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Dear Reader,

ou might have noticed the past few months that the DLM has gotten a bit of a jump start on its New Year’s resolutions. We planned to grow in staff, add new features in the magazine and offer more content on our website. This was all stuff that we’ve had in the pipeline and ready to move on in 2013.

The Players PUBLISHER: Tom Price ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Janna Rodriguez ADVERTISING MANAGER: Samantha Yniguez CONTENT EDITOR: Nathan Quevedo GUEST EDITOR: Brian Strong WEB GURU: Kenneth Nelson DISTRIBUTION: Donna Nelson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & EDITORS: Montse Reyes, Theresa Hong, Brian Strong and K Chico CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Juno Appleseed, Dan Hong, Montse Reyes and Roger Wyan,

The Cover COVER: The Radar Bros

Well, I just couldn’t wait. In November we added Samantha Yniguez to the team, she will be our Advertising Director moving forward, we launched a new rotating columnist feature titled “final say” and we started offering a really cool print edition flip book on the website. I must say, this may be the most exciting time of the DLM’s 40 months of production. With all of these amazing additions plus some other super cool things in the works (I’ve been sworn to secrecy) I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings. I would also like to take this opportunity to make one-more mention of 2012. We had an amazing year and we owe that all to our faithful readers and advertisers. Thank you so much for your contributions to the magazine and to our arts community.

Editor & Publisher

PHOTOGRAPHER: Contributed Art

Issue #40 Volume #3

Find Us




Radar Bros are headlining a special night of music and film at the Multicultural Arts Center in Downtown Merced. .


Merced County Symphony Pops Concert, new nightlife in Downtown and Two Gallants at the Partisan.


Anthropologist Dr. Kathleen Hull leads unique program at UC Merced.


Organizers plan new showcase for five handpicked local artists.


Ground breaking Ska band headlines packed show at Merced Theatre.


Local group of hip hop artists paving their own path to success in Merced.


Merced County Arts Council director Laura Phillips outlines plan for organization’s future.

Downtown Life Magazine is a monthly publication distributed downtown and at more than 90 other locations, including: UC Merced, Merced College, Raley’s grocery store and every Starbucks Coffee Company in Merced and Atwater. 5,000 DLM magazines are distributed every month. For more information, go to


The Lede Events in and around Merced

Photo by Juno Appleseed The Chandeliers Club opened in November, but is planning a grand opening celebration in early 2013 along with the opening of its new hookah lounge on the same block.

Downtown’s new nightlife In 2013, Downtown Merced will be keeping the lights on after dark with the addition of two new nightlife hot spots scheduled for openings before March. The Chandeliers Club, which opened in November, and it’s nearby hookah lounge will occupy a major part of the core block of Downtown Merced. While the 17th Street Public House, a craft beer and fine wine bar will open next to Coffee Bandits on the Merced Theatre block on MLK and Main Street. “We are trying to be different,” says Ghaleb Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

Jaber, project manager for Chandeliers. “We have a different brand of entertainment than other places Downtown We want to bring Las Vegas inside Merced.” The owners of the 17th Street Public House also say they are bringing a different form of entertainment to Downtown. “Our goal is to create more of a pub atmosphere. We are not looking to have live music, DJ’s, Karaoke, or entertainment,” says Vanessa Hofmann, co-owner of the Public House. “Instead we are aiming to be more of a

communal meeting place, almost like a town hall. A place where people can get together, talk and drink a wide variety of beer and wine that other places around town do not focus on.” Neither business has a firm grand opening date on the books, but don’t stress Downtowners, you can expect to have a ton of new nightlife options in the first quarer of 2013. “We think this will bring more customers to downtown,” says Jaber. “They won’t just stay here, but to bars all around downtown.”

The Lede Events in and around Merced


Symphony kicks off ‘13 with Pops Concert Henrik Jul Hansen is looking forward to his return to the Merced Theatre. The veteran conductor of the Merced Symphony will take the stage at the historic theatre for the second time on Jan. 25 for what he calls a rare performance by the 55-year-old Merced Symphony. The Pops Concert, the organizations first apperance at the Merced Theatre since the theatre’s grand opening gala in April, will feature selections from famous movies and broadway plays, “We haven’t done a pops concert in a very long time with this symphony,” says Hansen. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to offer it to the community. We will have everything from ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Star Wars’ to the ‘Les Miserables’ and selections from ‘Phantom.’ ” A Pops concert is when an orchestra plays popular music instead of the more traditional classical pieces. As Hansen says, “there’s something for everybody.”

Photo by Roger Wyan Photography The Merced Symphony will be performing a Pops Concert at the Merced Theatre on Jan. 25.

What makes this January performance even more special, Hansen says, is the fact that it will be downtown at the Merced Theatre. And he has no doubt the community will come out to support this event. “t’s very unique to have a live orchestra in town, and this one has been in existence for 55 years,” says Hansen. “It’s truly amazing that Merced has been able to support

this orchestra. While others are struggling, this one has been going strong. It Speaks very wonderfully about this community.” There is a pre-concert reception at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the Show can be purchased at www. and more information about the show is available at www.

San Francisco’s Two Gallants make return trip to Merced

The band is riding the success of the September release of their newest album, “The Bloom and the Blight” released by ATO Records. The album marked the reunion of the band after a multi-year break. Tickets for the show are $10 and can be purchased at Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, visit or

Two Gallants, the folk/rock duo from San Francisco with a uniquely powerful sound will be headlining at The Partisan on Jan. 26 with the French Cassettes (Ripon) and They will arrive in Merced one week before they play the Contributed Photo Fillmore in San Francisco then Two Gallants return to Merced head to Australia for a tour with show at Partisan on Jan. 26. down under. Like Us on Facebook

Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

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Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


The Art Hop New Project

Art Hop’s new idea Organization to give handpicked artists special exhibits Words by Theresa Hong


he Art Hop has always been a fantastic showcase of Merced’s local arts community. Now, the event’s organizers are turning the spotlight even more on local painters, photographers, musicians and poets by creating special exhibits featuring handpicked artists showing their work in vacant spaces in Downtown Merced. “We really want to concentrate on greater participation, bigger exhibits and expanding from downtown Merced to more city-wide participation,” says Kimberly Zamora, co-creator of The Art Hop. “We’re also working with property owners who have vacant buildings in hopes of increasing the number of spaces where our artists can exhibit their work. “This works in two ways — obviously giving the artists more venues, but also opening up these vacant buildings and showing people who may be interested in opening their own Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

Photo by Juno Appleseed Ursula Vasquez, a local artist, is one of the five featured artists at the Jan. 19 Art Hop in Downtown Merced.

businesses that there are great places available downtown.” The first Art Hop of 2013 scheduled for Jan. 19 will introduce this concept with five

artists showcasing their unique and diverse work in individual spaces; Oscar Torres, Sandee Smith, Ursula “Ursie” Vasquez, Desiree Herrera and Monica

“I’m proud of being a part of something that promotes the arts in such a unique way.” — Ursula Vasquez, artist

Solis. Vasquez, who received Art Hop’s “Artist of the Quarter” award last year, has participated in several of the organization’s events. An artist whose medium is primarily through the camera lens, Vasquez’s exhibit is called “Lady Buxton’s Asylum,” inspired by an injury that resulted in hours of solitary confinement in her room. “I recently injured my back,” she says. “I was forced to stay in my room — and it felt like I was trapped in a jewelry box. This exhibit definitely reflects on the solitary part of everything — it was like being in an asylum and being cut off from everyone in the world.” Vasquez believes Art Hop has been an essential part of creating a better Merced community. “I’m proud of being a part of something that promotes the arts in such a unique way. Sharing and celebrating art definitely makes a better overall community,” she explains. “When you create something and encourage others to create, it builds a sense of community — people are happier when they can share creative outlets of expression, and Art Hop has been a major influence on how we share that creative expression.” Celebrating its fourth anniversary last October, Art Hop is an organization combining artists, businesses and community, resulting in a quarterly event that celebrates

An untitled piece by painter Oscar Torres. Torres is one of five featured artists at the Jan. 19 Art Hop.

Merced through different mediums of art. Local artists showcase their work using local Merced businesses as their venue. The Art Hop has been a shiniing example of how the arts have been at the forefront of a changing Merced. A far cry from the numerous negative titles the city has garnered in recent years (Foreclosure Capital of U.S. and they made the Forbes’ “Most Miserable Cities” list). Zamora defies being placed in the miserable list box and challenges anyone to argue that Merced isn’t a treasure chest of talented artists. “I never had a doubt Merced was full of talented artists — I wanted to showcase these artists to the Merced community -- wanted them to know that we have the potential to create a very robust arts scene,” Zamora

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says. “When the concept of Art Hop first came about four years ago, one of my main goals was to also involve the area businesses with the intent of promoting not only the artist, but their business.” Art Hop has proved to be very successful in its four years, inspiring Zamora to expand the organization, as well as planning for bigger exhibits throughout 2013. “I’m proud that Art Hop has become a very important part of Merced and I believe it will continue to positively impact the arts, business and community,” Zamora says. “We are a part of something that is cultivating the arts in a unique way ­­— and that is beneficial to the entire community.” For more information on featured Art Hop artists, the organization and how to get involved, visit www. Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


FISHBONE Music Fishbone

Interview by Nathan Quevedo


ioneers of American ska, rock fusion and (socalled) black rock, Fishbone is coming to the Merced Theatre on Jan. 26 with a handful of other acts that include locals SixHandsMouth and Gear Box. The band, which formed in Los Angeles 25 years ago, released an EP Crazy Glue in 2011, and recently toured in Europe and Japan. Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

DLM: How was the most recent tour to Australia? (I’ve heard folks down there know how to have a good time) Fishbone: We always have a great time touring in Australia!!! The last tour was no exception. Doing shows with Trombone Shorty was a major highlight, quite inspiring really. DLM: The documentary “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” has quite a cast of rock icons and other celebrities; how does it feel to have so many colleagues commend the work you’ve done? Fishbone: It feels unreal to have some of the most popular musicians and actors come forth and speak so highly of the work that we’ve done. It’s very satisfying in a way and very overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

what are some of your favorite venues around the world? What regions are the most receptive to your music? Fishbone: Tipitina’s in New Orleans, The Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, The Commodor Ballroom in Vancouver, The House Of Blues, Chicago, The Islington Academy in London, The Paradiso In Amsterdam. There are so many more, this could get ridiculous. DLM: Have you ever played a show in Central California, more specifically, the Central Valley? Fishbone: Absolutely!!! Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, does Livermore count as Central Valley? There may be more...

Taking good care of our community for over 100 years. Taking care of businesses. Taking care of our community. We have a long history of providing peace of mind around town.

725 W. 18th Street, Merced, CA 95340 Ph (209) 722-1541 • Agency license #0358327

DLM: Is there anything you’d like to tell folks in Merced? Fishbone: We’re really excited to perform in Merced, as we have never played there before. It’s always DLM: You have been special to break fresh ground for a band, as playing music for 25 years as Fishbone: What far as bringing your art to new stages and are some of the most memorable moments? possibly be discovered or rediscovered by Fishbone: Touring with The Red Hot Chili music lovers. See you Peppers and Thelonius there!!! Monster on The Best Fishbone will also Of The West Tour. perform with Reggae Doing The Beastie music icon Anthony B Boys first headline tour, License To Ill, with along with Gearbox, Monkey, Sixhandsmouth, Murphy’s Law. The Mystic Roots and DJ 2 shows we did on Rasta at the Merced the first Lollapalooza, Theatre on Jan. 26. and the entire tour of Tickets for the all ages Lollapalooza 3! show are $25. Doors DLM: A follow-up to open at 5 p.m. and the the previous question, show starts at 6:30. Like Us on Facebook at

Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


Music SixHandsMouth & Gear Box

Contributed Photos Above: SixHandsMouth from left, Adam O’Neal, Loren Qualls, Victor Patton and Paul Gibbons. Below: Gear Box from left, Jesse Valencia, Josh Bristow and John Roy Tharp.

Locals to share stage with Fishbone


Words by Theresa Hong

ishbone called and they want you guys to open for them,” has been said to maybe a few lucky people ever. Now you can count Merced bands Gearbox and SixHandsMouth among the lucky. Scheduled to perform with the legendary Fishbone on Jan. 26 at the Merced Theatre, both Gearbox and SixtHandsMouth look forward to sharing the venue with a band that spans more than two decades and continues to produce influential music. “I’m totally stoked,” says SixHandsMouth bassist Victor Patton. “They introduced me to a totally different style of music — something very Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

different back in the day. Fishbone has definitely influenced me as a musician — they are heroes to me.” Gearbox lead guitarist and vocalist “Little Johnny” Tharp not only admires Fishbone for their innovative style of music, but also their willingness to give back. “The first time I saw them they were playing at a high school,” says Tharp. “I remember they gave all of the proceeds from that concert back to the high school — and that really stuck with me.” Gearbox and SixHandsMouth are staples in Merced, the Central Valley and beyond, and, like Fishbone, both offer very distinct styles of music. Gearbox members include Tharp on lead guitars and vocals, Josh Bristo on bass and Jesse Valencia on drums. The band cites influences ranging from Pig Children and The Misfits to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Founded in 2000, Gearbox disbanded for a while, but decided to reunite in 2008. They’ve been playing ever since. “We’re what I like to call ‘psychobilly,’ ” explains Tharp. “Our roots are definitely in the rockabilly and punk scenes, but we definitely take our influences and add our own flavor.” He says although Merced lacks a true rockabilly scene, audiences have been very receptive to the band. “Our audiences

are great and places like The Partisan have been wonderful. We really enjoy playing and hope one of these days there will be a bigger rockabilly scene in Merced.” SixHandsMouth consists of singer Loren Qualls, bassist Victor Patton, guitarist, Paul Gibbons and drummer, Adam O’Neal. Together since 2010, SixHandsMouth has played throughout Merced, the Central Valley and recently played at Club Retro in Sacramento. “We describe our sound as ‘fringe blues,’” explains Patton. “Our sound definitely has heavy blues elements, but sprinkled throughout are all kinds of other sounds; like gospel, ska, blue grass, jazz and zydeco.” Both bands are incredibly talented, offering the listener very diverse and distinct sounds, and serves as a reminder that Merced does, indeed, have a very rich music scene — a scene that’s beginning to receive attention from critically acclaimed bands like Fishbone. “It’s great to see the Merced music scene gaining traction,” says Tharp. “I’m really excited to see that bands like Fishbone want to come play in Merced and at the same time, give local bands the opportunity to play a big venue — it’s that ‘giving back’ mentality and that’s a big part of what music is all about.”

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Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


Recurring Events


WHAT: Patty Lou and the Flower Pots entertain at J&R Tacos. WHEN: 7:31 p.m., Every Wednesday WHERE: J&R Tacos INFO: Facebook


WHAT: Step up to the mic and show ‘em what you got. WHEN: 8 p.m., 1st and 3rd Wednesday of month WHERE: Coffee Bandits INFO: Facebook


WHAT: Local talent showcasing their skills. WHEN: 8 p.m., Every Monday WHERE: The Partisan INFO: Facebook


WHAT: Pub trivia game. Groups compete in rounds of trivia and physical challenges to win prizes. WHEN: 9 p.m., Every Tuesday WHERE: The Partisan INFO: Facebook


WHAT: Local poets read and share their work. WHEN: 8 p.m., 4th Wednesday WHERE: Coffee Bandits INFO: Facebook


WHAT: An artist, poet and musician improvise their craft in front of a crowd. WHEN: 6 p.m., last Sunday of every month. WHERE: J&R Tacos INFO: Facebook


We need your help, send your event information to: or call (209) 777-6176

WHAT: What is the worst thing you’ve ever read? Come share with the group. WHEN: 2nd Wed of month WHERE: Coffee Bandits INFO: Facebook


WHAT: Certified Farmer’s Market in Downtown Merced. WHEN: 8 a.m.-Noon, every Saturday WHERE: 18th and N Street INFO:

11 DLM Live House Show

Downtown Bus Schedule

WHAT: Intimate performance by Jennifer O’Connor (Kiam Records) and Chris Brokaw (ex-Codeine) WHEN: 8 p.m. WHERE: TBA COST: $5 INFO :

11 ‘Dearly Departed’

WHAT: Opening weekend of Playhouse Merced’s “Dearly Departed.” Runs through Jan. 20. WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. WHERE: Multicultural Arts Center (645 W. Main St.) COST: Adults $20, Seniors $19, Students $10, Children 5-12 $8 INFO :

19 The Art Hop

WHAT: Downtown Merced’s signature art walk featuring dozens of artists showcasing work inside local businesses. WHEN: 5-9 p.m. WHERE: Downtown Merced COST: FREE INFO :

25 Symphony Pops Concert

WHAT: The Merced Symphony’s Pops Concert featuring selections from popular Broadway and movie themes by modern composers. WHEN: 6:30 p.m. WHERE: Merced Theatre (301 W. Main St.) COST: $35 adult / $10 student INFO :

26 Fishbone at Merced Theatre WHAT: Fishbone and Anthony B with Mystic Roots, Gearbox, Six Hands Mouth and DJ Rasta. WHEN: 5 p.m. WHERE: Merced Theatre (301 W. Main Street) COST: $25 INFO :

26 DLM Live: Two Gallants

WHAT: San Francisco’s Two Gallants with the French Cassettes and . WHEN: 9 p.m. WHERE: The Partisan (432 W. Main Street) COST: $10 INFO :

FEB 1 DLM Live: Radar Bros

WHAT: The Radar Bros plus a screening of the indie documentary “Pass the Music” about the Los Angeles music scene. WHEN: 7 p.m. WHERE: Multicultural Arts Center (645 W. Main St.) COST: $10 INFO :

Monday through Friday

Departure times for a few popular bus stops on the UC Merced/Downtown loop Route 22



Main & K Street (Hollywood Theater)

7:18, 7:48, 8:18, 8:48, 9:18, 9:58, 10:28, 10:58, 11:28, 11:58, 12:38, 1:08, 1:48, 2:18, 2:48, 3:33, 4:03, 4:33, 5:03, 5:48, 6:18

Merced College (M Street)

7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:10, 9:40, 10:10, 10:40, 11:10, 11:40, 12:20, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00, 3:45, 4:15, 4:45, 5:15, 6:00, 6:30

Paulson & Yosemite (Starbucks)

7:38, 8:08, 8:38, 9:18, 9:48, 10:18, 10:48, 11:18, 11:48, 12:28, 12:20, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00, 3:45, 4:15, 4:45, 5:15, 6:00, 6:30

UC Merced Kolligian Library (Arrival)

7:43, 8:13, 8:43, 9:23, 9:53, 10:23, 10:53, 11:23, 11:53, 12:33, 1:13, 1:43, 2:13, 2:43, 3:13, 3:58, 4:28, 4:58, 5:28, 6:13, 6:43

UC Merced Kolligian Library (Departure)

7:45, 8:15, 8:45, 9:25, 9:55, 10:25, 10:55, 11:25, 12:05, 12:35, 1:15, 1:45, 2:15, 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, 4:30, 5:15, 5:45

Paulson & Yosemite (Starbucks)

7:50, 8:20, 8:50, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:10, 12:40, 1:20, 1:50, 2:20, 3:05, 3:35, 4:05, 4:35, 5:20, 5:50

Merced College (M Street)

7:57, 8:27, 8:57, 9:37, 10:07, 10:37, 11:07, 11:37, 12:17, 12:47, 1:27, 1:57, 2:27, 3:12, 3:42, 4:42, 4:12, 4:42, 5:27, 5:57

Friday & Saturday Nights

Departure times for a few popular bus stops on the UC Merced/Downtown loop (10 p.m.-2:35 a.m.) NiteCat Line Location


UC Merced Kolligian Library (Arrival)

10:04, 11:14, 12:24, 1:34

Merced Mall Theatre

10:28, 11:38, 12:48, 1:58

Main & M Street (Hollywood Theater)

10:46, 11:56, 1:06, 2:16

Scholars Lane

11:05, 12:15, 1:25, 2:35


Afternoon & Evening

For complete schedule go to

Theater Dearly Departed

Photo by Dan Hong The members of the Turpin family in Playhouse Merced’s production of “Dearly Departed.”

‘Dearly Departed’

You are invited to the hilarious service of Bud Turpin


Words by Jim Kocher

ld Bud Turpin was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker and the chief mourner. Yes, Bud Turpin was as dead as a door nail. No, this isn’t Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The holidays are officially over, it’s 2013 and what’s being described above is not the classic story of redemption from the perspective of Ebenezer Scrooge. It is the opening moments of “Dearly Departed,” Playhouse Merced’s latest

production, playing two weekends in January at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. Written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, “Dearly Departed” centers on the dysfunctional Turpin family, who live “somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line,” and whose members

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Choi, Amber Fowler, Jilliann Giacalone, Dan Hong, Meganne WardKocher, Garrett Mayer, Bernadette Mello, Sheila Noel and Rachel Rodrigues. Directing the goingson of this bizarre family is Playhouse Merced production designer, Corey Strauss. While Strauss usually directs musicals (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast,” among others), he was drawn to “Dearly Departed” because, “it’s a really well written show.” Strauss continues, “it’s all about the word on the page. Musicals tend to have emotions tied to the lyrics of the songs, with dialogue used as a path from one song to another.” In the case of “Dearly Departed,” the written word is king. So, you are cordially invited to be present at the funeral of Bud Turpin. While it may not be the story of the old miser who gets a second chance at life (Bud is indeed dead as a door nail), the Turpins do get their opportunity to express how they feel. It should, without a doubt, be the funniest funeral you’ll attend ever. (“Dearly Departed” plays January 11 – January 20, 2013 at Merced County Arts Council 645 W. Main Street, Downtown Merced. For tickets call the Playhouse Merced box office at (209) 725-8587.)



are a who’s who of eccentricity and peculiarity. Even their names: Bud, RayBud, Raynelle, Lucille, Junior, Royce, Veda, Nadine, Clyde and a young overeater named Delightful, provide a key into their oddball personalities. Bud Turpin, played by Dave Elam, is the patriarch of the family and it is his character’s death that brings the family together. Elam describes Bud as “a true a-hole,” and feels that “he’s finally fed up with life and wants to be left alone.” Elam’s character dies face first right before the audience as his wife Raynelle, played by Dianne Kocher, reads him a letter. It’s an over-the-top moment which Elam, an experienced character actor, handles with skill and not a word of dialogue. Theresa Hong plays Bud’s overbearing sister Marguerite. Says Hong, “she’s a bitter woman with an extremely sharp tongue.” Marguerite has recently lost her husband, and uses religion to shield and protect her emotions. “Growing up in Texas,” adds Hong, “this type of woman is a staple in the South.” Rounding out the cast are local actors Melissa Beckwith, Jason Best, G.B. Blackmon III, Casie Bonstein, Matt Capron, Elena Carter, Liz Ceccarelli, Justin








Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

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Music UnKoolKiddz

Photo by Montse Reyes Local hip hop group UnKoolKiddz from left, Cookie Mcfly, KuyaRay, Jeek and Reff.


Local rap group paves own path


Words by Montse Reyes

ometimes, the only way to succeed is to take your future into your own hands. This much is clear to hip-hop ensemble UnKoolKiddz, local representatives of the growing scene of independent, do-it-yourself rappers who’ve utilized the Internet to make music on their terms. Despite having known each other for quite sometime, it wasn’t until 2010 that the crew officially formed. Made-up of seven members, UnKoolKiddz are: Jeek, Reff, KuyaRay, Cookie, Like Us on Facebook

Albeezy, Hue and Jahir — their given names are, respectively, Jake Sarnillo, Daniel Alvarez, Raymond Peralta, Alex Laigo, Albert Villathong, Hue Thao and Jahir Orsornio. The idea for the crew blossomed naturally out of a need for this small group of friends to satiate their desire to produce art. Together, the seven have used the group as a vehicle to channel their creative energies into a multitude of mediums, from dancing and rapping to poetry and visual art. “We are all artistic in a way,” says Cookie, “But Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

24 music is a big outlet. It helps us tell stories and relate to other people.” Consciously choosing to stray from the picture of consumerist excess often reflected in mainstream rap, the crew imparts personal stories of their own daily trials and tribulations with a palpable air of authenticity. “Music nowadays, they don’t put their heart into it. They just talk about dancing and having money … I try to be creative and relate to people. I try to inspire people,” remarks Jeek. Amidst a sea of party rap, UnKoolKiddz stands out. As Reff puts it, they leave behind the notion of glorifying oneself in favor of a more down-to-earth, unassuming approach to rap. Their music is relatively low-key — an honest and thoughtful portrayal of their lives. With songs about heartbreak, aspirations for a better future and even an anthem for their hometown, the crew has evidently taken Mark Twain’s famous adage to heart —“Write what you know.” UnKoolKiddz personify the do-ityourself ethos at it’s finest. Their inclination to be independent artists is very much in keeping with the spirit of hip-hop, a culture that has always prided itself on remaining self-reliant and lifting itself up by its

Music UnkoolKiddz bootstraps. With no more than a microphone and a computer at Jeek’s house, they manage to record and produce all of their own music. “You can just chill with your friends and get creativity flowing,” says Reff. “Plus, it’s somewhere you’re comfortable so you don’t have to worry about messing up or getting stressed out.” Beats are found by scouring YouTube for instrumental tracks and the crew even films their own music videos, all while maintaining a viable presence on a variety of social networking sites. “Jeek is the main guy,” admits Cookie, “He’s the mastermind. He’s the guy that hits us up, he’s the guy that will hand us a beat and be like ‘here you want to write to this?’ He’s the one that edits our music.” Yet, Jeek is not your typical leader. His role in the group is much like that of a big brother; helping and encouraging his fellow emcees to find their direction. It evolves into a collaborative effort, orchestrating a more cohesive sound for the crew and yielding interesting results. Their tracks are smooth; citing heavy influence from legendary ’90s hip-hop acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Wu-

Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

Tang Clan, in addition to rappers like Nas, Eminem and the upand-comer Kendrick Lamar. But still, much of their influences come from within. As KuyaRay notes, fellow emcee Hue has pushed them to step up their game lyrically and be unafraid of employing imagery in their writings. UnKoolKiddz pay no mind to those who say success cannot be achieved in a small town like Merced. “I feel that’s just something that holds people back from trying to be creative. It’s an excuse to say there is no

potential,” says Cookie. A self-motivated group of young people, UnKoolKiddz feel no hesitation. As Cookie puts it, success is up to the individual. They’ve found the best route is to simply dive headfirst, releasing their music and relying on online feedback to help them see where to go next. In the coming months, they’re looking to produce more music videos, release a mixtape and finally play a few live shows. For now, you can catch their music on Bandcamp or Facebook.

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Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

RADAR BROS. Eight Time’s a Charm

Words by Nathan Quevedo Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


im Putnam has a casual, calming conversation style that borders on wondering if he’s deep in thought or has just smoked a joint.

frontman for the Radar Bros. has been in the music business in one way or another since the late ’80s, playing in several bands, one that would set the tone for what would eventually be called shoegaze. Born and raised in California, Putnam remembers what the scene was like as a teenager. “I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Tarzana,” he says of the town northwest of L.A. “I think like late ’70s or early ’80s there was a lot of new wavy stuff … His band, the Radar Bros., a lot of Divo and The Cars. The has seen the cast change a few music scene at that time in L.A. times, but with the new lineup, was getting into hair metal,” he mostly made up of members of remembers of the musical trends what Putnam calls a “legendary at the time. L.A. band,” The Movies, there’s “It’s funny, because my friends more collaboration that leads to a and I would drive up and down thicker, richer sound.

says. “We worked in different studios for this album. It was definitely a more collaborative process. It was a lot more tracks than we normally do,” he adds. When asked what The Movies sounded like, Putnam takes another minute to formulate his answer. “ ‘What did they sound like?’ ” he asks rhetorically. “You know, that’s a hard question. … Television a little bit? What else … definitely elements of Divo in there, but lyrically, more clever, in a special way.” While all of this is happening with new members in Radar Bros., Putnam is going through a painful divorce. “I can basically say that I was

“I can basically say that I was incapacitated at a certain point and bringing in the other guys ... definitely helped with the whole process.” — Jim Putnam

Radar Bros. eighth album, simply titled “Eight,” takes Putnam’s relaxed, sparse, Roger Waters-like arrangements and adds lush keyboards, different melodic styles and, at times, a completely different sound. The first track on the new album, “If We Were Banished,” has a playful whistle effect with Putnam’s gentle vocals and likely the most 808-style drum machines in any Radar Bros. song. When asked about the over-abundance of synthetic drums, Putnam is stuck. It takes him a minute or so to simply say: “Yeah, you know, I think so.” Speaking from his home in Atwater Village — near the hipster-centric Silverlake area of east L.A. — the 45-year-old

Sunset Boulevard and harass the hair metal guys because we didn’t think they were very cool,” he says laughing. Putnam says the scene was pretty ridiculous but very entertaining. “When they went away, I became really sad,” he adds. Putnam moved to San Francisco for a few years in the late ’80s and early ’90s and came back to L.A. and joined a shoegaze band called Medicine that recently released a box set. Putnam wants to talk about the new band members and The Movies. “I think bringing in Dan Lead (The Broken West), Brian Cleary (The Movies) and Ethan Walter (Walking Sleep) had a lot to do with the change in sound,” he

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incapacitated at a certain point and brining in the other guys … definitely helped with the whole process. I was having a really rough time there,” he says. The Radar Bros. has had its fair share of success, touring with Modest Mouse a few years ago, opening for Teenage Fanclub most recently and even opening for Beck at The Wiltern Theatre in L.A. years ago. The band is also popular across the pond. “We’ve toured Europe extensively,” Putnam says. “Pretty much on every record we’ve done two or three European tours.” “I really enjoy being in Spain … and parts of the UK and Germany are really good,” he says, adding, “not a lot of people in Spain Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

28 speak English.” The last portion of the interview focused on the music industry and how it’s changed over the past few decades. “It’s changed so that it’s much harder for bands like us to really do anything,” Putnam says. “It’s definitely much harder to tour.” And Putnam has had quite a bit of experience in the music industry, even as a child. His father was a studio engineer and Putnam, along with his brother went on to start a music equipment company called Universal Audio. Putnam has even been on a panel discussion for Tape Op Magazine to talk about home recording studios.

But back to the current music industry’s rampant pirating: “It’s reprogrammed the way people have to sustain what they’re doing. It’s all about selling merch at this point because people aren’t really going to buy your music,” he says. “I think (the music industry’s new model) is still trying to figure itself out,” he adds. The Radar Bros will be playing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Multicultural Arts Center (645 W. Main Street). In addition to their performance, there will be a screening of the indie documentary “Pass the Music.” For more information visit,

Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

PASS THE MUSIC DLM screening indie documentary on the Los Angeles music scene


os Angeles is a land of hopes, dreams and talent. It’s also a land of addiction, perpetuation and hype. While this may be a quick and harsh assessment of the West Coast’s largest metropolitan area, it is a central theme to the music documentary “Pass the Music,” which delves into the East L.A. music scene centered in the Echo Park/Silverlake neighborhoods. “We’re both huge music fans and we just started shooting a lot of shows,” says Ryan Maples, 31, one of the documentary’s producers. “We thought we could do documentaries about different pockets of the L.A. music scene. Before we knew it, we had more and more footage than we expected.” The documentary’s other producer, Jason Tovar, 32, was on the other side of the U.S. during some of the initial filming. “At the time when we were doing this, I was living in Brooklyn,” says Tovar. He adds that people in Brooklyn

Words by Nathan Quevedo that we had a 180 hours of footage that we had to dwindle down to about 90 minutes,” Tovar says. Ryan and Tovar did have an idea of where they wanted the documentary to go and a question they were hoping to find an answer to: What does it take to be in a band in Silverlake? “They may not be making much money, this may be as good as it gets for them, but it’s kind of like the lottery “Pass the Music” is an independent Documentary produced by Ryan Maples and Jason Tovar. and they don’t know if they’re going to quit didn’t believe him that Earlimart. their day jobs,” Tovar there was so much “We spoke pretty says. going on in the L.A. in depth with Brian Ryan adds: “The one scene. Cleary, who started The thing I walked away with The film was shot Movies,” says Ryan. … any kind of art you during a 2-½ year “They’re a really, do in this day and age, time period starting really interesting band so many people can do in 2008. The main to say the least,” Tovar it and so many people bands featured are The adds. “When we were are out there doing it. Happy Hollows, The shooting it, we didn’t It’s really competitive.” Henry Clay People, The have bands in mind. The 90-minute Movies, Radars to the Our first interview (with documentary will be Sky and Seasons. The Movies) was a screened at the DLM However, there are disaster. … Tim was Live show with the featured interviews drinking quite a bit. Radar Bros. on Feb. and performances by “I think we did like 1 at the Multicultural dozens of bands and two hours of interview Arts Center. other folks in the music … it was supposed to “One of the things business, including be 30 minutes,” Tovar we were hoping some artists that have says laughing. “He’s a with the movie is to played in Merced, lose cannon for sure. introduce this music to including the Radar “A difficult part about more people,” Bros., Le Switch and shooting so much is Ryan says.

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Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


Lab Tour Dr. Kathleen Hull

Photo by Tom Price Jr. Dr. Kathleen Hull pulls an ancient tool from her vast inventory of objects. Hull is the professor leading the newest anthropology department in the University of California system at UC Merced.

Stories in stone

Professor leads unique anthropology department


erhaps if I was more of a grown-up, I would reserve my small feelings of infinite youth and insignificance to monuments, historical edifices and suchlike. Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

Words by K Chico As it is, when Dr. Kathleen Hull hands me an ancient scarred stone mortar, originally used to grind grain, then ceremonially broken for some long-ago unknown reason, I feel like a child. One of the founding anthropologists at UC Merced, Dr. Hull politely overlooks that I am holding what is in all likelihood a very robust piece of stone like an infant, wondering if I am supporting its head correctly. An associate

professor leading the newest, very unique anthropology department in the University of California system, Dr. Hull has worked with private contractors, academics, and the National Park Service, so perhaps she is accustomed to interested, but unsure souls, such as I. The lab where the DLM team was invited to conduct the interview is bright, nearly clinically white, with brand new robust storage shelves for the

storage of artifacts. Instead of being the cold, scientific atmosphere one might expect, the professor has somehow managed to bring a nearly Zen peacefulness to the quiet space. Perhaps this is the result of her views toward her work and her life. “Anthropology opens our minds to the world. It makes us more curious, more tolerant, more apt to help other people,” she says. According to the American Anthropological Association, Anthropology is simply the study of humans, past and present. Here in California, we have a huge number of indigenous peoples, mysterious events, plagues, ways of life and immeasurably more history than the little Styrofoam mission buildings many of us constructed in middle school. Right on Merced’s doorstep is the natural wonder known as Yosemite National Park. Dr. Hull has worked in more than one capacity with the park for many years. Her book (yes, she is a published author, along with being an expert consultant) details her research on the mysterious diseases introduced to the indigenous people of Yosemite many generations ago. In the park, there are oftenforgotten human wonders such as the tribal art, jewelry, unique mythology, and even cave paintings, some of which professor Hull is the foremost authority on. And there are surely a lot of mysteries of the past. I finally notice the long row of mysteriously labeled boxes stacked as high as my hip on the far wall. This is the raw material of Dr.

Photo by Tom Price Jr. Dr. Kathleen Hull carefully handles an ancient stone mortar, likely used to grind grain.

Hull’s next project: Salvaged from a southern California building development, a huge number of artifacts were unearthed by a backhoe removing a thin layer of earth, and more and more were found until the result is a row of carefully padded moving boxes, each of them heavy enough to make any weight lifter have second thoughts. At my request, the doctor ‘takes a peek’ as she enthusiastically lifts a lid and removes a small, excessively wrapped plastic package. Nestled inside is a piece of unassuming stone. Still calm, professor Hulls’ eyes sharpen as she handles it carefully, turning it 360 degrees with efficient movements. She describes some of it in a distant voice, eyes still riveted to the object she holds. It is a pestle, hand-ground, obviously having seen some use, made from common sedimentary rock, likely local stone. It would have been used along with a mortar similar to the one I saw earlier. The mortar and pestle is a paired tool still used by cooks today. A mortar is a rounded

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bowl, with the pestle fitted to the slope of the inside, so that seeds, grains and spices can be powdered easily. The style and design has not varied significantly for thousands of years. She points out a worn, slightly darker indentation in the stone. This is where the owner’s thumb rested. Wrapping her hands around it, she smiles as she mentions that their hand was slightly larger than hers. She gently rewraps it and sets it back in the box to be formally categorized later, and I ask her the question that all scientists must tolerate: How does this help us in everyday life? She says anthropology reminds and informs us about different people. “We’re called on to think about how other people live their lives,” she says. Although those who do not remember history may be doomed to repeat it, anthropology takes a more proactive approach to learning the lessons of the past, and perhaps changing ourselves for the better in the process. Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


Artist Profile Eulalia Gamez

The revealing work of Eulalia Gamez


Words and photo by Montse Reyes

f you haven’t heard her name by now, you’ve certainly seen her work. As the Art Hop’s artist of the month, UC Merced student, Eulalia Gamez’s painting has been emblazoned on Art Hop flyers all over downtown Merced. Hailing from South Central Los Angeles, Gamez has been an artist all her life. Whether it was dancing, singing, writing or drawing, she reveled in any artistic activity. Yet, it wasn’t until high school that Gamez really began to settle into art. Thanks to a Spanish teacher with creative inclinations, Gamez became inspired to take her black and white pencil drawings one step further, overcoming her fear of using color and experimenting with Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

different mediums. Soon enough, she began to paint. Shortly after arriving at UC Merced, she took her first painting class with Karen Lecoq. It was under Lecoq’s instruction that Gamez learned about the technical aspect of art and was truly able to come into her own as an artist. She took the tools Lecoq had taught her and added her own spin. “After a while I got bored,” says Gamez. “I didn’t want to recreate anymore images, so I just started painting the stuff that was in my head,” she says. The deeper she delved into the art world, the

easier it was and more apt Gamez became to break away from artistic conventions. Putting so much of herself into her art, Gamez still expresses hesitation when it comes to placing her art up for public display. “I just paint my emotions and I don’t know how I feel about showing it to people,” she says. “They could be standing next to a piece that might mean a lot to me but someone else could be like ‘what’s wrong with her?’ ” She worries that others may not understand her art or worse — think she’s crazy. But with a push of encouragement from her close friends, Gamez has gained the confidence to show her work in public with participation events like the Bobcat Art Show at UC Merced, Conjuntos at J&R Tacos, and of course, the quarterly Art Hop. Her paintings are packed with emotion; often featuring the same basic figure of a woman in a variety environments. For Gamez, that figure is a symbolic representation of every woman. She attributes the running theme to her feelings that women, as a whole, are underrepresented and often silenced. Personally, she recalls growing up and being told by family members (who, admittedly meant no harm), “You’re prettier when you’re quiet.”

“That’s not fair!” she exclaims. So, she chooses to challenge notions like those by portraying images of strong women in her art. Gamez cites her mom as a heavy influence for her work. In her younger days, her mother’s desire not to see her daughter turn into the “starving artist” prototype lead to a vehement opposition to Gamez’s perusal of any artistic endeavor. So in typical teenage fashion, unwilling to give up art Gamez resorted to sneaking around. While her mother thought she was staying after school for tutorial sessions, Gamez would actually be at choir practice. Her mother has long since changed her mind, becoming Gamez’s number one fan after realizing art was her daughter’s passion. Despite being a big-city transplant, Gamez feels at home here in Merced. Among the tight-knit group of artists, she has found a community that fosters creativity on a smaller, personal level, than she would find amidst the hustle and bustle of L.A. Her strong relationship to her work perhaps shows as the reason why art is so precious to young people. “Having art to express all those emotions that I never could express by talking helped me get through and finish school,” she says.

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Downtown Life Magazine January 2013


Last Word Laura Phillips

Fighting for the Arts Center


have to be honest, six months we got left behind. ago when I became the new (Just a note in case you were Executive Director of the Arts wondering – we don’t get any Council, I really had no idea what money from the City or County, but I was getting into. I knew the Arts the City gives us the building rentCouncil wasn’t in great financial free. We get a little over $12,000 shape, that we had been hit hard by annually from the California Arts the recession, just like everyone else. Council.) My plan was to go slowly, to build I needed to find a lot of money, Laura Phillips programs and stabilize the finances fast. Grants were out — we had run one class, one grant, one donor a deficit for four years, making us Director, Merced request at a time. And then our County Arts Council “ungrantable.” A one-time, flashy office manager told me two months fundraising gala wouldn’t work — ago that we were out of money at we needed too much money. the end of the year. Our reserves, which we had I did the only thing I knew to do: I asked the been drawing from little by little over the years, people of the community for help. I couldn’t would be exhausted in January, and there was no promise them anything, no coffee mugs or tote new money coming in. bags or their names on a plaque. I just asked That sucked. people to help buy me time to put together a I was going to be the person who lost the solid plan to make us profitable. Fundraising Merced Multicultural Arts Center. The Arts Council professionals will tell you I did it backwards: would survive as a nonprofit without the building, you’re supposed to develop the plan first, and but the city would lose a huge asset, and the present it to potential donors, who then recognize downtown’s potential to become a thriving your vast intelligence and superior abilities and corridor for arts and culture, with the Merced donate lots of money to your cause. I didn’t have Theatre and Playhouse Merced anchoring the time to do that, and I was desperate. east end of downtown and us on the west, would So far, it’s working. As I write this, we are a be seriously compromised. Five people, including little under 40 percent of our goal, and we still me, would lose their jobs. The Enrichment have a month to go. Three community leaders Center, our amazing program for adults with wrote a joint letter to individuals outside of our developmental disabilities, run by Shannon Essig, mailing list asking for contributions. We’ve had would have to find a new home, as would the about 30 individuals and organizations, including Arbor Gallery, the DLM Gallery Concert Series, the Northern Merced Rotary and the Merced the offices of the Merced Symphony, and the Community Foundation, donate $1,000 or more, Merced Civic Ballet. and many, many people have sent in smaller It would also eliminate third party rentals, the contributions. Playhouse Merced and the DLM, Arts Council’s second largest revenue stream, with photographer Juno Appleseed, have held further damaging our finances. We would have fundraisers for us; Monika Modest, who was to retrench, with the Board of Directors running responsible for the G Street Underpass and the programs like Artree, our arts in education Tree of Life tile projects, put together a tile painting program, and trying to rebuild. fundraiser, a Very Nice Artist Who Wishes To Be So why are we in this position? Like I said in Anonymous designed and printed limited edition Tom’s article in the November edition of the DLM, t-shirts, the Sun Star, the County Times and the we don’t have a financial problem, we have a DLM have been tireless champions, and don’t vision problem. We weren’t nimble enough to forget those Sexy Men of Merced calendars! (Thank change with Merced, and as our budget shrank, you Jordan and Ben!) we responded by cutting back on programs to I know this is supposed to be “the last word,” but the community we are responsible for serving. We we are still in process, and will be re-envisioning and weren’t at the forefront of change, capturing the rethinking for a while. We are going to make it, and energy and enthusiasm that is the fuel of the arts; we will be better, smarter, and stronger. Downtown Life Magazine January 2013



Downtown Life Magazine January 2013

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The Downtown Life Magazine. Featured: Radar Bros. "Pass the Music" documentary UnKoolKidz Downtown Nightlife Fishbone Art Hop