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Historic Troubadour stays modern with P.O.S.

By Rob Kadivar

February 16, 2010 9:00 pm

Since its opening in 1957, the Troubadour has built a reputation for showcasing lesser-known performers who possess real talent, in an intimate environment. Among other equally impressive names, Elton John held his first ever American performance there (introduced by Neil Diamond no less), and Guns N Roses was discovered at the Troubadour. On Friday, Feb. 19, the venue will welcome Stefon Alexander and Margret Wander, better known by their stage names P.O.S. and Dessa, to grace its stage.

The venue and the artists share a lot in common. Each started as something different and grew into the niche they currently call home. Alexander was originally a punk rock musician who grew into hip-hop. Wander was originally a spoken word poet who grew into the singer/songwriter she is today. And the Troubadour was originally a café on La Cienega Boulevard but quickly moved to its current location on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood as a concert venue.

Each can also be traced to distinct influences. Alexander claims early Dr. Dre, Mos Def and Kid Dynamite among his list of influences, while Wander is currently absorbing the most recent work by British indie rock group Florence and the Machine. And staff from the Troubadour cite The Troubadour Club of London, which was originally known for showcasing folk musicians, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, as its inspiration, but welcomes artists of any genre today.

Considering the backgrounds they share, it is fitting that these artists would be invited to this venue to perform their distinct brand of alternative hip-hop. Though originally from Minnesota, neither Alexander nor Wander are strangers to performing across the nation.

“I’ve performed at a few places in L.A., but (The Troubadour) is probably my favorite,” Alexander said. “That is the sort of place I excel in, the smaller room where the part of the audience that knows the songs will sing along.”

They also recognize the significance of performing at a venue like the Troubadour, considering its pedigree.

“Whether you’re from L.A. or not, you recognize the history of the Troubadour,” said Kellie Miner, a fourth-year nursing student. “It is the sort of place you will end up telling your kids about around the time they start going there themselves.”

Alexander and Wander are associated through the hip-hop collective Doomtree, a group of friends who began to produce music, both individually and together. In this show, Wander opens for Alexander.

“When they invited me to join, (Alexander) was frank with me. He told me that Doomtree is about the friendship before anything else, and it’s been over nine years,” Wander said. “Now, when we’re on the road, we try to figure out the best show possible. It is not always the same, and it’s not always totally different, but one of my goals is always to design a killer stage show.”

Part of putting on a great show and making great music is experience, something Alexander believes he possesses.

“I have grown up just like anyone else who does one thing for a long time. I have refined my beats, and I like where it took me,” Alexander said.

Alexander went on to discuss his relationship with his audiences.

“I am not down to put myself above anyone else, nobody is too lame to be there. Especially in L.A., where it is hip-hop, punk rock and everyone in the middle.”

Beyond the identity of the group and the significance of the venue though, the ultimate goal is still entertainment and the appreciation of music for those who will listen.

“(Concert go-ers) have been pretty great, I could not ask for much better,” Wander said. “They have been supporting us by buying the music when we all know they could just as easily go and download it. We’re very thankful for the support.”

Miner believes the fans feel the same way.

“I think when people go to the Troubadour, they go expecting a great show, even if they have never heard of the performer before, even if it is just because of the interaction between the performer and the audience that can go on there,” Miner said. “It is a place where you can actually develop a relationship with whoever is on stage, and so every show is a great one.”

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Rob Kadivar
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