Tag Archives: Music Photography

Playing for Change in Los Angeles

The Levitt Pavilions are bringing once again a numerous amount of free concerts with stellar performers all over the country. As a special treat, they had the band Playing for Change on tour on all of their locations over a three week period. Southern California got to have them in their Pasadena and McArthur Park locations.   Playing for Change has become an organization building music and art schools for children around the world.

From the Playing for Change website this is how it all started:

In 2005, Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley (now deceased) singing “Stand By Me.”  Roger had so much soul and conviction in his voice, and Mark approached him about performing “Stand By Me” as a Song Around The World. Roger agreed, and when Mark returned with recording equipment and cameras he asked Roger, “With a voice like yours, why are you singing on the streets?” Roger replied, “Man I’m in the Joy business, I come out to be with the people.” Ever since that day, the Playing For Change crew has traveled the world recording and filming musicians, creating Songs Around The World, and building a global family.

The evenings began warming up with drum circles for an all ages crowd.  With master drummer guiding the beginning of each evening, adults and children got to drum to the Levitt beat and those who participated even received their own hand drum courtesy of Remo (I got one too and love it!). Band members of Playing for change also joined the drum circles and all engaged in the same beat.  When the time of the performance came, the audience was still vibing with the beat of the drums.

Playing for Change at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena

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More photos of Levitt Pavilion Pasadena show at FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.

The difference between both shows, to me, was mainly the setlist.  Levitt LA got to extend themselves a little bit more providing additional music treats with original adaptations AND also got to invite LA’s favorite Ghanaian Mr. Rocky Dawuni to perform with them on stage sweet reggae music.  Songs like Makumba  and Don’t Worry Be Happy had everyone  dancing, while their cover of Etta James I’d Rather Go Blind had the audience inevitably emotional.  Highlight of the night:  their performance of Stand by Me, in English and Spanish (Quedate conmigo).

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More photos of Levitt Pavilion McArthur Park show at FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.

The Playing for Change Levitt tour is over.  It was a great gift to those who got to witness it and I am beyond happy to have documented it. But their labor does not end her. To learn even more about their music and organization you can visit their website and social media outlets and if moved by their cause to build bridges and educate through music, you can even participate to fulfill their mission.


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M.I.A. + Angel Haze at the Shrine, 05’29’14

This might have been my 2nd or 3rd time documenting an M.I.A. show. My friend Jose induced her music to me many years ago while we would cruise with the sunroof open with the music blasting from his speakers.  The gay club we would frequent would go wild when the her songs came up.  I’ve been fond of Paper Planes and Galang since then.

A few months ago I went to photograph her show at the Belasco Theatre, which was part of her album release Matangi.  Now, I went to the Shrine auditorium not sure of my expectations since it was a bigger spot and an 18+ show.  When arriving the spot was packed with fresh blood eager to see MIA. Young rapper Angel Haze opened the show filled with energy yet with an awkward stage presence between jumping on speakers and staying on side of the stage.  The sound was not the best and with no further back up, understanding her lyrics was a bit confusing but nonetheless she did her best to deliver.

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam better known as MIA took over the stage, the same stage set up as her previous show at the Belasco and with less quality of light. However MIA doesn’t need all this flare, her dancers, a dj and her confidence holding the mic are a show of their own.   There was no Versace outfits this time and I greatly missed seeing live drummer Kiran Gandhi as part of her entourage, but these details were easy to overlook when she started singing no other than, Paper Planes.  The producer, singer, activist and more went through old and new tracks hitting the dancing nerves of the crowd.  As it is typical of her, she brought a crowd to dance on stage and from what I heard, Katy Perry was also up there.  Her performance was great as always.  That is the one thing I had certainty of.

For even more photos please visit FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.

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Rodrigo y Gabriela, 05’07’14

There was a big fuzz about Rodrigo and Gabriela touring promoting their new album  9 Dead Alive which was just released on April 28th via Ato Redords.  I couldn’t make it to The Belasco the previous day but fortunately got to shoot for Grimy Goods at the Hollywood Palladium on 05’07. I will not share the personal ordeal that it was to get there however know that the effort was worth it. When reaching this venue the line went all the way around the block and I was glad to have taken a long minute to find parking and reached the entrance right away.  

Since Rodrigo y Gabriela set a foot on stage they went wild with those accosting guitars.  The pit did not have as many photographers but all were fierce trying to get their shots.  After being smacked in the face by one of the warriors (photographers) and having received a sympathetic smirk by Rodrigo who witnessed the scene from stage, I felt that the pain was worth it.  Rod y Gab how some like to call them, have been together for over 15 years.  They met in Mexico and went to test their luck in Europe playing guitar in the streets… the rest is history and it manifests in sold out shows, album releases and excellent performances. They play extremely fast and intricate pieces that range from rumbas to heavy metal classics such as  Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots and they even got the crowd to sing-along to Radiohead’s “Creep”.  This show was perfection beginning til end and photos can barely show its energy.  For even more photos please visit FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.   


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Quetzal Guerrero video shoot – 02’22’14

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I’m always thrilled about the opportunities that arise from this music photography venture of mine.  I was stoked to be asked to do the stills for the video shoot of Quetzal Guerrero aka Qviolin a multi talented musician, violin virtuoso, super cool cat that with whatever beat he picks, from Brazilian grooves to a Jimmy Hendrix kinda vibe, will get your body grooving.

The filming of his upcoming video was no exception.  Quetzal and partner in crime Ms Sunny Z put together a dream team composed by artists and technical collaborators that greatly enjoy creating beauty with whichever tools are available.  I’m a big fan of team work! and this night had it written all over.  I’m not going to disclose much about what’s coming up but do check the photos (even more at FARAHSTOP the music photography archive) as they will give you a tad little bit of the heat that #qvln has coming up.

Highlight:  Social media!  we tweeted and instagram and all during the shoot so check #qvln if you are curious 😉

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Kera and the Lesbians Residency 02’03’14

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I was sent to shoot this February residency hosted by grimy goods.  Although my line of music is more on the worldly side I thought I could give it a shot and was extremely surprised by my new music findings.

Kera and the Lesbians is a band of bipolar folk indie rock and more from SoCal. Lead singer Kera swoon the crowd with her voice reaching peaks that would make your bones shiver and graciously engaged with the crowd.  I highly encourage checking them out, they will be at The Echo all February’s Mondays.   I also got to check Crown Plaza, Mr. Elevator and Santoros.  I’m gonna play favorites here and gotta say the other than Kera and the Lesbians, Mr. Elevator won me with their psychodelic sounds coming from vintage instruments that they can actually play right!   Find even more photos at FARAHSTOP the music photography archive and go to The Echo on mondays.

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