• Boxcar 7 Puts A Jump in the Blues

    By Andrea Serna, Art and Culture Writer

    Blues is a strong tradition in Long Beach.

    On Labor Day weekend the blues returns to Long Beach with the New Blues Festival at POA Park. Long Beach band Boxcar 7 is on the lineup.

    Lay out your path towards the dance floor cuz it’s going to be hard to sit still when Boxcar 7 is on the stage. They are a good-time band and they are not afraid to let the world know.

    The big-band sound of the seven-piece group has caught on in Long Beach. They are a familiar presence in the local music scene. They first started to catch the attention of blues junkies about five years ago. Now, they have developed a hard core following in town.

    The band combines the classic sound of 60s soul music with the 40s style of jump blues. Popular in the 1940s, the movement was a precursor to the arrival of rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll. Prominent figures included Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Big Joe Turner, Helen Humes and T-Bone Walker. More recently, there was renewed interest in jump blues in the 1990s, as part of the swing revival. The band professes an admiration for the big-band blues style. Their band performs with characteristic classic style old-school bandstands. Singer Scott Griffith performs with a vintage chrome plated microphone that fits his immense physical presence.

    “We don’t treat our music like most of the other bands in Long Beach do,” ax player Mark Sample said. “Most bands [performing locally] are four-piece or five piece. Most of the venues in town have stages that are too small for our band. We just decided we aren’t going to do it like that. We are going to do it like how it was in the old days, when the bands were really big.”

    Another major influence on the band was the 1991 movie, The Commitments. The film tells the story of the travails of a music promoter to form the “World’s Hardest Working Band,” The Commitments, and bring soul music to the people of Dublin, Ireland. Sample says the band patterned their own style based on the film.

    Boxcar 7 has not performed in Dublin, but they have worked hard to bring soul music to Long Beach and beyond. Recently, the band played at the prestigious NAMM show in Anaheim, the biggest music industry convention in the country. The band had the hard core rock fans swing dancing in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel.

    The members of the band all have deep credentials in the music biz. Gerry Tschetter plays piano and organ, and Johnny V plays trumpet and flugelhorn. Johnny V has worked with Slash, Eric Clapton and Percy Sledge. Saxophonist Mark Sample completes their horn section. Robert Lopez plays lead guitar and the rhythm section consists of bassist Jim Keena and Andrew Shreve on drums. Recently, they added another member, John Earvin on trombone. Earvin toured for 20 years with Rick James when he was younger.

    Griffith has been around the Long Beach music scene for many years. He got his start in the punk scene. Burned out on the blusterings of Biaffra, Ving and Rollins, he found solace with Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Al Green. Along the way back to humanity, Scott encountered Muddy Waters and a Howlin’ Wolf, who set him down that path to meet ol’ Robert at the crossroads and set a spell. Griffith likes to feel the root emotion behind each piece and tries like hell to convey that to everyone within earshot.

    “Our main thing is that we want our music to be a fun party” Sample says. “We don’t turn our noses up at fun. We are just out there to have fun and have a really good time. We are not really blues purists. We are more of a good time soul band. That’s our style.”

    The roots of soul music traces back to artists such as Little Richard, who was the inspiration for Otis Redding. Fats Domino and James Brown were equally influential. Fats Domino originally called himself a rock ’n’ roll performer, while James Brown was known as the “Godfather of Soul.” Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett echo throughout the music of this group. You don’t have to listen too hard to hear all these voices in the music of Boxcar 7.

    Samples said they like to stay close to Long Beach because their fans are so supportive here. After The Blues Festival you may want to find yourself searching for their next gig. The band says that they built much of their following at the El Dorado in Long Beach They are also regulars at Harvelle’s on the Promenade downtown, the Gaslamp on Pacific Coast Highway and Kobe’s Steakhouse in Los Alamitos.

    You can keep up with the band on Facebook, or visit their website at Boxcar7.com.

    Details: newbluesfestival.com
    Venue: LBPOA Park
    Location: 2865 Temple Ave., Long Beach

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  • Bucket of Blood

    Remembering Liberty Hill and the Irony of it all

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Each year, on the morning of July 4th at an often overlooked stone monument a few hundred feet off Harbor Boulevard on Fifth Street in San Pedro, a handful of citizens gather to commemorate the 1923 incident at Liberty Hill.  You see, it was 91 years ago during a waterfront strike that the notorious International Workers of the World, or Wobblies as they were generally known, called for a maritime strike in San Pedro.

    It was effective in that 90 ships were backed up at anchor as far as you could see. The shipping bosses called on the Los Angeles Police Department to help break the strike. The department willingly complied, rounding up and jailing union activists for violating “criminal syndicalism” laws or for simply holding an International Workers of the World union book.

    In those times, it was a criminal offense to organize for better working conditions or publicly promote an eight hour work day, advocate for child labor laws and many more ideals once labeled “radical” in an ardently anti-union city. These basic labor laws are now considered commonplace.

    The incident that perhaps became better known than the strike that precipitated it involved progressive activist and noted American author of “The Jungle,” Upton Sinclair came to San Pedro in support of the striking dock workers. Los Angeles Mayor George Cryer threatened Sinclaire with arrest if he spoke at the well publicized rally atop a small hill near Beacon Street. (more…)

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  • RLn NEWS of Week

    New Board Officers and Committee Chairs Appointed!

    SAN PEDRO — At the July 8, 2014 board and stakeholder meeting the new Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council Board was seated and took the oath of office.  The following officers and committee chairs were appointed:

    Executive Board 

    • President – James Preston Allen
    • Vice President – Debbie Rouser
    • Secretary – Khixaan Obioma-Sakhu
    • Treasurer – Danielle Sandoval
    • Outreach and Communications Officer – Donald Galaz

    Committee Chairs

    • Port Relations Committee – Frank Anderson
    • Land Use Planning & Public Works – Sue Castillo
    • Bylaws Committee – Not yet appointed
    • CD15 Issues Committee – Not yet appointed
    • Finance Committee – Chaired by the new Treasurer
    • Homelessness Ad Hoc Committee – Not yet appointed


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  • Woody Guthrie is Still Singin’

    By John Farrell

    The Hollywood Fringe Festival is over for a year and no one could see everything.

    But there were moments, and the best, from our point of view, was Hard Travelin’ with Woody Guthrie, a one-man show written and directed by Randy Noojin that was intimate, as simple as the music of American icon Guthrie and a moving tribute to his vital concern with the American working man, a concern that was built during the Dust Bowl, 80 years before the erstwhile revolution of the 99 percent.


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  • How Meeting Susan Anspach Completed The Circle

    Goodnight moon.

    Goodnight room.
    Goodnight Lionel in the room.

    —Susan Anspach


    I met her at a Thanksgiving party in 2012. Karen Kaye, the sister of avant garde filmmaker Stanton Kaye, had been throwing the parties for years at her Echo Park home.

    Back in 1971, Stan made a film called Brandy in the Wilderness, which created a large stir among bohemians in the Hollywood area. The bohemian scene was particularly vibrant around Los Angeles City College and a lot of us who gathered at Karen’s were the core of Hollywood bohemianism. Sometimes new faces would appear. I liked going to Karen’s parties because many of the people who went there were some of the greatest eccentrics of the era.

    That’s how I met Susan Anspach. (more…)

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: June 30, 2014

    July 1
    LB City Council Votes on Civic Center
    The Long Beach City Council will consider whether to move forward on building a new Civic Center, which includes the Main Library and City Hall, at its July 1 meeting.
    Mayor Bob Foster and other council member, who are retiring, asked for the item to be included in the meeting to evaluate two proposals for the project. It is unlikely work will be done before July 15, when the new council takes office.
    Proponents of the new civic center would like private companies to have the property, build and maintain all of the facilities including the public portions, then lease the city hall and library back to the city for no more than the $12.6 million a year.
    Parking and Lincoln Park, which is dedicated public space in perpetuity, would have to be part of any project.
    As of present, Foster and other council members have ignored requests to consider retrofit and the cost of the civic center. Mayor-elect Robert Garcia seems to share the interest in getting a new Civic Center. City Hall was built in the late 70s.
    The city council also will consider receiving information and providing directions to staff as to the Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan, as well as a resolution allowing for the initiation of a consolidated coastal development permit in connection with the Los Cerritos wetlands and Synergy Oil Field on 2nd Street, near Pacific Coast Highway.
    Details: (562) 570-6555
    Venue: Long Beach City Hall
    Location: 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach (more…)

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  • Shakespeare is Still Going Strong

    By John Farrell

    It’s time for Shakespeare.

    For the 17th season Shakespeare by the Sea is presenting plays by the bard of Avon at Point Fermin Park for the next few weeks before going on tour to more than 20 sites around Southern California and then returning for their final performances in San Pedro.

    The season opened with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and this past week with Hamlet. On June 28 at 8 p.m. there will be a performance of Midsummer Hamlet will trod the boards (taken down every night and re-constructed the next evening) July 3 and 5. All performances are free. On Aug. 15 the tour returns to San Pedro for the final performance of Hamlet. The final performance of Midsummer is Aug.16. Performances from Beverly Hills to South Pasadena, from Lakewood to Newport Beach, are scheduled.

    Midsummer opened the Shakespeare by the Sea festival June 12 in a production that took a slightly different tack, with Bottom, sitting in the audience and members of the cast watching as the play proceeds. Bottom is played by the play’s director Patrick Vest, and he has crafted a more-than-workmanlike version, with lots of role doubling. Kathryn Farren plays Hippolyta and Titania, B.J. Allman Oberon and Theseus. G. Anthony Joseph is both Puck, the mischievous sprite and Philostrate, Theseus’ servant. Company veteran Andy Kallok is Egeus and in a brief but hilarious turn also plays Mustardseed as a gruff and unwilling participant. Demetrius is Garret Replogle, Lysander is Robert McHalffey, Hermia is Olivia Schlueter-Corey and Helena is Bridget Garwood.

    Shakespeare by the Sea decided to go with of the Bard’s est this summer. There is no play that ranks higher in the Shakespearean canon than Hamlet. But Hamlet is a huge play, more than four hours when every line and scene is included, and this is a much briefer version, including all the well-known soliloquies and action, but bigger on sword-fights than poetry. Cylan Brown is a seemingly very young Hamlet, caught in the web of his father’s death, and the remarriage of his uncle Claudius (Jay Castle) to his mother Gertrude (Kristina Teves). There is a lot of sexual attraction between the two and that makes Hamlet even more miserable.

    Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend (B.J. Allman) and Ophelia (the very attractive Olivia Delgado) try to make Hamlet happy, but he cannot get over what may have happened. And, Polonius (Charles M. Howell) doesn’t make things better. The play ends with Hamlet, Gertrude, Ophelia and Claudius all dead, but it seems a bit too fast for all that.

    Shakespeare by the Sea has a few more weeks in San Pedro, then goes on tour and returns to Point Fermin Park on Aug.15 and 16 for the end of their run.

    Details: (310) 217-7596www.shakespearebythesea.org
    Venue: Point Fermin Park
    Location: 807 Paseo del Mar, San Pedro


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  • Feuer Announces Renewed Neighborhood Prosecutor Efforts

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Watching City Attorney Mike Feuer explain his goals for the Neighborhood Prosecutor program was in sharp contrast compared to the hubris of what I remember from former City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

    The difference being like a cat in an antique store versus a bull in a china shop. Feuer, is both a politician and a lawyer and doesn’t apologize for being either.  His quaint, slightly old fashion, even liberal, ideal that the law should work for the common citizen and not just as a cudgel to protect the rich and powerful, was refreshing.

    Then, I was struck by the oddly named, “Neighborhood Prosecutors,”  the legal advocates that Feuer is in process of dispatching to the city’s 16 police divisions, including Harbor Division. This inherited title could be misinterpreted in one of several ways other than what it’s supposed to mean.

    What does this neighborhood prosecutor do exactly? Everything from nuisance abatement on slumlords to building code enforcement, and from settling neighbor complaints on gas powered leaf blowers to animal control problems. Do you have a quality of life issue? Call the neighborhood prosecutor at your local police station.

    They really should be called “legal advocates” though. Their job mostly involves dispute resolution, coordination of city services to promote community problem solving, and assistance for the city so that it may live up to its promise of providing a safe and secure community, as opposed to prosecuting anyone. Or are they just carrying out the second half of the pledge, “to protect and to serve,” something that Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has been promising in the police departments “community based policing” policy this past five years? (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Weekly Update

    Three Rescued in Human Trafficking Operation

    LONG BEACH — Two children and a woman were rescued this past weekend in Long Beach thanks to Operation Cross Country, a four-day humane trafficking sweep. Three people were arrested in connection to human trafficking, three were arrested for pimping and 54 people were arrested for prostitution or drug related offenses.

    The Long Beach Police Department partook in the FBI headed initiative, in which 106 cites were involved, 168 children were rescued and 281 pimps were arrested.

    Anyone with information can call (562) 570-7219 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.


    Assembly Policy Panel OKs Response Plan To Panama Threat

    SACRAMENTO – On June 24, an export-promotion and financing plan that passed its policy review on a bipartisan vote of Senate Bill 511 in the California Senate. (more…)

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  • Is Long Beach Sufficiently Self-Scrutinizing When It Comes to Police Use of Force?

    During the last few years, while the City of Long Beach has touted record-setting lows in crime, the Long Beach Police Department has been under fire for a number of high-profile accusations of excessive force.

    But according to the civic bodies responsible for investigating such accusations, the City finds only about 1% of complaints as necessitating officer training or discipline. (more…)

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