Tag Archives: LA

Stop & Listen LA is Back in the Game!

30 Nov

It’s been close to 4 months since the last blog post.  I apologize to our readers who have been kept in the dark.  Musicians have been off the streets for the better part of fall, but a few of us think it might be nice to do a bit of holiday caroling on the streets.  Maybe you’d like to join us?  🙂

I just came home from a wonderful solo adventure in Europe that I’m calling my  mini “Eat, Pray, Love”.  My main mission was to visit the roots of my favorite singer: Edith Piaf and to eat as many desserts as my body could handle.  I’m home, feeling heavier, fulfilled, and more empowered than ever!  Onto being “back in the game” …when this “project” began last March, I could only dream that I would be turning it into an arts non profit organization.  At the time ,I felt the only thing I was good at was singing a pretty song, but I’m happy to say that by going down the ‘hobby’ route, I’m continuously learning the many incredible possibilities that lie ahead instead of allowing forces within to limit that potential.

The excitement of the project had me working on overload.  Finding musicians, creating partnerships, managing social media & this website, being photographer, planning meetings & events, purchasing equipment on a meager budget, THEN focusing on the business side of creating an executive board, Strategic Plan, a Marketing plan, a Fundraising plan, a Business Plan, Grant Research, and what some like to call “THE BEAST” aka the 1023 forms.  I have attended mixers, business meetings, non profit coaching sessions and have sought advice from amazing human beings, all to be completely overwhelmed by what I had gotten myself into; teetering between dreams & practicality.  In all of that excitement, I began to lose sight of why Stop & Listen LA started in the first place, and it was not until today, while writing a letter, that I was reminded of my reasons for playing at Leo’s Taco truck that evening.

Stop & Listen LA is about the transformative powers of music.  It’s the truth in music that keeps me happy & honest.  And it’s that same truth, that which is so terribly difficult to vocalize in our daily lives, that can connect and unite people on a much more infinite and boundless level.  Far more than any drunken nights out or schmoozing with company you probably won’t keep.  It’s music for the people and of the people that make up our communities, sharing our stories, and understanding our differences and similarities.  Los Angeles is rich with beauty & cultural history that can be easily forgotten in the midst of fame, trends, & entertainment.  Admittedly, I too forget to appreciate that very beauty, especially when moving too quickly through this life.

So…yea, this is more than just music at your food trucks.  There’s a whole theme behind this madness! And I’m diligently working towards creating realities beyond it!  Stop & Listen LA plays only a small role in a practice that goes beyond “listening”.  It is merely the first step towards building stronger communities and whose mission is one I hope many will continue to support.

Stop & Listen Paris

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Melissa

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Edge Magazine Launches & features Stop & Listen LA

2 Aug

August 1st marked the Launch of the new online magazine: Edge!   The magazine founded by Iman Milner & Ashley Nguyen highlights the achievements of minorities in Entertainment & Leadership.  I feel really fortunate to have been featured in this fantastic line up of talented artists in the community.  Thank you Edge Magazine for your support!!

Melissa Flavia is as unassuming a warrior as ever. She is calm, poised, ethereal and approachable, but not in a way in which one can assume that she is complacent or boring.  On this night she is gearing up to perform in front of a sort of “meals on wheels” operation. The venue is ‘Leo’s Taco Truck’, simply named for what it is, a food truck parked on a corner in Pasadena, CA that sells, well, tacos. Flavia gives a sweet hello to my partners and I, takes out her guitar and begins to play. Customers of Leo’s at first seem skeptical about Flavia’s presence but quickly become appreciative—she is by all means, captivating. One by one, the once reluctant passerbys fill Flavia’s version of the street performer’s hat: take out Chinese food boxes. It quickly becomes apparent that there is nothing to dislike about this girl. A cross between Adele and Corrine Bailey Rae, Flavia’s voice is mature and calm, comforting even. She keeps a steady pace rocking like a folk singer twice her age while maintaining a youthful grunt or two—a glimpse of soul in a gypsy.

So, why is she here? Performing on what is certainly not a street buzzing with A&Rs  waiting with contracts to sign the next alternative music superstar, Flavia’s passion says otherwise.  She is here for her organization, Stop and Listen, LA which she created less than a year ago.  “Discovering new music (or artist) should be natural and organic…music was never meant to be a competition it’s an expression of truth”, she says before going on to explain that Stop and Listen is her attempt to give the underdogs a chance. In a world consumed by talent competitions, audition tapes on the internet and ridiculously expensive venue costs for live performers; Flavia gives herself and the other artists she has joined with, freedom to have their voices heard by whoever happens to be standing around and willing to slow down, listen and be moved.  “After going to so many open mics and hearing so many amazing artists there, who you don’t even hear about…there was a lot of frustration for the underdogs, you didn’t create your art for the pockets of venues” Flavia says, in a tone nothing at all reminiscent of her sweet demeanor, in this part of her vision she is matter of fact, blunt even. When I ask her why she chose the name, her fairy-like ethereal-ness returns, “Stop and Listen, LA” she says, “was aligned with what I believe it takes to truly be happy—following your passion, gratitude and recognizing the subtle things that add to your happiness”. But Flavia adds a chuckle when she admits to first thinking that it would just be a social experiment (she majored in Sociology at UCLA), “I was gonna just stop by random places and see if people would actually stop”. Her intensity returns as she continues “ overall it’s all about being more mindful in your life and slowing down in order to appreciate what’s right in front of you”, the very thing she has demanded people to do on this chilly night in LA.

Patrons of the taco truck already having received their meals stay mesmerized by Flavia’s beautiful tone and pleasant nature, a feat that shows one that she has far surpassed the realms of a more serious Sasha Baren Cohen movie. As I stand and watch, a looker-on says to me (noticing my pen fast at work), “it takes a lot of guts to do that”, I look up, “yeah” I say as the boy walks over to his father and later returns with a handful of dollars for Melissa. “She’s really good” he says. Flavia chuckles when I recount the story for her and exclaims “Really?”. With her eyes all lit up she says “I just hope that it lights up their day. There’s always something around you, you just have to see it” she continues, “I hope it adds to their happiness, it gives them an opportunity to think about how we live life so quickly, so blindly”. So why the taco trucks? Flavia again turns serious saying, “in LA we’re always following trends and there is so much happening underneath it all. I wanted to insert us in a trend of something that had been around longer and was in a way some people’s livelihood”. But why Leo’s specifically? The ethereal-ness returns as she simply answers “it’s my favorite”.  She continues, “at the end of the day all I wanted to do was sing, it was a part of my basic civil liberties to perform wherever I could be heard, and I thought other artist could do it too”.


To watch her speak of Stop and Listen, LA is to have a total experience of another human being, she is transparent and beautifully honest. She is quite simply that teacher who didn’t ever raise her voice but who you never thought to talk over. When I finally get her to just talk about herself she very articulately says, “ I’m a simple girl who likes to sing. I want to be free. I don’t want to be tied down to a venue or confined…so I sing on the street”.  As one would guess, Flavia names “life” as her biggest inspiration stating, “life itself. Everything is an art. People that I meet, the experiences I’ve had, knowing that my sensitivity and my emotions are a strength…all of it.” She smiles gently and finishes “my ultimate satisfaction comes in knowing that I’m continuing what I love to do”. And in that simple sentence lies Melissa Flavia, a girl living for what she loves and believes in…fighting for her creative license and singing for her happiness.

Check out: http://edgemagazinesite.com

Read the Original Article here: http://edgemagazinesite.com/web/?p=107

Downtown LA Artwalk – Featured in ThePlaceLA

15 Jul

Check it! We got featured in ThePlaceLA!  Loved playing there! Awesome atmosphere & great food!

http://www.theplacela.com

http://www.twitter.com/theplacela

“Hey guys. Last Thursday, we participated in the Downtown LA Art Walk and it was a huge success! Our good friends Flavia and Matu from Stop & Listen LA gave the crowd an amazing performance. Please take the time to read what the project is all about and check out the wonderful performances they are doing in the Los Angeles area at www.stopandlistenla.org. We are very thankful for the turnout and all the good vibes we received. And now, we leave you with some photos from the event.”

The rest of our photos can be found on our Flickr page.


Blog Post from Vibra Optic ’73

2 Jun

Brain Jail

First of all I hope everyone had a great memorial day weekend, that it was relaxing and safe for everyone who owns a grill and an ice chest. And while we didn’t exactly get the chance to put either of these utensils to use, rest assured that our weekend was interesting and productive.
Lets start off with saturday, performing on the street in front of SLOW clothing store and the Vizzi Truck on Melrose Avenue. A special thanks to Melissa of Stop & Listen LA for setting everything up. We did run into couple of slight snags in the form of noise complaints during soundcheck. Nothing too major, though. And definately nothing that can’t be fixed, apparently by moving the piano about 4 feet in one direction. But seriously, who moves to Hollywood expecting peace and quiet? I know just the place for these people. Its got great scenery, a similarly moderate climate, more parking, and ofcourse, less noise. Its called Outside of LA. We were, however, fortunate enough to have a surprise cameo performance (that we didnt even know about) by a sweet old lady blowing bubbles onto our instruments as we attempted to play through our confusion. Overall we had a lot of fun and made a few new friends there and just may possibly play around those parts again, hopefully in the near future.
No sooner than we were off the street had we temporarily retired to watch Kobe rain on the parade that is the Steve Nash foundation with an onslaught of three’s, facing a vast variety of defensive challenges on the part of the Phoenix Suns. What a performance! Another special thanks to Melissa’s Dad for the San Miguel and the wonderful hospitality.
To read more check out: http://vibraoptic73.blogspot.com/

Stop & Listen LA Video Series: Ray Argyle in Silverlake

24 May