He apologized for his "broken English" which was not that bad, and talked about how he liked spending time alone: jogging, visiting hot springs, and watching Japanese wrestling.
For those of you wondering about the swooner, yes, he is still single and "alone," he says.
Ch-check out my story on the rocker Monday.
And here's more info on the idol in town:
Wu Bai & China Blue Autograph Session WHERE: World Journal Cultural Center, 1606 S De Anza Blvd., San Jose WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday 4/4 TIX: If you bought a ticket to the concert, then this session is free. WHY: Meet the rocker up close.
And their concert WHERE:DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4/5 TIX: 21+; $50 ($60 at the door); 877-CMPG-388 (877-2674-388); etmall.com WHY: Wu Bai usually plays at 20-50 thousand big concerts in Asia, so this is a chance to see him up close and personal.
Last Friday I caught the opening night of "Making Tracks." It's like an Asian version "Rent." But instead of HIV, it deals with the deep-rooted Asian American theme of sacrifice.
I liked it enough to recommend it but wish it wasn't three hours long. Overall, I would give it a "B."
Here's my report card for the night's performance...
Singing and talent A Leads Michael K. Lee (from "The Wedding Banquet: the musical)" and Broadway's "Miss Saigon") and Marie-France Arcillaput their beautiful voices on display.
Story B- It was very relatable as an ABC (American Born Chinese) and it was interesting how much of the story is told from the parents' perspective, as opposed to the child's, like many Asian American tales are like. Also, it was refreshing not to see food scenes. In Asian cultures, they express love with food, so many of these Asian American tales have at least one food scene.
The main problem, the theater critic (Karen d'Souza) was how they overkilled the parallel stories among the generations. If they edited this down, and maybe flashed back, instead of acting each generation out - this could have been a stellar musical.
Accuracy B+ I liked the detail, like how the Taiwanese father mixed up his "he's" with his "she's" (my parents do that because in Chinese there is no differentiation in the language except when written). But, the spoken and sung Mandarin was a little off.
Set A Their design was ingenuous. I really liked the Angel Island poem inscribed walls. They cast a solemn reminder of the pain and sacrifice their Chinese ancestors faced during their immigration into the United States.
Music B- The program says that they wanted the musical to be rock in order to reach a younger audience but much of the rock was from the 90's, not rock from today. Also, a lot of music was very reminiscint of "Rent" and "Miss Saigon."
Yesterday, I had a fun time interviewing Phantom Planet'sSam Farrar. (For those uninitiated, Phantom Planet sang the theme song, "California,"for the very hot television show "The OC.") The band opens for Sting next Friday, April 1st - so check out my full story that Friday in Eye.
Sam was fun to talk to over the phone, and filled the spaces between questions, answers, and me typing, with random comments - like:
"Red Bull is disgusting. I love Coca-Cola, but I drink too much, and that's not very good. And, I hate coffee." (He was drinking Red Bull, waking up after 12 p.m. after spending the night in a friend's studio and getting to sleep at 4 a.m.)
He did talk about his parents' new coffee machine:
"They have this amazing coffee machine. It cost $2,000. You hit one button, and it makes your coffee for you instantly. All you have to make sure is that there are beans and water. It can do cappuccino and espresso in one touch. But, naw I can't really afford that right now."
So ch-check out the rest of my silly interview with him next Friday.
And tonight, ch-check it out:
Ben Lee WHERE:The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight; 3/24 TIX: $12; (415) 771-1421 WHY: Singer-songwriter Ben Leesings sweet nothings put to alternative rock.
George was actually the first musician I interviewed on the job. He's both rascally and sweet, but also completely open about his music and life.
I know I may be a hip-hop fan, but he's really fun to watch live.
So tomorrow, ch-check him out:
George Kahumoku WHERE: The Little Fox, 2209 Broadway - Redwood City, CA WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, 3/24 TIX: $14 advance, $18 at the door; (650) 369-4119 WHY:He brings a little bit of sunshine to these days' pouring rain.
As they say in Hawaiian, "a hui hou & e malama pono" (see you later, take care).
My current favorite song is a silly one. It has the perfect line: "Ooh, I love eating cereal...when I'm watching my cartoons..."
The single also has the perfect name: "Breakfast Club," featuring L.A. indie rapper Murs and Midwest freestyle master Supernatural.
It's mixed by one of my favorite DJ's: Z-Trip, who one critic said is the perfect anecdote to Ashlee Simpson-ism. What I love about him is that he mixes rock, metal and new and old skool hip hop. In my current fav, he also drops in more than a dozen references to different cartoons and cereals. It's a perfect homage to a child growing up in the '80s.
As one of the few Asian American broadcast journalists I saw on television while growing up, I looked up to her, and never thought I'd be working with her someday.
Jan is now my voicing coach. She stressed three words: "slow, low and flow."
Slower, because, like many Californians, I talk fast and run my words together. I speak so fast that, when I worked in Detroit, I would introduce myself on the phone, speaking so rapidly that the other side had no idea what I was saying. It came out something like, "HithisizMarianliu, from the Detroifreepra, canIintervau?"
Lower because, being female, I have to avoid sounding screechy. Not, that I want to sound mannish, just older.
Finally, I needed for my words to flow, because audience members, who can't watch me doing my narration, will hear me as just another character in the production.
Lil' Kim, 50 Cent and The Game, plus this weekend's events
So recently rapper Lil' Kimwas found guilty of lying to a grand jury about a shootout outside of New York radio station Hot 97. The 29-year-old Grammy award winner could face up to 20 years.
I kind of feel sorry for Biggie's mistressand wonder if she was more straight up, this never would have happened. She said her sunglasses prevented her from noticing that her two friends (her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif "Gutta" Jackson) were there at the crime scene.
We'll see how this affects the sales of her album, which comes out later this year - because the controversy surrounding 50 Cent and The Game sure boosted their sales. 50 Cent's album"The Massacre" sold 1.1 million four days after its release while The Game'salbum "The Documentary" shot from No. 5 to 3.
This weekend, ch-check it out:
"Mama Said Knock You Out" Emcee Battle WHERE: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (btwn. 17th & 18th St.), San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 3/18 TIX: 21+ ; $12 door; $8 advance; Buy Tickets WHY: The battle will feature Bay Area legends of underground MC battles, like Infinite from Felonious (2x Mama Said Knock You Out Champ), Subverse hailing from Detroit, MI (2x MSKYO runner-up), Radio Active (Spearhead), Won Way (ThinkBeat), Franco (Scribble Jam 2004 3rd Place winner), Shush, Thesaurus, and and Orukusaki (ForensicScience).
John Digweed, Mark Farina, and Hernan Cattaneo WHERE:Ruby Skye, 420 Mason @ Geary, San Francisco WHEN: tonight 3/18 TIX: $20 Advance, $20-25 at door. WHY: deep house, tribal and progressive beats
Grand Opening of Wet WHERE:Blue Clube, 34 Mason - San Francisco WHEN: Saturday 3/19 TIX: Come in tropical wear and get in for $10 before 11pm WHY: It'll feature a $100 bikini contest
Urbanology in Milpitas, Santos Shelton and DJ QBert
At Urbanology, the fashion show in Milpitas last weekend, they not only displayed different urban brands but showcased local artists as well.
One, in particular, caught my eye: Santos Shelton who inscribed phrases and drew robots on planks of wood.
This is what he had to say about his work:
"My artwork is about my own struggles with life but also issues I see that face society. I use robot characters to symbolize myself and others because I believe we are all like robots. We break down, we malfunction, and sometimes we get programmed the wrong way."
The robot theme reminded me of DJ QBert'sliving room, where he had robots everywhere: robot figurines, paintings and murals. It was a classy bachelor pad.
Around 300 people attended from all walks of life -- with ages from the 20s to the 50s.
The ramen was good, but the lines were crazy and stretched like a snake through Zoe, making it hard to find the tail end.
Responses about the night ranged from "I want a refund to spend my money in a ramen restaurant where I can sit down" to "This was very cool. I'd come again."
But some people related to the crowdedness, saying it reminded them of Japan.
The odd thing is if you came late, you were able avoid all lines and eat more ramen.
For tonight, ch-check it out:
The Bob Dylan Show, Merle Haggard, Amos Lee WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight 3/15 TIX: $46-$66; ticketmaster.com WHY: Up and coming soulful folk singer Amos Leehas been receiving quite a bit of buzz lately and is worth all of it.
Urbanology show in Milpitas and Flogging Molly in San Francisco
I had a very busy weekend. Besides shopping, I went to a fashion show and a ramen-tasting-taiko-hip-hop show.
First on the fashion show -- I'll let you know about the ramen show later this week -- it was called Urbanology. It's the third edition and conveniently located in Milpitas, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel by Milpitas Square.
It was nice to go to a fashion show and see models that aren't stick thin and really tall -- these were hip-hop models: many were shorter with a little more junk in the trunk. And one thing that added the icing to the cake: I was mistaken for a model.
The show also gave me a chance to try out my photography skillz. For the first time, I was standing in front of the catwalk along with the rest of the snap-happy folks, cajoling the models to smile. It was fun.
And yes, the photos turned out beautifully - I'll write when it sees print.
For tonight, ch-check it out:
Guinness Presents: The Green 17 Tour with Flogging Molly WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 3/14 TIX: $21.50; ticketmaster.com WHY: What better way to spend St. Patrick's Day than with Irish punk rock band Flogging Molly.
Recently, I've been getting a few emails and calls from students working on projects related to hip-hop and violence. They asked me one central question: "Does hip-hop cause violence?"
This question is in reaction to the recent spate of events: ie. the shooting outside New York's Hot 97(look at yesterday's entry).
My response is - it's not a direct relationship. Lots of musical genres have lyrics that are based on violent things, including rock and even country. These types of music may put you in a certain mood to do certain things, but it ultimately is up to an individual to decide if he or she will act on violent thoughts.
For example, I listen to hip-hop and consider myself a fan of even some of the most aggressive styles, but I'm not violent.
Lately they've been following Hot 97's"Tsunami song" and violent shooting (A shooting took place in Hot 97's lobby following 50 Cent's visit to the New York radio station Hot 97to announce dropping The Game from his label.)
And on a lighter note, for something fun to check out - for those of you sitting at your cubicles, missing the warm sun and fresh air - a way to people watch from your computer.
Check out this site: hiphoper.com. Its about the hip-hop scene in Korea.
Click on the "fashion" link on the top, and then the "street fashion" section link to see something similar to our style section's "Street Style" feature. My favorite is the cool hair link - I wonder how they get Asian hair to fro up. Whatever they do, I'm jealous.
Anyways, in an example of good marketing (and to explain its crazy price of $28), these T's come with a CD. It's a sampling of what Ubiquity Records, the San Francisco eclectic label that puts out everything from hip-hop to Latin, has to offer, plus exclusives on not-yet-released singles. It's one of those ingenious ideas I wish I had thought up of first.
In searching more about these clever T-shirts, I ran into a T-shirt blog which lays out more T's others may pay close to $30 for (like the brand Baby Politico where one T says: "I'm too young to vote...what's your excuse?").
Last time she came around to San Francisco I interviewed the now pregnant singer in her room at the Hotel Triton (right across from Chinatown). She was beautiful (her eyes were so big, anime characters would be jealous) and had a bubbly personality.
She delighted in knowing that she was representing for Asians (she's part Indonesian). Growing up in Arizona, she said, many people always seemed to wonder about her background.
The singer-songwriter had two wrist tattoos - one on her left, reading "Left" and one on her right, reading "Right." Before , you think she's a total doofus, let me tell you her explanation.
When she started in the music business, she was young, 17, said the now 22-year-old, and thought because she was young, she needed to listen to music industry executives on how to manage her job. But, she soon realized that she was the talent - and she knew her left from her right. So, she started standing up for herself and making the decisions. Those tattoos are a reminder of that epiphany.
When I was last on KALX-FM (90.7), I heard an impressive up-and-coming soul singer Jennifer Johns. She's an independent artist (unsigned) and has already released a limited edition album, "Heavy Electromagnetic Soularpoetic Junglehop." It's hot and a perfect soundtrack for those slower introspective days . My favorite is "Do you believe in love," a warm mix of spoken word and soul/R&B.
This 26-year-old has opened for Mos Def on his tour in Hawaii and worked with the likes of socially conscious hip-hop crew Hieroglyphics.
Even with strep throat, she sounded good. At the station, she cooed acapella for us and did an impromptu number with local acoustic guitarist Musashi.
She inspired me to think about writing an ongoing series about those great unsigned independents.
Ch-check out Musashi's next shows:
March 17th and April 21st: 4th St. Tavern, San Rafael
On the radio, BillyJamand I again talked about the prospect of the "new bay" and how real fans are so excited they wouldn't be deterred by a little barf (like I was - I went to the Quannum MC's show last Thursday, and something - I suspect it was either barf or coke -- dribbled down from the second floor to the first. I left promptly after that. But, except for that, the show was amazing.)
As for this weekend, my voice is just about back, but I'm not ready to go out clubbing just yet, so here are some events - please party hardy for me.
Left of Zed WHERE:Club Lamia, 3910 Geary Blvd. @ 3rd Ave. WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 3/4 TIX: 21+; Before 10pm: $8 - general, $6 - members, after 10pm: $15 - general WHY:John Cho(of MILF and Harold & Kumar fame) is the lead singer
Pure Hip Hop Friday with DJ Dave Onex WHERE:Fluid Ultra Lounge, 662 Mission St., SF WHEN: tonight 3/4 TIX: Free champagne until 11pm., Free until 11pm with RSVP WHY: They describe it as a "marathon of pure hip hop."
re-define WHERE:Luna Lounge, 1192 Folsom @ 8th St., SF WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 3/4 TIX: 21+; no cover WHY: underground hip hop and classic breaks
Collision Course WHERE:Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, 3455 Edison Way, Menlo Park WHEN: 1-7 p.m. Saturday 3/5 TIX: $5 suggested donation WHY: hip hop and martial arts come together for tsunami relief
Juicy WHERE:Blush Nightclub, 261 California Dr., Burlingame WHEN: Saturday 3/5 TIX: 21+; $10 for guys WHY: Ladies free all night and drink tickets for birthday goers
Salted WHERE:Mighty, 119 Utah St., SF WHEN: 10 p.m. - 5 a.m. Saturday 3/4 TIX: $10 Presale , $15-20 at the door WHY: Grand Opening of San Francisco's newest weekly Saturday night party
Grand Opening WHERE:Club Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 2/26 TIX: 21+; win tix - Deep@Latinbayarea.com WHY: They tout themselves to be San Jose's 1st upscale Latino nightclub
Miss Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contest WHERE:Zoe Nightclub, 417 S. First Street, San Jose WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 3/5 TIX: free b4 10 p.m. if on guestlist (email@example.com) and for only $5 b4 11 p.m. WHY: See a swimsuit competition and get a chance to be on TV!