Ozomatli Answers!

February 23, 2011


Ozomatli has declared 2011 to be the year to focus on oZokidZ! They will be performing at The Canyon Club on March 5th at 3PM, doors open at 2PM. They will also be performing at McCabes on March 13th at 11AM.

Here is our interview with Wil-Dog. His answers are italicized.

Because it’s fascinating how the band formed, please let us know in your own words and how the original band members met and came to play so many different types of music.

Each band member has their own unique experience of running into other future band members prior of us becoming Ozomatli in the LA City school system. Whether it be in a music summer program or some kind of band settings or school band meetings. When we got together it started with one person calling one of our friends and that person calling another friend and so on and so forth. We invited musicians to come participate in a benefit concert for a youth center in Downtown LA that we started called “The Peace and Justice Center”. When we had our first rehearsal, we had such an eclectic mix of musicians with so many styles of music that we each took turns showing each other the music we were into at that time. We created our own songs out of those styles. We were pretty much open to anything as long as it made people dance.

Why and when did you start OzoKids?

Mario, our drummer now of 8 years, thought it would be cool about two years ago to do an Ozokidz record. At that point it was just an idea, no one saw much of it. Then February 2010 we were playing at the House of Blues Chicago on a Monday or Tuesday night. We have always been fortunate at the HOB Chicago and never had a problem selling tickets there, but this specific night was different. I didn’t know why we weren’t selling tickets so I went on our Facebook and asked people in Chicago if they wanted to come to our show for free – basically giving them tickets. I received so many responses back saying, “I’d love to come but I can’t get a babysitter”. We realized that a lot of our fans now are having children themselves so we decided to develop a concert that Ozo fans can bring their children to. Now that we started to do these children shows we’re realizing that we need to actually create a whole different show that really engages children. That this isn’t for parents necessarily but parents can enjoy it as well. We realize that we really need to start with the kids and entertain them and give them something to walk away with.

Do you play different music at an OzoKids show?

Yes we play some of Ozomatli classics that are high energy that children will enjoy but we also have a whole slew of songs that are just for kids shows that we don’t play at regular Ozomatli shows. We explain to the kids how to put on a show  and the kids in the audience become Ozokidz stage crew members.

Are any special effects toned down for the children’s concerts or will there still be a big truck?  

Well the difference is that we keep the volume very low at the kids show and there’s no acoustic sounds coming off the stage. It’s all being controlled by the sound person at the front of house. Kids of all ages can enjoy it without hurting their ears.

Do any of the members have kids themselves?

Yes, many of us have children and we learn from our children what works and what doesn’t prior to bringing it to a concert setting. Our children also develop different ideas that have been implemented into the show such as a VIP kids only section, other characters in the show that we use, as well as Asdru’s daughter is actually singing lead on one of the songs.

A fan seems to remember the group occasionally performing under a pseudonym – how did that come to be and why?

The reason why we use pseudonyms is because sometimes we don’t have everyone in the band performing or contractually we cannot use the name Ozomatli during that time period.

The groups has changed group members several times – is there a policy in the band regarding this change – how are new members incorporated?

I think how it started was, we started with 10 people in the band with our first album. During the 2nd record we had 4 members leave the band at the same time. For many years we tried to fill those spots with other people. That eventually wouldn’t work out so we would try to fill it again with someone else. The further away we got from the original line up, we realized that those people were irreplaceable to begin with so we decided to move on with the group we had. Now we have the original 6 members plus Mario, who has been on drums for 8 years.

What was it like to become cultural ambassadors for the State Department under the Bush Administration? What were your experiences being cultural ambassadors during that time period?

In the beginning we were really concerned with working with the State Department during that time, but after doing those trips we realized that there are a lot of different individuals working in the State Department. In a way I think, some of those people asking us to participate in these tours was their way of protesting against the Bush Administration by bringing us. It was a great experience – learning more about the world and being able to exchange music and art with so many different cultures and also playing for thousands of children. We took away lots of inspiration and energy and put that into our music.

How did the decision come to be to continue promoting your second album, Embrace The Chaos, after September 11th, 2001?

I don’t think it was necessarily about promoting our album anymore. Our album was pretty much done and no one was buying anything, but we thought it was important to continue to play. Actually, one of our first stops was in NYC just 14 days after September 11. Pretty much everyone in the audience knew someone or had a family member die in the world trade center. During that show, we realized that our music brought some healing to those people. Everybody in the audience thanked us for coming and not avoiding the city. So after that experience, we knew we were doing the right thing.




The Canyon Club


McCabes Concert Listings


Nadine, an amazing homeschooling mother for her varied and fun field trips, organized a field trip for fellow homeschoolers to visit The Da Vinci Exhibit in Hollywood. It’s an interactive exhibit with replicas of many of da Vinci’s inventions. It includes a military gallery, a transportation gallery, and a mechanical gallery. His inventions include a glider, bicycle, water shoes, and a chamber of mirrors – which was Mishy’s favorite invention. (She loved saying hello and good bye to her and my many reflections.) It was fascinating to go through the galleries and see how his inventions are used today – his mechanical pulley invention for elevators, for example. The exhibit isn’t big and we were able to see the entire exhibit in an hour. There is a short film about Leonardo da Vinci – which we missed – Mishy was more interested in pulling the various levers of the inventions and trying to figure out how they worked. The people who work at the exhibit were incredibly enthusiastic and enjoyed having the museum filled with homeschoolers. One even mentioned, it felt like the best part of Thanksgiving – when all the family is there to play.

Parking is inside the Hollywood and Highland Center. It’s $2 for 4 hours of parking. Be sure to get your tickets validated before exiting the exhibit. There are plenty of places to eat in the area – including Chado Tea Room at the h.Wood – I love the simple elegance and restful quality I feel at the various Chado Tea Rooms in the Los Angeles area.


The Da Vinci Exhibit

Hollywood and Highland Center (across from the Kodak Theatre) 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90024

For additional information and tickets, call: 888 998 4624

The exhibit runs until December 31st, 2011.


I just saw that for the next four days, the exhibit is on sale at perks daily. Here is the link to get $6 admission. The regular price is $18.


Chado Tea Room at H. Wood



Super Ozomatli Giveaway

February 23, 2011

Ozomatli, the Grammy award winning band and former U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors, whose mission has been to promote peace has made 2011 a year to focus on oZokidZ and will be performing a couple of upcoming concerts in the Los Angeles area before embarking on a country wide tour. Their music is a blend of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican ragga and Indian raga— and has long followed a key mantra: it will take you around the world by taking you around L.A.

Interested in reading more about Ozomatli? Here is my interview with Wil-Dog.


I am extremely excited to offer 10 pairs of ticket to see Ozokids at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on Saturday, March 5th, 2011. The show starts at 3PM, with doors opening at 2PM. Just comment below. If you take a look at their website and comment again, you will gain an additional entry. If you take a look at The Canyon Club’s website and comment again, you will gain one more entry. Good luck. The contest ends on midnight, March 1st, 2011. Mishy will pick out the 10 lucky winners. I will announce the winners by March 3rd, 2011.

Want to enter more giveaways? Here are the links of two more I have right now:



I will have a lot more upcoming giveaways on March 1st.




The Canyon Club


Interesting tidbits:

The City of Los Angeles has officially declared April 23rd, 2010 as “Ozomatli Day”, in perpetuity. Ozomatli were also recipients of the 2010 Local Heroes Award by Los Angeles PBS stationKCET-TV, recognizing the band’s longstanding accomplishments and community service throughout Southern California.

UPDATE: Congratulations to all of the winners! You’ve been notified by email.

Mishy made her Babba wear both her hat and his.

My husband was away in Singapore for five days. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, it was difficult for both Mishy and me. We don’t have any babysitter or family around, and my daughter is not enrolled in preschool so during that time, it was just me. While I don’t traditionally get a lot of time to myself when my husband is around, those few minutes here and there and the occasional evening when my husband takes our daughter to the playground, are times I need for myself – to re-group, get refreshed, and do things for me. (While those things for me tend to be blogging or organizing field trips, it still is my time.) My husband has gone on short business trips before. Maybe it was the distance and the fact that on two days, we didn’t have any correspondence with him because he was on a plane and maybe it was also because I was busy putting the final details of our daughter’s birthday party – and maybe because we usually go on long trips together – this time, it was really hard on all of us to be away from each other. When my husband landed, from a private plane no less, my daughter was very excited to see him and we made our way to the Arboretum of Los Angeles County – a place we had visited before as a family.

There are many things I love about the Arboretum – the freely roaming peacocks, the tram that takes you around the area, the easy parking, the gift shop where you may buy some beautiful flowers and cacti, the waterfall, the beautiful plants, and plenty of grassy areas to run on. (They also offer children’s programs such as story times and host special events such as weddings.)

Mishy and Babba running around in the wedding area.

Mishy and Babby looking at the pond while the geese lay on the grass.


Arboretum of Los Angeles County


Bonus information:

The arboretum is very close to our favorite dumpling place in Los Angeles – Din Tai Fung. We headed there afterwards where Mishy let the hostess know on the way out, “I really like your food. You know how to make noodles and dumplings.” We usually order the fish dumplings, shrimp rice cakes, steamed vegetables, sesame noodles, and red bean dumplings. The sesame noodles have a kick to it.


Here’s Din Tai Fung’s review on Yelp:


Mishy playing do and mi.

I love when things seredipidusously happen. I enter giveaways because I like winning things and I do tend to win.  I won a family four pack of tickets to see Brooklyn based jazz musician, Oran Etkin in concert in October. Because we are a family of three, I offered the extra ticket on a yahoo group I own and co-moderate – Natural Parenting LA. Some of my friends are members of this yahoo group and I thought this would be the most diplomatic way to offer the extra the ticket. The person who won the ticket emailed me that night and asked if my daughter had ever participated in a music class taught by Oran. No, but I thought let’s see if it’s possible to organize one while he’s here. I remember emailing him and then her late into that night trying to figure out the details to see how this can happen. I got so excited about the possibilities.

Why? Because when my daughter was younger, I took her to a music class where a teacher with a guitar sings and passes around instruments to play and while it’s a way to connect with other parents, in terms of actual music learning – not really. More importantly, after that one class series, my daughter made it very clear she wanted nothing to do with music classes.  Yet, she’s showed a keen interest in music – notably piano and has been asking for a piano for over a year now. I had talked to piano teachers about giving my daughter lessons, and they said they don’t teach children until they are 4-6 years old. Mishy was 1.5 years old when she started asking to play piano. I did investigate the Suzuki method and found a good Suzuki violin teacher, but Mishy said she wanted to learn piano. I thought maybe the ideal situation would be to find a class that taught music in a child friendly way and I thought perhaps Oran’s music class would be the answer.

During my early correspondence with Oran, he told me the class would be special. And it is. Musical concepts such as beats, high/low notes, hearing notes in music, parts of an instrument, classification of instruments, being introduced to non traditional instruments, and so many more are done in respectful, fun ways. His classes are entirely refreshing, enjoyable and most importantly, they are taught in a way that get into your bones so music becomes natural and comprehensive . After the first class, Mishy started becoming curious about all the instruments I had bought during our travels. We started having parades on our street and concerts at home and she wanted to go to concerts and learn – really learn about music – which made me incredibly happy because I love going to concerts and being surrounded by music as well.

When Oran wrote to me in December and let me know he would be in Los Angeles again to celebrate his nomination and attend the Grammy ceremony – he has been nominated for his work on the CD, Healthy Food For Thought – I jumped at the opportunity to host two more classes and help spread the word about his classes. (He taught at a friend’s daughter’s preschool and a homeschooling group as well as two other private classes during his recent time here.) He teaches children from 0-12 years of age and private classes are 6-12 participants. Los Angeles based parents, he will be returning in the summer, most likely June 2011! Consider your children very lucky if they get an opportunity to have him as a teacher. (Oran teaches classes in New York regularly, when not traveling with his band.)

Learning about the caxixis - pronounced cashishi




The Pop Ups are headed back to Los Angeles again for a 2-day only showcase on Saturday, February 26th & Sunday, February 27th of their hit show PASTA! A Pop Ups Puppet Musical! For further info, to hear songs or watch video from previous shows, please visit us at http://www.thepopups.com

This group is an amazing group based in Brooklyn, NY. They have created a buzz among the mothers I know – who are very excited to have them back for a very short run – for only four performances! They will be in Santa Monica at:

Highways Performance Space

1651 18th Street
Santa Monica, CA


I have 2 tickets to giveaway for the Sunday, February 27th show at 2PM. Since this is a quick giveaway, the first to comment wins!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Morgan! Enjoy the show.

By chance Mishy and I walked into a classroom visit of Roy Lichtenstein’s In Process exhibition at Federick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. The presentation was lead by Regan, an art history major at Pepperdine and it was presented in an amazingly child friendly, informative, and interesting way. We all learned about the style of Pop Art – named Pop Art because it’s using popular items/representations and making it into art – and which artists influenced Roy Lichtenstein’s work and how he played homage to his mentors. He created water lilies similar to Claude Monet’s water lilies in a collage and small studies. Mishy and fellow classmates also discovered which materials Roy Lichtenstein used in his art work – he painted with oils, used cut out paper, paint, and foil in his collage work that was presented in the exhibition.

As Mishy and I make our way into and through the homeschooling world, we have had several opportunities to join regular classrooms and it was been absolutely wonderful to be able to join in on a class and leave a class when it’s time for us to move on to other adventures or lunch or a concert. I love being able to share the world of art with my daughter and not do the teaching sometimes.


Roy Lichtenstein In Process

January 22-April 3, 2011

Museum of Art – Pepperdine University

24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA

Upcoming Family Art Days: Saturday, March 12th from 11AM to 1PM.

When entering Pepperdine, tell the security guard that you are headed to the Museum of Art. He will give you a parking permit and direct you where to park. If you are arriving on a weekend, parking is not a problem. During the week day, when school is in session, you will most likely be directed to a parking lot and told to shuttle your way back to the art gallery. Taking a shuttle may seem daunting, but it isn’t. They arrive frequently on a set schedule and it’s very easy to hop in and out of it and walk a little bit to the gallery. The gallery is located kitty corner to the Smothers Theatre.