Luz Elena Mendoza, the singer-songwriter behind Portland-based band Y La Bamba, has proven herself to be one of the more restlessly inventive artists in indie rock today. Watching Mendoza grow – and, through her, seeing Y La Bamba grow – has been an enervating experience. While Y La Bamba has always been presented through the prism of Mendoza's perspective, the form of the music has expanded into something positively kaleidoscopic, dazzling in both tone and vision. What started as a serenely beautiful solo project has steadily blown up into something much richer in scope.
There are some performers who exist as such whirling dervishes of energy that it's impossible not to get swept up along with them. Anti-folk artist Ed Hamell (AKA Hamell on Trial) is such a performer: equipped with an acoustic guitar and reams upon reams of biting lyrics, Hamell sometimes feels more like a runaway train than a singer-songwriter. To see him onstage, furiously strumming his guitar and spitting line after line of beautifully barbed words, you wonder if the power of his manic music is enough to burn the place down.
Summer’s slowly on its way out, no matter how long we try to extend it. But all that means is the next best season is on its way with more rad shows to look forward to! Check out our playlist and see if there’s anything that stands out to you, and read up on a few of our favorites coming up!
barry johnson returns to Tacoma for another visual art show at Alma Mater featuring a brand new body of work featuring paintings, installations, sculptures and mixed-media work. This entire new body work was created in 2019 and is focused on identity and the Black experience within the U.S. barry's work, created entirely with house paint, was created in the wake of events happening in the political landscape, results of police brutality and social injustices and were reimagined on canvases.
For over 15 years, the Intelligence has established itself as a sardonically witty, bracingly dynamic band, blending garage-punk, New Wave, psych, and noise-rock into a consistently compelling stew. The Intelligence first made its mark in Seattle, setting itself apart from the indie pop, folk-rock, and singer-songwriter journalings that marked the trends of the mid-aughts.
Titled, 'Insterstice: Between Magic and Reality', Le'Ecia Farmer's exhibit explores various mediums of art from textile to painting. Read their artist statement below, and come see the exhibit for free all month!
To commemorate this 2019 summer, we’ve compiled a couple of playlists with some of the bands we’ve been lucky enough to host here at Alma Mater. We’re forever grateful to work with such a diverse range of talented musicians, and are looking forward to continuing the endeavor to bring Tacoma great live music.
If you’ve been to or walked by Alma Mater, you’ve seen what they call, The Slug. At night, it’s colorful and lit up, but its daytime presence is definitely not unassuming. With its glossy, yet textured exterior, and polk-a-dotted tentacles, the stools that live underneath this creature makes for a very curious spectator. And those who brave the interaction with the Slug, more often than not come out with some very rewarding and Instagram-worthy evidence. Its creator: Tacoma artist, Steve LaBerge.
Beginning June 10th, Alma Mater will house another one of Steve’s projects, called the TVs, which will also be an interactive piece created with twenty local artists. We’ve sat down with Steve to learn more about him and his work.
If you’ve been with us since Alma Mater’s first official day of business, you’ll likely be familiar with Lucien Vedego, if not already well acquainted from the various ways he engages in Tacoma’s creative community. He helped open our building as a barista and server at Honey Cafe, has participated and collaborated in many of our events and shows, is currently curating July’s art exhibit in conjunction with Tacoma’s Pride Month, and is currently holding an artist workshop series called Metamorphosis. Beyond that, he’s been wonderful to be around and learn from, and for that reason, we’ve decided to sit down and interview him, so you can get to know him, too!
Spring is in full force around around Alma Mater. We’ve spotted the bunny that lives in our parking-lot-turned-green-space and and the red clover in front of the building has bloomed in a vibrant display of crimson. The bees are hovering around the wildflowers on the roof and we’re all savoring the warmth of the sun showing its face here and there. As spring hits its stride, we’re embracing its fruits with new menus!
As Eazy_EQ reminds us, it’s summertime in Tacoma, which means it’s time for our favorite (inter)national holiday: PRIDE. This Saturday in Fawcett Hall, Tacoma gets a slice of Pride that we’ve been waiting for.
As it is with most things in Tacoma right now, the stand-up comedy scene seems to be quickly on the up and up. Until very recently there have been a limited number of venues catering to or featuring stand up in the area - a simple truth that also implies that it's hard to get stage time as a local comedian. But with the emergence and cultivation of spaces like Alma Mater, which will be introducing a regular stand-up event Laughing Mater - produced and hosted by Jill Silva, Diante Neagle, Erin Crouch, Isaac Campbell-Smith, and Amanda Biddle the third Friday of every month, it seems like that all could change.
Homecoming is about embracing and celebrating where we're at - right now - and finding ways to tell truths about the reality of home in hopes of a better future. It's about being unafraid to excavate where we're from and having the courage to return. Homecoming is a parade, a dance, a smear of oil paint on glass, an homage to the past, and a bubbly toast to what's to come.
Experience Homecoming through the lens of 14 artists from our home, Tacoma on April 19th, 2018.
We look for signs wherever we go: navigating the freeway, exploring a restaurant destination, searching for the bathroom. We seek out ‘signs of life,’ we talk about ‘telltale signs,’ and excavate our past for missed signs — red flags. We are obsessed with signs and signifiers as a species, always on the hunt for the visible that signals that we are on the right track. We believe, intrinsically, in right tracks and wrong tracks, and any song, poem, or proverb that speaks of paths or tracks will tell you that the right way always leads you home.