Harper Simon, Jenny O., Stephen Sowan, The Living Sisters, DJ Henri (Thrillionaire), $2 drink specials + free pool from 7-9pm

The Satellite presents

Harper Simon

Jenny O.

Stephen Sowan

The Living Sisters

DJ Henri (Thrillionaire)

$2 drink specials + free pool from 7-9pm

Mon, March 4, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)

The Satellite

Los Angeles, CA

FREE!

This event is 21 and over

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Harper Simon
Harper Simon
“I see the character in the song ‘Division Street’ as being at a moment where life can go a couple different ways,” says Harper Simon of the title track from his narrative-driven new album. “I think these songs tend to be like a snapshot of a character at a pivotal moment. They could go this way or that way on the metaphorical Division Street: up or down, negative or positive, to the light or to self-destruction.



“Or—like in the song ‘99’— they’re looking back at a moment they didn’t recognize as pivotal,” he says. “Because we rarely do.”

A departure from his self-titled first record, Division Street features a sound that’s much more driven by electric guitars than his alt country-flavored debut. “The mission was to make the kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll record I would want to listen to myself,” he says. “Which sounds simple but is, in fact, incredibly difficult.”


Simon co-produced Division Street with Tom Rothrock, who produced three albums for Elliott Smith (Either/Or, XO and Figure 8) and Beck’s first album Mellow Gold, among others. As the team worked, the album’s sound grew rougher around the edges. “I felt challenged and inspired by the idea of making a modern psychedelic folk-rock album, a Tom Rothrock production like XO, but then the Velvet Underground and the Stones kept entering in,” says Simon. “Elliott Smith was very influenced by the Beatles but my guitar playing is more influenced by Keith Richards. And I kept wanting to emphasize more lo-fi elements.”


The striking characters that appear in the LP’s songs are sometimes amalgamations of people Simon has known, and at other times they’re fictitious—but they’re all at a moment of personal watershed. Asked about the track “Eternal Questions,” Simon says, “Originally I was imagining this character, this guy who is bolting from rehab. And he’s in a car heading back to town. Heading back to get loaded. Because there’s something about that moment that is such a crazy energy I thought it would be interesting for a song. And I thought about him wondering who he was gonna call, what girl’s house he may crash at. What dealer he would call. Knowing he was fucking up but being beyond turning back.”

Simon’s first record featured a whole coterie of collaborators and many of its songs were co-written. The new album, however, features Simon himself more prominently, and is personally riskier for that reason. “I wrote all the music and all the lyrics, and it’s a guitar-driven record and the guitar is played by me. It’s mostly the sound of me and Pete [drummer Pete Thomas, of Elvis Costello and the Attractions] putting it down live, the two of us. Then other players, great ones, came later and overdubbed.”


“Maybe I had a lack of confidence on the first record, so I wanted the involvement of more established writers to set the bar high,” says Simon. “This time, I felt I should carry it all myself.”



Division Street took 18 months to write and record, and finishing it presented some personal challenges. “In the middle of recording, I thought I’d take a few weeks off to work on lyrics, but it turned into three months,” says Simon. “It was a very difficult time. I was suffering from deep depression and I was creeping myself out constantly. I had to go on medication eventually, which helped some. It took me three months to finally return to the studio, but by that time I had most of the lyrics.”



The album was difficult to complete, yes, but that makes some sense: as a listener, Simon is attracted to singer-songwriters whose difficult processes are evident in their work. “I like when a songwriter really goes down the rabbit hole and digs deep to come up with something powerful,” he says. “I tend to be drawn to artists with real problems—misfits and wounded animals.”



Division Street features lots of guest musicians—including Nikolai Fraiture from the Strokes on bass, vocals by Inara George, Feist’s musical director Brian LeBarton playing synths, as well as Nate Walcott from Bright Eyes and Wilco’s Mikael Jorgensen. Later, Benmont Tench (of the Heartbreakers) and celebrated LA-based record producer and composer Jon Brion joined a recording session. “I’m very lucky,” says Simon. “Everybody that we asked to come and guest on the record showed up.”



Drummer Pete Thomas was deeply involved in the album’s construction, from its earliest sessions. “I had the perfect drummer for the job in Pete Thomas,” says Simon. “I’d grown up listening to his work with Elvis Costello. Pete is very unique, I think—he has the sophistication of a first-rate session drummer, if needed, but he also has an understanding of primitive, punk drumming. And even this description of him does not do justice to his musicality.”



“I admit to having gotten a late start,” says Simon, who hopes to follow up Division Street with two more albums in quick succession. “Most people do their Rock ‘n’ Roll stuff from 25 to 35; I’m going to do it from 35 to 45. For some reason, that’s my weird fate.”



Simon’s tastes are eclectic, which might explain why this album has such a different sound from his first. “As a guitar player, I’m just as comfortable playing honky tonk or fingerpicking folk-y stuff as I am playing a Ramones riff or a Ron Asheton style solo,” he says. “I like Little Richard, the Kinks, Big Star, Hank Williams and the Pixies and Television and Muddy Waters and T Rex. I like the Who and I like X. I like it all.”
Jenny O.
Jenny O.
Jenny O. is a musician based in Los Angeles, CA. She is currently touring and in production of her second full-length album with producer Jonathan Wilson. In 2011, Jenny self-produced the Home EP and released it on Manimal Vinyl Records. She appears on Rave On Buddy Holly, a tribute released in June 2011 on Fantasy/Concord and numerous records as a contributing musician and vocalist. Official discography: www.jennyo.com/discography User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License and may also be available under the GNU FDL.
Stephen Sowan
Stephen Sowan
The Living Sisters
The Living Sisters
L.A.-based indie supergroup The Living Sisters—Inara George (The Bird and the Bee), Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), Eleni Mandell and newest “sister” Alex Lilly—have followed up their critically adored 2010 album Love to Live with the standards collection Run for Cover . The EP, with its intricate retro harmonies and righteously old-school instrumentation from the likes of drummer Don Heffington (Lone Justice, The Jayhawks) and pedal steel master Greg Leisz, provides listeners with some perspective as to the various sources of The Living Sisters’ zesty musical recipe, which “weave[s] together ’40s pop vocalizing, ’50s doo-wop, jazz, folk and country elements in a seamless mélange,” according to the L.A. Times’ Randy Lewis.

The EP begins with the group’s Andrews Sisters-like rendition of the standard “Make Love to Me,” in essence picking up where Love to Live left off. From there, though, they enter previously unexplored territory with an improbably ballsy take on Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That?” followed by a similarly soulful cover of “Que Sera, Sera” based not on Doris Day’s 1956 hit but instead on a later reimagining from Sly & the Family Stone. “The Living Sisters get funky!” Alex quips. The vibe then turns palpably rustic with wistful performances of a pair of Patsy Cline-associated ballads, “Poor Man’s Roses” and “Sweet Dreams,” sandwiching a haunting a cappella performance of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

“We’d been talking about how our next album was going to be a Pointer Sisters-style dance-soul record—that’s been the fantasy,” says Stark of their surprising foray into vintage R&B. She may be stretching the truth about the Pointers Sisters concept, but don’t put it past them. “When I was in high school, I was obsessed with ‘Can You Get to That?’ It has such a beautiful message of being in the present moment and not holding back.” It was Mandell’s idea to cover Sly’s gospel-infused rearrangement of “Que Sera, Sera.”

The Living Sisters worked up the six songs for various live events, most significantly a Patsy Cline tribute at Disney Hall in May 2011, which the group hosted. They premiered “Can You Get to That” at a wedding reception, and they broke out “Jolene” during a Dolly Parton tribute, part of an annual series of fundraisers hosted by Inara at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon in the Los Angeles area. “We’d put so much work into the Patsy Cline tribute that it seemed like an opportune time to record them,” says Mandell. “Greg Leisz and Don Heffington were also part of the tribute concert, and all of the musicians are so good that we knocked it out pretty quickly. The toughest part was just scheduling all of us. We’re all very busy.”

That’s an understatement. Time is at a premium for all four women, but especially for Mandell and George, each of whom is the mother of twins. Eleni’s arrived in 2010 and Inara’s in 2012; the latter also has a two-and-a-half year-old son. Because they’re all so busy with their lives and individual careers, choosing to come together and blend their voices whenever their busy schedules permit, the group can be seen as the product of a collective act of generosity—toward their fans, toward each other and toward the unique organism they’ve created. “Because it’s something we choose to do, it feels special,” says Lilly. “It almost feels like a vacation when we get together.” Lilly, who first sang and played with the girls while George was on pregnancy leave, became a full-fledged family member upon Inara’s return. “We liked Alex so much and she’s such an asset that we decided to keep her,” says Eleni. “And then there were four.”

“There’s a really pure idea to The Living Sisters, but also a cheeky filter that I don’t want to disturb,” says Alex. “Everyone takes a corner, so I guess I’m the fourth corner. I just put myself into it and see what happens.”

“Inara and Alex are both excellent at the intricate stuff,” Eleni says of the group’s astral blend. “I’m always the low end, so my part’s pretty obvious, and then the rest of the girls pile up on top of me.”

“When Eleni, Inara and I started singing together years ago, it immediately enriched our lives,” Becky marvels. “It was like medicine. And when Alex joined, it felt even better. It’s a privilege to sing with these amazing women. Having Eleni, Inara and Alex in my life is something I treasure. We all lead complex lives, but when all the stars align and we carve out the time together, it’s just magical. Our motto is ‘Harmony is real.’”

Eleni seconds that emotion. “When we’re around one microphone looking at each other and our harmonies are combining, we get totally locked together,” she says. “It’s a spiritual feeling.”

Run for Cover is the latest in a string of accomplishments for these all-stars, who have been collaborating off and on since 2006 while simultaneously conducting their respective individual careers. Mandell’s most recent album is 2012’s I Can See the Future. George and musical partner Greg Kurstin are nearing completion of a new Bird and the Bee album.  Stark’s Lavender Diamond recently released their second album, Incorruptible Heart. She recently teamed with duet partner John C. Reilly and producer Jack White on the seven-inch single “I’ll Be There If You Ever Want” b/w “I’m Making Plans” for White’s Third Man Records. Lilly, who broke into the L.A. scene fronting the group Obi Best, recently formed Touché with her friend and musical partner Bram Inscore. But with all that, these four talented artists hold a special place for the music they make together.

“If it sounds beautiful, that’s because it felt beautiful—because we were really listening to each other and experiencing the union of our voices,” Becky reflects. It’s a pretty simple principal that we are committed to as a musical endeavor. The Living Sisters are about a collective spirit and about our relationship to one another—the fun we have the friendship and love that we share. It just works.”
Venue Information:
The Satellite
1717 Silverlake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90027
http://thesatellitela.com/