Knitting Factory Entertainment Newsletter Volume One Issue XV–Straight Outta Compton, FKA Twigs, Mescal and More

Welcome to Knitting Factory News, an intermittent (let’s say, twice monthly or fortnightly) bulletin of highlights from inside and outside the Knitting Factory universe that we’re publishing here on Killer Hooch.  We think that it’s in the spirit of Killer Hooch as most issues highlight bar, drinks and other spirited news.   The newsletter is an opinionated guide to featured artists at our California venues, KFE-managed artists on tour, giveaways, ephemera, and…well, things we like, no matter where they came from. Also welcome additional authors Sabrina Zeile and Saeli Eshelman–credit where credit is due!

Featured Music Videos

by Saeli Eshelman

This week, in addition to featuring our stable of Knitting Factory Entertainment bands, we’ve decided to fill you all in on some music news from outside the Knitting Factory world! And we’ve chosen some incredibly timely and relevant music videos from two artists we’ve previously discussed in this publication–FKA twigs and Kendrick Lamar.

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First up, is FKA twigs’ new video for not a song, but an entire EP. On a Beats 1 radio interview a week or so ago, twigs announced the new EP for the first time, playing one of its tracks, “Figure 8”. Then she completely surprised fans by dropping the album M3LL155X (or MELISSA) today, completely unannounced. With it she released a 16-minute video encompassing the entirety of the very good, very experimental EP. But while the music is great, yet dark in classic twigs-fashion, the video is an even deeper (visual) reflection of twigs’ style, proving to be supremely darker and weirder. The whole video is really too much to explain, with scenes ranging from a depiction of a human angler fish (you know the one with the light on its head?), twigs as a living sex doll, and a choreographed dance–and that’s all before the halfway point! So if you’re a fan of twigs, or interested in watching an art film, or just curious give it a peek and see what you think.

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Next, is Kendrick Lamar’s relatively new video for “Alright”, the biggest radio hit off of his previously-Knitting Factory News featured tour-de-force album To Pimp a Butterfly. As mentioned in our last piece on To Pimp a Butterfly, this album “deals with issues of black pride and unity during such a trying time for young black men, as well as the complex issue of being black in America today (contrasting the dual desire to represent your roots and fit into the big picture). It all culminates in a very important discussion of rap and blackness in America between Lamar and none other than Tupac, crafted by Lamar from a rare Tupac interview.” And it is with this theme in mind that Lamar created the video for “Alright” which touches on all the nuances of the topic. As such, this piece becomes one of black pride, but also fear, with almost as much time spent on Lamar’s relationship with and to the black community as there is spent (very frankly) on issues of police brutality inflicted upon black men. As such, this video is handled just as delicately and aptly as the album; it is both beautiful and topical.

Featured Shows

There are a number of exciting live shows for our artists happening in California over the next few weeks, including music festivals Echo Park Rising and FYF!

Saturday August 15th
The Knitts – The Echo at 2PM (Echo Park Rising) – Los Angeles, CA

Sunday August 16th
The New Electric Sound – Little Joy at 4PM (Echo Park Rising) – Los Angeles, CA
The Two Tens – Little Joy at 5PM (Echo Park Rising) – Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, August 19
Dilly Dally – Casbah – San Diego, CA

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Both festivals are highly recommended and have killer lineups, so if you have the opportunity to go, we say take it!

Q&A with Bill Straus, Producer of Straight Outta Compton

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We’ve been talking about music films and films about music a lot lately, and this week brings a signal achievement: the NWA biopic STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (opening everywhere Friday August 14). The entertaining Straight Outta (insert ironic statement here; mine, pictured, is “the shower”) “Rep Your City” app, www.straightouttasomewhere.com, belies a serious movie about a serious subject, coming as it is 50 years after the LA Riots. We talked to producer Bill Straus about the film.

Bill Straus

Why did you decide the make this film?

Someone sent me the script. I knew immediately it was a big idea. I had a history with Hip Hop and films that married the Hip Hop aesthetic with movies. NWA just felt more grandiose than any of them because of their potent place in the cultural landscape.

What were the challenges you faced in getting it before the cameras?

The big challenge for us (my co EP David Engel & Leigh Savidge, one of the original writers) was getting the music rights. We used six degrees of separation to get to Eazy E’s widow Tomica, who controlled them. Many big producers had tried. But we spent two years connecting the dots and pulled it off. We were not the biggest producers in Hollywood at that time so it’s a bit crazy that we got them.

It seems given their illustrious careers, this film might have initially made sense as a doc. How do you think it works as a narrative?

There was a fairly recent doc on NWA called “The World’s Most Dangerous Rap Group”. It does make sense as a doc, as that was a nice film. But this has an epic quality that really befits a narrative for the big screen and it has potent character arcs because of what happened to Eazy an because of the significance of the group across so many pregnant issues from police brutality, to the first amendment, to AIDS.

Many people seeing this film weren’t even alive when Straight Outta Compton came out. What is it about NWA that has seared their music on our consciousness?

They don’t remember NWA, but they know Cube and Dre and they likely know the music, even if they don’t know they know the music. Happy accident is the wrong wording because there is nothing happy about it, but what has been going on from Ferguson, to Staten Island, to Baltimore is also part of what makes it important for younger viewers. The BLM movement is very much of the moment. The movie is also just incredibly fun. Young people will be bobbing their heads and their adrenaline will be going That may be the best part of the movie. It moves because it’s a great ride. (w. some definite poignant moments).

What do you want audiences to take away from the film?

I want them to realize that NWA were antecedents to the wild west of the digital age where people can say whatever they want in a public forum with virtual impunity. They were not afraid of anything or anyone and that made them special. And they combined this impervious quality with some intellect to back it up. The press conference sequence in the film is a great example. The guns and drugs came from overseas and they didn’t have passports, they explain. They were brazen free thinkers and hope this is imparted on audiences. Hope people remember the film in 25 years, like they remember Boyz N The Hood or Menace to Soceity both seminal films in a similar space.

What’s the one most interesting thing about it you think that audiences might not notice?

I think Jerry Heller is kind’ve the heavy, but I like the scene with the police in Torrance (shout out to my friend Inny Clemmons—not an actor by definition-who is incredible as the racist black cop). I think Gary really tried to portray him evenly—which I think adds to the characters dimension and the drama that we are left with as we get to his ultimate fate. It makes him more interesting. Tomica is also interesting because she is Eazy’s eyes and ears. And she had a big effect on him at the end. That may come across, but may not. Also not sure it hits it that hard, but Cube went to high school in the valley at a predominantly white school called Taft as I understand it. Sort off adds to the complexity of him as a person, I think. His son is incredible in how much he embodied his father. That was Cube. All the acting was great. F. Gary Gray is a very, very talented director that is going to finally get his do, not just for Compton, but for his body of work.

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Federal Bars

The Knitting Factory’s two Southern California gastropubs—the Federal Bars in North Hollywood and Long Beach—feature a range of resident and one-off shows.

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On Saturday, August 22, The Federal Bar in North Hollywood will host Elixir The Show’s 3rd Anniversary Gala Event “Nuit Blanche.” Imagine a time when Mad Men would meet up with the Rat Pack, at the Playboy Club for a martini or three…and you have ELIXIR The Show. Critically acclaimed as “LA’s Best Variety Show,” ELIXIR’s Nuit Blanche is an ultraviolet blacklight party, and all guests are encouraged to dress in white to enjoy the unique immersive experience and décor of show.

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The Federal Bar in Long Beach will host alternative folk duo HoneyHoney on Saturday, September 26. Lead singer/banjo player/violinist Suzanne Santo and vocalist/guitarist Ben Jaffe met at a costume party then signed a record deal a year later, twisting their gritty, harmony-driven brand of Southern-flavored rock & roll through tales of lost souls, broken boys and girls with gold in their spit. Just two months ago, the duo released their third full-length release titled ‘3.’ Paste Magazine describes HoneyHoney’s style as “display[ing] the common pop thread between alt.country, spaghetti western soundtracks and swampy blues.”

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Also in Long Beach, don’t miss a special acoustic performance from Sean Danielsen of Smile Empty Soulon Saturday, August 22. As the frontman for hard rock band Smile Empty Soul, Sean is known for his powerful, rage-filled vocals, which had an impact on the early 90s alternative music scene. Sean’s two solo albums, Enjoy The Process and Food Chains, have been well-received by critics. Screamer Magazine acclaims, his “lyrics are tight as usual, and his signature voice and angst-influenced lyrics are clearly represented.”

Mezcal and Comedy at Bow & Truss

Mezcal Tasting Flyer

We love mezcal. Tequila’s dirty little cousin, we’ve been fans since we pimped the late, much lamented Trader Joe’s brand and still dutifully tend its web site like an acolyte. The renegade spirit is finally getting the respect it deserves. Straight up: substitute mezcal for tequila in a margarita, slice a couple of jalapenos in there (add japaleno agave nectar for sophisticates), garnish with cayenne pepper and “voila,” the mezcal margarita.

Next Wednesday, August 19th, Latin-inspired restaurant Bow & Truss will host a mezcal tasting, followed by a free comedy show!

For one night only, guests have the opportunity to experience a flight of “single village” premium Del Maguey Mezcal tequila. The tasting starts at 7pm and a brand representative will be at the event to guide guests through the experience.

Later that evening, Bow & Truss will premiere its free comedy night event series ‘PATIO’ hosted by Mark Agee. Each show will feature a variety of notable comedians, with Al Jackson and Matt Kirshen on Wednesday, August 19th.

PATIO will occur on the following dates:
August 19 at 9pm
September 9 at 9pm
September 23 at 9pm
October 14 at 9pm

Patio Flyer

25th Annual Cotati Accordion Fest 2015

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Mary Rogers Owings’ Accordion

So let me tell you a story. I thought I knew my aunt, who passed away last fall, pretty well. A lifelong schoolteacher and occasional CIA operative, she traveled the world but lived with my grandparents until THEY died. So, when my sister settled her estate she discovered this perfectly preserved beast–a 1930’s Scandalli accordion, along with a little leather notebook where my aunt recorded every song she’d learned, handwritten notes and lyrics, and an instruction/songbook…from 1918. I never even knew this instrument, or her (apparently modest) skill, existed.

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Why do we bring this up? I’ve personally harbored a lifelong fondess for the instrument even though I’ll never learn to play it. There’s an adage (and a bumper sticker): “Play an accordion, go to jail. That’s the law!” which our friends in Cotati, a normally sleepy burg north of San Francisco, explodes with squeeze box racket every August and this year they are celebrating their 25th anniversary! So behold the Cotati Accordion Festival. Play an accordion? Go to Cotati. That’s the law!

Giveaway: Hugo Race + True Spirit

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Ozzie Hugo Race did time with The Wreckery and the Bad Seeds before starting a solo recording, performance and producing career, producer and performer with acts such as Dirtmusic and Sepiatone. This week we had the pleasure of DJ’ing the US record release party for Hugo Race + True Spirit’s new album, which is currently only available in Europe and Australia. Variously haunting, melodic, angry, gritty, in the vein of Nick Cave (a mentor of sorts), this artist and band is a worldwide collaboration. The ten musically varied tracks on this disc all share a chewy, deep and occasionally twisted sensibility that rewards repeated listening. European fans will get to see Hugo Race + True Spirit in the fall but US fans must temporarily content themselves with an import disc. And, alone in the US, we have five of them. So, how complicated is this (not very!)? The first five fans to share our newsletter on Facebook and tell us can claim them.

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That’s it for this week. We’re writing you because you’ve expressed interest in Knitting factory shows, artists or productions. Like us? Want us to consider covering your artists or shows? Please tell us, your humble writer/editors: Henry Eshelman heshelman@platformgrp.com, Sabrina Zeile sabrina@platformgrp.com and Saeli Eshelman saeli@platformgrp.com; we can take it from there.

Hate us? As someone once said, “please confine your comments to compliments only.” But we’ll (regretfully) accept your unsubscribe requests humbly and without question. Thanks for listening!

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