Eagle Rock Music Fest Celebrates 15 Years With Culture-clash Lineup

Music: Electronic DJ-produced Zedd blitzes pop world

But he’s also working on a film project with Lionsgate and co-founded WME’s electronic music division. “Pete is a terrific influence and authoritative figure,” said Marc Geiger, worldwide head of WME music. “I think he will make all of us better by being around.” Tong’s faith in dance music in L.A. is a sign that the genre and its culture are permeating the wider entertainment world. But the growing scene is also ripe for quick and cheap exploitation in popular media. Tong hopes to use his legacy and expertise to help steer the genre’s future in America and broaden the role that an influential DJ can fill. RELATED: Best albums of 2013 so far “When I worked on ‘The Beach'” the Danny Boyle film where Leonardo DiCaprio stumbles on a Thai drug ring “I could have really kick-started my film work if I was based here in L.A. Dance and electronica is in such uncharted territory here, and the market is so much bigger in the U.S. I want to be a part of that discussion.” While his reach in dance-music media is broadening, Tong stresses that he sees himself “as a DJ first” and hosted his L.A.-coming-out set at the agenda-setting Hollywood club Sound in September. “We are honored to have Pete performing his first gig since moving to L.A. at Sound,” said Rob Vinokur, the club’s co-owner. “He’s a true pioneer and icon in the industry and brings such a dynamic energy to his shows.” But even more important, his move is a signal to dance music’s traditional European home that America’s history as a foundry for house, techno and electronica sounds is coming full circle and Los Angeles is at the center of it.

Concert photos by the L.A. Times

It’s an impressive and adventurous roster, featuring artists Bosnian Rainbows, Poolside, Boardwalk, Nguzunguzu, Dub Club and a few dozen others, and presents evidence of the vibrant music community that has blossomed in the area. Over the span of the festival’s life, Eagle Rock and its sister neighborhoods Highland Park and Atwater Village have become independent music havens, home to labels including Friends of Friends, Innovative Leisure, Stones Throw, Now-Again, Alpha Pup, Brainfeeder and others. Studios and indie biz offices dot corners, and no fewer than four fantastic record stores sell choice, expertly curated music. RELATED: The 10 Commandments of smartphone use during concerts Perhaps most important for the area’s long-term prospects, the proceeds from the festival will help fund the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, a nonprofit space near the corner of Eagle Rock and Colorado that programs art camps, after-school classes, workshops — one on the xylophone begins on Oct. 14 (!) — and concerts. Its mission is to ensure that the area remains an arts hub for generations to come. The space has long been utilized by taste-making promoters FYF for innovative gigs and represents the area’s dominant population with evenings of Latin American-focused music. Friday night, for example, the center will host the monthly “Noches de Trova,” which features Mexican and Latin American singer-songwriters drawing on bolero, ranchera, country, jazz, folk and blues music. Saturday’s music festival roster is all over the place. Those looking for heavy rhythm should note Nguzunguzu, whose tracks are typified by tribal, polyglot beats and psychedelic washes of synthetics. The smoother-grooved duo Poolside celebrates the more casual aspects of dance music, a team “inspired by California, mezcal, dancing, good food and friends.” The beguiling duo Boardwalk, which has an excellent new album out on Stones Throw, promises to be a highlight. INTERACTIVE: A festival for every fan SoCal’s yearly sonic lineup The biggest influx of fans will no doubt arrive for Bosnian Rainbows, though. The group was formed by At the Drive In and Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and his devoted followers are legion. Born as Rodriguez-Lopez went on hiatus from the Mars Volta, the Rainbows features the shockingly charismatic lead singer Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. A children’s stage will host, among others, the uniquely Angleno work of the Bob Baker Marionettes. An experimental stage will be headlined by the modern dance troupe/music ensemble String Theory. The global bass stage should have tummies rumbling with the wild cumbia/new wave group El Conjunto Nueva Ola.

Iconic rock guitars and their owners

Dizzying and dazzling, it sounds like falling down the stairs and landing on your feet. To me, music doesnt have frontiers, doesnt have borders, Fonseca says over the phone from a tour stop in New Orleans, perhaps the only city in this hemisphere crammed with more musical magic per square foot than Havana. When people listen to my music, they feel good, even if theyre not from Cuba. Fonseca has helped push Afro-Cuban music further into the 21st century on other recordings, too his work with British dubstep pioneer Mala produced an intriguing 2012 album called Mala in Cuba . But, Fonseca said, his desire to move Cuban music ahead feels more personal, almost internal. It would have been easy to name myself the Buena Vista Social Club new generation, Fonseca said. But now its my career, and people are really accepting. We are starting from zero here, and Im feeling really good. My music is my life, and my life is my music. New from Pedrito Martinez New York percussionist and singer Pedrito Martinez seems to be following similar impulses on the excellent, eponymous debut album from the Pedrito Martinez Group, out Tuesday. The album grinds the band leaders original compositions up against tunes made famous by Led Zeppelin and the Jackson 5 all played with a zeal that should burnish Martinezs reputation as one of the most vital and charismatic Afro-Latin percussionists on the planet. The 40-year-old conga player first learned Cubas rhythmic dialects in the streets of Havana, but he said his curiosity is continuously stoked by the music of New York City. Everything comes from tradition, and what you do is add, Martinez said over the telephone. Its Afro-Cuban music interpreted by someone whos been in the United States for 15 years. Martinez first left his native Cuba for a tour of Canada in 1998, and in 2000, took first place at the Thelonious Monk International Afro-Latin Jazz Hand Drum Competition, held at the Kennedy Center. Since then, hes appeared on more than 100 recordings, all while performing regularly at private Santeria ceremonies at apartments across various New York boroughs. His group an ace quartet that includes keyboardist Ariacne Trujillo, bassist Alvaro Benavides and percussionist Jhair Sala still maintains a weekly residency at Guantanamera, a Cuban restaurant in Hells Kitchen. Martinez said the gig has helped him learn to a play with a dynamism and intensity that can rip across rooms of any size. We made this band in a little restaurant where people are eating and talking, Martinez said.

Roberto Fonseca, Pedrito Martinez looking to move Afro-Cuban music forward

“It’s the best studio on a bus I’ve seen so far,” Zaslavski said. “I can’t afford not to be working on music for that long. … I just don’t want to not be able to finish something.” Classically trained as a child and rock ‘n’ roll obsessed as a teen, the German-born Zedd turned to electronic music only recently. But already it’s gotten to the point where he will soon have to say no. Is there any such thing as too busy in the grab-it-now pop music world? “Generally, if you would have asked me that question five years ago, I would have wished to ever be in that spot,” Zaslavski said. “But then when you’re in that spot and you have to say no to things you would actually love to do, that’s a bummer, and a lot of opportunities I’m getting right now are amazing.” With artists such as Justin Bieber and Skrillex on his resume, Zaslavski has caught the attention of the pop music world. His single “Clarity,” featuring Foxes, recently reached No. 2 on the Billboard pop songs and dance/electronic songs charts and is moving in on 2 million in digital sales. And he’s released a new single “Stay the Night,” featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore. With that project out of the way, he’s focused on music for Lady Gaga, whom he met through his remix work and joined as the opening act for her tour of Asia. “I was inspired even before we played the first show when we did the rehearsals and I saw how many things you can do,” Zaslavski said. “It’s pretty impressive and that got me motivated to push the limits and make the best electronic show there is on the market, which is what I’m working on.” Well, one of several things he’s working on. There’s also this film he hasn’t quite said no to yet.