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summer fun in LA
lion, tea
There have been plenty of times I've complained about being here in California. Moving is hard - and moving across the country, away from friends and family is REALLY hard. But there is a lot to be said for hubby feeling better and being happy. Fewer allergens and the consistent weather is so good for him. And what's bad about a sunny day? I enjoy the sunshine and warm weather too :)

We've had fun together this summer, especially attending outdoor performances (and bonus - most of them free!!). I want to share some of the musical discoveries I've made this summer via these performances.

We've been to two Performances at Grand, an awesome little square surrounded by the skyscrapers of downtown LA -- 100 points to Hubby for discovering this! The first one was in July, right before I started teaching summer school, and we heard Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan. They played some fantastic music. And the square they play in has some yummy restaurants (yay Starry Kitchen <-- delicious food!) and a really cool fountian that they sometimes run even during the concerts!! I was at first interested in this particular concert because Kayhan Kalhor is a veteren of YoYo Ma's Silk Road Project and I always love the music they make together. That night they played traditional and improvisational music from Iran and Turkey on the kamancheh and baglama. So fascinating. The video below isn't from their performance that night, but it gives you an idea of the kind of music they played :D

Earlier this week we visited the Hollywood Bowl for the first time. This visit wasn't free like the Grand Performances, but the tickets were really reasonable. AND? We had the opportunity to see BB King - Hubby was thrilled! We loved the atmosphere - the whole walk up to the bowl, and even once in our seats there were people having picnic dinners and sharing bottles of wine. We're still getting used to this idea - places we can bring food into, and even alcohol! Next time we're definitely bringing a bottle of wine and some picnic-y things like cheese, rolls, or a pasta salad. We're also going to rent little cushions for our bums, or at least I hope we will. The couple sitting next to us explained that they can be rented for $0.75 at the bowl - if you get there early enough :) The music was great, especially BB King of course. It was great to see him enthusiastic and lively as ever. He told his stories, sang a lovely "You are my Sunshine" for the ladies, and in general was a lot of fun. Best part for me? The big grin on Hubby's face the entire time he was on stage :D Only sad thing was that BB King's time on stage was so short ... not sure if it was due to his age (he is 84 after all) or limitations set by the bowl. Either way it was a really enjoyable evening.

The second Grand Performance we attended was this weekend, Friday night - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba and Dengue Fever. Again, lots of fun at a free concert with yummy Starry Kitchen! We had different seats this time as there's no assigned seating and we arrived much later this time. The atmosphere in this section was much more picnic-y, though now that I think about it I'm not sure if that was because of the different seats or the different style of music. Either way I was totally groovin' to the music, especially Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - a Malian band. They played the ngoni (along with the bass ngoni, callebasse, percussion, and of course, vocals), which is basically an African ancestor of the American banjo. I loved the sounds, the rhythms, and the bright colors. Dengue Fever was entertaining as well (major points to their sax/trumpet/flute player!), but Bassekou Kouyate was definitely the highlight. If you click through to the website I linked, be sure to listen to the audio segments they provide - so much fun!

The performance this weekend with the ngoni was particularly interesting to me because earlier this summer I watched a documentary called Throw Down Your Heart about Béla Fleck (an American banjo player) and his journey to explore the African roots of the banjo. It was so interesting to both see and hear the traditional African instruments and to watch the musicians of all walks of life jam together. Way fun. And then to see an African band bring the ngoni to perform here in LA was awesome. (you can see the trailer for the Béla Fleck documentary here)

I feel blessed to have experienced all that I did this summer. I love the sounds of music from all over the world and I'm finding all sorts of new things to listen to on! Maybe the next time I pick up my violin my playing will be influenced by what I've heard. Or maybe I'll simply be more likely to pick up my violin at all. Whatever shape the influence takes, my life is richer. <3


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