Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SANTA MONICA'S 3rd STREET PROMENADE


3rd St. Promenade photo by Bayside District photography


So now that the holiday's are good and gone, I can finally catch up on some photos I've been meaning to post.

I live a few blocks from the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. So, at the height of holiday shopping season, I braved the crowds to do a little last minute shopping of my own.

3rd Street is one of my favorite places to go to. Aside from the movie theaters, the weekend farmer's market, book stores, and coffee shops, 3rd Street is world-renown for its street performers. On any given day you can witness amazing performances from group dancers, circus acts and magicians. But for me, what's special about 3rd Street are the musicians that branch out along this five-block stretch of shops and restaurants. It's an inexpensive place to enjoy music as you shop or, if you like, sit on the sidewalk and listen to original tunes from talented singer/songwriters. Oh, and show your appreciation by buying their CD or dropping a few bucks in their guitar case. For only a couple dollars, you're basically saving yourself from spending the $10-$15 cover charge that you normally would spend (plus drinks) just to watch them at a nightclub.

Rachael Cantu
Rachael Cantu performing at The Apple Store
photograph by picksysticks


On this brisk evening, a sign outside the Apple Store invited people to watch a special performance from local favorite, Rachael Cantu. Filled with moody melodies and soulful arrangements that I like to describe as Hope Sandoval/Sarah McLachlan-esque, "Run All Night," Rachael's first album, was a mature and fulfilling debut of indie/folk rock that's filled with soul and heartbreak.

Rachael Cantu
Rachael Cantu performing at The Apple Store
photo by picksysticks


If her first album was a dark, threatening storm in the distance, then her second, "Far and Wide" would be the sunlight breaking through those clouds. On "Far and Wide," her second studio album, Rachael proves her songwriting versatility with a blend of colorful and upbeat melodies but manages to keep that feeling of vulnerability and raw emotion in her powerful vocals that made her first album stand out. Check out her resume! Considering she's unsigned and self-released her latest album, Rachael Cantu has toured with BB King, Pat Benatar, Peter Frampton, Tegan & Sara, Ben Lee and Ryan Cabrera. And if you're a watcher of ABC's Private Practice, then you might have recognized her song, "Devil's Thunder," in one of the episodes. Not bad for being unsigned. Rachael is currently on her US Tour which will swing back around to the Hotel Cafe on January 19th. Be sure to check her out!




Chelsea Williams
Chelsea Williams performing at Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade
photo by picksysticks


The weekend was much warmer as you can see from the pics. And it didn't take long for me to hear the soothing sounds of an acoustic guitar playing and satin voice singing off in the distance. A regular on most Saturdays (usually between Santa Monica Blvd & Wilshire), Chelsea Williams' voice is hypnotic and her rock lullaby songs? Infectious. Try walking a mile in her shoes and it's hard to imagine that she performs on the street for a living. For over two years, four days a week, Chelsea has been carrying her own P.A. system, pushing it through parking garages, setting up and dismantling her gear, three or four times a day. Selling over 50,000 CDs on her own, she's made fans literally one step at a time. Just head over to 3rd Street one weekend and if you happen to catch her playing, then notice the amount of times people basically stop shopping and listen. Performing a blend of covers and original songs, Chelsea's simple and catchy melodies highlights her silky, weathered voice. Recently she recorded a remake of "Winter Wonderland" for "Snow 2: Brain Freeze" for ABC Family and is available on the compilation, "Songs to Celebrate 25 Days of Christmas," which you can purchase at Amazon, The Disney Store and Barnes & Noble. If you can't watch Chelsea play on 3rd Street, then you can catch her at Molly Malone's in Hollywood when she plays on January 13th.




Chelsea Williams
Chelsea Williams performing at Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade
photograph by picksysticks


Amy May
Amy May performing at Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade
photo by picksysticks


Another singer performing on 3rd Street this very same day was the talented Amy May. Originally from the United Kingdom, Amy spent her summer in Los Angeles to get inspiration and write songs for her upcoming album.

Amy May
Amy May performing at Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade
photo by picksysticks


With her absorbing and spellbinding voice which is framed by her bare and humble melodies, Amy hypnotizes in songs like "Real" and "Stormchaser" from her latest album, "Right Right Now." With her stint in L.A. over, Amy is scheduled to go to Thailand and Cambodia to do more performing and gain more inspiration for her second album. I can't wait for that to come.

***UPDATE***
Just walked over to 3rd Street yesterday (Thursday, January 14th) and who was there? Amy May! She's still performing in front of an appreciative crowd.



Amy May performs "Real" on Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade.