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Column: LA/LA LAND – Intro


Patrick O’Heffernan

Welcome to LA/LA Land, a new weekly column about music in Los Angeles.

Why LA? LA is the undeniable business capital of the music industry in America and, some would say, also its creative capital, although given what is going on in the Nashville music scene now, I think the two are pretty close. Which is why so many artists go back and forth between the two cities.

No one knows how many bands live in LA. Wikipedia lists around 400 named bands in LA and Riverside county. That doesn’t include bands in Orange County, the dozens of working studio musicians or the army of music teachers in LA’s universities and music academies  And those are just the ones that have made it out of the garage.  My own experience writing about music in LA for years is that on any given day there are close to 1000 bands performing, recording, looking for drummers, rehearsal space, a label or a gig in one of LA’s 350 +/- venues. It’s wild.

So what will LA/LA Land be about?  First, it will be about music happenings in LA that you won’t find anywhere else until they show up on your doorstep.  Like the sold-out crowd-sourced 30-city tour of former Idol finalist Alison Iraheta’s LA-based band Halo Circus and how you can get them to come to Charlotte. Or like what you get when two Canadian Cirque du Soleil performers move to LA, combine Cab Calloway, R&B, rap lyrics and take it national.  Or about the new music technologies introduced every year at NAMM, the world’s largest music conference. And about the Grammy Parties that don’t make it into TMZ.

It will also be about a unique LA revolution, American Latino Music (ALM), a new genre that combines the 18th century musical forms of Latin America with today’s beats. It started in the 1950’s with “La Bamba by” Ritchie Valens (aka, Ritchie Valenzuela), and “Tequila” by Danny Flores and the Champs. It exploded in the 70’s with Los Lobos, War, Ozomotli, and Carlos Santana and is it now going national with Chicano Batman, La Santa Cecilia, and Las Cafeteras.

Every day in South and East LA there is an orgy of dozens of bands mating Latino music forms like mariachi and norteño  and cumbia and son with  rock and rap and jazz and blues and punk and metal. A new infrastructure has emerged, encompassing dozens of producers, studios, managers, clubs, PR agencies, indie labels, A&R’s social media, festivals, video production shops specializing in Spanish-English-Spanglish.  The result is ALM, American Latino Music, and it is coming out of LA to avenue near you in the near future.

And finally, LA/LA Land is because I grew up here and I live here.  I host two radio shows here. I am an official LA Music Critic here, eaming I go to performances, studios, preview parties, release bashes, and industry events here. Because I love the place.

For the record, I also like Charlotte, where I have family, and Atlanta, where I lived for a dozen years. But you know, LA’s my hometown and it’s got a ton of music. I will bring news of it to you every week, starting with a concert in a parking garage with one of LA’s most creative country bands and a guitar heroine with a Latin Grammy for blues and Grammy nomination for rock.  Welcome to LA/LA Land. Like I said, it’s wild.

Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Los Angeles, California, with a global following. His two weekly radio programs, MusicFridayLive! and MusicaFusionLA are heard nationwide and in the UK. He focuses on two music specialties: emerging bands in all genres, and the growing LA-based ALM genre (American Latino Music) that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America like cumbia, banda, jarocho and mariachi. He also likes to watch his friend drag race.

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