California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello to Release Special Edition ‘Flowers’ Cassette for Record Store Day


With the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection edition’s March 24th release date via  MPL/Capitol/UMe fast approaching, Paul McCartney has confirmed a very special Record Store Day exclusive.

To commemorate Record Store Day this April 22, a limited edition three-song cassette of Paul and Elvis Costello’s Flowers In The Dirt demos will be made available at participating RSD stores.

The limited edition cassette-only release will be the first time these recordings — “I Don’t Want To Confess,” “Shallow Grave” and “Mistress And Maid” — will be made available in the same form as when Paul and Elvis first cut them directly to tape.

“The demos are red hot off the skillet and that’s why we wanted to include them on this boxed set,” McCartney said. “What’s great about these songs is that they’ve just been written. So there’s nothing more hot off the skillet as I say. So that was the kind of great instant thing about them.  I hadn’t listened to them in ages but when I did I knew we had to put them out. We made a little tape of them and sent them to Elvis, who loved them too. We said we should put out an EP or something and now the moment’s finally arrived.”

For information on formats, track listings, preorders etc., go to Paul McCartney’s blog.

For a list of Record Store Day participants, see the Record Store Day website.

U.S. EXCLUSIVE: Paul McCartney Releases Never-Before-Seen Photos for ‘Flowers’ Re-Release


With a month to go until the release of the reissue of Paul McCartney’s classic album Flowers In The Dirt (the 10th installment of the GRAMMY Award-winning Paul McCartney Archive Collection) – Paul has released some photographs taken by Linda McCartney during the recording of the album.

George Martin and Paul McCartney – Photo by Linda McCartney

The photographs show Paul working with Elvis Costello, who he collaborated with on four of the tracks featured on the album (“My Brave Face,” “You Want Her Too,” “Don’t Be Careless Love” and “That Day Is Done”) as well as a shared moment with The Beatles producer George Martin, who did the string arrangement for “Put It There.”

The majority of the album was recorded at Paul’s Hog Hill Mill studio in East Sussex in the UK. This is also where some of the tracks were written with Costello.

Collaboration – Photo by Linda McCartney

Recalling working with Elvis, Paul said: “I was looking for someone to work with, trying to think of something imaginative to do and one day my manager said ‘Do you fancy writing with Elvis Costello? It might be a great thing’.  I said ‘Yeah’.

“He (Elvis) came down to my studio and we sat opposite each other with our guitars because I had said to him early on that this is how I’d written with John, with me being left handed and him being right handed, it was almost like looking in a mirror.  We did virtually what John and I did which was just make up a song a day.”

Paul McCartney – Photo by Linda McCartney

Those who pre-order the album digitally from today will get Instant Grat tracks – previously unreleased original demo versions of My Brave Face and That Day Is Done – both recorded at one of the early writing sessions.

“Because we were working above the studio, we’d just go downstairs and make the record, just the two of us singing exactly what we had made up,” Paul said.  “So there were a few recordings that haven’t been released.  We keep saying to each other that they’re good because they are raw, it’s hot off the skillet.”

Paul McCartney – Photo by Linda McCartney

The reissue of Flowers In The Dirt is available from March 24th.

PRE-ORDERS: Super Deluxe (3CD/1DVD), Special Edition (2CD), Vinyl (2LP)

I saw Paul McCartney – Photo by Linda McCartney


Paul at the microphone – Photo by Linda McCartney

Musicians Have More Power Than They Believe; They Gave California Rocker The Awards in 2015

Ron Young with James Williamson - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young with James Williamson – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Extraordinary musicians who each took a gamble helped earn awards from major journalism organizations this year.

Donna Balancia’s video coverage of “The New Basement Tapes: One Night Only,” was good enough to earn California Rocker a Best Entertainment Blog third place finish in the LA Press Club’s National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.

Heather Harris secured second place in the Photo Essay category of the LA Press Club’s entertainment awards for her photographic coverage of “James Williamson Produces A-List Concert.”  California Rocker was fortunate to present Heather’s outstanding photography of Williamson’s live “Re-Licked” concert in Los Angeles. Heather’s work documented a remarkable one-off event that showcased some top talent in Rock N Roll.

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Alison Mosshart hugs James Williamson at ‘Re-Licked’ concert – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Both of those were risky one-off concerts that turned out to be remarkable events.

California Rocker also earned several “finalist” designations in 2015, and an honorable mention from the International Photography Awards for its coverage of the very first Rock In Rio USA festival in Las Vegas last May.

See The New Basement Tapes

See James Williamson’s Concert

See First Rock In Rio USA Concert

Awards For Reporters Help Promote Musicians

Today more than ever, the awards and wins — no matter whether they’re first, second or 15th — are significant and have relevance to journalists and musicians alike.  Especially to those journalists and musicians who are doing it on their own, competing against bigger entities.

— California Rocker is a 2-year-old “blog” that was started for the purpose of promoting independent, young, and upcoming musicians through top-notch music journalism. Its mission is to help musicians promote and publicize their work in an environment today that is extremely challenging for musicians and journalists alike. When our work is honored by the Los Angeles Press Club and similar organizations, the musicians also win.

TNBT Card shark

The New Basement Tapes: Rhiannon Giddens, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith, Elvis Costello and Jim James – Oh, and Johnny Depp (not pictured) – Photo © Donna Balancia

— There aren’t very many “music journalism” categories of the few journalism awards that are actually presented today.  There really aren’t that many journalism awards these days — or journalists either — as the shift is towards eyeball-seeking, clickbait-driven management initiatives, and media executives who care more about advertising than editorial integrity.

— Heather’s fine photographic work on James Williamson’s “Re-Licked” show was a solitary effort and was coverage of a live concert. The win for Heather was second place to a major national magazine which had used four people for a posed studio shoot.  It is the first year the photo essay category was introduced and Heather’s work, as always, stood out among the rest.

The New Basement Tapes at Montalban Theater - photos and videos © Donna Balancia

The New Basement Tapes at Montalban Theater – photos and videos © Donna Balancia

— The Best Entertainment Blog award for California Rocker was third place to two blogs owned by major corporations which have many times the resources.  California Rocker’s producer and contributors not only write, but shoot still photos and videos; edit the writing; edit the stills and the videos; upload the work; tag and categorize the work; and then social media-ize all the content, promoting the content, photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

So, to be in the mix — and to win at these awards presentations — is vital.


Frank Meyer and Lisa Kekaula at James Williamson’s ‘Re-Licked’ concert – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Why Awards Matter

The digital era has revolutionized music and its distribution, and also the journalistic coverage of music.  It’s a learning process that we master together for the best promotion. While new digital technologies have enabled musicians to distribute on demand, it is also creating a mindset whereby consumers — and some broadcast groups — don’t want to pay.

In an ever more challenging world in which many personalized flourishes are disappearing, California Rocker and its contributors take the time to relate to the subject matter in a human manner.  California Rocker interviews its subjects, reviews the material before it goes online, consults with the subjects of the interviews and works toward establishing good will at all opportunities.


Joe Cardamone performs with James Williamson at ‘Re-Licked’ show – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

We are pleased that California Rocker secured its 2015 wins and “finalist” designations from the Los Angeles Press Club and for the other nominations and honorable mentions. We have come a long way and also have a long way to go as California Rocker grows in viewer/readership.

A big round of applause goes to all the musicians who have supported California Rocker, our advertisers and sponsors who are happy with the work and to our journalist contributors.  We’ll continue to put forth the talents we meet, present the musicians and their work, and show ’em all what Rock N Roll is really all about.

A prosperous and healthy New Year to all.

California Rocker Nabs Second ‘Best Blog’ Nom from LA Press Club

California Rocker's coverage of The New Basement Tapes earned the young digital publication an LA Press Club nomination - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

California Rocker’s coverage of The New Basement Tapes earned the young digital publication a second LA Press Club nomination – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

California Rocker’s Coverage of ‘New Basement Tapes: One Night’ Only Earns Blog a Finalist Spot

California Rocker has been nominated in the Best Individual Blog category for its coverage of The New Basement Tapes: One Night Only concert last November at The Montalban Theater in Hollywood.

Donna Balancia is the producer and creator of California Rocker.

The multimedia package on the one-off concert by the “superband” known as The New Basement Tapes, consisted of a traditional article that ran on California Rocker, with embedded video, links, and still photos from the show. The article,  The New Basement Tapes: One Night Only, was posted Nov. 14, 2014, the day after the show.

A social media component played an important promotional role in the coverage, and digital images were filed during and after the event, and the story was updated several times via the web.

The New Basement Tapes is an all-star band whose diverse musicians each wrote music to accompany the lyrics of Bob Dylan that were recently discovered in the basement of the Big Pink house in upstate New York.

Rhiannon Giddens; Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons; Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes; Elvis Costello; and Jim James of My Morning Jacket comprise The New Basement Tapes. The show was produced by T Bone Burnett.

Also performing with The New Basement Tapes on Nov. 13 were the popular Haim sisters and film actor and musician Johnny Depp.

California Rocker nominated for Blog coverage of "The New Basement Tapes One Night Only"

California Rocker nominated for Blog coverage of “The New Basement Tapes One Night Only”

Among some of the notable songs produced by the Burnett-assembled group are “Kansas City,” “Card Shark,” and “When I Get My Hands On You,” from the group’s album, Lost On The River. 

It is the second LA Press Club nomination for California Rocker in as many outings. In addition to California Rocker, Balancia also produces East Coast and is the president of News Notables of Beverly Hills, a digital editorial consultancy.

“To be nominated for digital media is an achievement for me and all journalists today,” said Balancia. “Reporters and editors have had to adapt to a challenging journalism environment.  I hope to inspire more independent reporters and editors to have a voice in our ever-changing world.”

As producer of California Rocker, Balancia writes, shoots stills, shoots video, edits the site through a content management system, and promotes California Rocker stories via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube, as well as other platforms.

“Journalists are a lot like musicians,” Balancia said.  “We are all trying to tell our story in the manner that is the most compelling and most impactful.  Don’t get overloaded with promotion hype and distribution technology. Choose to create and inform, above all else.”



The New Basement Tapes ‘One Night Only’ Concert

The New Basement Tapes LIVE Donna Balancia

The New Basement Tapes Live in Concert – Photos and video © Donna Balancia

Johnny Depp and Haim Join ‘Superband’

By DONNA BALANCIA — The New Basement Tapes proved work and friendship can indeed mix, performing a “one and only” show that knocked the socks off a curious LA audience in Hollywood Thursday night.


The band, comprised of Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford played the songs each had co-written to Bob Dylan lyrics discovered in Dylan’s upstate New York home.

It was a night not to be forgotten for the crowd at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood, as the group performed songs including “Kansas City,” “When I Get My Hands on You,” “Card Shark,” and others off the new album “Lost On The River.”


Produced by T Bone Burnett, Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes brought together the supergroup and their lively performance in a “one night only”-billed affair.

The New Basement Tapes musicians were also joined onstage by the sisters Haim, and Johnny Depp.


The New Basement Tapes: An Amazing One-Off Performance

By DONNA BALANCIA in HOLLYWOOD — The New Basement Tapes gave a one-off performance that blew the house away at the Montalban Theater in Hollywood. Johnny Depp and Haim joined Elvis Costello and major music stars for a one night only show that no one who attended will forget.


The cameraderie among TNBT members Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford with their special guests made an unforgettable evening for a lucky full house crowd at Montalban Theater in Hollywood.


TNBT played the songs each had co-written to Bob Dylan lyrics discovered in Dylan’s upstate New York home and some tunes got multiple renditions, proving the diversity of the talented musicians assembled for the evening.


The new album by TNBT was produced by T Bone Burnett, and is called Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes.

This has to be one of the most unique and fun shows any of us have attended.  The friendship among the musicians was remarkable and we couldn’t help but notice their egos didn’t get in the way.

It was an interesting way to see each of these musical leaders from different bands working together on songs that Bob Dylan wrote but never finished.

We particularly liked the unplugged “Card Shark,” and “Kansas City.”

For the crowd that waited in line, it was time well spent and a memorable evening.


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