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Transplants With Heart

Thursday, June 12, 2014

André Cymone - PHOTO BY DAN MONICK
  • Photo by Dan Monick
  • André Cymone
When one thinks of the '80s Minneapolis music scene, one thinks of Prince and Morris Day. Everyone, of course, has seen Purple Rain.

But don't forget about André Cymone. He began playing music with Prince when they were 13. He went on to introduce Prince and Day.

"I had a lot to do with the Minneapolis thing becoming something, and I paid a lot of dues," says the now-55 Cymone, over coffee at a Los Feliz cafe.

He moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1985. He remains an incredible live performer, and recently released the blues-tinged rock and roll album The Stone, his first solo record after a 29 year hiatus.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Keddy Mac, left, and Hunter Beard
  • Keddy Mac, left, and Hunter Beard
Hunter Beard is a born hustler. By the time he was 13 in Little Rock, Arkansas, he was selling drugs. When he was sentenced to adult prison at 17 for robbery, he spent his time recording songs off the radio and rapping over them until a guard hooked him up with her father, a promoter. And for the last year, he's been doggedly emailing and dropping off his music at the L.A. Weekly offices.

He and his musical partner, Kendrick "Keddy Mac" MacNeil, both 31-year-old MCs, are currently sitting in a recording studio at the SAE Institute of Technology on Sunset Blvd. Beard, ruddy and wearing glasses, and MacNeil, who sports an afro and speaks with a molasses-thick accent, are exceedingly polite and gracious. They are shaking their heads at the fact that they played the House of Blues recently.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

REBECCA HAITHCOAT
  • Rebecca Haithcoat
Standing outside his champagne-colored Saturn wearing a USC sweatshirt, Jonathon Marcou looks like just another good-looking frat boy. His khakis are pressed and cuffed, he wears Vans boat shoes with no socks and his long lashes almost brush the lens of his fashionable tortoise shell glasses.

But the 31-year-old rapper never graduated high school, and for the last three years, he's been living in his car. He somehow managed to make a mixtape during that time, featuring hooks and melodies which wouldn't be out of place on Power 106.

"Welcome to my humble abode," he says, opening a door. That new car scent still lingers, and it looks freshly vacuumed. In the front seat is a loaf of bread, which he buys because it's cheap and fills him up when he can't afford to eat dinner. In the backseat is a box of toys he hopes to hand deliver to his two daughters in Florida. The trunk serves as his closet, his clothes neatly folded.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Close playing his Earth Harp
  • Close playing his Earth Harp
Five years ago, William Close's house in Malibu caught fire and burned to the ground. This was even more devastating because his life's work -- a collection of giant, almost sculptural instruments, including something he calls his Earth Harp, painstakingly constructed over the past decade -- acted as kindling. And all of this happened just six months after his marriage ended.

"The whole hill was on fire," says Close, 42, sipping iced tea at PF Chang's in Santa Monica one recent Saturday, dressed in a stylishly slim button-down and suede ankle boots. His eyes crinkle. "That was an intense part of my life." He would later wow the America's Got Talent judges on national television, but that was well down the line.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

JAMIE-JAMES MEDINA
  • Jamie-James Medina
Bobby Womack is on the phone from the hospital, and he sounds ready to leap right out of that sickbed. "I miss the road," he rasps anxiously. "I miss being with the people."

The Los Angeles soul legend has had a rough few months: colon cancer, pneumonia, fading eyesight, lungs shutting down, then several days in a coma and surgery. And all of it comes just as Womack is experiencing an unexpected creative rebirth and putting out his first solo album in decades. "Maybe I got too excited, and that's why my body started falling apart," says Womack, 68, who expects to be back onstage in July. "I said to my doctor, 'I haven't done a drug in 25 years.' And he said, 'What about the other 25?' "

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Monday, May 21, 2012

MICHAEL LAVINE
  • Michael Lavine
Hits like "Fire Woman" and "She Sells Sanctuary" made the Zeppelin- and Doors-influenced hard rock of The Cult an MTV staple in the mid-'80s. The English outfit's foundation was guitarist Billy Duffy and frontman Ian Astbury, the latter known for his goth-meets-Native American shamanisms. Internal tensions led to hiatuses, but in recent years they've begun to release their music as "capsules" -- multimedia bundles, as opposed to traditional albums, that have been met largely with confusion.

Tomorrow, May 22, however, they return with the strong, regular-format LP Choice of Weapon. To mark the occasion, we spoke with the rambunctious Astbury -- who famously christened himself a "Wolf Child, howlin' for you" in the song "Wild Flower" -- and now calls Los Angeles home.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Alex Wood, Marc Cazorla, Chris Vos - REBECCA HAITHCOAT
  • Rebecca Haithcoat
  • Alex Wood, Marc Cazorla, Chris Vos
The backyard of The Record Company's Los Feliz house is the kind of place where you want to sit and stay a while. Birds are chirping, a lawnmower whirs in the distance and a dog slumps happily on the grass. There's not much smog, so the downtown skyline is visible. The idyllic spot is perfect for laid-back BBQs, long nights spent sipping beer and the band's good-time blues.

Marc Cazorla, Chris Vos and Alex Wood, the three members of The Record Company, are lounging on the back porch drinking iced coffee, explaining how three transplants from the northeast and midwest ended up making bluesy music in L.A. that would sound more at home in a sweaty, backwoods Mississippi juke joint. Their first track, "Don't Let Me Get Lonely," features Vos' surprisingly rich vocals over an infectious jumble of handclaps, driving bass and a tinny harmonica.

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