California Rocker

Award-Winning Online Music Magazine

Future Islands Drops New Video: ‘Ran,’ the Latest Release from Upcoming Album, ‘The Far Field’


Check out Future Islands’ new video, “Ran” from their new album The Far Field, to be released on April 7.  The trio of college pals from who live in Baltimore have hit the right chord with the fans. They’ll be playing the Roxy on April 13; Coachella April 16; Glass House April 19; Pappy and Harriet’s (sold out) April 19 and they’ll be back at Coachella April 23. Check out their website.



The Stitches, The Talented SoCal Punk Band that Out-Punks all the Rest: The California Rocker Q and A

The Stitches at The Viper Room - Photo Donna Balancia

The Stitches at The Viper Room – Photo Donna Balancia


The Stitches are one of the best loved and most appreciated punk bands in Southern California.  The longtime punkers Michael Lohrman, Johnny Witmer, Pete “Action Man'” Archer and Craig “Skibs” Barker recently opened for The Dictators NYC at The Viper Room and stole the show. Johnny Witmer of The Stitches answered the important questions for

CR: What is the best gig — or two — The Stitches ever played?

JW: So many good ones. I’d have to say in the early days (the mid-90s) at The Purple Onion in SF, and that show we did in London in 2013. The two shows we opened for Green Day were pretty interesting…

CR: Did The Stitches ever tour?

JW: Yes we did, and still do. We’ve been to Europe four times, and to to various parts of the country a many times as well.

The Stitches one of LA's most well loved punk bands - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Stitches one of LA’s most well loved punk bands – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


CR: Do you have any new music being recorded?

JW: We’ve had a new LP musically written for about 10 years now, but are still waiting for lyrics to be written. We will have a our Singles Collection LP (all of our rare 7-inch recordings, 1994-2010) released on Burger Records in 2017.

CR: What are the top selling records released by The Stitches

JW: 8×12 is probably our most famous record. We released it ourselves with no distribution, but still did really well. Twelve Imaginary Inches probably sold the most when it was released as TKO records had a good team back then.

The Stitches - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Stitches – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


CR: Any significant band changes?

JW: Not really. We’ve been the same members since 1994 except for drummers. Our second drummer, Skibs, is now our fourth drummer, and he’s been with us this time since the 2003 or so. We recently added Jim Kaa (from The Crowd) on second guitar last year (so Mike’s not the oldest guy in the band anymore)…

CR: Who writes the music?

JW: The Action Man, or myself usually write the music. Mike usually writes the lyrics.

The Stitches - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Stitches – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


CR: What are the topics you discuss in your music?

JW: It used to be about drugs, and prostitutes, but now 2 guys are sober, and 4 guys are married…

CR: Any upcoming gigs?

JW: We’re booking for 2017 now. We’ll play some local gigs, plus we’ll be in the Midwest, Texas, SF and the NW. Hopefully Europe again soon as well.

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.

Morrison Hotel Gallery Presents ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Images,’ Photos of Hip Hop’s Greats

Morrison Hotel Gallery And The Sunset Marquis Hotel Presented Parental Advisory: Explicit Images: A Hip-Hop Photography Event and Exhibit.  Many of the photographs of MHG partner Timothy White were on display.

Timothy White - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Timothy White – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Morrison Hotel Gallery came together with the Sunset Marquis Hotel and PledgeMusic for the unique event, which combines all cultural aspects at the renowned Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood.

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The exhibit featured iconic images of Jay Z, Run DMC N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Tupac, NAS and more, by photographers Timothy White, Clay Patrick McBride, Danny Clinch, Jake Chessum, Janette Beckman, Lawrence Watson, Lisa Leone, Lynn Goldsmith, Mike Miller and Travis Shinn.

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Out by the pool there was a 30-foot screen showing iconic and some never before seen hip-hop footage from films. Morrison Hotel Gallery recently formed a partnership with PledgeMusic.

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

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


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

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

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

Lemmy died last December.

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


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

Steel Panther Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia for California Rocker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Outre - Photo © Donna Balancia

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

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

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

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

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

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