Prepare to get wet if you film a music video in the L.A. River

The making of a new music video staring Echo Park singer/songwriter Jason Mandell involved a trip – and unexpected dip – in the L.A. River as well as carting a fiberglass canoe up one of Echo Park’s steepest streets. The video for “Redeem Me,” a new song by Mandell’s band, The Coals, was shot in July when a section of the L.A. River through Elysian Valley was open to boating for the first time in decades.

“We really wanted the video to involve a canoe for some reason, and I knew they’d just reopened a portion of the L.A. River that runs by Echo Park, where I live. So we just went for it,” Mandell said via email. “I thought it would be cool to shoot in the LA River …. since it has usually been filmed as an empty, dry riverbed. The L.A. River is obviously iconic, but not for being an actual river.”

Mandell, who had never paddled down the river before, said it was “fun” but he did fall in twice during the filming of the black-and-white video. “I could give you reasons, but probably I’m just clumsy,” he said. “Peter Hastings, our bassist who shot and directed the video, somehow managed to sit in the bow of the canoe and film without so much as getting wet.”

What proved more challenging was carrying the canoe up Baxter Street, one of Echo Park’s steepest roadways. The scene appears only briefly at the start of the video but it had a long-last impact on Mandell:

It was punishing. Even my car can’t make it up that street! Two days later, I could barely move my neck. It took three visits to the Thai massage place on Glendale Boulevard – Pho Siam – before I could walk comfortably. But The Coals — we’re a band that suffers for our art.

Mandell says he thinks it the first time a music video has been shot in this section of the river.


  1. Awesome! And great song!

  2. Loved it! What a fun video!

  3. be careful Jason, the LA river is either so polluted that it needs a major multi-million dollar clean-up . . . . or it’s so clean that it’s safe to kayak and fish. the river Nazi’s haven’t sorted that out yet.

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