“South Bay Stories Show,” which takes place March 30 and 31 in Hermosa Beach, features vignettes from storytellers who lived unique lives, from the only woman photojournalist in car racing to a stand-up comic decades in the making.
In its fifth year, the show’s founder, Jim Mueller, said the stories “cover the globe.”
“To me it's kind of a community service because these people are part of our South Bay community and they're giving you their perspective,” Mueller said.
“One of my mottoes for the show is when the community hears the stories of the people, the community draws closer. When you understand where your neighbors are coming from and what they've experienced and things they've gone through, you have a less of a tendency to fight with them, you're more willing to listen to their side of the story.”
Taking part and telling their stories are Redondo Beach Councilmember John Gran, Manhattan Beach’s Judy Francis, Connie Alexander and Chuck McPeak; Redondo Beach’s Nina Murphy; Inglewood’s Jim Lobdell; and Russell Boschetto from Los Angeles. Their stories will be joined by musical storyteller and award-winning saxophonist Alex Hahn.
For more than 20 years, Nina Murphy said she was the only female photojournalist covering NASCAR, the National Hot Rod Association and the Long Beach Grand Prix, which was her first big job.
“Most of them were very friendly but very territorial,” said Murphy of the male photographers. “This became a test for me to be smarter than they were and find a better spot. Being a girl was an advantage in that I conned a TV cameraman out of Pomona to let me up on his platform with him... but when I was working, I went on a track somewhere, I wasn't either male nor female, I was a photographer: that defined me.”
Murphy, who has lived in Redondo Beach for 35 years, published a book featuring a collection of her blogs. “And The Best Blog Is: Word of Mouth,” which is available on Amazon.com.
She will be discussing her experiences on the track and her passion about France where he ancestors came from, but she has never spoken before a crowd like this before.
“I (was) terrified of making an appearance like that and it took at least a week to get over myself... now I'm rather looking forward to it,” Murphy said.
Make them Laugh
After 25 years as CPA and professor at Pepperdine University School of Business, Chuck McPeak retired in 2017 and decided to make people laugh.
“Although many colleagues in acting say, 'Well, if you were standing in front of 30 graduate students you did a lot acting,'” McPeak said.
Before his retirement, McPeak, who is now 80 years old, had never acted or done stand-up comedy. But one day he wandered into the Joslyn Community Center in Manhattan Beach and stumbled upon the workshop “Acting Out Again” which is part of the Parks and Recreation Older Adults Program in Manhattan Beach.
That led to comedy improv classes in Manhattan Beach and another group acting class in Santa Monica. McPeak is the first comedian to do a stand-up routine in “South Bay Stories.”
“I'm an exception of Jim Mueller's rule of storytelling,” McPeak said. “I know Jim from our acting workshop that we have in Manhattan Beach … he asked me to do 8 to 10 minutes of stand-up comedy for his show.”
McPeak has performed all around the South Bay as well as The Comedy Store and The Clown House in Los Angeles.
Alex Hahn has performed with icon Herbie Hancock and singer Michael Buble, but at “South Bay Stories,” he will use his saxophone to share his musical story and create interludes to bring all of the other stories together.
“I'll think about the melodies or themes that carry out through each story or have some unique thing based on each story, based on the way that it's being told, based on the personality of the person, based on the genre of the story,” said Hahn.
Hahn, who has released two albums, earned a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from USC and studied at the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute under the director of Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
Hahn grew up in a musical family. His mother is a classically trained pianist who teaches music therapy. His father, who is a music educator at a middle school, plays the saxophone and clarinet and toured with the Glenn Miller Band in the 1980s.
Hahn said it was a “dream” to play with Hancock.
“To see how he's continued to evolve over his career, cover so many sub-genres of jazz... one-on-one, to be able to play with him was priceless,” Hahn said.
For “South Bay Stories,” Hahn said he enjoys the rare opportunity to improvise and compose on the spot.
“The challenge is to create some thematic material and compose on the fly and how we can connect all those different stories,” Hahn said.
“South Bay Stories” will be performed Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 31, at 2:30 p.m., at the 2nd Story Theatre, located at 710 Pier Ave.