Kicking Off Sunset Concerts with The Belle Brigade!

Summertime at the Skirball means Sunset Concerts—FREE Thursday night performances of the best in American and world music! To celebrate, each week a different member of the Skirball’s Program Department will preview the upcoming performer, giving a little insight as to how and why they were perfect for this year’s series. Read about the band, view photos, watch videos … then make your way here each Thursday to see the band live and in person in our magnificent outdoor courtyard. First up: indie band The Belle Brigade, this Thursday, July 25, at 8:00 p.m.

The Belle Brigade. Photo by John Peets.

The Belle Brigade. Photo by John Peets.

I saw The Belle Brigade for the first time in April 2011, when they opened for k.d. lang at the Troubadour. I hadn’t heard of them before then, but the buzz began in the line to enter the venue. We happened to be standing next to some of their family friends who were excited to see the performance. These enthusiastic, proud friends talked up the band’s folky pop, Fleetwood Mac sound and gorgeous harmonies—reminiscent of the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel. I admit to being somewhat skeptical, despite sibling bandleaders Barbara and Ethan Gruska’s impressive musical lineage: their father, Jay Gruska, is an accomplished songwriter and their grandfather is legendary composer John Williams.

Once inside, my husband and I rushed to the front—we made it to third row, center stage—to position ourselves for k.d.’s set, still more than hour away. When The Belle Brigade took the stage, I thought, “Okay, let’s see what these guys can do.” From the very first song they totally blew me away with their beautiful vocal harmonies, alternately deep and humorous lyrics, and exuberant, playful stage presence! It is so clear that Barbara and Ethan love what they do and that they genuinely enjoy creating music and having fun together. I remember exclaiming (and later posting on Facebook), “These kids are going places!”

Here’s The Belle Brigade opening for k.d. lang at the Troubadour—taken by me with a not-very-good phone camera.

Here’s The Belle Brigade opening for k.d. lang at the Troubadour—taken by me with a not-very-good phone camera.

We became instant Belle Brigade fans that night and have since had the pleasure of going to many more of their L.A. concerts. The shows are always so much fun! I can’t wait for them to play some new songs from their forthcoming CD along with my favorites off of their self-titled album (“Where Not to Look for Freedom,” “Rusted Wheel,” “Belt of Orion,” “Sweet Louise”) on the Sunset Concerts at the Skirball stage this Thursday!

Watch the official video for “Where Not to Look for Freedom”:

Be here Thursday and you’ll become instant fans of The Belle Brigade too!


Posted in Behind the Scenes, Music and tagged .

About Amina Sanchez

Amina Sanchez is the Associate Director of Programs at the Skirball. Her favorite writers are David Foster Wallace, Alice Walker, and Walter Mosley, all of whom she has had the immense pleasure of introducing on stage at the Skirball. Her musical interest is extremely eclectic, encompassing world music, indie rock, jazz, and electronica.

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