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‘Gimme Shelter,’ Book of Celebs and Four-Legged Pals, Benefits Pet Orphans Charity at ChristmasTime

Pet Orphans Adorable Photos to Adopt Out Animals


Suzanne Allison Witkin, accomplished rock photographer, lives a double-life as animal advocate and president of the charity Pet Orphans. In time for the holidays, she produced a gorgeous hardbound book of photographs of animals and their human owners called Gimme Shelter. California Rocker asked Suzanne the important questions.

California Rocker: How did you get the idea to take photos of pets to help them get adopted?  

Suzanne Allison Witkin: Four years ago I started volunteering at Pet Orphans of Southern California. I brought my camera and took a few photos and shared them on social media and noticed that it helped the dog or cat look better, healthier and made adopters get a real sense of what the animal was like. After I noticed what an improvement it was, I began taking all the dogs and cats’ photos for the website and from there I just kept adding more. Besides, I get such pleasure from it. 

Gimme Shelter Courtney Cox

Courtney Cox and her daughter Coco – Photo © Suzanne Allison Witkin

CR: When did you decide to do ‘Gimme Shelter,’ your great book of these photos?

SAW: I wanted to do a book before I started taking photos of shelter animals. a few years before I volunteered I had an idea for a coffee table book with celebrities and their pets. But didn’t actually do the book until after I started to volunteer at Pet Orphans and decided to add the rescue pets as well.

Want to Adopt a Pet? Check out Pet Orphans 

Suzanne Allison Witkin, her book and a friend - Photo for California Rocker

Suzanne Allison Witkin, her book and a friend – Photo for California Rocker

CR: What are some of the challenges in photographing pets in a studio setting?

SAW: Getting them to stay still in the right lighting. Outdoor photos are easier but I like the portrait look of the studio photos better sometimes. It captures every bit of detail. I sometimes need an assistant to help. And they get bored quickly as well. Gotta be fast and make really silly noises to get their attention.

CR: What was the funniest thing that ever happened on a shoot?

SAW: I got peed on. 

Marilyn Manson Gimme Shelter

Marilyn Manson and Lily White – Photo © Suzanne Allison Witkin

CR: What was the most amazing thing that ever happened on a shoot?

SAW: A scared and aggressive dog bonded with me. She was shaking so bad and hid but finally came out and smiled and gave me kisses

Johnny Depp Pet Orphans Gimme Shelter

Johnny Depp and painting by Johnny of his Dog Moo – Photo © Suzanne Allison Witkin

CR: Do the photos of the pets actually help them get adopted from Pet Orphans?

SAW: Yes, in fact, more rescues and shelters are trying to get better photos and videos of the animals at the shelters. Lot’s of adopters are afraid of the animal if they look sick, dirty or scary. Or they can’t tell what the animal looks like.

Check Out Pet Orphans’ Facebook Page for Cute Animals

CR: Who are the people behind Pet Orphans, board members of course, but who is the person who started it and why?

SAW: There were three women back in 1973 and one of the women found a dog by the freeway. After that, they started to rescue more and made their homes into a small rescue. A short time later, they raised enough money and wound up getting a facility donated to them. They started a 501c3 charity and 46 years later, Pet Orphans is still around and saving many lives. Sadly the last remaining co founder past away a little over a year ago. She took me under her wing and made I became president 2 1/2 years ago. We have five board members, some new, and some have been with Pet Orphans many years.  The three founders were Diane A. Scripps (1928 – 2015) Virginia M. Haley, and Lorraine Neikirk (1927 – 2002)

Gimme Shelter the book

Gimme Shelter the book is available for the holidays – Photo for

Pet Orphans is open Monday-Friday 12 PM to -4 PM and Saturday and Sunday 12 PM to 5 PM. The address for Pet Orphans is 7720 Gloria Avenue in Van Nuys. Call (818) 901-0190 or visit Pet Orphans online at or at  

To buy a copy of Gimme Shelter go to the Gimme Shelter Book website.

To support Pet Orphans or adopt a pet go here. 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

EXCLUSIVE: On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires: Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry on a Mission

The Hollywood Vampires Bring Rock ‘N’ Roll to the World


Johnny Depp about to take a bow following a Hollywood Vampires show. Fellow Vampire, Bruce Witkin, is to his left – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Witkin


HOLLYWOOD – Touring with The Hollywood Vampires — those legendary rockers Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and their pal Johnny Depp — is much more than merely playing concerts.

The tour gives people in Europe and the U.S. a chance to see musicians from an era that, like the vampire itself, is pure legend.

One would think all those egos couldn’t fit inside any of their many tour buses that hit the highways.

‘Regular Joe’ Vampires

Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

In reality, while like any vampire, these guys live for the night, they actually each have a down-to-earth persona when in their group travelling from city to city.  They’re professionals on a mission, devoted to each other and to their fans.

The Hollywood Vampires just wrapped up a European tour and now it’s on with the U.S. tour, to bring the famous rock show to people living in upstate New York to the West and everywhere in between.

Alice Cooper ‘School’s Out’

Alice Cooper takes center stage with the Hollywood Vampires - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Alice Cooper takes center stage with the Hollywood Vampires – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Music is a very personal experience for the fans and they love to see Alice, whose Billion Dollar Babies and School’s Out were among the top albums of all time.  It’s an opportunity for fans to see musicians who are not only legendary but brought a new type of Rock ‘N’ Roll to the world.

“They’re just as great today as ever,” ticketholder Bobby Smith of Northern California said.

“I’ve always wanted to see Alice Cooper and I’ll finally have the chance.”

From Guest to Collaborator

Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper with Bruce Witkin in background – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Smith isn’t alone.

Across Europe fans clamored around The Hollywood Vampires, hanging over the rail to hand them something to sign, to touch them, or just catch a glimpse of the rock idols.

The Hollywood Vampires came to know each other when Alice worked with Joe and Johnny. Alice had guest musicians on a record and the guys went from guest artists to collaborators. That’s usually the way it works, of course, but this is a supergroup of very large proportions.

Johnny Depp and The Kids

Longtime friends, Johnny Depp and Bruce Witkin - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison for California Rocker

Longtime friends, Johnny Depp and Bruce Witkin – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison for California Rocker

Johnny brings movie star fame to the show, but he started out in music before nailing the life-changing role on the 1980s TV hit show 21 Jump Street.

He’s built a successful film career that includes the “Pirates of The Carribbean” films. But Johnny’s first love was always music.

He was in a band called The Kids with fellow Vampire, Bruce Witkin.  I know because I was there — as Johnny’s friend and I ended up marrying Bruce.

The Hollywood Vampires Record

Bruce Witkin consults with Alice Cooper - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison for California Rocker

Bruce Witkin consults with Alice Cooper – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison for California Rocker

The Hollywood Vampires released the self-titled album and toured to promote it. The fans love the album and that’s something that makes the guys happy.

But for the guys it’s really about the fans. It’s amazing to see the reaction of the fans across the country when they see Alice Cooper or Joe Perry.

We take it for granted because we live in Los Angeles and we get to see the big names. But The Hollywood Vampires played county fairs and smaller venues where they brought the music to the masses. The fans are so excited to see these cherished Rock N Rollers in person because their music means so much to so many.

It’s music from an era that may or may not endure with the advent of EDM and computer generated sound dominating music creation today. What the Hollywood Vampires bring is a glimpse into the workings of the the guys who are the cornerstone of rock music.

Hangin’ With the Vampires


Johnny Depp wraps his arms around legendary musician Alice Cooper during a Hollywood Vampires show – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

And the Hollywood Vampires enjoy the interaction with the fans. They prefer playing the smaller venues — the smaller the better and that’s because it’s more intimate and they like the more personal performances.

With all these guys who have such a dynamic background and type A personalities when it comes to music, they all admire each other and it’s pretty rare.

That’s not to say each of The Hollywood Vampires don’t have their own individual quirks.

Junk Food Lover

Joe Perry made it a successful show every night - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Joe Perry made it a successful show every night – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

Alice Cooper is a an admitted junk-food lover and his favorite candy is Red Vines.  When he’s on his own tour, his wife and daughter are almost always with him and he tries to get in a few rounds of golf where he can.

Meanwhile, Joe would never touch a Red Vine – he’s the opposite – he’s health conscious about what he eats,  and he’s an avid sun worshipper. He brought along his wife Billie and they adore their pup, Bella. Joe takes such good care of himself.  He has a daily regimen, he watches his weight and he watches what he eats.

Focused But Relaxed

legendary-joe-perry-suzanne-allison-vampiresJohnny loves to read and practice guitar. Bruce is the musical director always trying to improve the show.

Tommy Henriksen is the one who makes everyone laugh, keeping the good feelings going, and Robert Deleo has some impressive dance moves. Matt Sorum, the drummer, was planning to bring his French Bulldog with him on the U.S. portion of the world tour, I know he spends lots of time with her.

But as much as these guys enjoy each other, they really love their audiences.

And to some people it may seem like this rag-tag band of ritzy rock stars are on the road to get their last licks, but that’s exactly why the tour is so important.

Representing An Era in Music

The Hollywood Vampires - Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

The Hollywood Vampires – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison

The Hollywood Vampires tour represents a rare opportunity to see our popular culture in action.  These musicians are treasured and they are loved by the fans overseas as well as in here in the U.S., where the music started.  It’s gratifying for the band.

The Hollywood Vampires bring these valuable musicians and their music out to a younger generation. The young people, so inundated with electronic music and digital production need to see and appreciate music made by the masters.


GRAMMYs 2016 – Dearly Departed Musicians Upstaged Those Still Here

Full List of Winners Here; Lady Gaga, Hollywood Vampires Mesmerize

Justin Bieber - Photo courtesy of CBS for

Justin Bieber – Photo courtesy of CBS for

By DONNA BALANCIA – It was a rough year for the music business and the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards reflected that, as dead musicians took the spotlight from today’s performers.

Lady Gaga honored David Bowie; Bonnie Raitt, Chris Stapleton and Gary Clarke Jr. performed in honor of BB King; and The Hollywood Vampires, alias Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, played in honor of Lemmy Kilmister.

As for the awards, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and even Justin Bieber got GRAMMY awards Monday night. And while many may have a hard time with Bieber, we have to admit he has a great voice and he does play guitar.

GRAMMYs: Rigged and Antiquated takes the position that the GRAMMY Awards event is a rigged and antiquated marketing function. The GRAMMY awards are highly irrelevant to 90 percent of aspiring musicians of today.  For established musicians, attending a GRAMMY Awards event and getting on national TV boosts recognition and sales.

Lady Gaga gave a fitting tribute to David Bowie during GRAMMY Awards - Photo courtesy CBS for

Lady Gaga gave a fitting tribute to David Bowie during GRAMMY Awards – Photo courtesy CBS for

But, big bucks are invested in the GRAMMY Awards. The annual event, and events like it, are important to musical instrument manufacturers who are having a very rough time getting young people to play traditional drums, keyboards and guitar.  The GRAMMYs can put a dream in a kid’s head, a guitar in his or her hands, and money into the empty coffers of today’s music schools.

So the industry props up Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and all the others, whether they have true talent or not, regardless if autotune is in their DNA, or whether they have truly “made it on their own” or not.

So congrats to the winners.

As for performances, a strong showing of the evening was that of The Hollywood Vampires, who busted their national TV cherry, putting on a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. This Sunset Strip supergroup is so appealing and influential it could possibly single-handedly keep rock and roll alive.

The music business owes a vote of thanks to Johnny Depp and The Hollywood Vamps who make Rock N Roll Cool - Photo courtesy CBS for

The music business owes a vote of thanks to Johnny Depp and The Hollywood Vamps who make Rock N Roll Cool – Photo courtesy CBS for covered Johnny Depp’s compelling performance with The New Basement Tapes at The Montalban Theatre; Alice Cooper is an all-time original, whose “School’s Out” was a national anthem, and Joe Perry is pure class. And if we’re going for full disclosure we’re biased because we’re fans of not only outstanding producer Bruce Witkin, who is the bassist in the band, but also his beautiful and creative family.

Gwen Stefani, formerly of The Voice, debuted her single “Make Me Like You” via a high-dollar, one-take, but ultimately cheesy Target ad. Her record bows March 18.

Foo Fighters Still Together?

Foo Fighters, whose existence is in question since their long email note to the fans a few months back indicating they would stop touring, lost out to Alabama Shakes in the best rock performance category. The “wrap it up music” cued not only Alabama Shakes, but others during their acceptance speeches.

Gwen Stefani's Target commercial hit the airwaves during the GRAMMY Awards - Photo © Donna Balancia

Gwen Stefani’s Target commercial hit the airwaves during the GRAMMY Awards – Photo © Donna Balancia

Adele, What Happened?

Adele, whose chart-topping album, 25, was a multimillion seller, had some challenges. She missed the high notes during her performance of “All I Ask,” and the best we can figure is she has the walking pneumonia that’s plagued everyone in LA recently. Extremely talented and appreciated, it wasn’t her night, but she can take comfort weeping into her millions. She blamed a microphone causing a clanging sound. Rihanna canceled her GRAMMY appearance because of that LA flu. Smart move.

For the people who were actually there, it was good to see those who had passed were honored by the likes of Gaga, and Jackson Browne and Joe Walsh.

Browne and Walsh led their version of “Take It Easy” in tribute to Glenn Frey who also passed away a few weeks ago. Gaga, who seems to be every old musician’s favorite pal — she is godmother to Elton John’s children and hangs with Tony Bennett — put on a ripping performance to honor David Bowie through the years.

The Hollywood Vampires - Photo courtesy of CBS for

The Hollywood Vampires – Photo courtesy of CBS for

Stevie Wonder led the the tribute to Lionel Richie singing “That’s The Way of The World;” his voice is still amazingly clear and he appeared in good nature.  He made a brief but poignant statement on helping to enable people with disabilities.

With fashion, short undergarments with draping skirts were the style of the night (for the gals) as many picked gowns with thigh-high slits or outfits that flashed short shorts. Wonder actually slayed in the fashion department too, wearing camouflage in introducing Song of the Year. For the men, the print shirts and black and white tuxedoes were the flavor this year.

Among those who received a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award was Run DMC. Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons, brother to Russell Simmons) with all his advice and words of wisdom said his story and music was always told from his heart.

Original Wrapper

East Coast Rocker readers remember the night Run DMC warmed up for Lou Reed during his Original Wrapper show at the Capitol Theatre in Pasaic, N.J. and they had a very rough time with the audience. The audience was having none of this rap warm-up band and was calling out “Lou! Lou!” and catcalling “Boo!” while Run DMC was performing and scratching. OK it was 1986.

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Mavis-Staples-Photo © Donna Balancia

Speaking of rap, Kendrick Lamar’s performances were spot on and interesting at least, if not costly — and hot! — with fire burning right in the middle of Staples Center.

And lest we forget, a special congrats goes out to the grande dame of rock music, Mavis Staples, who was awarded the American Roots Award.


Album of the Year – 1989, Taylor Swift

Song of the Year – “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge

Record of the Year  – “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Best Rap Album  – To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar

Best Country Album – Traveler, Chris Stapleton

Best Musical Theater Album – Hamilton

Best Rap Performance -“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap Song -“Alright,” Kendrick Lamar

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration -“These Walls,” Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat

Best Rock Performance -“Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Music Video -“Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar

Best New Artist -Meghan Trainor

Producer of the Year, Non-Classical – Jeff Bhasker

Best Country Song – “Girl Crush,” Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, and Liz Rose (Little Big Town)

Best Country Solo Performance  -“Traveller,” Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance – “Girl Crush,” Little Big Town

Best Pop Vocal Album – Taylor Swift, 1989

Best Pop Solo Performance  -“Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran

Best Rock Album – Drones, Muse

Best Alternative Album – Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes

Best Rock Performance – “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Rock Song – “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Best Metal Performance – “Cirice,” Ghost

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album – “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,” Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap

Best Traditional R&B Performance – “Little Ghetto Boy,” Lalah Hathaway

Best Dance/Electronic Album – Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü, Skrillex and Diplo

Best Dance Recording-“Where Are Ü Now,” Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber

Remixed Recording, Non-Classical-“Uptown Funk (Dave Audé Remix),” Dave Audé (Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars)

Best Urban Contemporary Album-Beauty Behind the Madness, the Weeknd

Best Comedy Album-Live at Madison Square Garden, Louis CK

Best R&B Album-Black Messiah, D’Angelo and the Vanguard

Best R&B Song-“Really Love,” D’Angelo and Kendra Foster

Best R&B Performance-“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey),” the Weeknd

Best Blues Album-Born to Play Guitar, Buddy Guy

Best Folk Album-Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Best Reggae Album-Strictly Roots, Morgan Heritage

Best New Age Album-“Grace,” Paul Avgerinos

Best Surround Sound Album-“Amused to Death,” James Guthrie and Joel Plante (Roger Waters)

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media-Birdman, Antonio Sanchez

Best Song Written for Visual Media-“Glory,” performed by Common and John Legend

Best Music Film-Amy, Amy Winehouse; Asif Kapadia, video director; James Gay-Rees, video producer

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media-Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Best Spoken Word Album-A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, Jimmy Carter

Contemporary Instrumental Album-“Sylva,” Snarky Puppy and Metropole Orkest

Best Improvised Jazz Solo-“Cherokee,” Christian McBride

Best Jazz Vocal Album-“For One to Love,” Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album-“Past Present,” John Scofield

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album-“The Thompson Fields,” Maria Schneider Orchestra

Best Children’s Album-“Home,” Tim Kubart

Best World Music Album-“Sings,” Angelique Kidjo

Best Regional Roots Music Album-“Go Go Juice,” Jon Cleary

Best Bluegrass Album-“The Muscle Shoals Recordings,” The Steeldrivers

Best Americana Album-“Something More Than Free,” Jason Isbell

Best American Roots Song-“24 Frames,” Jason Isbell

Best American Roots Performance-“See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” Mavis Staples

Best Latin Pop Album-“A Quien Quiera Escuchar (Deluxe Edition),” Ricky Martin

Best Tropical Latin Album-“Son De Panamá,” Rubén Blades with Roberto Delgado and Orchestra

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album-TIE: “Hasta la Raíz,” Natalia Lafourcade and “Dale,” Pitbull

Best Regional Mexican Music Album-“Realidades, Deluxe Edition,” Los Tigres Del Norte

Best Roots Gospel Album-“Still Rockin’ My Soul,” the Fairfield Four

Best Contemporary Christian Album-“This Is Not a Test,” Tobymac

Best Gospel Album-“Covered: Alive in Asia [Live] (Deluxe),” Israel & Newbreed

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song-“Holy Spirit,” Francesca Battistelli

Best Engineered Album, Classical-“Ask Your Mama,” Leslie Ann Jones, John Kilgore, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and Justin Merrill, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (George Manahan and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra)

Best Producer, Classical-Judith Sherman

Best Orchestral Performance-“Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow — Symphony No. 10,” Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Best Opera Recording-“Ravel: L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges; Shéhérazade,” Seiji Ozawa, conductor; Isabel Leonard; Dominic Fyfe, producer (Saito Kinen Orchestra; SKF Matsumoto Chorus and SKF Matsumoto Children’s Chorus)

Best Choral Performance-“Beethoven: Missa Solemnis,” Bernard Haitink, conductor; Peter Dijkstra, chorus master (Anton Barachovsky, Genia Kühmeier, Elisabeth Kulman, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, and Mark Padmore; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Chor Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance-“Brahms: The Piano Trios,” Tanja Tetzlaff, Christian Tetzlaff, and Lars Vogt

Best Classical Instrumental Solo-“Dutilleux: Violin Concerto, L’Arbre Des Songes,” Augustin Hadelich; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony)

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album-“Joyce & Tony — Live From Wigmore Hall,” Joyce DiDonato; Antonio Pappano, accompanist

Best Classical Compendium-“Paulus: Three Places of Enlightenment; Veil of Tears & Grand Concerto,” Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer

Best Contemporary Classical Composition-“Paulus: Prayers & Remembrances,” Stephen Paulus, composer (Eric Holtan, True Concord Voices, and Orchestra)

VIDEO: Johnny Depp, Gene Simmons, Gilby Clarke Play for Charity at Lucky Strike

Johnny Depp and Gene Simmons get down at Concert for Mending Kids - Photo © 2015 Melany Sirkedjian

Johnny Depp and Gene Simmons get down at Concert for Mending Kids – Photo © 2015 Melany Sirkedjian

With PHOTO GALLERY Story by DONNA BALANCIA and Photos by MELANY SIRKEDJIAN – HOLLYWOOD — Johnny Depp and Gene Simmons took to the stage at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood to jam for charity on Sunday night.

The two played “School’s Out,” “Deuce,” and “Rock And Roll All Night,” with Depp dressed in white shirt with vest and Simmons wearing a blue-and-skull collarless shirt.


Others joining the all-star jam were Extreme, which reunited for several songs at least, including their classic “More Than Words.”

During the evening, representatives of Mending Kids and human success stories resulting from the Mending Kids charity took the stage to talk about the importance of its mission.  Mending Kids is a group that performs reconstructive surgery on underpriviliged children around the world.


Johnny Depp - Photo © Melany Sirkedjian

Johnny Depp – Photo © Melany Sirkedjian

Leading up to Depp and Simmons who hit the stage as the last act of the night, there was plenty of entertainment.

Gilby Clarke was a fun master of ceremonies while anchoring the music for the evening. The night started off with a rousing rendition of “It’s Only Rock N Roll,” by The Rolling Stones and “Pump It Up,” by Elvis Costello.

Debby Holiday brought it, with her sassy version of the Rod Stewart and The Faces’ classic “Stay With Me.” Holiday was the surprise powerhouse of the evening.

The audience was a “Who’s Who” of Rock N Roll and celebrity with Christine Devine of Fox News; Ralph Saenz of Steel Panther; Danish Prince Mario-Max and the it couple Jo Hilton and Dr. McCoy Moretz.


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.


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