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BACKSTAGE WITH MARIAN
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Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

MY PICKS
CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

MERCURY REVIEWS
Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

SICK SITE
Earth and Sun Kiss

MY PLAYLIST

1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • iticket.com
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • tickets.com
  • Urban Dictionary
  • ticketmaster.com
  • VH1

  • BLOGROLL
  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Thursday, September 30, 2004

    Moody music

    I've been listening to Jimmy Eat World's new album lately, "Futures," in stores Oct. 19. It sounds very similar to their last one, with the exception of track 7 "Drugs or Me" which reminded me of the sound of blink-182's song "I Miss You." It's more harmonic and moody.

    Program Director/Station Manager Johnny X of Channel 104.9 said the reason later albums may sound the same is because the second one is to solidify not only the band's sound, but their audience as well. Then, on their third album, the band can diversify and experiment.

    That's seems to be what Norah Jones did too. If she followed this logic, I wonder if she'll go electronica next! jk.
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    Monkey martial arts

    Ch-check it out..

    My Norah Jones story prints today. Read how she enjoys doing interviews, because it enables her to talk over:

    "all this stuff, and all... I've done in the past couple years. I don't go around talking about that stuff with my friends. I try to not to think about it, actually. It's just too much to think about."

    Tonight ch-check out this amazing Tijuana ska band (no, I'm not kidding).

    WHAT:
    Los Kung Fu Monkeys
    WHERE:
    Bottom of the Hill
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. (doors at 7) Tonight 9/29
    TIX: $10; all ages;
    ticketweb; (866)-468-3399
    WHY: Their name is curious enough and their sound makes you want to bounce frantically.

    24-year-old vocalist Bernardo Leos answered my questions in an email from Tijuana:
    WHY THE NAME?
    We needed a name for our first show, and I have always been in to martial arts (me being a Ni Dan {2nd Degree} black belt in karate), looking in to a martial arts magazine, and we put the name on our first flyer "Monkey Kung Fu" and people just started calling us "Los Kung Fu Monkeys" and it stayed.

    HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND AND HOW MUCH DOES COMING FROM TIJUANA INFLUENCE YOUR SOUND?
    Punk, ska, Hard Core, with other mixes of new wave, metal, goth, and a little bit of everyone's influences...We grew up listening to all the bands from the U.S., just being a border city with San Diego, going to shows over there, having shows over here with great punk bands like
    Vandals, Guttermouth, VGS, Union 13, Ten Foot Pole, Sick Of It All, Bad Religion, Total Chaos, Buck O Nine, just to mention a few when we where growing up had a lot of influence on our sound.

    A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR APPEAL AND YOUR PERSONALITIES?
    We are very sexy (joke), we are 8 people, we are all very different, it's hard to explain for them but personally I'm a person just trying to express frustrations, experiences and other situations on our music, and our live performance that is very intense every member pours his heart out every time we hit a stage, we are very passionate of what we do, and we try to interact with the audience, and make a part of Los KFM too.



    Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    la-la land

    This weekend, I headed to la-la land. At the Magic Kingdom I ran into none other than Dat Phan. He was going into Tomorrowland. It's always awkward running into someone I interviewed over the phone, but didn't meet in person. It's like seeing a professor at the mall - everything is out of context.

    That night, I checked out
    Downtown Disney - Jordan Knight was playing at the House of Blues for $24 or so, so we ended up checking out a street musician instead, Drew Tretick, a regular at Disney and Vegas. He's recorded with Chris Isaak, Tony Bennett, and Stevie Wonder. I've never seen so many people walk up and buy CDs before.

    Like Dat Phan, he was also out of place. His violin wailed out notes that could make one cry - all set to neon lights and a stuffed animal laden backdrop.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Weekend outlook:

    It's still sunny, and there's lots of stuff to do - so break out the sunscreen and ch-check it out!

    This hula instructor is amazing - Kumu Hula (teacher
    of hula) Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu of Oakland, chants in a way that rumbles your insides. On top of that he makes hula girls look like "biker babes" - was the choreographer from Disney's "Lilo and Stitch" and was commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to compose a chant and hula for the Aquarium's newest exhibit, Sharks: Myth and Mystery.

    His performances are a must:

    WHAT: "KE AO HOU" ("A New Beginning")
    WHERE: Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward, California
    WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25
    TIX: $35.00 general; $75.00 VIP; VIP tickets include a pre-show reception from 6:00-7:15 p.m.
    WHY: To celebrate the opening of the Academy of Hawaiian Arts in Oakland.
    MORE INFO: www.ahahula.com

    Other local events:

    WHAT: Peven Everett + Dj's Brian Russ, Fuse One, DJ Philthy and Sake One.
    WHERE: Hotel De Anza - 233 W. Santa Clara St. San Jose
    WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Saturday 25
    TIX: $12 at the door
    WHY: Organic soulful funky jazz
    MORE INFO: www.peveneverett.com

    WHAT: Drama/Concert - "The Duke of Earl" featuring
    special music by Masada
    WHERE: Downtown Discovery Meadows/Guadalupe
    Park
    WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25
    TIX: Free
    WHY: A play that depicts the inner city life of 2 rival gangs, put to the music of a Christian version of Tower of Power


    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Private Show

    During lunch time I caught a private show of the much talked about Scotland alternative band Franz Ferdinand. While waiting in line to get into the Blank Club, I saw guys walk out to grab a bite to eat - I had a feeling they were the band, because who wears white and gold striped track suits in bright sunlight? (It was their drummer Paul Thomson.)

    The 80's synth-pop band was good and excessively hip in their tight pants. They also were extremely at ease.

    "It's a nice time to start drinking," said guitarist Nick McCarthy (its was 12:30 p.m.)

    "I just realized we missed 1/3 of the song, I just enjoyed you guys so much," said lead singer Alex Kapranos.

    Of course, they ended with their comforting hit single "Take Me out" that starts like "So if you're lonely, you know I'm here waiting for you."

    It was an 104.9 exclusive before their show tonight. Their next one is Switchfoot.

    Tonight, ch-check them out...

    WHAT: Franz Ferdinand
    WHERE: Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 9/22
    TIX: $22; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster
    MORE INFO: http://www.franzferdinand.co.uk/

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Rising Talent

    I just interviewed Rachael Yamagata who was wonderfully silly and kiddy. As a rising alternative jazz talent, she's been compared to Norah Jones, but instead of being happy, Yamagata's music is brooding, about losing and having love.

    So I was surprised that Yamagata gleefully talked about just coming back from Walmart, to buy leopard seat covers and Christmas lights to decorate her tour bus.

    "I know, it's very festive, if I live in a coffin-like space I might as well make it festive."

    For tonight...ch-check it out:
    WHAT: Muse
    WHERE: Warfield 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 9/21
    TIX: $20; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster
    MORE INFO: http://www.muse.mu/

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Another Hollywood wedding...

    So Britney tied the knot (again), this time Julia Roberts style. She surprised her friends and family this past Saturday by taking the leap. Somebody needs to tell her to stop her roller-coaster life, otherwise, she'll end up on "The Surreal Life" (see yesterday's post).

    For tomorrow:

    Ch-check it out... not that I'm telling you which way to vote, but there's some good music, esp Mike Park.

    WHAT: Punk Voter Presents 'Rock Against Bush' Anti- Flag, Midtown, The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello), Strike Anywhere, The Epoxies, and Mike Park
    WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21
    TIX: $15; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or
    ticketmaster
    MORE INFO:
    http://www.punkvoter.com/



    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Guilty pleasures

    It's like my infatuation with Josh Groban's music - it's embarassing, but I tune in, and I know my friends do too.

    Anyways, to add to my guilty pleasure list lately, would be
    The Surreal Life and Paris Hilton's book, "Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose."

    The Surreal Life - a VH1 reality show that puts up B-rated stars, like
    New Kids on the Block's Jordan Knight, in a house - is like watching a car accident on the side of the road. You know it's bad and probably melts the brain, but you can't turn away. I was a New Kids on the Block fan back in the day anyways.

    And, Paris' book - well, I couldn't bring myself to buy it, but I had to flip through it at the book store. It's basically a picture book and the heiress, unlike
    William Hung , is in on the joke and knows not to take herself seriously. She advises that if anyone wants to be, or at least act like, a heiress, be sure to get a tan and have long blond hair -- well, one out of two isn't too shabby I guess.
    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    Only online

    This blog gives me a chance to write about things that don't get into print...

    Backstage with Tweet
    Through the silver veiled VIP section on the animal print couches, I had a one-on-one with Missy Elliott's protege, Tweet.

    It was Friday night, backstage at the San Jose's Ambassador club during the
    Seagram's Gin Live tour. The club was hopping. It made me think twice - am I still in San Jose? There wasn't even room to walk, more less dance. Usually with clubs, San Jose is like a playa with girls - too many come through, but none stays.

    It was the first night of the 24-city month-long tour, and management kept waffling on whether I could do an interview. But, Tweet was obliging.The 33-year-old mother of a 14-year-old was tiny - trendy in a black beret and baby doll dress. She had to first meet the tour promoters, and so was a little tired and hoarse. Plus, Cee-Lo was still performing on stage, so we could hardly hear each other. We had to practically hug to do the interview (I was worried about my potential garlicky breath from the stuffed mushrooms I ate), but Tweet was sweet.

    On San Jose: "It's cool. I'm mad that I couldn't go and hang out."
    On the fans: "They were amazing. I've been gone for so long, I was worried that they wouldn't remember me, but the crowd was so accepting." Her last big hit was in 2002 - the club single "Oops (Oh My!)"

    Why it took her so long to come back: "I have been working on the album and had to push it back because of the labels merging. Now I'm on Atlantic." The album, "It's Me Again," is set to come out either January or November depending on how her two upcoming singles do. One of them, has a real bouncing basketball-like beat: "Sports, Sex and Food"

    Beastie Boys

    They still got it -
    (my review of the sold out SF show at the Bill Graham Civic Aud.) though what I found ironic was at BFD this past summer, Adam Yauch, aka MCA, had very white hair, and looked too old to be still relevant - this time, his hair looked like it was dyed brown.

    I had general seating (which means standing room only), so not only did I get squished out of my mind, somebody spilled beer on me. My thought of the night: I would have a bettter time at concerts if I was a big tall and burly man - that way no one would mess with me.

    Norah Jones

    I interviewed her today, and she said she spent a greater part of the day interviewing. She had debated whether or not to take a bath at the same time, but worried that the interviewers (mostly male) would take it as something sexual - when all girls know that being on the phone and bathing is common. At the end of the interview I told her to have a great bath to which she answered, thanks, I think I'll take it right now.

     
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
    You can e-mail me at mliu@mercurynews.com.