A Night Out at Sunset Concerts

These two found a nice spot to dance behind the stage. Photo by Mitch Maher.

These two found a nice spot to dance behind the stage. Photo by Mitch Maher.

Look at these happy people. Smiling, dancing, grooving… enjoying music under the stars. That could be you. Bring a date, or meet someone here—either way, Sunset Concerts at the Skirball is a great night out. The 2012 season kicks off this Thursday night, when Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga take the stage.

And have we mentioned that the concerts are free? And that our galleries (except Noah’s Ark at the Skirball) are also free and open until 10:00 p.m.?

If you like to plan ahead, here are tips on how to attend Sunset Concerts like a pro and how to do it on your budget, from cheapest options to best ways to splurge. Feel free to mix and match!

Find a nice grassy patch to picnic with friends. Photo by John Elder.

Picnic with friends. Photo by John Elder.

THE SUPER SAVER NIGHT WITH FRIENDS
Round up your buddies and get on the bus!
Transportation: Plan your trip with metro.net and go to and from the Skirball for $1.50 each way. Plus no parking fees. Metro Rapic 761 drops off right in front of our main entrance. Just remember to bring your Metro passes. You’ll have to show them to get your tickets into the venue.
Food: Bring a delicious dinner with you from home! You may bring in food, but outside alcoholic beverages are not permitted. For some good ideas on how to jazz up your menu, this oldie but goodie from Mark Bittman is our go-to guide. There is a grassy area on the balcony above the stage that is perfect for picnicking.
Drinks: Cash bar available on site, or bring nonalcoholic drinks from home.
Concert tickets: Admission to the concert is free! Continue reading

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Conversations and Connections: A Teenager in his Native Habitat and at the Skirball

My son Arlen, standing at the entrance of the Women Hold Up Half the Sky exhibition, which he called “actually pretty cool.”

My son Arlen, standing at the entrance of the Women Hold Up Half the Sky exhibition, which he called “actually pretty cool.”

Living with my fifteen-year-old son, Arlen, is like living with a wild animal. A non-verbalizing, hedonistically hibernating, ragingly ravenous animal. The palate craves only that which is smothered in cheese. The wild mop of hair has been known to cause strangers on the street to nag (or, to my dismay, compliment and rave). The clothing is monochromatic. The vocabulary is monosyllabic. Parenting a teen is like living with a beast whose sole mission in life seems to be to eat more groceries than I can afford and to thwart my efforts at planning quality family time.

According to a great article I recently read in National Geographic, my son’s qualities could probably be attributed to the intense brain reorganization that kids his age experience. Nonetheless, I desire more connection with him, and I’m willing to try almost anything. Since many of my conversations with Arlen involve overwrought pop psychology on my part, and a series of grunts and somewhat base gestures on his, it has come as a huge relief to find things to do at the Skirball that inspire genuine communication. The Skirball is well known for our programs for young families (I am itching to sleep overnight inside Noah’s Ark at the Skirball), dynamic adult education, and thought-provoking and beautiful exhibitions. But did you know that there is a mélange of meaningful moments to be had at the Skirball with that favorite teen animal/angel in your life? I am so happy to trumpet to you all that there is. THERE IS!

I spent my first six months working here as a timid observer, wondering if my son would like our offerings—or if he could be coerced into showering for any of them. Then, I signed up for the Skirball’s Teen Parenting Seminar, hoping it would give me techniques to foster open communication. The seminar was full of eager parents and brave new ideas—and the most simple yet profound of these zapped my brain like a laser: do new things with your teenager.

So, we tried doing a few things. We went to the Huntington Gardens, but my own mom and I enjoyed their gorgeous rose gardens a teensy bit more than my son—although he did get in some quality texting time. We have now been to Disneyland more times than

probably anyone you know, and frankly we are both bored of the “happiest place on earth” (how much is there actually to say about Space Mountain?).

This conversation may have been slightly altered to serve my parental bias. Mental note: Discuss the concept of artistic license with son.

This conversation may have been slightly altered to serve my parental bias. Mental note: Discuss the concept of artistic license with son.

It took me a while to realize that some of the Skirball’s offerings might suit my son very well indeed. So, I signed us up for a Skirball Member preview of a documentary film called Bully that has been at the center of much media attention. It was a stealth invitation, meaning that I just texted him that I had scheduled an activity. I didn’t give him any details. This turned out to be a brilliant plan on my part: I hadn’t given him any information, so there was nearly nothing to which he could object.

After watching Bully together, something incredible happened: we really talked afterwards. We talked and talked for over an hour about the film, as well as my son’s own experiences with bullying. For the first time in a long time, we had an organic, genuine conversation. The experience was transformative, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word. We were transformed from a mother and son who barely recounted the banal happenings of our day to each other… into two people who felt substantially closer to one another. And the best part is that we now have a way to keep that closeness going. Continue reading

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A Little (Late) Night Music… Into the Night Is Back, Featuring Sea Wolf and Geographer!

See Alex Brown Church of Sea Wolf at Into the Night: Playtime—on Friday the 13th, no less!

See Alex Brown Church of Sea Wolf at Into the Night: Playtime—on Friday the 13th, no less! Photo by Mia Kirby.

Music, especially discovering new music, is one of my greatest passions. My husband and I are music fiends. We have extremely eclectic tastes and appreciate all kinds of musical genres and styles from all over the world. His 160 gigabyte iPod Classic is full. Our iTunes library contains 72 days, 10 hours, and 32 minutes’ worth of music. That’s 25,108 songs.

As much as we enjoy collecting music and listening to recordings, there’s nothing like being at a live show, whether it’s an intimate club gathering, a stadium show, or one of the myriad venue options in between. Aside from the Skirball, some of my favorite small venues are the Bootleg Bar/Theater and the Troubadour. For medium-sized to larger venues, I like the Wiltern, Gibson Amphitheatre, and Greek Theatre.

When I’m at a concert, I get swept up, allowing the emotion and power of the music and lyrics to envelop me. I love feeling the energy between the performers and the audience. My May 22 Facebook status update—which I posted during the Lianne LaHavas show at the Bootleg—said it all: “If there’s something better than music please enlighten me!”

I haven’t tallied up the live shows we’ve attended in the first half of 2012 yet, but we’re off to a pretty good start with acts like Lianne LaHavas, Bahamas, Quantic + Alice Russell, and Robert Glasper Experiment. My better half is especially adept at scouting new sounds for us to check out and will frequently insist that we go out to see a show even after a long workday. He’s got a great track record, and has led me to discover some of my favorite bands. In 2011, we attended more than 100 performances, ranging from solo singer/songwriters in bars and clubs to major productions like the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. (The 2012 PBJF took place just a few weeks ago and Sheila E. totally stole the show with her electrifying performance and beautiful samba dancers!) One weekend last November, we saw Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame at Royce Hall and powerful Pakistani singer Riffat Sultana at the Skirball. We loved both experiences, delighting in the contrast.

With all of the amazing live shows we enjoyed last year, one of the best nights of 2011 was the Skirball’s Into the Night: Music and Magic late-night party. (It was also the night that got me back on coffee!)

Around 1,000 people showed up for a great evening of music, magic, art, and film. The roaming magicians and signature cocktails were big hits, too! For more pictures of last year’s event, scroll down…

Around 1,000 people showed up for a great evening of music, magic, art, and film. The roaming magicians and signature cocktails were big hits, too! For more pictures of last year’s event, scroll down…Photo by Jared Steven.

Excited that DJ Anthony Valadez will be back this year! Here he is last year in a moody haze of lights.

Excited that DJ Anthony Valadez will be back this year! Here he is last year in a moody haze of lights. Photo by Jared Steven.

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