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Nile Rogers Keynotes SXSW Music Amid Diverse Musical Offerings from Peelander Z to Death Valley Girls

Peelander Z

Peelander Z – Photo by Craig Hammons

By DONNA BALANCIA

Legendary producer Nile Rogers will be the music keynote speaker at SXSW 2017, which, musically will be more diverse than ever.

With performers ranging from Jesse Colin Young and Modern English, to Peelander Z, Death Valley Girls and The Sloths, the annual Austin-based tech-music-film festival, March 13-19, continues its innovative agenda.

Modern English will stop the world and melt at SXSW - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Modern English will stop the world and melt at SXSW – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

There are expected to be 498 performers from all over the world and encompassing all genres descending on Austin, the university town. The annual festival helps the indie community to do as its slogan reminds: “Keep Austin Weird.”

The conferences at SXSW are equally interesting with topics addressing everything from how music can handle the aftermath of Brexit and using new music tech, to a look into the success of the Vans Warped Tour. Check the SXSW website.  See SXSW California Rocker 

Rogers, who has produced everyone from Bette Midler to David Bowie, will make the music keynote address. He will be accompanied by fellow keynoter Zane Lowe, lead DJ and innovator of Apple Beats 1 Radio.

Many new technologies, ideas and music are introduced during the well-regarded annual Austin fest.  Tickets and passes are still available and for information go to SXSW.com.

Sad Girl's Misha gives a maniacal laugh at a recent concert at The Regent Theater. Sad Girl plays SXSW California Rocker - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Sad Girl’s Misha gives a maniacal laugh at a recent concert at The Regent Theater. Sad Girl plays SXSW – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Among the California bands set to play are: The Ceremonies; Chain Gang of 1974; Cherry Glazerr, Death Valley Girls; Dead Meadow; Dear Boy; Girlpool; JJUUJJUU; The Regrettes; Sad Girl; The Sloths; Distractor; Tennis System and Zipper Club.

For a full list of performers, for tickets and passes, and more information on SXSW, go to SXSW.com

SWSX California Rocker

 

Le Butcherettes Turn Up The Heat and Rock The Regent Theater for Riot Grill 2016 in DTLA

Woman-Powered Riot Grill Draws Eclectic Lineup

Julia Shapiro, Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund and Annie Truscott are Chastity Belt - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Julia Shapiro, Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund and Annie Truscott are Chastity Belt – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Emerging from the shadows and into the dim light of emancipated woman power is an ever-present theme for female rockers.  Riot Grill at The Regent Theater proved this to be true as Le Butcherettes, Nadia G., Deap Vally and crew comandeered the stage.

While not exactly burning the bra like they did in the 1960s (never understood that), action is still needed for women to get equal billing, equal pay, and equality in music.

Nadia G. and Spaceland sponsored Riot Grill, an event that is part cooking and eating but mostly music and featuring a great lineup of great rockers, regardless of gender. Headliners Le Butcherettes filled the house, but some strong up-and-comers drew the faithful.

Chastity Belt, Girlpool, Deap Vally

The evening led off with Chastity Belt, a cool band that brought shoegaze into the spotlight.  Nadia G. and her band, The Menstruators, took the stage and played tunes from their new album Dead Glitter. Girlpool, an alt-folk duo that looks like girls you may have known in your high school science class impressed with fun tunes and understated strength.  Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are well-matched vocally and the performance is mellow but with a cutting edge.

We were particularly impressed by Deap Vally, a duo and sometimes quasi-trio from Southern California, these girls have got it.  What’s “it?”  Deap Vally is pure badassery. Their new album is called Femejism and we were lucky enough to hear some cuts from this cool new release. The drums are relentless courtesy of Julie Edwards. Guitarist Lindsey Troy sports a nifty look in a red, white and blue, all-American star-spangled garb complete with fringy fringe.  With the release of the new album, fringe may very well be a part of this good-natured duo’s past.

Shine a Light on Riot Grill

Riot Grill is a play on the Riot Grrrl movement but serious music making ensued - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Riot Grill is a play on the Riot Grrrl movement but serious music making ensued – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

We were not fond of the fact that the lights were turned to red for all the acts that followed Nadia G.’s band, which came on early.  While decent photos were made when the lights were on, the remaining artists were shrouded in red light, which is worse than no light at all.

Check out Le Butcherettes at the Echoplex and Le Butcherettes at The Hollywood Palladium in CaliforniaRocker.com

But regardless of what we perceive as an intentional snafu, the women prevailed and in particular the headliner, Le Butcherettes packed the house.

We asked the audience members who they were there to see and while many of the attendees wanted to see Nadia (whose band is called The Menstruators) most paid up to see Le Butcherettes and Teri Gender Bender.

Le Butcherettes and Teri Gender Bender

Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes strips off her Castro Khakis down to a signature party dress, at Riot Grill - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia for CaliforniaRocker.com

Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes strips off her Castro Khakis down to a signature party dress, at Riot Grill – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Teri consistently rocks the house.  And we hold firm to our opinion that she may well be the most compelling performer on the stage today.  It’s something one has to see to believe.  Teri goes from obstinate, high-heel-stomping girl to snarling, possessed virago in an instant, leaving a room full of stunned bodies in her wake.

Le Butcherettes lineup is comprised of bassist Ricardo and drummer Alejandra. They’ll be returning to Los Angeles in January with some dates and couple of new tricks up their collective sleeves.

Le Butcherettes Set List

Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes - Beautiful and ever so dangerous - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes – Beautiful and ever so dangereuse – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Burn the Scab
Demon Stuck in Your Eye
The Devil Lived
They Fuck You Over
Boulders Love Over Layers of Rock
I’m Getting Sick Of You
Witchless C Spot
Stab My Back
Dress Off
The Leibniz Language
Bang!
Malcom
Your Weakness Gives me Life
Spider Waves
La Uva
Henry Don’t Got Love

Stomping across the stage in her party dress, Teri from Le Butcherettes headlines Riot Grill - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Stomping across the stage in her party dress, Teri from Le Butcherettes headlines Riot Grill – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Deap Vally puts on a compelling performance at Riot Grill - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Deap Vally puts on a compelling performance at Riot Grill – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Girlpool lent casual and catchy tunes to Riot Grill - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Girlpool: Casual and catchy tunes  – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

 

butcherettes-2-grill-balancia-1-of-1

Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes rocks – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

 

Deap Vally has a new album, 'Femijism' - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Deap Vally has a new album, ‘Femejism’ – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

CaliforniaRocker.com Nabs Four Finalist Nods for Arts and Entertainment Awards by Los Angeles Press Club

By JOHN DALY, CaliforniaRocker.com

HOLLYWOOD – CaliforniaRocker.com, 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

CaliforniaRocker.com, 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

CaliforniaRocker.com 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 CaliforniaRocker.com

Suzanne Allison Witkin captured images of The Hollywood Vampires on their historic tour – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison Witkin for CaliforniaRocker.com

 

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.

“CaliforniaRocker.com 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

The Kills Celebrate 15th Anniversary with California Shows including Pappy and Harriet’s, HOB Anaheim

Alison Mosshart of The Kills; The band announced 15th anniversary shows in California next March - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Alison Mosshart of The Kills; The band announced 15th anniversary shows in California next March – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

The Kills will celebrate their 15th anniversary with some new shows set for March 2017 in various California venues.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 15 years, you know The Kills are none other than Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart.

The Brit-American duo whose fuzzy and niche alternative sound has thrilled enthusiasts for years, marks a decade and a half of touring and recording.

Their latest release is Ash and Ice. 

The Kills: Together Through the Years

Peter Blachley, Alison Mosshart and Henry Diltz celebrate Jamie Hince' photo exhibit - Photo © 2014 Donna Balancia

Peter Blachley, Alison Mosshart and Henry Diltz celebrate Jamie Hince’ photo exhibit – Photo © 2014 Donna Balancia

According to Jamie, The Kills met in 2000 when he was in another band and Alison was staying in an apartment below him.  The two Sagittarians struck up a best friendship that has outlasted boyfriends, girlfriends and even a wife or two. They are musicians, artists and partners.

More dates will be announced over time, but for now, these are the locations for the initial celebrations: March 17 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet’s; March 20 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues; March 22 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre

For tickets and more information check out The Kills Facebook page.  Artist pre-sale starts Wednesday.

Legendary Alice Cooper Goes from Kid’s Playhouse to Fantasy Springs and Still has Time for His Golf Game

Review of Alice Cooper at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

Alice Coooper - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons for CaliforniaRocker.com

Alice Coooper – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons for CaliforniaRocker.com

By CRAIG HAMMONS

The first time I saw Alice Cooper was in the gymnasium of Cal State Fullerton in 1969. He was on the bill with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.  Spirit was the opening act.

The only real prop he had at that time was a small kid’s play house that he would go inside and stick his head out the window and sing “Nobody likes me.”

There have been a lot of changes over the years and now this is a big-time rock and roll show full of lights, dancers, costume changes, snakes, monsters and guillotines.

Alice had a legion of fans that came out to this desert oasis to see the man who has entertained them for most of their lives and showed us all that rock and roll can still be fun.  Alice once said “From the moment I leave my house or hotel room, the public owns me.  The public made Alice Cooper and I can’t imagine ever turning my back on my fans.”  Alice is a true master of his craft and takes it to a level that cannot be matched.  He has influenced many but no one can touch him.

Alice Cooper: A Really Big Show - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Alice Cooper: A Really Big Show – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Hitting the Links

When I was checking into the hotel I saw a group of golfers who had just come in from playing 18 holes.

I joked to the attendant that I bet Alice will be out on the course today and she said “He just finished up about an hour ago” and that was at 10 A.M.  Not many rock stars can golf before breakfast and then rock before dinner.

Tonight Alice Cooper would welcome us back to his nightmare full of monsters, madness and mayhem.  Anticipation was running high as the Alice look alikes, families and hardcore followers of the master of shock rock were ready for their idol to take the stage.

The curtains were a close-up of Alice’s eyes.  The lights went down and the voice of Vincent Price came on introducing the “Black Widow.”  As the curtains dropped, sparks started flying and Alice draped in a black hooded cape was front and center.  Just his presence on stage made us minions feel we’re not worthy.  Alice Cooper came fully loaded with his triple guitar attack of Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and the mighty Nita ‘Hurricane” Strauss.  Off went the cape and he went right into “No More Mr. Nice Guy” prowling the stage like a venison of the deep.

‘Under My Wheels,’ ‘Billion Dollar Babies’

Rockin' the Casino with Alice Cooper - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Rockin’ the Casino with Alice Cooper – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Alice kept the pace lively reaching into his bag of tricks bringing out some classics like “Under My Wheels” and “Billion Dollar Babies.”

They spend no time in between songs talking to the audience.  This is a well-oiled rock, well timed rock machine full of energy and chemistry.

Alice may be the main attraction but the rhythm section of long time bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel kept this wild rock and roll train roaring down the tracks.

Alice brought out his boa constrictor Julius Squeezer to help him sing “Is It My Body.”  I once saw his boa constrictor get sick and throw up on stage.  He must have had stage fright.  Next came “Woman of Mass Destruction” that led into Nita’s fierce guitar solo.  She is a force of nature shredding the fret boards with her long blonde mane flying in the breeze as she finishes to a huge ovation.

‘Doctor Alice’

During “Halo of Flies” Glen Sobel’s drum solo mesmerized the crowd with skill and intensity.   But before we knew it good old Doctor Alice was back in a full length, blood splatted lab coat, gas mask and strapped to an electrical gurney that ignites into “Feed My Frankenstein.”   Entering stage left is a giant monster roaming the stage while everyone tries to stay out of its way.

Alice Cooper - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Patriotic Alice Cooper – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

The show only slowed down once when Alice came out and sat down on a trash can to sing one of his beautiful power ballads “Only Women Bleed.”  He was later attacked by a frightening naughty nurse who gave Alice a shot and put him into a straight jacket to sing the “Ballad of Dwight Fry.”  As he is later lead to a giant guillotine and beheaded at the end of the song.   The crowd eats is up and the band goes into “I Love the Dead” with an audience singing along.

Alice who is a member of the Hollywood Vampires then paid tribute to some of the rock and roll legends we lost this year.

Gravestones of David Bowie and Lemmy were on stage as the band ripped into intense versions of “Suffragette City” and “Ace of Spades” with bassist Chuck Garric on vocals.  It was a great gesture from a master showman and made for a very memorable moment in the show.

Now the energy in the room was at an all-time high as they kicked into two of rock and rolls biggest anthems “Eighteen” and “Schools Out.”   With confetti, bubbles and giant balloons flying, Alice then introduced the band and only once did he ever break character when he said “playing the part of Alice tonight is me.”

For the encore, he brought out Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to beat each other up until they finally kissed during “Elected.”   Alice wearing a red, white and blue jacket in front of an American flag backdrop said “we got problems all over America and personally, I don’t care.”  This two hour, 25-song set full of energy and excitement left the crowd filtering out into the casino happy and proud to be a fan of the one and only Alice Cooper.

Wayne Kramer and Jail Guitar Doors Concert ‘Rock Out 3!’ Bring Humanity Out from Behind Prison Bars

Don Was and Marshall Crenshaw - Donna Balancia California Rocker

Don Was and Marshall Crenshaw – Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA

Wayne Kramer still champions the underdog.

Kramer, founder of MC5, the legendary band that started the punk revolution, is still raging — to help those behind bars.

He was joined by Don Was, Marshall Crenshaw, Gilby Clarke and a host of others at The Ford Theatres at a concert called Rock Out 3! to benefit Jail Guitar Doors USA.

The organization brings musical instruments into prisons and youth camps, teaches inmates music, and creates hope for those behind bars.

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“We give them a guitar to pick up so when they get out they won’t pick up a gun,” Kramer said. “The music takes them out of their surroundings and gives them hope.”

Rock Out! 3, the third annual Benefit Concert for Jail Guitar Doors USA drew fans and rockers alike.

Jail Guitar Doors is a California non-profit organization that provides musical instruments and opportunities to help rehabilitate prisoners.

In 2009, musicians/activists Kramer and Billy Bragg created Jail Guitar Doors USA, which puts on music based prison outreach programs that work to help minimize prison violence and give hope to inmates.

‘Personal Subject’ for Kramer

Wayne Kramer, Alma Robinson and Larry Brewster - California Rocker

Wayne Kramer, Alma Robinson and Larry Brewster – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

It’s a very personal subject to Kramer who was incarcerated on drug charges. In 1977 The Clash recorded “Jail Guitar Doors,” a song detailing the imprisonment of their hero and fellow musician, MC5’s Kramer.

There are devoted volunteers who all showed up at the Ford Theatre event. While there may be a stigma about working with “tough guys,” volunteer Donna Jo Thorndale said when she goes into the prisons she has no preconceived notions.

No Judgment Zone

“The inmates have been judged enough, they don’t need me to judge them.”

Donna Jo says she’s seen progress as a result of the work of Jail Guitar Doors.

Larry Brewster and Donna Jo Thorndale - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Larry Brewster and Donna Jo Thorndale – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“When they focus on the music it helps them to develop self confidence and that’s an ‘inside job.'”

Prof. Larry Brewster said after going into the prisons, he comes away with “new best friends.”

“I’ve made some good friendships,” said Larry, a professor at University of San Francisco.

Teaching volunteer Cody Marks agreed.

“It feels good to get through to the guys,” Cody said. “We form bonds with the prison population and when one guy might be transferred we’ll see sometimes them again at another prison.”

Wayne Kramer: ‘Progress Being Made’

Don Was said he’s been working with Kramer on Jail Guitar Doors for several years.

Wayne Kramer - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Was gets a great deal of satisfaction out of seeing progress.

“It could be anyone of us in there,” said Don Was, who was a headliner at the event. “We tend to believe that the prison population is some other species, but if one or two things didn’t go the right way, it could just as easily be me or you in there.”

A couple of years ago, we went in to Sing Sing Prison and we played a concert,” Was said. “Some people screw up and people tend to forget that about this population.”

Jail Guitar Doors lobbyies against unjust lengthy prison sentences, the privatization of prisons for profit, and seeks to restore humanity in a forgotten segment of our citizens: Those incarcerated.

Wayne, Cody and Jeff - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne, Cody and Jeff – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Program Growing With Number of Inmates

From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled, skyrocketing from roughly 500,000, to 2.3 million, according to the US Bureau of Statistics.

Kramer said Jail Guitar Doors is in 65 prisons, there are songwriting workshops in four.

Kramer was joined at the event by Jill Sobule, Elainie Mandel, Crenshaw, Clarke, Keith Morris, Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls and The Wild Reeds.

Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Pinfield were special guests with Goldthwait as emcee.

Jason Heath, frontman for Jason Heath and The Greedy Souls said he was happy to participate.

Wayne Kramer and friends - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer and friends – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“It’s important to remember the people who are serving prison terms,” Heath said. “And we’re honored to play this show.”

Highlight of the evening was an all-star version MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams,” with all the musicians doing their own thing up there

“We do this because we care and we want to let them know inside the prison that the people outside care,” Cody said.

No Easy Job

The Jail Guitar Doors is not an easy undertaking.

Cody said that there was an extensive process to bring in musical equipment in to work with the prisoners.

Wayne Kramer and Jill Sobule - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer and Jill Sobule – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

“They check everything,” Cody said. “They even count the strings that you have for the guitars, they look at the picks,” she said. “One time we broke a string, you have to be careful everything is accounted for.”

Songs ranging from The Who cover “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by Clarke, to “Television Light,” by Crenshaw, Eleni Mandell’s “I Belong To Someone New,” brought out the best in the evening before the showstopper finale.

For more information, go to jailguitardoors.org

 

 

Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum Celebrate Their ‘Change of Fortune’ at The Whisky A Go Go

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum - Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum – Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Soul Asylum Opener Wild Roses Also Impresses

By DONNA BALANCIA

Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum gave an electrifying performance at the Whisky A Go Go promoting the album Change of Fortune.

The show proved that Pirner and his band that rose to fame in the late 1980, embrace the twists and turns in their own careers.

Change of Fortune

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum at Whisky A Go Go - Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum at Whisky A Go Go – Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Promoting Soul Asylum’s 11th studio album, Change of Fortune, Pirner is happy to be on tour, telling the audience “Thank you, you’re too kind,” after the applause with each song.  It’s a different Soul Asylum than back in the day when Soul Asylum came to prominence, but lots of things are different today.

With the new album, Pirner takes his familiar sound, made famous from “Black Gold,” and “Runaway Train,” and has ratched it up a few notches.

Whirling around with his guitar and speaking honestly to the audience, with little regard for his sweaty appearance, Pirner is happy to be on stage.  If nothing else Pirner and Soul Asylum are truthful in their performance and the crowd appreciates it.

Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum at the Whisky A Go Go - Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum at the Whisky A Go Go – Photo by Donna Balancia for California Rocker

Change of Fortune was a Pledgemusic project and more than a few contributors were in the audience during the U.S. tour, which started off on a bill with The English Beat and wrapped as a solo act.

The lead single off Change of Fortune, called “Supersonic,” is a fast-paced rockin tune, and when performed live brings out the best of a more mature, but very physically active Soul Asylum. Mixing other cool cuts off the new work and blending in some of the famous Soul Asylum songs, frontman Pirner and his group put on a terrific show.

Pirner’s pretty down to earth and his personality rings true no matter what. The audience is faithful, with a diverse age range of attending his shows, or at least that was the case at the recent show at the Whisky.

Enduring the Changes

I can't hear you Dave Pirner says during Soul Asylum show at Whisky A Go Go - Photo by Donna Balancia

‘I can’t hear you,’ Dave Pirner says during Soul Asylum show at Whisky A Go Go – Photo by Donna Balancia

As for Change of Fortune, the name of the album is appropriate.  Pirner has endured a lot of changes since the band started, and one notable change was the loss of his bandmate and pal, Karl Mueller, who died of cancer in 2004.  He dedicated a song to Karl during the show.

But Change of Fortune has its dynamic driven songs and mellow tunes — it covers a range of emotions one can only expect from Pirner, one of the most prolific songwriters of the last 35 years.

Change of Fortune, which is co-produced by John Fields and the band, is a classic and is testament to Pirner’s persistence. Other than “Supersonic,” other standout cuts on the new album are rock anthem “Can’t Help It,” “Make It Real,” and electro-ballad, “When I See You.”

If you missed them in the day, it’s not too late to add Soul Asylum to the bucket list of great performances.

Wild Roses to Open for The Living End

Marc Orrell of Wild Roses - Photo by Donna Balancia

Marc Orrell of Wild Roses – Photo by Donna Balancia

Another high point of the evening was opener Wild Roses, a band led by frontman Marc Orrell and bassist pal, Jeff Roffredo; these guys crank out some great music.

Orrell who’s got a great rock n roll voice, was guitarist with Dropkick Murphys and still has a good relationship with the band.

They’ll be opening for Australian punkers The Living End at the Roxy on Aug. 19; and the Glass House in Pomona on Aug. 20.

Get Tickets to The Living End.

EXCLUSIVE: Reluctant Apostles With Katey Sagal Play Molly Malone’s

New Band By Bob Thiele and Pals Gets Attention

The Reluctant Apostles - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA – Living in Los Angeles the quality of cover bands is out of this world. A great example of that is the latest high-profile cover band in town, The Reluctant Apostles.

This band is comprised of Sons of Anarchy family and friends – series composer Bob Thiele, Katey Sagal, Davey Faragher, Billy Harvey, John Philip Shenale and drummer Michael Urbano.

These musicians are well-known aroud town as well as around the world.

**Support The Reluctant Apostles PLEDGEMUSIC campaign!**

The Reluctant Apostles are on the mark.  Katey is a compelling and fun front woman, playing bongos, guitar and even the ol’ drumstick on a music stand  — yes — but of course, it’s the way she smacks it.   And it’s clear with her Gibson guitar and nice ride that Sons of Anarchy and probably her extensive experience on the small screen has contributed greatly to her large life.

Bob is the leader of the band as the group continually pointed out good naturedly throughout their 11-song set — this band likes working together and feels very comfortable together.  The leader of the music department of Sons of Anarchy as well — he sports his iconic hat atop his mass of grey curls, cracking jokes and bringing out the best in his people.  He is really something special in music circles and has the lineage and genetics, as his dad was prolific jazz producer Bob Thiele of New York.

Keyboardist John is a true showman no matter what the tune; he gave us some insights into the possibility of more gigs, more original songs and some recordings up the Apostles’ collective sleeve. He is certainly one to know about talented music; as one of the most prolific producers and composers of our era he has contributed to at least 40 award winning records. Bass player Davey brings his own style to the stage, singing and providing the support while Billy jams on lead guitar like Eric Clapton.  Of course, drummer Michael has played with some of the best musicians the world over as well, including a stellar gig with James Williamson at the Bootleg last year called “Re-Licked.”

Check out more Reluctant Apostles on CaliforniaRocker.com

An impressive crew - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

An impressive crew – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles’ style is Americana with an edge.  Particularly outstanding songs were Crystal Blue Persuasion; Jealous Kind, Candyman and Temptation Took Control of Me (Video)

On April 9 The Reluctant Apostles will return to Molly Malone’s – Highly recommended.

Setlist: When I Paint My Masterpiece; Crystal Blue Persuasion; Where Was You At; Holy Cow; W.S. Walcott Medicine Show; Jealous Kind; Candyman; My Love is Getting Stronger; Magnolia Wind; Temptation Took Control of Me; Blow Your Mind.

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