2015, I decided, was the year to pack my guitar and my songs and head off to explore Los Angeles and find some new inspiration.
I was joined on my adventure by a good friend – we were possibly more Patsy & Edina than Thelma & Louise! Our first week was spent acclimatising to life in Venice Beach. The jet lag meant waking up at silly o’clock every day, however the upside was beautiful early morning walks along the beachfront. Venice wakes up slowly. The locals are colourful and often a little crazy, with buskers, muscle men, green doctors and souvenir shops crowding the sea front. The beach was perfect for practicing some songs on a willing audience . And at the end of each day, these sunsets were a great accompaniment to a nice glass of wine.
I found myself walking for miles that first week, in and around the lovely back streets of Venice with its pretty house’s, funky gardens and canal network. The atmosphere is laid back, creative – and the coffee is amazing.
One favourite place in Venice was Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Definitely worth a visit if you get out to LA. It’s full of great bars, independent shops and boutiques – generally an excellent place to hang out, shop, eat and drink. Beautiful though everything is, it’s not cheap, so be warned ..…… Thank you Venice for inspiring a new song ‘Venice In My Veins’, I’ll share it with you soon.
For years I’ve been singing ‘All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun’, and I now understand why Sheryl Crow wrote that song. Santa Monica is a great area. The Huntley Hotel is just off the main boulevard and has a gorgeous rooftop bar with a panoramic view of the beach. We toasted my friend’s birthday a few times there. Cheers. before heading down to Santa Monica pier. Although there’s not a stick of rock to be found, I did discover this is the last leg of ‘Route 66’. It would be rude not to celebrate, so time for more cocktails at The George hotel – a lovely Art Deco time warp of a building that may soon be re-visiting it’s speakeasy past. L.A. does have some incredible deco buildings.
We moved on to Silverlake after Venice to a bigger apartment that could accommodate the arrival of some more friends. Once the smog had cleared we had great views of Sunset Boulevard and Downtown from our balcony. Local highlights included the fabulous brunches at Winnies and an evening of Burlesque at El Cid – I am now in awe of tassel twirling!
My first showcase was at El Cid – it’s a great venue but you only get to play one song. I chose ‘Rage Outrage’. It was like a fast and furious conveyor belt. You’re announced, you plug in and go, no sound check, no reverb, no time to be precious, just get up there and perform. It was worth it for the handshakes and complements. I then sat back and relaxed for my first encounter with Blanche Bullshit ….. now that was interesting.
Once owned by Judy Garland and frequented by many famous people, The Pig & Whistle in West Hollywood is well known for supporting new acts. The open mic evening features a variety of comedy, poetry and music acts and, guess what, we meet Blanche Bullshit once again. Off stage she reckoned she could read past lives and told my friend she was a Viking and me that I was an Angel….. of course, dear. It was a fab space and another fun night meeting new people and playing ‘Rage Outrage’ and ‘Mandolin Rain’. Life is full of coincidence and bizarrely, the only other Brit in the line up was a guy I had worked with in Ibiza 8 years ago. Strange.
Strolling along the Hollywood Walk of Fame the next day, I was hoping to stumble across Doris Day (the star not The Star) as my new song ‘The Ballad Of Billy Roy’ was written with her in mind. There are hundreds of stars lining the pavements, so the probability of finding hers wasn’t high. However, the stars must have lined up for me that day because as I stopped to cross the road, I looked down and found I was actually standing on Doris.
With friends around, some site seeing and fun was obviously in order. We packed in a Dodgers baseball game, a trip to Universal Studios, an evening with the divine Bette Midler, a trip out to Pasadena and many great nights out.
LA people are really nice but so busy and almost impossible to pin down. Anyway, I finally caught up with film maker and playwright Gigi Gaston, someone I’ve known for a while and who likes my songs. She’s both successful and a great person. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and then she dropped me off on Rodeo Drive – it was like landing on another planet, such extreme and ostentatious wealth. While trying to find a wifi signal, I got hustled into a boutique selling face creams where the assistant tried to convince me she could get rid of the lines under my eyes (cheeky cow) with the latest natural bottom cream (all the rage there). Since when has bottom cream been natural? Special discounted price of $100 dollars (normal price $500). What a steal! No thanks and anyhow she only did one eye, what use is that? And, no, I didn’t look 10 years younger!
My next meeting was coffee in Beverly Hills with the fabulous Marcella Detroit (singer/songwriter and previous member of Shakespeare Sister). I met her a couple of years ago after a gig she did in the UK, we got talking and then continued to keep in touch. She has been fantastic at helping and advising me, is a very generous spirit and an amazing songwriter and vocalist. Check out her new album, ‘Grey Matterz’.
Check out my website gallery to find a few new pics taken by Leigh Green, a British photographer working in LA. Thanks to Leigh for some great shots and also for the trip out to Topanga Canyon. I have to say a very big thank you to him.
Finally, thanks and appreciation to Thelma (Patsy!) who has spent many patient hours trying to organise me, and my friends, you know who you are, for their continued support. When the towel is about to get thrown, you manage to catch it and throw it right back at me!
I’m back home now, full of new ideas inspired by my LA adventure. While work continues on those new songs, I’ll be recording and releasing a 3 track EP later this year. ‘The Ballad Of Billy Roy’ will soon be available on iTunes watch this space.You can listen to other material on Soundcloud and more still on findleywebster.com.