East Coast Rocker

Putting You in the Front Row

Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz Revive Punk’s Dead Boys with New Album and Tour

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW With Cheetah

By DONNA BALANCIA

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 & Snotty at 40! 

It’s a reunion of sorts as drummer, Johnny Blitz, 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.

“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.”

Cheetah Chrome is touring to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Dead Boys’ ‘Young Loud and Snotty’ – Photo by Heather Harris

 

Reunited and it Feel So Good

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.

The Dead Boys Featuring Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz Perform at The Bowery Electric on Sept. 17.

The Dead Boys were formed in 1976 and they put out the Young, Loud and Snotty album in 1977, which gave the world one of the most well-known punk songs, “Sonic Reducer.” After a second album, the band split in 1979. There were a couple of reunion gigs in 1980s, but after frontman Stiv Bators died in 1990, it was pretty much the end.

The Dead Boys featuring Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz – Photo by Heather Harris

Dead Boys as Darlings

The Dead Boys were the darlings of the punk world. They’ve worked with everyone who was anyone in punk, ranging from Blondie to The Ramones. And there were rivalries in the punk world, especially between Stiv and the godfather of punk himself, Iggy Pop. But Iggy took Stiv’s death very hard and underneath all their competitive ways there was a great mutual respect, Cheetah said.

“We did three or four gigs with Iggy in the old days in the midwest,” Cheetah said. “And he joined us on stage in Cleveland one time.”

Cheetah Chrome and the Dead Boys are touring the East Coast – Photo courtesy of Cheetah Chrome

Cheetah Chrome and Facebook

Cheetah reconnected with another member of the Stooges, James Williamson after a few years.

“He disappeared and went to Sony,” Cheetah recalled. “As soon as he came back, he friended me on Facebook.”

Well now we went and did it, we mentioned the “F” word.

Cheetah has had some issues with that social network so he’s laying low these days. There’s been an unusual issue of not being able to use the name Cheetah Chrome. Instead, Facebook wants him to use his birth name.  It’s been something Cheetah has been fighting but to no avail. to no avail.

“Social media used to be fun,” he said.

But he hasn’t got a lot of time for it these days as the band has been touring and will put out a new record.

What would Stiv say if he were alive?

“He’d say ‘Why ain’t I involved?'” Cheetah said. “But of course if Stiv were alive he would have been asked to be involved.

What was his personality like?

“Stiv was a nut job on stage and a calmer nut hob off-stage,” Cheetah said. “Off stage, he was more softspoken and subtle. He was great.”

Jake and Cheetah Chrome – Photo © 2017 Heather Harris

Breakups and Reunions

Recalling the breakup of the Dead Boys, Cheetah minces no words: Seymour Stein cast the seeds of mistrust among us,” he said. “We imploded and we fell for old trick.”

What old trick is that?  Cheetah says management pitted the guys against each other.

“If the band goes away, it gets them off the hook for spending more money,” Cheetah said. “Seymour was saying ‘Punk is dead.’  The unity of the band was screwed up. We had gone from being ‘One for all’ to ‘Everybody for themselves.’  They wanted us to be something we weren’t. They wanted us to be The Cure and we couldn’t do that.”

What could the Dead Boys have done differently?

“The only thing we could have done was stick together,” Cheetah said.

Are there any tracks on the record Cheetah doesn’t like?

“‘Big City,’ ” Cheetah said. “I hated it, it’s a horrible song.”

The original album, Young, Loud and Snotty  wasn’t intended to be released as is, Cheetah said.

“We were told it’s going to be a demo so we could go back in and record.  But the next thing you know, they said, ‘We like the way it is, we’re not going to re-record.’ So we didn’t.”

Check out the Dead Boys on Facebook 

Video courtesy of Bryan Macnamara

 

International Bands Dengue Fever and Tinariwen Bring their Beautiful Music Across US

By DONNA BALANCIA

Dengue Fever and Tinariwen may from different regions of the globe, but their tour together is building new musical bridges.

Dengue Fever, complete with its beautiful front woman Chhom Nimol, and her American bandmates, has tapped into a niche that few can pull off well.

Dengue Fever at The Fonda - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Dengue Fever at The Fonda – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

If you’ve ever been to Cambodia, Thailand or anywhere else in the region that used to be referred to as Southeast Asia, the music brings back memories of times good times as well as a tough time in American history.  The unique regional music of the area formerly known as Indochina is embedded in the minds of many of the U.S. people who were in the military during the Vietnam War era.

But Dengue Fever takes that sound and brings it to a new generation of young fans who can appreciate that the music is more than reminicent of R and R in better places than the jungles of Vietnam.

Dengue Fever at The Fonda - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Dengue Fever at The Fonda – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Dengue Fever is Chhom Nimol, Zac Holtzman on guitar and vocals, Ethan Holtzman on keyboards, Senon Williams on bass, Paul Smith on drums and David Ralicke on horns.

A young Chhom Nimol and her family in the Thai refugee camp - Photo courtesy of Chhom Nimol

A young Chhom Nimol and her family in the Thai refugee camp – Photo courtesy of Chhom Nimol

Chhom is a survivor, having grown up in a Thai refugee camp, where she was safe from the cruel Khmer Rouge regime.  But music sustained her through all her life experiences and she eventually rose to be one of the most popular singers in her homeland.

The band has teamed on tour with the popular band Tinariwen, who also have an international story to tell. The members of Tinariwen have survived many hardships but the resulting music is beautiful.

Tinariwen: Beautiful music as a result of hardship - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Tinariwen: Beautiful music as a result of hardship – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Tinariwen is from the Sahara Desert area of Mali and was formed in 1979 in Tamanrasset, Algeria.  They returned to Mali in the 1990s. The group gained a following in 2001 with the album, The Radio Tisdas Sessions as well as their early concerts in Mali and abroad.

But it’s clear that the group’s founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib has funneled the tragedies he has endured — including witnessing the murder of his Toureg rebel father — into beautiful music.

The band Tinariwen is known internationally - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The band Tinariwen is known internationally – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The music reaches all types of fans as evidenced at The Fonda the other night.

“I love them,” said Albert Ratchley, who was lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold out show a few weeks prior. “They are from so far away and we don’t get a chance to see them often.”

Dengue Fever has added new dates to their schedule. New headline dates include Lafayette, LA at the Festival International de Louisiane, Ft. Worth Texas on April 30 at the Fortress Festival, Taos, New Mexico on May 2 at Taos Mesa Brewing and Phoenix on May 4 at the Crescent Ballroom. A full list of confirmed live dates are:

The band Tinariwen is known internationally - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The band Tinariwen is known internationally – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

 

Dengue Fever Tour

April 2017

4/04 @ Benaroya Hall – Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Seattle, WA  (with Tinariwen)

4/05 @ The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts – Chan Shun Concert Hall, Vancouver BC, CANADA (with Tinariwen)

4/07 @ The State Room, Salt Lake City, UT (with Tinariwen)

4/08 @ The Oriental Theater, Denver, CO. (with Tinariwen)

4/10 @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN (with Tinariwen)

4/11 @ Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL, (with Tinariwen)

4/12 @ Massey Hall & Roy Thomason Hall, Toronto, ONT. CANADA (with Tinariwen)

4/13 @ Palais des Artes – Selle Wilfrid-Pelletier Montreal, ONT. CANADA (with Tinariwen)

4/14 @ Royale, Boston, MA (with Tinariwen)

4/15 @ Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn NY (with Tinariwen)

4/16 @ Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn NY (with Tinariwen)

4/18 @ Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA, (with Tinariwen)

4/20 @ Berea College, Berea, KY 

4/21 @ Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Pittsburgh, PA (with Tinariwen)

4/22 @ AMP by Strathmore, Bethesda, MD 

4/23 @ The ArtsCenter, Carrboro, NC

4/24 @ City Winery Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

4/26 @ Sidewinder, Austin, TX

4/27 @ Walter’s Downtown, Houston, TX 

4/28 @ Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette, LA (New Date)

4/29 @ Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette, LA (New Date)

4/30 @ Fortress Festival, Ft. Worth TX (New date)

 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Journey, Tupac Shakur, Yes and Joan Baez in Diverse Class of 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Honors Rebels and Trendsetters

Pearl Jam is among the diverse inductees for Hall of Fame, pictured here at MSG - Photo by Tammy Lo

Pearl Jam is among the diverse inductees for Hall of Fame, pictured here at MSG – Photo by Tammy Lo

By DONNA BALANCIA

Legendary folk singer Joan Baez, Seattle grunge leaders Pearl Jam and the late rapper Tupac Shakur have been tabbed among 2017 Inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Journey, Electric Light Orchestra and Yes have also earned their way into the Hall, as voted by their musical colleagues. Producer Nile Rodgers, who molded the sound of superstars across the board, will receive the Award for Musical Excellence.

The musicians will be honored April 7 at Barclays Center in Brookyln, N.Y.   A special exhibit highlighting the accomplishments of the inductees will open March 30 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has come to honor a range of differing styles of music over the years. Rap music, folk, blues and electronic genres are all considered to be part of the rock and roll experience, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Joel Peresman says.

Steve Perry and Journey to Reunite for Hall?

Steve Perry, the dynamic former frontman of Journey, with whom the band recorded “Don’t Stop Believin’,” among other hits posted a statement to the site Steve Perry News:

“I am truly grateful that Journey is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”  It’s expected that Steve will reunite with the band at the April 7 event.

Journey’s founding guitarist Neil Schon told Ultimate Classic Rock: “Musically speaking, I’d love to have him do a song with us – or two, or whatever. … I’m open to everything. I’m very open-minded to whatever happens, and any ideas that are brought forth.”

Johnny Depp Plays Guitar with The New Basement Tapes in Only Show

Elvis Costello is one of the members of The New Basement Tapes - Photo by Donna Balancia

Elvis Costello is one of the members of The New Basement Tapes – All Photos © by Donna Balancia

HOLLYWOOD — Johnny Depp and Haim joined The New Basement Tapes for a one night only show that gave new meaning to the term Superband.

SEE VIDEO OF JOHNNY DEPP, HAIM and THE NEW BASEMENT TAPES

The cameraderie among TNBT members Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford with their special guests made an unforgettable evening for a lucky full house crowd at Montalban Theater in Hollywood.

SEE VIDEO OF JOHNNY DEPP AND THE NEW BASEMENT TAPES

TNBT played the songs each had co-written to Bob Dylan lyrics discovered in Dylan’s upstate New York home and some tunes got multiple renditions, proving the diversity of the talented musicians assembled for the evening.

SEE VIDEO OF THE NEW BASEMENT TAPES ONLY CONCERT

The new album by TNBT was produced by T Bone Burnett, and is called Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes.

La Roux in Concert: Two Sides to Every ‘Hollywood’ Story

Elly Jackson of La Roux

Elly Jackson of La Roux has a Hollywood story. Photos and videos by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA in HOLLYWOOD — Elly Jackson of La Roux sports a duality that goes beyond the suit and bright red pompadour hairstyle.

Performing at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, in a town where contrasts and contradictions are cherished,  to say that Jackson’s message was well-received would be an understatement.

Through a sound system that was complimented by fabulous staccato stage lighting, La Roux, touting their latest album, Trouble In Paradise, got their chance to truly shine.

See La Roux perform “Tigerlily”

Playing a selection of songs off the new album and favorite tunes off the debut album, La Roux, Jackson seemed accustomed and happy to lead her audience’s massive singalong.  For the entire night.

Her inspiring and light-hearted performance underscored her bond with the crowd of the faithful, and etched an indelible mark of introduction to newcomers.

See La Roux perform “Uptight Downtown”

Jackson, 26, is dashing and sexy, with a presence that has either been inherited courtesy of her musical lineage, or lovingly fine-tuned through her in-concert character.

The Hollywood studio executive “elevator description” of Jackson might be “A cross between David Bowie and Florence Welch with a pinch of Nick Cave.” That wouldn’t be far off, as she embodies the powerful presence of Bowie, the vulnerability of Welch and sports Cave’s swagger.

See La Roux perform “Let Me Down Gently”

Jackson is at once a Hollywood leading man and a feminine starlet.  And, like her audience, she clearly loves a good dance tune.

But perhaps it is Jackson’s ability to overcome major obstacles like the break-up with La Roux’s co-founding partner Ben Langmaid and her slip towards a debilitating writer’s block that has endeared her to her fans.

Because after all, in Hollywood they love a happy ending.  And then, they want the sequel that introduces new challenges, new characters and more obstacles to overcome.

And that’s a powerful duality.

The La Roux U.S. Tour concludes Oct. 4 at Terminal 5 in New York City.  Along the way, there are stops in Boulder, Colo.; Minneapolis; Chicago and Detroit.

Replacements Tour Hits New York, Tempe and Austin

Replacements Tour returns to New York

Photo courtesy of Replacements website

NEW YORK CITY — If you missed The Replacements Tour 20 years ago, your worries are over.

The band considered one of the first “alternative” groups, is returning to New York this Friday after some triumphant gigs.

The Replacements Tour

The Replacements played their home state of Minnesota and gave a knockout appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon the other night.

After the New York concert at Forest Hills, The Replacements tour will play Summer Ends Music Festival on Sept. 27 in Tempe, Ariz. and two weekends of the Austin City Limits Festival on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 in Austin.

The Replacements were first formed in 1978 as the band Dog’s Breath.  The original band was comprised of guitarists Paul and Tom Stinson, lead singer Paul Westerberg and drummer Chris Mars. The band’s first album was Sorry Ma I Forgot To Take Out the Trash, released in 1981 and the band embarked on its first U.S. Tour in 1983.  The Replacements broke up in 1991, but reunited for a Replacements tour in 2012.

For tickets and more information on The Replacements, check out their website. 

 

Women Rule as MTV VMAs Take Center Stage in Inglewood

Iggy Azalea, MTV Video Music Awards

Iggy Azalea performs at MTV VMAs. – All photos permission of MTV Press Dept.

By DONNA BALANCIA in INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Performances by Beyonce; Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora; and Jessie J., Ariana Grande; and Nicki Minaj highlighted the night at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood.

There isn’t a bad seat in the house in The Forum, a venue we haven’t visited since Depeche Mode’s Devotional Tour in 1993.

MTV VMAs and The Forum

At the Forum, parking is still an issue, but it may have only been a problem for the MTV event because of Maroon 5’s outdoor performances.  Maroon 5 performed “Maps” and “One More Night,” which took up a major portion of the blacktop outside the venue.

Say what you will about the performance selections and the “artistes du jour,” but the MTV VMAs have come a long way. We covered the first MTV VMA event at Radio City Music Hall, in NYC, when Herbie Hancock and Madonna were the big winners.

Still, no expense is spared and from our seats beside the photographers repping news outlets from around the world, the show appeared to go off without a hitch, particularly Beyonce’s dazzling show-closer.

The Forum seats were taken up by guests ranging in age, but an estimated 20 percent of the attendees — appeared to be in the 16-18 range. There was also a strong showing of family groups.

The MTV VMA event is something worth attending, cost of the tickets typically runs in the $150 range and it’s well worth the price of admission.

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Heather Reid is Far from Alone in new Solo Venture ‘Cross Words’

Heather Reid East Coast Rocker Interview by Donna Balancia

Heather Reid: A solo act whose family comes first.

By DONNA BALANCIA —

Heather Reid’s new solo album Cross Words is an emotional map that takes us through her journey of new beginnings.  The music is so great, we want to go with her.

Reid, who was with the alt-punk band The Murmurs has started over again in many areas of her life.  Cross Words is about new beginnings, family and relationships.

“It’s a personal album, it’s about  the evolution of relationships and how pain is an important part of process. how we get to define what relationships look like, even in friendships.  So the album is about resilience.”

See the video for “Ivy” off Cross Words here

“I was going through a transition and a wide range of emotion and heartbreak,” Reid said. “So when I was writing these songs I was trying to figure things out on my own, the way I do that is through songwriting.  These songs are primarily about finding love and hope and dealing with a difficult situation. The pain is sometimes a necessary step and that’s where the songs came from on this album.”

The 38-year-old Reid has a variety of musical influences, all apparent in her work. She loves the “old school” music of Carol King, Joni Mitchell and Bryan Adams but also admires younger artists Adele and Mumford and Sons.

On her own

A solo career and a single mom lifestyle — doing it on her own has been a recurring theme of late, Reid said.

“It’s a little intimidating but exciting,” she said. “in the past I’ve been able to rely on other bandmates for support or camaraderie.   But now I’m on my own out there.”

“Its’ funny because it’s been a while since i’ve played solo,” Reid said.  “There are little moments you forget about. It takes you out of your body.  The next show I’ll remember slow down and take a deep breath.”

“Right now the most important thing I say to myself is that the homework is done,” Reid said of the work leading up to her performances. “I have a set list.  I have a talk with myself, i want to have a great time and I want the audience to have a great time.”

https://soundcloud.com/heatherreid

Modern Family

And while she may be going the music route alone with her solo career, she is anything but solo on the home front, raising her two young boys.

“You might say ours is a modern family,” said Reid of her single motherhood, which is less atypical every day in our society.  The song “Fading Away,” is a soulful expression of hope for her sons. “It’s just joyful and happy, it’s about letting things roll off your back.”

Cross Words took Reid four years to complete.

“I had my kids and there was so little time to get in the studio, but through it all the songwriting continued.”

The songwriting has been the constant, as Reid started writing music when she was 12.  She said she feels lucky when she was young that she had classes in school that let her express her artistic side.

“We had music in the schools when I was growing up,” she said. “I was talking to a friend the other day and we were saying that the arts programs are practically non-existent in the schools today.”

Changes

Back in those days, Reid played keyboards and used music as a way to cope with issues typical to many young people.  She took up guitar in high school and since that time she never put it down.

A lot of things have changed since then.  For one thing, there’s a little thing called the Internet — and the social media.

“With social media, now you have access to all this information,” Reid said.  “Now everybody has access to YouTube.  I think it opens our world more but makes the market more saturated.  I’m finding my way too.”

And in the end, Reid realizes, she may be alone on the stage, but she is very together with her audiences.

“Right now the most important thing is the homework is done,” Reid said.  “I come to each show prepared. I  have our rehearsals before the show. I have a talk with myself, I want to have a great time and I want the audience to have a really great time.”