Monday, September 26, 2011

TarFest 2011 Just Needs a Little Shovel Magic

Hot on the heels of his recent LobsterFest triumph, we have another music fest which benefitted from the Mr. Shovel magic. Last year, Mr. Shovel curated the music fest entirely. This year, he was just brought in to fine tune, and add some touches. Those touches polished this festival of music and art in the LaBrea Tar Pits for a magical Sunday afternoon in the park.

Sadly, I missed some of the early bands (Ash Panda and Infantree). But I got there early enough to hear the soulful stirrings of A House for Lions. Really poignant lyrics. An excellent lead-in to the band of the afternoon (Everest). A Check One Two favorite, Obi Best, lent her girlish softness to a beautiful afternoon.

All around, there were food trucks and painting happening. Children ran with hula hoops (and some adults too). Some kids blew bubbles. It was fun. A marvel of creativity and art.

The draw indeed seemed to be local favorite Everest, with crowds packing the small area for their set.

(Although Everest is also a Check One Two fav, this time, the festival had already booked them.) But Shovel's magic lies in polishing what diamond is already there. Obi Best and A House for Lions were perfect lead-ins to Everest. And the perfect close out?

As Shovel knew, to follow a band with a following, you have to get another band with a following. And there are those in this town who LOVE their Saint Motel. Right after Everest finished, people started lining the stage to see Saint Motel. (Mostly girls, cause Saint Motel is, after all, filled with cute guys...) 

Somewhere midway through, I started speaking, as I am wont to do, to friends and acquaintances about what radio they are listening to now. It's still hard for me, after all this time, to watch a group of local bands and NOT think of our beloved Indie 103.1. Especially since we were so close to it, watching this concert. The usual answers came up: KEXP, KCRW. I heard a new one: WFMU (East Coast). Some people still listen to Pandora, or I'm sure once next week's Facebook changes come about the answer will also be Spotify more than it is now.

The unspoken answer is: we still miss Indie 103.1 terribly. And nothing has really replaced it since it left our terrestrial airwaves. There isn't a concert that goes by that I don't miss the Shovel magic. There isn't a show on the air (terrestrial or otherwise) that doesn't benefit from more Shovel (Have you listened to the dreadful Jonesy's Jukebox, now that Shovel isn't there? I rest my case.). Sure Indie 103.1 dot com still exists, and "content director" Tedd Roman was spotted in the crowd, Mayor of the Beer Tent, but Indie's magic left when Shovel did. Everyone who used to listen (and doesn't now) knows that.

So I was shocked when I wandered over to the merch tent to pick up some band CDs and saw this bumper sticker amongst the items:

I gasped, and said, "Indie 103?" (Mostly because I was shocked that someone had the balls to use the old logo (albeit badly... I mean, really? a 45? where's the hole?). The green kid looked at me and said brightly, "It's a great radio station, you should listen." There we are in the shadow of the House that Shovel Built, its absence palpable, so much that I still think about it every day and miss it. Thinking about how I've stood at hundreds of merch tables, just like this, one of its proudest fans, so glad to be a part of it. Scooping up every available piece of Indie gear to show my allegiance. But rather than let the tears well up in my eyes just then, I just stare at him glazedly, and say: "Really? I'll have to check it out."

Two of the most brilliant musical minds in Los Angeles, (l-r) our own Mr. Shovel and Watusi Rodeo's Chris Morris, enjoying TarFest. You can thankfully still hear Chris' radio show on the Scion Network here.  You can catch Mr. Shovel's magic at Mr. Shovel  or at some curated concerts around town.

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