Joshua Bell at the Hollywood Bowl

(HOLLYWOOD PRESS CORPS) – I have always loved classical music; in fact, my favorite radio station is Classical KUSC. I listen to it when I drive, read, or write on my blog. Of course, when I clean my house, I still listen to Selena or Juan Gabriel. Come on, I am Mexican!
This week, I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Joshua Bell with the LA Phil conducted by Bramwell Tovey. If you have never been to the Hollywood Bowl you are missing an amazing experience. The Hollywood Bowl is an open-air venue that sits nearly 18,000 people. It has restaurants, bars, shops and even a museum. The best part of it is that you can bring your own food and drinks, which makes it more affordable for the general public. The tickets for this specific show ranged from $8 to $116 a person. So as you can see, The Bowl also accommodates all budgets.

I was first introduced to Joshua Bell on Amazon’s TV show “Mozart in the Jungle”, where I immediately fell in love with his talent and passionate way of playing the violin. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a very attractive man. So when I found out he was coming to Los Angeles, I knew I needed to see him play live.

The concert started at 8pm with a warming welcome from the charming British conductor Bramwell Tovey, who even joked about his name, “I can’t believe you clapped after hearing my name, I told my parents I didn’t like my name”. He then introduced Stravinsky’s “Fireworks” and explained why this was a very important piece since it showed the author’s voice; hence, catching the attention of the impresario Serge Diaghilev, who played a key role in Stravinsky’s career.
Tovey by mistake mentioned Tchaikovsky “ I meant to say Stravinsky, I get confused with these Russian names. In these days I need to be careful with the Russian information I have”, he said jokingly.
Next we heard Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” which was the first concert Joshua Bell learned. There is actually a beautiful book called “The Dance of the Violin” which recalls the 12-year-old Bell making a mistake at the Stulberg International String competition and the unexpected outcome, which transpired when he was given a second chance. The book was written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić.
I am not a music expert, I was just part of the audience, but every time Bell played the violin he gave me the chills. He played with such passion that it was contagious. I loved being in an open-air venue, drinking a glass of cheap Merlot and listening to the orchestra in the hot weather. (Tovey of course joked about it).

Joshua Bell

The night ended with Stravinsky’s “Pretushka”. Tovey introduced the performance by telling us the ballet’s plot in a very amusing way, “At the end of this fight Petrushka is killed but he is a puppet so that’s rather weird”. He told us we could identify the moment when Petrushka dies when the principal percussionist Matthew Howard drops the tambourine. He warned us it was not a mistake, “I don’t want you to think that he [Howard] screwed up on his first gig”, the audience laughed and clapped.
My night got even better when I found out Bell was signing autographs if you purchased his CD or book. Bell was very kind to everyone, even with the old lady and her dog who licked Bell’s face while they were taking a picture with him. When it was my turn, I told him I rather have a picture with his $4 million Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius, which made him laugh a lot. Between you and me, I was not kidding. His violin was made in 1713 and has been stolen twice! Bell and I talked a little about Mexico, “Mozart in the Jungle”, and about my name. He made sure to spell it with a double “S”. I bet he was so tired after playing out his soul at the concert, but that didn’t stop him to make us feel special. He was grateful we were there. I couldn’t interview him for my Youtube channel whatthehelldidshesay, but I know one day I will. In the meantime I am grateful for an unforgettable night on a hot day in August…

Vanessa Lua is an actress and the host of, an outlet where she interviews celebrities. Her show American Man Dream won the Encore Producers’ Award in 2016.
Twitter: @WTHdidshesay
Instagram: @VanessaLua

Gourmet Italian Food in Osaka

HOLLYWOOD PRESS CORPS – OSAKA, JAPAN – There’s an Italian restaurant in Osaka known as Osteria Leb that is getting a lot of buzz in Hollywood, California. Osteria Leb is the perfect place for an authentic Italian business lunch or a relaxed dinner with wine recommendations from the staff. There are dishes from Sicily and flavors from Firenze. It’s all in beautiful Osaka amongst the tall buildings and near the Dojima river.

Dustin Brown from the Hollywood Press Corps (L) with Mr. Yamada (C) and Yuriko (R) at Osteria Leb in Osaka, Japan

Created in 2014 by Mr. Yamada and his wife Yuriko, Osteria Leb never disappoints when it comes to fresh and delicious dining. The restaurant is located in the upscale neighborhood of Nakanoshima, Japan. Its a cozy, welcoming atmosphere and can accommodate individual diners or they take reservations for groups. Osteria Leb is perfect for the locals who stop by and also ideal for visitors from other countries.

The antipasti course for our recent lunch

We began our foodies dream meal with a fresh salad. Known in Italy as antipasti or appetizer, this antipasti delivers in spades. I know it’s hard to make a salad sound like a tasty experience, but in a city like Osaka, where fried food is a local tradition, the salad that Mr. Yamada prepared was real fresh and full of flavor. There are different textures in the salad, a tiny fish to add a salty flavor, and just a little piece of bread.

The pasta at Osteria Leb features authentic Italian flavors

The pasta dish that we had for lunch featured the authentic flavors of Italy. Known as a primi in Italy, its recommended to start your meal in Italy with a small “primi” pasta course. Mr. Yamada prepares the pasta himself while you munch on the salad. The portions at Osteria Leb are generous and I ate every morsel. The textures of the pasta and the subtle Italian spices combine to make an enjoyable dining experience. The smells that fill that cozy eatery are just so pure and familiar.
An osteria in Italy is a place where people gather to enjoy wine and eat simple food. The meat course at an Italian osteria is called a secondi. We chose the pork secondi and we weren’t disappointed. The smell of olive oil being warmed as Mr Yamada prepared our secondi was just so appealing. It made me so hungry. Mr Yamada purchases the freshest meat and fish for his restaurant.

Our secondi course, or second course, was expertly prepared

For desert, we had the tiramisu. The desert course was presented with such a flourish. It looked like a work of art. The scoop of gelato was perfect on this hot sunny summer’s day.

The dessert at Osteria Leb looked like a work of art

Between preparing luxe fare for anyone who stopped by, I had a chance to speak with Mr Yamada. He told me about his recent trip to Italy to sample food and grappa in Verona, Firenze and Rome. He’s been preparing luxe offerings at Osteria Leb for about seven years. His goal is to see everyone smiling when they come in to dine at Osteria Leb.
The Experience Magazine highly recommends Osteria Leb to anyone living in Japan or visiting Osaka. This is a unique dining experience in the heart of Osaka.

Check out the website in Japanese here;

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown

I am the Senior Editor at

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