California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

A New Record for California Rocker – Five Journalism Awards with Two First Place Finishes in One Year

Site Wins Social Media and Best Blog Awards


LOS ANGELES – The team at has set the standard: Donna Balancia and her editorial team have won five journalism awards in one year. won two first-place awards and a third-place award for photography categories in the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.  The accolades were followed by two third place awards in social media and best website categories at the Southern California Journalism Awards this month.

In total, the reporter and photographer team  has collected nine journalism awards in the last three years.

Donna Balancia won Best Action Photo for this image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Donna Balancia won Best Action Photo for this image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Balancia: ‘Great Honors’

“These are great honors and we are excited and happy to be rewarded for our hard work,” said Balancia. “With photographers Heather Harris, Suzanne Allison, Alyson Camus as well as writers like Craig Hammons, John Daly and Dan MacIntosh we have a great team.”

The most recent awards, in the Best Blog and Best Social Media categories were for innovative work based on new media delivery and social media for coverage of Smashmouth at The Canyon Club.

Suzanne Allison Witkin won first place for her photo essay on The Hollywood Vampires – Photo by Suzanne Allison Witkin

‘Great Team’

Balancia credits her team with keeping as well as EastCoastRocker.comand on the cutting edge.

“It requires dedication to journalism with great reporters to keep publications rolling today,” Balancia said. “We want to provide a service to musicians and we keep going.”

Dee Snider with son Jesse at the Whisky A Go-Go were among the artists whose stories brought a best blog win – Photo © 2016 Heather Harris

Support of the Musicians

“ has received the support of musicians and artists alike and it’s a satisfying feeling to win on their behalf,” Balancia said. “We have a great staff and we put out quality reports.”

In addition to interviews and photographs with Johnny Winter, Mike Campbell, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and many young and up and coming bands, there are works that have brought tons of hits behind the scenes.

Heather Harris won for her coverage of rocker James Williamson’s Alternative A-List Concert at The Bootleg, Balancia won for her coverage of supergroup The New Basement Tapes and has won best blog categories in previous years.

Another such multimedia package was the exclusive interview of Keith Levene done by Ivor Levene and Melanie Smith. 

Keith Levene exclusive interview by Ivor Levene and Melanie Smith


Smash Mouth duo Steve Harwell and Paul DeLisle hang together - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Smash Mouth duo Steve Harwell and Paul DeLisle hang together – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

‘Winners Overcome Obstacles’

Balancia said the awards come at a time when journalism is under attack and companies are cutting more reporters, editors and content creators than ever before.

“We are honored that we continue to win despite the odds,” Balancia said. “These awards are special because true journalism — and not ‘selfie’ reports — is becoming more and more rare. Music journalism in particular is not given the credit it deserves for the important role it plays in today’s culture. We are proud to be a force representing creative arts.”

California Rocker Wins Best Photo Essay, Best Action Photo at Prestigious LA Press Club Awards Gala

California Rocker Wins Three Awards at 2016 NAEJ


California Rocker, the online music magazine, won Best Photo Essay and Best Action Photo categories Sunday night at the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards by the Los Angeles Press Club.

The awards were presented to California Rocker producer Donna Balancia at the annual awards gala that honors the best of entertainment journalism.  The event was held at the Millennium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles.

California Rocker Wins Best Action Photo

Donna Balancia Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In - California Rocker Wins

Donna Balancia won Best Action Photo for this image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Best Action Photo was awarded to Donna Balancia for her image of Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the high-energy frontman for At The Drive-In, leaping into the air at the Hollywood Palladium.  California Rocker wins included third place in the same action photo category for a beautiful image of the legendary surf guitar master Dick Dale performing to an adoring crowd at The Whisky A Go-Go.

Best Photo Essay for Suzanne Allison Witkin

Suzanne Allison Witkin - Vampires California Rocker Wins

Suzanne Allison Witkin took first place for her photo essay “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires – Photo © 2016 Suzanne Allison Witkin

Renowned rock photographer Suzanne Allison Witkin won Best Photo Essay for “On Tour With The Hollywood Vampires,” a photographic documentation of behind-the-scenes with the supergroup featuring Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.

The gala was attended by hundreds of writers, editors, producers and photographers and honored renowned songwriter Diane Warren, actress Angela Lansbury, and late-night talk show star Chelsea Handler.

‘Voices of Independent Artists Heard Tonight’

Dick Dale at the Whisky A Go-Go California Rocker Wins

The photo of Dick Dale taken at the Whisky A Go-Go was honored with a win in the action photo category – Photo © Donna Balancia

“I started California Rocker three years ago to give independent artists a voice,” Donna said. “Their voices were clearly heard tonight as our work was selected over that of the corporate media.  We will continue to work with up-and-coming and established musicians, writers and photographers so talent and truth can shine through.”

Previous wins include the work of Heather Harris in the LA Press Club’s first-ever Photo Essay category, for her images of musician James Williamson’s all-star concert at the Bootleg, and Donna’s image of Flyin’ Jay Armant, of the band Fishbone, launching into the crowd at the Roxy Theatre.

California Rocker has had several finalist designations and this year was no exception. California Rocker took three finalist designations among five in the action photo category and Suzanne’s Photo Essay was among three finalists.

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