Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Samoan Flag Day Celebration, Random Lengths, 7/12-25/13

Random Lengths ran my preview of the upcoming Samoan Flag Day celebration, Aug. 3-10, one of Carson's biggest annual events.  Besides the online version (link below), a print version ran in the July 12-25, 2013 issue. 

There's a small typo here--the "She" in the 14th paragraph should be "He" since the quote came from Chief Faletogo.  However, both he and Ms. Pouesi did emphasize their organizations provide services to all, not just members of the Samoan-American community:

http://www.randomlengthsnews.com/samoans-come-together-for-flag-day/

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vintage Elvis Costello Review: Long Beach 1979

My first music review?  While studying Theater Arts at UCLA I took a dance class.  The instructor assigned us to review a music concert from a dance point of view.  I selected Elvis Costello's Feb. 13, 1979 concert at the Long Beach Arena.  This was during an unpredicable phase in Costello's life and career when we weren't even sure we'd see a concert at all, but we did.  I got an A- grade, too:

New British punk-rock star Elvis Costello headlined a concert at the Long Beach Arena on February 13 [1979].  He and his three musicians, The Attractions, played the style of rock music known as New Wave.  It was a more technical, artistic, thinking-intellectual brand of New Wave than simple solid gritty punk.  Embellishing the basic rock rhythm and melodies were some tricky guitar parts and a heavy reliance on keyboards.  The relatively elaborate nature of the music complimented the elaborate lyrics, for Costello is a master of multiple meanings.  The depth of the lyrics was underscored by the depth of the musical arrangments.  If the songs did serve as background music for a dance, the result would allow for some intriging interpretations of the emotions sketched and images presented.

Nevertheless the music retained its basic simple staccato beat common to punk and New Wave, enough to get a few audience members dancing the pogo, which is basically just jumping up and down in time to the music. 

As for visual presentation, Costello and the Attractions moved sparely, letting the music be the show.  At the same time what few choreographed dance-type moves they did enhanced the effect of the music.  For example, during the final notes of a song, Costello would swing about to face the drummer or strike a pose opposite the (electric) bassist.  Other times the keyboardist would get so involved with the music he'd be jumping up and down, doing a bit of a pogo himself.

The stage clothing and lighting also featured interesting effects that might lend themselves to dance.  Costello favors a loose fifties-like look that sets him apart from his musicians in jeans and shirts, and the clothes added a degree of movement, too.  The lights often threw shadows or lit the stage in colors that enhanced the songs.  The most obvious was a flood of red and white lights during a song that mentioned the word "valentine."  During one particularly tense instrumental, the lights dimmed as the music faded, until they went out altogether--then the music picked up again and the lights did, too.

The concert was overpowering, not only musically but also visually, with the visual elements fitting the music well.  If this were a dance concert, the music would have to embelish the visual aspect--the dance.  Costello's powerful and imaginative music was the show here but in another context his songs could serve as inspiration for a powerful and imaginative dance.