Positive Feedback Logo

Impressions:  The LAOC Audio Society 25th Anniversary Gala Weekend

12-10-2018 | By David W. Robinson | Issue 100

Last weekend I traveled to Buena Park, CA, to attend the 25th Anniversary Gala Weekend for the Los Angeles and Orange County (LAOC) Audio Society. Some background:  The LAOC was founded originally with the help of two of my partners at Positive Feedback, Carol and Dave Clark. They recently told the story of that development earlier this year, right HERE. They themselves are winners of an LAOC Founders Award and a President's Award, and were named Lifetime Members of the Society very early on. I myself joined in 2006, when I received a Founder's Award and was named a Lifetime Member in the Society by Bob Levi, the LAOC President.

Now serving as an Executive VP of the LAOC, I was asked by Bob to be the Chairperson of the Society's Audiophile Recording of the Year Award (ARYA) committee at the end of 2017. I accepted the position, and worked with a fine group of members throughout 2018 to name the winner of the first year's ARYA. More on that in a bit…

All of this is to say that Positive Feedback has had a substantial presence in the LAOC Audio Society for a long time now, and up to the present. Every year the LAOC AS has its annual Gala weekend, right at the beginning of December. I've been attending for years, together with Dave and Carol Clark, and Positive Feedback always takes one or two tables at the event. Therefore it is no surprise that I would be attending its 25th Anniversary Gala Weekend…I wouldn't miss it.

And where I go, my camera goes.

This is the photo-essay that resulted….

First Day

I always arrive a day before the LAOC Board Dinner on Saturday night, to have some time to meet with my PF partners Dave and Carol, to unwind, and to be ready for that next evening. Visiting them at their place in Long Beach is always a pleasure. We have drinks, listen to music on their excellent system, catch up, see Dave's latest sculptures, and generally hang out. Which was what we did on Friday evening and Saturday during the day.

Good for the soul.

Carol Clark, editor and writer:  a portrait at home. Long Beach, CA, 2018

Dave Clark, editor, writer, and sculptor:  a portrait at home.

During Saturday, we stopped by Stateside Crafts, where the proprietor Patrick has a great selection of microbrews and wine on display, plus a nice turntable in action. Bring on the brews!

Hanging out at Stateside Crafts, a righteous microbrew emporium

A portrait of Patrick, a brilliant proprietor. Stateside Crafts, Long Beach, CA, 2018

Day 2:  At the LAOC AS Board Dinner…

Saturday night was when the LAOC AS Board dinner was held. This is always a great time, and I got to see a number of audiobuds and acquaintances, as well as meet some new folks. Naturally, I made a number of photographs. A selection of the best of these follows.

The Board dinner with guests at King's Fish House in Orange, CA…quite the crowd!

LAOC President and CEO Bob Levi presiding at the Board dinner, assuring that a great time will be had by all.

Among those attending the dinner:  Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds and Joe Kubala of Kubala-Sosna Cables.

Chuck Bruce, VP of Public Relations for the Atlanta Audio Club, and a regular attendee of the LAOC Gala Weekends.

Dan Meinwald of E.A.R. USA:  a portrait.

Chip and Sharyn Moore of the LAOC Audio Society. Chip is the Executive VP for Programming for the LAOC AS.

Holger Stein of Stein Music, a contemplative moment. Holger came all the way from Germany for the LAOC Gala Weekend!

Steve and Heather Rochlin sharing a romantic moment at the dinner. Heather is not so overcome that she can't keep an eye on the photographer…

EveAnna Manley:  a portrait.

A portrait of Marjorie Baumert, a dear audio friend, and the director of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Tim de Paravicini and Dan Meinwald, in the moment…

Sharon and Michael Fremer

John Atkinson in an editorial posture…incoming! (Dry Brush by Robinson)

Michael Fremer:  a portrait

Day Three:  The LAOC AS Gala Banquet

On Sunday morning, beginning at 11:00 a.m., the doors opened and the LAOC Gala Banquet was open for business. The event was sold out, and the banquet room at the Holiday Inn Buena Park ended up being about as full as it could be.

Ben Williams setting up his videography rig to record the Yuko Mabuchi Trio and the rest of the proceedings.

Meanwhile, at the Positive Feedback table #1, all was good times and great conversation!

The crowd during the banquet meal itself…long lines.

Our featured artist, Yuko Mabuchi, pianist of the Yuko Mabuchi Trio, warming up before the start of the banquet.

Del Atkins, Yuko's brilliant bassist, during warm-up sessions.

Bobby Breton, drummer for the Yuko Mabuchi Trio, getting loose before the set.

Yuko, definitely in the groove…

…and in a moment of jazzic joy!

In the midst of the set, Yuko takes a moment to introduce the other members of her trio. Ben Williams is manning the camera to the left, recording the event for the LAOC AS.

Speaking of Ben Williams, here's a study of him. A very experienced videographer and documentarian.

After the banquet got underway, LAOC AS President and CEO Bob Levi gave the opening welcome and did introductions of those on the dais, the LAOC AS Board members for next year, and other key volunteers. The attendees were then invited to the buffet for the banquet.

Bob Attiyeh of Yarlung Records

After the eating and drinking was over, Bob Levi introduced Bob Attiyeh, leading light of Yarlung Records, who in turn introduced Yuko Mabuchi and the other members of her trio. We were then treated to a very fine session of jazz running some 30-40 minutes. This was followed by a special tribute for Dave and Carol Clark as original founding members of the Society.

Dave Clark, Managing Editor and an owning partner of Positive Feedback, and one of several original founding members of what has grown into the LAOC Audio Society.

Carol Clark, likewise a Managing Editor of Positive Feedback, an owning partner of our magazine, and another of the original founders of what become the LAOC Audio Society. She and Dave hosted the PF table #1 at the Gala Banquet.

Thereafter, there was a cake ceremony honoring all members in attendance who were winners of the LAOC AS Founders Award across the years. This was followed by yours truly, announcing the first-ever winner chosen by the members of the Audiophile Recording of the Year Award (ARYA) committee:  Michael Fremer, Dan Meinwald, Dean Seislove, Paul Seydor, Gaurav Vij, and myself, acting as the Chairperson of the committee.

The winner that we chose was the remarkable 2018 recording, Emanon, by Wayne Shorter. Released in the late summer, the committee came around to a consensus quickly once this title was nominated.

Joe Harley and Don Was, who is President of Blue Note Records; Don is holding the very handsome ARYA Prize on behalf of Wayne Shorter.

In attendance to receive the ARYA on behalf of Wayne Shorter, who was on the east coast receiving a Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime of work, were Don Was, President of Blue Note Records, and his associate and well-known audiophile recording engineer, Joe Harley. Joe is now doing work for Blue Note Records.

Don Was:  a portrait.

Don and Joe accepted the ARYA with obvious pleasure, and announced that Blue Note Records would be launching a new series of 18 LPs in 2019. This would be entitled the "Tone Poet" series, and would feature stellar pressings, some of which have not been released before. Jazz lovers, take note:  You'll definitely want to follow the news about these titles as they are produced.

Ray Kimber, winner of this year's LAOC Audio Society President's Award, with Bob Levi

Next up was Bob Levi, announcing the winner of the 2018 President's Award. The recipient was Ray Kimber of Kimber Kables, a man widely respected in high-end audio. Ray now has the LAOC AS Founder's Award, the Humanitarian Award, and the President's Award…the only person to have all three of these.

From there Bob proceeded to the announcement of the winner of the LAOC AS 25th Anniversary Founder's Award:  Michael Fremer. Michael was roasted and teased nicely by several of his friends and colleagues…

John Atkinson reading from the dedication on the LAOC Audio Society Founder's Award to Michael Fremer.

Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds with Michael Fremer

Bob Levi with the winner of the LAOC AS 25th Anniversary Founder's Award, Michael Fremer

"But wait! There's more!"

Michael Fremer with the Kirmuss Audio "Record Obsessive" Award. Tah dah!

Michael was surprised by a special "vinyl obsessive" award from Charles Kirmuss of Kirmuss Audio, this one teasing…

Charles Kirmuss and Michael Fremer, Michael with his Kirmuss Audio Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to analog reporting.

But then came another, even bigger surprise:  the Los Angeles City Council put in an appearance to present several certificates! Albert Lord, a representative on behalf of the Council, gave the following certificates of commendation:

First, to Michael Fremer for his Founder's Award and contributions to fine audio…

…and then to Bob Levi for his accomplishments in helping to make the LAOC Audio Society the largest in the world, and in recognition of the Society's 25th anniversary…

…and finally to Yarlung Records for their exceptional accomplishments as a Los Angeles-area recording company.

An impressive group of award/certificate winners!

The balance of the Gala Banquet was devoted to the raffle, in which some $66,000 worth of prizes were distributed. Bob Levi, Michael Fremer, and I handled the announcement and description of the prizes; Carolyn Counnas was the announcer of the winning raffle tickets, with a team from the LAOC AS assisting us in distributing the prizes and photographing the winners.

Some final photographs

To conclude my photo-essay from the LAOC AS 25th Anniversary Gala Weekend, here are some other moments from Saturday and Sunday, free form. My eye saw; my camera followed.

Abey Fonn of Impex Records

Bob Carver of the Carver Corporation and Bob Levi

Carol Clark and Dan Meinwald of E.A.R. USA, longtime friends

J. C. "Chip" Moore, Executive VP of Programming for the LAOC Audio, on duty at the Society's Lifetime Membership Check-In Table

George Counnas of Zesto Audio

Lyn Stanley and Joe Kubala of Kubala-Sosna Cables

Dean Seislove of Positive Feedback, VP of Awards for the LAOC Audio Society, and a member of the LAOC AS ARYA committee

Bob Carver and Lyn Stanley, with Lyn's latest LP

Roger Skoff of the newly launched RSX Audio

Carol Clark and Abey Fonn

Bob Carver with his new custom amplifier, donated as a raffle prize

Sue and Andy Reagan of MrSpeakers, longtime audio acquaintances of mine

Lynn Stanley with a test pressing of her latest album, London Calling:  A Toast to Julie London. I have this test pressing here for evaluation now…

Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio:  mastering master extraordinaire!

Holger Stein of Stein Music

EveAnna Manley:  the Vanamal herself!

Tim de Paravicini

Ray Kimber

Lyn Stanley with Bob Carver's custom amplifier

Russ Stratton, longtime audiobud

Positive Feedback's Gary Lea in a final evening conversation with Dave Clark at the Chez Clark listening room….

All photographs and image processing by David W. Robinson, except the cover of the Wayne Shorter album, Emanon.