Jon Hershfield, has been around the L.A. music scene for over 6 years now. Although it may seem like a short period of time to some, it’s not about the length of time –but, what you do with it. In that time he almost unknowingly stumbled onto the L.A. indie music scene by dj-ing a couple of underground word-of-mouth parties known as the What Club (David J from Bauhus was this scene’s ringleader) and the traveling Unlit parties (brainchild of British transplant musician Jont). Parties that many of the people that comprise some of today’s most well known local bands and artists would often time be at. Although initially making the move to L.A. from the East Coast to pursue acting as many others do, it might’ve been the music scene that kept him sane. The magical year of 2005, when so much was going on musically in the city of angels, was when Hershfield first began the “…IsGood” online radio show via Killradio.org –an eclectic station webcasting out of Koreatown. That would remain the home for his weekly music show that featured live stripped down performances and interviews with mainly local acts that he considered to be “Good.” Some of those first interviews of 2005 included Automatique, Sam Sparro, Novi Split, Brandon McCulloch (Silver, Marathon Night), and George Sarah. Many, many more (over 200) bands and artists would be interviewed over the next five years including (but not limited to):
Dj Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5)
Brutus Gets the Girls
The Sweet Hurt
The Happy Hollows
Radars to the Sky
The Health Club
The Parson Redheads
I Make This Sound
Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls
Go West Young Man
The Hard to Get
So Many Wizards
Red Cortez/The Weather Underground
and many many more…
(click on images to enlarge)
Many of these bands would also go on to play his live “…IsGood” Presents shows that took place at various venues (and non-venues) throughout Los Angeles, starting initially at M Bar then going onto places like The Scene (now known as LaBrie’s), the Echo, The Mint, The Good Hurt, Mr. T’s Bowl, among many others. Some of his non-venue collaborations included partnering with Edgar Varela and holding events at his Fine Art’s spaces, as well as the brainchild of Hershfield and Firebug’s Jules Shapiro known as Firelight an acoustic night that took place during house parties, and of course the original traveling house party, Unlit with the ever-talented Jont.
As a result, Hershfield built such a network of “Good” bands/music that he decided to give it all a home, opting to start a website (www.isgoodmusic.com) that would house these bands and give them a place to showcase themselves and their music. This also resulted in his departure from Killradio.org, as his new endeavor also included an online radio station (which he created w/partner and Killradio.org alum Katrina Miller) which would go on to play only the artists that comprised the IsGood network, mainly artists that had been guests of Jon on his show.
Throughout all of this, he had also found the time to dj around town spinning some of these local artists as well as the electronica, acid-jazz, and re-mixes that he also loved. In fact a little known fact about Hershfield might be that he actually composed some of his own music (some even made it onto the TV show Forensic Files) and re-mixes of various artists’ songs (including Sam Sparro, Information Society, Eject, etc.). If that wasn’t enough in 2006/2007 he teamed up with Graham Kurzner (Luckie Pierre Management, L.A. Performing Arts Foundation), Joanne DeVault (Band Promote/IndyHits, Buzztone, Universal Music Group), and Siria Contreras (Variety, Kiss or Kill Club, NBCSkycastle, TRAffIK) to revive Kurzner’s infamous L.A. music night known as the ‘Couch Night’ (Lava Lounge, Three Clubs) and also continued a 70’s vs. 80’s Dj Dance Night with fellow DJ Starskee Suave at Bar 107 one Saturday a month (which still occurs) known as Leisure Suite.
Earlier this year, due to a relentless work schedule (throughout all of this, Hershfield went back to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Psychology) and learning that he would soon be welcoming a second child into the Hershfield household, he decided to retire his “IsGood” music banner much to the sadness of so many of his talented musical friends that he’d made a long the way. Keeping friendships with his guests or anyone else he came across never was hard for Hershfield as he was always genuinely interested in learning more about those that surrounded him and in an undiscriminating manner always had a hug, smile, or word of encouragement for all of those that he encountered.
This Saturday, a tribute/farewell show for Jon Hershfield and IsGood Music has been organized. Set to take place at the venue where the first true “…IsGood” music events took place, M Bar in Hollywood (1253 N. Vine St. cross street Fountain in Fountain and Vine Strip Mall next to La Floridita Restaurant).
This event is free and will feature performances from Jordan of Marvelous Toy, Joe Fraley (Klum, Simontronic, King Devil), Automatique, and a special reunion show from Satellite Class. It will be hosted by Damin Suarez of Go West Young Man w/Dj-ing from Graham Kurzner (Luckie Pierre Management, LA Performing Arts Foundation), Paul Rogers (Eject, Jonneine Zapata, LA Weekly), and Starskee Suave (Leisure Suite). Doors are at 9:30 pm. First band at 10 pm.
You are all invited to come pay your respects one final time and to hear some great music take place under the IsGood Music banner.
Beginning today you can also one more time listen to some of Hershfield’s “IsGood” interviews, as they get re-broadcast on www.intraffikradio.com. The full schedule will be released a little later today, but today you can catch Automatique at 11 am, Marvelous Toy at 12 pm, Go West Young Man at 3pm, Lo-Fi Sugar at 4pm (all times PST). Click here for more info
With Fashion Week in LA upon us once again, it’s another one of those marathon weekends for us! If you are not heading to any of the fashion shows slated for tomorrow night, here are some alternatives. I will be at all three of these events at some point, embarking on one of my infamous “try to make it to everything in one night” evenings.
First Stop: The REVOLUTIONS Art Exhibition is currently underway and will continue to run through March 28th at Crewest Art Gallery (110 Winston St. LA, CA 90013). However, this weekend Crewest steps it up a notch allowing the infamous NY TC-5 crew invade their space during LA Fashion Week with a one-of-a-kind show featuring customized vintage streetwear shown as wearable art: custom painted denim and tees designed specifically for REVOLUTIONS by TC-5 all shown on models throughout the gallery.
“Imagine a Mickey [Mouse] wearing Air Jordans, leaning on a Moët bottle crowned with a dukey rope chain around his neck, dripping in gold and saying your favorite songs hook.” This was t
he beginning. This is the future. This is classic hip-hop style. Welcome to the world of Shirt King Phade, one-third of the unrivaled founding fathers’ of cartoon and graffiti inspired airbrushed clothing, The Shirt Kings and member of the legendary TC-5 crew of NYC. Legendary for one of a kind, of-the-moment wearable works of art that adorned t-shirts, jeans, jackets -whatever you could think of – on the backs of everyone from LL Cool J, to Salt-n-Pepa, to Theo Huxtable in the early 80’s, Phade laid THE foundation for the street inspired urban revolution we now call ‘hip-hop fashion.’”
Also featuring custom clothing by Apliiq, Local Tourist, Puma and Insurgency Inc.
(click on fliers for full details)
Next Stop: IsGoodMusic.com presents Firelight III: Mouth by Mouthwest
Are you in the mood for a party? How about a party featuring over 10 talented LA bands/artists sharing one stage performing 2 songs each, all acoustic? If your answer is yes (I haven’t event gotten to the cheap $3 cover and cheap tacos grilled on demand part) then you should head out to this month’s installment of the IsGoodMusic Firelight traveling monthly party. This month’s acoustic explosion is aptly titled “Mouth by Mouthwest” and will take place at 1670 Beverly Blvd. LA, CA 90026. They will also be featuring Art from various artists (including: Rob Tokarz, Sabrina Noel Hill, Novei Beige, Melanie Mabugat, Sam Hart, and Amy Bernays)
Oh and it’s also BYOB!
MUSICAL PERFORMANCES FROM:
Wes O’lee (of The Monthlies)
Kelly Wininger (of Spirit Vine)
The Rhone Occupation
Tommy Santee Klaws
S.A. Bach (of The Middle Initials)
plus surprise guests!
(see flier for more info)
If you like free shows and good drink prices then this is where you should also make a stop Saturday night (this is one of the only places where I get to drink Smithwicks!)
SHOW STARTS @ 10PM
THE HARD TO GET
MC ROB Z.
FOX AND HOUNDS
11100 VENTURA BLVD.
STUDIO CITY, CA 91604
(click on flier for more info)
all photos by Jessy Plume for TRAffIK
The darlings of our Summer Soundtrack, Silverlake based Robotanists enjoyed a whirlwind season full of sunshine, radio airplay (KCRW), and lots of new friends. Two of the band members Sarah Ellquist and Daniel de Blanke have taken a few moments to bring you firsthand some of the highlights of their summer, as well as how they feel they’ve grown as a band. They even let you us in on what songs they wish they had written.
Daniel de Blanke – guitars, keys, songwriting
Sarah Ellquist – vocals, keys, songwriting
Preston Scott Phillips – percussion, drums, iphone
Keith Boyarsky – bass
TRAffIK: Where can we learn more about your band?
DANIEL: Google “robotanists” or go to http://robotanists.com
TRAffIK: How did you come together?
DANIEL: We were all in other bands, and then left those bands and formed this one. The social lubricant was alcohol and a fondness for screaming at the television. That, and Dostoevsky.
TRAffIK: How would you describe your sound?
DANIEL: Up-tempo sad music for amoral intellectuals
SARAH: Make-up sex
TRAffIK: How does the songwriting process work for you? Where does the inspiration come from?
SARAH: Dan and I are a song writing team, but every song is born in a different way, from a different place. I write all of the lyrics, but sometimes, I write the melody and Dan builds harmony from there, or vice versa. If either of us ever thinks that we’ve written a complete song, the other is there to edit and refine. We take everything to the rhythm section for the final seal of approval… and the rest is history. Lyrics come from a very personal place, but I try to craft them in a way that the listener can interpret as they choose. Music is a personal thing, I want listeners to make our music theirs.
DANIEL: I have three thousand song ideas that are half crafted at any given time. I generally force Sarah to listen to them until she starts singing melodic material.
TRAffIK: Lately you’ve been performing acoustically a lot more than we’d seen previously. Do you have a preference for either performing unplugged or plugged in?
SARAH: I think we all prefer the energy of playing as a full band, but performing with just an acoustic guitar is a great way to really showcase our songwriting. It’s liberating to strip things down and just let the melody and harmony dance with each other.
TRAffIK: What started this trend for you?
SARAH: I suppose you could say that most of our music starts out “acoustic” during the demo phase, but we started performing them that way after some friends of ours (the band Vanaprasta) asked us to come to the Bond St. Lounge at the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills over the summer and play a few songs. The next thing we knew we were getting weekly invites to perform all over LA. (more…)
all photos by Andrea Carroll courtesy of Robotanists
Unlit was a somewhat exclusive traveling night time house party started by British singer/songwriter Jont that I was lucky enough to attend a couple of times back in 2005 when I’d first moved to LA, before it’s lengthy hiatus set in. Since the parties featured live acoustic musical performances, I would imagine that it was thought best to keep the guest list to a minimum and therefore only invite core supporters of the movement to ensure that they wouldn’t be shut down. These parties have taken place not only here in the states, but also regularly occur in London, England where Jont spends much of his time.
Last Saturday Lady Di and I went to a daytime installment of Unlit.
When I got the invite, I was glad to see it coming back and even though I had been under the weather I knew I had to make it. Most of you know I am a strong supporter of creators in any of the arts collaborating with their peers and building their own communities that offer support to each other. Communities of this sort serve as incubators to great talent and sadly there are never enough of them.
The return took place poolside at the home of Tony Berg in Brentwood, who graciously lent his home to the event. People sat around the pool drinking, mingling, playing catch up, and enjoying the special acoustic performances as well as dj-ing by friend Jon Hershfield (www.isgoodmusic.com. Jon credits the original Unlit parties as being “where he learned to dj from the closet of Jont’s apartment.”
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Jont and Jon Hershfield alternated mcing/hosting duties saying a few kind words about each artist (which included Jont, Robotanists, Marvelous Toy, and Jay Matsueda, among many other guest appearances) prior to their performances.
The great thing about shows like Unlit, where the artists are forced to perform completely stripped down versions of their songs, is that true talent is easily identified. It is always great to see bands like our old friends in the Robotanists translate over well acoustically (which is not always the case with bands that have such a full live musical sound when plugged in). However, Lead singer Sarah Ellquist had no problem projecting her voice to the audience.
This was Lady Di’s first Unlit, and I think she came away with the same appreciation for it as I had after the first time I’d attended one almost 4 years ago.
Cheers to many more Unlits!
TONIGHT IF YOU ARE HEADING TO DOWNTOWN (LOS ANGELES) ARTWALK A FEW OF OUR FRIENDS ARE INVOLVED IN A COUPLE OF GREAT EVENTS.
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Photographer Jason Costanzo will have some of his pieces on display during the exhibit:
“The Surveillance Room” at the Spring Arts Galleries
Date: Thursday, July 9, 2009
Time: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Spring Arts Galleries
Street: 453 S. Spring St. Downtown Los Angeles 5th and Spring
City/Town: Los Angeles, CA
The Garden Party
ISGOODMUSIC/EVFA/SWEET HEAT PR PRESENT:
542 S. Alameda St., LA
$5 before 11pm, $7 after
Old War Shirt
The Rhone Occupation
visit www.isgoodmusic.com for more information