California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

California Rocker Wins Best Photo Essay, Best Action Photo at Prestigious LA Press Club Awards Gala

California Rocker Wins Three Awards at 2016 NAEJ

By DOTTIE PARIS

California Rocker, the online music magazine, won Best Photo Essay and Best Action Photo categories Sunday night at the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards by the Los Angeles Press Club.

The awards were presented to California Rocker producer Donna Balancia at the annual awards gala that honors the best of entertainment journalism.  The event was held at the Millennium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles.

California Rocker Wins Best Action Photo

Donna Balancia Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In - California Rocker Wins

Donna Balancia won Best Action Photo for this image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Best Action Photo was awarded to Donna Balancia for her image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the high-energy frontman for At The Drive-In, leaping into the air at the Hollywood Palladium.  California Rocker wins included third place in the same action photo category for a beautiful image of the legendary surf guitar master Dick Dale performing to an adoring crowd at The Whisky A Go-Go.

Best Photo Essay for Suzanne Allison Witkin

Suzanne Allison Witkin - Vampires California Rocker Wins

Suzanne Allison Witkin took first place for her photo essay “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison Witkin

Renowned rock photographer Suzanne Allison Witkin won Best Photo Essay for “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires,” a photographic documentation of behind-the-scenes with the supergroup featuring Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.

The gala was attended by hundreds of writers, editors, producers and photographers and honored renowned songwriter Diane Warren, actress Angela Lansbury, and late-night talk show star Chelsea Handler.

‘Voices of Independent Artists Heard Tonight’

Dick Dale at the Whisky A Go-Go California Rocker Wins

The photo of Dick Dale taken at the Whisky A Go-Go was honored with a win in the action photo category – Photo © Donna Balancia

“I started California Rocker three years ago to give independent artists a voice,” Donna said. “Their voices were clearly heard tonight as our work was selected over that of the corporate media.  We will continue to work with up-and-coming and established musicians, writers and photographers so talent and truth can shine through.”

Previous wins include the work of Heather Harris in the LA Press Club’s first-ever Photo Essay category, for her images of musician James Williamson’s all-star concert at the Bootleg, and Donna’s image of Flyin’ Jay Armant, of the band Fishbone, launching into the crowd at the Roxy Theatre.

California Rocker has had several finalist designations and this year was no exception. California Rocker took three finalist designations among five in the action photo category and Suzanne’s Photo Essay was among three finalists.

VIDEO: Kanye West Stops San Jose Show for 25 Minutes: ‘I Would Have Voted On Trump’ He Says

VIDEO courtesy of KMEL

Photo by BRANDON WINTERS, Story by By DONNA BALANCIA

Never one to shy away from controversy, Kanye West drew boos at a San Jose, Calif., concert when he told the crowd he ‘Would have voted for Trump’ … that is, if he had voted.

West, who has announced that in 2020 he would run for president, used up 25 minutes of ticketholders’ time, apparently to prime the pump for his own political career. He went into his speech after a fan threw something at him while he was on stage at the SAP Center.

“You threw something at me,” he asked, singling out the alleged perpetrator. “Does someone else want to throw something at me? I’ve got the power to get that guy kicked out, roughed up, whatever. But stay here. That’s your opinion. Express your opinion,” he said.

Kanye West fele photo by Jason Persse

Kanye West file photo by Jason Persse

“That’s a woman right there saying ‘I love you,’ after I just said there were things that I liked about Trump’s campaign,” he said. “That’s not supposed to happen, right? Case in point they’re saying ‘I want that old Kanye not that new Kanye.’ I guess we’re not gonna sell out the rest of the tour now.”

“Sometimes things you don’t like to happen, need to happen for change to happen,” he told the crowd.

“There are things that Benjamin Carson believes in that I believe in,” he said. “I think that Benjamin Carson should be a consultant. I think HIllary Clinton should still be a consultant, I think Bill Clinton should still be a consultant. I think Obama should still be a consultant. Instead of (I didn’t vote for you for) president so now I’m not gonna give you information that could help you help all of us. … I loved the debates.

“This is already the beginning of change. Sometimes you think things that are bad have to happen in order for change to happen,” he said. “Sometimes you might have to not get your way to really understand what to do in the future to be able to get your way.”

CaliforniaRocker.com Nabs Four Finalist Nods for Arts and Entertainment Awards by Los Angeles Press Club

By JOHN DALY, CaliforniaRocker.com

HOLLYWOOD – CaliforniaRocker.com, a music industry website and fanzine published by Donna Balancia, received four National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards finalist designations, it was announced by The Los Angeles Press Club.

The finalist selections all came in the area of photography: Three images were in the Action Photography category and one finalist selection came in the Photo Essay category.

Suzanne Allison Witkin scored a Los Angeles Press Club nod with her photo essay, "On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires" - Photo courtesy Suzanne Witkin

Rock photographer Suzanne Allison Witkin scored an LA Press Club nod with her photo essay, “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires” – Photo courtesy Suzanne Witkin

“Our work reflects our commitment to the highest quality music journalism,” said publisher Donna Balancia. “Our independent website and fanzine strive to give up-and-coming as well as established musicians a voice amid the overwhelming coporate clatter.”

Winning Images: Hollywood Vampires, At The Drive-In

CaliforniaRocker.com, which first went live in 2014, dominated the photography categories, with photographer Suzanne Allison Witkin scoring for her Photo Essay called “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires.”  The project included a diary with exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and all of The Hollywood Vampires.

Los Angeles Press Club Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In leaps into the air during a performance at the Hollywood Palladium - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In leaps into the air during a performance at the Hollywood Palladium: A winning image – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

 

California Rocker Dominates Action Photos

CaliforniaRocker.com also scored a record three finalist designations in the Action Photo category. The photos, taken by Donna, captured Fishbone’s “Flyin’ Jay” Armant launching himself into the audience at The Roxy Theatre; Cedric Bixler-Zavala of the band At The Drive-In leaping into the air at The Hollywood Palladium, and the 80-year-old Dick Dale, “King of the Surf Guitar,” revving the audience with his upbeat music.

Los Angeles Press Club Suzanne Allison Witkin captured images of The Hollywood Vampires on their historic tour - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison Witkin for CaliforniaRocker.com

Suzanne Allison Witkin captured images of The Hollywood Vampires on their historic tour – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison Witkin for CaliforniaRocker.com

 

Los Angeles Press Club Keeping Journalism Alive

“We are honored to be selected as finalists for the National Arts and Entertainment Awards,” Donna Balancia said. “The Los Angeles Press Club strives to keep journalism alive. We too not only support independent journalism, but through our stories and images we also help musicians at a time when the music business is extremely challenging.

“CaliforniaRocker.com has the best reviewers, writers and photographers in the music world working together with us, and we are delighted with the finalist designations.”

Los Angeles Press Club Fishbone image has been named a finalist in the action photo category of the National Arts and Entertainment Awards - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The remarkable ‘Flyin’ Fishbone’ image was captured by Donna Balancia at The Roxy Theatre – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Lady Gaga Wraps Dive Bar Tour By Crowd-Surfing at Silver Lake’s Favorite Retro Venue, The Satellite

Joanne Singer Gives LA Locals a Big Surprise

Gaga crowd surfs at The Satellite on Thursday - Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Gaga crowd surfs at The Satellite on Thursday – Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

By DONNA BALANCIA

On Thursday night, Lady Gaga took to crowd surfing at one of Los Angeles’ favorite retro venues: The Satellite.

Fresh off her fun Carpool Karaoke turn with James Corden, the Joanne songstress wrapped her Dive Bar Tour at one of LA’s best concert bars.

Obviously sponsored by Bud Light, the Satellite show was live-streamed on Facebook for fans around the world recorded more than 855,000 views and 73,000 comments.

Crowds lined the streets in Silverlake when Gaga arrived for her hour-long set.

All the while self-streaming her entrance, Gaga, emerged from from a 1950s Cadillac on Silverlake Boulevard, clutching the hands of her dancers.  The backs of their white jackets formed the word Joanne, the name of her new album.

Lady Gaga Performs ‘Joanne’

Lady Gaga emerges from a Cadillac - Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga emerges from a Cadillac – Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga walked among the packed crowd and entered opening with “Come to Mama.”  On stage, she peeled off her white jacket, revealing a glittery Hawaiian-style electric blue sparkly outfit with flowers in her hair.

She asked “How’s everybody doing?” and requested Joanne, her guitar.

She then played “A-Yo,” to the delight of the screaming crowd.

“I missed you so much,” she told the crowd. “I’m happy we made it we had car trouble, Elvis loaned me his car for tonight.”

She pulled up a stool and put on a cowboy hat and played a lively version of the electronically influenced “John Wayne.”

After the song, she introduced “Million Reasons,” her captivating and moving hit single with information about the tremendous reach of the song.

Lady Gaga Tells World ‘You are Heard’

Lady Gaga plays the Satellite - Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga plays the Satellite – Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

“We are really excited to sing this song tonight,” she said. “Are you having a good time? We’re so excited to play this song because right now this is the No. 1 song on iTunes in the United States. We’re so happy, it’s also the No. 1 song in so many countries right now including Saudi Arabia. For everyone who bought that song or who is listening and streaming this song, when I saw that I felt so ‘heard’ today.  And that means if I’m heard that means you’re heard.

“And so I wanted to tell all those women and men who bought that song that I can fckin hear you and every time I sing this song I can hear you in my heart singing with me.”

After the performance she sat on the edge of the stage and took a moment to compose herself.

Gaga then spoke her hopes openly to the crowd before giving an overwhelmingly emotional performance of “Angel Down.”

Lady Gaga expressed hope that election day would go smoothly - Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga expressed hope that election day would go smoothly – Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

“I wrote this song about people loving each other and taking care of each other. The elections are coming up and I really hope that that is a peaceful day, as much as it can be.  I pray that on that day we all understand that not everyone’s going to vote for the same person. Everybody has different ideas and thoughts and that’s OK, and we don’t have to hate each other for that. What we have to do is come together because there’s a lot of people suffering and there are too many angels down so let’s not focus on the hate let’s focus on who needs the help.”

After a few minutes off stage, Gaga re-emerged wearing a plain white midriff T-shirt and cutoffs with Mark Ronson on guitar and introduced “Joanne,” the title track of her new album.

‘I saw a look in my father’s eyes’

“I missed you so much,” she said referring to her time in the studio and away from her fans. “What I wanted to tell you is this song is so important to me, this is the title track from the album.

Gaga is consoled after song - Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

Gaga is consoled after song – Photo courtesy Lady Gaga

“The thing is when we made this song we just thought it was a beautiful song and we just thought it was an honest song, but after this record came out and everybody heard this music and came to my father’s restaurant in New York, Joanne to celebrate. I saw a look in my father’s eyes I’ve never seen in my life.

“When my father was really young, he lost his sister Joanne, and sometimes I used to wonder if I ever got to meet my real dad.

“Because sometimes things happen that are so hard in your life you die too or a part of you dies.

“And after this record came out I swear that part of my dad came back to life. And I hope that when you hear it when you’re with your families and when you think about the loss you’ve had or the pending loss in your life I hope this song heals you like it healed me and my family.”

Gaga wrapped with “Perfect Illusion” and leapt into the audience and crowd-surfed, then poured a beer over her head. Not a bad time for a Thursday in Silver Lake.

 

Television, Primus, Brian Jonestown Massacre Bring The ‘Cool Factor’ to Hot Desert Daze Festival

In Its Fifth Year, Desert Daze Growing in Status

The Black Angels were among the bands at Desert Daze - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Black Angels were among the bands at Desert Daze – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Desert Daze 2016 brought a top lineup of bands and a wildly eclectic, 3-day fashion show to the normally low-key Joshua Tree, and the desert might never be the same.

In its fifth year, Desert Daze brings out the best in music and desert fashion as well.

With thousands of attendees kicking up dust in work boots, shorts, caftans, scarves and western garb.

“It’s like bedoin-style meets western wear because you’ve gotta protect yourself from the dust,” said one lady concert-goer who sported dyed red hair, shorts, leather work boots and knee-high socks. “It’s all worth it for the music.”

With Television headlining the event, the 1970s-era band cranked out some of the tunes that made them famous in the hazy days of Greenwich Village, including “Marquis Moon” and “Elevation.”

Tom Verlaine - Photo © Donna Balancia

Tom Verlaine – Photo © Donna Balancia

“It’s amazing they got Tom Verlaine out of the big city,” said concert-goer Corey, who in his days off from festival-going, practices with his band. “I’m sure he was amused by this experience.”

Not in recent memory can anyone remember Television playing a desert festival, so score one for the the Desert Daze bookers.

Saturday night headliner Primus, was in prime shape.

Les Claypool and his band of alt-rockers took the stage late night and played the tunes they’re known for. Primus opened with “Those Damn Blue Collar Tweakers,” then going into “Last Salmon Man,” and “Groundhog’s Day,” and wrapping with “Mr. Krinkle,” “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” “My Name is Mud,” and and “Southbound Pachyderm.”

Sade of LA Witch - Photo © Donna Balancia

Sade of LA Witch – Photo © Donna Balancia

And leading up to the headliners were some of the best in local and not-so-local talent, but those who would be familiar to Echo, Echoplex and Regent Theatre-goers. Thee Oh Sees, Radio Moscow, Brian Jonestown Massacre, LA Witch, Cherry Glazerr and Mind Meld brought out their best for the festival.

Of special note: Thee Commons, a Mexican-American alt-punk band, got physical, dropping to their knees stage, and taunting the audience with their pink gorilla pal.

The Bodegas kept their cool through the afternoon wind bringing their punk style to the fans. The bands were hot and Desert Daze 2016 was cool.

Desert Trip Dispatch: Our Ace Reviewer Bob Busby Gives A Thumbs Up Wrapup From ‘Oldchella’

Busby: ‘One of the Best Events I’ve Ever Attended’

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-12-25-35-amBy BOB BUSBY

Roger Waters kept his politics in check during weekend 2 of Desert Trip, but did basically tell the crowds that he would still support the Palestinian people and their causes.

Nobody yelled anything at him. There was no discomfort in the crowd. Some people left a little earlier; he finished at 12:35 a.m.

Bob Dylan opened and he was great, of course.

The people said he was better than last week. He was really good, he opened the first set and the show in fact with “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” he did “Tangled Up in Blue” and he did five or six songs that were popular. The band sounded great.

The Rolling Stones: Still Smokin’

Keef and Mick are still smokin' hot - Photo and video courtesy of Prestoff2000

Keef and Mick are still smokin’ hot – Photo and video courtesy of Prestoff2000

The Rolling Stones were The Rolling Stones, of course they were great. Mick made a funny joke to the effect of “I know people are calling this ‘Oldchella’ but maybe they should call it ‘Who’s gonna croak first?’  He also said, “I can’t help call attention to the fact that we’ve never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before,” referring to Dylan.

On Saturday night Neil Young opened with classic acoustic songs and the favorite, “Sugar Mountain.

By coincidence it was a full moon, which rose huge with great light to the side of the stage while he was playing, “Harvest Moon” and the cameras went to the moon and put it on the screens. It was a crystal clear moon, it was very emotional. It was literally magical. Other people were affected in the same way. It was the most magical thing. Neil was just really on.

Sir Paul With Neil Young at Desert Trip

Photo by Kevin Mazur

Photo by Kevin Mazur

Then Paul came on, and these guys are not retired, they do this all the time and it shows. Then he brought out Rihanna.  I didn’t know the song, “FourFiveSeconds” but she was really good. Then she left. Right after that he brought Neil out and they did “A Day in the Life,” and it was a fantastic version. Neil just rocked. Paul was like, “This is Neil fucking Young!” Neil went apeshit on the guitar and Paul looked at the audience like “I hope you realize what you’re watching.” And Neil was saying “This is Paul McCartney!” It was two icons.

Saturday was the best. The Who complained before they sang a note. Roger Daltrey said, “Can somebody please turn off the fan?” That’s because it was windy and like 90 degrees at 6 o’clock still.  Not only was the heat holding, the heat held all the way through the night, it cooled down and then at 10 o’clock it warmed up again.

The real star of the show was the venue.  And the screens and the speakers. The screens were at least 10 stories tall and 100 yards wide.  The screens were so big.  We just kept remarking on how incredible the video production was. It was so crystal clear. The real star of the whole thing is the venue for sure.

The Venue at Coachella

The Who - Photo courtesy of Desert Trip for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Who – Photo courtesy of Desert Trip

You know you can put thousands of people into Giants stadium it’s tiered so it doesn’t look like this. Believe me, 85,000 people on a flat surface goes way the heck back. My friends were in the back. They had four giant screens in the back too. Four huge screens, and there were amazing speakers every 25 yards in every direction and Roger Waters made full use of those speakers with sound coming from all directions. You’d be hearing sounds like a taxi cab coming from a thousand yards to the left.

All in all, musically it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.

Television, Deerhunter and Primus Among The Vast Number of Performers at Desert Daze Fest

Tom Verlaine Always Tuning - Photo © Donna Balancia

Tom Verlaine Always Tuning – Photo © Donna Balancia

By JOHN DALY

Desert Daze, the little festival that could, has emerged as a viable competitor on the concert-goer’s live event calendar.

The festival continues to draw top talent each year. Television, Deerhunter, Primus and Thee Oh Sees are among the vast number of performers sharing the cactus-themed platform this year in Joshua Tree.

The festival runs today through Sunday. Check out the schedule HERE.

Spaceland and Knitting Factory, which recently teamed up to create a new partnership, will debut the new Desert Daze this weekend.  The festival is in its fourth year and it continues to grow in attendance and in popularity.

Desert Daze will be held at Institute of Mentalphysics, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree, Calif.  Tickets are still available HERE .

Hotel rooms are available with a range of options and camping can be included with the ticket package. For more information go to DesertDaze.org

The Great 1960s Musician Donovan Celebrates 50th Anniversary of ‘Sunshine Superman’ with Tour

The Rose, Saban, Highlight California Shows

donovan-sunshine-albumBy DONNA BALANCIA

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson was president, the Vietnam War was raging, astronaut Buzz Aldrin was tackling the final frontier and campus protests were daily occurrances.

Those are a few reasons why Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” single was such a hit.

The unique new sound that emerged as a result of psychedelia and anti-establishment peace movements had teens around the U.S. huddled around transistor radios for escape. Donovan was a leader in the mellow, upbeat sound that was making a mark.

‘Sunshine Superman’ Tour

Donovan, 70, presents the “Sunshine Superman Tour” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his hit single “Sunshine Superman,” when it reached No. 1 on the charts. The album of the same name is considered a classic masterpiece. You can see Donovan at The Rose and The Saban Theatre while he’s wrapping up the West Coast swing on the tour.

The psychedelic style put forth by Donovan, whose real name is Donovan Leitch, was a refreshing break from the daily pummelling the public received from the news of war, social injustice and “the man” in general.

Donovan’s hippie-style music gave listeners pause and conjured up images of the musician smoking banana leaves and morning glory seeds to derive inspiration for the groovy songs.

donovan-album

Donovan’s music helped young people cope with war and riots – Photo courtesy Donovan

But whatever his inspiration, his songs were influential and fun. He was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Audiences during the Sunshine Superman tour will be treated to Donovan’s history of hits, including “Mellow Yellow,” “The Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Jenifer Juniper” as well as his legendary storytelling and other cult classic songs.

In addition, Sony/Legacy Recordings will present The Essential Donovan, a collection of his hits and other innovative album selections.

Gibson Guitars has created a special Donovan Model J45 Guitar, the guitar on which Donovan composed, recorded, and performed all his 1960s work.

For Donovan tickets go here.

DONOVAN initial SUNSHINE SUPERMAN TOUR dates are as follows below, with more U.S. dates to be added.

August 30: The Guild Hall (East Hampton, NY)

September 4: Sondheim Center (Fairfield, IA)

September 7: Capitol Theatre (Clearwater, FL)

September 8: Parker Playhouse (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

September 10: Landmark (Port Washington, NY)

September 11: SOPAC (South Orange, NJ)

September 14: Troy Music Hall (Troy, NY)

September 15: Carnegie Hall (NYC, NY)

September 17: New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall (Boston, MA)

September 20: The Majestic (Dallas, TX)

September 21: Wortham Center’s Cullen Theather (Houston, TX)

September 22: The Tobin Theatre (San Antonio, TX)

September 24: The Paramount (Austin, TX)

September 25:  Boulder Theatre (Boulder, CO)

September 27: The Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

October 7: The Rose (Pasadena, CA)

October 8: The Saban Theatre (Beverly Hills, CA)

October 12: The Regency Ballroom (San Francisco, CA)

October 13: The Regency Ballroom (San Francisco, CA)

October 15: Neptune (Seattle, WA)

October 16: Neptune (Seattle, WA)

October 21: The Danforth Music Hall (Toronto)

HAIM, Pusha T. and Charlie XCX to Perform at Red Bull Sound Select in Venues Across LA This November

Pusha T - Photo by Simon Abrams for California Rocker

Pusha T – Photo by Simon Abrams for California Rocker

By JOHN DALY

HAIM, Pusha T. and Charlie XCX will perform at a range of venues in Los Angeles for Red Bull Sound Select Presents: 30 Days in LA.

The month-long concert series features showcases beginning November 1, with Sampha and Kelsey Lu at the Palace Theatre.

On November 15, Haim, Charlotte Day Wilson and Steven A. Clark will play the Fonda.

On the 16, Pusha T, Tunji Ige and 070 Shake will perform at the Belasco.

Charli XCX and PC Music producer Sophie will headline a show On November 10 at the Exchange with Montell2099 and Shaed.

Other shows include Car Seat Headrest and Naked Giants at the Teragram Ballroom on November 13th; White Lung, Nicole Dollanganger and Dude York at the Resident on November 17th; Jhené Aiko, Eryn Allen Kane and Cherrie at the Avalon on November 21st; AlunaGeorge, Xavier Omär and Villette at the Avalon on November 22nd; and YG and Finding Novyon at the Wiltern on November 29th.

30 Days in LA will also feature special events including the Stones Throw Super Fest, an event on two stages in Highland Park on November 5, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the seminal hip-hop label (a lineup has yet to be announced).

There’s also Afropunk Fancy Dress Ball at the Park Plaza Hotel on November 20, the traveling Laneway Presents mini-fest, which will take place November 14 at a venue to-be-determined and a November 26 showcase curated by the L.A. based electronic label, OWSLA, co-founded by Skrillex.

Tickets for all shows go on sale September 20th and are $15 or less, plus fees and taxes. For more information go to Red Bull Sound Select https://www.redbullsoundselect.com

RED BULL SOUND SELECT

November 1 — Sampha, Kelsey Lu @ The Palace Theatre
November 2 — Sunflower Bean, SadGirl, Candace @ The Roxy
November 3 — Viva Presents @ Multiply.LA
November 4 — Bob Moses, Harrison Brome @ The Wiltern
November 5 — Stones Throw Super Fest @ Sycamore Grove Park
November 6 — Tory Lanez, Pell, Kweku Collins @ The Echoplex
November 7 — Empress Of, Banoffee, Dizzy Fae @ Club Bahia
November 8 — No Event (Election Day)
November 9 — Lido, Joey Dosik, Nick Leon @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel
November 10 — Charli XCX and Sophie, Montell2099, Shaed @ Exchange
November 11 — Fake Shore Drive Presents @ The Mayan
November 12 — Bibi Bourelly, Harriet Brown, Sur Ellz @ The Bootleg Theater
November 13 — Car Seat Headrest, Naked Giants @ Teragram Ballroom
November 14 — Laneway Presents @ Venue TBA
November 15 — Haim, Charlotte Day Wilson, Steven A. Clark @ The Fonda
November 16 — Pusha T, Tunji Ige, 070 Shake @ The Belasco
November 17 — White Lung, Nicole Dollanganger, Dude York @ Resident
November 18 — Dej Loaf, Sampha the Great, Namasenda @ The Regent
November 19 — Snakeships, Tennyson, Masego @ The Wiltern
November 20 — Afropunk Fancy Dress Ball @ Park Plaza Hotel
November 21 — Jhené Aiko, Eryn Allen Kane Cherrie @ Avalon
November 22 — AlunaGeorge, Xavier Omär, Villette @ The Belasco
November 23 — Brownies and Lemonade presents B&L Lounge — Club Bahia
November 24 — No Event (Thanksgiving)
November 25 — The Do-Over @ Lure
November 26 — OWSLA Presents @ Venue TBA
November 27 — Aurora, Foreign Air Oyster Kids @ The Fonda
November 28 — Aurora, Foreign Air Oyster Kids @ The Fonda
November 29 — YG, Finding Novyon @ The Wiltern
November 30 — Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Wayne Kramer and Jail Guitar Doors Concert ‘Rock Out 3!’ Bring Humanity Out from Behind Prison Bars

Don Was and Marshall Crenshaw - Donna Balancia California Rocker

Don Was and Marshall Crenshaw – Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Wayne Kramer still champions the underdog.

Kramer, founder of MC5, the legendary band that started the punk revolution, is still raging — to help those behind bars.

He was joined by Don Was, Marshall Crenshaw, Gilby Clarke and a host of others at The Ford Theatres at a concert called Rock Out 3! to benefit Jail Guitar Doors USA.

The organization brings musical instruments into prisons and youth camps, teaches inmates music, and creates hope for those behind bars.

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“We give them a guitar to pick up so when they get out they won’t pick up a gun,” Kramer said. “The music takes them out of their surroundings and gives them hope.”

Rock Out! 3, the third annual Benefit Concert for Jail Guitar Doors USA drew fans and rockers alike.

Jail Guitar Doors is a California non-profit organization that provides musical instruments and opportunities to help rehabilitate prisoners.

In 2009, musicians/activists Kramer and Billy Bragg created Jail Guitar Doors USA, which puts on music based prison outreach programs that work to help minimize prison violence and give hope to inmates.

‘Personal Subject’ for Kramer

Wayne Kramer, Alma Robinson and Larry Brewster - California Rocker

Wayne Kramer, Alma Robinson and Larry Brewster – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

It’s a very personal subject to Kramer who was incarcerated on drug charges. In 1977 The Clash recorded “Jail Guitar Doors,” a song detailing the imprisonment of their hero and fellow musician, MC5’s Kramer.

There are devoted volunteers who all showed up at the Ford Theatre event. While there may be a stigma about working with “tough guys,” volunteer Donna Jo Thorndale said when she goes into the prisons she has no preconceived notions.

No Judgment Zone

“The inmates have been judged enough, they don’t need me to judge them.”

Donna Jo says she’s seen progress as a result of the work of Jail Guitar Doors.

Larry Brewster and Donna Jo Thorndale - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Larry Brewster and Donna Jo Thorndale – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“When they focus on the music it helps them to develop self confidence and that’s an ‘inside job.'”

Prof. Larry Brewster said after going into the prisons, he comes away with “new best friends.”

“I’ve made some good friendships,” said Larry, a professor at University of San Francisco.

Teaching volunteer Cody Marks agreed.

“It feels good to get through to the guys,” Cody said. “We form bonds with the prison population and when one guy might be transferred we’ll see sometimes them again at another prison.”

Wayne Kramer: ‘Progress Being Made’

Don Was said he’s been working with Kramer on Jail Guitar Doors for several years.

Wayne Kramer - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Was gets a great deal of satisfaction out of seeing progress.

“It could be anyone of us in there,” said Don Was, who was a headliner at the event. “We tend to believe that the prison population is some other species, but if one or two things didn’t go the right way, it could just as easily be me or you in there.”

A couple of years ago, we went in to Sing Sing Prison and we played a concert,” Was said. “Some people screw up and people tend to forget that about this population.”

Jail Guitar Doors lobbyies against unjust lengthy prison sentences, the privatization of prisons for profit, and seeks to restore humanity in a forgotten segment of our citizens: Those incarcerated.

Wayne, Cody and Jeff - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne, Cody and Jeff – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Program Growing With Number of Inmates

From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled, skyrocketing from roughly 500,000, to 2.3 million, according to the US Bureau of Statistics.

Kramer said Jail Guitar Doors is in 65 prisons, there are songwriting workshops in four.

Kramer was joined at the event by Jill Sobule, Elainie Mandel, Crenshaw, Clarke, Keith Morris, Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls and The Wild Reeds.

Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Pinfield were special guests with Goldthwait as emcee.

Jason Heath, frontman for Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls said he was happy to participate.

Wayne Kramer and friends - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer and friends – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“It’s important to remember the people who are serving prison terms,” Heath said. “And we’re honored to play this show.”

Highlight of the evening was an all-star version MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams,” with all the musicians doing their own thing up there

“We do this because we care and we want to let them know inside the prison that the people outside care,” Cody said.

No Easy Job

The Jail Guitar Doors is not an easy undertaking.

Cody said that there was an extensive process to bring in musical equipment in to work with the prisoners.

Wayne Kramer and Jill Sobule - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer and Jill Sobule – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“They check everything,” Cody said. “They even count the strings that you have for the guitars, they look at the picks,” she said. “One time we broke a string, you have to be careful everything is accounted for.”

Songs ranging from The Who cover “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by Clarke, to “Television Light,” by Crenshaw, Eleni Mandell’s “I Belong To Someone New,” brought out the best in the evening before the showstopper finale.

For more information, go to jailguitardoors.org

 

 

James Lee Stanley: ‘Alive At Last’ is an Album That Inspires and Feels Good

Stanley Shapes Life Experiences Into Great Music

James Lee Stanley with Chad Watson and Scott Breadman at The GRAMMY Museum - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

James Lee Stanley with Chad Watson and Scott Breadman at The GRAMMY Museum – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

James Lee Stanley released a new live album called Alive at Last and it’s more than a live album. It’s a romantic comedy story of his life set to music.

Stanley’s truthful work sums up the highs and lows we all encounter.

But when he talks about his trials and tribulations it’s funny — and hopeful.

James Lee Stanley Stories

“People have said to me, ‘We want to hear the stories,'” said Stanley, whose career has spanned the diverse, including a run as the opener for comedian Steven Wright. “They ask me, ‘What are you, a comedian or a musician?’ Well I’m a little of everything.”

His storytelling style of performance is a rare find in a world filled with cookie-cutter musicians.

James Lee Stanley at The GRAMMY Museum - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

James Lee Stanley at The GRAMMY Museum – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

At a recent performance at The GRAMMY Museum, Stanley basically stuck to the script and in person and on the album, he takes the listener on a few detours of interest.

Among some of the favorites on the album are “I Don’t Want To Talk About It,” “The Street Where Mercy Died,” and “Racing The Moon,” a touching piece about lost love and teen yearning. His experiences have given him songs that he imparts on lucky listeners and they are more fortunate for his memories.

Stanley produced Alive at Last, which touts the talents of the renowned Chad Watson on Fender bass and Cheryl Prashker on percussion.  The album was recorded during a live concert at Morning Star Studios in Spring House, Penn., by Glen Barrett. At The GRAMMY Museum, he was joined by Scott Breadman on percussion.

Stanley’s an interesting cat. This is a guy who actually sat down with Jimmy Buffett and when Buffett told about his new song “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw,” Stanley thought it was a little bit too lowbrow for him.

Years later when Buffett flew into LAX in his private jet, took a private car to his book signing at Brentano’s in Beverly Hills and told Stanley about his life aboard the yacht in the tropics, Stanley had second thoughts.

‘The More I Drink’

So he wrote the audience favorite sing along, “The More I Drink,” which has a chorus of “The more I drink, the less I think. The less I think, the better I feel, the better I feel, the more I drink. I got a system and it works for me.”

Chad Watson - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Chad Watson – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

A night with Stanley is like visiting with an old pal. He tells stories that cover everything from high school and the girl that got away all the way up to the current day with his beautiful wife. He even mentions a wife or two in between, with the song “Worry About You.”

But Stanley’s got great timing and he really enjoys performing — the audience enjoys him right back. songs on the new album range from tender and sweet to raucous and rowdy and Stanley wouldn’t have it any other way.

He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to telling his life stories, whether in song or not.  A part of the hippie generation, there were times when his appearance bugged his family.

Like his Italian grandmother who would give him grief over his long hair and beard, mainly because there was no cheek to pinch buried under all that hair. Years later, when she was on her deathbed, he recalled, her last gasp words were, “But Jimmy why are you wearing an earring?”

‘Alive At Last’

It’s either clever that he recorded his performance or that he’s performing to the album.  Either way, if you see a Stanley performance and bring home the CD, it’s a great way to reinforce a great time.

James Lee Stanley at The GRAMMY Museum - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

James Lee Stanley at The GRAMMY Museum – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Stanley shares a real camaraderie with the audience, as most of the people who were at The GRAMMY Museum performance appear to know him personally or are big fans.

As for his style in an age of manufactured talents, it’s a lesson for the young. He’s warm with the audience, his voice is so clear and so appealing in tone, and his jokes are actually funny. If we had to guess, it’s a good bet the late 1970s band Seals and Croft lifted his whole style.

But while Stanley is reminiscent of Seals and Croft and also the great storytelling songwriter Jim Croce — his songs are really for today. He sings of politics, even skewering the clerk who refused to sign the wedding documents for gay marriages, a song called “Do It In His Name.”

It’s a dying art what Stanley does and his style is inspiring. He’s a man who tells his story and says others should do the same.

“I would tell young people today to make the music you want to make,” Staney said. “And be proud of everything you do because it follows you for the rest of your life.”

 

‘Malibu Rocks Hollywood Monday Nights’ is the Latest Great Entertainment at Lucky Strike in Hollywood

Mike Hayes - Photo by Donna Balancia

Mike Hayes – Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Malibu Rocks Hollywood, a new Monday night music event at Lucky Strike Live, got off to a rockin’ good start.

Presented by the Malibu Guitar Festival, the new program is expected to bring a range of great guitar players to Lucky Strike each Monday.

In its first night of weekly performances, Malibu Rocks Hollywood launched with top-tier guitarists and musicians.

Guitarist extraordinaire Mike Hayes opening for featured performers The Kenneth Brian Band with special guest Robert Randolph.

The Malibu Guitar Festival is a popular event held annually in Malibu, created by Doug DeLuca and John Watkin. Last year, Richie Sambora and Orianthi were among the headliners. Hayes, The Kenneth Brian Band and Randolph played as well.

Robert Randolph - Photo by Donna Balancia

Robert Randolph – Photo by Donna Balancia

In introducing the Mike Hayes band, Kiefer Sutherland once referred to Hayes and his group as “one of the most beautifully melodic and fun bands of our time … one of the tightest bands that I’ve seen … one of the greatest guitar players I’ve seen since Stevie Ray Vaughn.”  And that’s no lie.

Hayes is a thinking person’s blues player. He knows the history of the genre, and he is clearly an expert in his passion.

Hayes’ outward appearance is deceiving as he appears soft spoken and quiet. When he gets on stage it’s a different guy. Hayes is excellent, with guitar skills that go far beyond most of the blues or any other guitarists out there. He plays the music any which way, including over his head and behind his back. He is truly a master, with a strong voice to boot.

Robert Randolph and Scott Thurston sit in with Kenneth Brian Band - Photo by Donna BalanciaThe Kenneth Brian Band is an innovative group, combining a few different styles of rock. The Kenneth Brian Band has a new EP out called Blackbird and it’s worth more than a listen. The band has some rythm driven upbeat songs and one of the things that was impressive is Kenneth’s taste in covers. On Monday night, the band played a cover of “Freeborn Man,” that rivalled the Outlaws’ very own performance of the classic tune.

Randolph needs no introduction and instead, his humble presentation takes over. The funky musician known back East for his work with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, joined the Kenneth Brian Band on Monday night and fit his pedal steel guitar right on in.

36-malibu-guitar-kenneth-brian-wtmks (1 of 1)As the frontman for Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Randolph is considered one of the most prolific players of the “sacred steel” around. His training is from church where he grew up back in New Jersey. He is fortunate to have had some hits, he’s had some deals with the NBA, and has opened for Eric Clapton.

The performances at Lucky Strike were riveting, and The Kenneth Brian Band had another special guest sit in.

Scott Thurston of Tom Petty and Iggy and the Stooges fame, manned the keys.

The music community welcomes an additional night of good music as Tuesday and Wednesday nights have brought jam nights back, much to the delight of music lovers. Now Monday nights also will hit the right notes.

Jeff Beck Celebrates 50 Years of Music With Special Musical Friends at The Hollywood Bowl

Jeff Beck Revs up His Past and Present with Once in a Lifetime Show

By CRAIG HAMMONS – Jeff Beck has been out on the road promoting his new album Loud Hailer.  However, the show at the Hollywood Bowl would be different, as Beck was celebrating 50 years of a legendary and diverse career.  Helping him celebrate along with other special guest would be no other than the mighty blues legend Buddy Guy.

Not wasting any time Buddy Guy came out smoking with “Damm Right I Got the Blues.”  At 80 years old this blues marvel shows no signs of slowing down.  He went thru his usual medley of songs in his arsenal and ventured out into the audience singing and playing his guitar like he sold his soul to the devil.  Even with a shorten set he was able to deliver the title track “Born to Play Guitar” of his new album of the same name.  After a bit of “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Boom Boom” he then went into his signature song “Someone Else is Steppin’ In.”  Before leaving the stage he showed us how Jimi Hendrix did it and played with his teeth on a bit of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”  Buddy Guy is one badass that has paid his dues and lives the blues.

One of Jeff Beck's friends: Steven Tyler - Photo by Craig Hammons

One of Jeff Beck’s friends: Steven Tyler – Photo by Craig Hammons

After a brief video montage looking back at Jeff Beck’s career the guitar God took the stage with his white Fender Strat at his side ready to deliver the goods.  Opening with “The Revolution Will Be Televised” from his new album Loud Hailer caught the audience by surprise.  But the new vocalist Rosie Bones engaged the audience immediately by moving through the crowd while signing through a megaphone.

Just when I was wondering when he would be stepping back in time Jimmy Hall a southern boy who was the original front man for Wet Willie and sang on Beck’s 1986 album, Flash came out to sing a few Yardbirds songs.  Beck and his band ripped thru “Over Under Sideways Down,” Heart Full of Soul” and “For Your Love.”   It was great hearing this songs again from the man who made them timeless gems.

4-jeff-beck-wtmk (1 of 1)Next it was time to get on to some tracks from Beck’s first solo album Truth. Beck and his band shined on “Beck’s Bolero” and “Rice Pudding”.   He then took a moment to show his appreciation by saying “I’m thrilled to be here and thank you for coming” before going right into “Morning Dew.”

Now it was time for a couple of songs from his instrumental album Blow By Blow and Jan Hammer came on to do “Freeway Jam” and a track written by Stevie Wonder “Cause We Ended as Lovers.”  This segment of the show really showed how Beck’s finger and fret work cannot be duplicated.  After ripping it up on “Big Block” he then walked up to the mic and said “I’m so happy to have Beth Hart with us tonight.”  This girl is the real deal who sings her heart out and brought the house down with an emotional version of “I’d Rather Go Blind.”

Before I could catch my breath out comes Buddy Guy to sing “Let Me Love You Baby.”   Beck then said staring across the stage at one of his guitar heroes says “it doesn’t get much better than this”.  After a couple more tunes from Loud Hailer it was time for the next surprise guest of the night.

Buddy Guy - Photo by Craig Hammons

Buddy Guy – Photo by Craig Hammons

Beck walked up to the mic and introduced “somebody you are sure to recognize” and out walks Billy Gibbons who points to Beck and says “it will be another 50 years before you get another guitar player like this.”  These two guitar slingers then ripped it up and exchanged solos on ZZ Top’s “Rough Boys” before getting into a little bit of funky blues with classic “16 Tons.”

The next guest to grace the stage tonight was the majestic Steven Tyler coming on stage to sing the old Yardbirds song “The Train Kept A Rollin” also made popular by Aerosmith in the ’70s.  Tyler was the perfect singer to sing “Shapes of Things” which had the crowd in awe as we all knew we were seeing something special in rock and roll history.

As the evening was coming to a close Beck took center stage to do his astounding version of the Beatles

Jeff Beck and friends - Photo by Craig Hammons

Jeff Beck and friends – Photo by Craig Hammons

“A Day in the Life.”  His guitar playing touched us all as the entire Hollywood Bowl came to their feet to give this rock n roll legend the standing ovation he deserved.

The night ended with an encore of Prince’s “Purple Rain” which had Beth Hart singing lead and Tyler backing her up.  Beck delivered a show full of spirit and emotion.  A good portion of the audience like myself have followed Jeff Beck’s career from the beginning and realize when it was all over we experienced something more than a concert but a once in a life time rock and roll memory that will last with us forever.

Jonathan Butler and Gerald Albright Kick off the 29th annual Long Beach Jazz Festival in Grand Style

LONG BEACH – Legendary musicians Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler launched the 29th annual Long Beach Jazz Festival at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach Friday night.

The Long Beach Jazz Festival runs all day Saturday and Sunday. It features top jazz performers and a range of vendors co-mingling to celebrate beautiful music under clear skies.

Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler – Photo by Donna Balancia

Other headliners performing throughout the weekend include Jeffrey Osborne, Dave Koz and David Sanborn, Side by Side, The Rippingtons, Michael Lington and Kenny Lattimore. Attendees can also expect appearances from world-renowned speakers, authors, innovators and celebrities for A Healthy Taste of Jazz, bringing Music, Health and Wellness together. The activities are brought to you by Rainbow Promotions LLC, Benoit Entertainment Group LLC in partnership with McDonald’s and other sponsors.

The Long Beach Jazz Festival hosts top global brands for a weekend of great music, rich cultural experiences, celebrity meet-and-greets and more. At this year’s event, attendees will have the opportunity to experience their favorite jazz musicians who will be on full display each day. In addition, attendees have a chance to purchase official merchandise and for those with VIP access, an opportunity to engage with celebrities and personalities backstage.

Long Beach Jazz Festival - Photo by Donna Balancia

Long Beach Jazz Festival – Photo by Donna Balancia

“We are excited to bring new and exciting experiences to complement our music programming,” said Kimberly Benoit, president of Rainbow Promotions LLC. “With more than several thousand attendees visiting Long Beach throughout the weekend, we’ve created unique experiences and entertainment tailored to our audience with the help of our sponsors. This will truly be a celebration of how far we’ve come in the last 29 years.”

The Long Beach Jazz Festival, along with our sponsors, will offer fans unmatched consumer engagement experiences each day, including health and wellness programming at the Vendors’ Pavilion.  For tickets or more information go to the Long Beach Jazz Festival website.

Jazz Fest marketing pro and interviewer extraordinaire, Ms. Blair and opening act, Major share a moment at Jazz Festival - Photo by Donna Balancia

Jazz Fest marketing pro and interviewer extraordinaire, Ms. Blair, and opening act, MAJOR, share a moment at Long Beach Jazz Festival – Photo by Donna Balancia

Lance Lopez and All-Star Friends Rock Monday Night Blues at the Valley’s Hot Spot, Maui Sugar Mill

By DONNA BALANCIA – Lance Lopez has more in common with late friend Johnny Winter than a love for the blues.

Like the great Johnny Winter, Lance gives it his all while jamming with pals.

“I really had a great time tonight,” Lance said after a night of All-Star blues presented by Cadillac Zack at Maui Sugar Mill. “This is a great place to play and the fans are super.”

Dug Pinnick fronts for Lance Lopez; Kenny Aronoff on the kit - Photo by Donna Balancia

Dug Pinnick fronts for Lance Lopez; Kenny Aronoff on the kit, Fabrizio Grossi on bass – Photo by Donna Balancia

Lance Lopez Influenced by Johnny Winter

It doesn’t take much to be a super fan when the guitarist who’s performing is one of the hottest blues musicians around.  Lance, who recently released the hot album Lance Lopez Live in NYC, was mentored by Johnny Winter and it shows.

“It touches me to mention Johnny,” Lance said during a conversation about the legendary Johnny, who passed away two years ago at age 70.

Read the California Rocker interview with JOHNNY WINTER

One performance, and it’s easy to tell that Lance is one of the most talented young blues guitarists around. Period.  At the Maui Sugar Mill he brought on some of the most prolific musician pals, including Kenny Aronoff and Guitar Shorty. Dug Pinnick of King’s X also made a special appearance, fronting for Lance.

Lance Lopez and his all-stars - Photo by Donna Balancia

Lance Lopez and his all-stars – Photo by Donna Balancia

Supersonic Band

Lance has a band called Supersonic Blues Machine and Maui Sugar Mill patrons got a taste of what the band’s all about as Aronoff took his spot behind the kit and Fabrizio Grossi played bass. The band debuts album West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco featuring Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top), Warren Haynes (Allman Bros./Gov’t Mule), Robben Ford, Walter Trout, Chris Duarte and  Eric Gales

Lance’ latest work is the hot album called Lance Lopez Live in NYC that rips. Check out his website and the photo gallery below.

 

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s ‘Soulrocker’ Tour Brings Love to the Pacific Amphitheatre

By CRAIG HAMMONS

– SOULROCKER (Sol-rahk-er) – One who lives from the heart, with compassion for all, and possesses a tenacious enthusiasm for music, life and the planet.

Once Michael Franti and his band Spearhead stepped on stage, this evening became a celebration of life.

He’s a soul saver, life changer and spiritual and lyrical activist whose music gives fans renewed energy and a stronger sense of purpose.  We were here to hear the music that would take our minds off the madness that’s going on in this crazy world and unite us all as one.

The crowd was already on their collective feet ready to dance, sing and rejoice in the music that would bring good vibes to us all night long.  Once you attend a Franti concert you understand the power of this man, his band, his message of love and the pleasure it brings.  By his second song “Sound of Sunshine,” he had already invited a couple of kids on stage to join him.  These are family shows that span generations.  Franti works the stage with his arms wide open.  When he asks “How ya feelin’?” we all respond with cheers of happiness.

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

The songs on the current tour are heavily focused on his newest CD, Soulrocker.  When he performed the latest single “Good to Be Alive Today,” he engaged the audience to listen and understand deep inside what he’s singing about.  He then entered the audience and made his way back to the mid-section armed only with his guitar and a song.

Along the way he hugged, took photos and let people sing with him.  The crowd becomes one and we listen to his quiet observations on things that are personal but yet universal.  When he told the audience about growing up as an adopted child he said “We were told to receive everyone as we would want to be received, regardless of their background, race or what school they came from.”

It brought tears to my eyes to see a mother lift her son out of his wheelchair and hold him up to dance together for a few minutes.  Franti on his way back to the stage saw this and stopped and gave them both a big hug while still singing.  I later spoke to the mom who said her son was paralyzed on his right side and had not smiled from ear to ear for years, but tonight he was wearing a full smile.

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

The live show is a musical miracle we all share together.  I walked in to the Pacific Amphitheatre tonight knowing about three people.  When I left I felt like I had 7,000 new friends.  When he sang “Once a Day,” he asked us to interlock our arms together with our neighbors and create a universal bond.  The old man and his wife next to me put their arms around me as we sang “Everybody ought to hug somebody, at least once a day and we all will rise up.”  The live show is also a dance party when Franti says “I want to see everyone jump!” every single person had their hands in the air jumping and reaching for the moon.

I looked around and saw the energy, fun and smiles on the faces of everyone there.  Franti says “I make music because I believe it can change people’s lives and make a difference in the world.”  Tonight we all believed in his message.

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

G. Love and Special Sauce on Soulrocker tour – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Towards the end of the set he said “We got to get some kids up here!”  Next thing, he had about two dozen kids on stage singing “Say Hey (I Love You)” with him.  He gave the mic to the little kid next to him who knew every word.   He then did “My Lord” which turned the place into a giant party with people dancing in the aisles, holding each other, making new friends, crying tears of joy and for a few hours, feeling — as Bob Marley once sang — that “Every little thing is going to be all right.”  He then thanked the whole crew from each band member to the bus driver.  As they whole crew came out John Lennon’s imagine was playing over the sound system.

Michael Franti and Spearhead touched each and every one of us tonight with his love and honesty.  So let’s all be Soulrockers and be full of compassion and one day maybe the world will live as one.

Opening the evening was G. Love and Special Sauce who brought his brand of blues, funk and soul that was well received.

Soulrocker Tour – Pacific Amphitheatre with G. Love and Special Sauce

Cruefest Hollywood 2016: Rockers Give Back and Give Fans a Great Show at Whisky on LA’s Sunset Strip

By DONNA BALANCIA – A range of rockers take part in this charity every year and 2016 was no different. Featuring bands from all over the world, Cruefest Hollywood rocks.

Bands on hand were Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why; Heartbreak Heroes from Oklahoma and Los Angeles; Snake Bite Whisky from Brisbane, Australia; Bad Boy Eddy from Northern California; Stonebreed; Wreking Crue from Detroit, and Blacklist Union, Lunden Reign, Westfield Massacre, and L.A. Story; all of whom are from Los Angeles.

“This is an event that I really enjoy,” said fan Tom Haggeny from Los Angeles. “We love the raffles, we like winning the T-shirts, you get a chance at some killer guitars and it’s all for a good cause.”

Cruefest Hollywood is held each year to raise funds for cancer research.

“This is our second year and we’re really happy to play Cruefest Hollywood,” said Erik Hatchett of LA Story. “We like to connect with the fans and we really have a good time.”

Bad Boy Eddie, from Northern California, said they made the journey south because they wanted to help out a good cause.

“I love it,” said founder Dave. “We’re having a really good time and meeting really fun people.  We want to help out.”

Bad Boy Eddy from Northern California - Photo by Donna Balancia

Bad Boy Eddy from Northern California – Photo by Donna Balancia

LA Story gets the crowd going - Photo by Donna Balancia

LA Story gets the crowd going – Photo by Donna Balancia

Black Waat3r Breaks Down The Sound ‘Barriers’ At The Viper Room for Night of Soul Satisfaction

Innovative Crossover Performances Inspire at Viper Room

Black Waat3r at the Viper Room by Donna Balancia

Black Waat3r at the Viper Room – Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Black Waat3r headlined an innovative bill of bands at the Viper Room that broke down sound “barriers.”

Ace performers Black Waat3r, Emi Secrest, Tomi Townsend, Eddie Cole, Honey Larochelle and Felice Lazae smashed stereotypes for a night of Soul Satisfaction.  A diverse audience enjoyed a night of heartfelt music.

Black Waat3r Rocks

Headliner Blackwaat3r played original songs to rock covers of classics like “We Are The Champions,” and “Come Together,” and seems to enjoy taking its chances outside the box.

Black Waat3r is the crossover brainchild of Erick Walls and Stevie Notes, the bass player is Matt Kirkwood and the drummer is  David Myers Jr.  Black Waat3r is pure alternative and fun, with powerful tunes, cool covers and audience appeal that crosses new musical boundaries.

Black Waat3r at the Viper Room by Donna Balancia

Black Waat3r at the Viper Room by Donna Balancia

Musical Talent

But what’s interesting is Erick and Stevie are well known for their R and B prowess, with awards and nominations that put them in an elite category.

“I consider Black Waat3r to be alternative-rock,” said Erick, known for his work with Aloe Blacc, Beyonce and many other top performers. “We call our Black Waat3r style ‘Nu Blues.'”

Erick is an accomplished and GRAMMY-nominated musician who keeps his bright light on the down low. In addition to his reputation as a side man to all the top names in R and B, he is active in his church, and works with some of the finest gospel singers too.

As for Stevie, the performance is the thing. His voice hits all the right notes — no pun intended — and his stage presence is cool and welcoming as he makes eye contact with all the audience members.  Notes also has training in soul, blues and R and B, but for Notes, Black Waat3r is a unique project and an opportunity to sing rock songs.

“I’ve known Stevie for years,” Erick said. “We originally met through a mutual industry friend. We’ve both worked in the same circles.”

 

Spiking Vibes

“The vibes were spiking high through our celebration of creativity,” said Jaclyn Strong, who booked the bands at The Viper Room through her company The Codega. “It was a unifying event that broke barriers and each artist brought their own soul factor through diverse performances.”

Emi Secrest - Photo by Donna Balancia

Emi Secrest – Photo by Donna Balancia

The other musicians during the soulful night featured Emi Secrest, Tomi Townsend, Honey Larochelle, Eddie Cole and Felice Lazae, all of whom entertained with remarkable talent. Each performer has a pedigree that is impressive and worthy of respect.

Emi has talent that brings to mind music from a feature film. Her songs are unique and her stage presence is impressive. Her band is equally talented. Check out her Youtube channel.

Tomi Townsend

Tomi has a compelling act as her music is “funky but chic,” and her appearance is borderline punk rock genre. She is all over the place — using the entire stage — with a super physical performance that is at once alarming and compelling.

Tomi Townsend at The Viper Room - Photo by Donna Balancia

Tomi Townsend at The Viper Room – Photo by Donna Balancia

She’s an entertainment survivor, who has written her own music, performed comedy and is someone who is super energetic. She’s an inspiration and she’s on the way up!  Check out her Reverbnation page.

The adorable Honey Larochelle, resplendent in her pulled-together hip-hop, miniskirt look — is fun to watch and her voice is clear and strong. Her style is reggae-hip-hop-soul, if there is such a thing, and she’s a performer with a diverse range. Among her songs for the evening were “You Giving Me Life,” which you can see on her Facebook page. 

The evening was complete with D.J. Miss Bliss spinning the discs, the talented Felice Lazae, and Eddie Cole on the bill.  Cole is on his way to Lollapalooza. Hear his music on his Soundcloud account.

DJ Miss Bliss - Photo by Donna Balancia

DJ Miss Bliss – Photo by Donna Balancia

 

Black Waat3r Set List

Water For Fire
Money or Love
Come Together
I Believe I Can Fly
Follow
Sweet Nothings
Gotta Gun
We Are the Champions

 

Empire of the Sun Heat up Pacific Amphitheatre, Frontman Steele Smashes His Guitar to Bits

By CRAIG HAMMONS – To truly enjoy Empire of the Sun you have to see the live show and that is what 7,000 of us colorful fans did this perfect summer evening.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmchoco/23945842866/in/photolist-Cu1GPL-BXP3ZT-ByND3N-ByVWqt-ByVWiK-Cw66gD-Byzby1-CoN42R-C4XzDh-C4XzyY-CoN3JM-BXzAFr-Cw656T-Cw64Vx-BXzAa6-Byza5Q-BXzzUr-Byz9Pj-Cmw9a1-CoN1V6-Cw63kt-BXzyDk-Cmw8gC-Cw62SV-CtMeo9-BWy7Xt-BxxChW-BxxCej-CsKPkC-CkuBhs-CsKP7w-CnLAKa-BWy7dH-CsKNNW-BxF5ax-CnLAit-CnLA7X-BxF4DT-Cv4war-Cv4w3T-Cv4vWR-Cv4vRk-CkuzKu-CnLzna-BxF3T4-CnLz94-CkuzoN-BWy5zT-CnLyRF-CsKLYo

Empire of the Sun – Photo courtesy Goatling

At 9:15 the lights dimmed and a fine mist took over the stage, the entrance music for Empire of the Sun began and some darkened silhouettes of four dancers and three musicians appeared.

After a burst of color and light, front man Luke Steele took center stage to open with “Old Flavours.”

Before they finished the first song the entire audience was on their feet and under their spell.  By the second song “DNA” with the lyrics “Just take me away, be my DNA” is exactly what they did.

Luke Steele’s vocals were spot on and he seemed happy to hear the audience singing the words right along with him.  Each song carried a different array of colors and lights with a huge screen that showed different themes and pictures.  During “Half Mast,” the screen showed a field of flowers and pictures of a planet they landed on.  The band and dancers blend well together as they dance and play through a sea of smoke wrapped in velvet and gold.

It is not hard for this band to keep the audience engaged.  It is almost impossible to turn your eyes away from the stage.  Frontman Luke Steele has his own stage out front and center that has a small keyboard that he plays at the same time as playing his guitar.  But he wanders the stage with his elaborate costumes and headdresses, working the audience into a frenzy.  He even went out into the crowd a few times creating drama and showing what a powerhouse bandleader he is.  This is more than a concert; it is a theatrical performance that could fit well on a Broadway stage.

Empire of the Sun - Photo courtesy Goatling

Empire of the Sun – Photo courtesy Goatling

The show was perfectly choreographed with the dancers changing costumes that ranged from alien rock stars with guitars that lit up, to astronauts and butterflies.  The dancers were always in synch and brought an element of fantasy to each song.  Part of this may be because Steele’s partner, Nick Littlemore, worked as composer and musical director for the Cirque Du Soliel’s touring arena shows.

Empire of the Sun’s musical performance makes you feel like you’re in a movie filled with special effects and a cool soundtrack.   By the time they got to “Walking in Dream,” the audience enthusiasm was out of control.

When Luke Steele sang the lyrics “Thought I’d never see the love you found in me” you could see he was happy as he wandered back into the audience to feel the love of the fans.  They ended their set with “Tiger By My Side” and Steele went ’80’s rock star on our ass playing and smashing his guitar to pieces.  The stage went dark and we all couldn’t believe what just happened.  But before we could catch our breath they were all back on stage with “Standing On the Shore.”

They ended with “Alive” and every one of us sang along to the chorus, “Loving every minute, cause you make me feel alive, alive.”  That’s exactly how we felt tonight after experiencing Empire of the Sun.

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl: ‘Pet Sounds’ Still Rings True 50 Years After Release

Brian Wilson at Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson at Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

‘Good Vibrations’

By CRAIG HAMMONS

Good vibrations were in the air at the Hollywood Bowl on a cool summer night.

Brian Wilson along with his ‘boys,’ Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, with a 12-piece band full of woodwinds, keyboards, guitars and percussion, brought us the 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds and a dozen or more timeless classic hits.

‘Our Prayer’ as the Opener

The magic and celebration began with the beautiful vocal harmonies of “Our Prayer” a wordless hymn released in its proper form from Brian’s 2004 GRAMMY Award-winning album “Smile.”

This opened the door for 1967’s “Heroes and Villains” and soon the hits would just kept on coming. It didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to get up on their feet dancing to “California Girls,” “I Get Around” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.” Not long into the set it was evident just how many of these songs were the soundtrack to our lives. These All American tunes about cars, girls and surfing brought back many memories as we all sung along and still knew every word.

The music slowed a bit with such classics as “Surfer Girl,” “Hushabye,” “Don’t Worry Baby” and the beautiful song “One Kind of Love” from Brian’s 11th solo album “No Pier Pressure.” Brian was up front and center sitting behind a white grand piano. He seemed cool and calm.  His vocals may be a bit worn by time, but are still solid for a 74-year-old who seem happy to be playing the songs he wrote for a whole generation.

‘Wild Honey’

Brian Wilson and his band at The Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson and his band at The Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

Just before going into Pet Sounds the band played the single “Wild Honey,” from 1967.  Back then, the tune had a unique new sound and during the Hollywood Bowl rendition, the song earned a round of applause for sax player Paul Mertens’ solo.

Brian brought out his long-time buddy and collaborator Blondie Chaplin to sing and play guitar on “Sail On, Sailor.” Blondie’s vocals seemed a bit weak, but he made up for it in his guitar playing.

‘Pet Sounds’

With the opening chorus of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” we knew it was time for the musical wizardry of Pet Sounds to be done in its entirety. Pet Sounds was recorded over a half a century ago in an extensive recording session just down the street from the Hollywood Bowl. The band was bringing life back to these songs showing just how much Brian’s music was changing at that time.

The five- and six-part vocal harmonies were amazing with Al Jardine’s son, Matt Jardine, nailing the high notes. There were couples dancing in the aisles during “Don’t Talk Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and “I’m Waiting for the Day.”

‘Sloop John B’ Gets the People to their Feet

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson at the Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

Once they got into “Sloop John B,” everyone was singing again. Next was an emotional rendition of “God Only Knows,” one of the best songs ever written. We were all on our feet in admiration and Brian requested we all have a seat during the slower and more obscure tracks like “I Know There’s an Answer” and “Here Today.” Ending the set with “Good Vibrations” put us all in our way back machine to a better time of going steady, the beach and hanging out with our best friends.

At the end of Pet Sounds, Brian thanked the crowd and slowly walked off the stage to thunderous applause. More than 17,000 strong came to see the man who got out of his sandbox to regain the crown of musical genius.

‘”All Summer Long” Brought Tears to The Lady Next to Me’

Brian came back out and sat down at his piano and introduced each band member one by one before they would launch into some of the Beach Boys greatest hits. An upbeat “All Summer Long” brought tears to the eyes of the lady next to me because she said she felt “so happy.” Then it was “Help Me Rhonda,” and now everyone was rocking out and singing enthusiastically. Without stopping they went right into “Barbara Ann,” “Surfin’ USA,” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

They ended with “Love and Mercy,” a song that rings true to the times we’re living in today. Brian said: “There’s a lot of people getting shot out there and it really scares me; Love and Mercy is what we need tonight.” The evening ended with the final chorus “Love and Mercy to you and All your Friends Tonight.” We felt it as we all exited the Bowl knowing that we all saw musically history made this evening by the man who first played the Hollywood with his brothers, cousins and band mates, the Beach Boys, back in 1966.

 

English Beat Tour the U.S., Europe, to Promote New Album Featuring Ranking Roger, Called ‘Bounce’

The English Beat to Release First Studio Album in 30 Years

english-beat22-wtmks (1 of 1)By DONNA BALANCIA – The English Beat gives the fans their money’s worth, as Dave Wakeling and the boys play their 30-something years’ worth of famous hits to packed houses throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Promoting a new album, called Bounce, which is due in September, The English Beat will tour the U.S. After the release of the album, The Beat will then travel through Europe.  See Tour Schedule here.

Ska ‘Entombed in Lore’

Wakeling takes the stage and brings back some good memories for those old enough to remember seeing the innovative punk-ska innovators who came to fame in the 80s. The English beat also attracts some young fans who appreciate the band — or more appropriately Wakeling and his sometimes bandmate Ranking Roger — in a historical sense.

After all, The English Beat really did find something then only known to most people in Europe and the U.S. as Calypso or Mento, and presented a story in addition to the great music with the great punk style.  It was Ska and it was The English Beat that revived a music genre that had long been entombed in island lore.

Bounce by The Beat features Ranking Roger

Ranking Roger Bounce

The English Beat released a new video to support the new album, Bounce

It is mainly Wakeling the founder of The English Beat – known simply as The Beat in Europe – who carries the ball for the band. But, really, it doesn’t matter what they’re called because it’s the songs they created and perform that have made them legendary.

The English Beat - Photo by Donna Balancia

The English Beat – Photo by Donna Balancia

In concert, The English Beat play almost every one of their big charted hits including “Tears of a Clown,” “Twist and Crawl,” and “Tenderness.”

Set List: 1. Rough Rider; 2. Tears of a Clown; 3. Hands Off She’s Mine; 4. Twist and Crawl; 5. I’ll Take You There; 6. I Confess; 7. Click Click; 8. Save It For Later; 9. Too Nice to Talk To; 10. Whine and Grind/Stand Down Margaret; 11. Best Friend; 12. Can’t Get Used to Losing You; 13. Two Swords; 14. The Love You Give; 15. Tenderness; 16. Rankin Full Stop; 17. Mirror in the Bathroom

Kim And The Created, Le Butcherettes, Bring Woman Power to Echoplex for Record Release Party

Kim, Butcherettes, Hit ‘Ceiling’ in Wild Show

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Rock ‘N’ Roll may have been a man’s game, but women are taking over, showing they can do anything a man can do and do it wearing high heels.

Kim And The Created and surprise guests Le Butcherettes, climbed to the ceiling, crowd-surfed, and even wound up laying face-down on the floor.  It’s not what they did, but how they did it that showed feminine flair, raw truth and new-era style punk.

With passion and physical strength, the ladies of the night: Wuwu, The Butcherettes and Kim And The Created, captivated the crowd at the Echoplex with great music, in-your-face acts, and flirty but overwhelming power.

Wuwu kicked the night off with her cool, tonal synth, little girl voice, and spirited dancing; her petite and darling  appearance grabbed the audience attention.  She and her ponytail spun between working the keyboards and pirouetting for the people in a little Eskimo outfit reminiscent of a blue Santa’s elf.  But that was about as tender as the night would be, because after that, a couple of storms moved in.

Le Butcherettes

Teri Le Butcherettes Photo by Donna Balancia

Teri of Le Butcherettes surfs the crowd – Photo by Donna Balancia

If there were a thing as seat belts for a concert audience, this would be the time to use them.  Teri Gender Bender, the lead vocalist of Le Butcherettes is an unexpected shock of compressed energy who blows the doors off the hinges.  She stomped out onto a dark stage babbling some wacky chant like “La La La Sha Sha Sha,” all dolled up and waving her arms around, as if being forcibly dragged to some 50s zombie prom in hell.

She went from chanting and stomping to pleading and crying in her native Spanish as well as in English, lying flat out on top of the crowd to jumping in among those standing on the floor.  Teri’s a beautiful, swirling virago of power, music, femininity, athleticism – and theatre drama – all tied up in a messy red-high-heeled, fluffy package.

Teri Gender Bender and Le Butcherettes - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Teri Gender Bender and Le Butcherettes – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“I don’t know if it comes from my parents my mother and father or in the spirit or what,” she said after the show, referring to the appearance that she is possessed while on stage. “Something takes over and I don’t know how to explain it.”

The Guadalajara-born beauty and her Butcherettes sweep you up in the madness, spin you around and rock you backwards.  Then she coos and calms only to blow up at any moment.

Seeing Le Butcherettes is a compelling experience, in two languages no less.  The songs, including Solo Soy Pueblo, Sin Sin Sin, and Kiss and Kill are hypnotic and rebellious, much like the group itself.

Le Butcherettes - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Le Butcherettes – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Teri’s very warm to the audience, as after the show she bent down to reach out, hug and shake hands with a devoted crossover fan base that’s been following her since 2010.

She also had to climb back up to pull one of her red high heels out of the top of the scaffolding where she hung upside-down earlier singing. Just another inherent risk that goes with the punk territory.

To her credit Teri has kept Le Butcherettes going despite changes to the lineup, which now is comprised of Chris Common on drums and Riko Rodruiguez-Lopez on bass.

Kim and The Created Homecoming

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

They have a great sound, but Kim And The Created is a remarkable band to watch.

Fresh off their tour supporting The Kills back east, Kim and The Created seemed happy to be welcomed home warmly by an audience that clearly knows her act and loves it.  Their release party was to promote a new 7-inch flexi-disk record, “Get What I Want,” which is catchy and has the look of something you’d have peeled off a cereal box back in the day.

That’s in keeping with the retro style of Kim House, whose performance reinforces solid music that comes from some deep feelings that are universally experienced.

Kim and The Created get a warm homecoming - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Kim and The Created get a warm homecoming – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

On stage Kim is clearly in her element and she uses every square inch of space in her wild act.  Nothing gets by her — or the audience — as she leaps off the stage, climbs the scaffolding, runs around, and whips her head and lanky torso  around. It’s clearly a love fest with her fans, and any second thoughts she has obviously melt away when she mans the microphone. She simply takes your breath away.

If you published an instruction manual on how to capture the audience, Kim and The Created would be the authors.  They’re clearly studied professionals on how to do their jobs because this seemingly simple show is actually quite rich in complexity.

Golden Girl, Kim House - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Golden Girl, Kim House – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Theirs is one of the most balls to the wall performances we’ve ever seen.  Kim’s evening was comprised of floating between her riveting guitar work, to laying flat-out, face-down on the floor, dousing the audience with alternating warm words and cold water. Oh, then she considerately throws a pile of napkins around – not something a guy would do.

Kim And The Created’s work is the kind of performance you wish everyone would give on some level, and the performance is so riveting you can’t look away. Kim makes this extremely physical style performance look easy when it’s extremely challenging and best left to those in their 20s.

There must be some type of workouts at the gym to get in shape for this kind of show.  But all that aside, Kim and The Created brings a remarkable rainbow of complexity, beauty and the honest music that everyone — men and women both — can truly cherish.

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

A triumphant evening for Kim and The Created – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Residents: Despite Their Appearance, Veteran Musicians Hit a Tender Note

“Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts” — T.S. Eliot

residents-wtmks24-wtmkL

 

By CRAIG HAMMONS

The mighty and majestic trio known as The Residents opened the first show of their Shadowland North American Film and Concert Tour at the Regent Theatre in Los Angeles.

residents-wtmks22-wtmkRThese legends of the bizarre offered us a unique opening act, a screening of their new film Theory of Obscurity: A Film about The Residents later followed by a live performance covering a wide span of their 40 years together.

Under cloudy skies the dedicated fans and followers of these men of mystery started arriving and lining up for a show of a lifetime as The Residents don’t perform that often.

Once the doors opened at the old renovated downtown movie theatre, we all came together as one happy family ready to welcome Randy, Chuck and Bob (who has since retired and has been replaced by his brother Ricco) — otherwise known as The Residents.

residents-wtmks-skullglasses1a-wtmkR

Residents’ History

The movie The Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents is a history of the band from their inception until the present day.  We follow them as they head to San Francisco to begin their distinctive and original art and music career.  The history of The Residents is unique in the sense that the details surrounding the group have always remained a secret.  We didn’t even know their names until recently.

I love the fact that The Residents have always done things their way to make their original musical world of art rock. The film is full of fun and facts, good music and crazy imagery.  The movie weaves the tale of The Residents by vintage footage and interviews from many fans including Jerry Harrison, Penn Jillette, Jerry Casale and their biggest fan Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.

residents-wtmks19-wtmkROne thing I learned is how they got their name.  They were living in a pad in San Francisco and got some mail one day that was addressed to “Resident.”  “They must be talking about us,” they said, and adopted the name at once.

Once the movie was over there was a 30-minute intermission prior to these lads of weirdness taking the stage.  As no two tours or shows are ever the same, we didn’t know what to expect.

The lights dimmed and it was time for Shadowland Part III of the Randy, Chuck and Bob show.  We were ready for the unpredictable and got it.

The Residents have a vast catalog of songs to choose from.  Shadowland included some of their classic songs such as “Harold the Head,” “Constantinople” and “Easter Woman.” The crowd was in heaven as they ran thru these classics.

 

‘Drunk Grandpa’

residents-wtmks11-wtmkRRandy came out dressed like a tired old man in a muscle body suit with a pot belly, checkered speedo, tails and shoes 20 times two big.  He prowled the stage like a drunk grandpa dancing at his daughter’s wedding.  Chuck dressed like a reggae creature from outer space with a nice white suit and let his guitar speak for him.  Ricco looked like Chuck’s pregnant bastard son in a prison suit manning the keyboards with grace and wizardry.

During the show there was a giant ball on a pedestal that showed clips that referred to the next set of songs.  After opening with Rabbit Habit the first movie in the ball was “The Butcher” which showcased Benny (The Bouncing Bump), next was “The Libertine”, “The Garbage Man,” “The Diver” and “The Engineer Movie.”  They seemed to reinvent some of the older songs and gave them a new twist.

residents-wtmks18-wtmkRDon’t let anybody tell you The Residents don’t know how to play their instruments.  These guys may play experimental music but they don’t miss a note.

Chuck shreds on guitar getting sounds you would never expect plus he plays a mean slide.  All these pieces came together for a well-rounded show to satisfy all your senses.

They ended the show with “Ship of Fools” and this offbeat trio of guitar, keyboards and vocals captured our mind as well as our souls.  We all left happy and glad we got to spend some time in the wonderful world of The Residents.

SET LIST – The Regent, Los Angeles,

April 9, 2016

The Rabbit Habit

Fever Dreams

Golden Guy

Herman, the Human Mole

Harry the Head

Benny (the Bouncing Bump)

They Are All Meat

Caring

Is He Really Bringing Roses

Blue Rosebuds

Weight Lifting Lulu

Constantinople (Randy parading around the stage with big bass drum)

Easter Woman (a favorite of mine)

My Second Wife

Loss of Innocence

Melon collie Lassie

Hard and Tenderly

Ship of Fools

ENCORE

Mourning Glories

Forty Four No More.

The Joy Formidable Bring Their New Album, ‘Hitch,’ and Alt Sound from Wales to US with Tour

Joy Formidable photo Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable – Photo Donna Balancia

Welsh Invasion?’

By DONNA BALANCIA – The Joy Formidable is set to take the U.S. by storm, with a new album, Hitch. This Welsh threesome is a group worthy of some serious listening.

Their new album, Hitch, is a slight departure from previous releases, but is beautifully balanced between big alternative sound and balladeering.

The Joy Formidable — comprised of lead singer and lead guitarist, Ritzy, bassist Rhydian and drummer Matt — will play dates in Nashville, Pennsylvania, New York, New Orleans, Florida, Dallas and Memphis before touring the U.K. They return for Bottle Rock in Napa Valley and Lollapalooza.

Joy Formidable © 2016 Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Joy Formidable has an alt-indie following, but with their third album it’s clear this is a group that can handle a wide range of genres. They brought humor and power to their fans at a recent show at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

Think Sonic Youth meets Midnight Oil via The Raspberries with driving beats.

Ritzy’s cooing voice in between songs had a rather soothing effect, much like your sarcastic Welsh grandmother — if you had one — lulling you off to a faraway land.  That’s where all niceties stop as she pulls the rug out from under you with great ripping guitar.  It doesn’t hurt that Ritzy’s cute and fun to watch, either.

Joy Formidable photo Donna Balancia

Joy Formidable perform acoustic version of The Brook from their new album Hitch, at The Roxy – photo © Donna Balancia

Rhydian gave a nice chat with the VIP meet and greeters at The Roxy prior the show, and to say that this band likes to mix it up with the audience is an understatement.  At one point Ritzy and Rhydian came off the stage and brought their unplugged acoustic guitars to the audience and gave what appeared to be an impromptu rendition of The Brook to the fans.

But we can’t say enough good things about one of the most talented and entertaining drummers we’ve seen in Matt.

He drives the threesome with beats akin to the late Keith Moon, as one concert-goer commented, and his showmanship is AOK as hair flies all over the place as he plays and connects to the audience smiles and winks.

The trio don’t exactly comprise a single-handed ‘Welsh Invasion’ but if they keep going on their path, they will definitely bring over the converts.

EXCLUSIVE: Reluctant Apostles With Katey Sagal Play Molly Malone’s

New Band By Bob Thiele and Pals Gets Attention

The Reluctant Apostles - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Living in Los Angeles the quality of cover bands is out of this world. A great example of that is the latest high-profile cover band in town, The Reluctant Apostles.

This band is comprised of Sons of Anarchy family and friends – series composer Bob Thiele, Katey Sagal, Davey Faragher, Billy Harvey, John Philip Shenale and drummer Michael Urbano.

These musicians are well-known aroud town as well as around the world.

**Support The Reluctant Apostles PLEDGEMUSIC campaign!**

The Reluctant Apostles are on the mark.  Katey is a compelling and fun front woman, playing bongos, guitar and even the ol’ drumstick on a music stand  — yes — but of course, it’s the way she smacks it.   And it’s clear with her Gibson guitar and nice ride that Sons of Anarchy and probably her extensive experience on the small screen has contributed greatly to her large life.

Bob is the leader of the band as the group continually pointed out good naturedly throughout their 11-song set — this band likes working together and feels very comfortable together.  The leader of the music department of Sons of Anarchy as well — he sports his iconic hat atop his mass of grey curls, cracking jokes and bringing out the best in his people.  He is really something special in music circles and has the lineage and genetics, as his dad was prolific jazz producer Bob Thiele of New York.

Keyboardist John is a true showman no matter what the tune; he gave us some insights into the possibility of more gigs, more original songs and some recordings up the Apostles’ collective sleeve. He is certainly one to know about talented music; as one of the most prolific producers and composers of our era he has contributed to at least 40 award winning records. Bass player Davey brings his own style to the stage, singing and providing the support while Billy jams on lead guitar like Eric Clapton.  Of course, drummer Michael has played with some of the best musicians the world over as well, including a stellar gig with James Williamson at the Bootleg last year called “Re-Licked.”

Check out more Reluctant Apostles on CaliforniaRocker.com

An impressive crew - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

An impressive crew – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles’ style is Americana with an edge.  Particularly outstanding songs were Crystal Blue Persuasion; Jealous Kind, Candyman and Temptation Took Control of Me (Video)

On April 9 The Reluctant Apostles will return to Molly Malone’s – Highly recommended.

Setlist: When I Paint My Masterpiece; Crystal Blue Persuasion; Where Was You At; Holy Cow; W.S. Walcott Medicine Show; Jealous Kind; Candyman; My Love is Getting Stronger; Magnolia Wind; Temptation Took Control of Me; Blow Your Mind.

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