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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's All About The Music

Playing at the Artists’ Theater and hosted by Laguna Beach Live, The John Jorgenson Quintet  played a night of energetic and toe-tapping music. There was no fuss when the Quintet took the stage to play, for these musicians made it clear that music was at the center. Each song could not easily fit into a box of a specific genre, rather they were influenced by many…blending into strong Jazz rhythms where the guitar ruled. The music took over the audience as each note floated into the air where nothing existed but melody, rhythm, chord and note.

The non-profit, Laguna Beach Live brought the John Jorgenson Quintet to our town. They offer a variety of musical experiences for residents and visitors of Laguna Beach.

Free concerts on First Sundays Enjoy these free afternoon concerts at the Laguna College of Art + Design. On February 6, enjoy the Colburn School, Conservatory of Music Quartet.

Jazz Wednesdays Winter Series  hosted at Hotel Laguna for a $10 cover charge.  Jazz Wednesdays are happening now through April 20th.

The 9th annual week-long festival is taking place February 7-13 and promises to be superb. Featured musicians include Brooklyn Rider, Kayhan Kalhor, and Kojiro Umezaki. You can purchase your tickets now HERE.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The World’s Musical Rabbi

Hershey Felder in Maestro: The Art of Leonard Bernstein

Immediately when entering the theater, I knew that this was going to be a special show. What I saw was an elegantly stripped-down set; a black baby grand piano, two large stage lights and an old film camera against a backdrop of draped material resembling a torn piece of sheet music. Against the sheet music, a black and white film was projected of Leonard Bernstein speaking about music …Slowly the house lights are dimmed and before I realize, Hershey Felder, playing Leonard Bernstein, glides through the audience ascending to the stage. He turns and you SEE Leonard Bernstein.

We as the audience were immediately taken into the world of Bernstein. Learning of his strict and traditional Jewish upbringing. How at three he tickled the keys of a piano and immediately fell into “idol worship.” Against his Father’s wishes, he pursued music by paying for his own piano lessons where he quickly surpassed the abilities of his teacher and moved onto studying at the New England Conservatory of Music, and then at Harvard. Along with stories, we were also treated to beautiful music played and sung by Felder.  Being able to hear how great composers like Beethoven influenced Bernstein, brought a deeper understanding of the man. Or the effect that Gershwin had on him and his desire to become the next great American composer. Felder also showed us what conducting meant to him and how the music moved him. All of this was felt through the music more than through the actual words of the story.

Felder was able to weave this story of Bernstein through the music that identified and influenced who he was as a man; father, lover, conductor, composer and teacher. I, as a young 30-something learned a thing or two about Bernstein beyond the “Westside Story” melodies that made him a familiar name to me. I saw that he was a man that asks the questions we all do, “Where do I fit in?” “In this continuum of life and song, where will my mark land?” For Bernstein, he literally became the “world’s musical Rabbi.” His true and pure love of music has influenced generations and will no doubt continue to do so.

Be sure to see this play at The Laguna Playhouse now through February 6. For tickets, call 949-497-2787 x1 or

By Anne-Marie S.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rock'n Fish, Laguna Beach

Perched above Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and overlooking Main Beach, Rock’n Fish  is nestled in the heart of downtown Laguna. Owners Jim Donegan and Michael Zislis opened this newest Laguna eatery in late December 2010. When first married, Jim and his wife lived just off the 133 highway near Laguna Canyon Road. Their weekends were filled with visiting Laguna Beach galleries, shops and beaches. In fact, Main Beach was the first beach that their children visited. So it was only fitting for them to have one of their restaurants located here.

Last week, I attended  First Thursday’s Art Walk and beforehand, one of my good college friends and I headed to Rock’n Fish for drinks and dinner. We were seated near the windows overlooking the gorgeous sunset of Main Beach. This particular night looked like a painting…deep reds brushed with bright orange, over calm, dark waters. To start off the night, we ordered two of Rock’n Fish’s signature drinks, The Navy Grog (Bacardi rum, fresh tropical juices, topped with a layer of sweet Hawaiian dark rum) and the Chambord Raspberry Swizzle (Chambord Raspberry Vodka, soda water and a Chambord liqueur sinker). We enjoyed these drinks while taking in the last moments of the sunset.

Next, it was time to decide on appetizers. Choices included beer-battered popcorn shrimp,  Sesame seared ahi tuna and crispy calamari. How to decide? Our server helped make up our decision when he told us about the signature oak grilled fresh artichoke that was cooked over an open flame. We decided to pair it with the popcorn shrimp.

For both of us, this artichoke was the most fantastic appetizer we had ever feasted on. The smoky oak taste saturated through to the heart, and the leaves were slightly charred, with a precision that didn’t dry out any part of the vegetable.

The hearty helping of popcorn shrimp was paired with a spicy remoulade sauce and cocktail sauce. It was fresh and savory.

After learning that most of the fish and meat is also cooked over the open flames of red oak, we could hardly bring ourselves to make a choice on an entree. We felt we couldn’t go wrong no matter which one we went with.  So…

Blackened Wild Alaskan Halibut
Blackened Wild Alaskan Halibut Seasoned with Cajun spice and served with avocado aioli. Sides: Spicy Mac’n cheese and fresh, seasonal vegetables grilled over the open flames.

My girlfriend explained her halibut as, “supremely moist and evenly cooked. Perfect balance of spices.” Her halibut was gone before I could even sneak a taste, so I will have to trust her on this one. The mac-n-cheese was creamy with a kick of cayenne pepper, but subtle enough to not overwhelm.

Signature Kapalua Rib-eye

Hand cut rib-eye marinated for 72 hours in a pineapple-soy marinade, served with Hibachi teriyaki sauce. Sides: Garlic mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables grilled over the red oak flames.

After marinating for 72 hours, the marbling in the rib-eye steak thoroughly soaked up every flavor of the pineapple soy sauce. Each bite was a burst of flavor. Layered amongst the sweet pineapple and soy were the hints of the smoky oak flames it was cooked over. I have to say, the rib-eye paired with the garlic mashed potatoes and fresh grilled vegetables  was a choice I was going home happy about!

We finished our meal off with the house dessert special, something you will not find anywhere else; Sticky Toffee pudding. It’s another Rock’n Fish house special.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Warm, moist toffee-cake topped with a decadent sticky toffee sauce. This one we had รก la mode.

By the end of our meal the sun was long gone and the beauty of the moon shone out over the Pacific. Below, PCH started to fill with patrons for the First Thursday’s Art Walk .  Inside, my friend and I smiled with the satisfaction and contentment that only a good meal can bring. 

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Swenson Fine Art, Laguna Beach

Located: 460 So. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach

Conveniently located in downtown Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) Swenson Fine Art focuses on modern art. At Swenson you will find a contemporary art space filled with work that is diverse and interesting. From 3-dimensional pieces that include studio glass, bronze and ceramics to 2-dimensional art.
Looking in
Malott & Rae

Kazandjian, 'Spiral in Five Movements'

Owner and curator Laurie Swenson has lived and breathed the art business for over 22 years. From her travels around the globe, she found inspiration, harnessed it and has brought together modern works that both the novice collector and the avid art lover can enjoy.

The gallery is also one you want to be sure to visit on the monthly First Thursday’s Art Walk . There is always something happening on these nights as art patrons hit the streets of Laguna from 6:00-9:00pm. It may be a featured artist, a special exhibit of classic works, live music or just browsing with some champagne. This month, Swenson Fine Art is displaying one of the “Artful Violins” as part of an online action in support of Laguna Beach Live and their music education programs. You can view the violin by artists Malotee & Rae, now through Feb 6, 2011.

By Anne-Marie S.

Village Gallery, Laguna Beach

Location: 502 S. Coast Highway

The Village Gallery is a relaxed and inviting gallery to visit. Every square inch of the space from floor to ceiling is covered in art. Landscapes, stills, portraits, and more, can be found here. For over 30 years the gallery has specialized in introducing the beginning collector to the world of art.

Thomas Kinkade

Fabian Perez

Jim Keifer

The gallery boasts many classic Thomas Kinkade pieces, collectibles, and frames. As one of the first galleries to feature Kinkade, Village Gallery was a contributing factor in launching Kinkade’s career and subsequent success.

If you decide to purchase a piece of art from the gallery, they also offer unique custom framing. And if you can’t find the art or frame you are looking for, the staff is extremely helpful in locating exactly what you desire. Also, be sure to subscribe to their mailing list as you will be reminded to attend future events, as well as keeping apprised to what artist is featured at the gallery.

If you are new to the world of art and visiting galleries, start at Village Gallery for a warm atmosphere that allows you to peruse freely and easily.

By Anne-Marie S.