Archive for the ‘Eye on the Arts’ Category

Kickin’ it with Kapn’ Kula

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Originally used to describe any sort of nautical ne’er-do-well from antiquity, the pirate has made a cultural metamorphosis into the rum-swigging, peg-leg wearing, Jolly Roger flag waving, ill-mannered darling of our collective imaginations.  You can blame the mouse house with their multi-billion dollar movies and “yo-ho-ho”-ing robots in Anaheim if you’d like.  Or the masterful musings of literary icons like J.M. Barrie, and Robert Louis Stevenson.  You could blame Gilbert & Sullivan or Hallowe’en costume companies.  You could even blame that team of bat-and-ball fellers down Pittsburgh way.  But in the end, no matter who the culprit is (what are we going to do to them anyway?  Make them walk the plank?) the fact remains that the booze-stinkin’, lice-ridden, pirate replete with greasy beard, smelly eye hole, and Capn’ Crunch style bicorne hat, is here to stay.  And if said pirates are in everything from Saturday Morning Cartoons to internet memes than you’d better believe that Bixby Knolls, in all it’s splendor, has some too.

Our pirates are none other than Kaptain Ray Kula and his crew of crooning cut-throats!  The good Kaptn. is the front-man of a band that plays on authentic hundred year-old mandolins, accordions, and ukuleles and will throw you a Calypso or Hawaiian beat just to get your attention before growling into a 300 year old shantie about man’s love for manatees.  They play all over the sea’s of Southern CA mind you entertaining in cruise ships, watering holes, and private parties.  They’ve been honored to perform before the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at their 2004 National Conference and alongside the Hollywood elite during Disney’s red carpet premier’s of Pirate’s 2,3, & 4.  They’re also frequent guests to Bixby Knolls and First Fridays, filling the night with their raucous cries and merry music!  With their odd looks and demeanor they fit right in with Bixby’s eclectic crew of characters which includes your’s truly: the official super-hero/greeter/pod-person, Annie the beloved English Bull-dog, the ever-classy Duke and Duchess, and Mike Mora of the beard coalition (we can’t get enough of it!).

I recently sat down with Kaptn. Kula over a delicious Blair’s special pizza at one of my favorite fine dining establishment, Nino’s Italian Restaurant to ask him a few questions about life at sea and what makes him tick.

Knolls Ranger:  Howdy ho Kapn’ Kula!

Kaptn. Kula:  ARRRRR me matey!

Ranger:  What wonderful Nino’s menu item are you devouring today Kaptn.?

Kula:  I’m having the Chicken PARRRRRRmigian.

Ranger:  Heavenly.  Now most people don’t know this about you, but in addition to being a dreaded pirate you are also a fan of the stage, what is one of your favorite plays?

Kula:  I’d have to say ARRRRRsenic and Old Lace.

Ranger:  Hahaha, and your favorite 1970’s folk song?

Kula:  PARRRRRsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Simon and GARRRRRRfunkle.

Ranger:  Favorite Greek Mathematician?

Kula:  ARRRRRRRchimedes.

Ranger:  Beloved Don Knotts television character?

Kula:  BARRRRRRRney Fife.

Ranger:  Favorite Tuscany province in Italy?

Kula:  The eastern province of ARRRRRRRRRezzo.

Ranger:  Former Bodybuilding State Governor recently under fire for adulterous child fathering?

Kula:  Listen, do we have to keep doing this?  The ARRRRR jokes?  It’s a little demeaning, I mean I may be a pirate but I’m not just a simple, monosyllabic archetype.

Ranger:  Not just a what?  I’m sorry.

Kula:  An archetype.

Ranger:  Gee, I still couldn’t make that out.  Could you speak up a little.

Kula:  (Sighs) An ARRRRRchetype.

Ranger:  Ohhhhhh, an ARRRRRchetype!  Hehehe, Kula you crazy.

And then we danced

You can catch performances of Kula and his crew coming up at the Fun Draiser birthday show for Alive Theatre company members, Jasper Oliver and Aurea Tomeski on June 10th at The Farm, 555 E. 3rd St., Long Beach, CA, 90802.

Unveiling Jammin’ Music & Arts!

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Let it be known, the Knolls Ranger loves to jam.  He loves to wiggle, groove, side-step, and motor.  He loves to feel the rhythm.   But that ain’t all.  The ranger also loves that fruit based spread known as jam, he loves it on toast with a smidgen of melted butter.  Oooooh, the ranger loves that.  It stands to reason then that the ranger is head-over-heels, crazy-talkin’, pure-and-sweet gaga in LOVE with Jammin’ Music.  And it’s a good thing that the Knolls Ranger has an inordinately large heart because the room for love at Jammin’ Music just grew.  I’m talking of course about their acquisition of a new space at 4228 Atlantic Ave.

For those of you not in the Know’lls, Jammin’ Music is a seven year old music education school located in majestic Bixby Knolls.  Since opening they have taught hundreds upon hundreds of children the joys of learning to play an instrument.  The aim is high quality instruction, community engagement and a creative outlet for area youth.  Says business owner Kerri Hikida, “Music is shown to benefit children’s brains in many ways, such as in their reading and math skills.”  Well ring a bell, cook some meat, and call me Pavlov!  I had no idea that music education helped childhood neurological development!

The hundred’s of children who have learned to pluck strings, blow into horns, play keys, and beat drums since 2004 can attest the most to Jammin’s value as a music education school.  So it is with tremendous pleasure that we announce Jammin’s move from their former location to the new larger space at 4228 Atlantic, which will allow them to not only increase the music classes they’re offering but to give area youth that same excellent education they have come to expect in other artistic areas as well.  Starting June 20th, Jammin’ Music (now called Jammin’ Music & Arts) is offering an eight week Musical Making workshop which will teach kids improv, acting, clowning, and vocal training skills and which will culminate in a brand new musical created completely by, and starring the children who take the class!  The eight-week class meets twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) from 5-7:30p.m., June 20-Aug. 11, for only $350 and is catered towards ages 7-17. Payment plans are available.

“But wait, there’s more!”-the ranger says in his best Popeil impersonation.  Local youth can pick up tutoring from new theatre instructors Ellen Warkentine and Jasper Oliver outside of this class on an individual one on one basis, picking up invaluable acting skills from these professional working actor/educators.  And take truncated versions of the course during Jammin’s annual summer camp!

The new space is allowing Kerri and Geoff to try their hands at many new and exciting things including visual art classes, the afore-mentioned theatre courses and more.  Drop by the new space at 4228 Atlantic to wish them hello and congratulate them on the big digs!