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Get Your Amoeba Music While You Can: Inevitable Closing of Hollywood’s Indie Icon on Horizon

Amoeba Music To Ride Off From Sunset

By JOHN DALY – Everyone is making a hoopla of Amoeba Music going away and we will miss the place, but when the owner sells to a multimillion-dollar developer what do you think happens?

Instead of lamenting the loss of an indie icon, customers should be cheering that the store is moving, after all, there are plenty of sales inside.

While Amoeba Music has hosted a variety of great musicians and has held super events over the years, there doesn’t appear to be a reason the recently-made-rich company won’t appear somewhere else.  According to reports, Amoeba Music was bought for $34 million and has been paying rent back to its landlord, GPI properties, since the deal closed one year ago.

In the meantime, we’re going to head over to the store and get the lowdown, and a few choice deals.

As for upcoming events, on Sept. 16, New Music Friday, Amoeba celebrates Mexican Independence Day with Mariachi Voz De America and students from the The Mariachi Conservatory in Boyle Heights. Also on Sept. House Shoes will spin the discs. On Saturday, Amoeba Music will host a sidewalk sale from noon to 4 p.m. and a BOGO Red Tag sale on Monday, Sept. 19.

For more information go to the Amoeba Music website.


Lemmy Statue to Be Unveiled at Rainbow Bar and Grill Public Celebration on August 24


The much anticipated memorial statue of rocker Lemmy, the Motorhead frontman, will be unveiled at the Rainbow Bar and Grill next month, it was announced.

The Rainbow made the announcement on its Instagram page, with a poster announcing a celebration for the iconic rocker.  The establishment was Lemmy’s favorite hangout.

The life-size bronze sculpture is the work of Travis Moore, who was commissioned to create the honorary figure after a kickstarter campaign started by Katon De Pena reached its $20,000 target for a total of $22,771.

Lemmy died last December.

The Rainbow will hold — what else — a celebration of the unveiling of the patio-bound statue on Aug. 24.  The party is open to the public.


Steel Panther Plays Three Fonda Dates in May, Tours Europe and U.S.

Starr: ‘We’ve Got a New Record and New Spandex!’

Steel Panther by Donna Balancia California Rocker

Steel Panther – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


Steel Panther says “Get ready to rock!”

Steel Panther, those big-haired metal comedians of Rock N Roll, will play The Fonda Theatre on May 4, May 11 and May 18.

The band’s regular home, House of Blues in Hollywood, may have shut down, but everyone’s favorite metal rock sendup is taking their big act on the road.

“We’re working on a fourth studio record now, and we’re playing a big European tour,” Michael Starr told  “We start recording at the end of May and hopefully the record will be out in October.”

If you’ve never seen a Steel Panther show, think of every metal show you know only add topless gals, big hair, off-color jokes, raucous humor and a lot of audience participation.

Steel Panther is coming to the Fonda Theatre in May - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Steel Panther is coming to the Fonda Theatre in May – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Sunset Strip staple will be taking its hilarious act to some of the biggest arenas in Europe.

“We’re going on a massive UK arena tour that also will include Australia Germany Sweden,” Starr said. “We flew to London to announce the tour and there was an overwhelming response. It’s great to be able to headline places like the Wembley Arena.”

Steel Panther will also bring its show around the US and will announce tour dates in May.

In the meantime, Starr is working hard to look good.

“I am really on a diet,” he said. I’m working out taking hikes and I am ready to rock — we’re all ready to rock.”

Michael Starr at Ultimate Jam Night - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Michael Starr at Ultimate Jam Night – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

No Idle Panthers Here

But the band hasn’t been sitting idle.  They’re continually refining their act and practicing music.

And Starr is a frequent guest at the popular Ultimate Jam Night at The Whisky A Go Go.

And when he’s there, Starr has been seen giving props and pats on the back to his fellow artists.

“Everyone’s trying, we’re all creative people and it’s very hard to sell your music and creations,” he said. “I like to give back.”

A Special Mothers Day

A stable family life is what underlies the joking and big hair, Starr said. He has been married for 15 years and has great kids (“all over the world!”)

And while he may tease women on stage,  Starr says his affection for one woman in particular is what keeps him going.  His role model for everything was his beloved mom, Carol, who passed away five months ago.

“I really got into this because my mom, Carol, always encouraged me and supported me,” Starr said. “She was an actress in the theater and I was always backstage watching the girls and having a great time. My mom loved everything about my act and she was very supportive. I always thanked her for the support she’s given me over the years.”

Michael Starr - Photo © Donna Balancia

Michael Starr – Photo © Donna Balancia

It’s All About The Crowds

Steel Panther had a regular gig at Hollywood’s House of Blues.  But as far as the theaters, how does the band adapt its show to different sized spaces?

“We were so used to playing in one place once we started touring we learn to adapt to all different venues,” he said. “For instance some places have a balcony some places don’t have a balcony. It’s not the theatre, it’s the crowd that dictates every show and we play off the crowd.

Starr said their routine isn’t exactly written out on paper.

“We don’t sit and write,” he said. “We tried it and it didn’t work.  For us we like things to be extemporaneous. Over the years we’ve developed stuff we know the people will laugh at. It’s a really real show and it’s spontaneous.”

And it’s also a little risque.

“If the girls don’t show their boobs it’s not a Steel Panther show,” he said.

Michael Starr ready to sport his Spandex - Photo Donna Balancia

Michael Starr ready to sport his Spandex – Photo Donna Balancia

What are some other new things in the act?

“I got some new Spandex pants I can’t wait to try out,” he said.  “That’s pretty awesome.”

And what is this successful musician’s advice to aspiring Panthers and musicians?

“If you’re a songwriter the best advice I can give is finish the song you’re writing,” he said. “Finish it. Don’t let up. If you’re in a band, never give up.

“And when all else fails, find a stripper to support you. That’s what we did.”

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:

EXCLUSIVE: Rainbow Bar and Grill Beloved Head Chef, Miguel Murillo, Dies

Miguel Murillo was proud of his role in the movie 'Up In Smoke'

Miguel Murillo was proud of his role in the movie ‘Up In Smoke’

By DONNA BALANCIA – Miguel Murillo, the head chef at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on the Sunset Strip passed away late Tuesday night from unknown causes.

“He was more than beloved, he was like a brother to me,” said Rainbow owner Michael Maglieri. “We’re devastated.”

Maglieri said around 4 p.m. Murillo was driving to the store when he experienced pain and pulled over and called for help. Paramedics brought him to the hospital and Maglieri received a call around midnight informing him his dear friend was gone.

Murillo, 66, leaves behind a wife and three sons.

“He was the heart and soul of the restaurant,” Maglieri said.  “He was the Number One chef.”

The restaurant closed the kitchen after Maglieri got the call. A worker at the Rainbow had informed patrons eating on the scene late Tuesday night.

“We’re all torn up and we’re closing now, our head chef has passed away,” a heartbroken server said to customers.

It has been a tough go for the staffers at the Rainbow as their favorite patron, the famous Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead passed away earlier this year also. A tribute service was held at the restaurant for Lemmy.

Murillo had been with the Rainbow since it opened.

IMG_5931Murillo is honored on the back of the famous Rainbow menu with the following story:

“The owners of the Rainbow Bar and Grill certainly well known for their good taste had been searching the gourmet capitals of the world for a chief chef that would equal their clientele’s culinary taste.

“Their search had been fruitless until one Sunday afternoon when they walked in the kitchen of the Rainbow to find Miguel. The busboy, standing over a hot stove. Practicing his epicurean feats on his day off.

“‘Let me taste what you are making,’ one of the owners asked politely. After savouring the morsel of food that Miguel had given him, the owners decided to spare no expense to import the services of Miguel … Miguel is loved by the owners, staff and patrons …”

Maglieri said no cause of death is yet known, but he believed Murillo had high blood pressure.

More information to come as it is available. ###



Dick Dale Rips Up The Crowd; Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why Swing from Rafters on New Year’s

Dick Dale performs on New Year's Eve as wife Lana Dale looks on - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Dick Dale performs on New Year’s Eve as wife Lana Dale looks on – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Dick Dale Hosts Modern Day Surfer Stomp

By DONNA BALANCIA – Dick Dale still gets the crowds swooning with his cool surf style, bringing a rockin’ show to the Sunset Strip on New Year’s Eve.

“This was the most fun I’ve had on a New Year’s Eve,” said concert-goer Kathy. “I came with my friends and my heart is beating to see Dick Dale.”


The mixed aged audience who came for the legendary Dale as well as opener Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why got their money’s worth on a chilly LA night to ring in 2016.

Se7en Reasons Why - Photo © 2016 Donna Balanci

Se7en Reasons Why – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Opener Scott, a veteran performer, kept the Whisky A Go Go audience engaged, doing everything from dropping to his knees to acrobatic kicks.  His band has got some chops with a unique grouping of drummer Anjilla Piazza, guitarist Jason Stalk and violinist Hiro Goto.

Scott is a local favorite who clearly is a showman, doing everything from high kicks to leaping up to the balcony at the Whisky, overcoming microphone problems and near-misses with audience members.

Dale’s physical appearance at 78 is remarkable and he has overcome many hurdles in his health, which he credits mainly to the love of his wife, Lana.

Dick Dale drumming on Sam's bass - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Dick Dale drumming on Sam’s bass – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

But the legendary Dale played some of the favorites, including “Let’s Go Trippin,'” and “Miserlou,” from Pulp Fiction.

He is at home on the stage, keeping company with Sam the bassist and Gary the drummer, and under the ever-watchful eye of his devoted wife, Lana Dale.

Still with the same sparkle and love of the performance, Dale kept the crowd hopping, tantalizing the veterans and younger people alike on a New Year’s Eve not to be beat.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”31″ gal_title=”Dick Dale NYE 2016″]

The Sun Sets on HOB Hollywood: Steel Panther Gives Sendoff to Club

Steel Panther Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Steel Panther plays the final night of HOB Sunset on Aug. 3 – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia for California Rocker

House of Blues Sunset to Shut Its Doors for Good, Steel Panther is Club’s Last  Act

Photos and Story By DONNA BALANCIA — Better get in your last licks before famous House of Blues Sunset closes its doors for good on August 3.

Steel Panther, the band that built a residency at the Sunset Strip club, plays the last night of HOB Sunset, for information see HOB website.

Steel Panther will continue its well-loved metal sendup act with its next announced gig at Rock Allegiance in Pennsylvania in October.

Recently, workers in all departments employed at HOB Sunset expressed dismay about the pending closure of the Sunset Strip concert venue.

“It’s terrible,” said Sandy who works as a ticket taker. “Everyone is depressed about what’s going on and people aren’t happy about finding another job.”

The collective mood of bartenders, security guards and waitresses was flat at best, as employees said they were either looking for work within parent company Live Nation or hit the unemployment line.

“I’m sad about this, it’s a landmark,” said John who works in security. “They said they’ve ‘lost their lease,’ but who really knows the truth.  All I know is that mentally, nobody is showing up.”

The Outre - Photo © Donna Balancia

The Foundation Room is where many aspiring musicians got their start – Pictured: The Outre – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“The last thing Sunset Strip needs is another condo development,” said Bobby who said he would be talking to his higher ups at the company for a job. “It’s terrible that they’re closing down, but I hear they’re looking for another location and they could be open before we know it.”

For people who have called the House of Blues Sunset home since the 1990s, the closure represents another piece of the Sunset Strip slipping away.

But the Los Angeles music scene is changing in many aspects and after reigning as the supreme place to make a name, the Sunset Strip may relinquish its title to downtown LA and Silverlake.

Stiff Little Fingers plays HOB Sunset on July 31, and one last Gospel Brunch is set for Sunday, Aug. 2

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