Monday, April 20, 2015

Where To Be Merry: The Soul Shakedown @ The Federal Bar


The Merriment: A monthly gathering of live bands playing ‘70s-inspired funk and R&B

The Location:
The Valley (North Hollywood)

The Vibes:
Lively, energetic, loud, retro

Good for:
Going alone, dates, groups of friends

Every last Friday of the month, starting at 9 p.m.

The $ Factor:
Free before 10 p.m., $10 after

The 4-1-1: Owned by The Knitting Factory Entertainment group, The Federal Bar also has two other locations — in Long Beach and in Brooklyn

Parking Situation:
Adjacent valet lot, nearby metered and free street parking

I’ll Be Back…:
To check out the next set of live bands to come through!

In March, The Federal Bar in North Hollywood launched its inaugural monthly series, The Soul Shakedown, which features soul/funk/R&B bands playing live music every last Friday of the month.

Kicking off the event were three bands: Beat Mosaic, pictured below, The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble and headliner Soul Scratch, pictured above. Mean Mr. Mustard stayed on the 1s and 2s.

The Soul Shakedown takes places in The Federal Bar’s adjacent event space, located through a side door off Weddington St., upstairs. The venue itself is rather spacious, with a full bar, a stage located towards the back, a few couches by the front entrance and a balcony to the side. While there was definitely a good amount of people there during the inaugural night back in March, it never felt too crowded; there was enough space to move around comfortably in. And, it was nice to be able to actually sit down — no annoying reserved seating for bottle service only — and to have the option to go outside for fresh air, especially after hitting the dance floor.

The crowd itself on the first night was extremely varied, from young college types to more mature couples, and everything in between. There were attendees in the front who were getting a serious workout by dancing, and then there were people just chilling in the back, listening to the music or grabbing drinks and casually conversingg.

The live music itself was phenomenal, with each band giving its own unique spin on R&B and funk. TV screens situated above and around the stage showed vintage ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s footage — of concerts, cartoons, films and TV shows like The Jeffersons and Soul Train.

The Federal Bar also has an intriguing menu in its downstairs gastropub, which is perfect for grabbing dinner and drinks, prior to heading to The Soul Shakedown. Options include twists on American fare standards and include choices like the Crispy Chicken & Biscuit Sliders, a Buffalo Chicken pizza and the Vegan Weena, pictured below.

The Soul Shakedown happens every last Friday of the month, and the second one will be this upcoming Friday, April 24. Beat Mosaic, Soul Scratch and Mean Mr. Mustard will be returning, with recording artists Jackie Mendez and Xavier debuting at the event. See you there!

For more information:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And Where Do You Where To?: Recording Artist Meg Mac

If there’s one thing I love more than listening to great music, it’s discovering up-and-coming artists making great music.

I got to indulge in this love of mine when last week, I was invited to a special showcase at The Sayers Club in Hollywood, for an intimate performance by Australian recording artist Meg Mac. The 24-year-old singer recently signed to 300 Entertainment, a record label started by music industry vets Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Roger Gold and Todd Moscowitz, joining a roster of artists that includes ASTR, Migos and Shawty Lo.

Fresh off a month-long tour opening for the band Clean Bandit that took her through more than nine cities — including Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Austin for SXSW — this performance was actually Meg Mac's last night in the States.

A couple hundred of attendees gathered for the event, including Cohen and other industry execs from top tier music and tech companies. An open bar kept the cocktails flowing, as everyone chatted with one another before and after the show, in a very laid back, chill ambiance.

Surrounded by people sprawled on the floor, sitting on worn leather couches and huddled closely around, Meg Mac graced the stage around 8:20pm, dressed in all black — black shoes, loose black harem pants and a closed black cape that she eventually took off to reveal a smart black jacket and a crisp white, button-down shirt. Her four-person band backed her, which, she shared at one point during the night, she had only met recently, while at SXSW, inviting them to join her for the remainder of her tour.

She performed seven songs in total, and throughout it all, had a very tempered vibe, calmly moving around the stage with subdued dance moves here and there. She briefly talked between songs, mainly to provide brief context about what she'd perform next. However, it was really all about exhibiting her music and her talent. Her voice was mesmerizing and powerful, fiercely and unwaveringly slicing through the air. She had an affectionate chemistry with her backup vocalist, exchanging smiles and glances, and her band jammed behind her like a smoothly, well-oiled machine, absorbed in the music. Her songs had powerful, uplifting messages and spanned diverse topics, including liars, her grandma and even a lost necklace.

The first song on her set list was Known Better, her first ever recorded song and one that's on her self-titled debut EP, which launched in March 2015. She also performed the other four songs off the EP, including Grandma's Hands, Turning, Roll Up Your Sleeves, which has received more than 1 million hits on Spotify, and her latest single, Every Lie. She spun her own version of the New Zealand brother-and-sister duo Broods' Burning and sang A Capella a hauntingly remorseful song about her lucky necklace.

It's really refreshing to see such pure, raw talent. It says a lot when you can grace the stage without backup dancers or dazzling costumes, and still have a commanding presence with just a voice, a band and a great sound.

Meg Mac headed back to Australia last Thursday, but you can still check out her music on Spotify or iTunes until the next time she’s back in the States, which is hopefully soon!

For more information: 


*First photo courtesy of PRESS HERE

Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Anniversary: Five Great Memories for Five Great Years!

As I mentioned in a previous post, #WilsonsGuide is currently celebrating its 5th-year anniversary. Woo-hoo!

In order to commemorate this glorious occasion, I’ve put together a brief list of five notable highlights from my blog, one for each year since I started it, back in March 2010. Check out what they are below!

2010: My first post. Ever.
I launched my blog with a post about one of my favorite L.A. hangouts: Simply Wholesome.
This local eatery represented everything about the type of places that I wanted to feature: a local neighborhood gem, offering great value, having tons of charm, well-known but not pretentious, and overall, being just a fantastic place to stop by. Read this blog post

2011: Interviewing Brian McKnight.
Having a one-on-one interview with Brian McKnight was a huge step for me, because it was my first time securing a major interview with a well-known celebrity, all on my own. To imagine, this multi-platinum, GRAMMY-award nominated singer was candidly talking to me — little old me(!) — on the phone. Amazing! In the years to come, there would be many more interviews with many more phenomenal trailblazers, like DJ Lady Sha, Julie Dexter and saxophonist Mike Phillips, to name a few. Read this blog post 

2012: Bon Voyage! Launching a travel section.
Anyone who knows me knows that I will gladly take a trip to pretty much anywhere at the drop of a hat. So launching a travel section with my post about Mama’s Fish House in Maui enabled me to share my passion and excitement of traveling with even more people. And, I got to share my friends’ travel adventures as well, as they provided guest posts about their excursions in places like Montpellier, France and São Paulo, Brazil. Read this blog post 

2013: Coming back to blogging. After a very long hiatus.
A lot happened in the summer of 2013. I was focused on other endeavors and it was getting tough finding the time to blog. Missing one week of posting turned into missing another and another, and quite frankly, I was enjoying the time that I had usually dedicated to blogging, to exploring other interests. But, my brief hiatus from blogging proved to be fruitful; after three months of not writing, I was refreshed and once again motivated to resume writing. My post about NOLA’s restaurant in downtown L.A. marked my re-entrance into the blogging game. Read this blog post 

2014: New Year, new format!
After a few months adjusting to some new personal and professional responsibilities, I realized that I didn’t have the same amount of time to devote to blogging as I had when I started #WilsonsGuide, four years ago. Since my one post a week wasn’t even that much to begin with, I felt like I either had to continue with this new hectic schedule, devoting all my free time to writing a weekly post and in the process, sacrifice having a social life, or I should stop blogging completely. I didn’t feel ready to give up blogging, so I came to a happy compromise and decided I would change #WilsonsGuide to a bi-weekly format. My post on Papillion, an African-American-owned art gallery in Leimert Park, was the first post after this change. Read this blog post 

And so what’s next?

I’m excited to see what 2015—and future years—will bring. Stay tuned for more new content!

How about you? What were some of your favorite #WilsonsGuide posts? 
Feel free to share in the comments section below and see you at a #WilsonsGuide destination soon!