Mr Little Jeans, Wherefore Art Thou?, Friday, December 28, 2018

One of my favorite new musical artists is Mr Little Jeans. Name notwithstanding, Mr Little Jeans is actually a lovely and outrageously talented young lady named Monica Birkenes. Monica is Norwegian but currently residing in Highland Park where she and her husband recently purchased a house.

Mr Little Jeans (MLJ) is an electronic artist and has been on the local scene for several years. She has also attracted a good deal of mainstream interest and airplay. Her breakthrough hit was a cover of the Arcade Fire hit “The Suburbs”. Other songs like “Oh Sailor”, “Good Mistake”, and “Runaway” appearing on DJ playlists, soundtracks, and commercials. I like her music a lot (big smile emoji here)!!!

For most of the month of October I had been tormented by reminders of an up-and-coming performance by MLJ! She was going to be playing at The Lodge Room in Highland Park on Thursday, November 8. But why the torment? Well, first Highland Park is not easy to get to on a weeknight in general, and Thursdays I had class at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa all day until 3:30. I did not feel like I would have the energy for such an endeavor.

Announcement

That Tuesday evening I was chatting on Facebook with my friend Pinksu, trying to nail down our Runyon Canyon hiking date for that Saturday. Pinksu (aka, Johanna Marjomaa) is a lovely young makeup artist from Finland who is both insanely talented (see her work on Instagram @pinksumakeup) and game for adventures. Just then, that fateful announcement appeared in my feed, and on an impulse I asked Pinksu if she would/could like to go. She said yes, I got tickets, and the plot was afoot!

 

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Thursday was a long day! I was up at 4:30 am, and in Costa Mesa at Orange Coast College (OCC) by six. Took a power walk and did some studying. Then it was Kinesiology from 9-10:30, Pilates Methodology from 11:10-1:15, and Pilates Apparatus/Mat from 1:30-3:35. It was also a pressure-packed day as I was doing my first stab at teaching Reformer in the Methodology class. I survived, and then headed home.

The freeway was pretty busy and that trip took 45 minutes. Got home, grabbed a quick bite to eat, showered, dressed, and then it was off to Hollywood to pick up Pinksu. That trip was a nightmare and took an hour and a half. I picked up Pinksu and then found out that the trip from Hollywood to Highland Park was also a non-trivial endeavor that took about 45 minutes! Still we arrived at the Lodge Room at about 8:15, where we found that the start time was 8:30, and that there would be two bands up before MLJ. I was starting to fade, so we went in search of some caffeine.

 

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The Lodge Room is a very cool venue that occupies part of the former Masonic Lodge on Figueroa in Highland Park. There is a restaurant that shares the space so food is available. What is not available is coffee. I then found out that there are no coffee shops in that area that are open in the evening, and I finally wound up getting some coffee at a Mexican restaurant down the street. To my mind, there is a glaring need for a coffee shop with extended hours in this area.

We got back just as the first band, named ‘Taken by Trees’, began to play. I am writing this almost two months down the line, so my recollections of the night have faded and I don’t remember much about the opening bands and even had to search to find their names. The second band was named ‘Tiny Deaths’, and they played some music too.

Monica Birkenes

Mr Little Jeans on stage at the Lodge Room

After what seemed like forever it was time for the main event, and Mr Little Jeans took the stage. Just her, and some dude hiding in the corner behind some consoles. I don’t recall any introductions, but if I had to hazard a guess I would say that the dude might be  an LA producer named Tim Anderson who she has collaborated with extensively.

Any initial fears that Mr Little Jeans’ live performance would not live up to the quality of her studio work were quickly set to rest. Her vocals were sparkling and the computers provided the rich background instrumentation and vocals that make her music so special. What I was not prepared for was what a powerful performer she is. Her presence fills the stage and energy positively radiates from her. I was completely captivated by her, and her performance made all the effort getting there so worth it!

 

Luckily, by the time we headed back traffic was a lot clearer. It only took 15 minutes to drop off Pinksu, and then I hit no CALTRANS surprises (like closed lanes) on the way home, arriving just about midnight.

I have a new problem, though. I am now addicted to Mr Little Jeans, and lately I have found myself playing her soundtrack for hours at a time. I want to see her perform again, but this is what I see on her Facebook page…

No Dates Scheduled

Please, Mr Little Jeans, get out and play!!

 

June Entertainment Update, Sunday, July 1, 2018

Gee, it’s already July, and I forgot to talk about any of the cool entertainment I managed to see last month. Time now to correct that oversight!

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The Secret Bowl from last year

The month got off to an awesome start with the inaugural incarnation of the Secret Bowl. Friend Staci Valentine has a property in Beachwood Canyon up near the Hollywood sign, and friend James Combs for several years has been putting together some really fine outdoor concerts there. Saturday, June 2, was the first one of the current season. The featured artist this time was one of my favorites from last season, Abby & The Myth.

Abby & The Myth

Abby & The Myth — Left to right: Cara, Ellisse, David, David’s friend, and Abby

Abby is Abby Posner, and she is a dynamic performer who I profiled in a blog post over a year ago. At that time she had a minimal band with her and still put on a wonderful show. This time she brought along the reconfigured Myth. Stand-up bass player Donnie has been ably replaced by Ellise, and their performance was greatly enhanced by the presence of drummer David and the accordion of Cara.

Also on the bill was a performance by Manda Mosher, who also is part of the country-rock band Calico, and this round of the Secret Bowl concluded with a performance by James Combs and Erin Hawkins performing songs from James’s award-winning band Great Willow.

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Nils and band at Spaghettini — Clydene is on keyboards

On Saturday, June 16, I went to Spaghettini in Seal Beach to see a show by Nils (Jiptner, not Lofgren as advertised by Spaghettini on their calendar), a very talented jazz guitarist. My friend from Pilates X, Clydene Jackson, plays keyboards for the band and also does backup vocals. I was transported by the music, and spent the entire show dancing with Clydene’s sister Toni (30 years a professional dancer), even making several pilgrimages through the entire club in an effort to get others on their feet. My mojo was working overtime for this gig:-)!

Tuesday, June 19, was a banner night. I have been trying for a year to get James Combs to book another of my long-time favorites, Cindy Alexander, into the Secret Bowl, but was handicapped by the fact that James didn’t know Cindy. Lo and behold, both Cindy and James’s band Great Willow had received LA Music Critic Awards, and both would be performing on the same stage for a showcase performance at The Mint!

I did get a chance to introduce them to each other early in the evening, but unfortunately  James had an very early flight to catch the next morning and couldn’t stick around for Cindy’s wonderful performance later that evening accompanied by another of my long time favorites, Ali Handal.

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Cindy Alexander and Ali Handal at the LA Music Critic Award Showcase

I did stick around for her performance, but the real highlight was when both Cindy and Ali joined me on the dance floor during Rusty Young’s (formerly of Poco and NOT Neil Young’s brother) set and I had the pleasure of slow dancing with both of them :-))! Rusty’s comment from the stage was “that guy is having the time of his life right now!” I agree.

Other memorable performances were those by Pi Jacobs, by James’s band Great Willow, a very dynamic pair of sisters named The Khourys, and Rusty Young.

On the next night, Wednesday, I finally took my swing dancing practice live in a trip to Rusty’s Rhythm Club in Playa Del Rey. I took an introductory Lindy Hop class, and spent an hour on the dance floor before I finally ran out of gas. In my defense it had been a busy day: a Power Pilates class that morning, a 12 mile bike ride, and a six mile run/walk in the afternoon prior to heading out in the evening.

This month-long lineup of entertainment conclude the following Wednesday, 6/27, with a showcase performance by the artist formerly known as Deja Nichole, and now rebranded as Mia Sera. I first met Mia when she was a featured artist at one of the lost and greatly lamented Saturday night open mics at the Fox Coffee House. I was very impressed by her at that time, and she was the subject of one of my first blog posts featuring music.

Mia has continued to grow as an artist, and she came through with a dynamic and powerful performance in the Foundation Room at the Anaheim House of Blues. She was second up for the evening, and I was a bit concerned at the beginning of her set. The room was populated at that point by family and fans of the first performer, a very young (12 years old!) singer/songwriter named Ava August, who played an impressive array of covers and original songs. As I had feared, there was considerable early chatter during her first song by the remaining Ava fans, but that was soon quelled as Mia Sera displayed the power of her vocals on the second song. The rest of the night belonged to her.

That about wraps it up for the month of June. Despite my silence through the month, it was a very good month indeed!