Old-fashioned windmills, medieval half-timber architecture, horse-drawn trolleys, and sticky-sweet Nordic shops aren’t your typical Southern Californian fare. But in the Golden State’s “Little Denmark,” they create a delightfully offbeat tourist experience that feels a world away.
Despite being surrounded by sunny cattle ranches, arid mountains, leafy palm trees and modern wineries, the town of Solvang feels like an old-world fairy-tale village. The majority of the buildings and homes in the town reflect Danish farm-style architecture, with brick and timber construction and real or fake thatched roofs. The flower-lined streets are filled with Danish pastry shops, kitschy gift shops, wine tasting boutiques, art galleries and charming patio restaurants.
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada in the environs of Yosemite National Park rests the small city of Sonora, California, although “perch” might be a better verb. A former gold rush pioneering town, the seat of Tuolumne (“to-all-o’-ME”) County has shed its former urban skin and rebuilt atop of itself over time. The unofficial tour guide of this hodgepodge community of war veterans, college kids, and good American plain folk who live a precarious existence in the vicinity of sinkholes that can (and do) open up is a man by the name of Lon Locey. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, his near encyclopedic knowledge, and sometimes a giant club, Locey offered a unique look into this quiet city’s past in order to better prepare it for the future.
If you’re reading this, it may already be too late. When news broke that California’s Department of Public Health had halted production of Huy Fong’s legendary Sriracha sauce for the remainder of the year, our world changed. We changed, New York.
The ‘tomorrow’ we face will not be pleasant. Uncontrollable fires in the streets and subways will replace their equivalent in our mouths. Uncooked pork & chive dumplings will remain frozen through the winter. Shaky alliances will form, and enemies will be made. Worse yet, there is little any of us can do to stop it.
There are certain things every city needs; a hospital, a fire station, a local government, and a place to bury their dead. On a hot, dry August day in 1877, Mayor Frederick A. MacDougal of Los Angeles officially established Evergreen Memorial Park, in what is now known as Boyle Heights, as the first official and sanctioned cemetery in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles was still a rural, dry, brutal place in 1877. Only 27 years prior, as part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted into the United States as a free state, therefore stopping the expansion of slavery into the west. The Great California Gold Rush in the mid 1850s brought over 300,000 new settlers into the state. The influx of people coming to grab their share of gold and land led to a sort of lawlessness not just between settlers, but between settlers and the Native Americans who had called this land home for generations. Between 1850 and 1860, the California government paid nearly 1.5 million dollars to militias to “protect” their citizens from these Native Americans.
In 2009, Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest debuted as a music festival dedicated primarily to spotlighting Texas-based artists. Since its premiere, the popularity of the annual event soared and the number of attendees has grown ten-fold from approximately 10,000 to 100,000 visitors. The concert organizers steadily expanded the featured artists to include non-local musical acts in sync with the growth of attendees. This year’s festival, held on June 2 and 3, included internationally recognized groups such as Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson and The Avett Brothers, as well as, up-and-coming bands like Fitz and the Tantrums, Two Door Cinema Club, Diplo and Young the Giant. As Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, told this year’s crowd, “Give it three more years and this [event] will be HUGE!”
Young the Giant, a rising California-based band which has been recognized by, among others, Spin, USA Today and Nylon for a fresh alternative-rock music sound, played at 2012 Free Press Summer Fest. Untapped Cities sat down with guitarist Eric Cannata to discuss Young the Giant’s success and their upcoming sold-out show at New York City’s Central Park SummerStage
Untapped Cities: Young the Giant’s upcoming Central Park SummerStage show is sold out. Are you excited to be heading to a sold out show in New York?
Eric Cannata: We are definitely excited for SummerStage. We have a lot of friends and family in New York City. It was only a year or so ago that we were playing upstairs at Piano’s and many of the smaller venues. Overtime, we worked our way up. We played Terminal 5 not too long ago which is an even bigger venue and notable setting.
Untapped Cities: What are you looking forward to exploring in New York?
Eric: When I go to New York City, I see my family. My mom’s brother and his family live in the city. We like to hang out on the Lower East Side in different places. We like going to Pianos, Fat Baby and Home Sweet Home. We just found many of these cool spots through family and friends.
Untapped Cities: The band just began a summer tour. Which events are you looking forward to on the road?
Eric: We are only doing about ten days in June and twenty days in July. It wraps up the shows on this touring cycle. I am looking forward to Bonnaroo, New York City and in July we are playing a couple of festivals in Canada including Osheaga.
Untapped Cities: What are your musical influences?
Eric: We listen to kind of everything. But, some of the bands we’ve been influenced by recently”¦for me is hip-hop including the new Roots album. Also, we are influenced by the electronic scene. We don’t want to make a second record that isn’t anything like the first one. It will be an evolution. We are definitely experimenting with different instruments. We have a keyboard on stage with us now. We try to take all the different influences and throw them into to whatever we do.
Untapped Cities: What are you looking forward to the most in the latter half of 2012?
Eric: We are going to wind down in September for about half of a year to write and record our second record. We are excited to get a bunch of new songs down and take our live set to the next level. We’ve been out for over two years on this last album cycle. We are looking forward to experimenting and making our live shows the best we can with the songs that we have. We’ve been playing three new songs live now. It has been exciting to play the new material on stage.
Untapped Cities: What can we continue to expect in the future?
Eric: We will have a new album out in the spring. We will continue to tour. Personally, I would like to do more collaborations. We are young and new band still. We’ve met so many artists on the road that it would be nice to take a week in the studio with a band and write a song together. A lot more touring next year and hopefully everyone likes our new record.