I don’t think this had been advertised anywhere, and I was lucky enough to stumble on it in the streets of Los Angeles. Vintage Trouble – a Los Angeles band, that curiously I have never seen live, but that Iman managed to see at the Madison Square Garden – had a sort of happening downtown LA. But Madison Square Garden? Yes, this is how big they are already after just a few years in action. They only formed in 2010, but since that time they have released an album, ‘The Bomb Shelter Sessions’ in 2011, have done the late-talk-show tour, have opened for Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, and the Who! They even played at Paul Stanley’s 60th birthday party, which tells a lot how well connected they are. Their sound is of course vintage R&B-blues, but the singer Ty Taylor has a very soulful voice à la Otis Redding, and when they improvised a short and totally unplugged gig on the sidewalk this Sunday afternoon, I can tell you that his voice is the real thing: strong, warm and totally evoking the 50s-60s.
So what were these future rock stars doing on a sidewalk, downtown Los Angeles? Very recently, they filmed this video for their song ‘Gracefully’, in collaboration with artist Robert Vargas and they wanted to continue the collaboration. Vargas is this amazing artist who did a few murals around town, and who can draw a large, spitting portrait of yourself, with charcoals and black and white paints, on white paper placed on the ground,… in less than fifteen minutes. And this is what he did using the four members of Vintage Trouble as models, in front of the pedestrians walking by and stopping to watch the show. Because it is a real performance, he uses his hands a lot, his gestures are expansive, his strokes amazingly loyal to his subjects, and he puts a lot of physicality into the process as he draws the whole thing while kneeling down on the ground! He explained a few times it was all about the collaboration between art and music, already used in the video for ‘Gracefully’, where you can watch him paint a giant portrait/mural with all his emotions, responding to those of the soulful ballad. I actually thought it was a cover of some old classic, like the few songs the band performed unplugged. It may get scary how close to the originals they sound, and this may be their weakness or their strength.
Vargas, who moved downtown a few years ago, said it was about giving back to the community, engaging the neighborhood in the creative process. I am just amazed that I got to spend a couple of hours with such great talents, and that almost nobody knew about it!
Go to Facebook to see more pictures of Vargas in action: