California Rocker

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Gary Calamar Takes Us on a Nostalgic Tour of His Own LA With New Singles ‘Little Tokyo,’ ‘Prince of Pico Blvd’

By DONNA BALANCIA

Gary Calamar is a multi-tasking musician. He’s a popular DJ on KCRW, and by day he’s a GRAMMY-nominated music supervisor on successful film and TV projects.

Gary also hosts the monthly Mimosa Music Series at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood. But through it all, he keeps on writing.

Gary Calamar photo courtesy KCRW

Gary Calamar is a shining light to pop songwriters – Photo courtesy KCRW

 

From Yonkers to LA

Gary just released two singles, one called “Little Tokyo,” and on the flip side “The Prince of Pico Boulevard.”  They’re fun and they capture the subjects lovingly.

“My daughter, Zoe, has been asking me to check out Little Tokyo,” Calamar told CaliforniaRocker.com. “I’m a fan of Little Tokyo through her.”

Gary’s originally from Yonkers, N.Y., but over the years has come to adopt Los Angeles as home. It’s where he settled with his family, and his surroundings and his family are the inspiration for his work.

 

 

The Day Job

The low-key, white-haired but youthful music enthusiast is smart enough to know that even at his stage of the game — with five GRAMMY nominations under his belt and a great career in music — he can’t quit his day job.  And as music supervisor on some of the most interesting TV shows and productions, who would want to?

Gary is president of Go Music and he has received five Grammy nominations as producer and music supervisor for his work on HBO’s Six Feet Under and True Blood. He’s overseeing Man In The High Castle, Wayward Pines and Good Girls Revolt right now.

It was his work on True Blood that convinced him he’s heading in the direction with songwriting.

“I was working with Bethany Cosentino and Iggy Pop on a song called ‘Let’s Boot and Rally’ for True Blood and Iggy told me I should continue on with songwriting,” Calamar recalled. “So I’m going to continue on.”

A few years later, his 15-year-old daughter picked up where Iggy left off and had repeatedly expressed to Gary her deep desire to visit Little Tokyo.

Gary spins the discs for KCRW and is a music supervisor by day - Photo courtesy KCRW

Gary spins the discs for KCRW and is a music supervisor by day – Photo courtesy KCRW

 

Upbeat Tunes

“We finally got around to going to Little Tokyo,” Gary said. “Just everything in Little Tokyo is fun. It’s really colorful and and everybody was really nice. The costumes I saw in the stores and the Japanese pop music, there’s enough to write a song about.”

The result is an upbeat pop song about the two of them “hopping on the Kawasaki” and going to a vibrant part of town.

 

Gary: The Prince of Pico

As for his song “Prince of Pico Boulevard,” Gary said he was inspired to write the song by some of the great personalities of the day.

“I grew up in the time when there were a lot of cool DJ names, like in New York we had Cousin Brucie, and KCRW is on Pico Boulevard, so I came up with this fun mock title for myself, which I never used on the radio. But it sort of evolved from there. I used my imagination. And if you listen to the song, you can tell it’s inspired by Lou Reed and Velvet Underground.”

It’s Gary’s love for Los Angeles got him going in his recent direction, along with some prodding by his daughter.

 

‘Perfect Version of Me’

“It’s a double-A side single,” Calamar said. “I wanted to do songs about Los Angeles. The “Little Tokyo” song is a true story, about my daughter, Zoe, who’s 15. She wanted to go to Little Tokyo and I got inspired.”

The songs are produced by John Would, who Calamar says has a great studio in Echo Park. He’s a multi-instrumentalist and he’s Calamar’s producer.

“Instrumentally, he’s a great musician,” Gary said. “So as we’re going he might try a guitar riff that we’ll use. He produces, mixes and engineers.”

The “Prince of Pico” moniker is more about Gary’s goals from childhood than his adulthood at the radio station and behind the controls.

“It’s about a perfect version of me,” he said.

“I drive a Plymouth Barracuda and travel on the highest roads
I’m the irridescent knight who will break up the fight
Diffuse the bomb before it explodes
And they call me the Prince of Pico Boulevard

“Well I came from boogie downtown and made my way west to the coast
I could tell you some stories of past glories but I don’t like to boast
And though I got some holes in my well-worn kicks I will always give you a buck
I’m the local beautifier I’ll put out the fire in a sticky situation I’ll help you get unstuck “

Gary is no stranger to recording. He released an EP prior to this, called You Are What You Listen To, a six-song collection produced by Would. His songs are catchy and he blends irony with wit and makes it appealing and not preachy. One of our earlier favorites is “Looking For a Job.” 

Gary Calamar California Rocker

One of Gary’s earlier works, ‘Looking for a Job’

 

Mimosa Music Sundays

Gary’s monthly Mimosa Music Series brings in musicians — some well-known and others not as well-known — to do what everyone likes best: Play music.

“We used to do them out of my house. We’ve had Donavan, Roseanne Cash, John Doe, John Hyatt, and it just got too big for the house. We moved it to the Federal Bar.”  The next Mimosa Music get together is next week.

Check out Mimosa Music Series on Facebook

Check out Gary’s music on iTunes

Gary said he’s inspired by those who have stuck with it.

“Beck was playing little tiny clubs,” Calamar said. “He was playing little clubs as a  scruffy guy and he’s done very well for himself. He’s risen from nothing to go on and win a GRAMMY.”

Gary said in the music business, dedication pays off.

“It’s not easy today,” he said. “Follow your muse and your dreams and do what satisfies you, and hopefully you will make it pay off. Have a backup plan and continue to write.”

Ryan Adams Waxes Romantic on ‘Prisoner,’ Announces Tour Dates, and Performs LA Shows

In-Store Appearance at Amoeba Records Packs Aisles

By DONNA BALANCIA

Ryan Adams has created a great new record with Prisoner and it’s appropriate that he hit the stage at Amoeba Records, the iconic bastion of vinyl and discs on Hollywood Boulevard.

Ryan Adams emerged all cloaked up at one of his recent appearances, at Amoeba Records - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Ryan Adams emerged all cloaked up at one of his recent appearances, at Amoeba Records – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The new album is a beautiful work from a local guy who people clearly adore, judging by the hundreds of fans who bought up the new recording and came to get a glimpse on Wednesday evening. He hit the local and national circuit, performing at KCRW, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Amoeba Records, and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Ryan Adams’ Pop Influences

‘Prisoner’ is an appealing collection from the musician-producer-performer, whose work has come to be known as nearly flawless, if not unusual, throughout his career.  While Taylor Swift writes great, catchy music, Adams’ take on Taylor was too much. So it’s with a great amount of relief that Prisoner was all original and his favorite musical influences — like Bruce Springsteen — are emulated and not covered.

The new Ryan Adams album, 'Prisoner,' honors some of the great songwriters - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The new Ryan Adams album, ‘Prisoner,’ honors some of the great songwriters – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

“To Be Without You” has the feel of a country road, riding in a pickup with Neil Young. It’s reminiscent of the days gone by and better times with the one you love.

'Prisoner' is Ryan Adams' latest, good listen - Photo courtesy of PAX AM

‘Prisoner’ is Ryan Adams’ latest, good listen – Photo courtesy of PAX AM

Springsteen’s influence can clearly be heard on “Shiver and Shake,” down to not only the tone but the song’s structure. It’s loneliness pure and raw.

The album’s title single, “Prisoner,” is our personal favorite, but from a pop culture point of view “Do You Still Love Me?” has resilience and an upbeat tone even though it probably concerns his recent divorce from Mandy Moore.

This collection is a little different.  The songs come from a more “mature” Adams, who has been around the horn, so to speak, when it comes to relationships, family and friends.

 

 

Amoeba Records filled with Ryan Adams fans - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Amoeba Records filled with Ryan Adams fans – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Ryan Adams at Amoeba - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Ryan Adams at Amoeba – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Ryan Adams Tour Dates

March 5, 6 – Richmond, VA @ The National
March 8 – Columbia, SC @ Township Auditorium
March 9 – Charleston, SC @ North Charleston Performing Arts Center
March 10 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ The Parker Playhouse
March 12 – Tampa, FL @ Gasparilla Music Festival
March 14 – New Orleans, LA @ Orpheum Theater
May 3 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
May 7 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
May 9 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
May 10 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
May 12 – Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion
May 14 – Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Music Festival
June 1 – Santa Barbara, CA @ The Granada Theatre
June 2 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre
June 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre
June 18 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Eccles Theater
June 20 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 22 – Calgary, AB @ Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
June 23 – Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
June 25 – Victoria, BC @ Alix Goolden Hall
June 27 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum
June 28 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
June 29 – Troutdale, OR @ Edgefield
July 29 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre
July 30 – Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theatre
August 1 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
August 4 – St. Charles, IA @ Hinterland Festival

Ryan Adams at Amoeba - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Ryan Adams at Amoeba – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

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