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The Culture Agent: Sander Roscoe Wolff, columnist for LBPost.com
Interviews with artists, musicians, and other interesting folks
Category: Arts
Location: Long Beach, CA
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by Sander Wolff
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March 16, 2011 07:20 PM PDT

Lee Ferrell is one of those working musicians who may not be famous, but has played with everyone at one point or another. From his early days with Dick Dale, to his years on the road with The Righteous Brothers, to regular stints at the big Las Vegas lounges, he's at ease in any context.

A consummate entertainer, his love of music and performing is plainly evident. In this interview he talks about his travels, his kids, and what it means to be a man on the road.

Lee performs regularly at McKenna's on the Bay, located in Long Beach, CA.

October 11, 2010 10:11 AM PDT

Denise Clayton-Leonard, founder and CEO of Artful Healing, is the Artist in Residence at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach. In this interview, she speaks about the work she does at the hospital, and an exciting partnership with the The 26th International City Bank Long Beach Marathon, which will be using art created by hospital patients on the mile markers used throughout the race. These mile markers will be auctioned at the Marathon's free Health and Fitness Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center in Hall C, which is accessed via the main Arena entrance. The Expo is taking place on Friday from 12 - 7 PM, and on Saturday from 9 AM - 6 PM.

August 30, 2010 07:36 AM PDT
It is almost unbelievable that yesterday was the 'official' five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. While governmental officials made speeches, much of the devastation that swept through the region has yet to be addressed. Still, there were signs of hope, and recovery. Then, on April 20th of this year, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and effectively destroyed one of the few industries still flourishing in the Delta region: Fishing. Michelle Mangione is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who has been working as a professional musician since she was a teenager. She answered her phone one day and on the other end was her friend, Grace Slick, best known as the lead singer for the Jefferson Airplane. She was upset by the suffering of Gulf Coast residents, and had written lyrics about their plight. Thus began the adventure known as "The Edge of Madness." In this audio podcast interview, Michelle speaks about how she reached out to a diverse group of professional musicians, including Bill Medley (Righteous Brothers), Tom Dumont (No Doubt), Billy Zoom (X), Martha Davis (The Motels), Kid Ramos (The Fabulous Thunderbirds), Larry Hanson (Alabama), Terri Nunn (Berlin), and Steven Hodges (Tom Waits, Smashing Pumpkins). Together, they produced what ultimately became a high energy 'fun-raiser' for Gulf Coast fishermen, and musicians. The track is available for download from the GRAMMY Museum's website. A portion of the $1.49 purchase price will be donated directly to the The Greater New Orleans Foundation's Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund that offers aid to fishermen and their families, and to the MusicCares Foundation®, which provides emergency financial assistance to members of the music community across the U.S., and continues to offer support to music people and their families in Louisiana. Michelle will be hosting her monthly First Fridays artist showcase on September 3rd at the Mirage Mediterranean Grill, located at 539 East Bixby Road but on this particular Friday she'll be hosting a remote Q&A with Grace Slick. Admission is $6.
March 15, 2010 09:54 AM PDT

The Long Beach Opera is presenting three performances of John Adams' celebrated opera, Nixon In China, at the Terrace Theater. The first performance takes place this Saturday, March 20th, with a matinee and evening performance the following Sunday.

On the surface, it tells the story of Richard Nixon's landmark visit to China in 1972. He arrived with high hopes but soon it becomes clear that his great ambitions for normalization are unrealistic. Mao, aged and infirm, speaks indirectly, and little progress is made. According to Adams, the opera "is part epic, part satire, part a parody of political posturing, and part serious examination of historical, philosophical, and even gender issues."

John Duykers defined the role of Chairman Mao in the original production, premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 1987. Since then, he's performed the role many times. He's worked with many great modern composers, and performed countless classic operas. In our conversation, he speaks about his childhood, his college years, and the many great roles he's played over the years. Our conversation lasts about 45 minutes.

January 13, 2010 09:35 AM PST

When I sat down to speak with Enrique Arturo Diemecke, I had some idea that the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra was in trouble. There had been rumors, and the occasional press release, hinting at real problems, and few solutions. Still, my intention was to speak with Maestro Diemecke about music.

Although incredibly active, leading 3 orchestras, and guest conducting around the world, his whole being radiated a deep and abiding love of music. As we talked about the opportunities and challenges of being a 21st Century conductor, I found myself amazed at his energy and enthusiasm, despite having flown in from Holland the day before.

In the conversation, he talks of his childhood, his many travels, and his love of Mahler. The recording is just a bit more than 45 minutes.

On Friday, Maestro Diemecke presents a lecture, "Beethoven and His Symphonies," part of the "Discovering Beethoven" lecture series. Tickets for the lecture are $25. On Saturday, Maestro Diemecke will conduct what may be the LBSO's final performance. The show's starring feature is Beethoven's 8th Symphony, described as "good-natured, cheery and humorous." It is book-ended by Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, and Antonin Dvorák's Symphony #9 or 'New World' Symphony. Ticket prices for the concert start at $18, quite affordable, actually.

November 10, 2009 11:41 PM PST

Lee Adams has more talent in the tip of her pinky toe than most amass in a life-time of effort. From her early days as a child performer, singing and dancing in a top hat and tails, to her later work as singer/songwriter/bandleader, she has brought artistry, intelligence, and class to everything she's done. Her work as a novelist is no exception.

On Saturday, November 14th, at 7 PM Lee will be celebrating the release of her second novel, Nighthawks. Join her at Porfolio Coffeehouse, located on the South East corner of 4th & Junipero, to hear her read, answer questions, drink some delicious coffee, and get your copy of the new book signed.

Even though it arrives just a bit after Halloween, Nighthawks is all about ghosts. It picks up about a year after her first novel, 5th and Vanguard, ends. Julie Page, still recovering from the whirlwind celebrety of her book about the enigmatic Maxene Montego, tries to make a home for herself in the run-down outskirts of her hometown, Berle.

October 21, 2009 10:26 PM PDT

I met Rychard Cooper back in 1982, when we were both enrolled in the Electronic Music & Audio Engineering programs at Long Beach City College. He and I would spend hours in the lab, programming the huge Moog modular synthesizers they had, and exploring various recording and tape manipulation techniques. Good times.

Flash forward to present day, and he's teaching at CSULB's Cole Conservatory of Music. He also played a significant role in the on-going exhibition of Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings at the University Art Museum, helped facilitate the recent Circuit Bending and Slow Sound Festival performances and, this Saturday evening at 7 PM, he is giving a multi-media lecture at the UAM titled "Complexity and Beauty: The Art of Brian Eno." This is something he often shares with his students, but this is the first time he's presented it to the public.

This interview was recorded prior to the opening of the exhibition, the Slow Sound Festival, and the Circuit Bending concert. In it he talks about the recent events, his own work as a composer, and his work as an educator.

September 01, 2009 11:28 PM PDT

Christopher Scoates, Director of the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach, has worked diligently during his four and a half years there to present works and artists that reflect a kind of modernity not often seen in established art exhibition spaces. Works that blend technology, interactivity, and narrative are often featured.

In this audio interview, Scoates talks about the exhibition of Brian Eno's 77 Million Paintings, which includes a series of prints, and real time displays of new works being created. He speaks about the process which led to this show, and the other events surrounding it, including a Circuit Bending workshop and concert, a panel discussion featuring a number of forward thinking artists, the Slow Sound Festival, SoundWalk, and Eno’s only public appearance in the United States this year, at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

A few words about Brian Eno, for those unfamiliar with his work: It is almost impossible to conceive of modern music without Eno. He has worked in collaboration with innumerable music artists: Roxy Music, Devo, U2, Coldplay, David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Peter Gabrial, Paul Simon, Robert Fripp, John Cale, Ultravox, James, Geoffrey Oryema, Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson. The list (he has 6 pages of credits on AllMusic.com) goes on and on. These working relationships weren’t casual, either. More often than not, Eno's participation led directly to a huge growth in artists' popularity and creativity. He's also released more than 30 genre defining solo albums, and almost single-handedly forged a new genre known as 'ambient.'

Eno has also worked in the visual arts, creating early and award winning music videos for the Talking Heads, and a variety of mixed media installation works. He's been a significant participant in the Clock of the Long Now project, which will build a 10,000 year clock to help illustrate the risks associated with short-sighted actions.

He's active in the area of generative creation, a systems based process that uses simple tools to create music, video, and static art filled with wonderful complexity.

Tickets may still be available for his lecture at the Carpenter Center, but they’re sure to sell out. The opening and reception for the museum's exhibition takes place on Saturday, September 12th from 6-8 PM. Scoates will open the reception with a gallery talk.

August 28, 2009 09:08 AM PDT

For more than a decade, Larry Bott has been a driving force behind the East Village Arts District. Through investments in artist live/work spaces, and the creation of the first cooperative gallery in the district, he helped shape the concept and the reality.

Larry recently announced his resignation as Director of Gallery 117. His departure creates a void that, hopefully, will be filled before the gallery closes it's doors permenantly.

I met with him at his home in the East Village, and we had a wide-ranging conversation about the history of the Arts District, the gallery, the unique challenges associated with supporting the arts in Long Beach, his own work with wood, and his ideas about what the future holds.

July 30, 2009 11:43 AM PDT

Since the inception of Long Beach record label Sounds Are Active, mastermind and musician Chris Schlarb knew that musical diversity was its cornerstone. Free Jazz, Hip Hop, Noise, Punk, Progressive Rock, and Electronic genres live happily side by side and, occasionally, merged into new amalgams. Artists on the roster include Soul-Junk, Bizzart, Viva Voce’s Kevin Robinson and, in September, a CD release from legendary guitarists Nels Cline (Wilco) and G.E. Stinson (Shadowfax) titled Elevating Device.

Schlarb’s recent solo release, Twilight and Ghost Stories, received wide-spread critical acclaim and led to his performing live with assorted local musicians in Athens, Manhattan, and San Francisco. Also, he received a grant from Meet The Composers, through the MetLife Foundation, for a three-day stint in Austin.

Schlarb met me at a local Pizza restaurant where, with classic rock blasting in the background, we talked about the label’s evolution, his various recording and performing projects, and his work as a producer.

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