Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Burlap to Cashmere Drops New Album Today

19 Jul


Back when I worked for a little indie newspaper in Los Angeles County, I had the incredible opportunity of interviewing the band Burlap to Cashmere.  They were one of my favorite bands at the time, making the whole experience of calling them up to chat — I remember I interrupted percussionist Scott Barksdale’s breakfast — and seeing them play live at Hollywood’s Key Club intensely exciting.  I was a real journalist, reporting on real stars!

I felt an immediate connection to Burlap to Cashmere.  The fast guitar, the earthy drumbeats, the yelps, the ethnic undertones — it was all so reminiscent of the Greek folk music I grew up listening to at family gatherings … and yet it was modern and lyrical too, preceding the whole indie folk rock movement.  The two founding members, cousins Steven Delopoulos and John Philippidis, were Greek like me.  Not only that, they were from New Jersey like me.  Their songs were poetry.  Their songs were full of Truth and Beauty and Love.

That was more than a decade ago, and they hadn’t put out an album since their Dove Award-winning Anybody Out There? (1998) until now.  Today, they release their new self-titled album.  The line up of the band has changed a bit, but Delopoulos, Philippidis, and Theodore Pagano are still in it.  The new album, Burlap to Cashmere, features songs like the heavily Greek-influenced “Santorini,” the sixties folk rock-sounding “Love Reclaims the Atmosphere,” and the hopeful and faithful “The Other Country.”  Watch videos here.

Hopefully, they’ll be at the Bitter End this summer!


Greek American Film Directory Louie Psihoyos Saves the Whales

7 Jul

Al Gore & co. made it trendy to go green in the millennium.  Back in the mid- to late-19980s, when I was growing up in a small suburb in northern New Jersey, America’s environmental concern was a little more specific.  We all wanted to Save the Whales.  In 1986 the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling.

For photographer and documentary film director Louie Psihoyos, that dream apparently never went away.  Psihoyos’ Oscar Award-winning film, The Cove, uncovers the all-too-real tragedy of dolphin hunting.  (Oceanic dolphins are part of the suborder Odontoceti, toothed whales.)

The film director more recently discovered that the Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump was using the meat of protected sei whales in their dishes.  Whale meat is illegal in the United States and was being imported from Japan, which is still a whaling nation (along with the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Iceland and the aboriginal communities of Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia).  The meat was linked back to seafood vendor Ginichi Y. Ohira, who pled guilty for knowingly selling the whale meat for unauthorized purposes.  He faces arraignment in September.  As for The Hump, it closed its doors, saying:

The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species. Closing the restaurant is a self-imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court. The Owner of The Hump also will be taking additional action to save endangered species.

One such action will be to make a substantial contribution to one or more responsible organizations dedicated to the preservation of whales and other endangered species.

It’s nice to know that photographer/film director Louie Psihoyos hasn’t given up the cause of saving the whales.

Psihoyos was born in Dubuque, Iowa, one of the oldest cities west of the Mississippi River.  (Note to self: today publishing is one of the fastest-growing industries in Dubuque, Iowa.)   He is the son of  a Greek immigrant who fled the communist occupation of the Peloponnesos region of Greece during World War II.

Check back tomorrow to hear the story of a dolphin myth from the Peloponnesus!