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Deap Vally, Mike Watt, The Shrine Among Bands to Take Echo Stage at Sunday’s Dirty Penni Festival

The Echo Comes Alive in All-Ages Show

By DONNA BALANCIA

This Sunday, a plethora of powerful bands will take the stage at the Echo for the Dirty Penni Festival.

Performers are: Deap Vally; The Shrine; Plague Vendor; Mike Watt and the Jom and Jerry Show; Enjoy; Starcrawler; Zig Zags; Jurassic Shark; Girl Pusher; Flat Worms; Here Lies Man; Beach Bums; Hit Bargain; The Red Pears; Clit Kat; Espresso; Keif Season; Girl Tears; Janelane; Fringe; Capital Wasteland; Sabrina is Not in This Chat; Sketch Orchestra; Model/Actriz and Worn Tin.

Starcrawler will perform at Dirty Penni Festival – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The show is presented by The Echo, Dirty Laundry TV and Penniback Records.

It’s an all-ages show that starts at 12 p.m. (that’s noon to those of you from a different time zone). General admission tickets are $20.

The Echo is located at 1822 W. Sunset Blvd, The Echoplex is located below The Echo, enter through the alley at 1154 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, Calif.

Get Tickets for Dirty Penni Fest by clicking our link.

Mike Watt will play Dirty Penni Fest Sunday at The Echo – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

British Punk’s Prolific Colin Newman: The Band Wire is Not Just Some Heritage Group from The 1970s

The Drill Fest by Wire Packs the Echo

By JOHN NORRIS and DONNA BALANCIA 

Wire held its Drill Fest at The Echo and Echoplex, and it was a rare opportunity to see some of punk’s originators tell it like it is.

Judging by the attendance at the fest, which ran over three days and included performers like Mikal Cronin, Bob Mould and of course headliner Wire, it’s easy to see punk is very much alive today. Or it’s making a “curated” comeback at the very least.

The Pink Flag Guitar Ensemble – a roaring finale – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Drill Fest is not just Wire playing on tour, founder Colin Newman told CaliforniaRocker.com.

“Drill is curated by the bands,” Colin said. “It’s just another aspect of what the band do.

Colin Newman: 'Being influential is a double-edged sword' - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Colin Newman: ‘Being influential is a double-edged sword’ – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Wire: Not Re-Living The Past

“The importance is it’s partly to us,” Colin said. “One of the things about Wire is we’re not doing the heritage circuit. We’re not trying to relive our past. It’s about us making connections to other artists, not necessarily younger artists, but artists of different genres, with different ways of working and in a way it’s putting ourselves in a situation and saying this is what we are, we’re not just some band from the ’70s living off our past.”

Great musicians curated at Drill - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Great musicians curated at Drill – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Newman On Being ‘Influential’

Wire has been so influential to so many bands, but that’s an interesting conundrum, Colin said in typical fashion.

“It’s a double-edged sword, really,” Colin said.

Why?

“Because you don’t like everything that you’ve influenced,” he said. “But everything influences everything else in music. Music is a dialog.”

Musicians and friends - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Musicians and friends – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

That dialog connected this weekend as the crowds at the Echo and Echoplex appreciated the music of many favorites.

Among those who hit the stages were:  Malka Spigel (Minimal Compact), Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (Luna), Jason Falkner (The Grays, Three O’Clock, Jellyfish), Jessica Lipstate (Noveller), and Jess Labrador, and Shannon Sky Madden (Chasms).

Not just 'Part-Time Punks' The Drill is the real deal - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Not just ‘Part-Time Punks’ The Drill is the real deal – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Other friends and players on hand included Rafe Mandel, Caroline Borolla, Geoffrey Halliday, James Hamblin, Stefan Nelson and Sandy Yang. Wire is Robert Grey, Matthew Simms, Graham Lewis and Colin Newman.

 

 

Modern English: All These Years Later, Legendary New Wave Band Does More Than ‘Melt With You’

Robbie Grey of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robbie Grey of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robbie Grey: ‘I’ll Melt With You’ is ‘The Song That Pays The Bills’

By DONNA BALANCIA – Modern English may look a little different than back in 1981, but the music is better than ever.

The British band known for superhit “I’ll Melt With You” is tight and gave a stellar performance at The Echoplex Sunday night.

The iconic band performed its 1981 LP Mesh and Lace in its entirety to celebrate the 11th-Year Anniversary of the excellent Part Time Punks program. Underpass, Soft Kill and Sextile brought diversity of alt rock sounds prior to the headliner.

Mick Conroy on bass, Gary McDowell on guitar and Robbie Grey on vocals set the pace as Colchester, UK’s first punk band, The Lepers, back in 1979.  When keyboardist Stephen Walker and drummer came on board, they became Modern English and took on a more new wave-style sound.

Gary McDowell of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Gary McDowell of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Still Together

It’s fantastic the band is together again after some ups and downs, unlike many of their colleagues from the era like Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Gang of Four.  Hugh Jones, who also produced Echo and the Bunnymen produced Mesh and Lace and had a good deal to do with the band’s post-punk sound. The UK produced most of the well-known punk/new wave bands in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

And while they may look a little older, a little more heavily tattooed, Modern English band members have a young appearance and a lot of stories to tell.

The members of the band who have broken up, gotten back together, tried to go separate ways and tried different music projects realized they’re cherished by not only the generation they’re from, but also by today’s younger fans.

Bassist Mick Conroy gets the handoff from Robbie Grey during Modern English performance at the Echoplex - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Bassist Mick Conroy gets the handoff from Robbie Grey during Modern English performance at the Echoplex – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Advertising Income

That could in part be because of the popularity of the group’s 1982 superhit “I’ll Melt With You,” which has had enormous commercial success and has been played in everything from U.S. TV commercials pitching cheeseburgers, chocolate and tacos, to feature films.

But the band says the new wave song is really about a couple making love as a nuclear bomb is dropped. No matter, the song closed out for the evening as Robbie called it “The Song That Pays The Bills.”

Favorites of the night taken directly from the Mesh and Lace album are the classic upbeat songs “Smiles and Laughter,” “Gathering Dust” and “Swans on Glass.”  The songs were badass in the day and still hold up today.

With Modern English you get what you expect. It’s refreshing in that they call themselves what they are.  With the exception of drummer Roy Martin, who handled the kit with amazing agility and blend, the band is comprised of all the original members.

Gary McDowell of Modern English - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Gary McDowell of Modern English – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Long Run

In the never-ending quest for to make a living, there are many bands out there with only one remaining member who call themselves the name they used to go by when they were four.

But it should be determined at what point would it be considered false advertising to call a band with departed anchor members by its original name.

Joy Division evolved into New Order, then split into two bands, New Order, and Peter Hook and the Light. Let’s hope Modern English will never have to endure a similar fate.

But it’s clear that Modern English has their colleagues on the brain — with Robbie sporting a Joy Division T-shirt and changing into a David Bowie T-shirt to honor the departed musician.  And he performed happily — even when a gal came on stage and started hugging him. But Robbie is a good reflection of the band — seems Modern English will withstand the test of time and simply shrug and carry on.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Campbell Uses His LA Band, The Dirty Knobs, for Kicks, While Reaping Big Marketing Rewards

Mike Campbell: Smart marketer - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Mike Campbell: Smart marketer – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

By DONNA BALANCIA – Mike Campbell may be known as “Gator,” in his band The Dirty Knobs but the only thing ferocious about him is his extraordinary guitar playing.

Campbell, known for his day job as Tom Petty’s guitarist and co-founder of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, is one of the most “social” onstage musicians around.  Younger musicians can take a page out of his book.  Campbell recently kept the house at the Echoplex in jovial spirits as The Dirty Knobs paced a fast and rockin’ show.

As the performance becomes ever more important in the financial health of a band’s career, Campbell sets an example of what to do onstage to retain a fan base.  As many of the audience members at the Echoplex knew his ‘schtick,’ it’s clear Campbell keeps ’em coming back again and again.

How?  With fantastic music, and he addresses audience members individually with compliments and quips.

mike-marc17-wtmks

Mike Campbell and Jason Sinay share a moment – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“And I’m Steve,” Campbell joked after introducing his band known by nicknames: Ape (guitarist Jason Sinay), Swampfox (drummer Matt Laug) and Crawdaddy (Lance Morrison).  And the audience members, getting in on the fun, did just that, calling out the newly created moniker between songs, yelling “Yay Steve,” and having a good time.

In between the songs there was a reverential silence akin only to being in the presence of greatness.  Campbell pointed it out, saying The Dirty Knobs play biker bars where glass is smashed, so it’s nice to have the silence between songs once in a while.  But from that point on, there would be little of that for “Shecky” Campbell.

Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Dirty Knobs – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Heckling Has its Rewards With The Dirty Knobs

“You’re bitchin!” called out one gal from the audience.

Not missing a beat, Campbell asked her name — Laurie? — and said that was the nicest thing anyone had called him. He promptly invited her to the front of the audience as a reward.

He singled out a lady photographer in the audience saying she had a hairstyle that reminded him of “Mrs. George Harrison.” Of course, the comment was not lost on the photographer — none other than the renowned veteran rock shooter, Heather Harris.

Swampfox - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Swampfox – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Campbell has volumes of experience in big-time music biz, not counting the massive worldwide touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Campbell has co-written songs with a bevy of heavy hitter musicians including Don Henley, Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne.

He co-produced most of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers albums, along with Petty’s solo recordings. But yet, this guitarist who’s been named to almost every “top guitarist” list that exists likes the simple things: His doggie table where his beer and towel rest during his show, his Rickenbacker guitar and playing music.

Campbell started The Dirty Knobs as a way to have fun and play music he enjoys. It also gives him a way to keep in close touch with the people, which seems to becoming less and less valued but is needed more than ever.

Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Marc Ford – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“What I like is that he really takes note of who’s in the audience,” said an Echoplex concert-goer named Bobby. “He looks everyone in the eye, he winks. He smiles and he cracks jokes – I think he’s having fun.”

It’s obvious he’s doing just that. The Dirty Knobs, name aside, is a powerful group aside from being a great marketing tool for Campbell. The band has some amazing originals, but also covers The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead, much to the appreciation of a diverse audience, ranging in age from 20s to late 60s.

The undercards were no slouches either. Marc Ford and his band had played earlier in the evening and Campbell called the well known guitarist for the Black Crowes up to jam with the Knobs.  It’s easy to see why Ford has done so well in the competitive world of music.

Jeremy White - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Jeremy White – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

 

Local Band: The Blessings

The opening band, The Blessings, are a local favorite the audience appreciates.  Frontman Jeremy White looks the part of an upscale rocker from the 1970s as one astute audence member commented.

The other band members impress with drummer Jason Upright, keyboardist Jeffrey Howell, Duffy Snowhill on bass, Mike Gavigan on lead guitar and backing vocalist Lavone Barnett.

But more than their appearance, The Blessings have matured into a contender for RNR success. Two of their CD releases, Shipwrecked and Tomahawk Inn, are of special note.

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