Monday, October 26, 2009


Last week, Derek and I had the pleasure of visiting downtown L.A.'s newest wine bar, Cork Bar. We loved the laid back, rock n' roll vibe of this hip new eatery (and drinkery.)
The place specializes in the bounty that is the great state of California. The wine, beer and food is all sourced from local artisans. The menu is fantastic, with everything from small plates to hearty entrees. We loved the savory cheddar gougieres as well as the duck and pork dishes we tried. I have a feeling that anything you get there is going to be amazing as we tried several dishes and they were all delicious. I love the fact that they only serve California wine (I know you didn't see that coming), because it forces you to try things you might never have tasted. They have a wonderful selection of wines at surprisingly affordable prices. The bartenders are enthusiastic and know their stuff, which always make a visit to a wine bar way more enjoyable. They also have special events like winemaker dinners and live music on Sundays so we'll be sure to visit again. It may just be our new favorite spot downtown!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Here's a tip: If you're renting out a restaurant for a wedding party, rent the whole space. 

Last night the patrons of Palihouse's lounge got the shaft (not to mention yours truly, who spent a good portion of the day pulling records) when the mother of the bride kept insisting we turn down the music for their courtyard wedding speeches.

Major bummer. For a large portion of the early evening there was no sound save for the monitors--the equivalent of rocking to an old school jambox.

Here's another tip: No bride and groom require 28 @#($* speeches!! 

We endured the best we could, but it was frustrating. By the time the reception cleared out things got back to normal and Gustavo ably rocked a late-night crowd. 

We expect much better luck next Friday for our Halloween pre-party. Walter has authorized $5 Stellas at the bar for the occasion, so come out and rock with us! We'll be spinning special scary/groovy Halloween-themed jams all night long! 

Derek's (maligned) set list:

Quincy Jones - Blues For Trumpet & Koto
Rodriguez - Sugar Man
Dinah Washington - Me & My Gin
Julie Driscoll & The Brian Auger Trinity - Isola Natale
Jose Feliciano - Light My Fire
Buffy Sainte-Marie - He's a Keeper of the Fire
Carrie Nations - Look On Up At The Bottom
Edwin Starr - Twenty-five Miles
Rotary Connection - The Weight
Dorothy Ashby - The Moving Finger
Quincy Jones - Hummin'
Argent - Schoolgirl
Sandy Coast - Sorry
The Road Home - Keep It In the Family
H.P. Lovecraft - Country Boy & Bleeker Street
Crow - Something In Your Blood
Soul Survivors - Please, Please, Please
Chuck Jackson - Can You Feel It
Quicksilver Messenger Service - Fresh Air
The Ventures - Sea of Grass
Sylvie Vartan - Le Train Sans Retour
Judy Cheeks - Livin' Easy in the City
Ambrosia - Life Beyond L.A.
Supertramp - Dreamer
Berlin - Sex (I'm A...)
Rudy Love and the Love Family - Disco Queen
Halloween - Come See What It's All About
GQ - Make My Dream A Reality
Ramsey Lewis - Sun Goddess
Donna Summer - Breakdown
Eddie Harris - The Loneliest Monk
Brick - Happy
Deniece Williams - Free
Gabor Szabo - Keep Smilin'

Thursday, October 22, 2009


There are some places in L.A. that act like time machines; the moment you step inside you feel as if you've been transported to another place and time. Musso and Frank's is one of the best of these spots. From the old steakhouse decor to the old bartendars in red jackets, you feel as if nothing has changed there in 80 years. You half expect to see the ghosts of Hollywood past hunkering down in the darkened confines of the red vinyl booths. To top it all off, they not only make THE BEST MARTINI IN TOWN, they make one of the most affordable. $10 gets you an ice-cold martini with a sidecar good for two refills. Three martinis for the price of one; it's almost as if this place hasn't felt the recession that the rest of us have. It's protected from the horrors of the rest of the modern world, and when you step off of the crazy turmoil that is Hollywood Blvd into Musso and Frank's you'll feel protected too.


Saturday, October 17, 2009


Contemporary folk-soul singer-songwriter Matthew Santos plays a solo show at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood this Wednesday, October 21, in support of a new, soon-to-be-released album.

Santos arrives fresh off a 2008 Grammy nomination with hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco for the smash single "Superstar." Santos continues his successful collaboration with Fiasco in the widely viewed Youtube video, "Shining Down" from Lupe Fiasco's third album LASER.

I had a chance to speak with Matthew Santos last week. He's no stranger to L.A., having performed several times last year at Club Nokia and the Staples Center with Kanye West's "Glow in the Dark" tour, on Jimmy Kimmel, and of course the 2008 Grammy Awards.

As a music buff more inclined to old school out-of-print vinyl and idiosyncratic small-label acts, I wasn't sure what to expect from a Grammy nominee with a smash hit under his belt.

"Where are you now?" I asked Santos.
"Chilling at home, eating some potato chips."
"Is this a bad time?"
"Not at all," he replied, "just let me wipe the grease off my fingers."

I knew right away I was talking to someone who hadn't let the bling or bright lights of his recent successes go to his head. A young, but seasoned performer in mid-stride looking to expand his audience, while sticking firmly to his folk-soul roots.

Santos found a sizeable new following in the hip-hop world, but his true musical voice comes from rock and roll. He cites Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Bjork and The Frames as major influences, as well as jazz icons Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald (catch his scat singing on "Shadows in a Shoebox").

When asked if his dual interests in rap and rock creates any professional schizophrenia, Santos responds, "I view it as a test of versatility. I love to be challenged by different approaches." For Santos, music, whatever the genre, is all about three things: soul, heart and passion. "It's the sweat you put into it that really shines through."

I asked him if hip-hop fans were surprised by his mellow soul-infused folk-rock solo material. "The sound catches people off guard," he replied without hesitation. But Santos has built up a dedicated following of acoustic fans from his work on Candy-Rat records and his Youtube live performances.

With his upcoming album, Santos starts over from scratch. He acknowledges the opportunity to share the big stage with Lupe Fiasco, Kanye and others has enhanced and expanded his musical vision. "Lupe knows what makes a pop song hit, in general. He understands the energy of live performance."

It is this energy that Santos looks to bring on his newest tracks, while maintaining his signature sound. The formula is a balance between tempo and speed. "It's a question of song dynamics and the element of surprise," he notes, citing Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky as examples of fellow artists with similar approaches: starting songs slow and simple, gradually building up the tempo until they become "apocalyptic anthems."

"It's about adding weight, not speed," Santos asserts. With a philosophy like that, it's no surprise Santos prefers whiskey to wine. He's a big fan of the smoky Islay Scotches, Aardbeg and Laphroaig, but calls Jameson his poison "because it goes down so smooth."

We can't disagree, but if you want to go vino at the show, VINE-YL recommends a red like a Joven Tempranillo from Spain: young, but lacking nothing in spice and character.

Here's a sample track from the upcoming album. And another, just for good measure. Check out his myspace page for more info and videos.

Matthew Santos plays the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, Wednesday, October 21. Show starts at 8pm. Here's links for ticket info and directions. We'll see you at the show!

--posted by Derek, 10/17/09


Wow! Another stellar Friday evening. Glad to see old friends Katherine and Sabrina. Hope the birthday party was a good one!

Corin and Leigh made another welcome appearance and stayed all night long with friends visiting from Denmark. We're spreading the word about Vinyl Lovers Lounge all the way to the continent!

And Mara, appreciate the visit. No fee for the cell phone charge-up.

Special thanks to Gustavo who held down the wheels late and first timer Johanna who shared select special nuggets from her sick record collection.

So it was 95 degrees today? We're looking forward to heating things up as the temperature cools down.

Derek's set list:

The Ray Conniff Singers - Autumn Leaves
Ray Charles - The Sun Died
The Les Williams Orchestra - Mellow Yellow
John Barry - Blues and Out
Jose Feliciano - California Dreamin'
The Road Home - Birds
Soul Survivors - Respect
The Art Gallery - The Hard Road Back
Dinah Washington - Soulville
Shirley Bassey - The Easy Thing to Do
George Benson - Come Together
Eddie Harris - Theme for the Foxy Ladies
Betty Wright - You're Just What I Need
T-Connection - Do What Ya Wanna Do
Ramsey Lewis - Sun Goddess
Quincy Jones - Soul Saga (Song of the Buffalo Soldier)
Love Unlimited - Say It Again
Bobbie Houston - Make It With You
Bill Withers - Everybody's Talkin'
The Undisputed Truth - I'm A Fool For You
Sylvia Smith - I Don't Need No Man
Brand Nubian - One For All (radio version)
The Pharcyde - Passin' Me By
The Ritchie Family - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Paolo Vasile - Hey Man
Shriekback - Lined Up
Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open the Door
Pete Townshend - Jools and Jim
The Rolling Stones - Hot Stuff
Millie Jackson - Once You've Had It
GQ - Boogie Oogie Oogie
Willie "Beaver" Hale - Groove-On
Kashif - I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On)
Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl
Midnight Star - Wet My Whistle
Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing

See you all next week!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Back at Palihouse last night after a two-week hiatus. What a welcome return: a full (or practically full) moon, a great, upbeat, eager crowd, my dear friend Jackson celebrating his birthday and a room full of friends to celebrate with! 

All in all a magical night.

Daisy was out of town so Derek took over the controls and set them for the heart of the sun. A long winding set through Sixties pop and psych, power soul, disco, punk, funk, rap and California seventies classics, including a Neil Young shout out to the b-day boy. 

Special thanks to Gustavo, who took over late-nite and steered us admirably through the end of the (long) evening.

And thanks to Jackson, Jasmine and all our friends who came out for the party, and to Palihouse managers Walter and Christian for showing everyone a good time.

Here's D's set-list for the raucous affair:

Chet Atkins - It Ain't Necessarily So
Johnny Cash - Drums
Buddy Holly - Peggy Sue
The Cheers - Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots
Francoise Hardy - Ca a Rate (It Failed)
Millie Jackson - Child of God (It's Hard to Believe)
Quicksilver Messenger Service - Codine
Soul Survivors - Please, Please, Please
The Brothers and Sisters - All Along the Watchtower
Bill Withers - You
Eddie Harris - The Loneliest Monk
Valerie Simpson - Sinner Man (Don't Let Him Catch You)
The Road Home - Keep It in the Family
Sharon Jones and the Dap-King - This Land is Your Land
The Undisputed Truth - Big John Is My Name
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - Easily Persuaded
Minnie Riperton - Les Fleur
Sarah Vaughan - I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Judy Cheeks - Mellow Lovin'
The Stranglers - Nice 'N' Sleazy
Iggy and the Stooges - The Scene of the Crime
Mick Jagger - Turn the Girl Loose
Starz - Violation
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Kill Your Television
The Clash - The Guns of Brixton
Marquis de Sade - Boys-Boys
Blondie - A Shark in Jets Clothing
Whodini - We Are Whodini
West Street Mob - Gotta Give It Up
T-Connection - Do What Ya Wanna Do
Midnight Star - Wet My Whistle
Shalamar - Friends
Ambrosia - Dancin' By Myself
Neil Young - Walk On
Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns and Money
George Kranz - Din Daa Daa
The Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats
Grace Jones - I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)
Shawnie G - No Mission's Impossible
Donna Summer - State of Independence

Good to be back! Fridays are stylin' and profilin' this Fall at Palihouse! See you all next time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009