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PHOTOS: An Evening With the Photographic Greats Richard Young and Chris Cuffaro in West Hollywood


They have captured greatness, these rock photographers, but tonight Richard Young and Chris Cuffaro were the center of attention. Young’s show, “Rebels” was held at the Leica Store in LA and Cuffaro held an exhibit at Gibson’s Tower Records.

© Donna Balancia

From Rebels to Greatest Hits

Ranging from Marvin Gaye to The Sex Pistols, Young’s exhibit showed the inner rebellious spirit of the musicians he shot primarily in the early 1980s.  It was a time of transition for many with music moving into the disco era, as his photographs — taken in the dance clubs of New York City  and beyond showed.

As for Cuffaro, whose event was punctuated with performances by emerging bands and appearances by other photographers notably Henry Diltz, the 1990s was his heyday. In addition to Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and NXS, Cuffaro captured a range of artists whose legacies continue on.

Sweet Relief was supporting and President Bill Bennett and Executive Director Rob Max were on hand.

For more information on Richard Young, check out his page.  Chris Cuffaro has a website where all his work is displayed as well.

© Donna Balancia


© Donna Balancia


© Donna Balancia


© Donna Balancia


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© Donna Balancia


© Donna Balancia


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© Donna Balancia

Guns N Roses Makes it Through The ‘Suprise’ Troubadour Show – Now On With the Tour

Guns N Roses reunion tour launched at the Troubadour - Screengrab courtesy Ross The Bassist

Guns N Roses reunion tour launched at The Troubadour – Screengrab courtesy Ross The Bassist

By JOHN DALY – Guns N Roses kicked off their “Not In This Lifetime” reunion tour with a rockin’ show at The Troubadour, the place where it all began.

Guns N Roses will play 24 cities over four months for a tour dubbed the “Not In This Lifetime” tour — mainly because it was believed the band would never get together again — Guns N Roses had barely  endured many rifts all along.

Tickets and Tour information are available here.

But diehard fans — who have been “bandless” since 1993 when GNR broke up — finally got a chance to see the group together.  Well almost.

GNR was missing a few players, notably Izzy Stradlin and Steve Adler, but it didn’t seem to make a a lot difference to fans who sardine-packed West Hollywood’s Troubadour, the place where the guys got their first break so long ago.

GNR Donna Balancia

The “Not In This Lifetime” Tour

Those who attended said the show was an amazing feat, just the fact that Axl and Slash were back together again was good enough for most.  Axl may look a little heavier and his trademark long red locks are gone, but he still has the vocal power as evidenced by the videos posted.

There’s plenty of opportunity to see Guns N Roses on their upcoming tour.  The band stops in 20 cities over the next two months and there’s plenty of merch to go around.

Gibson Brands Tower Records

While it may have been “once-in-a-lifetime experience” even to stand in line at Gibson Brand’s Tower Records on Sunset to try your hand at getting a ticket, it was a relatively joyless experience for most, except for a limited few.

Those who put in the efforts, getting to the Gibson Brands Tower Records building by midnight or earlier the night before and staying overnight til 10 am the next morning, were rewarded with a place in the audience at the Troubadour. But for every person who did get in, there were at least nine who did not, according to rough calculations on the scene among those waiting in line.

Carla gets her Guns N Roses ticket - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Carla, finally gets her Guns N Roses ticket – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“The line is up the hill and almost around the block, I just don’t think I’m going to get in,” said John Blalock, who was about halfway up Horn Ave.  “I really wanted to go but found out too late.”

Carla, though, who arrived the night before to wait in line, was one of the lucky ones — she was admitted to buy the sought-after green wristband that would lead to a ticket to the show.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “This is unbelievable!  I can’t believe it!  I’ve been a fan since the beginning,” she said.  Her friend echoed the sentiment. “She can’t believe she’s really going and either do I!”

After the tickets were sold out — word of which took about 30 minutes to reach the end of the line up Horn Ave. — about half of the estimated 1200 or so people in line dispersed.  Others remained to buy commemorative merch. But as promised, free food was on hand provided by Dogtown Dogs and Border Grill.

Fans including Paul, Agatha and Andrew (c) said it was worth a try to wait in line to see Guns N Roses - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Fans including Paul, Agatha and Andrew (c) said it was worth a try to wait in line to see Guns N Roses – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

It was a challenge to even buy a T-shirt or a poster in the parking lot, the crowds were four and five-people deep surrounding the merch tent set up in the Gibson Brand’s Tower Records parking lot.  Free food on hand, provided by Dogtown Dogs and Border Grill made the bad news more tolerable.

Fans had been kicked to the curb but got satisfaction April 1 when their broken hearts were mended. Since Guns N Roses broke up in 1993, not much had been heard about the band, though Slash has been active, playing gigs around Los Angeles.

But not all the fans who were ready to go to the show were so optimistic.

“I’ll believe it when I see it tonight,” said Eddie, who was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Troubadour. “Axl tends to walk off stage when he’s pissed so we’ll see how much of tonight — or the rest of the tour — he can put up with.”


Video courtesy of Ross the bassist:

Robby Krieger Jams with Los Lobos as Partygoers and Pals Celebrate The 2016 Lines of Gibson Guitar

Robby Krieger Performs with Los Lobos - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Robby Krieger jumps on stage with Los Lobos – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Music greats, friends and Halloween partygoers jammed into Gibson Guitar’s Beverly Hills showroom for a party to celebrate the company’s 2016 guitars.

The Doors’ Robby Krieger joined Los Lobos on stage to perform for several hundred people who crammed into the swanky Gibson Guitar offices near city hall for a celebration of the 2016 guitars.

“We’re very happy with the developments in both the hard bodies and the hollow body products this year,” said Dave Winters, general manager of Gibson Memphis. “We advance with technological innovation but we’re known for our tradition, first and foremost.”

Brian Ray, Peter Leinheiser and Dave Amato - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Brian Ray, Peter Leinheiser and Dave Amato – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

In an intimate setting, music stars, friends and fans shared conversation, food, drinks and laughs, and heard some rockin’ tunes from East L.A.-raised Los Lobos.

Los Lobos has released a new album, Gates of Gold, and is touring with stops in Henderson, Nev., San Francisco at the Fillmore, and Chicago.

Among the guests were Brian Ray of Paul McCartney’s band, also a longtime musician with Etta James; author and photographer Robert Landau, whose latest work is Rock N Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip; his nephew Josh Landau, frontman for The Shrine; and Dave Amato, lead guitarist for REO Speedwagon.

Lisa Loeb with Gibson guys - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Lisa Loeb with Gibson guys – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Amato said he was stoked to be working with Gibson on a new signature model, but that’s all he would say.

“I’m having a great time with great people,” said Amato, a longtime friend of Gibson and host extraordinaire, Peter Leinheiser, Gibson’s entertainment relations honcho.


[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”25″ gal_title=”Gibson Guitars Los Lobos Robby Krieger”]


Gibson Hosts SXSW Premiere for Tower Records Documentary

Gibson To Host Tower Records Premiere Party at SXSW

Gibson To Host Tower Records Premiere Party at SXSW – photo courtesy of Kickstarter

By DAVE DALY — Gibson Brands hosted the SXSW world premiere party for All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records the documentary on the famous Tower Records chain. 

The Gibson Austin Showroom was transformed into a classic Tower Records store for the event on Monday night at 8 p.m.  It had listening kiosks, record racks with vintage vinyl, an in-store performance stage, and memorabilia provided by the Center for Sacramento History.

Gibson Brands recently acquired the historic Tower Records Sunset Strip location in Los Angeles. The company is in the process of a renovation to restore the space while paying tribute to the legendary music store.

The Tower Records store on Sunset Boulevard was considered the center of the Los Angeles music scene for decades. 

Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with 200 stores, in 30 countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a Sacramento drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry.

Many people took to YELP to express sadness over the company’s closing.

In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that’s not the story.

All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records is a feature documentary film examining this iconic company’s explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.

The film was directed by Colin Hanks, son of actor Tom Hanks. It was written by Steven Leckart and produced by Sean Stuart. The film raised $92,025 on Kickstarter, $42,025 more than its goal of $50,000.

All Things Must Pass  Screening Times and Locations:

Tuesday, March 17 at 11 a.m., Topfer Theatre at ZACH (World Premiere); Thursday, March 19 at  7:15 p.m.,  Alamo Slaughter;  Friday, March 20 at 8:45 p.m., Stateside Theatre

Gibson’s Other SXSW Events

gibson guitars for california rockerGibson is involved with a variety of events during SXSW including:

Rdio Sessions at the Gibson Showroom
March 17 through 19, 10 a.m. to  4 p.m. daily
As the exclusive music streaming partner of the Gibson Showroom at SXSW, Rdio will host a series of recording sessions with festival performers including Wolf Alice (U.K.), Andrew Combs (U.S.), Joywave (U.S.), Sheepdogs (Canada), Tei Shi (Argentina/U.S.), Silva (Brazil), Ryn Weaver (U.S.), and more. Recordings from the Rdio Sessions at the Gibson Showroom will be released exclusively on Rdio throughout 2015. Gibson will also be curating its own Rdio Station during SXSW with guest artist curators. The Gibson Rdio station will launch after SXSW.

GRAMMYPro Studio at the Gibson Showroom
March 20, noon to 6 p.m.
The Recording Academy will host live performances and in-depth interviews for Grammy members at the showroom.  YouTube Live will feature the live streamed content.

Gibson Brands Partnering with The dFm and Nylon Magazine @ W Hotel
March 19 and 20, 1 p.m., 3 p.m Brunch; 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Music Showcase
Intimate brunch and exclusive live performances at Austin’s W Hotel. Artists include
Tei Shei, Cody Simpson, Night Terrors of 1927 and more.

Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room
Throughout SXSW
Each year, the Gibson Room at 6th Street’s premier SXSW venue, Maggie Mae’s, is home to a variety of high profile events. For additional information, please visit  

Gibson Brands Listening Lounge
Throughout SXSW
Gibson will have a dedicated lounge in their showroom profiling their latest Pro Audio innovations.  Gibson Brand’s headphones, Bluetooth products, Cakewalk, TASCAM, Gibson cables and other quality products will be on display.

Gibson Memphis Sponsors Roky Erickson’s Ice Cream Social
March 20 at 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Threadgills South
Gibson is sponsoring Roky Erickson’s annual Ice Cream Social at Threadgill’s in the heart of Austin.  Erickson is known worldwide as a pioneer of psychedelic rock.  He will be presented with a Gibson ES 335 to honor his musical legacy.

Hetfield, Hagar Headline Benefit Show at Fillmore

hetfield hagar california rocker

Hetfield and Hagar benefit concert for pediatric cancer at fillmore west california rocker

SAN FRANCISCO — Metallica’s James Hetfield and Sammy Hagar will headline a benefit for Acoustic-4-A-Cure on May 15 at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

Performing at the first-year event are Heart’s Nancy Wilson, Billie Joe Amstrong, Joe Satriani and others.

Proceeds from the all-acoustic event will go to the Pediatric Cancer group at UC-San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Hagar said in a statement that he has seen first hand the work the group is doing and he and Hetfield were able to quickly recruit a strong lineup for the cause.

For more information and tickets click here 


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