Street smart

Street smart

Former Café 322 owner Mario Lalli books eclectic music mix at this Sunday’s Los Feliz Street Fair

By Bliss Bowen 07/20/2012

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The shuttering of Sierra Madre’s Café 322 (soon to reopen as a T. Boyle’s Tavern) was a genuine loss to the local community, not least because it offered one of the most eclectic and artistically satisfying music menus in the greater Pasadena area. Since its closure in May, owner/booker Mario “Boomer” Lalli, a highly respected musician, has been free to strap on his bass more often. He also coordinated the lineup for this Sunday’s Los Feliz Village Street Fair. Café 322 regulars who attend may experience déjà vu.

Several of the artists performing Sunday often performed at Café 322, including Tremolocos, Sudbury & Ramos, Lightnin’ Willie & the Poorboys, the Harry Smallenburg Jazz Ensemble, Dave Osti, the Atomic Sherpas and Nicole Gordon, a Los Feliz resident. Lining up local artists that “represent the village” was a top priority, according to Lalli, who responded to questions via email while on tour in Germany. So was creating a vibe that would encourage passersby to relax and stick around. At a previous fair, he’d noticed that some music was more appropriate for a late-night rock club than a family-friendly daytime event.

“The idea was to reflect the diversity of the community,” he explains, “while still providing great music that anyone can appreciate and enjoy: roots/Americana, rock, Latin jazz, alternative pop stuff, big band jazz, blues, swing, some groovy hip-hop-influenced stuff, too.”

Eastside perennials Kind Hearts and Coronets, Raheem Cohen, Silver Phial, Bloco Latino and Fort King are on the bill alongside pop artists Lauren Adams, Jeremy Little and River Rouge, and delightfully weird wild cards Dance Hall Pimps. It’s the kind of eclectic lineup that would be hospitable to Lalli’s band, Fatso Jetson — which just completed a five-week European tour that was particularly significant for Lalli.

“The trip was very, very special for me,” Lalli writes. “My 15-year-old son Dino Von Lalli joined us on guitar for the tour…the day he got out of school at Pasadena High for summer vacation. We had a truly magical rocking experience.”
The Sierra Madre resident says he is mulling over ideas for a “rock/art/food fest” in Sierra Madre at some point, and he is looking forward to a desert fest in early September at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown. “The great thing about booking and organizing some new music is networking with new artists and a different part of LA. I’m looking forward to a lot more of that.”

The 19th Annual Los Feliz Village Street Fair takes place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 22, on Hollywood Boulevard between Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues in Los Feliz, with music on two stages. For set times and other info, visit


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