‘Such a Joy’

Roxanne Layton returns to Mannheim Steamroller for year 27

By L. Kent Wolgamott

Roxanne Layton doesn’t know exactly how many shows she’s played in the 27 years she’s been with Mannheim Steamroller.

But the recorder player knows she’ll be adding about 40 more to that total this year as the orchestra, which plays the classical rock Christmas music of Chip Davis, makes its annual two-month holiday tour. Mannheim Steamroller comes to The Pasadena Civic at 7:30 p.m. Monday, November 28. 

“I was trying to add it up,” Layton says. “Here’s an average of at least 40 shows a year. The first 10 years we didn’t have 40 shows. We were playing arenas to 10,000 people a night. So, let’s say 500 shows at least.”

And, even though the Mannheim Steamroller program only changes slightly from year to year, Layton never gets tired of performing it, on her recorder and percussion. 

“There is such a joy to doing this,” she says. “This music is timeless. It was the first Christmas album that so many people remember getting introduced to Mannheim Steamroller, even though we know there was much more before that.”

Layton, in fact, came to Mannheim Steamroller before it became an American Christmas tradition.

After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music, Layton was working in Boston when she initially encountered Mannheim Steamroller. 

“I won tickets from a radio station,’” she says. “I was making recorders at the time, and someone had given me ‘Fresh Aire III.’ I thought, ‘This is so cool. It’s classical rock and roll.’ They had a (touring) orchestra back then, and the trumpet player came into the shop. He asked if I wanted to come to rehearsal. I went from my shop with my instruments for the show, met Chip later, and ended up talking with him until 2 a.m.”

Layton had left a tape with Davis, the Omaha-based composer who created the neoclassical new age group in 1974, who, apparently, listened immediately after.

The next morning, Davis called Layton. “He asked ‘Would you like to be on my next album?” That all happened in 24 hours,” Layton says.

So, why did Mannheim need a recorder player?

“Back in the Renaissance, the recorder was like the trumpet and the saxophone. It was the instrument that led all the dances,” Layton says. 

“Chip is a big Renaissance fan. He was a bassoonist, but he was also a great recorder player and drummer, which is a double you don’t see out there.”

Adding Layton to the group gave Davis, who, for years, played with Mannheim on tour, additional flexibility in his role onstage.

“What it did was allow him to play the recorder while I played the drums or I could play the recorder while he plays drums,” she says of Davis, who no longer tours but still appears at special Mannheim Steamroller events.

The enduring career of Mannheim Steamroller began in 1975 — not with a Christmas album, but with the first “Fresh Aire” album. Combining classical music and pop, and using orchestral instruments and synthesizers and other synthetic tones, “Fresh Aire” helped usher in the new age music genre.

Davis created Mannheim Steamroller during the period when he was writing music with friend Bill Fries, who adopted the stage name and the CB radio toting character of C.W. McCall and became a country music star in 1976 with their hit song “Convoy” (which inspired the 1978 movie of the same name, starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw).  

Davis, though, was soon focusing on Mannheim Steamroller and what grew to a series of eight “Fresh Aire” albums, which enjoyed major popularity considering they were marketed in a niche genre.

But today Davis and Mannheim Steamroller are best known for Christmas music. Davis entered the holiday fray with the 1984 album “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas,” at a time when such seasonal albums were largely seen as something artists released when they were on the downside of their careers.

Instead, that first Christmas album became a huge hit, selling 5 million copies, and Mannheim Steamroller has gone on to become the bestselling Christmas act of all time.

The way Davis schedules the holiday tours has helped keep fans — especially families — coming out to see Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas shows year after year.

“We go to the markets every other or every third year,” Davis said in a 2017 interview. “So, then that gives them time to (think about), ‘Oh, you know, the kids are a little older. We should take them this year.’ I think that has a lot to do with the longevity.”

Like every other music group and artist, Mannheim Steamroller was unable to tour in 2020. But it was back for the Christmas tour last year. Once again, this year, two companies of the group will go on tour — one East Coast and one West Coast. 

That music will be performed by an orchestra that is made up of a core group of Steamroller players, like Layton, and musicians brought in from each community or area where the group performs, who rehearse in the afternoons before the evening show.

That combination works well, Layton says, as the local musicians come in well prepared and the rehearsal tightens up the music before the performances.

“We do the same program every night,” she says. “For me, I just try to do it better every night. For me, it’s a gift to get to enjoy this music. I still cry at a point in ‘Oh Holy Night.’ … I try not to cry during the shows, but sometimes it happens.”

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday, November 28

WHERE: The Pasadena Civic, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena

COST: Tickets start at $50

INFO: ticketmaster.com

A Rule Breaker

Billy Zane’s artwork reveals a free soul

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Billy Zane’s art begins with the spirit of inclusion. 

The award-winning actor encourages patrons to interact with his works at his current show titled “Action!” on display at the Speedy Gallery in Santa Monica through Saturday, November 26. The title nodding to the correlation between action painting and his cinematic roots. 

“I always tell people, ‘You’re not allowed to not touch my art,’” says the South Pasadena resident with a laugh. 

“You might even find an Easter egg of a hidden painting under one. It’s a tactile, pleasing experience, especially with some of the metallic paints I like to use.”

The applications have an urgency and force, Zane says. He balances the inherent masculinity of his paintings with the more feminine sense of beauty and balance. Zane says painting and acting complement each other, too. 

“The painting informs the acting and the acting the painting,” he says. 

“For the better part of 30 years, I had the pleasure of improvising and creating under pressure on film. I found that that same level of controlled chaos, danger and satisfaction could be found in painting. Especially with a show pending, you have to produce work that are legitimate.”

Zane’s raw authenticity in his paintings, drawings and photography have garnered recognition with shows in Los Angeles, London, Budapest, Milan, Miami, and Thessaloniki, Greece. 

Independent gallery owner Yiwei Lu curated the exhibition for the Speedy Gallery’s owner Atsushi Fukuda. Lu and Zane were introduced by mutual friend, Venice entrepreneur Todd Collins. 

“I didn’t know he had 150 (movie) titles to his credit,” Lu says laughing. “I introduced myself to him as a curator and he was introduced to me as an artist. I asked to see his work and I was just really, really impressed by it. They’re so free. It just seems like he doesn’t care about any rules. When I looked up from the artwork, I realized who he was. He was a villain in ‘Titanic’ whose character didn’t like art. It’s so funny because Billy is the opposite of that.”

The two met again at Zane’s outdoor studio behind Old Focals, a South Pasadena optical shop that provides eyewear to all the top films. 

“He’s created a clubhouse atmosphere and it makes me love creating there,” Zane says of its owner, friend Russ Campbell. 

“My home is nearby. Being part of the South Pas village informs my work with the nostalgia, charm and creativity the community is synonymous with. When not adorning the eyes of the hip and famous, the Old Focals family — Russ, Jessica and Rick (Barzell of the Cretin Hop, vinyl DJ collective)—screen movies, throw parties and have barbecues.”

The legitimacy of the work is evident and celebrated by experienced gallerists and neighbors at Bergamot. They are supportive of Lu and her activities and Zane as an artist whose works are easily identifiable. 

“I’m grateful for the response by the celebrated Bergamot gallerists like John Berman, Craig Krull, William Turner and Billy Gross, whose encouragement has been most generous while hosting tremendous exhibitions currently themselves,” he says. “I encourage everyone to come and vist all the galleries in an extended Bergamot stay.

“I’m most grateful to Atsushi and Yumi, who afforded an extensive and extended exhibition running from September 10 to November 26.”

Bold juxtapositions

His abstract expressionist paintings are bold juxtapositions of kinetic application and elegantly balanced color combination derived from both intentional and naturally occurring contradictory influences. 

“He’s a total rule breaker,” Lu says. “Not a lot of artists paint outdoors. He lays his paintings on the ground, steps on them, puts his fingerprints on them. Everything you would not want an artist to do, he does that.

“He sometimes drives over his canvases. He cares about the moment, which is cool. It really shows his free soul.”

It’s all in the name of joyous improvisation and sustainability. Zane started painting on the set of “Titanic,” Lu says. 

He uses discarded materials like coffee bags, patio umbrellas, signage, crates and recycled paint. He turns things that some would throw away into collectibles. It’s like new alchemy. 

“It’s like from garbage to gold,” says Zane, who is producing and starring in a film about Marlon Brando’s little-known yet impactful work in environmentalism.

“I seek out hardware and marine supply stores, which you can find in any village of any country or any town. I always ask about the paint they are throwing away in order to keep it from going into a landfill or local water system.

“When the palette being dictated by an unknown source, it is exciting to me. It’s surprising. I’ll always start there and then integrate elements I control.”

Zane is grateful for Lu, calling her “visionary and generous” for bringing his art to another gallery’s attention. 

“It’s lovely to be back at Bergamot Station,” he says. “My first show was there at Frank Pictures Gallery in 2010. It’s so nice to come full circle with a mid-career retrospective, ‘Action!’” 

“Action!”

WHEN: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays until Saturday, November 26

WHERE: Speedy Gallery, 2525 Michigan Avenue, B5B, Santa Monica

COST: Free admission

INFO: 213-248-4712, speedyartgallery.com, billyzaneart.com

Sugar and spice with apple is nice

By Emily Chavez

Picking apples is a much-loved autumn activity in my family. But once we have had our fun visiting the local orchard, we have such an abundance of apples that we can’t eat them fast enough before they turn soft and mealy. 

Although I am a fan of apple pie, crumble and muffins, I wanted to try something completely different this year with a French apple cake. 

The process is simple, with fewer than 10 steps. But this cake yields flavor and texture in bunches. The key ingredients that enrich and provide depth of flavor and aroma are the browned butter and spiced rum. The result is an easy-to-make cake with an intoxicating aroma, soft and moist texture, and spiced apple flavors that guests will eat up and ask for some to take home as mine did.

Spiced French Apple Cake

Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients

Cooking spray or butter, for coating the pan

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium apples

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup spiced rum

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for serving

Instructions

Peel, core and dice the apples.

Over medium heat, brown the butter until it smells nutty. 

Whisk together flour, baking powder and fine salt in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in the melted butter, light brown sugar, spiced rum and vanilla, and whisk until combined. 

Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Add the apples and gently fold until just combined. 

Transfer the batter to an 8-inch round cake pan prepared with cooking spray or butter and lined with a parchment paper round. Smooth out the top of the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before carefully removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Center of Attention

Transform your dining table during the holidays with these expert tips

By Kamala Kirk

A stunning and festive table setting is one of the most important elements for holiday entertaining. Not only does it help to set the mood and ambiance of the special occasion, but it also makes guests feel more welcome in your home. From creative centerpieces and dishes to glassware and decorative accents, there are numerous ways to make the ultimate statement at your table this holiday season.

Jeanne Chung, a luxury interior designer and owner of Cozy•Stylish•Chic, which includes a full-service interior design firm, retail and trade showroom in Old Pasadena, says incorporating natural elements is a great way to create a rustic yet warm ambiance in the home and table setting, as well as using items that are relevant to the holiday. 

“Some of the organic things I like to use from nature for Thanksgiving include magnolia leaves and mini pumpkins,” Chung says. “For the Christmas holidays, I cut off the unused bottom branches of my Christmas tree, lay them across the center of the table, and sprinkle cranberries on the table to create a festive look. Adding in a little bit of sparkle adds contrast and another layer, which brings the table to life.”

Candy Murray, interior style manager for Soho Home — the home and lifestyle brand from global hospitality group, Soho House — adds that she likes to look at the whole of the dining space rather than just the tabletop.

“Think about hanging decorations from the ceiling above the table,” Murray says. “Add natural elements, foliage and lights, then keep the table setting simpler to balance the space.”

The colors that one chooses to decorate their table with also help to set the mood and theme for any celebration. Color plays a big role in one’s dining experience and can also have an impact on one’s perception of the food.

“I’ve seen a lot of greens and more muted colors in tableware — and a move towards more handcrafted and textured pieces,” Murray says. “I think people are focusing on creating the right convivial mood and moving away from formality and glamour.”

Chung adds, “Blush, gold and champagne used together brings a feminine touch. An added pearlescent finish brings sophistication to any color palette.”

When it comes to key tabletop décor and items that every host or hostess should own, Chung offers several recommendations.

“Every household should own a variety of linens — napkins and table runners in several colors and patterns,” she says. “Along with small risers of varying heights, candlesticks and a variety of candles — tapered, votive and pillar. You can create different looks by mixing up the height on the table and playing around with different candles.”

Murray adds, “Glowy, warm lighting is key to creating a festive mood. Use candlesticks to create height and smaller candles dotted around the table to add a seasonal glow. Some of my favorite items from the Soho Home range for tabletop this season include Rosendale baubles (mouth-blown glass inspired by the glassware found in DUMBO House), Hansen candlesticks in soft brushed brass, Castelo serving platter, and linen napkins for texture pieces — Bolzano Lines are a winner.”

Murray also shares that she tends to lean toward a more informal ambiance in general when it comes to decorating her table.

“I keep the style of my table fairly informal,” Murray says. “I want my guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, so ideally try and reflect this mood. Serve food in big serving platters family style rather than plated, add color and texture in the tableware, and don’t use a tablecloth if you already have a beautiful tabletop.” 

As for tabletop decorating dos and don’ts, Chung encourages hosts and hostesses to not be afraid of mixing up the pieces in each table setting.

“If you don’t have a complete set of China, you can mix up different colors and patterns, as long as everything falls into a cohesive color palette and there is a balance of color and proportion,” Chung says. “For the 2020 Pasadena Showcase House, every piece in the table setting was different. As long as you achieve a visual balance, it is OK to mix things up. There are no hard, fast rules when it comes to decorating a table, so don’t overthink things. While you’re setting everything up, remember to step away to see the overall look and adjust accordingly.”

Cozy•Stylish•Chic

cozystylishchic.com

Soho Home

sohohome.com/us

Made in the Shade

Chris and Jill Yensen change lives with Long Valley

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Chris and Jill Yensen were working in the golf and software industries, respectively, when they decided to make a life change. 

Within a month, the couple married and founded Long Valley Solar Shades in 2005. 

“We lived in a mountain resort, 100 miles north of Boise, and it had everything you would want in a recreation area,” Chris says. 

“I was working at the golf course in the pro shop, and it was getting to be the first of September. We closed in October because of the weather. We were faced with me being unemployed. I didn’t want to work for anyone, so we went into business for ourselves.”

The move to LA last year was a return home for Jill, who was born and raised in Glendale. Here, Long Valley Solar Shades offers custom consultation, fabrication and installation of quality window treatments for San Gabriel Valley and the greater LA area. They specialize in solar shades but can tackle any window treatment job, from drapes to wood shutters and blinds, motorized installations to roller shades, and residential to commercial. 

Jill handles the design, while Chris covers the technical and installation side. It’s a true family business. 

“We do so much more than solar shades,” she says. “We do everything — honeycomb shades, wood blinds. If it’s related to window treatment, chances are we’ve done it.”

Solar shades, Jill contends, can change and save lives. Installed on the exterior, they block dangerous UV rays and allow residents to stay comfortable and healthy. 

“It protects your children as well as your artwork, textiles, photography and floors,” she says. 

“Everyone wants to lower their carbon footprint. This does it all the time — without having to do anything. You can see through them when you leave them down. It allows you to use much less A/C.”

Chris adds that clients have reported to him an 8- to 15-degree temperature drop in the house. 

“We do have other insulating shades, but the neat thing about solar shades is you’re killing the heat before they penetrate the glass and windows,” he says.

“We can also motorize just about any shade that we do — interior, exterior or patio shade.”

Many of the products the Yensens sell and install can be controlled on by a cellphone app. They’re safe, too, as the companies have eschewed design that could endanger children. 

“Most of the manufacturers are really concerned about child safety issues,” he says. 

“They’re steering away from corded shades. It’s become a big legal liability. All of our products are safe for children. They’re breakaway or cordless, for example, which is wonderful. It’s a better look — a nice clean look. We love that. 

“The cordless blinds from Hunter Douglas are really fantastic. They took the whole weight out of the shades. You don’t have to lift anything. Those last longer. Our clients really adore them — especially the honeycombs that you can open from the top. Then you can get light coming into the house, bouncing off the ceiling, but you still have the privacy.”

Blinds that open from the top are especially pleasing for LA residents who have close neighbors. 

“We sell a lot of those for sure,” he says.

Recently, the Yensens have worked in the commercial field, setting up blinds for a modernized McDonald’s and a media post-production company in DTLA.

The Yensens are pleased they can make their customers’ lives more comfortable, but it’s a win-win. They enjoy meeting new people and learning the stories behind them. 

“We get to meet so many neat people and see so many incredible homes,” he says. “We service everybody. We were fortunate enough to have some really nice jobs in Idaho.”

Jill adds, “We love meeting people. People are spending a lot more time at home since the COVID-19 quarantine. People want to make their space comfortable. That’s what we aim to do.”

Long Valley Solar Shades

Los Angeles

310-613-6290

lvsolarshades@yahoo.com

longvalleysolarshades.com

Services

Custom design consultation, fabrication and installation

Blinds

Shades

Draperies

Curtains

Shutters

Motorized shades and blinds

Roller shades

Uniquely shaped windows

Wild Parrot

Taproom is new roost for fresh brew

By Frier McCollister

The flock of wild parrots who roar across the city every dawn and dusk are loud and green, and they fly in pairs. 

The last note aptly applies to the creators and founders of Pasadena’s latest craft brewery and taproom, Wild Parrot Brewing Company, which opened to much squawking fanfare on September 23. 

Brewmaster John Jackson and his wife, Kirsten, have spent the last seven years or so bringing this charming new neighborhood roost to life.  

“At this point, she is doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, the HR, the admin, she’s taken on social media duties,” John says about Kirsten. 

“It’s the stuff that absolutely has to happen but that, for the most part, I just don’t have time for.” 

These days, John is busy concocting the latest batches of fresh beer, brewed on the premises and served at the bar and taproom that notably shares space with the locally beloved nonprofit Rosebud Cafe. 

As chronicled in Pasadena Weekly on April 8, 2020, the Rosebud operates an effective employment and training program for local disadvantaged teens, as conceived and managed by Dan Davidson.  

Wild Parrot Brewing Company holds the master lease to the space. 

“We’re not a nonprofit, but we see ourselves as a community-based company,” John asserts.

Rosebud’s ability to operate during the pandemic lockdown proved indispensable to the prospects of opening the brewery and taproom. 

“We would not have been able to afford this place as a startup (on our own).”

The Jacksons attended the College Preparatory School in Oakland. The pair moved to LA in 2005 and married in 2007. 

John earned a master’s degree in urban planning from USC and joined the distinguished Chinatown-based architecture and planning firm Johnson Fain. 

He left the firm in June after a 15-year run. Kirsten was teaching elementary school in Burbank, where she now works for the school district. So far, there’s nothing here suggesting a path to craft brewing and taproom operation. 

“Our experience in running bars is extremely minimal,” John says. 

That said, he did have limited experience as a bartender from a youthful adventure in Ireland with a friend, where the two lads persuaded a pub owner in Cork to hire them. 

“So, for about two months. I got to pull pints of Guinness. The guy had to teach me so I wouldn’t screw it up,” John recalls.

They moved into a loft in DTLA in 2007, shortly after getting married. 

“I wanted to brew beer but the stove was electric, so I couldn’t get it hot enough and she (Kirsten) was worried about the smell,” John says. 

“So when we moved to Pasadena in 2011, there used to be a home brew store in Eagle Rock, Eagle Rock Home Brew Supply. They had a home brew course. They gave you extract ingredients. It was the ‘Easy-Bake Oven’ version of brewing beer. 

“You can make marginal beer that your friends will drink but not be super impressed with. I realized the limits of that after two or three brews. But then quickly you get into the more complicated versions. If you want to make the good stuff, you have to use actual grain to make your beer.”

He acquired higher-quality ingredients to improve upon the beer. 

“So, then what you do is called ‘all-grain brewing,’” he adds. “You’re using malts, essentially barley. You mill it up. You do the same process as I’m doing here on a commercial scale but 5 gallons at a time.”  

The Jacksons live in the unincorporated San Pascual neighborhood of Pasadena, just blocks away from the brewery’s location on East Colorado Boulevard. 

Soon, John was producing high-quality tasty variations at home, which he began offering at the neighborhood’s annual Memorial Day block party.  

“So that was the beginning of sharing the beer,” he says. 

“It became a thing. Every year it was, ‘OK, what four beers is John going to have on tap?’ We had four taps. The party congregated around the beer. That kind of hosting and seeing how the beer brought people together was the genesis.”

The popularity of his beer with his neighbors and the conviviality it engendered inspired him to turn pro.

“How can we take that idea and create something for this area?” he says.

“Our area of Pasadena does not have a place where you can stop by and casually get a drink with friends, a low-key place where you can just drop in and get a beer. This place we see as the physical manifestation of the Memorial Day block party, but for a wider audience, for the neighborhood, for Pasadena.”

John’s first step was enrolling in a three-day, intensive, one-on-one tutorial course with famed independent brewmaster Tom Hennessy in Ridgway, Colorado. 

“He’s the godfather of creating breweries (with taprooms) on a budget,” John says. “I think he’s probably helped to start 100 breweries across the country and internationally. That was really the kickoff.”

Hennessy emphasized a concept he calls “nailing the oyster,” which refers to the combination of producing excellent craft beer while providing a comfortable and congenial atmosphere for the public taproom. 

“It’s the feel of the place, the décor, the music. It’s a big thing that we’re trying to do here. It’s creating a space, where the vibe is a brewery vibe but there’s more going on,” John muses. 

Judging by the happy buzz in the air on opening day, the Jacksons are getting something right.

The course with Hennessy also provided Jackson with access to experienced peers.

“We all have a network. It’s an alumni network, and we all help each other,” Jackson says.

He called on Nathaniel Miller, owner of Big Choice Brewing in Brighton, Colorado. 

“He came out here for five days and helped me set up a lot of the stuff,” John says.

“He essentially held my hand for the first two brews, which gave me confidence. Now I’m brewing everything by myself. Without his help, we would not have the delicious beers we have right now. Our beers right now are being very well received.”

The limited and eclectic menu at Wild Parrot Brewing Company speaks to John’s evolving mastery of various styles.  

Jackson offers six varieties, each available in pints or small “taster.” 

These include the Snobby Town, a “German-style Pilsner” (4.9% ABV, $7.50/pint, $3/taster); the Porch Chill, an Amber lager (5.3% ABV, $7.50/pint, $3/taster); the Pandemonium, a “West Coast IPA with Citra and Amarillo hops” (6% ABV, $8/pint, $3.50/taster); the Suburban Weekend, a coffee stout “using beans from Lotus Coffee & Tea” (5.1% ABV, $8/pint, $3.50/taster); the Margadena, a “kettle sour with lime” christened by Kirsten Jackson (4.8% ABV, $8/pint, $3.50/taster); and finally the Doug Heavy, described as a “big American lager” (6.2% ABV, $7/pint, $3/taster), which is the choice that Jackson points to, as the best introduction to his craft.  

All the beers are also available in 32-ounce “fun cans” to take home. 

The tap room also offers a tightly curated selection of wine by the glass ($13) as well as two hard ciders ($8.50/pint). 

Snacks feature nachos ($12), a large soft pretzel with pub cheese and honey mustard ($9), a carnitas melt sandwich with chips ($12), and a grilled cheese sandwich with two types of cheddar and chips ($10). Look for the food menu to slowly expand in coming months.

The perfect spot

The Jacksons spent the better part of two years searching for a suitable location, determined to open in Pasadena. 

“Our No. 1 criteria was that it had to be in Pasadena,” John says. “We had heard at the time how difficult it is to find a space in Pasadena and to start a business here. Honestly, this was the first place we toured.”

At the time, it was shared with Chirp, a children’s karaoke spot. 

“A kids party venue with a brewery? Not going to work,” Jackson says. 

“We looked all over the city. Old Town is not for the townies. We are filling the gap because we want a place like this.”

Prospective landlords did not welcome the business model of a brewery/taproom startup, and the search went on. 

“We were looking for creative solutions,” John says. “We had visited so many places, and it just wasn’t working out.” 

They returned to their neighborhood, where Rosebud Cafe had landed.

“We approached Rosebud here. (We said,) ‘You guys are a morning and afternoon business. We are an afternoon and evening business.’ Then came the long slog of negotiating the lease and working with the city. That started even before we signed the lease.” 

As far as the city permitting process went for the Jacksons, “long slog” seems a generous understatement. The Jacksons signed their lease in January 2020. Construction on their buildout, based on final approval by the city, did not commence until January of this year.

“We did this…” Jackson pauses for a moment and becomes emotional. 

“It took a lot to get to this point. I want people to understand. We did this to create a place for people to hang out. It’s a simple idea. And it took longer than expected. But I think the product we have created is spot on with our vision.”

Wild Parrot Brewing Company

2302 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

wildparrotbrewing.com

Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for November

By Arroyo Staff

The renowned bookstore Vroman’s is hosting more top-notch virtual and in-person programs throughout November.

All in-person events will all be held at Vroman’s located at 695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, unless otherwise noted.

Register through vromansbookstore.com. Anyone with questions is asked to email email@vromansbookstore.com.

Margo Price discusses “Maybe We’ll Make It: A Memoir”

7 p.m. Thursday, November 3

When Margo Price was 19 years old, she dropped out of college and moved to Nashville to become a musician. She busked on the street, played open mics, and even threw out her television so that she would do nothing but write songs. She met Jeremy Ivey, a fellow musician who would become her closest collaborator and her husband. But after working on their craft for more than a decade, Price and Ivey had no label, no band, and plenty of heartache.

“Maybe We’ll Make It” is a memoir of loss, motherhood, and the search for artistic freedom in the midst of the agony experienced by so many aspiring musicians: bad gigs and long tours, rejection and sexual harassment, too much drinking, and barely enough money to live on. Now a Grammy-nominated Best New Artist, Price tells a love story of music, collaboration, and the struggle to build a career while trying to maintain her singular voice and style. 

Fierce Reads Fall Tour: Featuring Judy I. Lin and Joan He

7 p.m. Friday, November 4

Authors Judy I. Lin and Joan He present their latest, “A Venom Dark and Sweet” and “Strike the Zither.”

Robert Crais discusses “Racing the Light”

4 p.m. Saturday, November 5

Private investigator Elvis Cole and his partner, Joe Pike, are back on the case in this new thriller from No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Crais.

Adele Schumacher isn’t a typical worried mom. When she hires Elvis to find her missing son, a controversial podcaster named Josh Shoe, she brings a bag filled with cash, bizarre tales of government conspiracies, and a squad of professional bodyguards. Finding Josh should be simple, but Elvis quickly learns he isn’t alone in the hunt — a deadly team of mysterious strangers are determined to find Josh and his adult film star girlfriend first.

Liz Climo presents “I’m So Happy You’re Here: A Little Book about Why You’re Great”

5 p.m. Wednesday, November 9

International bestselling author Liz Climo’s little book lets someone know how important they are to you or a thoughtful gift you can give to yourself. 

Sheldon Epps discusses “My Own Directions: A Black Man’s Journey in the American Theatre”

7 p.m. Thursday, November 10

The author’s journey in the American theater has been amplified by his experience as a Black man who has frequently been one of the few, the first or even the only. His directing career has been full of rewards and opportunities as well as huge challenges and frustrations, along with the anger that has come from being chased by race for so many years. 

Much of the author’s experience comes from two decades artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse, one of the oldest and well-known theaters in America. 

This is the story of how the author came into leadership at Pasadena Playhouse after a successful career directing on Broadway, in London and all over the world.  

Vroman’s presents Michael Connelly discussing “Desert Star”

7 p.m. Friday, November 11

LAPD detective Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch team up to hunt the brutal killer who is Bosch’s “white whale” — a man responsible for the murder of an entire family.

A year has passed since Ballard quit the force in the face of misogyny, demoralization and endless red tape. But after the chief of police himself tells her she can write her own ticket within the department, Ballard takes back her badge, leaving “the Late Show” to rebuild and lead the cold case unit at the elite robbery-homicide division. 

For years, Bosch has been working a case that haunts him — the murder of an entire family by a psychopath who still walks free. Ballard makes Bosch an offer: Come volunteer as an investigator in her new open-unsolved unit, and he can pursue his “white whale” with the resources of the LAPD behind him.

Priority for Ballard is to clear the unsolved rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. The decades-old case is essential to the councilman who supported reforming the unit and who could shutter it again — the victim was his sister. When Ballard gets a “cold hit” connecting the killing to a similar crime, proving that a serial predator has been at work in the city for years, the political pressure has never been higher. To keep momentum going, she must pull Bosch off his all-consuming investigation, the case that is the consummation of his lifelong mission.

The two must put aside old resentments and new tensions to run to ground not one but two dangerous killers who have operated with brash impunity. 

This ticketed event will take place at Pasadena Presbyterian Church located at 585 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. Tickets will include a copy of Desert Star to be handed out at check-in.

Tickets are available at https://bit.ly/MichaelConnellyBosch.

Rabia Chaudry presents “Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family”

7 p.m. Monday, November 14

According to family lore, when Rabia Chaudry’s family returned to Pakistan for their first visit since moving to the United States, 2-year-old Rabia was more than just a pudgy toddler. 

Dada Abu, her fit and sprightly grandfather, attempted to pick her up but had to put her straight back down, demanding of her mother: “What have you done to her?” The answer was two full bottles of half-and-half per day, frozen butter sticks to gnaw on, and lots and lots of American processed foods.

Despite her parents plying her with all the wrong foods as they discovered Burger King and Dairy Queen, they were highly concerned for the future for their large-size daughter. How would she ever find a suitable husband? Soon she would leave behind fast food and come to love the Pakistani foods of her heritage, learning to cook them with wholesome ingredients and eat them in moderation. At once a love letter (with recipes) to fresh roti, chaat, chicken biryani, ghee, pakoras, shorba, parathay and an often-hilarious dissection of life in a Muslim immigrant family, “Fatty Fatty Boom Boom” is also a searingly honest portrait of a woman grappling with a body that gets the job done but that refuses to meet the expectations of others.

Jules Blaine Davis discusses “The Kitchen Healer: The Journey to Becoming You”

7 p.m. Wednesday, November 16

All the ways you live and love begin in your kitchen. And it’s in the kitchen where you’ll find the way to your true self. A place to nourish your being and heal with the freedom, beauty and permission you have always longed for.

With “The Kitchen Healer,” Jules Blaine Davis invites you into the messy beauty of her healing kitchen and asks, “What are you really hungry for?”

Though this book contains recipes — with ingredients both traditional and emotional — this isn’t your typical cookbook. This is a book that will shine a light on how to cook up the life you deeply long to live with food you love to make.

Matt Coyle discusses “Doomed Legacy: Volume 9”

7 p.m. Thursday, November 17

Private investigator Rick Cahill has been running from his past and chasing the truth his whole life. But his past is relentless — and so is his CTE, a disease caused by repeated head traumas that has attacked his body and his mind. As his CTE progresses, he realizes that the disease not only threatens his life but also endangers his family’s well-being.

As Cahill struggles to keep his family together, he does a favor for Sara Bhandari, a business contact. Then, Bhandari is murdered, and the police believe her to be yet another victim of a serial rapist who has been terrorizing greater San Diego. But Cahill has reason to question their theory. Determined to find the truth at any cost, and against his wife’s warnings, he investigates on his own.

Along the way, he bumps up against a sinister private investigative agency and a shady shell corporation that may be hiding more than company secrets. As Cahill digs for the truth about Bhandari’s death, he risks his own life and the lives of countless innocents caught in his relentless crusade. Ultimately, Cahill must decide if his quest is worth the risk of losing his family forever. 

Neal Shusterman discusses “Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe”

2 p.m. Sunday, November 20

There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.

Neal Shusterman — along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden and Joelle Shusterman — returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.

Evelyn Alsultany discusses “Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion”

7 p.m. Tuesday, November 29

One of Donald Trump’s first actions as president was to sign an executive order to limit Muslim immigration to the United States, a step toward the “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” he had campaigned on. 

This act of Islamophobia provoked unprecedented opposition: Hollywood movies and mainstream television shows began to feature more Muslim characters in contexts other than terrorism, universities and private businesses included Muslims in their diversity initiatives, and the criminal justice system took hate crimes against Muslims more seriously. Yet “Broken” argues that, even amid this challenge to institutionalized Islamophobia, diversity initiatives fail on their promise by only focusing on crisis moments.

Ed Humes discusses “The Forever Witness: How DNA and Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder”

7 p.m. Wednesday, November 30 

In November 1987, a young couple on an overnight trip to Seattle vanished without a trace. A week later, the bodies of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend, Jay Cook, were found in rural Washington. It was a brutal crime, and it was the perfect crime: With few clues and no witnesses, an international manhunt turned up empty, and the sensational case that shocked the Pacific Northwest gradually slipped from the headlines.

The Height of Convenience

Ontario International Airport flying high as holiday travel approaches

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Ontario International Airport (ONT), already the fastest-growing airport in the United States, is preparing for one of its strongest holiday travel seasons ever.

More than 10 million Southern Californians live or work closer to ONT than any other airport, and with new flights and amenities, Ontario will close 2022 with its highest passenger volumes since 2008.

“We’ve been able to pick up where we left off before the pandemic, increasing flights and destinations and providing travelers with a customer experience they won’t get anywhere else,” says Atif Elkadi, ONT’s chief executive officer. 

The estimated 5.8 million passengers who will fly into or out of Ontario by the end of December represents an increase of 200,000 over 2019 — the last full year before COVID-19 disrupted air travel globally. In fact, ONT is one of the few airports in the world that have exceeded pre-pandemic passenger volumes each of the past seven months.

“Ontario International continues to prove itself as the airport of choice for millions of Southern Californians. The double-digit increase in passenger volume last month reinforces the important role we play in meeting the air travel needs of one of the most robust population and economic centers in the country,” says Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners and mayor pro tem of city of Ontario.

Since the airport’s return to local ownership in 2016, Ontario has added such high-profile destinations as Honolulu, New York City, Taiwan and Latin America; greatly expanded its offering of restaurants and shop; and added high-end passenger lounges — all while maintaining the convenience and ease of access that it’s known for. 

This fall, just in time for the holiday travel season, the airport ONT+ free service allows the nontraveling public to greet families and friends at the gate, or spend more time with them as they prepare to depart, all while enjoying ONT’s enhanced amenities. Nontraveling guests can simply go online and secure a digital visitor pass, which they can use — much like an airline ticket — to enter TSA checkpoints and access the post-security side of the passenger terminal. The program, among the first of its kind in the United States, provides the community access to the terminal and airport services that have largely been unavailable to nontravelers since before 9/11.

“We all remember the excitement of being able to meet arriving family and friends as they get off the plane. ONT+ is a way to bring back some of that experience from decades ago, in a safe and secure manner,” says Dean Brown, ONT public safety administrator, who worked closely with TSA in establishing the program.

To receive an ONT+ visitor pass, nontravelers can visit flyontario.com/ontplus and fill out an online application within seven days of their visit. If approved, visitors will receive an ONT+ Visitor Pass via email, which they can use — along with a TSA-approved photo ID — to enter the security checkpoint.  

“ONT+ is another example of how Ontario International is always at the forefront of amenities and services that can enhance the customer experience,” Wapner says.

While all of this is happening, a new study shows that ONT is an economic engine for Southern California, generating $3.8 billion a year in activity, supporting 27,800 jobs, and serving as the hub of a global logistics network that produces $17.8 billion in economic output.

The analysis, by Oxford Economics, incorporated nearly a year’s worth of research, concluding that the overall impact of economic activity at ONT — including airport operations, airlines and their suppliers, government workers, airport concessions and logistics companies — totals $3.8 billion as of 2022. This includes $2.7 billion in visitor spending, Oxford reported.

“Ontario International Airport plays an integral role in the economy of the Southern California region, specifically in and around the Inland Empire,” the report states, adding that ONT’s economic impact includes $2.2 billion in regional gross domestic product (GDP), which supports 27,800 jobs and results in $571 million a year in local, state and federal taxes.

Oxford also looked at ONT’s role a supply chain hub, analyzing logistics activity in the eight ZIP codes adjacent to the airport. The results placed Ontario International at the center of a global network that accounts for $17.8 billion in economic output; $9.9 billion of GDP; 122,200 jobs; and $2.3 billion in local, state and federal taxes. 

“The economic impact of Ontario International Airport is felt across the region and around the world. We’re excited to be able to share our story with the communities and shareholders we serve, and look forward to building on our position as the gateway of choice for millions of Southern Californians,” Elkadi says.

‘Turning the Corner’

Gabby Giffords named Rose Parade grand marshal

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Former Arizona State Rep. Gabby Giffords was named the 2023 grand marshal by Tournament of Roses President Amy Wainscott. 

Giffords’ remarkable recovery from traumatic injuries epitomizes the 2023 theme, “Turning the Corner,” according to Wainscott.

The announcement was a celebratory event on the front steps of Tournament House in Pasadena, 80 days before the Rose Bowl Game and Rose Parade presented by Honda, both on January 2.

“It’s a tremendous honor to serve as the grand marshal of the 134th Rose Parade,” Giffords says in a statement.

“I love the theme of ‘Turning the Corner’ — the idea that we all can make a conscious decision to go in a different direction, toward something better. This philosophy of moving ahead is one that I’ve tried to embody both in my personal journey of recovery since being shot in 2011 and in the fight for gun violence prevention that has become my life’s work.” 

Wainscott says she is looking forward to hosting Giffords. 

“We are just over the moon thrilled to have Gabby as our grand marshal,” she says. 

“It all starts with our theme, ‘Turning the Corner,’ and I can’t think of anybody who is more of a hopeful, optimistic person that embodies that theme.”

There’s a second Tucson tie to this year’s parade. The Catalina Foothills High School marching band is going to participate in the parade. 

“It’s a great coincidence that we have the high school and Gabby Giffords in our parade,” Wainscott says. “They’re under the direction of Renee Shane Boyd, who is another incredible female.”

To choose Catalina Foothills, Wainscott traveled to Tucson in the spring. She also encourages the community to help fund the band’s trip to Pasadena. 

“We visit all of our bands and bring awareness to the community that they’ll be traveling to Pasadena,” she says. 

“They have to pay their way to get to Pasadena. We were there this spring, and we were able to visit with the students who are amazing musicians and the boosters, the administrators at the school and the community. (Artist) Diana Madaras had a fundraiser, and Gabby said she knew her. It all came full circle for us.”

Giffords was the youngest woman elected to the Arizona State Senate, representing the community in the Arizona Legislature from 2000 to 2005 and then in Congress from 2006 to 2012.

On January 8, 2011, at a “Congress on Your Corner” constituent event in Tucson, Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman who killed six people and injured 12 others. She stepped down from Congress in January 2012 to focus on her recovery. Giffords embarked on a path to regain her ability to speak and walk.

“The idea of ‘turning the corner’ also resonates from a national perspective,” Giffords says.

“Our country has faced multiple years of a deadly pandemic and political rancor. Yet medical advances and bipartisan compromise have helped us to take steps toward a better future, even if these steps aren’t always as quick or as sure as we would like them to be, but I’ve learned the importance of incremental progress — and that progress starts with having the courage to hope and then to act on that hope.” 

In 2013, after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, Giffords co-founded the organization now known as Giffords. 

During the past several years, the organization has made gun safety a kitchen table issue for voters. Giffords has worked hard to pass legislation in states across the country and at the federal level. This summer, Giffords was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down,” a documentary from the filmmakers behind “RBG,” premiered this year and is now available to stream at home on demand.

“I’m extremely grateful to follow in the footsteps of the many distinguished grand marshals in the parade’s history and to blaze my own path forward,” Giffords said.

“Thank you so much to Tournament of Roses President Amy Wainscott and to the board of directors for this privilege, and I look forward to being at the parade on January 2.”

Commitment to Success

Pasadena Realtor Tracy Do gets sellers the highest value for their property

By Kamala Kirk

An accomplished Realtor with decades of industry experience, Tracy Do became interested in real estate when she was a teenager in Orange County, visiting model homes in newly built communities.

“I took an interest in real estate because I understood that where we live is so important,” Do says. “Home is where many of life’s biggest moments take place. At the same time, our home is a financial asset. I’m drawn to that intersection of meeting the personal as well as the monetary goals of my clients.”  

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Do got her real estate license and started at a brokerage in Los Feliz, becoming a top-performing agent, and is currently with Coldwell Banker on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena. Over the course of 20 years, her name has become recognized throughout Pasadena, LA and all of Southern California.

“Last year my team ranked No. 8 in California and No. 18 nationally in terms of production,” Do says. “We are highly experienced, and our process for helping clients is extremely well orchestrated. The team has 14 sales agents including myself, four marketing associates, and three members who lend support for transaction management. I can point to data that proves we get our clients the absolute highest value for their properties. Many times, people have called just to thank me for setting the new high ‘comp’ in their neighborhood.”

Having initially built her name and reputation in Los Angeles’ trendy Eastside and Northeast LA neighborhoods, Do has long established her roots in Pasadena, where she has lived for over 17 years. This has helped the Tracy Do team build a bridge between Metropolitan LA and the San Gabriel Valley, and they have been particularly successful in helping clients discover the joys of living in Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena and the surrounding foothill communities. Do points out that the pandemic added some fuel to this migration.

“And that’s not the only reason,” she says. “Because there really is so much to love about Pasadena living, whether it’s excellent city services; a great restaurant scene; or the choices of private schools like Polytechnic, Sequoyah, Waverly and Westridge, where my daughter graduated. My own move from LA to Pasadena many years ago helped me appreciate this transition. From personal experience, I have come to believe that it really makes sense for a lot of people.”

Do adds, “LA, Pasadena and the foothill communities are distinct but also deeply intertwined. Many of my clients in Eastside and NELA neighborhoods appreciate the extensive knowledge I have of these areas, which helps them gain familiarity and make the right decision as to which is the best place for them to buy a home.”

With a long list of satisfied and repeat clients throughout the years, Do shares that one of the keys to her success is the innovative marketing that makes her listings stand out and reach a greater number of potential buyers. Her marketing team of four includes talented professionals with advanced degrees in art and graphics, and specialties that include post-production photography, copywriting and social media outreach.

“Selling such a large volume of real estate, my team and I are constantly in touch with the marketplace in terms of where buyers are coming from and what they are looking for,” Do says. “We use that knowledge to help clients prepare their house for sale.”

As for current market conditions, Do reports that “we are definitely in a season of change. We’ve come off the top of a very robust market, which occurred in the earlier part of this year. Now buyers expect that they have more leverage, but that is not always the case given that the supply of quality homes for sale remains low.”

Do advises that “anyone who is looking to sell or purchase property today would be wise to work with an experienced agent who has navigated previous market turndowns. If you want results, work with an agent who can deliver them and has proven that ability.”

A proud resident of Pasadena’s Madison Heights neighborhood since 2004, Do lives in a 1957 midcentury modern post-and-beam with her husband and two cats that they adopted from the Pasadena Humane Society. Their daughter attends college in New York. Do is highly involved in the Pasadena community, regularly supporting local organizations, causes and schools.

“We raised our daughter here for a reason,” Do says. “Pasadena is a special place, close to all of the great things in LA, but just a little removed from it, too. Nothing makes me happier than connecting those two places, guiding a process of discovery and decision making. It’s all about helping people get from one place to the next and providing great service along the way.”

Tracy Do — Coldwell Banker Realty

323-842-4001

tracydo.com