Sunset Strip Music Festival June 26-28




It’s one of the most legendary and notorious places in the world—a stretch of blocks where the clubs gave birth to an unforgettable musical revolution. And to this day, fans on the Sunset Strip enjoy top-tier and cutting-edge talent in clubs that are all within walking distance of each other.

The Strip’s rich history, contemporary edge and sizzling atmosphere will be celebrated with the first annual SUNSET STRIP MUSIC FESTIVAL, a three-day event set for Thursday, June 26, Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28 in the City of West Hollywood. It is intended to promote, preserve and perpetuate the Sunset Strip Music Experience, which thrives today in clubs and theatres like the Roxy, Whisky A-Go-Go, the House of Blues, Viper Room, Key Club and the Cat Club—all of which are uniting for the festival.

A collaboration with the Sunset Strip Business Association, Sunset Strip music venue owners/operators and the City of West Hollywood, it is expected to draw 9,000 consumers, fans, VIPs, auction winners and music industry leaders. Legendary music from the past, present and future will shake up the notorious 1.3 mile stretch during the festival. The music lineup will be announced in the coming weeks.

Launching Thursday, June 26 at the House of Blues with a celebrity kick-off event emceed by Sugar Ray frontman/Extra host Mark McGrath, the festival will first pay tribute to Mario Maglieri, Lou Adler and Elmer Valentine, all music industry icons connecting the Sunset Strip to its past, present and future. It will culminate with a musical performance by a major act.

Performances by exciting artists will take place in the famed Sunset Strip establishments Friday and Saturday evenings (June 27 and 28) from 8:00 PM – 2:00 AM. An “Icon Roundtable” discussion moderated by CNN’s Larry King and comprised of music legends and industry experts will occur earlier Saturday evening.

From Bruce Springsteen’s now-classic 1975 performances at the Roxy to The Police’s explosive reunion show at the Whisky in early 2007, shows on the Sunset Strip are more than mere gigs—they’re experiences music fans carry with them for a lifetime. Night after night, no other music neighborhood in the world promises fans the choices that the Sunset Strip has to offer. On a recent weekend, music lovers had the opportunity to check out country legend Dolly Parton, rappers Too Short and Bun B, punk giants Pennywise, plus a showcase of rising metalcore bands, all in the same vicinity.

Celebrating its amazing musical history, which originated with the likes of Nat King Cole before bolstering performers from the Rat Pack to The Red Hot Chili Peppers to superstardom, the Sunset Strip’s evolution was augmented by the sonic revolution of the late 1960s. Acts like The Doors (who were the house band at the Whisky in 1966), The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix changed the face of rock & roll while performing in staggeringly close proximity to one another.

In the 1970s, artists like Van Halen, Prince and David Bowie catapulted to stardom and reached multi-platinum sales due to the strength of engagements on the Sunset Strip. When L.A. punk blossomed around 1980, The Strip was home to X, The Germs and Black Flag before hard rock giants like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Jane’s Addiction took flight. In recent years, a new crop of bands—like Weezer, The White Stripes, Maroon 5, Silversun Pickups and Pussycat Dolls—have achieved mega-stardom after first getting their legs in area venues.

The Sunset Strip’s renowned establishments have helped sustain the most storied music neighborhood in existence, a notion chronicled over the years on releases like Bob Marley & The Wailer’s 1976 recording Live at the Roxy; X’s Live at the Whisky (1988); Tupac Shakur’s last recorded live performance from 1996, Tupac: Live at the House of Blues; Social Distortion’s Live at the Roxy (1998); Pennywise’s Live at the Key Club (2001); and Brothers of a Feather, the 2007 CD and DVD release from Chris and Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes at the Roxy.

Stay tuned for more announcements about the first annual SUNSET STRIP MUSIC FESTIVAL. Visit www.ssmf.com or www.myspace.com/sunsetstripmusicfestival for more info

Nonna of Italy Restaurant

Los Angeles certainly has a healthy number of Italian restaurants, and many of them are very good. However, the number of big occasion Italian restaurants is nothing like it is in my hometown of St. Louis, or New York, Chicago or San Francisco for that matter. With the arrival of Nonna of Italy, in August of 2007, the landscape of fine Italian restaurants in Los Angeles has changed dramatically, and for the better.

The décor is California modern, with lots of wood and leather, running water and open space. In addition to the dual dining rooms and bar, there’s also an outdoor patio for the rare pleasure of an elegant outdoor meal in L.A. We arrived for dinner at 7:30, and in addition to some superb and attentive service, we had the pleasure of dining at the table next to the great Diahann Carroll, which was also a treat.

We started our meal with lobster salad, which featured a circle of arugula topped with incredibly fresh, moist poached lobster, lemon and olive oil. Absolutely delicious. We also dug the crispy softshell crab, which was a special appetizer for the evening. Like most haute cuisine in the Tuscan tradition, the superiority of the ingredients and the sure-handed simplicity of the preparation combined to create an exquisite balance of quality and taste.

Carciofini — a salad of thinly sliced small artichokes, red onion and parsley with a lemon vinaigrette — was generously apportioned and totally refreshing, leading us to the spectacular entrees. Soglia Fresca, a fresh fillet of imported dover sole lightly sautéed with clarified butter, was expertly filleted at tableside and served with fresh lemon, garlic mashed potatoes and farmers market vegetables. So fresh, so elegant, a total classic.

Then there was the Costolette d’Agnello Scottadito, or rack of lamb to you and me. A full five-bone in New Zealand rack of lamb, grilled expertly (medium, of course), and, I’m not kidding or embellishing in the least, the best rack of lamb I’ve ever had in Los Angeles. Rightfully it is the house specialty, and a shining example of how solid and accomplished Nonna is, as evidenced by this extraordinarily regal dish.

Dessert was superb as well. Panna Cotta was rich and smooth, the soft vanilla crème contrasting beautifully with a raspberry coulis. And a trio of mousses — dark chocolate, white chocolate and hazelnut milk chocolate — was creamy smooth and like all good mousse, light as a feather.

All in all, Nonna served us a meal that would stand out to even the most discriminating lover of Italian food. Although I wouldn’t call it a void per se, the relative scarcity of great Italian restaurants in Los Angeles is no longer relatively as scarce. Enter Nonna of Italy, a restaurant practical enough to dine at any day, and extraordinary enough to be a major, big event Italian restaurant on the Southern California culinary landscape.

Nonna of Italy is located at 9255 Sunset Boulevard. For reservations, please call 310-270-4455.

Adventurous Tapas at Yatai’s Charming Hideaway

There are some restaurants you dine in to see and be seen, and others you go to because the food is absolutely yummy. And while you may see someone you know when you’re checking out the spectrum of taste treats at Yatai, their amazing Asian tapas are the main attraction. Although you might also be tempted by the drink specials Monday through Thursday.

The menu is so vast and varied it’s divided into 8 sections, not including the specials, which are indeed special. It would be easy to go back many times and never have the same meal twice. But some dishes are so spectacular you’d simply have to have them every time you go. Like the lobster dynamite roll or the tempura pumpkin.

We ordered our meal in three flights, allowing our needs and appetites to shift. This is one of the best things to me about tapas: flexibility. It’s also a good idea to order in shifts at Yatai because the portions are exceptional. We were continually (and pleasantly) surprised at the generosity of our dishes. It was also much appreciated that once we’d made our decisions, the chef thoughtfully determined the optimum order in which to serve each round.

Seated on the open, cozy patio, we started with cocktails, a Soju lychee mojito for Denise, and a Sakegria, with pineapple and lychee for me. For our first course, we checked out the jumbo softshell crab in a creamy chili sauce. Then there was that amazing pumpkin tempura, soft and smooth on the inside, wrapped in a light, crunchy batter and served with curry salt for dipping. Both offered hearty portions with plenty of crisp to ignite the taste buds.

Round two was the main event, beginning with Cajun seared tuna sashimi and sautéed mixed mushrooms and asparagus. Next came a truly unique creation, steamed cabbage in garlic plum sauce. Super-healthy and super-delicious all at the same time. One of the true highlights of the meal was lobster dynamite, a generous fresh crab and avocado roll smothered in a lobster cream sauce and baked golden brown. Wow! Eight totally decadent, and delicious mouthfuls.

Round three opened with crispy jumbo shrimp in a sharp red chili sauce, served under a layer of doughy wonton skin. And finally, bite-size rib-eye steak was tender and flavorful, a hearty finish to our seafood-centric meal.

Not that we had any appetite left to speak of, but where there’s a will, and a good dessert on the menu, there’s a way. So we topped off a spectacular meal at this cool Sunset Strip tapas bar with warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. A sweet finish to a spicy and flavorful meal at a restaurant that’s sure to become known as a real neighborhood favorite.

Modern energy, classic elegance at Mirabelle

The Sunset Strip is a perfect L.A. example of the fusion of classic, Hollywood influence with the latest in trends and culture. Mirabelle Restaurant on the Strip (8768 West Sunset Boulevard) is the true embodiment this ethos in form and function. When you walk inside, you feel the classic, real Hollywood flavor, fused with the energy and elegance of something happening. It makes dining there a combination of class, comfort, and cool.

My girlfriend Denise and I arrived on an atmospherically rainy Sunday evening, in search of a cozy and comfortable night out before starting our week. The softly lit dining room was host to several groups, basking in royal Hollywood style. Our booth was close enough to the action to make us part of the proceedings, but private enough to keep things on the romantic side. A side I very much like. We started off with two appetizers from the newly updated menu. Tuna tartare was served over a crispy/chewy rice square, and drizzled with a tomato reduction. Rich and satisfying.

Our second dish, a Mediterranean appetizer sampler, offered an array of delectable treats, eclectic ideas with classic touches. Chickpea fries were light and crispy on the outside, warm and soft within. Crunchy, gooey, delicious. A terrine of duck confit was moist and tasty, slightly salty, the perfect counterpoint to a creamy dollop of house-made hummos served with toast points. Then a final taste sensation — chewy, goat cheese stuffed dates. It was an extremely satisfying combination of textures and flavors, an adventurous precursor to the meal. Highly recommended.

Following a light and refreshing salad with pears, gorgonzola, Belgian endive and hazelnuts, our main courses arrived, and they were spectacular. Denise ordered the house specialty, boneless Angus beef short-ribs that had been marinated in a red wine reduction and was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious. As great as Mirabelle’s menu is overall, the short-rib dish is so distinctive and supremely excellent that I could see myself returning again and again just to get a regular fill.

My aged filet was grilled expertly, topped with crispy bits of beef bone marrow that both enhanced the flavor of the beef, and added exceptional richness to the dish. Not for the faint of heart. In addition to our expert sides, which included scalloped potatoes and Swiss Chard, we ordered up a special side of crispy, shoestring sweet potato fries which were sensational alongside our outstanding steaks.

Finally, dessert, and though you might think that the line between a svelte, trendy L.A. dinner and an old-fashioned Hollywood food-fest had already been crossed, we were undeterred from trying the dark chocolate soufflé. With a side of sweet caramel sauce and a dollop of homemade caramel ice cream, it looked so good when it arrived I took a moment to snap a picture. Not only an extremely photogenic dish, but mouth-wateringly moist and satisfying as well. Finishing up with mocha lattes, we took another few moments to soak in the friendly ambience before tearing ourselves away from this cozy, Hollywood nest to head back out into the atmospheric, Los Angeles night.

Grammy Award Winner Macy Gray Hosts TheSunsetStrip.com “Only in West Hollywood” Launch Event

To kick off an exciting new year and the new website, www.TheSunsetStrip.com, singer/songwriter Macy Gray, who releases her long awaited new album “Big” this week, entertained guests on the turntables as “DJ Nemesis Jackson” at the Sunset Strip Business Association website launch event last month.

Held at 944 Magazine’s swanky Sunset Strip offices, the event was a huge success. The red carpet entrance led to a dance floor ablaze with excitement, and party treats including sushi from Blowfish, cocktails by Jack Daniels and deserts by BOA made the night especially delicious. It was a true community mixer as a wide array of party-goers and members of the Sunset Strip business community mingled, danced and kicked back.

www.TheSunsetStrip.com is the official online resource for news and information about restaurants, shows, shopping, nightlife and everything that is The Sunset Strip “Only in West Hollywood.” Developed in partnership with John Gheur of Signature Creative who has managed strategic initiatives for countless high-profile accounts including Coca-Cola, Universal and Warner Brothers, this new and exciting online destination will make connecting to The Strip quick and easy.

“The website is the information hub for all marketing efforts for The Strip as well as an invaluable resource to visitors,” explains Todd Steadman, Executive Director of the SSBA.

“The Sunset Strip is legendary and deserves a smart, exciting campaign both online and on the street to support that legend and propel it into the future,” says Gheur of Signature Creative. “We’re honored to work with the iconic brand that is The Sunset Strip.”

Promoted through The Sunset Strip street pole banners, google.com, yahoo.com and ask.com, www.TheSunsetStrip.com can provide your business visible online marketing opportunities. For more information, please contact Todd Steadman at 310-659-7368 or steadman@thesunsetstrip.com.

Sunset Strip Business Association and The Standard Hotel to Host a Reception for Area Residents and Business Owners

West Hollywood, CA – The Sunset Strip Business Association (SSBA) and The Standard Hotel will hold a neighborhood gathering on Thursday, June 21, 2007 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at The Standard Hotel, 8300 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This reception will provide residents and businesses to have an open dialogue about the Sunset Strip and the Sunset Strip Business Improvement District.

Residents and business representatives from Sunset Boulevard and surrounding neighborhoods are invited to attend. The Sunset Strip Business Association was created in 2002 to oversee the Sunset Strip Business Improvement District, which is an assessment district that aims to improve the business and neighboring residential environment in the area adjacent to Sunset Boulevard by providing security, street maintenance, public outreach and marketing for the Sunset Strip. The SSBA seeks and encourages business and resident participation and input on its programs.

Todd Steadman, executive director of the Sunset Strip Business Association, as well as President of the SSBA, Michael Spencer and Andy Buesa, security director (Block-by-Block), will be available to answer questions and concerns about The Strip and to discuss upcoming SSBA programs.

For reservations, please contact the SSBA at 310-659-7368 or info@thesunsetstrip.com