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First Families of LA Music Play a Special Engagement as ‘The Lovable Mutts’ at Genghis Cohen

Don Was and Son Henry, Bob Thiele and Wife Amy, Give Classics New Sound


Bob Thiele said The Lovable Mutts have been around a while – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


It was a musical family affair as The Lovable Mutts took the stage at Genghis Cohen to wrap up 2016 in style. The ‘Mutts’ aren’t just musicians, they’re also parents.

The Lovable Mutts band consists of Dillon O’Brian on keyboards and vocals, husband-wife team Bob Thiele and Amy Kanter up front, Don Was and his drummer son, Henry, and the great Billy Watts on guitar.

Lovable Mutts: Musical Parents and Friends

Bob said The Lovable Mutts band was formed about 18 years ago when his son, Owen, was in elementary school.  As kids do, they’ve grown up now with some even going into the “family business.”


Don Was with son Henry who slayed on the skins at The Lovable Mutts gig – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Lovable Mutts performed interesting new arrangements of some golden oldies, some great originals and they even used psychedelic lights to impress an already impressive crowd of fans that included one or two true superstars.


Psychedelic lights were in order at Lovable Mutts gig – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Amy took on the front woman duties for the night, performing a range of songs. Her beautiful voice singing a sweet version of  “Tammy” — in honor of the late Debbie Reynolds who passed away last week — could bring even the toughest to tears. “The Soft Spot,” performed by O’Brian, “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” and “How I Got To Memphis,” were among the favorites of the night.


Billy Valentine and his wife visit with the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler and her husband – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

NEW VIDEO: Check out Billy Valentine and The Lovable Mutts performing “What a Wonderful World”

Billy Valentine, whose extraordinary voice is familiar to those fans of Sons of Anarchy, was on hand to sing a couple of tunes, including “What a Wonderful World.”  Billy is a favorite of the masses, working with The Forest Rangers, the Sons of Anarchy house band.  Billy told us he has a monthly gig at Herb Albert’s Vibrato Grill in Bel Air.

Watch Billy Valentine and The Forest Rangers sing “All Along The Watchtower” on the YouTube Channel.


Dillon O’Brian casts a light on the situation – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“What a Wonderful World” has a special place in Bob Thiele’s heart. He told the crowd his own father, the prolific producer, Bob Thiele, Sr., wrote the famous and emotional “What a Wonderful World,” (albeit under a pseudonym). He said had the deal on the song gone in a different direction, today he might be living luxuriously on a beach in another country instead of playing gigs around town.  But it is fortunate for everyone that Bob is hanging around.

See The White Buffalo and The Forest Rangers VIDEO from The Troubadour: “Come Join The Murder”

Bass player Was showed his fatherly pride as college-aged son Henry took impressive command of the skins. It was clear he’s proud not only of Henry, but his entire family; his beautiful wife, Gemma, a former A&R exec at Virgin Records, was taking photographs.  Drumming appears to run in the family as Henry’s brother, Tony, is drummer for Eve 6.  Don was awarded The Les Paul Award by the NAMM Foundation at last year’s NAMM show and even his own father was on hand for that major award.

Henry keeping the beat for the Lovable Mutts - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Henry keeping the beat for the Lovable Mutts – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

It’s a heady group with remarkable credentials.  Bob’s dad, Bob Theile Sr., was not only an arranghose coming to support the Lovable Mutts were The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, the talented blues singer Jodi Siegel, and up-and-comer Phoebe Bridgers.



Second Annual Ride For Ronnie Draws ‘United Nations’ of Bike Enthusiasts, Sons of Anarchy Stars

Sean McNabb and Gilby ride on - Photo © 2016 Jesse Silva

Sean McNabb and Gilby ride on – Photo © 2016 Jesse Silva

Emilio Rivera Joins Ride to Support Cancer Research

Photos © 2016 JESSE SILVA; Story by JOHN DALY

The second annual motorcycle ride and concert to benefit cancer research, Ride For Ronnie, drew devoted friends and fans of rocker Ronnie Dio to Los Encinos State park Sunday.

Among the hundreds on hand were celebrities and motorcycle enthusiasts who rode and attended a concert in the late heavy metal rocker’s name, put on by The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which benefits cancer research.

Sons of Anarchy actor Emilio Rivera and rockers Sean McNabb and Gilby Clarke were among the riders, who came together to raise money for cancer research in the name of Ronnie Dio.  Heavy metal rocker Dio fronted Rainbow, Elf, Heaven and Hell and Black Sabbath.

Sponsored by Harley Davidson of Glendale, a good group of celebs, rockers and regulars were on hand to pay tribute with a ride and concert. Rivera frequently rides for charity, see his charity ride here.

“If there was a United Nations of bikers we would totally be in,” said photographer Jesse Silva, who documented the event.

It is the second time the event was put on by The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which supports research and education that furthers early detection, prevention and treatment of prostate, colon and stomach cancer.

The charity says it has raised almost $1 million for research. The money has been been committed to the cancer research work of the T. J. Martell Foundation for Cancer, AIDS and Leukemia Research, the gastric cancer research unit of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where Ronnie was treated for gastric cancer during the last six months of his life, and other cancer research projects.

The Mayans return? Emilio Rivera and friends ride - Photo © 2016 Jesse Silva

The Mayans return? Emilio Rivera and friends ride – Photo © 2016 Jesse Silva

The Forest Rangers Take Audience Beyond Motorcycles

Billy Valentine and Forest Rangers by Donna Balancia

Billy Valentine and Forest Rangers rev up the audience – VIDEO HERE Photo and Videos by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA in WEST HOLLYWOOD — For a bunch of tough motorcycle guys, the Sons of Anarchy house band, the Forest Rangers, really know how to make some beautiful music.

And music that people from all walks of life who came to The Troubadour Sunday night really enjoyed.


Not only did the multitudes of Sons of Anarchy fans who were on hand enjoy the show — about 80 percent of the audience knew all the SOA characters by heart — but it was an exciting performance for those who don’t own a motorcycle or love the Sons crew.

“I’ve only watched about one episode of the show,” one concert-goer said. “But I know the music is amazing and the guys in the band are great.”

Franky Perez and the Forest Rangers photo and video by Donna Balancia

Franky Perez and the Forest Rangers – Photo and Video by Donna Balancia

The musical director for the record-breaking FX TV show, Bob Thiele, worked with his partners on Sons of Anarchy to create the Forest Rangers, comprised of some very talented musicians.


While Sons of Anarchy just concluded its 7-year run for FX, judging by the number of die-hard SOA fans on hand at the Troubadour Sunday night, the legacy will definitely live on.

Until the wildly anticipated and long-rumored “prequel” series hits the small screens, SOA fans will be able to live vicariously through the music.  And The Forest Rangers band has captured that audience — plus more.

The group gave a good idea as to what we can expect on its new album due in February: A mix of new songs and some well-loved and well-known tunes, including everything from crooning ballads to screaming funk by some heavy-hitter names.


Franky Perez sings This Life

Franky Perez listens as the audience sings #SOA theme song This Life – Photos and Videos by Donna Balancia

On Sunday night, Billy Valentine and Franky Perez shared lead singer duties at the Troubadour show, calling up soulful renditions of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” and new tunes including “Blue Angel,” that had the packed house jamming right along.

The band even awarded Bob Thiele a leather vest (?) with the name of the band emblazoned, along with signatures of the show’s cast and crew.

In the audience were some of SOA’s most beloved actors, including Emilio Rivera and Charlie Hunnam, who were swamped by screaming fans, mostly in their late-20s to mid-40s.

The Forest Rangers at The Troubadour

The Forest Rangers at The Troubadour – Photos and videos by Donna Balancia

Clearly the music on the hit show was one of the most attractive qualities of the production.  The other attractive qualities were all on hand — girls and guys — actors; fellow musicians, friends of the band, and longtime fans of the longest-running show on FX.

“We came to cheer them on,” said Tina, an actress on the show. “They’re doing a great job and we came to see them play.”


The Forest Rangers have what it takes to collect a wider audience than solely the fans of the TV show.  The appeal of the band is the diversity in the tunes, strong and unique performances of cover songs, and a great camaraderie that looks like it will last for the long run.

— Photos, videos and story by Donna Balancia

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