2011 the band accompanied video artist Doug Aitken and actress Chloë Sevigny to Greece to perform the multimedia installation piece Black Mirror, supported by the DESTE Foundation and the Greek Festival. They also made a zine called Reality Problems, that was commissioned by the Los Angeles art book and clothing store Ooga Booga for their booth at the New York Art Book Fair; and made a soundtrack and installation piece for MOCAʼs exhibition Hedi Slimane California Song presented at MOCA Pacific Design Center.

Last year No Age released the Collage Culture 12" on Post Present Medium, A soundtrack to readings of excerpts from the book Collage Culture, written by Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn and designed by Brian Roettinger published by JRP-Ringier. No Age are currently working on their fourth album for Sub Pop Records.

ABOUT BLACK BANANAS
Jennifer Herrema has been helping to define the underground rock scene since her teen years in the late 1980's constantly pushing forward both her music and her style. Herrema is a singer, song writer, record producer, artist and model best known for her work as one half of the influential rock band Royal Trux, which she constantly reinvented before releasing three albums under the name RTX. She is a pioneer of comprehensive non-exclusive opposition rock and Black Bananas, performing with Brian Mckinley and Kurt Midness, is the latest addition to her oeuvre.

ABOUT MIRIAM KATZ
Miriam Katz has organized exhibitions and performances for MoMA PS1, The Kitchen, Art21, and Columbia University. Her curatorial work has been reviewed in publications such as The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and Bomb. She has written for publications including Artforum, Bookforum, and Flash Art, and has been a visiting critic at Columbia University, New York University, and Bard CCS. Katz currently works as a writer and researcher for Artforum and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Art History from Hunter College. Her podcast, “Breakdown,” features interviews with both comedians and visual artists (breakdownshow.com).
ABOUT NICK KROLL
Comedian Nick Kroll created and currently stars in the Comedy Central series Kroll Show. He can also be seen on FX’s The League. In 2011, Kroll recorded an hour-long special for Comedy Central, “Thank You Very Cool.” The comedian has also
appeared in the films Get Him to the Greek, Dinner for Schmucks, Date Night, and I Love You Man. He has written for Chappelle’s Show, and Human Giant, and is the author of the best-selling book Bar Mitzvah Disco. Kroll was featured on Comedy Central's "Hot List of '09” and was voted one of Variety’s “Ten Comics to Watch.”
ABOUT KUMAIL NANJIANI
Kumail Nanjiani is a stand-up comedian and writer who has appeared on Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel.  He has been featured in Variety 's "Ten Comics to Watch,” Hollywood Reporter's "Ten Rising Comedy Talents" and New York Magazine s "Ten Comedians that Funny People Find Funny." Nanjiani currently stars on TNT’s Franklin & Bash, appears as a recurring character on IFC’s Portlandia, and will appear on the upcoming season of HBO’s VEEP. The comedian recently filmed a one-hour Comedy Central Special set to air this May.  

ABOUT RORY SCOVEL
Stand-up Comedian Rory Scovel has been featured at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, and Bonnaroo. His Comedy Central Half Hour premiered last May.  Scovel has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Conan. He can also be seen on episodes of MTV’s Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous.  He stand-up album, Dilation, was released in 2011. Scovel is currently starring in the upcoming TBS sitcom The Ground Floor.

ABOUT RUSSIAN STANDARD VODKA
Russian Standard Vodka is the world's #1 premium Russian vodka. The Russian Standard Vodka portfolio leads the premium segment in Russia with a 50 percent market share and sales of over 2.9 million cases worldwide in 2012.  Roustam Tariko, the founder of Russian Standard, introduced Russian Standard Vodka in 1998 as the first authentic Russian premium vodka.  A mere two years after Russian Standard Vodka launched in Russia, the brand's sales surpassed all imported premium vodkas, leading to broad international expansion as well as the launches of Russian Standard Platinum in 2001, Imperia Vodka in 2004, and Russian Standard Gold in 2008. Now the Russian Standard Vodka portfolio has grown to reach more than 75 markets across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.  All Russian Standard Vodka products are kosher.  Most recently, Russian Standard Vodka was awarded the IMPACT "2012 Hot Brand" and Beverage Dynamics "2013 Growth Brands" awards for its 2012 US performance. http://www.russianstandardvodka.com

Bassist Anthony Crawford Fuses Musical Genres


 
Los Angeles - One might easily contend that bassist Anthony Crawford has music flowing through his veins instead of blood.  When you take into consideration that his dad is the noted funk and rock drummer Hubert "H bomb" Crawford, who has played with greats like James Brown, Cyndi Lauper and Mother's Finest, and his uncle is the legendary jazz saxophonist Hank Crawford, the evidence becomes even more convincing.   Now factor in the knowledge that he picked up his first instrument at age two, began visualizing his musical destiny at age 6, started teaching himself the bass at age 12, and was performing on stage with Bette Midler at 14, the evidence is enough to make you really wonder.
One listen to his latest release however, and one just might be totally convinced.  With his new effort, Crawford amazingly mixes, meshes and mingles musical genres in a lusciously seductive terrain he calls "Urban Jazz / My Story."  "Urban Jazz / My Story," on Hydro 6 Records, sweeps across the textures of  jazz, funk, R&B, pop and hip hop and morphs into a musical collage of enchanting innovation and interpretation.
Crawford's intricate bass styling grounds and centers the listener through 14 tracks of mellow melodious adventure.  With contributions from a variety of artists, including Eric Darius, Frank McComb and Dave Weckl; song, harmony and rhythm wondrously whirl together in artistic free flight.  "Only You," the single release from the project, features  McComb on vocals and is a determined declaration that rocks with commitment.   "Bass Guitar" another track from the project, singularly swirls and twirls the flavors of hip hop, pop and contemporary jazz into one delicious treat. 
"Baby" is another ear pleaser. The R&B bass tinged ode soars with sentiment highlighted with vocals from Valencia Robinson.  Crawford's  "Jazz vs. Hip Hop" takes it up a funk notch with an engaging interplay so wound up, that the notion of jazz vs. hip hop becomes an improbable feat with no winner.  "For My Mother," Crawford's stirring solo effort, is pure bass that touches the heart strings with every timbre.
A true prodigy in his own right, Anthony Crawford has been honing his own musical legacy over the years, working with artists such as Erykah Badu, Justin Timberlake and Jeff Lorber.  The Memphis, TN native is one of four featured bassists on the upcoming release "Bass Sessions Vol. 2" from GospelChops.com and he tours internationally to wide acclaim.
His dedication to his art is highlighted throughout "Urban Jazz / My Story" with his thoughts on perseverance. "I am a true believer in what the mind can see will be made real.  My musical journey has always been about me seeing something first and then it manifesting later.  I have been blessed to work with many of my music heroes, including bassist Stanley Clarke and legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth, in just this fashion.  'Urban Jazz / My Story' is about pushing beyond borders, not just with music but also in life.  We have the power to make things happen and hopefully 'Urban Jazz/ My Story' inspires that modus operandi in others."
Anthony Crawford - Urban Jazz - Promo Video
Anthony Crawford - Urban Jazz - Promo Video

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nick Cannon Named 2013 ADCOLOR® All-Star



Nominations for the 2013 ADCOLOR® Awards now being accepted


NEW YORK, NY (April 18, 2013) – The ADCOLOR® Board of Directors is pleased to announce Nick Cannon as the 2013 ADCOLOR All-Star. Now in its seventh year, Cannon will be honored at the ADCOLOR® Awards and Industry Conference at The Beverly Hilton on September 21, 2013. He will be joined by former All-Stars including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Russell Simmons, Cristina Saralegui, Queen Latifah, George Lopez, and Boris Kodjoe.

From his achievements in music, big screen, television and radio roles to his executive producer and charitable endeavors Nick Cannon embodies the “Rise Up. Reach Back,” mission of ADCOLOR. Nick will be honored alongside 21 individuals and companies representing the advertising, marketing, media, PR and entertainment industries at The ADCOLOR Awards on September 21st at The Beverly Hilton.

“I am so honored that ADCOLOR has chosen me for this year’s All-Star award.  I am humbled to join the company of the honorees of years past who I admire and to be a part of this special annual event,” says Nick Cannon.

Cited by PEOPLE Magazine as one of the ‘Top ten most successful young people in Hollywood’ Nick Cannon is a multi-faceted entertainer: film star, comedian, TV and radio host, musician, writer, director, executive producer and philanthropist.  Nick has starred in multiple films and became the first African American Actor in history to be honored at the Cannes Film Festival with the “Breakthrough Actor of the Year” Award.   In 2005, MTV debuted “Nick Cannon Presents Wild N Out,” an improv comedy show which eventually became one of MTV’s highest rated shows in the network’s history.  Due to popular demand, the popular show will make its return to the network this Summer.

Aside from returning this year with NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” as the hit show’s host for the fifth season in a row, Nick serves as the Chairman of Nickelodeon’s TeenNick television network and hosts his own nationally syndicated Top 40 weekend countdown radio show called “Cannon’s Countdown” with CBS Radio. Nick runs the multi-media company NCredible Entertainment, producing TV, film projects as well as running a product division which introduced a top selling line of NCredible branded headphones at retail nationwide last year in conjunction with Monster Cable Products, Inc. which has become a top seller at retail and boasts sales projections by end of 2013 to exceed $30 million. He also inked a multi-year, multi-million first look production deal with NBC Networks to develop scripted and unscripted fare for the network earlier this year and introduced a new sketch comedy show, “Incredible Crew” which premiered on Cartoon Network and has out performed American Idol in all key kids demos.

While his professional body of work keeps him extremely busy, Cannon has always made the time to use his resources and his voice to give back to the community and those in need - working with nationally recognized organizations such as Feeding America, Boys and Girls Club, Do Something, Toys for Tots, Stomp Out Bullying, Lupus Foundation of America and The National Kidney Foundation to name a few - in addition to running his own Nicholas Scott Cannon Foundation.

Nominations for the 2013 ADCOLOR® Awards are currently being accepted up until May 10th. Individuals may nominate colleagues or mentors as well agencies and corporations for awards in six different categories. Honorees will be announced live on May 28 at ADCOLOR® Live! presented by Time Warner and Publicis Groupe. The announcements will be live streamed on www.adcolor.org

The Rising Star Awards
Award honorees have less than seven years experience. These young guns are up and coming. They are carving a path, setting goals, and pushing their talent and skills to achieve them.

The Innovator Awards
Award honorees are champions of a new way of thinking. Novel, visionary and progressive are just a few words that describe the brainpower of these individuals.

The Change Agent Awards
Award honorees are champions who are spurring diversity within their organization. These leaders have taken an off-the-beaten-path detour that enriches their many talents and allows them to bring a new point of view to their retrospective industries.

The Legend Awards
Award honorees are seasoned industry veterans who have set the bar for others in the field to aspire to, all the while pushing boundaries and creating positive change.

The MVP Awards
The Most Valuable Partnership are agencies, marketers or media companies that partner to provide innovative diversity solutions to their retrospective organizations and industries.

The One Club ADCOLOR® Creative Awards
This award highlights creative professionals of multicultural background who have mastered all aspects of the media, creative, digital and traditional advertising disciplines. This historic collaboration recognizes those who have often times been overlooked in the creative archives of advertising history.

Visit ADCOLOR.org to register for the 2013 ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference and to nominate a colleague or mentor.  

The ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference will take place at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California from September 19 – 21st.  

About ADCOLOR®
ADCOLOR® is a nonprofit 501(c) (6) organization whose mission is to celebrate and champion diversity in the advertising, marketing, media, and public relations industries. ADCOLOR® strives to create a network of outstanding diverse professionals and champions of diversity and inclusion by honoring their accomplishments and leveraging their stories as a road map for others to follow. By highlighting the achievements of African-American, American Indian/Native American, Asian Pacific-American, Hispanic/Latino, LGBT and other diverse professionals, students, and diversity and inclusion champions, ADCOLOR® aims to inspire the next generation of diverse professionals.

Sponsors
The 2013 ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference is brought to you by Omnicom Group, Pepsico, The Advertising Club of NY, Draftfcb and sponsored by BBDO, DAS Global, Deutsch, DIAGEO, TBWA\. Additional support provided by ADWEEK, 4A’s, American Advertising Federation, OmnicomMediaGroup and Publicis Groupe.