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Half Lucky, full jam band to play at Descanso Gardens

Newlyweds lead an exuberant group that's kid-friendly.

July 14, 2012|By Lynne Heffley
  • Lucky Diaz, left, and his wife, Alisha, at their home in Los Angeles. Lucky and Alisha started the Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band three years ago. "It's such a joyous experience," Alisha says. "It gave us the opportunity to travel and meet so many different families," she adds.
Lucky Diaz, left, and his wife, Alisha, at their home in… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

Family music covers a lot of territory. It can be simple nursery rhymes or musically sophisticated, inventive original songs. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, a recent entry in the “kindie rock” field, falls squarely in the latter category.

Named 2010's “Best New Kids Artist” by USA Today, the Los Angeles-based band — newlyweds Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, plus a rotating crew of top-drawer professional musicians — will perform its exuberant, roots-and-rock music in a free concert for all ages on July 24 at 6 p.m. at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.

Part of Descanso's Family Tuesdays series, the concert celebrates the release of “Potluck,” the band's second full-length album. Its previous release, “Lucky Day,” earned a 2011 Parents' Choice Foundation Gold Award. (Note: I reviewed that album as music critic for the organization.)

Songs inspired by the couple's Silver Lake neighborhood, and crafted with the band's signature quirkiness and deft artistry, celebrate childhood and a close-to-home world.

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A sampling: “Lemonade Stand,” with its eager “won't you stop, won't you stop” chorus, “On My Bike (“I'm a rocket ship, pickin' up speed”) and a raucous “Li'l Red Rooster.”

“Yes, our neighbors have ducks and geese and chickens,” said Diaz, a neatly bearded, mellow-eyed 34-year-old. “Silver Lake is incredibly diverse. You have everybody there: artists, hipsters, older residents who've lived there for most of their lives.

“We have this little back house where we recorded the album,” said Gaddis. “Lucky and I wrote or figured out all of the songs while taking walks around the neighborhood or sitting in our garden.

In concert, the band pulls the audience into the act with interactive lyrics and movement led by Gaddis, a professional singer, dancer, actor and stand-up comedian who performs in major comedy clubs.

“Kids have a reckless abandon in how they react,” Gaddis said. “It is the best, most fulfilling adrenaline rush to see kids get elated and moving and singing. I find it incredibly rewarding.”

Diaz and Gaddis, who postponed a honeymoon in Ecuador to do their “Potluck” release tour, met four years ago when Gaddis was performing at the Comedy Store in Hollywood.

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