2/6-2/8 los angeles

TINSEL-TOWN REBELLION 2… this time, it’s personal.

Wow… LA… I don’t know where to start.

pincushioned played 4 shows in less than 24 hours.

On Thursday February 6th, Baz picked me up bright and early and we headed out to
LA. We were hosted by my old friends Daniel Ward (an fresh LA transplant) and Heidi Swedberg (LA veteran). Upon arrival, we had some time to kill, so we walked over to the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the adjacent LaBrea Tar Pits. One of the first “art works” I ever created was a 1st grade diorama of the tar pits, so I got to see the first of several old friends.

La Brea Tar Pitssloth

At LACMA I was particularly interested the Calder Three Quintains mobile, in that some of our work in pincushioned is of a sonic rendering of congruent formal concepts, especially in regard to “flexible design.”

4X5 orig

The last time I was at the museum, Michael Heiser’s Levitated Mass was being installed- I got to finally enjoy the finished result.


While I found it to be a striking work of mimimalism, I was frankly more interested in the process of its transport and assembly (typically, I’m drawn to process above all- I’m trying to grow beyond this, but…).

After this calm before the storm, the real “fun” began…

We headed to out first show- in the Echo Park neighborhood at Café Nela. We arrived too late to get pupusas at the Salvadoran place next door. The show was coordinated at the last minute by ASU percussion alum and committed experimentalist Corey Marc Fogel. We were the final group of the evening following two avant-garde jazz groups propelled by the fantastic drumming of Trevor Anderies (thanks for the gig, Trevor). It was also an opportunity to catch up with LA composer and dear doctoral colleague David Arbury (aka “The Arbury”).

arbury cafe nela edit

The photograph is grainy, it must of been an optical effect caused by Cafe Nela’s sparkly ceiling.


It was an intimate show with a small but appreciative crowd- We played well. I was especially happy with our version of Restinghouse. Corey, David and an uber-stoned bouncer helped us load out and we headed back to Heidi’s to grab a few hours of sleep before our early morning load in at University High School. On our way back we got lost trying to get back on the freeway and took the long way home. We stopped at a dicey 7-Eleven in downtown LA and realized we had left our projector at the club- by this time they were closed. We dejectedly drove back to our hosts’ apartment, parked very far away (all-the-while discussing alternatives). It was 3:30 am.

We got up at 6am and drove through Beverly Hills for our early morning show’s 7:45am load-in (up two flights of stairs- no elevator… ouch).

We presented two lecture/demonstrations for Kahlil Sabbagh’s music classes at University High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As we travel throughout the country, community engagement is one of my sabbatical goals. Kahlil is a friend of Daniel Ward and a fellow Zappa fan. We set-up quickly and wrangled a projector from an adjacent classroom. It was quite an abrupt transition for us going from the altera-dive just a few hours before to the bright florescent lights and high energy of a high school classroom. The students were lively but attentive and were particularly interested in the theremin.


After the second presentation a student asked in we liked hip-hop and an indignant student interjected- “I think you like Karlheinz Stockhausen”. They are all very lucky to have an inspiring and energetic teacher like Kahlil.

We had a quick load-out (back down the flights of stairs) and then bolted across LA to try and retrieve our mislaid projector- of course Café Nela was closed. Barry suggested we ask the aforementioned Salvadoran restaurant if they had a contact number. They did and called the club owner who came right over to let us in to recover it and while we waited…pupusas! We then drove back to Heidi’s to set-up for our house concert. In attempting to avoid getting lost like the night before, we wound up on Baxter St., the steepest street in LA- a truly frightening experience in a fully-loaded 2 ton van, but at least we didn’t end up stranded on the top or in the lake at the bottom. After the terror subsided, it occured to me that Baxter St. might be the 21st equivalent of the LaBrea Pits…

bus stranded


Though we were completely exhausted, we mustered the energy to play Heidi Swedburg’s house concert- great food, beverage, fun and hopefully, art. Attendees included Alex Kline and family (LA Drummer extraordinare) Carissa Encinas (GCC Audio Production alum working as an editor in LA) and 2 former roommates from my Albuquerque days- Benjamin (Bjammin’) Martin and Lucas Critchfield.


Playing led to socializing, and soon it was 3am again. We popped up at 7, thanked our hosts Heidi and Daniel (Heidi’s Sukey Jump Band is touring in the Valley at the end of the February- so Phoenicians [especially those with kids)- check it out). I drove Baz to LAX so he could fly back to Tempe for a performance of his new piece 3 Gifts, performed by Josh Gardner, JB Smith and Robert Spring. Before he left he finished the LA vlog.

I grabbed quick lunch with “The Arbury” and his partner Susan, where he also remarked that all the dudes in LA wear the same glasses as me. I would like to point out, in proto-hipster fashion, that I had them “before they were cool.”


A quick detour through Hollywood, an LA Freeway adventure (Part 8) and I’m off on a solo drive to the Bay area for a week residency and concert at Chabot College. Baz will be flying in after his Phoenix concert. I would like to extend by utmost thanks to all the LA crew. After a fun but exhausting LA experience, I’m looking forward to a few low key days in San Fran. LA went quite differently than we had planned, but it was great.

As Calder said-

nothing is fixed…

or in the words of The Stranger (Sam Elliott) in The Big Lebowski

They call Los Angeles the City of Angels. I didn’t find it to be that exactly…

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