Jordan Peimer on DakhaBrakha and Carmen Rizzo 


This year we're asking our musically and culturally inclined friends to write our evening programs. Here's Jordan Peimer on DakhaBrakha and Carmen Rizzo.

If you’re reading this blogpost, you rank among the most adventuresome audiences in the city. Friday, September 5th’s shared program between CARMEN RIZZO, L.A.-based electronic musician / producer and Ukraine’s DAKHABRAKHA, a behatted folk quartet, will be one of the most musically memorable evenings which you’re likely to encounter. At first glance, you might not think electronica and folk would have anything in common, but I expect that tonight’s musical dialogue will be rich and exciting.

            Los Angeles audiences hardly need an introduction to CARMEN RIZZO. His work as part of Niyaz ranks among the finest world fusion projects to come out of this or any city. His solo career has only recently been his major focus and he has released a handful of albums and an EP, each strongly compelling. In addition, he has produced, engineered, programmed or remixed artists as diverse as Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, A.R. Rahman, Paul Oakenfold, Perry Farrell, and Michael Nyman. I personally love his effortless mix of acoustic and electronic sounds, and feel that he is one of the few musicians who can make the acoustic sound electronic.

            Less well known in Los Angeles are DAKHABRAKHA whose name we are told means Give/Take in “Old” Ukrainian. How does one describe their sound? I’ve seen the words Trance, Jazz, Chaos, Punk, and dozens more used to describe them. Nothing really prepares you for their unique sound. Or their hats.

            Their mixture of ethnic and contemporary sounds is absolutely singular, and comes from a region which is not widely represented on the traditional world music circuit. Just about two years ago, DakhaBrakha took WOMEX (World Music Expo) by storm. Since that time they have barely stopped touring. This particular edition of WOMEX was held in Northern Greece and was filled with music from Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe. From Roma to polyphonic singing, I think my coterie of programmers and music aficionados, including Grand Performances’ esteemed Leigh Ann Hahn, and I all felt as though we knew what to expect as we moved from concert to concert. But with a voice that could only  have come from Rocky & Bullwinkle’s Arch nemesis Natasha Fatale, a young woman pushed me a flyer for a Ukrainian band at me and ordered, “You zee diz!” I said that we planned to see little bits of everything. She said, and I will never forget this: “Goh urhly. Iz bezt to azk provezional.” For the next hour we laughed about this strange encounter.

            When the three women and one man walked on stage, it wasn’t clear whether they were wearing hats or whether they had Bride of Frankenstein hairdos. We kept making snarky jokes until they started. It was like NOTHING any of us had ever heard. Their sound was an almost shocking mixture of tribal music, polyphonic singing, and a relentless driving rhythm. I can still remember that Slavic sense of sadness propelled by both the singing and the folk-painted cello sweeping us all away. Somehow both melancholic and uplifting, DakhaBrakha music is mystical in an almost religious way. Frankly, I felt that the sounds could have felt at home around a fire in a gathering of pre-Christian hunter/gatherers on the steppe. Their show brought me to a state in which I felt that I had witnessed something absolutely primal and tears were streaming down my face.

            After just a few songs we made a mad dash to go get their albums before those all disappeared. Since that time, I have seen DakhaBrakha twice more in other cities and found a fourth album. I even sat through Prairie Home Companion (my least favorite public radio show) in order to hear both their sets. One wonders what the fine folk of Lake Woebegone thought of the Ukrainian wonders and their unique headgear. Wikipedia tells me there is a fifth album, and I hope they have it with them on tour. Considering just how much they have been on the road, they might be sold out. Maybe they even have hats!  Run now to the concession stand —“Iz bezt to azk provezional!”

Jordan Peimer is the Vice President & Director of Programs at the Skirball Cultural Center hosting a wide range of roots and world music, including the Sunset Concert Series, now entering its 18th summer. Beginning on October 6, 2014, Peimer will be the new Executive Director of Art Power! in San Diego.




The Listening Room // 03

Friday, September 5 @ 8:00pm

Who: Carmen Rizzo
Song Sample: Youtube
Street cred: You might know Carmen as a KCRW DJ, but he's also a two-time Grammy nominee, producer, mixer, programmer, remixer and recording artist.
Why you won't want to miss out: Carmen is creating something espeically for us and incorporating video of California Plaza.

Carmen would give up his music for this...

Who: DakhaBrakha
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Street cred: They've been getting rave reviews everywhere they go. Rolling Stone named them, "45 Best Things We Saw at Bonnaroo 2014 Best Breakout: Dakhabrakha"
Why you won't want to miss out: Ever since we saw Dakhabrakha two years ago, our Director of Programming knew we had to bring to the L.A.- they're just that amazing live.


Saturday, September 6 @ 8:00pm

Who: Yuna
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Why you won't want to miss out: She's a straight up popstar, with fans some of the most loyal fans around. It's safe to say we've all fallen for Yuna. 
Tip for the GPeeps: Get here early! Yuna is part of the Listening Room series, an intimate and up close performance experience on our Marina Pavilion stage.


The Listening Room // 02

Friday, August 15 @ 8:00pm

Who: Vikesh Kapoor
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Street cred: Vikesh performed at Howard Zinn’s memorial service. Inspired by Zinn’s lifelong battle against class/race injustice, Kapoor wrote The Ballad Of Willy Robbins.
Why you won't want to miss out: Vikesh is a 21st century folk singer/songwriter and he's easy on the eyes.

Who: Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Why you won't want to miss out: They're hot off a European tour and on their first US tour- you get to see them first!


Saturday, August 16 @ 8:00pm

Who: Eagle Rock Gospel Singers
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Why you won't want to miss out: They're reviving the spirit of gospel music in a new and cool way 

Who: Miner
Song Sample: Spotify / Youtube
Street cred: Their music has been featured on the tv show, Hart of Dixie
Why you won't want to miss out: Their harmonies are sweet and Justin and Kate Miner are too cute not to like


This summer, we're proud to partner with our down-the-hill neighobors, Grand Central Market to offer you pre-made picnics. We've made it easy: simply order online, and pick up at Grand Central Market on Saturday! Orders must be placed by 4pm on Saturday, August 16. 

Click here to check out the delicious offereings from Roast to Go, Horse Thief BBQ and Valerie Confections.


Parking update

GPeeps, please read about our the new Cal Plaza parking payment system for our Marina Pavilion shows. Basically, credit cards will now be accepted, and you no longer have to pay upon entering!

Here's the new procedure:

Enter our parking garage at the 351 S Olive gate like normal. An attendant will hand you two tickets: the standard parking ticket, and a follow up ticket that gives you the discounted $7.50 rate.

BRING BOTH TICKETS UPSTAIRS WITH YOU TO THE CONCERT - and don't forget to pay for parking before leaving the plaza (you can do this anytime during the concert)! Here's how:

1. Go to an automated pay station. Pay stations are located:

  • near the elevators on Plaza level (across from Famima)
  • on P1, accessible from the elevators across from Starbucks

2. Insert your entry ticket. Wait for screen to prompt payment
3. Insert you validation ticket to reduce the rate to $7.50
4. Use cash or credit card to pay.


The Listening Room // 01

It's already August and we're halfway through our summer season. All of the remaining concerts will be happening on our Marina Pavilion stage, the smaller ampitheater.

The Listening Room is ment to give you an intimate look at new (and sometimes more well known) music coming out of L.A. and internationally. We have a total of six concerts in the Listening Room series, and we hope you'll join us for all of them - starting with this weekend!

Friday, August 8 @ 8:00pm

Who: Los Dos Marks (aka DJ Nu-Mark and Mark de Clive-Lowe)
Song Sample: Youtube / Youtube
Street cred: DJ Nu-Mark is a member of Jurassic 5 and Mark de Clive-Lowe has been called,
"an underground phenom" by Okayplayer.
Why you won't want to miss out: Both Marks are going to kill it on the turn tables: Nu-Mark is bringing his toy set and we don't call Mark de Clive-Lowe Mashibeats for nothing. Mark de Clive-Lowe is up first, followed by DJ Nu-Mark.


Saturday, August 9 @ 8:00pm

Song Sample: Listen here
Street cred: This project comes to us from Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli and Reyes Rodriguez of Tropical de Nopal
Why you won't want to miss out: To be honest, we're not exactly sure what Raul and Reyes are doing (they might not either, see video below), but we do know that it's going to be a sonic and visual adventure. And how can you not be intrigued by this headpiece?!