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Koffin Kats Take Their Impressive Rockabilly Punk On the Road After Hot Whisky A Go-Go Show

New Album is ‘Party Time In The End Times’

By ALENA LIM

This is the first performance of a Rockabilly-style group that I have ever seen and I was impressed. Koffin Kats was formed in June 2003 and like any other band, they started off playing gigs in bars and other small locations. Koffin Kats played at The Whisky A Go-Go last week to a packed house.

Some of their music relates to the bad things that happened in our world as well as stuff that’s fiction. The band released their first album Koffin Kats during the first year they began playing, then Inhumane in 2005, and Straying From the Pack in 2006.

Koffin Kats rip it up at Whisky A Go-Go – Photo © Alena Lim for CaliforniaRocker.com

Koffin Kats History

Vic, the lead singer and stand-up bass player starts off the show with inspiration, strong energy, and great vibe followed by Tommy Koffin as the lead guitarist singing by Vic’s side. Eric Walls who has been their first drummer from the beginning has been an important part of their group. Eric was replaced once before by another person for personal reasons, but ended up getting back in touch with the group to begin writing their fourth album called Drunk In The Daylight in 2008. Since the release of that album, Koffin Kats were starting to be recognized and had the opportunity to start touring in Europe while their reputation has already been growing.

Detroit born and bred, the Koffin Kats are hitting the road – Photo © Alena Lim for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Whisky Show

These guys threw one hell of a show at the Whisky for almost two hours. They continuously remain upbeat and extremely active. You will find Vic spinning and twirling his double base instrument. He doesn’t just play it, he dances and embraces his instrument as much as the band embraces the music.

It’s a physical show with Kats climbing the bass – Photo © Alena Lim for CaliforniaRocker.com

Vic’s Bass

Vic “lifts weights” with the instrument, he stands and sits on it, or just merely lays it on top of Tommy’s head. Tommy’s style of playing would make the crowd jump while Vic’s “Elvis” voice gets the room abuzz with blazing excitement. I was never the kind of person to fall head over heels for a musician the way you find girls “go gaga” over Elvis, The Beatles, or Michael Jackson. Seriously? But this band made me feel that way, I enjoyed the Koffin Kats so much, I almost lost my breath, and I mean that metaphorically.

Koffin Kats: A blend of Punk and Rockabilly – Photo © Alena Lim for CaliforniaRocker.com

Check Out New Record

They are currently touring in Northern America. You can find this band Facebook . They’ll be back in Detroit on May 21, Germany on July 9, and Cleveland and New York in August.

Their first official self-released album called Party Time In The End Times on Koffin Kats records is now available. Check out their other additional albums and merchandise at www.koffinkatsrock.com.

Band members: Vic Victor: lead vocals, upright bass; Tommy “T-Bags” Koffin: guitar, vocals; Eric “E Ball” Walls: drums, vocals. Koffin Kats at the Whisky a Go-Go on May 7. Genre: Punk/Rock/Psychobilly

Sound Barrier Performs at Whisky A Go-Go, Set to Release Music Through Tom Morello’s Firebrand Records

By DONNA BALANCIA

The Afro-Metal band Sound Barrier has reunited and will release their music through Tom Morello’s Firebrand Records label, Morello announced during a blowout night at The Whisky A Go-Go.

Hold the phone, Sound Barrier is back - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Hold the phone, Sound Barrier is back – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Sound Barrier and its members put on a great show with special guests and performed their new single “Just A Man,” which will drop April 28.

The legendary band inspired the likes of The Bad Brains, Fishbone and Living Colour. Corey Glover, the dynamic frontman from Living Colour was on hand to celebrate the occasion during Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky.

Tom Morello and pals like Corey Glover, DJ Will, and Dug Pinnick celebrate the return of Sound Barrier - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Tom Morello and pals like Corey Glover, DJ Will, and Dug Pinnick celebrate the return of Sound Barrier – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

“In the 80s there was apartheid in music, where if you had a certain color skin, you could only play a certain kind of music,” Morello said in introducing Sound Barrier. “I realized that as a brown-skinned heavy metal guitar player I confronted a thing called ‘The Jimmy Hendrix Curse’ and every single gig that I played somebody would yell ‘Foxy Lady dude,’ or ‘Burn your guitar dude,’ or ‘Play some Hendrix’ because that was the only reference point they had.

Stars of metal and rock celebrate at Whisky - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Stars of metal and rock celebrate at Whisky – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

“Cut to some years later I’m attending a stuffy Ivy League university putting on my spandex and heading into downtown Boston for Wednesday metal nights where we’d watch metal videos all evening long and I was blown away by a video I saw it looked to me like a black Judas Priest and the name of that band was Sound Barrier. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Sound Barrier’s Bernie Kimball is an original – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Others in attendance included former God Forbid musician Doc Coyle, Dug Pinnick from King’s X and KXM, and Sin Quirin from Ministry. In addition, awards were given to several rock influencers including Willie Basse, musician and producer and one of the influencers of the Sunset Strip and producer Bill Metoyer.

Bernie Kimbell ripped up the vocals, Spacey T Singleton plays guitar, Stanley E. is on bass and Eric Valentine is on the kit. Valentine took over for Dave Brown, who died from cancer in 2013.

Best LA Concerts of 2016: Big Stars in Small Venues, Young Trailblazers, and California Rockers

Bob Weir, Desert Trip, Eagles of Death Metal, The Cure, Make Beautiful Music in 2016

Jesse Hughes and Eagles of Death Metal put on a high-voltage show - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Jesse Hughes and Eagles of Death Metal put on a high-voltage show – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Eagles of Death Metal at The Teragram Ballroom

The band members in The Eagles of Death Metal have coped with a lot and keep going. The most recent excellent performance was a benefit for Dave Rosser, held at Teragram Ballroom. Frontman Jesse Hughes AKA Boots Electric, is one of the most compelling performers — or poseurs — today and holds the audience spellbound with his wild maneuvers, great voice and excellent guitar work. We got an extra bonus on this night: Josh Homme debuted a new song.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Eagles of Death Metal

 

 

The Reluctant Apostles with Katey Sagal: An impressive crew - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Reluctant Apostles with Katey Sagal: An impressive crew – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Reluctant Apostles at Molly Malone’s

The Reluctant Apostles have come a long way in a short time.  The Katey Sagal and Bob Thiele-fronted band like to play at Molly Malone’s and was formed based on their teamwork during Sons of Anarchy.  The Reluctant Apostles are an offshoot of The Forest Rangers, which came to prominence during the uber successful run of SOA. But new things on the horizon from this star-studded cover band: A new Pledgemusic album and more shows to come.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of the Reluctant Apostles

 

Dick Dale gives his fans all he's got - Photo © Donna Balancia

Dick Dale gives his fans all he’s got – Photo © Donna Balancia

Dick Dale and Se7en Reasons Why at Whisky A Go-Go

Where would modern rock and roll be without remarkable performers Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why and the ultimate surf guitar master Dick Dale?  Dale’s varied health issues seem to fade away when Dale is on stage, never far from the watchful eye of his wife, Lana.  New Year’s eve at the Whisky A Go-Go has never been better. Dale comes from an era when you performed no matter what ails you. He led the way in the development of the California sound and he’s a true California Rocker.

The CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Dick Dale at the Whisky A Go-Go

 

The mystical Robert Smith and The Cure are enduring - Photo by Craig Hammons for CaliforniaRocker.com

The mystical Robert Smith and The Cure are enduring – Photo by Craig Hammons for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Cure at The Hollywood Bowl

On one of three sold out nights at The Hollywood Bowl, The Cure would cover over 37 years of Cure songs including the hits, rarities and two unreleased tracks. Reviewer Craig Hammons noted that the set list changed each night with The Cure digging deep into their catalog of impressive material.  Robert Smith and the crew would cover 35 songs in just under 3 hours.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of The Cure at The Hollywood Bowl

 

Nick Waterhouse fuses jazz blues and rock and roll, he's depicted here performing from his Never Twice album - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse fuses jazz blues and rock and roll, he’s depicted here performing from his Never Twice album – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Nick Waterhouse at The Regent Theater

We can’t say enough good things about Nick Waterhouse and His Tarots.  Every time we see Nick, the performance gets better if that’s possible, as was demonstrated at The Regent Theater a couple of weeks ago.  A multi-faceted musician, who writes, performs, and produces others, Nick is a California Rocker on the rise. Openers Sad Girl and Cutty Flam impressed.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Nick Waterhouse, Sad Girl and Cutty Flam

 

The Black Angels were among the bands at Desert Daze - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Black Angels were among the bands at Desert Daze – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Desert Daze

Desert Daze, the enduring fest where up-and-comers and veterans alike kick around in boots, bandanas and shorts still reigns supreme.  An eclectic mix of newbies and veterans, the fest offers a chance to hear new music and gives veterans a chance to show their stuff. Television, Primus and Thee Oh Sees mingled with Brian Jonestown Massacre, L.A. Witch, and Thee Commons.

The CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Desert Daze

 

Gavin Rossdale of Bush on a speaker at The Observatory - Photo © Donna Balancia

Gavin Rossdale of Bush on a speaker at The Observatory – Photo © Donna Balancia

Bush at The Observatory

Gavin Rossdale is a high-energy performer, leaping into the audience and jumping on speakers.  Bush performs all the favorites and this particular show at the Observatory was extremely interactive. After a few rounds of hugs and kisses among his fans, Rossdale jumps onto a speaker and finishes “Monkey” from high above.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Bush at The Observatory

 

Robert Plant - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robert Plant – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Robert Plant at Theatre at the Ace

Robert Plant and his audience share a special bond and that was illustrated clearly at the Theatre at the Ace.  Bringing flowers, love letters and gifts, Robert still has the gals on the edge of their seats.  Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters put on a show that is Led Zeppelin inspired, but takes us to a new and earthy place.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters

 

Soul Asylum takes off at Whisky A Go-Go - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Soul Asylum takes off at Whisky A Go-Go – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Soul Asylum at The Whisky A Go-Go

Dave Pirner keeps going. Whirling around with his guitar and speaking honestly to the audience, with little regard for his sweaty appearance, Pirner is happy to be on stage.  If nothing else Pirner and Soul Asylum are truthful in their performance and the crowd appreciates it. Soul Asylum’s tour started with The English Beat and wrapped solo.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Soul Asylum at The Whisky A Go-Go

 

The English Beat draws the crowds with great performances - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The English Beat draws the crowds with great performances – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The English Beat at The Canyon Club

The English Beat hits a home run every time.  There is not one song from all their famous hits that goes unheard at an English Beat concert and the crowds are devoted.  Dave Wakeling drives the band that has undergone some changes over the years, but the musicians on board are top talents.  Fortunately, The English Beat plays a lot of dates and 2017 shows are all set.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of The English Beat at The Canyon Club

 

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour - Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Michael Franti and the Soulrocker tour – Photo © 2016 Craig Hammons

Michael Franti and Spearhead

Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Pacific Amphitheatre spreads the message of love and compassion for all. The show was such a warm experience that reviewer Craig Hammons said he felt like he left the stadium with 7,000 new friends.  The crowd interlocked arms, danced and sang songs of inclusion and love.  What’s better than an uplifting performance?

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Michael Franti and Spearhead

 

Fartbarf puts all the electronic bands to shame - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Fartbarf puts all the electronic bands to shame – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

FartBarf, David and The Curse at El Cid

Who would think with name like Fartbarf this band would be amazing?  Something must have happened along the way for three guys in caveman masks to call themselves something so silly but play so good.  The electronic music we heard at El Cid blew us out of our shoes.  This is a talented group that does the creators of the Moog proud.  Opener David and The Curse shows how it’s done as this young veteran gives us a new sound that blends Americana with pure rock.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Fartbarf and David and The Curse

 

Kam Franklin and The Suffers triumph at The Echo LA - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Kam Franklin and The Suffers triumph at The Echo LA – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

The Suffers at The Echo

The Suffers bring you to your knees, they’re that good.  Whether you call it, “Gulf Coast Soul” or good ol’ rock and roll, Kam Franklin and the band bring a blues-influenced power sound to the masses. We caught The Suffers at the Echo, one of our favorite venues, and the place was busting at the seams trying to contain the adoring fans.

The CaliforniaRocker.com Review of The Suffers at The Echo

 

Sad Lovers and Giants - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Sad Lovers and Giants – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Sad Lovers and Giants at The Echoplex

Sad Lovers and Giants put on a show for a lifetime at our well-loved venue the Echoplex, bringing 80s new wave to a young, enthusiastic crowd. It’s sad for fans that this beloved British band may not return to the U.S. any time soon, but we are thrilled to have caught Garçe Allard, Tony McGuinness, Nigel Pollard, Ian Gibson and Will Hicks at least once.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Sad Lovers and Giants at the Echoplex

 

The Who - Photo courtesy of Desert Trip for CaliforniaRocker.com

The Who – Photo courtesy of Desert Trip

Desert Trip

Reviewer Bob Busby called Desert Trip one of the best experiences of his life.  That comes from someone who has been to thousands of shows and festivals. Aside from Roger Waters’ rantings, the moon appearing during Neil Young’s performance of “Harvest Moon,” was a highlight.  And how can you do much better than Sir Paul McCartney sharing the stage with the pop princess Rihanna? Stay tuned for next year.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Desert Trip

 

Mike Campbell and Jason Sinay - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Mike Campbell and Jason Sinay – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The Dirty Knobs at The Echoplex

Mike Campbell and The Dirty Knobs put on a fun, upbeat show, complete with cover songs you haven’t heard in a while. Jason Sinay and Campbell play off each other as “Gator” and “Ape” in a band where nicknames are abundant as dolphins in Florida.  The Dirty Knobs is a band to check out when they play their few gigs every year. They haven’t recorded anything so go live or go home.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of The Dirty Knobs at The Echoplex

 

Bob Weir on tour with 'Blue Mountain' album - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Bob Weir on tour with ‘Blue Mountain’ album – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Bob Weir at The Wiltern

The well-worn co-founder of The Grateful Dead only gets better as the years go on. He introduced a new album and played to a crowd at The Wiltern that was comprised of not only Grateful Dead veterans but young, rainbow-clad and dread-sporting fans. Bob still has the verve and enthusiasm and the sounds ring true.

See the CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Bob Weir at The Wiltern

 

Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In leaps into the air during a performance at the Hollywood Palladium - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At The Drive-In leaps into the air during a performance at the Hollywood Palladium – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

At The Drive-In at Hollywood Palladium

It’s a rare treat to get to see At The Drive-In, but frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala is one of the most entertaining performers in the business. It’s clear from his leaping at The Hollywood Palladium last summer that he’s got a background in skateboarding and he’s a no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall musician, saving nothing for himself and giving the crowd his all.  See our award winning-shot of Cedric Bixler Zavala.

The CaliforniaRocker.com Review of At The Drive-In

 

Teri Le Butcherettes Photo by Donna Balancia

Teri of Le Butcherettes surfs the crowd – Photo by Donna Balancia

Le Butcherettes at Hollywood Palladium

Teri Gender Bender is the most physical female performer out there and her shows at The Regent Theater, The Echoplex and opening set for At The Drive-In prove it. There are few who can compare to this precious young rock and roll veteran whose demeanor after the show is remarkably calm compared to her rebellious and taunting onstage persona.  Despite personnel changes over the years, one thing remains a constant: Teri’s talent.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review for Le Butcherettes

 

Joe Bonamassa performs during celebration of B.B. King - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Joe Bonamassa performs during celebration of B.B. King – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

GRAMMY Foundation Honors BB King at Wallis Annenberg

BB King may be gone, but The GRAMMY Foundation hosted a bevy of blues slinging rock stars to honor him at The Annenberg: Slash, Tedeschi Trucks, Joe Bonamassa and a heavenly host of blues performers sang and played the blues in BB’s honor.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review for B.B. King at the Annenberg

 

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer and Marshall Crenshaw – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Wayne Kramer’s Jail Guitar Doors at The Ford Theatres

Wayne Kramer, Don Was and pals put on an amazingly entertaining show at The Ford Theatres to raise money for their charity that serves those behind bars.  The show featured Marshall Crenshaw and a slew of talent to help Wayne raise money for the charity that is close to his heart.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Wayne Kramer and Jail Guitar Doors

 

Bad Boy Eddy - Photo by Donna Balancia

Bad Boy Eddy Rocks Cruefest – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Cruefest 2016 at Whiskey A Go-Go

Cruefest Hollywood 2016 brings the kindest hearted metal performers to the Whisky A Go-Go stage each year.  It was a Who’s Who of metal with  Heartbreak Heroes from Oklahoma and Los Angeles; Snake Bite Whisky from Brisbane, Australia; Bad Boy Eddy from Northern California; Stonebreed; Wreking Crue from Detroit, and Mick Scott and Se7en Reasons Why; Blacklist Union, Lunden Reign, Westfield Massacre, and L.A. Story; all of whom are from Los Angeles.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Cruefest 2016 at the Whisky A Go-Go

 

Brian Wilson and band at Hollywood Bowl - Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson and band at Hollywood Bowl – Photo by Craig Hammons

Brian Wilson at The Hollywood Bowl

Brian Wilson never disappoints and his performance at reviewer Craig Hammons said his performance at the Hollywood Bowl was one of his best.  Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, considered a unique collection at the time of its release, Wilson held the Hollywood Bowl audience enraptured.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Brian Wilson at The Hollywood Bowl

 

Iggy Pop destroys the mic stand during his show at The Hollywood Bowl - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Iggy Pop destroys the mic stand during his show at The Hollywood Bowl – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Iggy Pop at The Greek Theatre

At a time when most people are slowing down, Iggy Pop is going strong, having his best year yet. The “world’s forgotten boy” has a GRAMMY nomination for Post Pop Depression, there’s a Jim Jarmusch movie out about him, and also a new book released about his life.  He’s a 69-year-old anomaly in the world of rock, proudly resplendent in his hard-earned success. Via his partnerships with the young and hip, Iggy continually adds new admirers to his list of longtime fans. It doesn’t hurt to have the “Ginger Elvis,” Josh Homme and the rest of the crew on stage with you.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Iggy Pop at The Greek

 

Burning Spear, the legendary reggae rocker - Photo by Craig Hammons

Burning Spear, the legendary reggae rocker – Photo by Craig Hammons

Burning Spear at The Hollywood Bowl

Reviewer Craig Hammons says Burning Spear is one of the best shows of the year simply because Burning Spear is a solid reggae performer.  The legendary musician among a sea of young upstarts bid adieu to his fans as “I Man” takes a step down from the stage. Over the many years, with grace and dignity Burning Spear has brought new fans to the reggae flock.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Burning Spear 

Jackson Browne at Lucky Strike Live - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Jackson Browne at Lucky Strike Live – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Jackson Browne at Lucky Strike Live

It was a pleasant shock to find Jackson Browne appearing at Lucky Strike, which hosts mostly metal-style rockers every Wednesday night during its weekly Lucky Strike Live events.  Browne is a good-hearted type who shows up for a good cause and for the fun of the performance.  At Lucky Strike Live, he gave the regulars — plus about 600 others — a thrill, jamming with some regular players and he had fun to spare.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Jackson Browne

 

Glam Skanks release new album, "Glitter City" - Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Glam Skanks release new album, “Glitter City” – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia

Glam Skanks at MIME

Where are the young women in rock and roll? Answer: The Glam Skanks are right in Los Angeles and they put on a terrific show each and every time. Climbing on speakers, throwing glitter, taunting the audience. Their show at MIME in Echo Park put on by Echo Box heated up the room and had fans screaming for more. There’s a new album and they’re going on tour with Adam Ant.  Stay tuned!

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of The Glam Skanks 

 

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

Smash Mouth at The Canyon Club

Say what you will about the in-your-face frontman, but Smash Mouth has made it in a tough rock and roll world. When Paul DeLisle teamed with Steve Harwell, as odd a combination as that may have appeared it worked.  With a little help from a hit animated movie, Smash Mouth reinvigorated “I’m a Believer” from The Monkees and a whole new generation was jumping at The Canyon Club. Openers Paper and Strange Case lit a fire.

CaliforniaRocker.com Review of Smash Mouth, Paper and Strange Case

Editor’s Note: The “Best Concerts of the Year” coverage only includes the performances CaliforniaRocker.com staff attended during 2016.

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

California Rocker Wins Three Awards at 2016 NAEJ

By DOTTIE PARIS

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.

L.A. Guns — And Rock’s Young Guns — Play for Fair Pay at Whisky a Go Go

L.A. Guns Among Bands That Rally for Radio Royalties

L.A. Guns bassist Kenny Kweens, left, Michael Grant, right. - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

L.A. Guns bassist Kenny Kweens, left, Michael Grant, right. – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — L.A. Guns and a range of bands performed at the Whisky a Go Go Friday night to support the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015.

With a lineup mixed with veteran and young performers, musicians got out the word that radio needs to pay if they play. As things stand now, musicians don’t receive any money from AM-FM radio play.

Sponsored by MusicFirst and artists rep SAG-AFTRA, L.A. Guns headlined the awareness event, supported by bands Vudu Fly; Mr. White; Takin’ Nam3z; The Wyldz; Ithaca; and Ashes Of Eagles.

MusicFirst, with the support of SAG-AFTRA, is promoting and looking for support for a congressional bill that enables musicians and artists to be paid when their music plays on the radio. It also is looking for parity across music platforms via Internet and satellite.

Vudu Fly Featuring Aaron Quick on Washboard Slide Guitar - Photo © Donna Balancia

Vudu Fly Featuring Aaron Quick on home-made Washboard Slide Electric Guitar – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

“We have a music economy, if you love music you want people to take a chance and develop,” said Dan Navarro, SAG-AFTRA vice president, recording artists. “They can’t do that if they’re not getting paid.”

The Fair Play Fair Pay bill closes the AM/FM performance rights loophole, makes all radio services pay a fair market rate for all music (including pre-1972 music), and streamlines payments to music producers. Please support the act by signing HERE

Navarro said with so few ways for musicians to earn a living today in view of new technologies, and illegal downloading and file-sharing, radio plays an important component.

“To earn a living from making music is their dream, it’s every artist’s dream to be successful in the art that they love,” Navarro said. “Radio isn’t paying royalties, it’s not promoting the artists any more, this must change.”

Ted Kalo, executive director of MusicFirst said, “We’re asking people to write their congressmen and support this bill that enables artists to earn their fair share when their music is played on the radio.”

Nick Brodeur of the Mr. White band - Photo © Donna Balancia

Nick Brodeur of the Mr. White band – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

For more information go to the MusicFirst website.

As for the rockin’ music on Friday night, the youngsters arguably outshined the veteran musicians at the Whisky.

“We love playing here, we’ve played here a lot,” said middle-schooler Maxx Henry, the drummer for the band Mr. White, a three-piece group from Irvine.

Supported by their parents and friends, the guys really have some talent with lead guitarist Nick Brodeur electrifying the audience, supported by his amazingly composed bassist brother, Will Brodeur and wildly talented drummer, Henry. If you added these guys’ ages together it wouldn’t be more than 45.

Mr. White the band clearly has a story to tell. Stay tuned.

Another young band, Takin’ Names, supported the evening with some rockin’ tunes, some familiar, and some originals, that the audience enjoyed.

Alex Dhee of The Wyldz is among the most compelling international rockers - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Alex Dhee of The Wyldz is among the most compelling international rockers – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The rest of the lineup brought originality, as Ithaca showed off their chops as well as their long hair and toned physiques; Wyldz came all the way from France to show how it’s done, and Ashes of Eagles kept the audience engaged and did it with a smile.

San Diego County-based Vudu Fly has an interesting sound, complete with a lead vocal guy who doubles as a slide guitarist — only this slide is made from a cigar box.

“My dad and I make electric guitars out of cigar boxes,” said Aaron Quick of Vista, Calif. He played one of his prized instruments to close out the Vudu Fly set.

For more information on Vudu Fly, check out their Facebook page.

The Wyldz probably were the most visually compelling of the bands during the night.  That’s not because of creative costuming, but solely because of guitarist Alex Dhee, whose guitar play and wild athletics steal the show. It doesn’t hurt their appeal to the girls that The Wyldz have French accents.

L.A. Guns - Flexibility, Not Mystery is Key to Success - Photo © Donna Balancia

L.A. Guns – Flexibility, Not Mystery is Key to Success – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Headliner L.A. Guns certainly bring the stage presence of a veteran group. With two of the early  members remaining from the 1980s band, guitarist Michael Grant and bassist Kenny Kweens bring a new flavor to a fun act from the past. The band has seen its share of members come and go, and for them, flexibility has been the key to financial longevity.

“As artists, it’s important to have as much control over our music as possible and to be compensated for our work at all times,” L.A. Guns said in a release. “The current AM/FM loophole takes advantage of not only bands like ourselves with deep music catalogs, but also up-and-coming artists who are just entering the industry. By forcing radio stations to step up, this bill levels the playing field. So let’s get it passed in Washington and support the next generation of rockers.”

See more at on the Fair Play Fair Pay Act here.

The current lineup of L.A. Guns consists of Phil Lewis on vocals and Steve Riley on drums as well as Michael Grant on guitar and Kenny Kweens on bass.

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