Posted by Joy Bennett
Photo courtesy jonbatiste.com
Sometimes in life you get lucky. I was recently invited to see Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human the other night at Hotel Cafe, a small, hot Los Angeles nightspot that features outstanding singer/songwriters seven nights a week. The venue alone was worth the trip, it was adorable, with delicious light food, drinks, great acoustics, and friendly people. Check out their fantastic reviews on Yelp if you don't believe me, this place is awesome! Parking is by valet or pay at a lot, on-street parking is quite rare when it gets busy in this neighborhood.
Then I heard Jon's unmistakable, exhilarating sound. Jon Batiste is a born musician, he plays several instruments, sings like an angel, and has a New Orleans's style jazz/blues/rock/fusion sound that is most infectious. He and his family are part of the inspiration for HBO's excellent series Treme, about New Orleans and the musicians and people that live there. Mr. Batiste has also appeared on the show. He has a new album called Social Music coming out on October 15, 2013, and they played several songs from it. Mr. Batiste and his music are definitely worth checking out.
Jon Batiste is a wonderful musician, anything he plays sound magic. I have never heard ragtime played with so much sophisticated cool. The large turnout at Hotel Cafe was most appreciative, and this rowdy audience turned politely quiet when the music demanded it. The music was so good all you could do is close your eyes, drink it in, and shuffle your feet in rapture.
The Hotel Cafe has an impressive line-up seven nights a week of outstanding talent, this could very well become my new favorite hot spot. Check out Jon Batiste and his Stay Human band here: jonbatiste.com, and the Hotel Cafe's website is here: hotelcafe.com.
12.14.13 at 8:51 pm | Handel's Messiah sung by the audience at Disney. . .
12.10.13 at 8:35 pm | A. Scott Berg discusses his new biography,. . .
12.9.13 at 7:39 am | The great Kobe Bryant returns to play with the. . .
11.28.13 at 5:18 am | Have a wonderful Hanukkah!
11.15.13 at 7:09 pm | The lovely and talented Annette Bening discusses. . .
11.4.13 at 1:30 pm | Horseracing at its Finest
12.14.13 at 8:51 pm | Handel's Messiah sung by the audience at Disney. . . (41)
7.24.13 at 1:50 am | A great diet that satisfies your sweet tooth. . . (20)
11.15.13 at 7:09 pm | The lovely and talented Annette Bening discusses. . . (5)
August 19, 2013 | 2:34 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Last Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending the MUSE/IQUE Concert called "Lose Your Senses with Ellis Hall" conducted by MUSE/IQUE Artistic Director Rachael Worby. The concert was held at Caltech's Beckman Mall in Pasadena, a wonderful setting. I had never heard of MUSE/IQUE until recently, but this looked intriguing so off I went.
It was well worth the drive from Santa Monica out to Pasadena. First, the setting is very special and appropriate for what Ms. Worby's creative vision entails. Second, the music was consistently performed with spirit and technical prowess. Third, the eclectic but endearing musical program was quite refreshing, a perfect late-summer evening.
I am someone who will soon fall asleep at your typical classical musical concert, hence I tend to avoid them, unless it's someone really special or the 4th of July where there will be fireworks to keep me entertained. No such worries of being bored around Ms. Worby's orchestra and special guests. It was a great show, an eclectic grab bag of musical genres, and Ms. Worby led us all through it with unfailing enthusiasm, musical taste, grace and confidence.
The setting was also lovely, especially as the sun set and the lights dimmed, revealing the jumbo screens and lighting put out by the concert organizers, which was most appropriate and enjoyable. Unlike some, I am a big fan of jumbo screens, and don't have a problem with them at all.
The concert was outdoors, and you were welcome to bring your own food and beverages, but a catered meal was available if you called to arrange it beforehand. I did, and the food proved to be very nice. The nearby parking is free, which is always appreciated.
The MUSE/IQUE orchestra is absolutely top-notch, of note was the violin soloist during the Beethoven piece. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. The orchestra played with brilliance and power throughout, it was awesome.
Ms. Worby often jumps, waves, and even strolls through the audience in her enthusiasm, and the Motown medley led by special musical guest Ellis Hall, the wonderful, five-octave range musician who really rocked out, got many of us dancing in the aisles, myself included.
After the concert, the audience was invited to a special champagne reception to meet the orchestra, with cookies, treats, and coffee for those of us who had to drive home. The audience to a person were very friendly, the facilities were very comfortable, and they deserved, and received, a very large, appreciative audience. I can highly recommend a concert by MUSE/IQUE, visit their website www.muse-ique.com for more information and tickets for upcoming events.
I am also continually impressed by the City of Pasadena for its cultural resources, beauty of its city, and kindness of its inhabitants.
Thank you to the MUSE/IQUE staff for inviting me, it was a most pleasant evening!
August 13, 2013 | 2:02 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
If you only watch one show on TV, make it The Newsroom on HBO Sunday nights at 10. This tight, funny, mesmerizing drama, based on the high-wire act of producing a live daily national news show, is truly one of the best TV shows ever produced. Aaron Sorkin creates and writes the majority of the episodes, and it’s brilliant.
The show is based on the network ACN, based in the fictional city of Atlantis, reminiscent of CNN’s home base in Atlanta, Georgia.
The characters are all smart, neurotic types, who have an excess of book sense and not quite enough street sense to get by. Of particular note is Jeff Daniels, who plays the anchorman. This actor certainly has remarkable range. Mr. Daniels was such a convincing fool in the movie Dumb and Dumber, now he is the exact opposite: a highly intelligent but smug and neurotic news anchor. Other actors worth mentioning: the beautiful and talented Olivia Munn plays a financial reporter perfectly; and even the legendary Jane Fonda has a small role as a network executive.
You might say after watching a few episodes, well, people don’t talk like that, with whip smart, velvety dialogue, but oh, if only they would!
I’d also like to mention the free service you get if you’re an HBO subscriber. They now have a free service called HBO GO, which you can sign up for. It allows you to watch their programming on ROKU, iPads, your smart phone, Apple TV, Android, and other devices anytime you wish. Fun!
A note about comments: I understand it is very difficult to comment here at the Shiksa in Hollywood blog. However, if you visit my main website, joybennett.com, it is very easy to post comments there, and I hope you will.
August 10, 2013 | 6:04 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Photo courtesy robgreebon.photoshelter.com
This weekend I'm visiting the lovely and culturally diverse city of Fort Worth, Texas. Our daughter is attending college here this fall, and it's my first extended stay in the area. For the size of the town (population just under one million), Forth Worth boasts a number of cultural and recreational attractions, and the huge city of Dallas, Texas is also an easy 40 minute drive to the east, just zip down Highway 30.
Yesterday, we toured the impressive and well-equipped Texas Christian University, a tiny private college with big athletic and academic facilities. This university has a small but quite beautiful campus, with friendly staff, impressive facilities, even the food at the orientation was delicious. For more information about Texas Christian University, visit tcu.edu.
The rest of the weekend has been spent enjoying all the wonderful things Fort Worth has to offer. One of the top five zoos in the nation, the Fort Worth Zoo, is a few minutes from downtown on the west side of the city, where many of the other cultural and artistic attractions are located. They also have the remarkable Kimbell Art Museum, one of the finest art museums in the Southwest. Fort Worth also is home to a number of other museums, musical venues, shopping, sightseeing, and you can even catch a rodeo. If you like BBQ, there are a number of fine restaurants that feature this type of food, but they also have a number of other delicious restaurants in the area, too.
Fort Worth's people are generally friendly and welcoming, and one could do worse than spend a few days here, enjoying the cowboy culture, shopping, artistic offerings, and beautiful surroundings. One warning, it does get quite warm here in the summer, so bring your lightweight summer clothes and be prepared to schedule some time indoors with air conditioning. I did enjoy the hotel pool several times though, which is wonderful on a hot summer day.
Fort Worth is a quick three hour flight from Los Angeles, and traffic and parking is generally much easier to handle here than the more crowded conditions in Los Angeles. For more information about Fort Worth, visit fortworth.com, and if you do visit, I hope you enjoy your stay as much as I did!
August 4, 2013 | 8:22 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Film poster image courtesy smff.org
Last night I was delighted to attend the free Santa Monica Film Festival in my very own hometown of Santa Monica, California. This charming, small (tiny, really) film festival screened a number of outstanding short films, all of which were clever, amusing or scary, take your pick. There were so many wonderful films, it was a smorgasbord of high-quality short film maLast night I was delighted to attend the free Santa Monica Film Festival in my very own hometown of Santa Monica. This charming, small (tiny, really) film festival screened a number of outstanding short films, all of which were clever, amusing or scary, take your pick. There were so many wonderful films, it was a smorgasbord of high-quality short film making. Actor and writer Robert Rusler was the host, and did an outstanding job introducing the films and keeping the evening rolling along.
One in particular stood out in my mind, the short film 'Paper' directed by Ivan Kraljevic, who was also in attendance and spoke briefly and eloquently about the film after the screening. 'Paper' is a tight, engaging story of a poor, young Russian immigrant woman's struggle to make it in the USA. She is struggling to get out of the massage parlor business, but frustrated as her former boss there still has her passport. 'Paper' refers to the documents you need to legally work and live in the USA. She meets one young man, a photographer who falls for her, yet is torn by his lack of resources.
There were so many good short films here, though, too many to mention. Visit the festival's website to find out more about the films screened and plot summaries: smff.org.
After the film screenings, I walked a few blocks over to the small After Party held at a local bar and restaurant, which was itself very charming. Tinga is a new restaurant at 522 Wilshire in Santa Monica that serves Mexican fusion dishes and is what looks to be an outstanding taqueria. Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to taste the food, but just had a drink, but will be back soon to do so, since it looked just delicious and was reasonably priced, with a charming atmosphere.
In case you thought, as I did initially, because the film festival was free it would be packed, I was happily surprised that the seating was quite open, and this under-appreciated film festival well deserves a larger audience. This is their tenth year and the founder, David Katz, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking at the After Party, proved to be a kind and creative gentleman. I very much hope this festival finds a larger audience that it so well deserves. For more information, visit smff.org, hope to see you there next year!
-- August 5, 2013. Just an update to my previous post of August 4, 2013. Today I did return to the Tinga Restaurant in Santa Monica, California. I had a chance to taste the food, and it was lovely, with friendly staff, comfortable atmosphere, and delicious tacos!
July 28, 2013 | 9:51 pm
Posted by Joy Bennett
Theatrical release poster
Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's new film, is in my estimation one of his finest later films. Again he explores, as only Mr. Allen can, the intricacies of a women under the pressure of a major life change, with humor, pathos, and style. Cate Blanchett is sure to receive Oscar attention for her performance, which is brilliant. She carries the film, yet the supporting actors, especially but not exclusively Bobby Cannavale (who also appeared in HBO's Boardwalk Empire) are also excellent. This role will secure Ms. Blanchett's position as one of the major actresses of her generation. Alec Baldwin is also pitch-perfect as her dubious ex-husband, but one can't help but wonder if he has made a career out of playing his own charming, seductive self.
Like Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, Cate's character teeters toward madness as she desperately tries to rebuild her life after loosing everything. It demonstrates how sexuality, desire, desperation and social climbing sometimes converge with disastrous yet comic results. At times heartbreaking, funny, and luminescent, here is one of the finest directors of our time playing at his craft with confidence and ease. Excellent and appropriate music as well.
July 24, 2013 | 1:50 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
We all have to look our best in Hollywood, and if you tried and tried to loose weight and just can't because of a nasty sweet tooth like me, try my Nutella Diet. I'm using it and it works to gently melt away those pounds, all while satisfying your cravings for sweets.
Here's the diet: eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of a low-fat foods that are high in protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, salads, etc. Avoid any fatty foods or excessive amounts of bread or high-calorie treats. Drink plenty of water. Lemonade or juice is OK in limited amounts. Avoid diet or regular sodas, they are very bad for you. You can drink alcohol and coffee in moderation, but I recommend if you do have decaf coffee or tea, much healthier. Raw nuts, vegetables, fruit, and baked pita chips are all OK for snacking in limited amounts. You can make this a vegetarian diet if you make sure to include enough high protein sources like soy, etc.
After lunch and dinner, instead of dessert, have one teaspoon of Nutella if you are craving sweets. Savor it and let it melt slowly in your mouth. Don't have more than one teaspoon, and avoid all other desserts and high calorie treats. If you can, skip the Nutella, or get by with half a teaspoon, but know it's there if you need it.
After dinner and your Nutella dessert, brush your teeth to discourage late night snacking. If you are desperate for something to eat or drink before retiring, have a half glass of water. Those pounds may just melt away like the Nutella we love so much!
There are only approximately 34 calories in each teaspoon of Nutella, not much! So you know you are doing your very best to lose weight. Make sure you get some moderate exercise, too, like taking a walk or a Yoga class to help melt those pounds away as well.
I've also found that those "Nips" Chocolate Parfait hard candies made by Nesle and available at Ralph's, etc. also help satisfy a chocolate or sweet craving. At only 30 calories each, it really does the trick!
Check with your doctor before starting any new health care diet or regimen, as this is not meant to be taken as medical advice.
July 21, 2013 | 6:05 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Every photographer, from the family record keeper, to bloggers like me shooting an actor on a Red Carpet, or a bird watcher photographing that rare species they finally found in the wild, or a freelance or staff photographer, can improve, no matter what level they are working at now. One terrific resource I came across recently is the gifted and innovative Joey Terrill, who along with an impressive career as an advertising and editorial photographer, also generously shares his time with many others seeking to improve.
Mr. Terrill has two excellent websites, the first, his professional photographer's website, joeyterrill.com (which is a model of how a pro should represent themselves online). Then he has a second website dedicated to illuminating his vast collection of tips, techniques, and advice for the serious amateur or professional: penumbraproject.com. I would recommend both to anyone interested in lifting their photography to new heights.
Joey also recently mentioned to me two other very helpful resources: strobist.com and daveblackphotography.com -- two excellent websites also dedicated to helping others thrive in their photographic endeavors.
We live in an increasingly fast-paced, visual world; and those who can produce compelling, high-quality images (or hire someone to do so for them) will always do better than those who cannot.