3:00pm Friday | Tell me you did not miss this show. See, I want you to experience all the good that Long Beach has to offer—and so if you missed this show, damn.
Beginning a half-hour late3 with a couple of songs by Alyssandra and the Daymakers (Ellen Warkentine on piano and vocals, Doug Brown on upright bass, and Travis Christopherson on drums and vocals) backed by a trio of tap dancers, the full house at the Art Theatre was treated to a succession of acts that delivered on the promise of what had been advertised: music, poetry, a damn strong bear. A few highlights:
- Pebaluna’s Lauren Colemen delivering a soulful original song for voice and ukulele sans kitsch and every bit as good as their wonderful cover of “Tonight You Belong to Me” (maybe the best song written in 1927);
- G. Murray Thomas’s poetry of not knowing true pain and yet still having something to write about, which turned a nice corner and really brought itself home;
- Aaron van Geem’s cross-dressed, gossipy recitation of a short work by Russian absurdist writer Daniil concerning old women falling out of a window one after the other because of being too curious;
- Miniature Houses’ recovering from sound issues that plagued their first song to deliver a lovely tune (don’t know the title; the refrain goes, “There’s a ghost in this house . . .”) featuring oto’s Tai Tajima on saw and Greater California’s Terry Prine on toy piano;
- “Amazing feats of strength by Strong Bear” (that’s a can’t-miss, right?).
The spirit of the evening was really captured in the closing three acts. First, Alyssandra and the Daymakers (joined by Ben White) performed “Blow All Your Troubles Away”, which really is just a fabulous song. The closing moment was a group sing-along of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” (lyrics on the back of the program), led by David Van Patten.
But in between was Alex Mastrovito’s recitation of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, so spot-on that he seemed to be channeling Theodor Geisel himself, as the good doctor imparted his best wisdom to the child in all of us. You know the story: You’ll do great things, and things will be great . . . except when you don’t, except when they’re not. But “Today is the day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!” It was a powerful statement considering where we all were, in that theater, together, so many of the best aspects of Long Beach come together. Now is our time, and here we were seizing the moment. As Alyssandra said to me outside afterwards, “This is just the beginning. No, not the beginning: it’s already started. But we’re on the way.”
Oh, the places we’ll go.
2:00pm Tuesday | If you’ve heard Alyssandra and the Daymakers, you know they’re unlike anybody else in the superfab Long Beach music scene. Centering around Alyssandra Nighswonger, whose warbling voice is as unmistakable as her surname, Alyssandra and the Daymakers have spent the last 18 months crafting their debut album, which, if the first “single”—a handmade promotional disc to Thursday’s album-release party/”Vaudeville folk spectacular” at the Art Theatre (description below)—is any indication, is going to sound something like if the music of Tom Waits and Kate Bush had hooked up and made elegant, folky babies.
While nothing’s wrong with a straight-ahead album-release show, Alyssandra and the Daymakers are going all out, renting the Art Theatre and inviting some of their own favorite Long Beach artists to join them on the bill, including Ben White (who’s featured on the aforementioned singles, “Blow All Your Troubles Away”), Angie Evans, and Miniature Houses, the fantastic Lili De La Mora/Michael Wysong project who played their first-ever show July 15 at the Long Beach Museum of Art’s quarterly “After Dark” event1.
As if that’s not enough, Mondo Celluloid will be curating films to accompany the bands as they play, there’s also going to be live painting, Sirena Serpentina, and “poets, tap dancers, silent movies, mermaids, burlesque and even a bear demonstrating amazing feats of strength!” How does all of this go together? Your guess is as good as mine. But for $10 (if purchased in advance at arttheatrelongbeach.com) you get to find out in person, along with a copy of the Alyssandra and the Daymakers album2. All in all, this event seems a great arts example of the kind of thing that can be pulled off through maximizing local connectivity.
The Art Theatre is located at 2025 E. 4th St. (at Cherry Ave.). For more information, visit their Facebook page.
1Check out my super piece on them in the next Amass Magazine (released Oct. 1).
2Admission is $15 at the door, but you get $5 off is you show up in a vaudeville costume.
3I’m not complaining: I didn’t get there until five minutes before the proceedings got underway.