California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Echo Park Rising Keeps the Beat; Bassists from Cheap Tissue, Plague Vendor, Cat Scan, Rock and Rule

Schizophonics and C.G. Roxanne Blow Doors


Echo Park Rising is a unique kind of music fest, one that people look forward to all year long.

Bands of every type are scattered throughout the outskirts of downtown, playing in well-known venues like Echoplex, in restaurants like Taix and even on the street corner. What’s great is it’s a free opportunity to see some excellent talent.

And while the bands are leaving their mark on the music-downloading public, no group made a bigger impression on Friday night at Echo Park Rising than the bass players. Watching the bass players on Friday was like getting a free lesson in how to keep excellent bands on track.

The bassists for Plague Vendor, Cheap Tissue, C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares, Cat Scan, and the wild Schizophonics showed the crowd how it’s done.

Quincy Larsen of Cat Scan ripped it up at Echo Park Rising – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Cat Scan

Cat Scan is a band that blends surf music and punk to a successful result. The bass player, Quincy Larsen, is adorable with her schoolgirl-style outfit of plaid skirt and knee socks with glasses. The music is original and this is a band we will be seeing again. Comprised of David Evanko and Ian Waters on guitar and Jeff Goodhart on drums, it’s great to see a band enjoying what they do — it’s a group that clearly enjoys making the music happen. They’re on Instagram @cat_scan – check them out.

C.G. Roxanne and The Nightmares

C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares, who said there was no other reason for their name other than it’s funny, got on some serious playing Friday.  Frontman Marlon Rabenreither has a cool style with original songs and bassist Sam Thornton, who never seems to crack a smile has an upbeat and fun-loving repertoire in his basswork. He works closely with a very non-traditional drummer Carlos Laszlo. With style and purpose, C.G. Roxanne and the Nightmares shows what it takes to grab the audience. Check out their Bandcamp page:

C.G. Roxanne and The Nightmares - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

C.G. Roxanne and The Nightmares – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Schizophonics

The Schizophonics represent the best in new musical performance.  These people can’t be stopped with dynamic frontman Pat Beers and Lety Beers on drums. The bass player Brian Reilly keeps it going despite all the wild physical activity going on on stage and for that alone, he should get a medal. After all, not everyone can leap five feet off the ground and do the James Brown splits on command. This is a band to watch. Check out their Facebook page

The Schizophonics put on a show that should not be missed - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Schizophonics put on a show that should not be missed – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia


Cones, with its mellow but statement-setting music opened the night for many attendees with Patrick manning the bass. The style is precise but fun with exacting finger work. We want to see this band again and watch where this group goes.

Cones – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Cheap Tissue

Cheap Tissue is a local favorite and the beloved players had a packed house to play a late set at the Echo. This band is tight and all the fuss is justified. The players are Andrew Taylor, Jesse Youngblood, Matt Spizer and bassist John Tyree. Tyree, a favorite musician extraordinaire, steps out from behind the drum kit to man the bass duties for this band.  He brings an energetic flare and plays a decisive bass, it’s a reason to get past the ripped-sleeve shirt and tie, which is definitely original. There is a lot of buzz about Cheap Tissue and for obvious reasons, they bring it. Check out their Facebook page:

Cheap Tissue’s John Tyree – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Plague Vendor

Plague Vendor is an original who has been on stage entertaining the masses for a while now. The act is quite remarkable with frontman Brandon Blaine creating the moves that bring to mind many of the great punk acts. Except he is classier as musician-poseur, he is artistic and precise in all his actions. But it is clearly the bass player Michael Perez who drives this band in the live performance, with wild fingerwork and keeping the music on track. It’s unusual to see the bassist take such an equal position to such a commanding frontman. But in this case it works. With Jay Rogers on guitar and Luke Perine on drums, the music is a great listen and a winner from all sides. Plague Vendor’s dark tone with light presentation is a unique show that proves balance can be achieved among players. Check out the Facebook page

Plague Vendor - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Plague Vendor – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Plague Vendor – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Plague Vendor handstands – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Schizophonics – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Schizophonics – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Review: Hans Zimmer Mesmerizes Audience at The Shrine With an Awe-Inspiring Performance


After seeing some of Hans Zimmer’s performance footage from Coachella it was going to be mandatory for me to see this modern day genius of a composer when he came back to town.   Hans was wrapping up the final shows of his 2017 tour this last weekend with shows at the Shrine and Sunday at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

On this tour he brings along a 19-piece studio band, a full orchestra and choir line that stretches the whole width of the stage.  I knew it would be a special event, so I got to the Shrine in plenty of time.  The long stretch of tour buses lined the street.  I hung outside the backstage door for a while hoping to get to meet the man who created the soundtrack to some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.   But security said I just missed him by a couple of minutes while he was outside having a cigarette.

Driving Miss Daisy, Sherlock Holmes

I made my way to the top of the Shrine ready for the musical feast that awaits me.  The lights went down and applause rang out and there was Hans sitting at small ornate piano playing a piece from “Driving Miss Daisy.”  The show slowly builds with pieces from “Sherlock Holmes” where Hans played banjo and “Crimson Tide” and “Madagascar” before getting into a medley from “Gladiator.”    Hans said he originally worked with the vocalist Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance for the soundtrack but tonight the vocals were handled by the wonderful Czarina Russell as well as the captivating full choir.   He next spotlighted the theme to “The Da Vinci Code” which had an exquisite violin solo.

Hans Zimmer and orchestra – Photo by Craig Hammons

“The Lion King Medley” was next where he brought out Lebo M to bring back his famous chants to Elton John’s “Circle of Life.”   Cheers of joy rang out as the audience got into the festive feel of these songs.

Tonight’s show was starting to feel like a rock concert with the lights, guitars and pounding drums and the next medley of songs would prove it.  It let the dynamic powerhouse composer and electric cello player Tina Guo lose on the “Pirates of the Caribbean Medley.”   She creates excitement as she attacks her cello with her bow of passion.  The music swells as Hans looks over at her with a smile.  You can almost feel Jack Sparrow crashing his pirate ship on stage.  All the musicians are spot on for this big challenging piece that makes us feel like we are all onboard this musical ship of adventure.

Man of Steel, Spider Man

Hans then played a couple of themes from some famous comic book characters that became movie stars “Man of Steel” and “The Amazing Spider Man 2.”   But the piece that moved me the most was “The Dark Knight Suite.”   It was easy to capture the audience with the musical intensity of this piece while letting each musician to shine.   At the end Hans spoke briefly about the Aurora Colorado mass killing during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”  He said he felt he had to write a piece of music that would feel like arms were wrapped around you holding you safe.  He then went into a beautiful piano piece simply called “Aurora.”

The last piece of the night was the “The Interstellar Medley” which starts with just a few piano chords and then builds slowly with guitars and bass that rattle the rafters.  It moves into a dramatic finale where we are ready to blast off.  Hans steps out from behind his keyboards to conduct as they reached the final crescendo.  He then introduced the each member of the band before leaving the stage with the audience on their feet and in awe of the musical spectacle they just witnessed.

Amazing experience with Hans Zimmer and orchestra – Photo by Craig Hammons

Standing Ovation

A standing ovation and thunderous applause brought everyone back out on stage for an encore with “The Inception Medley” where Hans strapped on a guitar and played like a true rock star.  The powerful chords of this piece pounded in my heart while tears of joy swelled in my eyes.   The percussion movement in the piece creates suspense and excitement as music over takes you.  The strings then take over only to fade with Hans sitting alone at his piano playing two notes slowly as he ends the lights go out and the show is over.

Tonight’s show proved what a brilliant performer, composer and all around good guys Hans Zimmer is.

He never had one piece of sheet music in front of him for this almost three hour show.  They all took their final bow and the Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” came over the speaker system.   We all exited the building satisfied that we had all just beheld on the greatest musical experiences of our lifetime.

New Music: Million Miles Shows Heartbreak Will Go Away With ‘Ice Cream and Cigarettes’ – Soundcloud


Million Miles has a style that is sure to capture the masses. Mellow and beautiful, her voice brings the emotional quality that the people need now.

In her new release, “Ice Cream and Cigarettes,” Million Miles gives hope to the people who are going through or trying to survive the breakup of a longtime relationship.

Million Miles has a voice for the ages – Photo courtesy of Million Miles

“Ice Cream and Cigarettes” was co-written with Andrew Combs.

You heard it here first: Million Miles is destined to become a household name.

And check out her video for the song “Far Away”


HARD Fest Brings Out Variety of Music Genres and Performers Including Snoop Dogg and Destructo


The 10th  annual HARD Summer music gathering celebrated its first decade of giving Southern California dance and hip-hop fans a lineup with more variety than the similar (and formally Southern California-based) Electric Daisy Carnival has ever provided.

Sure, hardcore EDM fans could bask in the multicolored neon glow and beats from genre stars, including DJ Snake and Bassnectar. And each of HARD’s six stages featured a monster DJ riser for dance music icons to mount like sonic royal thrones. But there was more, so much more in store, including a healthy dosage of hip-hop — and even a little R and B.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg was the Sunday marquee performer for this two-day affair. Rather than just bring out his regular concert setlist, the laid back gangsta traveled all the way back to his 1993 debut album, Doggystyle, which he performed in full along with a few other crowd favorites thrown into the mix. For lovers of more organic music (you know, the kind made by living, breathing warm blooded musicians, rather than cold, hard computers), the sight of a full band backing Snoop during his performance was both a pleasure and a relief. Except for, perhaps, Deadmau5, who mysteriously performs in disguise, most all DJs look pretty much the same (and honestly, oftentimes sound the same) while ‘performing’ live.

And how much of what’s “played” is actually live is an argument for another day. While reprising this pivotal hip-hop album, which produced the hit “Gin and Juice,” the relatively lovable and lanky Snoop Dogg sauntered back and forth across the stage while many times puffing on a joint. His music is so familiar that, if they ever put on a hip-hop version of the recent Classic West Festival, he’d be a perfect headliner. Even those that fain ignorance when it comes to hip-hop, know this icon.

Snakehips – Photo © 2017 Dan MacIntosh


Festival creator Gary Richards, who goes by the stage name Destructo, also performed on Sunday. In addition to bringing a setlist anchored by familiar songs, Richards was joined by surprise guest Yo Gotti who rapped a few tunes and topped off the celebratory excitement by bringing dance music pioneer Giorgio Moroder on stage to play Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” There was talk that could be Richards’ last dance, so to speak, with HARD, making this musical choice an appropriate final number.

Tinashe’s soulful sounds stood out nicely as day turned into night Sunday. Backed by dancers and a live drummer, her welcome feminine sweetness nicely complimented this mainly male-dominated lineup. Tinashe even made a guest appearance directly after her set by performing with the DJ Snakehips. Egyptian Lover, who is even older school than Snoop Dogg, accompanied himself while performing on the overly corporatized Corona stage. (Can you venture a guess what beer was served at its adjoining bar)?

Rae Sremmurd

This year’s event also gave a nod to a few contemporary hip-hop combos, as the duo Rae Sremmurd appeared like darker skin-toned shirtless Iggy Pop followers by performing such hits as “Black Beatles” on Saturday, while the trio Migos came off charming on Saturday, even though they inserted just a little too much self-promotion during their set.

Although HARD didn’t offer near the variety of Coachella, a few attendees could be spotted wearing that famous Indio festival’s t-shirts. And these eclectic fans likely found just enough variety to keep them tuned in to the this significantly more genre-specific event.

With its sprawling grounds, which included a permanent main stage, VIP pool and plenty of wide open space – but not too much walking distance between venues – the Glen Helen Amphitheater made a good case to become the permanent home of HARD Summer Music Festivals in the future. Attendees appeared to be having a peaceful, good time partying out in Southern California’s perfect weather. It may be called HARD, but the festival’s producers made everything look and feel easy.

Slash to Develop Guitars with Gibson Brands as the Company’s First-Ever Global Brand Ambassador

Featured Photo by EL HUMILDE FOTERO

Gibson Brands has appointed guitar superstar Slash as Global Brand Ambassador, the first such designation in the company’s history, it was announced.

As part of his new role with Gibson, Slash is developing new products with three of the company’s celebrated guitar brands, Gibson Custom, Gibson and Epiphone. Details of new products and exclusive content will be announced beginning later this month.

“We are thrilled to recognize Slash as Gibson’s first Global Brand Ambassador,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Brands. “Slash embodies the characteristics of creativity, passion and excellence that are so closely aligned with Gibson and we are very proud of the friendship and mutual success we have shared together for over 30 years. We are also very excited about the future products we will be announcing soon.”

Slash California Rocker

Slash with his collection of Gibson guitars – Photo courtesy of Gibson

“It’s an honor to be Gibson’s first Global Brand Ambassador,” said Slash. “I’ve been working with Gibson since the early days of my professional career and playing Gibson guitars since before that. I’m proud of the creative relationship we’ve developed over the years.”

Slash joined Guns N’ Roses in 1985 in Los Angeles and quickly rose to international fame by the summer of 1987 with the release of the band’s debut LP Appetite for Destruction, which has sold more than 30 million albums and became one of the best-selling rock albums of all time. Slash’s signature sound and epic solos were recorded with several of his favorite Gibson guitars. Over the past three decades, Slash has collaborated closely with Gibson and the company’s CEO, Henry Juszkiewiczon several projects including product development, marketing, live events and supporting charitable initiatives with the Gibson Foundation.

Slash is currently on the Guns N’ Roses “Not in This Lifetime” world tour through November.

Summer Concerts Wrap Up with the Mother of All Indie Festivals: Echo Park Rising Kicks Off on Thursday


Summer may be winding down but cool concerts in Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica Pier have given way to the annual prize: Echo Park Rising.

Echo Park Rising this year features LA’s finest musicians — some well known and some not so much so — but all of whom give it their everything.

The Sloths to play Echo Park Rising

The Sloths will play Echo Park Rising – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Echo Park Rising

With Echo Park Rising, bands are scattered throughout the Echo Park area on established and makeshift stages, going from Sunday’s Best Thrift Apparel and Taix restaurant to the Echoplex and basically every coffee shop, record store and sidewalk in between.

Yo La Tengo was a featured band at Chase Park this summer - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Yo La Tengo was a featured band at Chase Park this summer – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Marina Del Rey Summer Concerts

The Marina Del Rey concerts featured musicians ranging from the Marina Del Rey Orchestra and Alejandro Escovedo to punkers Yo La Tengo.  The shows drew a sizeable crowd to each of the events. The series will close out with jazz musician Arturo Sandoval.

Valerie June entertains at the Santa Monica Pier - Photo by Donna Balancia

Valerie June entertains at the Santa Monica Pier – Photo by Donna Balancia

Santa Monica Pier

The Pier opened to record numbers for Khalid, featured musicians like Eric Burdon, Valerie June and will wrap up with Warpaint.

Schizophonics put on a show that is not to be believed - Photo by Donna Balancia

Schizophonics put on a show that is not to be believed – Photo by Donna Balancia

EPR Lineup

As for Echo Park Rising, the lineup this year is amazing.  Performers include The Buttertones; Surf Curse; Alice Bag; Black Mambas; Bodegas; Boogaloo Assassins; The Smoky Knights; Cheap Tissue, Dancing Tongues; Plague Vendor; The Sloths, Twin Temple, The Schizophonics, The Knitts and many, many more.

The fest runs Thursday through Sunday. For more information go to the Echo Park Rising website.

Paris Tomkins Brings Back Good Ol’ Rock N Roll with New EP ‘Here’s The Riot’ a Blend of Alt and Cool

Songs of Love, Anger and Freedom


Singer-songwriter Paris Tompkins’ newest EP called Here’s The Riot is a true rock and roll experience, grunge-influenced experience in true rock and roll.

The music on Here’s The Riot is a solid collection of words and melodies portrayed against a backdrop of intricate arrangements and strong production work.

Paris Tomkins ‘Here’s The Riot’ is a great rock and roll EP – Photo courtesy of Here’s The Riot

Some of the music may even get a second life on Amazon Prime’s series One Mississippi next season.

At the helm of this group is Tomkins, whose band Here’s The Riot is kicking some grunge-metal butt.  He’s originally from Houston and moved to Los Angeles at 17 to follow his dream to create music.

Tomkins started out by forming the band Slamhound with singer Josh Todd of Buckcherry, in which he played guitar and sang back up.

Paris Tomkins and Here’s The Riot – Photo courtesy of Here’s The Riot

Paris stepped to the front in the band Church of Mars and later made goth-darkwave music under the name Paris Grim. He’s been influenced by Guns N Roses and Alice in Chains among others.

With Here’s The Riot, Paris returns to his rock n roll roots, writing about love, hope, anger, freedom, alienation, and heartbreak. Paris wrote the music for comedian Tig Notaro’s HBO special, and Love Makes Me Crazy is the single to be featured on the hit TV show One Mississippi.

Mike Patton Debuts as Frontman with Dave Lombardo’s Dead Cross at Observatory for First Show

Dead Cross Rips in the OC


Dead Cross featuring Mike Patton performed the first show at the Observatory in Orange County last night to a receptive and enthusiastic, albeit small crowd.

Dead Cross with Patton as the frontman is an interesting concept.  While both Patton and drummer Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame may be popular nationwide, it was a slow-to-warm crowd at the Observatory that gradually built to near-capacity at the venue.

Patton, whose phenomenal voice was put to use as the hardcore frontman, captivated the crowd. His outfit was pretty offbeat as he wore a Hawaiian-style shirt with grey shorts, knee socks and summer shoes. But appearance aside, once the audience heard the music, and saw the effort, the crowd was enthusiastic with moshers and fans throwing fists in the air.

Dead Cross

Dead Cross at the Observatory – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Enthusiastic but Mixed Reaction

People there had mixed views on the band with some expecting more of a Faith No More type group, but with Lombardo behind the kit it is easy to understand the avant-garde sound.  With Justin Pearson on bass and Michael Crain on guitar it all comes together for positive fan reaction.

Dead Cross will be at the El Rey on Aug. 21.

Ho99o9 – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia


Opening for Dead Cross was the band Ho99o9, which had a sparcer crowd than Dead Cross but ended up converting those unfamiliar with the music, and the band made an impression on the group. It was a close call when there were comments made about the police, but the band recanted and continued to play on.


Neil Hamburger warmed up the room with some crazy music-based jokes. It’s possible this comedian doesn’t take anything for granted and no band or performer is off limits with his sophomoric humor.

Baby Boomers Are Chasing the Music as Hotels and Tourism Destinations Pick Up on the Economic Beat


When rock and roll music came on the scene in the 1960s, a generation of young people fell in love with the new sound. Fifty years later, they have not let go.

Baby boomers are digging into their pockets to see their favorite bands—wherever they may be.

Boomers—those born in the years 1946 to 1964—want relaxation coupled with shared experiences. They are spending money on learning Thai cooking, hitting the world’s beaches, music concerts and festivals.

They’re traveling more than ever. Research shows that most boomers have taken at least one vacation in 2017 but may take up to five throughout the year, according to AARP. Those are happening in the summer and are booked with the purpose of connecting with friends and family.

Music is a big motivator to get boomers—many of whom are now in the retirement age demographic—on the plane, and they are almost always attending in pairs.

Friendship and Memories

In addition to camaraderie, capturing the memories of youth is a big factor for the middle-aged trippers. After all, it’s the boomers who put concert-going on the map. So, what’s the reason for the surge in music travel for boomers?

They finally have the time and money now that the nest is empty.

Desert Trip in Indio, California was held in October and brought out boomers from around the United States, mainly because of its tremendous lineup of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Tickets were hefty, with the most inexpensive starting around $300.

The festival was billed as “Oldchella,” as it’s promoted by the same company that produces Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each year in the same location.

Coachella tends to skew young, but Desert Trip hit the right note as it put boomer travel in the spotlight, enlightening the industry to the spending power the post-40 demographic possesses.

Desert Trip was followed up by The Classic East and The Classic West festivals—which featured Fleetwood Mac; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Eagles; and The Doobie Brothers—drawing big numbers of the over-40 crowd in both the New York and Los Angeles locations. Many of those attending traveled from more than one hour away, and hotels saw a good gain despite the events being held in the middle of the competitive summer season.

Fear Factor

In addition to relaxation and communing with friends, there are other reasons the post-40 crowd wants to hit the road: They don’t want the sedentary life of their parents.

“It’s a matter of fear,” says John Espinosa of Santa Monica.

Espinosa and his wife, Grace, travel around the U.S. if the concert is right.

“I love going to shows, and I will travel to see a festival,” he said. “I love The Who, The Stones and a lot of other bands. But one thing is I think sometimes I keep moving because I don’t want to be like my parents, who stayed home all the time. I think their health suffered for it.”

The success of these concert events has set the travel industry in motion as plenty of new music festivals catering to the retirement crowd are being planned daily.

Festival Packages

Hotel and festival ticket packages are sold for a variety of events throughout the country, with many featuring artists of genres other than rock music.

Essence Music Festival is held each year in New Orleans as a jazz-based event in one of America’s jazziest cities. Country Music is represented heavily on the festival circuit as well: Country Music Awards each year draws thousands of boomer-aged fans to Nashville

Music festivals also bring ancillary spending. Hotels see a sharp gain when music events are held over the course of two days or more. Destinations are able to reap the rewards when a fest stretches longer than two days as many boomer couples and groups of friends get the time to take a side-trip, sightsee or have a meal outside of the arena or festival grounds.

Fishbone Enters a New Phase as Members Look Back, And to a Future Without Curtis Story

One of Punks Founding Bands Continues On


Beyond Baroque has its hands full for 2017.

The historic arts hangout in Venice is one of the West Coast’s destinations if you want to know about the rise of punk in Los Angeles. This year is a pivotal year in punk as many of the bands we know celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Norwood Fisher and the Nextperience – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Fishbone’s Influence

“A lot of the bands you know started right here,” said Tequila Mockingbird, who works with the Punk Museum as well as Beyond Baroque. Among those bands she’s referring to are the band X, which also celebrates its 40th this year.

But punk is not without its diverse elements.  Fishbone was on hand the other night to screen the movie Everyday Sunshine and play some tunes. It was a celebration of the life of former band member Curtis Story and perhaps prepare the public for a new form of the Fishbone band.

2017 Donna Balancia

Angelo Moore and the Missing Links – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

New Bands

Splinter bands Norwood and The Familyhood Nextperience, and Angelo Moore and The Missing Links performed in honor and celebration of the life of ex-band member Curtis Story.

One of the big punk influences that emerged in that era was Fishbone, which featured one of the largest bands in memory. Anyone who has been to a Fishbone show knows it’s pure calamity, with stage diving, crowd surfing and great, upbeat ska-punk jazzy sound.

Angelo Moore and his theremin – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Beyond Baroque

In celebrating the “40 years of Punk” series, Fishbone members appeared at Beyond Baroque for a screening of the movie Everyday Sunshine. The film tells the story of Fishbone and how the band got its start, influenced by changing times in Los Angeles.

The band’s unique black-as-punk experience that started in the valley was the birth of a new sound.  At a time when Joey Ramone and the Sex Pistols took the East Coast by storm, Fishbone was one of the West Coast pioneers with its impressive perspective of punk from the multicultural view.

Flyin’ Jay Armant known for his stage diving and his horn – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Changes for Fishbone

But changes are afoot. In the movie Fishbone is depicted as the hot hit band that it is, but struggles are continual, many in part due to a changing record industry.  The loss of certain members has impacted the band greatly.

Norwood Fisher said a blood clot traveled up to Story’s brain from his leg and while he was ambulatory, he was never the same.

The Missing Links – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Party at Ground Zero

Fishbone is evolving yet again as the band members are doing their own thing. It’s not necessarily the end of the band, but the band may not present the way it has throughout its history.

The two new bands are entertaining as Angelo and his group scat it up with cool rythms and a fun front woman.  As for Fisher, he plugs along with projects and his music. He is hopeful Fishbone can keep on going. Judging by the sounds emanating from the Beyond Baroque it’s a good bet Fishbone will continue to “Party at Ground Zero.”

Angelo Moore with Tequila Mockingbird – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

VIDEO: Gorillaz Release New Dance Track, ‘Strobelite’ Off Most Recent Album, ‘Humanz’

Gorillaz To Play Outside Lands Fest


Gorillaz have released a new dance track from their latest album Humanz, called “Strobelite.”

Directed by Stoke native and Murdoc Niccals’ acolyte Raoul Skinbeck, the “Strobelite” video features Peven Everett along with band members 2D, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel Hobbs smashing it on a night out at an infamous London hotspot.

Skinbeck, a longtime acquaintance of Niccals, has a long and illustrious career in producing TV ads for a local double glazing company based in Stoke on Trent and Murdoc thought he’d be rather good at making pop videos.

A remix of Strobelite by producer Kaytranada is set to land this month.

Also coming in time for Notting Hill Carnival is a dancehall remix of Saturnz Barz by Cadenza, featuring all new verses from Mad Cobra, Assassin, Kila P and Teddy Bruckshot in addition to original vocals by Popcaan and Damon Albarn.

Gorillaz live show has received a strong response.  The band headlined the inaugural Demon Dayz festival in Margate earlier this summer and most recently opened their Humanz world tour across sold out dates in the US.

The full list of upcoming North American dates on the Humanz Tour is:

8/11/17 – San Francisco CA – Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
9/16/17 – New York, NY – Meadows Music & Arts Festival
9/18/17 – Detroit, MI – Fox Theatre
9/20/17 – Minneapolis, MN – Roy Wilkins Auditorium
9/22/17 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
9/24/17 – Las Vegas, NV – Life Is Beautiful Festival 2017
9/26/17 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
9/30/17 – Seattle, WA – KeyArena at Seattle Center
10/05/17 – Los Angeles, CA – The Forum
10/8/17 and 10/15/17 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival
10/11/17 – Duluth, GA – Infinite Energy Center
10/13-15/17 – Miami FL – III Points Festival

Valerie June: A Darling of a Performer Who Took Fans at the Santa Monica Pier by the Soul and Heartstrings

Irma Thomas Glitters at Twilight Concert Series


One thing about Valerie June, for a little gal from Tennessee, she’s got a boatload of soul.

Love her voice or not, she is a multi-talented musician who hits the figurative high notes better than anyone and turns misty moments into thunderous applause.

Does she sound a little bit like a young Dolly Parton?  More than that, there’s an actual resemblance on many levels. Like the great Parton, June has a similar style, with glittery appearance, big hair, cleverly heartfelt songwriting and solid musicianship.

Valerie June entertains at the Santa Monica Pier – Photo by Donna Balancia

Valerie June: ‘The Order of Time’

Her music covers everything from being held down to being set free and most of life’s relationship experiences in between.

On the new album, The Order of Time, the standout songs include “Shakedown,” “As If,” “Astral Plane,” “Two Hearts” and the upbeat showstopper “Got Soul,” which she shared with an audience that was eager but relatively small in number compared to some of the previous sessions of Twilight Concert Series.

Valerie June captures life's ups and downs in her music - Photo by Donna Balancia

Valerie June captures life’s ups and downs in her music – Photo by Donna Balancia

Snapchat Spat

For the most part, her performance, part of the Twilight Concert Series presented by Venice-based Snapchat, was a hit. Snapchat, however, received a strong round of boos from the audience and it was unknown if that was for its overwhelming real-estate dealings or its timed release of weird flying things into the air during the series. Some people even went as far as violently stabbing and puncturing an inflatable Snapchat beach ball until it was little more than a small pile of limp vinyl cast into the trash.

Valerie June kicks up her heels at the Santa Monica Pier – Photo by Donna Balancia

‘Midst of Great Fortune’

It was clear it hasn’t been all wine and roses for the gal from Tennessee.  That was evident from some of the songs on her 2013 breakout album Pushin Against a Stone, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. In Santa Monica, her voice was shaky during some brief times during the show.  At one point, she declared: “I am in the midst of great fortune. You don’t have to beg for the blues.”

June gave good insight into her songwriting process when she recalled that she prayed she wouldn’t lose the melody and unique riff in “Man Done Wrong,” keeping it in her head until she could get home to get it all down.

Irma Thomas is the grandmother of soul – Photo by Donna Balancia

Irma Thomas

But the day into night on the pier wouldn’t have been as special had it not been for the elegant and grandmotherly presence of the grande dame of song, Irma Thomas.  She’s a great-grandmother, actually, and she pointed out her family among the fans in the crowd. Thomas has been an inspiration to the biggest soul singers of our day.

She is known for songs such as “Time Is On My Side,” “Wish Someone Would Care and “It’s Raining.”

Thomas won a Grammy in 2006 for her album After The Rain, but her biggest achievement has been family, she said.

The 1960s icon has still got it goin’ on, extending a great rapport with her audience and joking about everything from her age to the lengthy and loving marriage to her husband, who escorted her up the stairs and onto the stage. She had the crowd cracking up when she said her husband was so high maintenance he could run away but he would be returned.

Valerie June is on a worldwide tour with new album – Photo by Donna Balancia



Valerie June Setlist:

The Hour

Man Done Wrong

Love You Once

Tennessee Time


Slip slide

With You

Two Hearts

Can’t Be Told

Workin Woman

If And



Lonely So Long

Got Soul


Dee Snider, Jesse Hughes and Hard Rock Royalty Pay Tribute to David Z on The Sunset Strip

Whisky A Go-Go Event Goes Off at 8 P.M.

Photo of Paulie Z By DONNA BALANCIA

Musicians at the Whisky A Go-Go will pay tribute tonight to bassist David Z, who was killed in a car accident while on tour with band Adrenaline Mob.

The event will be held at the Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip at 8 p.m.

Artists expected to perform during the special edition of the Whisky’s weekly jam session include Dee Snider, Jesse Hughes and Sebastian Bach.

David Z Foundation was created to keep children involved in music

Donate Now

A foundation to help support young people has been founded to keep alive his legacy of making music an important part of childrens lives. Go To

“David was such a champion of young people and music,” Dee Snider said in a Tweet. “It’s great that this is being set up in his name.”

David is the brother of the weekly jam session emcee and regular Paulie Z.  The family name is Zablidowsky. David only was 38 years old.

The musicians ask for patrons to get to the Whisky A Go-Go early tonight as there are space constraints.

Check out this video courtesy of Adrenaline Mob called “Doobie Mob”




Iggy Pop, Ty Segall — Rock’s Newest BFFs — Join Hot Lineup at Desert Daze Fest in Joshua Tree Oct. 12-15

Veteran Rocker and Beloved Local Join Forces


The newest BFFs in rock and roll — Iggy Pop and Ty Segall — have signed on to headline Desert Daze fest Oct. 12-15 in Joshua Tree.

And the new force in rock and roll is fitting as Desert Daze has a history of blending vintage alternative acts with up-and-coming young musicians.

Ty Segall to join Iggy Pop at Desert Daze - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia for

Ty Segall to join Iggy Pop at Desert Daze – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia for

Desert Daze 2017

Pop and Segall join the ranks of some of the most beloved bands in California and around the U.S. when they signed on for this year’s event. Eagles of Death Metal and John Cale are among the staggering list of performers.

Segall is not one to be left in the dust when it comes to wild festivities and once Pop gave the nod to Desert Daze, Segall was in.  Iggy Pop took command of the FYF Fest two weekends ago in Exposition Park.

Jesse Hughes, alias "Boots Electric" and Eagles of Death Metal will be on hand at Desert Daze - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Jesse Hughes, alias “Boots Electric” and Eagles of Death Metal will be on hand at Desert Daze – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Ty Segall, Iggy Pop and the Joshua Tree Connection

Segall opened for Pop at the local fest, and told his audience it was an “honor” to share the stage with the so-called godfather of punk. Segall has a devoted following of his own and is a semi-regular at the Teragram Ballroom as well as the Spaceland venues.

Pop, meanwhile, seems to have a love for everything California these days.  He headlined the Burger Boogaloo fest in Oakland last month prior to FYF and was welcomed by thousands of cheering, moshing California fans there and then in the latter part of July in Los Angeles.

**Check out Iggy Pop and Ty Segall at FYF**

“Ty’s got so many bands it’s hard to keep track,” said Teague Smith, one of Segall’s most serious fans. “He’s one of the best musicians we have and his music is based on appreciation of the history of music.”

Josh Homme is like rock and roll glue joining together all facets of music - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Josh Homme is like rock and roll glue joining together all facets of music – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Josh Homme Will Not Suffer ‘Post Pop Depression’

It’s no surprise Pop and Segall announced they’re on the bill at the same time as they share a friend in common, Josh Homme.  Homme is a frequent visitor to Segall’s shows and vice versa.  Of course, Homme and Pop put together a doozie of a project with Post Pop Depression, including the record, a worldwide tour and the movie, American Valhalla about the making of the movie.

**Read the American Valhalla Review by Dan MacIntosh**

It’s clear the guys are all going to be hanging out at the Joshua Tree compound where the music for Post Pop Depression was created.  Homme said in the movie American Valhalla that he was afraid that after the musical collaboration with the vintage punker he would suffer “Post-Pop depression,” and thus the name. But that seems not to be the case.

Iggy Pop at Desert Daze Photo by Donna Balancia

Iggy Pop leaps during performance Sunday in Exposition Park – Photo by Donna Balancia

Eagles of Death Metal, Thurston Moore, John Cale

Iggy Pop blasts apart an unbelievable lineup that tops last year’s compelling slate that included headliner and proto-punk pioneer Tom Verlaine and Television, Temples and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Last year, Desert Daze touted some impressive players with Verlaine and Television headlining and beloved acts like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Thee Oh Sees, Temples and Thee Commons keeping the crowds moving in the dusty terrain.

**Check out coverage of 2016 Desert Daze**

This year, the festival will take place Oct. 12-15 and will blow doors in blending young bands with the vintage founders of alt music. Iggy and Ty join an illustrious slate including Eagles of Death Metal and John Cale, Thurston Moore Group, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Spiritualized, Sleep, the Allah-Las and many more.

Deap Vally and Jjuujjuu, who played a prominent and welcomed role on the Desert Caravan series of concerts, by Spaceland and Knitting Factory, also appear in the lineup.

For more information go to

Cheetah Chrome Revives ‘Dead Boys,’ and Talks Tour and a New Album in an Exclusive Interview

‘Stiv Would Say, Why Ain’t I Involved?’


The Dead Boys have come back to life.

Cheetah Chrome is touring with a renewed Dead Boys band and will be releasing a new album, Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40! 

Johnny Blitz, drummer from the original Dead Boys, rejoins Cheetah with Chinchy on guitar, Detroit punk legend Ricky Rat on bass, and vocalist Jake Hout from ‘zombie’ Dead Boys tribute band, the Undead Boys. They launch their tour in Dallas on Sept. 7 and the album drops Sept. 8 on Plowboy Records.

Jake Hout and Cheetah Chrome of the revived Dead Boys – Photo © 2017 Heather Harris

Hilly’s Gift

“We have a band together now, and we have the opportunity to use the name,” Cheetah said. “And now I’m in the merch business.” That’s because the late manager and CBGB owner Hilly Kristal left Cheetah the Dead Boys name in his will, Cheetah said.

How does it feel to reunite with Johnny?

“Johnny”s totally happy to be back in the fold,” Cheetah said. “He says ‘You’re a good man, Chrome, this is fun.’ Me and Johnny have been playing since we were 15. We’re going back to the beginning with me and him. To have him come back and playing and having a great time getting along is really wonderful,” Cheetah said.


Listen to Song Premiere from Flamin Groovies: ‘Cryin’ Shame’ Exclusively on


Check out a song premiere released exclusively through and by the Flamin’ Groovies, called “Cryin’ Shame.”

“Cryin Shame” is one of the hot new tracks off the Flamin’ Groovies’ soon-to-be-released album, Fantastic Plastic. The album marks the first time in 38 years the band’s leaders Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson have reunited in the studio.

Check out the track “Cryin’ Shame” Fantastic Plastic, which hits the streets Sept. 22.

Fantastic Planet

Fantastic Plastic will be released on Sonic Kicks and Severn Records, distributed by Sony Red/MRI. The record is produced by Jordan and Joel Jaffe — who also contributes guitar — mostly at Studio D in Sausalito, Calif.

Jordan and Wilson split in 1980 and reunited in 2013 and they’ve been playing gigs.

On Fantastic Plastic, there are 10 new songs co-written by Jordan and Wilson, plus covers of the Beau Brummels’ “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad.” The guys will be hitting the East Coast, then it’s on to Europe and the midwest.

The new album brings back the Groovies’ Sire Records lineup, which cut Shake Some Action (1976) and its follow-ups Flamin’ Groovies Now (1978) and Jumpin’ in the Night (1979), which fused the band’s 1960s-bred rock classicism with the new-look voltage of punk rock.


Tues., Aug 22  WORCESTER, MA  Ralph’s Diner
Wed., Aug 23  NEW HAVEN, CT  Cafe Nine
Thurs., Aug 24  PHILADELPHIA, PA  Johnny Brenda’s
Fri., Aug 25  BROOKLYN, NY  Rough Trade
Sat., Aug 26  WASHINGTON DC  Hill Country Live
Thurs., Aug. 31  MALMO (SWE)  Moriska Paviljongen
Sat., Sept. 2  ROSKILDE (DK)  Gutter City Festival
Mon., Sept. 4  LA CORUNA (SP)  Garufa Club
Wed., Sept. 6  AVILES (SP)  Niemayer
Thurs., Sept. 7  BILBAO (SP)  Cafe Antzokia
Fri., Sept. 8  MADRID (SP)  Sala Caracol
Sat., Sept. 9  SAIT BOIX (SP)  Festival Altaveu
Tues., Sept. 12  TOULOUSE (FR)  Connexion
Wed., Sept. 14  PARIS (FR)  La Maroquinerie
Fri., Sept. 15  NANCY (FR)  Chez Paulette
Sat., Sept. 16  MONTBELIARD (FR)  Atelier Des Moles
Tues., Sept. 19  MANCHESTER (UK)  Ruby Lounge
Wed., Sept. 20  BRISTOL (UK)  The Fleece
Thurs., Sept. 21  LONDON (UK)  Under the Bridge
Fri., Sept. 22  AMSTERDAM (NL) Q-Factory
Sat., Sept. 23 GRONINGEN (NL) Vera
Thurs., Oct. 19  CHICAGO, IL  S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston
Fri., Oct. 20   NEWPORT, KY  Southgate House Revival
Sat., Oct. 21  CLEVELAND, OH  Beachland Ballroom
Wed., Oct 24  NASHVILLE, TN  Basement East
Thurs., Oct 25  ST. LOUIS, MO  Ready Room
Fri., Oct 26  KANSAS CITY, MO  Knuckleheads

Go to the Flamin’ Groovies Facebook page and Check out the Flamin’ Groovies in LA last year:

Parisian Trio, TALIA, Tours The West, Brings Big Punk Rock Sound to San Diego and Northern California


After rocking the Whiskey a Go-Go last summer, the band TALIA returns to California to captivate Northern and Southern California.

It’s the second year in a row that Talia hits the West Coast, playing shows all over California, from the Bay Area to San Diego. This will be their first US dates since their critically acclaimed performance at the Whisky a Go-Go almost a year ago today.


The TALIA dates are here:

  • July 29th Winters – Pacifica
  • August 3rd The Bancroft – Spring Valley
  • August 5th Stork – Oakland (Bay Area)
  • August 13th The Holding Company – San Diego

With their aggressive riffs, heavy basslines, and wonderfully intense drum beats, TALIA appears to always be ‘on the verge of implosion.’

Their third album, Thugs They Look Like Angels, was a worthy successor to Cockroach Killer, released in 2008, and Permanent Midlife Crisis, released in 2013. In a country often starved of national rock icons TALIA bear the mantle of musical predecessors in bands like Trust and Noir Desir by pouring love on their French fan base.

TALIA has appeared in the French edition of Rolling Stone and has opened for numerous artists, such as Nashville Pussy (2017) and Soul Asylum (2016).  TALIA has been setting the scene on fire with plenty more to come.

Famous in France

With more than 100 shows in France under their belt over the years, the band has thoroughly delved into their home market and kept its eyes on opportunities abroad. Fans on the West Coast will be happy to see them return somewhere a little closer to home.

TALIA’s desire to tap into the aesthetic and landscape of 1990s alt-rock should appeal to fans of Hole and the Pixies, while their track record touring with a wide range of bands will ensure that new fans will get the opportunity to be transfixed and touched by their music.

With ten tracks blending fantasy and reality, urban wastelands with fantastical power structures TALIA have encapsulated strange new worlds on Thugs They Look Like Angels.


John Waite Won’t be ‘Missing You’ as he Launches 40th Anniversary Tour at Canyon Tonight


John Waite, lead singer for The Babys, will celebrate his 40th anniversary of making music with a tour kicking off at the Canyon in Agoura tonight.

Waite, known for The Babys songs “Isn’t It Time,” and “Everytime I Think of You,” has amassed a following of not only veterans but young followers as well.

He launched his solo career in 1982 with the album, Ignition, and never looked back.

His next album, No Brakes, released in 1984 brought the megahit, “Missing You,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is one of the classic love songs of the 1980s and was in high rotation on MTV.

Tina Turner Cover

Tina Turner covered the song, “Missing You,” after Waite’s version knocked her “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” out of the top spot on the charts.

No Brakes sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S.

After The Canyon, Waite hits the Coach House on Friay, The Rose in Pasadena on Saturday, Talking Stick Resord in Scottsdale on Aug. 11, and then takes his tour back East, hitting Plymouth, N.H., Richmond, Va., and Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y.

Ty Segall, Iggy Pop and Chicano Batman Shine at Uneven FYF Fest; Nine Inch Nails Closes with ‘Hurt’

Fest May Return to Historic Park in 2018


Performances by Ty Segall, Chicano Batman, and Iggy Pop highlighted an otherwise uneven FYF Fest last weekend at Exposition Park.

Rumor has it that the event — which attendees say suffered logistical challenges —  could be moving back to Historic Park in Chinatown next year.

Chicano Batman frontman Bardo Martinez dances at FYF – Photo by Donna Balancia

Parking snafus and entrance issues occurred Friday night and delays at ticket pickup were out of the ordinary.  But the diverse if not unusual lineup mix of Frank Ocean, Bjork, Solange, Missy Elliott, Run The Jewels and Nine Inch Nails were enough to please any eclectic taste and were worth the logistical challenges some encountered.

Iggy Pop leaps during performance Sunday in Exposition Park - Photo by Donna Balancia

Iggy Pop leaps during performance Sunday in Exposition Park – Photo by Donna Balancia

It was the acts on the Lawn Stage on Sunday that stole the show. Iggy Pop, Ty Segall, Cherry Glazerr, Chicano Batman and Run The Jewels ran away with the prize before thousands of enthusiastic moshers.

Cherry Glazerr

Cherry Glazerr’s upbeat and charming performance is always a hit with locals in Los Angeles.  The band has a style that is unique, a combination of punk and new-alternative and the musicianship is vintage.

Cherry Glazerr - Photo Donna Balancia

Cherry Glazerr – Photo by Donna Balancia

Ty Segall

The remarkably talented Ty Segall is a regular at the July festival and as usual he gave his all, wasting no time and kicking off his set with “Play Your Guitar” and treating the crowd to his abstract and wild style. The moshers and crowd surfers warmed up with him and put on the full press with Iggy.

Video courtesy of Prestoff2000

Iggy Pop Whips a Frenzy

One thing about the King of Punk, there is experience, longevity and a surprising dose of humility as his set came at sunset on the Lawn Stage. #IggyPop has come off a wildly successful run touring with Josh Homme for Post Pop Depression.

Iggy’s Career

He opened by running on stage and drawing in the crowd with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” a song that has endured throughout a 50-year career.  Iggy’s work may have been misunderstood in the day, but one trademark about a good song – it endures the test of time.

Iggy Pop – Photo by Donna Balancia

Search and Destroy

Iggy’s music may not have been understood when he was in his teens and 20s mainly because there was no frame of reference to anything like it.  Now today with YouTube, he has achieved worldwide acclaim and praise from big bands who draw on him as their inspiration.

Iggy Pop shows ’em how it’s done – Photo by Donna Balancia

Inspiring Iggy

And inspire he did as he sang an impassioned hour-long set, sweating, spitting, falling down on stage, whipping the floor, throwing the mic stand, putting the microphone in his pants,  and, well … just being Iggy.  The crowd of surfers and moshers left their black and blue marks on many in the aftermath of Iggy’s tight music, which ranged from Stooges songs to the David Bowie-produced selections off The Idiot.

Iggy in the prime of his career – Photo by Donna Balancia

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman, the local LA band with crossover appeal, really played their hearts out to their thousands of adoring fans. With Bardo and the crew, it’s always a classy affair that draws an enormous crowd. The band has grown so popular they’ve been running meet-and-greet events after their performances.

Video courtesy of Alex Pena

Chicano Batman shows love to the audience – Photo by Donna Balancia

Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels brought the fans and didn’t disappoint. Their infamous music and stage presence is well earned and they build new followers by the dozens.

Check out Run The Jewels video courtesy of EdNLA:

Mainstream Performers

Not to be overlooked are the performances that earned mainstream media attention.

When you have a famous sister and you ate seeking your own path, what better way to be noticed than to do a local festival. Often. Solange is no stranger to the annual July festival.

“Her performance is great and I love her songs,” said Elvia Martinez of Silverlake. “She is different than Beyonce.”

Check out Solange video, courtesy of Prestoff2000

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean serenading Brad Pitt was a highlight to many attendees and the event dominated social media.

Check out video courtesy of Christian Kassoff:

Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott brought her girl power crew of supporters and fans, she’s a survivor.

Video courtesy of EdNLA:


As far as productions go, #FlyingLotus #Bjork and Nine Inch Nails took the honors from fest goers for most amazing and mind-blowing experiences:

Flying Lotus

Video courtesy Joan Jetsetter, Bruno Pritchard (warning: pulsating light)



Bjork never disappoints and this time around, the Icelandic talent outdid herself complete with full orchestra.   Video courtesy of Prestoff2000


Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails, while giving a taste of new songs, did not finish with the now infamous David Bowie song “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” but performed it in the middle of a great mix of old and new tunes. The #NIN version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” by Bowie was hardly upbeat as the song comes from Black Star, the album Bowie created while dying.

It was worth the three year wait to see Trent Reznor show his stuff as the frontman of a band that has always been known for dynamic performances and intriguing musical dynamic.


Ending Fest on a Downer

#NiN actually wrapped up the night with “Hurt,” the ultimate downer tune by Johnny Cash which they famously cover. That was the encore.

(If you really want bizarre Check out the perverted Kermit The Frog version of “Hurt” on YouTube.

In any event, the last note of the festival was fitting for an event that has enjoyed many years of attendance, with a local LA flavor that may or may not be a taste for the masses.



Craig Hammons: The B-52s With Pacific Symphony Create The ‘Cosmic Party’ in Orange County

Pacific Symphony Joins B52s


After almost four decades of shaking and shimmying their way around the world The B-52s landed at the Pacific Amphitheatre on this cool summer night to get the party started.  The OC Fair was in full swing and what else could you ask for but a cold beer, fried Twinkies and The B-52s.

Tonight’s show was going to be special as they would be performing a set with the Pacific Symphony.

Fred Schneider dons groovy wig at B52s show – Photo by Craig Hammons

Preserving the B52s Boogie

I preserved my boogie as I knew once they hit the stage it would be a nonstop dance party.   The audience was full of fans wearing bee hive hairdos and loud bright clothes.  The capacity crowd was whipped into a frenzy as soon as The B-52s stepped on stage and launched right into the title track to 1989’s “Cosmic Thing,” produced by the great Nile Rodgers and Don Was.  Everyone was up on their feet and shaking their honeybuns.

Without missing a beat they went right into “Mesopotamia” which accented the 3 part harmonies of Fred, Cindy and Kate.  They kept the pace going and went into “Funplex” the title track of their most recent album.  The first set was full of deeper cuts from their vast catalogue with songs like “Whammy Kiss” and “Channel Z.”   But on this summer night they played “Summer of Love,” off of 1986’s “Bouncing Off the Satellites which hasn’t been played regularly live in years.  Then Fred comes out with a wig on and they do a really obscure goofy song called “Wig.”   The B-52s closed out the first set with the moving and grooving number “Strobe Light.”

Kate Pierson and the B52s ‘Roam’ where they want to – Photo by Craig Hammons

Pacific Symphony and B52s

The B-52s after a short break returned for the next set but this time they brought the 50 piece Pacific Symphony conducted by Roger Kalia.  You put 50 musicians behind The B-52s sound and it takes it their songs to another level.  They started the second set off with “Planet Claire.”   The orchestra’s string section accented the songs perfectly especially on “Private Idaho.”  Fred was working the stage and encouraging everyone to forget about their problems and have a good time during “Dance This Mess Around.”   The party was in full swing as Fred invited everyone to take a trip with them during “Roam.”

The Pacific Symphony was having a blast as I saw some of the string section singing along while strumming their violins.

Cindy Wilson of The B52s – Photo by Craig Hammons

B52s ‘Shake That Thing’

The party wasn’t over yet and we all knew it.   After “Party Out of Bounds” it was soon time to set sail to the “Love Shack.”    The orchestra added layers to this song you couldn’t imagine.  It sounded so full fun, life and happiness.   I never thought I would be at a dance party with a symphony but the format worked perfect.  The night ended with the crowd pleasing “Rock Lobster” with Cindy and Kate singing the in their dramatic falsetto and vibrato yelps from the deep.   Like the B-52s say “shake that thing all night long, shake it man, ya can’t go wrong, rock the house.”   That is exactly what everyone did tonight as we forgot about our problems and shook our suitcase under the stars.

UK Music Producer Kevin Armstrong Talks Playing FYF Fest and Lucky ‘Second Chance’ With Iggy Pop

An FYF Edition of The California Rocker Q and A


Kevin Armstrong has played with some of the most creative and and famous frontmen in music. He worked with not only David Bowie, but he has performed and led the bands for Thomas Dolby, Sinead O’Connor, and now he has reunited with Iggy Pop, with whom he worked during the Blah Blah Blah years in the mid-1980s.  Three years in, and with an FYF Fest performance tonight, Kevin sat down with editor Donna Balancia to answer the important questions about music.

CR: Kevin, how did you reconnect with Iggy Pop and get back with the band?

KA: It started with a guy named Tom Wilcox, who used to run a gallery in London, he got involved in ICA, a music and arts place. He indulges his fantasies with events, and he gets private and public arts money to put them on. He phoned me and said, ‘It’s the 25th anniversary of Blah Blah Blah would you like to do a semi tribute thing?’  I said yeah I would. I did it, Iggy was watching on the Internet.

KA: I actually contacted Henry McGroggan, Iggy’s manager, and said ‘I’m doing a Blah Blah Blah tribute, would Iggy give his blessing. Henry said yes and “We’ll keep an eye on it.” I said as an aside, “And if you ever need another guitarist, I’m available, ha ha,” and ended the phone call. A year later I get a call from Henry out of the blue, he said “Ron and Scott have passed, The Stooges is over, but there are these shows in England with Foo Fighters at Wembley.” Of course that was an amazing call to get after 30 years. Here we are three years later, he’s digging the band, we’re digging him, it’s going well.

Kevin Armstrong says his parents encouraged his career - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin Armstrong says his parents encouraged his career – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What does working with Iggy again mean to you?

KA: I’ve done a lot of work with high level players like, David Bowie, Thomas Dolby, and it’s been a rare thing for me to revisit this work at this level. I knew I had unfinished business, but I never imagined it would be Iggy and this kind of thing. It’s a second chance to put together all the things you kick yourself for the first time around.

KA: I’ve kicked myself over things like on a basic level, guitar sound, since I didn’t know what I was doing back then. Now I know a lot more about that. Also your general attitude is different. I look at my younger self and think my behavior could have been better. When you’re older you don’t need to prove yourself any more. I’m glad I got a second chance to do this and heal some of the things I felt bad about. Working with Iggy Pop again is like having lightning strike twice and it’s a good feeling. It rarely happens.

CR: How did you react to the news of David Bowie’s death?

KA: David Bowie’s death was a shock. There were rumors. I’m friends with Brian Eno in London and we had discussed it on occasion, you know like ‘Have you seen David?’  There were rumors but I don’t think anyone really knew. It’s the loss of someone completely unique. The minute it was announced my phone started ringing and didn’t stop for two days.  They’d say “Do you want to talk about it?” and I said, “No.” Then as the day wore on it became clear how much he prepared himself through his work. I couldn’t imagine anyone doing it this way. Bowing out this way with an album at the top of the charts and leaving clues. I started to feel I would talk about it, about what an amazing guy he was.

Kevin Armstrong says he's lucky to have another chance to work with Iggy Pop - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin Armstrong says he’s lucky to have another chance to work with Iggy Pop, they’re pictured here at The Ritz – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What was your family like growing up?

KA: On my mother’s side, my grandfather was a drummer, my mother was an accomplished classical pianist. I think she could have had a career as a pianist. But my mom’s a weird person, I’d phone her up and tell her I’m playing with Iggy Pop and opening for a band called Metallica playing before 180,000 people this week in Mexico and she’d say “That’s nice, dear,” then I’d hear from my sister who’d say, “Mum’s really proud of you.”

KA: I’d like to say I consider myself very lucky because I’ve always gotten to do what I love to do. I believe people should do what you want to do. My dad said when I was 16 when I wanted to flunk out of school and join a band, normally your parents would say ‘You’ve got nothing to fall back on,’ my dad said, “Do it, son.” I’m very lucky.

CR: What advice would you give to artists on the way up?

KA: I had this conversation with a friend and he said, ‘If you can find a thousand people interested in what you do, and service them and get them to spend a hundred dollars a year on you, that’s $100,000 a year.’  You can become a tiny industry yourself if you have the energy to do it.

KA: The Internet has driven the quality of music down. John Peel, the DJ in London would play things nobody else would play. He had a strict rule he would not talk over the music. But even he, in the age of endless, by the yard monkey soundtracks made by one bloke and a computer, even he would start to talk over the music in the end. I think it’s better now. I hear a lot of good new artists.

KA: The musicians used to earn from record royalties, now there’s nothing there.  It’s swung back towards live music. It’s kind of done a complete flip, you used to make records to promote live tour, now you give music away to sell tickets. Live skills are really important. That’s why guys like Iggy are still going, that’s where the living is to be made.

Kevin with David Bowie - Photo by Paul McAlpine

Kevin with David Bowie – Photo by Paul McAlpine

CR: What are you working on?

KA: I’m doing lots of things. After this Iggy thing three of us in this band are doing a tour with Mike Garson, David Bowie’s  piano player, then immediately we’re doing a thing with Thomas Dolby. Then I’m the musical director of Gutterdammerung, the movie.

CR: Who is one of the most innovative musicians you’ve worked with?

KA: Thomas Dolby. One of the most innovative, he’s a professor at Johns Hopkins. He’s got a professorship and they gave him a budget to use a theater. He is one of the most innovative and clever musicians I’ve ever worked with and I’m about to work with him again.  I always learn something. I was talking to Earl Slick about being a sideman and the attitude is, the best thing you can do is anything you go into, you can learn something from it. Whether it is to unlearn something you know or learn something. With Thomas I always learn something.

Paul McAlpine photo of Iggy Pop and Kevin Armstrong

Paul McAlpine photo of Iggy Pop and Kevin Armstrong

CR: How does a bandleader and side man work with a dynamic frontman?

KA: You start with examining the work they’ve done. You ask, what makes it good? For instance doing Iggy this time around I figured early on, that what people want to see in my opinion when they buy a ticket, is they want to see the music done right. It’s not Karaoke. Do we want to try recapture the music, and examine what’s good about the record and bring it into the live performance, get girls dancing, get everyone enjoying it. I felt it was up to me to say that to him.  Slow the tempos, make it good, don’t run away with it and respect the original work. For him that’s a big spectrum because he’s an artist who quite uniquely straddles America and Europe. The Stooges are American, yet The Idiot and Lust For Life were part European albums. It’s quite a range of material.

KA: It’s about communication. This time it’s working well. We’re doing quite a lot of Stooges, we’re doing the later stuff and there’s the great record with Josh Homme, Post Pop Depression. We play “Gardenia,” “Break Into Your Heart” and “Sunday.”

CR: What is on the horizon?

KA:  I have a studio at home, but increasingly in the most recent years, I’m less inclined to sit at a computer. I have my projects and I will continue to play live. While I’m still kicking and breathing, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.

Check out the Kevin Armstrong website.

Video courtesy of J.T. Jasinski

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.”

FYF Fest Gets Twitter Livestream Saturday and Sunday, Iggy Pop, NIN, Solange, Headline


The big event in town this weekend is FYF Fest, but if you didn’t get tickets you can still watch Saturday and Sunday night performances for free.

Twitter is streaming the show, bringing into the palm of your hand performances by Iggy Pop, Solange, MGMT, Run The Jewels and Nine Inch Nails.

Iggy Pop, the thinking man’s punk rocker, performs Sunday – Photo by Alyson Camus

Twitter Stream

Check out the stream at and via the account @FYFFEST.

The fest kicks off Friday night and gets an afternoon start at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in Exposition Park.

The top act on Sunday is Iggy Pop, fresh off the accolades for his work on the film “American Valhalla,” which bowed two weeks ago to rave reviews.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails – Photo courtesy of Plain Alicia’s Photography

Bjork, Missy Elliott and NIN

Bjork and Missy Elliott are headliners on Friday, Jonathan Richman, MGMT, Frank Ocean and A Tribe Called Quest play on Saturday. Also on Sunday are headliner Nine Inch Nails, Solange and Ty Segall. On Friday, Russell Alexander opens at 5 p.m.

In addition to the live acts, the feed will also include animations, interaction with the crowd and interviews.

It’s hard to believe the fest has been around for 14 years. It has grown from a small gathering to a festival worthy of its top drawer talent.  Not sure what is the story with press credentials as Goldenvoice turns down many a request on this event.  As of Thursday night, tickets were still available for Friday and Sunday performances.

For more information go to

Rare Photos of The Rolling Stones by Terry O’Neill Hit The Auction Block Online at Art Site


Rare photos of The Rolling Stones are available for auction through

Images of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the bandmembers, on stage and at play, are now available  – including  rare photography of the band by Terry O’Neill.

Check out the photos at the website.

The Rolling Stones collectible photos are available through, some for less than $100.

The Rolling Stones by Terry O’Neill – courtesy of

Online Auctions

In stark contrast to the record-breaking $2.7 million paid in 2005 for a guitar signed by Keith Richards and several other fellow rockers, online auctions provide access and affordable ways for fans to own a piece of rock and roll royalty.

“While there are many rare items that have sold for extraordinary prices, there are also less expensive ways to own a piece of celebrity,” said Pontus Silfverstolpe, auction expert and co-founder of “In a world fascinated by fame, memorabilia from popular musical artists is now highly sought after,” Silfverstolpe said.

With major auctions of rock and pop music collectibles hosted by London and New York auction houses, these photos, along with signed guitars, programs, rare albums and autographs from the Rolling Stones and other artists, will be available through beginning today and running through July 28th.

The Rolling Stones

Among the Rolling Stones items currently available for auction: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” original RIAA white matte gold 45 record award.  Estimate: $7,000 – $9,000

Signed “Bridges to Babylon” Album. Estimate: $3,000 – $4,000

Original Vintage Concert Tour Pins.  Estimate: $300 – $500

8 x 10 black and white original photograph.  Estimate: $75 – $125

Dead Cross Kicks off Two-Month Tour at Observatory in Santa Ana on Aug. 10, Drops New Video

‘Seizure and Desist’ a Dark Political Skewering


Don’t expect Mike Patton and company to leave any controversial subject unchecked.

Take a look at the latest video from Dead Cross, which kicks off a two-month tour at The Observatory on Aug. 10.

After The Observatory, the band, which is comprised of Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson (The Locust, Retox) and Michael Crain (Retox, Festival of Dead Deer), goes on to dates in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Sacramento before hitting the East Coast.



Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain = Dead Cross

Tour dates for Dead Cross

The band is promoting its much-anticipated self-titled album. On tour, Secret Chiefs 3, featuring Patton’s former Mr. Bunglebandmate, Trey Spruance, will open on most dates.

August 10  Santa Ana, CA  The Observatory *

August 11  Las Vegas, NV  Brooklyn Bowl

August 12  Phoenix, AZ  The Marquee *

August 14  Dallas, TX  Gas Monkey Bar & Grill

August 15  Houston, TX  Warehouse Live

August 16  Austin, TX  Emo’s

August 18  Tucson, AZ  The Rialto Theatre *

August 19  San Diego, CA  The Observatory North Park

August 21  Los Angeles, CA  El Rey Theatre

August 23  Berkeley, CA  The UC Theatre

August 25  Vancouver, BC  Vogue Theatre

August 26  Seattle, WA  The Showbox

August 27  Portland  Wonder Ballroom

August 29  Sacramento, CA  Ace of Spades

September 8  Baltimore, MD  Baltimore Soundstage

September 10  Philadelphia, PA  Union Transfer

September 11  Boston, MA  Royale

September 12  New York, NY  Gramercy Theatre

September 13  Brooklyn, NY  Warsaw

September 15  Detroit, MI  St. Andrew’s Hall

September 16  Chicago, IL  Riot Fest *

September 17  Milwaukee, WI  Turner Hall Ballroom

September 19  Minneapolis, MN  First Avenue

September 20  Lawrence, KS  Liberty Hall

September 23  Denver, CO  Ogden Theatre

* – Secret Chiefs 3 do not perform

Eric Burdon to Play Santa Monica Pier Thursday; Drops Throwback Cover of ‘For What It’s Worth’


Eric Burdon, whose wide-ranging musical talents have made him one of the best-loved performers of all time, will play the Santa Monica Pier Thursday night for the Twilight Concerts Series.

Check out The Twilight Concerts web page.

Burdon’s unforgettable and unique sound has made his one of the most well known voices in music.

He was the leader of The Animals and became known for the songs “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and “House of the Rising Sun.”  He led the funk band War, the band everyone knows for songs like “Low Rider” and “Spill The Wine.”

But now he’s making a return to the era from whence he came: Eric has released a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and it’s powerful.

‘No Racism’

Burdon said it was time to come out with this song because he wants to send a message that the resurgence of racism won’t and can’t take hold in a new age.

The single, released in his 76th year on the planet is a good lesson for those who aren’t familiar with his work. For those who remember Burdon, it’s a great step back in time.

Check out the music and catch Eric Burdon at the Santa Monica Pier.


%d bloggers like this: