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POP EYE Silverlake's Surprisingly Starry Festival
L.A. Times, Sunday, September 30, 2001
by Steve Hochman
(Edited by Fuxia)

A three-day pop festival featuring performances by Sting, Elton John, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Beck sounds like something that should be on the grounds of Woodstock or in England's fabled Reading. But the event will be held in December in L.A.'s funky/arty Silverlake district, utilizing two relatively intimate locations-- the Paramour hilltop estate built in 1923 by silent-screen star Antonio Moreno and his wife, Daisy, and the 4100 Bar on Sunset Boulevard. The festival is being produced by Dana Hollister, owner of both the Paramour (site of numerous Hollywood "buzz" parties of late) and the 4100, to benefit the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic. Billed as Silver Lining Silver Lake, the event expands on a single-show benefit last year that featured Beck, Aimee Mann and Rufus Wainwright.

Plans call for Sting and Elton John to headline Dec. 13, outdoors at the Paramour, with Nortec Collective, El Otro Yo (Editor's Note: Excellent Band from Argentine) and Debora Falconer also performing, and Robert Downey Jr, Minnie Driver, and Ione Skye (Editor's Note:Daughter of singer Donovan + Anthony's Ex-girlfriend) as hosts.

Sting and Elton John will be in town to participate in the latter's AIDS benefit on Dec. 12 at the Universal Amphitheatre. The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beck headline the next night, with Jaguares and Jurassic 5 also scheduled and surfer-actor Kelly Slater hosting. The Dec. 15 lineup for the 4100 Bar is still coming together, though it will include a concert version of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" featuring Donovan Leitch Jr. in the title role, alongside Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and the musical's songwriter Stephen Trask and co-star Miriam Shor.

Tickets will go on sale Nov. 1 for the Paramour events (capacity about 2,500) ranging from $250 to $1,000, including a gala party, and for the 4100 day at $75. Updated schedule and ticket information will be on a Web site, http://www.silverliningsilverlake.com , which will be activated soon. Beck and the Chili Peppers are both Los Angeles-based and community-active, so their participation is no surprise.

But getting English stars Sting and Elton John is a coup for the clinic. Hollister credits Downey, a close friend of both singers and a client of Hollister's former interior design business. "Robert was our spokesperson last year, and this year he came in as an avenging angel," she says. "I'm overwhelmed by his generosity. In the wake of what's been happening, people are doing a lot of benefits around the world, but we hope this comes off as having so much grass-roots integrity that people will respond. It's about acting locally."

Silverlake Review:

Wednesday December 19 5:27 AM ET
Chili Peppers add spice to lackluster charity gig
Silver Lining (Paramour Estate; 1,400 capacity; $1,000 top)

By Troy J. Augusto

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - There's a good reason outdoor concerts aren't usually scheduled for December, even in Los Angeles: It's just too dang cold. Yet despite chilly temperatures, more than 1,000 people paid $250-$1,000 each to see such stars as Beck and Red Hot Chili Peppers perform in the huge backyard of a hilltop mansion in Silverlake.

At the second night of this second annual benefit event for the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, attendees enjoyed panoramic views of the L.A. basin, ``complimentary'' food and drinks (the quality of which was determined by how much you paid to get in) and the chance to see some well known local musicians perform under unusual circumstances.

Beck, who said he lives within walking distance of the Paramour, was a late addition to the bill, and he apologized for the lack of preparation he and his bandmates displayed, but surely the three could have rehearsed some of these songs a bit beforehand.

Whether tackling a couple of Hank Williams tearjerkers or his own ``Pay No Mind,'' Beck (who was introduced by Robert Downey Jr. (news - web sites)) and his accompanying guitarist and bass player looked and sounded as if they hadn't played these numbers before, or at least not in a very long time.

Aimee Mann played a half-dozen of her confessional songs, including newer entries ``Deathly'' and ``Calling It Quits'' and familiar tracks like the Oscar-nominated ``Save Me'' and ``Choice in the Matter.'' Afterwards she said, ``It's not easy to rock in a long coat and scarf.'' It also wasn't easy to stay warm listening to such mopey music.

Mexican rockers Jaguares heated things up with their distinct blend of pop-hard rock (think Whitesnake) and singer Saul Hernandez's politically charged lyrics, though it was unusual to see this wildly popular rock en Espanol group perform in front of so many marginally interested listeners. Afterward, a member of MTV's ``Jackass'' crew came out and stapled one part of his anatomy to another, earning him plenty of Bronx cheers.

The Chili Peppers, whose members all live within a few miles of Silverlake, were the evening's big draw, and the band delivered an engaging, if restrained, set that was split between new songs (presumably earmarked for the band's next studio album) and old faves, including ``Give It Away'' and ``Right on Time.'' A Ramones cover and recent hit ``Californication'' highlighted their 10-song effort.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS

Opening a New Door
Who's behind the Silverlake Conservatory of Music? None other than Flea himself.

L.A. Times, Wednesday, October 3, 2001
By Susan Carpenter

Flea is financially backing the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, set to open Oct. 20. He also plans to teach a few lessons a week in trumpet and bass.
LAWRENCE K. HO / Los Angeles Times

Rock star or headmaster? Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' impish bass player, will be both once his Silverlake Conservatory of Music opens its doors this month. "See that kid?" he asks, pointing to a child running past the back door. "Future tuba player."
Sandwiched between a carniceria and a storage area on Sunset Boulevard, the school is another addition to the ever-gentrifying hipster neighborhood of Silver Lake. The former thrift shop is well on its way to a full transformation. A storefront once crammed with unwanted clothes and dusty knickknacks is now a beautifully rendered practice studio with eight rooms, each named after a tone in the diatonic scale—do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti and do.
"I've been teaching all these years ... in boarded-up old bathrooms and closets," says Keith Barry, a high school friend of Flea's who will be the conservatory's dean of education, as well as a music instructor. "That's your typical private lesson space, and I'm happy to be there, but this facility is going to be gorgeous."
Inside, the school has the feel of an Art Deco train station, with retro ceiling lamps and two-tone green walls.
Eventually those walls will be decorated with portraits of iconoclastic musicians: John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Igor Stravinsky and Fugazi's Ian MacKaye.
That gallery is symbolic not only of Flea's musical taste and influences, but also of the school's overall take on music instruction.
"I would want to teach a kid Germs songs as much as I would want to teach them Bartok or Haydn," says Flea, whose real name is Michael Balzary. "When I was a kid I played in symphony orchestras and I played punk rock, and it's just as valid to me."
The conservatory will reflect "a diversity of individuals, curriculums, approaches and personalities," he says. More than 20 teachers will rent space from the school, offering classes on instruments that range from clarinet and lap-steel guitar to electric bass and vocals. Music supplies will be sold in the school's store.
Specific classes and times have not yet been set, but the conservatory plans to offer 30-minute and hourlong private lessons, costing $20 and $40, respectively. "Master classes," lasting six to eight weeks, will also be available in Afro-Cuban percussion, string quartets and other disciplines.
Flea, who is financially backing the school, plans to teach a few lessons a week in trumpet and bass.
He's "not real picky" about who his students are, he says, though he'd prefer beginners. He'll probably limit his commitment to two-month blocks of lessons because of the Chili Peppers' tour and recording schedule—the group will soon be in the studio making the follow-up to its 1999 hit "Californication," which has sold more than 8 million copies.
Other members of the Chili Peppers may also teach some clinics, says Flea, who will certainly rank as the biggest rock star ever to engage in such a face-to-face relationship with the public. Is there any concern that some will sign up for lessons only to bask in the glow of celebrity presence?
"If that's the initial thing that brings them in, then that's fine. Whatever it takes to get a kid interested in music," says Pete Weiss, 42, the school's chief of operations. "Maybe at that point they won't need to look to celebrities, they'll be able to look at themselves and feel good."
The transformative power of music and the importance of music education are the underlying principles of the Silverlake Conservatory, which aims not only to pick up the slack from public schools that have dropped the ball on arts instruction, but also to expose kids to something other than MTV.
"As our culture becomes more and more fast-food ... and more and more media becomes big brother, (they're) less likely to seek out their own individual way of being, artistically," says Flea, 39. "I'm hoping to have this place expose kids to music and hopefully inspire them to do cool stuff."
When Flea speaks about the conservatory, he is dead serious—a bit of a disconnect from his goofball image. Is this the same guy who once sported a sock on his privates for an album cover? The guy who tattooed his own name on his scalp?
Flea's earnestness about the school stems from his own upbringing. The stepson of jazz bassist Walter Urban Jr., he grew up in a house teeming with musicians but strapped for cash. A gifted trumpet player, he was able to take private lessons only because he won a scholarship.
"I was lucky, and I got it and I loved it. For me, it was the greatest thing in the world," says Flea, who today sports a mustache and wears his hair red.
Eventually, he hopes to turn the conservatory into a nonprofit and subsidize half of its students with free lessons and instruments.
But until then, there are other decisions to be made: Where should the bookshelves go? What day will the school open?
"Oct. 1," Flea insisted.
"Do you see a toilet in that bathroom?" countered Weiss.
Eventually, the two decide it will be Oct. 20. They shake hands, then break into a spontaneous jig.
Flea says he started seriously considering opening up the school a year ago after discussing it with Barry. He wasn't inspired to action, however, until he gave an informal performance at his L.A. alma mater, Fairfax High.
"They had nothing. All they had was a vocal group. They didn't have any instruments," says Flea, who graduated in 1980, two years after Proposition 13 was passed and school arts programs began getting the ax.
At Fairfax, Flea was a member of the jazz band, orchestra, marching band and choir. If those programs hadn't been there, "for me it would have been completely devastating because that was the only reason I went to school."
Performing at Fairfax 20 years later, he says he felt "shaken up about it. There was just no music for kids in public schools." Flea was also inspired by the late L.A. jazz musician Horace Tapscott, who set up a neighborhood musicians' union that taught residents of the Crenshaw District to play instruments and performed free concerts in Leimert Park.
Sitting in a corner where a small stage will be built, he says he envisions the school as a creative community center of sorts. The stage will be used primarily for recitals—"kids blowing clarinets and teary-eyed parents and stuff," he says—but also for orchestra, jazz and vocal performances, and poetry readings.
Though the name Silverlake Conservatory of Music may seem a little square for a guy whose band likes to play in the buff, Flea says, "I wanted to have a name that was serious because this is going to be a serious academic school. It's not a place to fool around."
The kids are not, he says with a smile, "gonna be coming in cursing and acting like me."

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