California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Fishbone Enters a New Phase as Members Look Back, And to a Future Without Curtis Story

One of Punks Founding Bands Continues On


Beyond Baroque has its hands full for 2017.

The historic arts hangout in Venice is one of the West Coast’s destinations if you want to know about the rise of punk in Los Angeles. This year is a pivotal year in punk as many of the bands we know celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Norwood Fisher and the Nextperience – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Fishbone’s Influence

“A lot of the bands you know started right here,” said Tequila Mockingbird, who works with the Punk Museum as well as Beyond Baroque. Among those bands she’s referring to are the band X, which also celebrates its 40th this year.

But punk is not without its diverse elements.  Fishbone was on hand the other night to screen the movie Everyday Sunshine and play some tunes. It was a celebration of the life of former band member Curtis Story and perhaps prepare the public for a new form of the Fishbone band.

2017 Donna Balancia

Angelo Moore and the Missing Links – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

New Bands

Splinter bands Norwood and The Familyhood Nextperience, and Angelo Moore and The Missing Links performed in honor and celebration of the life of ex-band member Curtis Story.

One of the big punk influences that emerged in that era was Fishbone, which featured one of the largest bands in memory. Anyone who has been to a Fishbone show knows it’s pure calamity, with stage diving, crowd surfing and great, upbeat ska-punk jazzy sound.

Angelo Moore and his theremin – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Beyond Baroque

In celebrating the “40 years of Punk” series, Fishbone members appeared at Beyond Baroque for a screening of the movie Everyday Sunshine. The film tells the story of Fishbone and how the band got its start, influenced by changing times in Los Angeles.

The band’s unique black-as-punk experience that started in the valley was the birth of a new sound.  At a time when Joey Ramone and the Sex Pistols took the East Coast by storm, Fishbone was one of the West Coast pioneers with its impressive perspective of punk from the multicultural view.

Flyin’ Jay Armant known for his stage diving and his horn – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Changes for Fishbone

But changes are afoot. In the movie Fishbone is depicted as the hot hit band that it is, but struggles are continual, many in part due to a changing record industry.  The loss of certain members has impacted the band greatly.

Norwood Fisher said a blood clot traveled up to Story’s brain from his leg and while he was ambulatory, he was never the same.

The Missing Links – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Party at Ground Zero

Fishbone is evolving yet again as the band members are doing their own thing. It’s not necessarily the end of the band, but the band may not present the way it has throughout its history.

The two new bands are entertaining as Angelo and his group scat it up with cool rythms and a fun front woman.  As for Fisher, he plugs along with projects and his music. He is hopeful Fishbone can keep on going. Judging by the sounds emanating from the Beyond Baroque it’s a good bet Fishbone will continue to “Party at Ground Zero.”

Angelo Moore with Tequila Mockingbird – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

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

California Rocker Wins Three Awards at 2016 NAEJ


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


HOLLYWOOD –, 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, 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 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

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


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.

“ 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

California Rocker Names Top Shows of the Quarter: Pandoras, Marley, Hearts

Veterans and Young Performers Whose Recent Shows Brought Out The Best

By DONNA BALANCIA – There’s so much to do in Los Angeles – let alone the state of California –  no one person can possibly see every great band or memorable performance.

California Rocker has hand-selected some solid performances of the last four-to five months (a fiscal quarter give or take a month) that may possibly have flown under the radar.  The talent didn’t escape us.


The Pandoras and the Woggles

Photo © Donna Balancia

Kim Shattuck – Photo © Donna Balancia

THE SATELLITE — The Pandoras have undergone a host of band member changes but the current lineup is tops in our books.  Kim Shattuck has got what it takes as a powerful and compelling front gal; she’s had a lot of experience having played in a host of great bands including the Muffs.

In theory, girl bands shouldn’t be differentiated from guy bands — or mixed gender bands — but they are, let’s face it.  We don’t know when it became a crime to use your good looks to help propel the music.  But in an effort not to be sexist let’s just say it’s an attractive group of fun people who play some great tunes. Women or not these are true musicians who have a natural affinity for one another and a love of the performance. (See the Pandoras’ Facebook page)

The Woggles have been around for years, but it’s amazing how they never fail to delight the audience.  Tamborine-banging perpetually tow-headed front man Buzz Hagstrom leaps to the highest heights and drops to the lowest lows in his performance.  Physically. It’s hard to keep your eyes off these guys and even the squarest of square can’t help but groove to the beat. Learn more about The Woggles at their page.

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Tommy Keene and Eyelids

Tommy Keene - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Tommy Keene – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

THE SATELLITE — Tommy Keene is a perpetual favorite and has amassed an impressive collection of fans who have remained faithful through the years. He’s a perfectionist with some great upbeat powerpop tunes that get you grooving.  His latest album is a great listen with some high energy hits done in great Tommy Keene style. See Tommy Keene’s website

Not to be outshone in the same night at the Satellite were The Eyelids whose avant garde but extremely melodic songs knocked out the crowd.  Onstage antics, like flying hair and guitars on the ground keep things interesting.  Can’t say enough good things about Eyelids.

The Eyelids are John Moen Chris Slusarenko, Jonathan Drews, Jim Talstra and Paul Pulvirenti. They really pack a punch as their lively show is full of surprises! See Eyelids website.

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The Flamin Groovies and The Zeros

Flamin Groovies © 2016 Donna Balancia

Flamin’ Groovies © 2016 Donna Balancia

THE BOOTLEG — The Flamin Groovies are an example of longevity and success. Cyril Jordan Chris Wilson George Alexander Victor Penalosa put on a show that’s fun and uplifting in purely American fashion.

(See the Flamin Groovies Facebook Page)

They’ve toured the world since the 1960s in one iteration or another, but they are all-USA in their approach.  The Flamin Groovies have had their share of hits, notably Shake Some Action and they’re still going strong.

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Daniel Bambaata Marley and Fishbone

Daniel Bambaata Marley - Photo © Donna Balancia

Daniel Bambaata Marley – Photo © Donna Balancia

THE ROXY — Daniel Bambaata Marley has more going on than being the grandson of Bob Marley. He is a musical talent with wit and — despite his young years — he shows a good deal of wisdom. A singer-songwriter, Marley has a range of topics he covers in his music and he takes us with him through his life’s journey. (See Marley’s Facebook page)

At the Roxy, warming up for Fishbone, he showed a mixed-age audience his musical capabilities and the crowd reveled in the experience.

See our Fishbone coverage in the story ‘Fishbone Takes Stage Diving to New Levels.’

Marley has the lineage as the grandson of Bob Marley and the son of Ziggy — but he is carving out a style all his own.  Marley marries the enthusiasm of hip hop with reggae and the results are compelling.  He’s got the right stuff and We expect more to come from this young talent.

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 Space Cream

Space Cream - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Space Cream – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

THE VIPER ROOM — With a voice like a rock n roll angel, Savannah Pope of Space Cream belts it out like few others can. Pope has a flair for the theatrics and puts all her passion into the songwriting and the show. Space Cream marries rock and roll and glam, but adds a Gaga-esque front woman who can actually write interesting songs. Pope is surrounded by top musicians –Dizzy Joan on guitar, Saul Slotnick on bass and Zak Ryan on drums — and has a new album, Pterodactyl Sky (see their website). We’re not alone in our fandom for this band: SpaceCream won the gold medal at 2014’s LA Battle for Vans Warped Tour at House of Blues Sunset.


Turbulent Hearts and Barb Wire Dolls

Turbulent Hearts by Donna Balancia

Suzy Moon of Turbulent Hearts – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

THE WHISKY A GO GO — Turbulent Hearts is one of the best up-and-coming bands in the L.A. area and you can expect a lot out of this group. Suzi Moon, Mark Johnson and Jay Skowronek put on a wild show and bring back the excitement of a true frontwoman-led punk band reminicent of the 80s.  Suzy Moon will go to great lengths to get a reaction out of her audience and the crowd swoons over her looks and talent.  Turbulent Hearts (see their website) has a new album out, check out their Facebook page.

The Barb Wire Dolls (see their Facebook page) has a solid gig with Whisky as the house band, but is taking a break in their native Greece.  Must be nice. Comprised of Krash Doll, Isis Queen Doll, Pyn Doll and newest member JJ Doll, the band is expected to return in October.


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Fishbone Takes Stage Diving to New Levels as Angelo Moore and ‘Soldiers’ Take Over The Roxy

crowdsurfer-launch-fishbone-wtmkL balancia

Flyin’ Jay Armant jumps into the crowd at the Fishbone show at The Roxy – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Fishbone : ‘More Fun Than Mario Bros’

By DONNA BALANCIA – It used to be called “audience participation,” then it was “user response” and now in technology circles it’s called “interactivity.” Whatever it’s called, Fishbone did it first and has been doing it better than anyone else since 1979.

Fishbone was “interactive” even before most computer games, maybe with the exception of “Pong.”  And while seeing Fishbone live may be a lot like playing Mario Brothers, there’s infinitely more bang for the buck with the band.

Complete with trademark ska-punk antics, stage diving and crowd surfing, and Moog synthesizing a la “Forbidden Planet,” the Fishbone crew held a packed house captivated for several mind-boggling hours at The Roxy Theatre the other night.

Dynamic, derby-sporting Angelo Moore has been in the spotlight recently, performing in a newly announced band called Project N-Fidelikah.  It’s comprised of Angelo, George Lynch of Dokken, drummer Chris Moore, and War bassist Pancho Tomaselli.  But, Fishbone, the band he co-founded with Norwood Fisher, is quite alive and doing a lot more than just kicking.

crowdsurfer-legs-fishbone-wtmkLSeeing how Angelo and the guys care so much about the audience is immensely inspiring to Fishbone veterans and new fans alike.

Fans came from near and far to check out the late-1970s’ innovator of the punk-ska genre, and the crowd was prepared for a night of dancing, diving and crowd-topping.

“I’m going up,” said college-aged concert-goer Abraham, who at Angelo’s prompt, hopped to the stage, got up a head of steam and leaped into the crowd. After being tossed around overhead like a pizza dough for a few minutes, the throngs spit him back out onto the stage.  He elatedly returned to his spot in the front.

But Abraham was one of many crowd surfers — following band members like “Flyin Jay” Armant — and Angelo himself — as well as older and younger people who all took the plunge. The stage-diving and crowd surfing has been going on for many years and is considered a part of the Fishbone brand.

Angelo-Moore-bw1-Theramin-wtmkrThe LA-born band has endured through evolving cultural and musical styles, amassing a strong following and one or two mainstream breakthroughs.  But it’s clear the success comes from the live show — and if one were to think it’s easy to put on such a physically demanding show all these years, think again.

Fishbone was founded by bassist Fisher and Angelo, and the band is comprised of “Dirty” Walter Kibby, who plays trumpet and sings; John Steward on drums; Rocky George on guitar; Flyin Jay on trombone; and Paul Hampton on keyboards.

And it’s apparent these guys wouldn’t ask their audience to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. To see Flyin Jay leap into the crowd to be passed around the room by laughing fans is a thing of beauty and restores our faith in what attending a concert — of any kind —  is all about.

There’s a comeraderie that comes with being together over the ages and each Fishbone band member has a distinctive character and a different voice, in addition to having great mastery of a different instrument.

FISHBONE 1-drummer -wtmkLThey guys even take questions from the audience — OK, they may not respond politely — but they do respond, like they did to the girl who asked “Where’d you go to high school?”

Kibby, with an ever-present beer in hand, said something that had to do with ‘your mother’ but the girl was far from offended.

But most impressive is the remarkable and inexhaustable talent of frontman Angelo with his outrageously insane on-stage maneuvers that range from the James Brown splits to the upside-down legs-in-the-air, fully inverted crowd surfing.

He plays the guitar, he sings, he plays the tuba, and has evolved into a master of the eerie-sounding theremin, which adds to Fishbone’s kooky appeal amid all the insanity.

The band plays all the favorites — starting the evening with their famous cover of “Freddie’s Dead” and wrapping with “Party at Ground Zero.”  The music is classic and the show’s oddly divine.

Fishbone remains arguably the most influential band of the punk-ska genre to this day, and is one of the most underrated rock n roll bands in history.  And they’re more fun than Mario Brothers.

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Living Colour Gives Wild Performance On Aerosmith’s U.S. Blue Army Tour

Living Colour Brings Energy and Alternative Funk to the HOB

Corey Glover of Living Colour - Photo © Donna B

Corey Glover of Living Colour – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — Living Colour packed the House of Blues Anaheim with their funky, punk-influenced music and wild performance, a hint of what to expect on their tour with Aerosmith.

The Blue Army Tour just wrapped.

“We wouldn’t miss their show,” said Molly, with her boyfriend Joe, regulars at the Living Colour shows since the 1980s.  And after seeing the concert Thursday, we see there’s a good reason for Molly’s many years of devotion.

To put it mildly, Living Colour kicked ass, with lead guitarist Vernon Reid jamming, Corey Glover singing his heart out, Doug Wimbish killin’ it on a wild bass, and Will Calhoun driving the jams on drums. Living Colour will be on the road in a supporting role with Aerosmith’s Blue Army Tour.

Living Color hasn’t lost a beat since the heydays of the 1980s and kept up with the HOB audience, which sang along word for word with each song.

Doug Wimbish of Living Colour - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Doug Wimbish of Living Colour – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The band, which falls into the rare niche category of “black men who perform funky-punk-alternative” gave a performance in Anaheim that will long be remembered by the 16-to-60s on hand.  For those who’ve seen Living Colour at CBGB or the Ritz in the day, they’ll remember the bandmembers were  known for their ability to whip up the audience with funky tunes while also whipping their dreadlocks.

Glover’s commanding voice, one of the best around, pulls all the emotion out of some of the multiple GRAMMY Award-winning band’s top tunes, including opener “Who Shot Ya,” “Cult of Personality,” “Desperate People,” and “Middle Man.”

Glover moves pretty well — and in fact climbed through the audience and to the upper decks — singing the whole way, bodyguard in tow.  His trademark dreads are gone and have been replace by a cap, but his remarkable voice remains stronger than ever.

The band’s founder, Reid, is one of the most diverse guitarists around, ripping riffs that blew the audience away.  It’s incredible the rig he travels with — any visitor checking out the equipment should have a degree in sound engineering to follow his work.  For such a sophisticated technologist, he’s  understated, making it look easy and smiling through the performance as the audience got down with the sound. He’s got Pedals ranging from Whammy and Ring Worm to the old-fashioned Synth Wah and the gamut.  Premier Guitar does a nice job chatting him up about his equipment HERE.

Corey Glover - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Corey Glover – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Calhoun’s drumming keeps things moving nicely and his solos were greeted with screams and whooping from the packed Anaheim venue.  Bassist Wimbish has brought a new dimension to the band that’s reminicent of the Bad Brains in style, throwing the audience back with his powerful bass lines, flailing arms and cool moves.

At show’s end, Glover gave props and sent regards to his friends Fishbone and Bad Brains, as both bands had a huge impact on Living Colour’s music and style.

The tour happens now and those who live in the area who are fortunate to catch a glimpse of Living Colour will have a memorable experience. Living Colour and Aerosmith can be seen at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC on Monday night, the tour moves on to Las Vegas Aug. 1 and wraps up at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 7.

Vernon Reid, left, with Corey Glover - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Vernon Reid, left, with Corey Glover – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

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