Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! In this special holiday edition, Carissa Schroeder reviews “Just a Sad Xmas," new from Tori Roze and The Hot Mess.
You’re at a bar – the kind that is still “cash only” – the kind where the bartender’s a certified asshole unless you’re a regular. Green glitter naugahyde covers the booths along the wall; it’s December and gobs of tinsel wind around the ceiling, competing for attention with the disco ball, eternally spinning over the black and white checkered dance floor. You swill your Wild Turkey old-fashioned and mash the bright red maraschino cherry and orange wedge together in the bottom of your rocks glass.
Now, imagine a Christmas song coming on the jukebox. But not the jolly, saccharine, Hallmark kind. This kind of Christmas song – a sad and soulful one – warms you like the whiskey, from the inside out. It’s noisy, it’s busy, and it’s got some stank on it. The fat bass lines (played by Harley Magsino) and the criss-crossing vocal riffs (cue guest artist Nina Leilani Deering) create the perfect holiday storm.
That’s exactly where Tori Roze and The Hot Mess take me with their version of 1969’s lost ode to the holidays, “Just a Sad Xmas.” If you’re already a fan of Roze, you won’t be disappointed. (If you’re not already a fan, it’s time
to catch up). She shows up on the track with nothing less than her signature style of vocals – soulful, free-flowing, expectation-bending, and seemingly effortless. Deering executes the backing vocals just as they should be – with the intentionality of a lead vocal but the timbre and intensity of a supporting part. Her tone choices are the perfect complement to Tori’s.
The cover is an underground cut, originally written by Ida Sands of The Soul Duo, about getting dumped right in the middle of the holidays (ouch). Brought back to life with a respect for the genre, thanks to Rashaad Graham’s clean and simple drumming and Alan Sanderson’s production style, the track remains closely related to the original while fitting into the Hot Mess setlist seamlessly. Props to the band, overall, for having the discipline (and musical maturity) to not overplay. Johnny Alexander achieved the ideal guitar tone for the song, making really
tasteful choices in his playing. How the hell Deering was able to pull off an accordion track in a song that could easily be on the soundtrack for a holiday themed installment of the Shaft franchise, I’ll never know. But it works.
The traditional, quoted Christmas lyrics (such as “Jingle Bells”) sprinkled through the song set the scene for us. The protagonist of the song is lamenting, “why can’t loneliness let me be” while being physically surrounded by the joy of the season. About halfway through the song, the tone changes from wallowing in the misfortune of the circumstances, to looking forward to a “New Year’s resolution” to reunite the love affair.
The listener never gets to know if the couple in question does, in fact, reunite – but you can absolutely put yourself in the shoes of someone, turning the facts over and over in their mind, trying to make sense of the juxtaposition of “green, red and blue (…) lights and décor” and a mood that is “grim, gray, and black.”
Overall, this is a solid pull from the Hot Mess crew. If you, yourself, were experiencing a less than joyful holiday season (perhaps drinking alone at a dive bar), this would be the kind of song that would get you swaying on your stool – or maybe even up on the dance floor. With this kind of late sixties soul laying the foundation for the sonic landscape, you might even snag yourself a new lover. This thing’s got some ass on it.
Support by downloading “Just a Sad Xmas” on iTunes on or after December 7.
Happy holiday season to all our friends and readers! If you're looking to fill up your seasonal social calendar with amazing art, music, education, and creativity, the Lady Brain Collective has you covered for fun things to do in San Diego in the coming weeks:
Saturday, November 30 - Creativi-Tea With Jill Badonsky at Liberty Station
Get a creativity high over high tea with author, artist, and creativity coach Jill Badonsky. New ideas, fresh approaches, and a more authentic voice are not easy when we overthink our writing and admonish our attempts with harsh self-talk. We will defy these obstacles with the use of visual images, storytelling, multimedia triggers, and off-beat beginnings over high tea, champagne cocktails, and delectable high tea delicacies. 1-4pm. More info/Register
Tuesday, December 3 - WTF is Happening When I Sing? Live Online Training with The Bold Vocal
This free, live training event from The Bold Vocal covers the basic science of singing. You'll learn about the three systems of singing in the human body and how they work together to produce rich, supported and powerful sound. Every singer should know this stuff -- it's how we increase range, energize tone, and prevent injury. 12-1 PM, Free, no experience required. Registered participants will receive a video playback via email that is theirs to keep. More info/Register
Sunday, December 8 - Lady Brain Presents: Home is Where the Art is Holiday Party at The Holding Company in Ocean Beach
Lady Brain Presents will host its first annual holiday party and winter clothing drive titled “Home is Where the Art is,” with performances by Chloe Lou and The Liddells (retro rock/soul), Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres (South Americana), Miki Vale, (hip-hop) and special guests including emcee Tori Roze. In addition to musical performances, the event will feature a raffle, a collaborative art activity for all attendees, and a winter clothing drive to benefit North County Lifeline’s LifeSpring Program, which offers transitional housing for former foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness. Guests are encouraged to bring (preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets. Free, 4-8pm, 21+. More info
Tuesday, December 10 - Acceptance: A soulsong.life Transformative Songwriting Workshop with Astra Kelly at The Lotus Room in Hillcrest
Experience growth, healing, and connection through music by tapping into the creative source. As a group, we will explore the theme of “acceptance" in depth and write a song together that reflects our shared perceptions and experiences. No musical skills necessary! 6-9pm, $60 (Special holiday rate to make it easier to give yourself this gift!) Advance registration required. More info/Register
Friday, December 20 - Tori Roze and The Hot Mess SPECIAL Xmas Show at Bar Pink in North Park
This funky jazzy neo-soul brings you a SPECIAL Xmas version of themselves, including soulful holiday mashups and funky non-denominational tunes to put a smile on your face through the New Year. There will also be a limited edition EP available for purchase by Tori Roze and Johnny Alexander called “Classy Xmas” to stuff those stockings at home! Free, 7-10pm, 21+. More info
Sunday, December 22 - Carissa's Birthday Show ft. Golden Howl at Sycamore Den in Normal Heights
This Lady Brain-laden event will be headlined by Golden Howl (featuring collective members Marlo Smith, Rachel Riba, and Jules Stewart). Birthday girl Carissa Schroeder will open the evening with a solo set of original music on the beautiful (albeit slightly out of tune) piano at Sycamore Den. Situated nicely between Carissa's birthday (12/20) and the end of year holidays, CS invites you to celebrate with an evening of goddess-y, all-the-feels music, perfect cocktails, delivery ramen, and skeeball. It's a win-win-win-win. Free, 8-10pm. More info
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Save the date! On Sunday, December 8, Lady Brain Presents will host its first annual holiday party at The Holding Company (5046 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA). The free, 21+ concert, titled “Home is Where the Art is,” will run from 4-8pm and features performances by Chloe Lou and The Liddells (retro rock/soul), Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres (South Americana), Miki Vale, (hip-hop) and special guests including emcee Tori Roze.
In addition to musical performances, the event will feature a raffle, a collaborative art activity for all attendees, and a winter clothing drive to benefit North County Lifeline’s LifeSpring Program, which offers transitional housing for former foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness. Guests are encouraged to bring (preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets.
“This holiday showcase doubles as an anniversary party for Lady Brain Collective,” says Lady Brain Presents organizer Lindsay White. “Just a year ago we were a small group of 12, and now we have over 100 members connecting and collaborating throughout the community. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Home is Where the Art is - Holiday Party & Winter Clothing Drive
hosted by Lady Brain Presents
DATE: Sunday, December 8, 2019
LOCATION: The Holding Company -5046 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA
NO COVER, 21+
Chloe Lou and The Liddells
Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres
& special guests!
Emceed by Tori Roze.
WHAT TO BRING:
-(preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets for our winter clothing drive
-cash for raffle/merch
WHAT TO WEAR:
Welcome to this month's Brain Candy - here are our picks for the greatest gigs/events happening around town this month!
Saturday, November 2 - Tori Roze at Vanguard Culture's “Future" Themed Event
An avant-garde “Future" themed costume-filled evening of world class spoken word, live music, dance performances, visual art, wine, craft cocktails, and delicious edible treats! This quarterly Spoken Word Series is themed around moments in the history of art, fashion, science, music, pop culture, and more. Partnered with presentations and performances by the FLEET Science Center, UCSD Neuropathy Research, CityFX special effects makeup, Veteran Couture, Chef Daniela de la Puente, Psychic Artist Crystal Daigle, photographer Josue Castro, and renowned spoken word artist Gill Sotu - this night promises to be thoroughly engaging and inspiring. The event is 7-10pm @ IDEA1 (899 Park Blvd 92101, use F St. entrance). Tickets are $25 for industry professionals (show your business card at the door) and $40 general admission - friends get a 25% off discount with code TORI. Avant-garde “Future" themed costumes encouraged (steam punk, etc.). More info
Sunday, November 3 - Gratitude: A soulsong.life Transformative Songwriting Workshop with Astra Kelly at Gypsy Magic in Talmadge
Experience growth, healing and connection through music by tapping into the creative source. As a group, we will explore the theme of gratitude in depth and write a song together that reflects our shared experiences. No musical experience required. 2-5p, $75. Advance registration required. More info/Register
Sunday, November 17 - Lady Brain Presents: A Way With Words Interactive Storytelling Showcase
Join members of the Lady Brain Collective for an interactive storytelling showcase featuring poetry, prose, music, and art. After the showcase, author/poet Susan Lipson will facilitate an optional creative writing exercise for all attendees. Light lunch will be provided. Space is limited - please register online to reserve your seat. More info
Friday, November 22 - Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres at Bar Pink
Start your weekend party early! Have a nice drink while listening to some SouthAmericana™. Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres hit the Bar Pink stage at 7pm! More info
Saturday, November 23 - The Spiritual Motels Album Launch Party at The Merrow, with Lindsay White and the Becca Jay Band
Bring all your friends and experience a Lady Brain-tastic extravaganza of an evening with the launch of the debut album from The Spiritual Motels, a band which deeply values and actively supports the life of the Lady Brain Collective (and includes LB member Amy Day). The evening will include full band performances by Lindsay White (with Jules Stewart) and the Becca Jay Band (which includes Mikayla Beaulieu and Paige Miller), and both Jules and Becca will be sitting in on various songs in The Spiritual Motels' set. And there will be a singalong for all! You can also find the album everywhere that same day, or pre-order it on iTunes beginning Nov. 8. The show begins at 9pm. Tickets $7 adv/ $10 door, 21+. More info
Lady Brain members are busy this month - please add these dates to your calendar and go out to support these creative folks who are working hard to bring excellent art and music to the San Diego community!
Wednesday, September 4 - Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres at The Holding Company
Local band showcase. Come on out and party with us! Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres starting at 9 pm sharp. More info
Thursday, September 12 - Golden Howl at Til Two with The Strawberry Moons and The Powerballs
Friday, September 13 - Chris Avetta & Golden Howl at Moose Lodge in Oceanside
Saturday, September 14 - Kinship Cafe Singer-Songwriter Showcase at Eve Encinitas
This showcase at Eve Encinitas will feature short sets from six acts, each of which includes at least one woman, and four of which feature Lady Brain members: The Banduvloons, Dixie Maxwell and Lee Coulter, Mayzie Jean, and The Spiritual Motels (plus The Shift and Dulaney and Company). 7-10:30pm, $10, all ages. More info
Sunday, September 15 - Lift Me Up 2019
The Banduvloons and friends are hosting their 3rd annual community benefit show: Lift Me Up! This event seeks to bring together a community of artists and musicians who are working together to combat white supremacy and an inequitable capitalist society. Two local POC artists are chosen to be the beneficiaries of this event, and all money collected will go directly in their pockets. Expect dope live music, comedy, dance, vendors, food, drinks and a family friendly environment! 2-6pm | $5-$10 sliding scale entry free. More info
Saturday, September 21 - The Bold Vocal Launch Party / Adams Avenue Street Fair Pre-Party
Come celebrate with Carissa Schroeder as she officially launches her vocal coaching business,The Bold Vocal. Event highlights include a raffle for free voice lessons and other goodies, website unveiling, live demonstrations on mindfulness, mic technique, and stage presence, performances by students ranging from six years in age all the way to professionals — including Joshua Taylor, Amanda DaRosa and Nick Crook. Enjoy complimentary wine, beer, light bites and dessert, and start your street fair partying early! Event runs from 12pm-3pm at Jayne’s Gastropub. Free and open to the public. More info
Saturday, September 21 - Calamity at Artwalk Carlsbad
Don't miss the gals from Calamity playing originals during Artwalk Carlsbad from 3:15 to 4pm. No cover, all ages. More info
Sunday, September 22 - Tori Roze and the Hot Mess at Coronado Music Festival
This inaugural three day music festival kicks off on Friday September 20, with Tori Roze and the Hote Mess headlining on Sunday, September 22. The family-friendly weekend features local and regional musical talent of all genres and visual art. This marks the first event for Coronado Music and Arts Foundation(CMAF), a nonprofit, whose mission is to provide cultural music and art experiences for at risk and homeless individuals including youth and special needs adults through a variety of settings in Coronado and San Diego. More info
Thursday, September 26 - Lady Brain Presents Community Gathering In Celebration of Life
Lady Brain Presents is back with a special art/music/spoken word showcase centering around the topics of death, dying, and existence. Join us at a private Ocean Beach residence around 6:30pm for sunset, social hour, and art viewing. Performances will kick off around 7:30pm. $10 Suggested Donation, proceeds will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. More info
Saturday, September 28 - Lindsay White (Full Band) at Frogstop House Concerts
Join Lindsay White at the intimate Frogstop House Concert series. This is Lindsay's first full band show since returning from her 2019 summer tour, and likely her last full band show of the year. Limited seating, don't miss it! More info
This edition of Boss Ladies is brought to you by member Tori Roze, who reviews Gaby Aparicio's new album, La Bella Vita.
A love letter to her mother, La Bella Vita rounds out seventeen plus years-worth of Gaby Aparicio creating alluring audio - seamlessly blending Latin-based music, pop, and that of the traditional singer-songwriter. A musical rarity of deep substance and beauty, Aparicio delivers her unique musical Uruguayan, Italian, North American flavor in three languages with the perfect amount of passion, precision, and intention. As the writer of every song on an album that generously rotates through a considerable amount of San Diego all-star talent; Aparicio definitively conveys her wishes to grow, to love, to help others, to dream, to experience life, to succeed, to fail, to show you her heart, and to embrace all of herself throughout the process.
The album opens with the enigmatically seductive song “Captivate Me.” Spanish guitar (played by Aparicio and Israel Maldonado) gently invites you into the cozy arms of Aparicio’s unbelievably clear voice. Her vocal quality bears a whispery closeness - the cinematic picture in one’s mind of an all-consuming love affair becomes imaginatively vivid once she begins singing. A range of majestic animals hits you between the eyes as her lyrics paint gorgeous metaphors over a tapestry of meticulously layered music. While this song is written in English, it hints at what is promised to you as a listener entering the world of La Bella Vita – a fastidious melting pot of sound with a clear message: to authentically “be you.”
The second track, “Se Va,” kicks-off with a rootsy nylon-stringed guitar, bringing forth Aparicio’s singer-songwriter musical foundation. With the music and vocals in tandem, there is a driving undertone of yearning to its sonic affect. The first song of many where we get to experience lyrics in another language; one gains an even better sense of the primo vocal clarity Aparicio touts regardless of the language she is singing in. The rhythm section (Gaby Aparicio, Gregg Montante, Saul Timba, James East, and Jake Najor) is tight. Aparicio tastefully conquers Spanish-style nylon-stringed guitar techniques while singing all of the female vocal parts. Many will venture, but few will succeed – and Aparicio elicits vibes reminiscent of Lila Down’s notable genre-bending multi-lingual music.
“Tango Triste” sounds and feels like a song directly out of a Cirque du Soleil show. There is an inescapable sensibility of heavy emotion affecting you from the first note. Leading with a thematic picky surf-rock electric guitar echoed by a writhing violin (played by Jamie Shadowlight), the emotional tug-and-pull of dissonant music unavoidably grabs you. The layered percussion, played by Julien Cantelm, is so well-executed that you can hear each and every tonal and textural detail. The bass (played by the producer of this particular song, Jacob “Cubby” Miranda) picks up at the chorus and pushes the action of the song forward. Speaking from a filmic perspective – “Tango Triste” might find itself strategically placed in a suspense movie just as easily as it could fit into a scene between fiery lovers. Violin enhances the intense sultry vibrancy that the song effortlessly embodies. There is an immovable strength to the Spanish-sung lead and backing vocals as they reinforce the melodious back-and-forth sewn into the fabric of the music. This song makes you involuntarily feel the lustful torture of longing for a once familiar love with its impassioned chorus: “Una tristesa, bien colorante//Me penetra desde el cielo//Como me llena//El tango llorante//Devo cantarlo asi.”
“Corazon” cools the heat of the previous song and gives off a vibration of peaceful existence with a bouncy nylon guitar as your guide. There is a sense of calm that washes over you as the dynamic percussion - with the combined efforts of Julien Cantelm (drums), Marcus Alcantarilla (Cavaquinho), and Halysson Silva (percussion) – gently caresses your ears. Altogether, it feels like a pleasant vacation you never want to return home from.
Aparicio’s voice on “Best Version of Me” evokes Sara Bareilles’ tonally bright musical style, but with an easy-going twist of Uruguayan/Italian zest. The brush work provided by Julien Cantelm sustains a rhythmic pace while a tenor saxophone, played by Stefanie Schmitz, dances over a delightfully balanced rhythm section. Aparicio speaks to the simplicity of loving yourself to be the “best version” of you. She adds that through the vehicle of receiving and accepting love from another, one stands to become a consummate version of oneself.
Aptly named “Tangled Heart,” bongos and shakers (played by Enrique Platas) juxtaposed against a pyramid of flowy guitars (played by Aparicio and Maldonado) temper a self-reflective sentiment ever-present in both the music and lyrics. There is an intentional conversation between the instruments and lyrics; each replying to the other like a dialogue in smoothly-laid-out time. As Aparicio illustrates with candid vulnerability, our internal selves can be a dazzling yet chaotic place to navigate. Aparicio comments on her own internal complexities as she acknowledges that her heart will always be an exquisite work in progress: the journey is the destination and acceptance of one’s humanness is vital for growth in one’s personal evolution.
The backing vocals on “Bella Vita” enter the scene like a breeze blowing through a seaside town. An audible warmth overtakes you as three distinct languages envelop your ears. Love, as described here, is comparable to the natural relationship between land and water at a coastal meeting point – they are always touching and whirling into each other, ebbing and flowing. That type of relationship is the quintessential depiction of a complimentary part: one lends to the other harmoniously counterbalancing where the other falls short. This song is so unmistakably enjoyable that one could imagine themselves singing the choral “la, la, la’s” whilst driving along the Mediterranean Sea in a convertible car with the top down.
“Matter” closes out the album with a final message straight from Aparicio’s heart – to remember to be present and act out of love towards the people around you. Recorded and engineered by San Diego favorite Jeff Berkley, the intimacy and balance of sound is pure. Believing this to be by design, it is the only song on the album solely comprised of vocals and nylon-stringed guitar. The tender conveyance of the backing vocals is similar to a lullaby that softly cradles you. Aparicio’s wish to leave her audience with a sense of hope, self-kindness, and patience towards pursuing their own personal transformation is the culmination of her intention to create. She urges you to find out who you are and where you fit into the world, but in your own time.
La Bella Vita is a more than just a love letter. With rich musicianship and catchy musical earworms abound, these eight tracks will leave you humming along while inspiring you to reflect on your own life’s path. Aparicio’s multi-faceted and vulnerable elegance are a gift she lovingly bequeaths to her listeners. And although it was primarily recorded by Alan Sanderson at Pacific Beat Recording, this album is clearly a collaborative labor of love by all involved. They say “it takes a village” and what a handsome waterfront village Gaby Aparicio has built. Life truly is beautiful, and this album is proof.
Link to buy album - https://www.gabyaparicio.com/music
Lady Brain members are out and about in full force this summer - make sure to catch them at one of these upcoming shows/events!
Friday, August 2 - Jessica Lerner with Full Band at Kensington Club
Jessica Lerner and her band will share the bill with Jehlad and The Rogue Pilots. $5 Cover. More info.
Friday, August 2nd - Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres at The Black Cat Bar
Sonic Attack at Black Cat Bar: Don’t miss this lineup featuring Tormenta Rey, Lana Rebel and Michael Mayfield, Julia Sage and the Bad Hombres, Gary Hankins, and from Robert's Western World in Nashville TN, special guest DJ Brendan Malone! $5 cover. More info.
Saturday, August 3 - Astra Kelly at Helix Brewing Co. La Mesa
Delicious brews, Kokopelli's food truck and a beautiful patio! Family owned and family friendly. Astra Kelly plays solo/acoustic from 6:30-9p. No Cover.
Wednesday, August 14 - Tori Roze & The Hot Mess at The Casbah
Tori Roze & The Hot Mess plays the Casbah with The Routine and fellow Lady Brain band The Anodynes. Show starts @ 9pm w/The Anodynes on first, followed by Tori Roze & The Hot Mess second. Come thirsty and ready to get soulful! $8/21+. More info.
Wednesday, August 14 - Bonfire Jam Circle at The Heritage Ranch in Encinitas
Hosted by Cathryn Beeks of Listen Local Radio. Bring a chair, your beverage of choice and an appetizer to share. Songwriters rotate clockwise and everyone plays on everyone's songs. 7pm to 11pm small donation appreciated. More info.
Friday, August 16 — Lady Brain Presents Showcase at Art on 3rd
The next installment of the Lady Brain Presents series will be a showcase in a Chula Vista artist-owned gallery. The event will feature short musical sets from Chris Avetta (with Jules Stewart), Marie Haddad, Dixie Maxwell (with Paige Miller), Carissa Schroeder, and The Spiritual Motels (Amy Day, Omar Musisko), as well as video from Mary Bee, and visual art from Chris Avetta, Julia Sage, and other Lady Brain artists. All ages, $10 suggested donation. The event will run from 7pm - 10:30pm. More info.
Thursday, August 29 — Lindsay White at The Pointe Westfield UTC
Join Lindsay White for outdoor happy hour at Westfield UTC featuring cover songs by some of her favorite artists including Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, and more. No cover. 5-7pm. More info.
Thanks to SoundDiego for reminding folks about Lady Brain Fest today! Read the feature here! Online ticket sales have closed, but tix will still be available at the door for cash purchase!
Thank you to Rosemary Bystrak for including a shout-out to Lady Brain Fest on the San Diego: Dialed In blog. We appreciate the support!
Thanks to Seth Combs and San Diego CityBeat for this great feature on Lady Brain Fest in their list of cool things to do this week. They also selected us as PLAN A on their “If I Were You" column! You can read the full article here and purchase your pre-sale tickets here. (Online sales end Saturday at 3pm)
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