East Coast Rocker

Putting You in the Front Row

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



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


North Carolina-Based Rich Lerner and The Groove ‘Push on Thru’ With New Release

Cool and Funky New Album Inspires


With the new album, Push on Thru, North Carolina-based Rich Lerner and The Groove show they know how to succeed.

It’s an inspiring title song and the collection on the record is an impressive group of funky Americana,  much in the vein of late 1970s-style rock and roll.  They create cool harmonies, great stories and Rich Lerner’s voice is warm and appealing. And the guys have been making catchy music for years.

Rich Lerner and The Groove have a jam each year to help the homeless – Photo courtesy Bob Powell

Groove Jam Music Festival

The band even has its own Groove Jam Music Festival that benefits the local homeless shelter and food bank. The Groove Jam Music Festival has been a big attraction for the locals and non-locals alike since 2012.

Check out Push on Thru on Spotify: https://goo.gl/cfEJ6G

It’s also available on CDBaby: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/richlernerandthegroove1

‘Not The First Rodeo’

It’s certainly not the first record for these musicians.

Rich Lerner and The Groove are a North Carolina staple. In the 1990s, Rich recorded and released four solo albums on the Rockduster label. Since 2000, Rich Lerner and The Groove have released albums on their own Freethemusic label.

Many Genres from One Band

It’s a cool group of musicians and they’ve built a good reputation in the region. The band features Rich Lerner on guitar and vocals; Sammy Smith on guitar and vocals; Craig Pannell on bass and vocals; Sam Seawell on drums; Bob Sykes on pedal steel and guitar

Steve Taub – keyboards. As for production: The album was recorded and mixed by Benjy Johnson at Earthtones Recording Studio, it was mastered by Ty Tabor, and produced by the band and Benjy Johnson.

Particularly of note are the songs “She Kept My Room Warm,” which is remincent of a island-style calypso tune; the rockin “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” and the updated Flamenco-style “Soul Sistah.”


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


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)


Beloved Classic Rocker Paul Young Tours With Album, ‘Good Thing,’ And Lives in the Present


With all the talk about classic rock these days, we thought we’d post a video or two by one of our favorite “classics,” the heartthrob British performer Paul Young.  He’s a beloved singer who had success in the 1980s but he’s always looking to the future.

In the 1980s is was simple for Paul Young: Which girl to choose - Photo courtesy Paul Young for EastCoastRocker.com

In the ’80s it was simple for Paul Young: Which girl does he choose? – Photo courtesy Paul Young for EastCoastRocker.com

While here in the U.S., everyone has been paying attention to legacy rockers like The Who, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Paul Young has been quietly doing his own thing and doing it well.


He’s got a great TexMex band called Los Pacaminos, with whom he tours all around Europe, and his latest  album, Good Thing, really is a good thing. Check out Good Thing on iTunes.  Paul is headlining the 80s Invasion Tour in Birmingham, England.

And while Paul has fond memories, he told the Express and Star he’s always wanted to get past being typecast into one era.

“I wasn’t (pleased about that) through the ’90s because I felt like that I was still doing creative stuff,” he said.  “I was moving into different styles, so I thought I was still being creative. But now nearly four decades later it doesn’t seem that bad, I have kind of accepted it.”


'Good Thing' is Paul Young's latest work - Photo courtesy Paul Young for EastCoastRocker.com

‘Good Thing’ is Paul Young’s latest work – Photo courtesy Paul Young for EastCoastRocker.com

Good Thing is filled with great songs and like a fine wine, Young’s appearance and voice have matured and grown more full and are still appealing as ever. Check out Paul Young’s website.


The song “Stay,” and the immensely successful hit he had with his cover of Hall and Oates’ “Every Time You Go Away,” are indellibly inked in the pages of classic pop-rock history.

We were fortunate to catch him when we stumbled into a Paul Young show in NYC in 1984. And in those days he was more like this:

Paul Young has been a favorite performer with whom to share a stage. He has worked with everyone from David Bowie to Elton John and George Michael. And while he may have gone dark in the states, he’s been quietly making a good living as a musician in the U.K. Here’s to hoping he’ll come stateside soon.

Music News and Moments from the Red Carpet at MusiCares The Tom Petty Person of the Year Benefit


Tom Petty may have been the star of the show, but music news was fast a furious on the red carpet at the MusiCares Person of the Year party honoring Tom Petty.

Everyone from Stevie Nicks and Gary Clark, Jr., to Taj Mahal stopped to chat on their way to their performances, mentioning new projects, tour news and their Tom Petty stories.

Gary Clark, Jr.

How does Gary feel about being credited with owning the direction of where the next generation of blues is going?

“I take that responsibility very seriously,” he said. Regarding his latest works he said he came up with the idea to really focus on music. “I thought, ‘I’m going write about music,’ he said. ‘I was listening to Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley and thought, ‘This is my healing.'”

Gary’s gorgeous wife, Nicole, said she had no qualms about dating a musician, “My father played music,” she said. She said that Gary came to her home saw the grand piano and sat down and started to play without ever having played piano before and that won her over.

But it’s typical of his personality, she said.  Meanwhile, Gary advised that if you want to find true success, and not just score the financial victories, musicians need to be honest.

“You have to stay true to yourself,” he said. “Stay true to what’s in your heart and don’t let anybody derail you.”

John Poppo, Chairman of the Board for The Recording Academy

John said he couldn’t be happier about the direction MusiCares is going.

“It’s the best thing we do, it’s the most important thing we do,” he said. “This is a feel-good night to raise money and awareness.” Musicians can always come to MusiCares when the chips are down, when their health goes south or if they need help paying the bills because of an illness.

“They come to us confidentially,” he said. “We might pick up a mortgage payment or rent.  With Hurricane Katrina we gave more than a million dollars down there. Most of the musicians lost everything.”

As far as Tom Petty as a selection for Person of the Year?

“He has a catalogue of songs that can be be interpreted by other artists — and he said yes!”

Taj Mahal

The Blues legend, is not above teaming with younger cats. He told us he’s got a new collaboration with Keb Mo’ in the works.  “It’s not at the stage where it has a name,” he said, so right now we’re calling it “Taj Mo.”  When asked how do musicians on the rise keep the faith he said simply: “Ignore the naysayers.”

Jeff Lynne

Electric Light Orchestra wouldn’t have the prolific history without Jeff Lynne, who said Tom Petty has played a big role in his life as a friend and colleague. “He’s a great guy,” Lynne said. And though he was to sing the triumphant Petty song “I Won’t Back Down,” he didn’t care to comment on his political affiliations. When asked about his latest projects, he told EastCoastRocker.com he wasn’t working on anything and that he would be coming out with an album “eventually.”

Stevie Nicks

The songbird Stevie Nicks couldn’t say enough nice things about her pal Tom Petty

“He’s my B-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F!” she said.  She told us she jumped at the chance to celebrate him Friday night. “When we met, I felt we would be friends forever,” she said. “He tells people that in the late 1970s I insisted on being in his life and I did. I asked him if he ever considered having a girl in the band and he said ‘No girls allowed.’ But he did let me come on the road in 2007.”

Stevie said her favorite music is Joni Mitchell and she’s been inspired by how Mitchell phrased her songs. When asked about her current tour with Chrissie Hynde, Stevie had nice words. “We’re having a great time and when we finish we’re going on a comedy tour!”

Cage The Elephant

Nick Bockrath of Cage The Elephant said it’s been a tough road for the rockers and he says young bands today need to persist.

“It’s a tough period for rock, but we broke through,” he said. “It’s all about persistence and hard work. It’s a tough time for rock bands.

“We’re so thankful,” drummer Jared Champion said. “Go to band practice and write.”

“Go on tour, play to the one bartender in the place, play to your mom if you have to,” Nick said. “You have to do what it takes and it’s about doing what you love.”


Review: Under the Radar, Luxury Mane Has Released The Best Indie Shoegaze Album — Maybe Ever

For Luxury Mane, It’s all About Excellence

Billy Summer of Luxury Mane: Talent to the Max - Photo for EastCoastRocker.com

Billy Summer of Luxury Mane: Talent to the Max – Photo for EastCoastRocker.com


Indie rock band Luxury Mane has released a new album called Lux Runnin Out but it’s clear these shoegazers’ luck is only just starting with music like this.  This recording is amazing.

Lux Runnin Out is a new-wave type indie sound that captures the mood of today while also bringing a welcomed familiar sound of the 1980s.  This music makes reviewers extremely happy and is proof that creators in the new wave genre are still out there producing beautiful work.

Luxury Mane hails from St. Pete, Fla., — which has been quietly building a reputation for nurturing indie artistic talent paced by Luxury Mane and fellow musicians and creatives. The band is comprised of the outstanding songwriter-vocalist-guitarist Billy Summer, Kyle Lovell on drums and Aaron Nelson on bass. Lux Runnin Out  is recorded by Summer and Nelson and mixed by Summer and Eric Stamile. It was mastered by the dynamic Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland, Ore.  Stollenwerk is another one with immense talent worth checking out.

Luxury Mane isn’t exactly a newbie; the band has played with Diarrhea Planet, Jay Reatard, Monotonix, The Lemonheads, Natural Child, and many more.  It is definitely no surprise they’ve been awarded numerous Best of the Bay Awards (Tampa, Fla.) by Creative Loafing.

The notable predecessor to Luxury Mane is the band The Semis, which gained a serious reputation in Tampa as one of the outstanding bands on the East Coast.

Not only do we recommend a listen and a purchase of the new music, but there are albums that these guys have put out that are equally excellent, Gold Standard (2014) in particular.  Other excellent recordings by Luxury Mane are Natural Beauty (2013), Isn’t This Great? (2015) on cassette with Wiener Records, and the latest release Lux Runnin Out.

Unfortunately for us, Luxury Mane doesn’t tour. But their music has been featured and heard on networks such as Bravo, VH1, The Sundance Channel, Showtime, and ABC. The song “Youth Envy” was the theme song for the AOL web series Act Like A Musician, and the song “Curtains” was recently used in the Showtime series The Affair. 

While they may have been influenced by some of the greats, Luxury Mane blows doors off many of the other shoegazey bands out there. Their use of melody and upbeat tempos lends a vibrance that pulls the genre off the floor and uplifts. With this band, there are excellent drum riffs, super interesting basslines and amazing vocals and lead guitar.

Above all, the songwriting by Summer is outstanding.  It’s clear his influences are the more eclectic of the genre, and he has taken sounds of retro new wavers like Sad Lovers and Giants, New Order and The Cure and has made them his own.  There’s a lot of style here. And Luxury Mane doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, adding a good sense of humor to their cool and artsy aura.

Luxury Mane doesn’t tour, which is unfortunate for us, but why spoil a good recording band with physical obligations? Seems the guys enjoy the recording process more than anything. Lux Runnin’ Out is a sophisticated effort and it’s clear our luck has not run out because we get to hear their excellent music.

Tracklisting:  1. Got A Need

2. Julian

3. Eating A Milky Way Tonight

4. The Bay

5. Hard To Be Easy

6. Alex Van Halen

7. Funny Feeling

8 Things In The City

9. Medical Mind

See related reviews: Sad Lovers and Giants at The Echoplex, Peter Hook and The Light at The Fonda, The Cure

Capturing Dreams Again: Calling All Astronauts Releases New Video Called ‘Life As We Know It’


In honor of the passing of the world’s most famous astronaut, John Glenn, we post this new video by Calling All Astronauts released for their new single, “Life As We Know It.”

Astronauts have always buoyed the hopes and captured the dreams of the American people and today is no different as we present this upbeat clip.

John Glenn: First American in Space

John Glenn in 1962 - Courtesy of NASA

John Glenn in 1962 – Courtesy of NASA

In 1962, Glenn made history to become the first American to orbit the Earth. He was seen as a symbol of hope in the new dawn of the Space Age. Glenn was 95 years old and hailed from Ohio, where he died today.

Remarkably, in 1998, Glenn set another record, becoming the oldest person in space when at 77 years old he was launched in space shuttle Discovery.

Calling All Astronauts Video

There really is nothing outer-spacelike about Calling All Astronauts’ new video, but it is an upbeat and mesmerizing clip that keeps us going on this somber occasion.

This is a new style arrangement for the 1980s-punkstyle British rockers, blending electronic work with an upbeat shuffle and yet still carrying the band’s trademark sound.

Calling All Astronauts has long been a favorite. And perhaps again, in our time of strife entering a new era in our history, we can still come to depend on our astronauts.

Lady Gaga to Release Tribute Album to Her Aunt With ‘Joanne’ Third Week of October


Lady Gaga to release ‘Joanne’ on Oct. 21 – Photo courtesy Beats 1


Gaga broke the news about her new album, Joanne which will be released Oct. 21 in a phone call to Zane Lowe on Beats 1.

She said she was finishing up the album and it would be completed in the next 48 hourse. Joanne was recorded in tribute to her aunt, who died from lupus, she said.

About the title track?

“For me it’s like the real true heart and soul of the record,” she told the Apple Music broadcaster.  “I remember when Mark (Ronson) and I wrote it, we wrote that song and the decision ultimately to name the album Joanne, is tribute to my father’s sister who died when she was 19.

Lady Gaga with father Joe Germanotta - East Coast Rocker

Lady Gaga with father Joe Germanotta – Photo courtesy CapitolFM

Lady Gaga Built ‘Tough’

“He was younger than her and she was very sick with Lupus. The death of her in his family and in his life left a scar and a wound that never healed.

“As I returned to my home life and spending time with my friends and hanging out with my family and getting out the mainstream limelight for a minute what I realized it’s the experiences of our family and our challenges and our toughness who make us who we are,” Lady Gaga said.

“It’s everything about Joanne, which also happens to be my middle name, I was named after her. It’s the toughness of the pain that happened as a result of losing her that made us strong and made us who we are. She is the woman of my past who is helping me bring my honest woman self into the future.”

Lady Gaga - Photo by Marc E. for East Coast Rocker

Lady Gaga – Photo by Marc E.

Joanne’s Hand

Lady Gaga’s aunt’s handwriting is on the back of the album on on the inside there are notes written back and forth from Joanne to Gaga’s father, Joe Germanotta.  Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, grew up in an Italian-American family in Yonkers, N.Y.

Songs on the new album include “John Wayne” which Lady Gaga said is about her “Incessant need to run after wild men. Josh Homme’s guitar is out of control.”

There is also a cheeky tune, “Sinner’s Prayer” with Father John Misty.

Gaga told Lowe that the “Perfect Illusion” video is set to be released “very soon.”

Watch The Kills Take a Ride in New Music Video for ‘Impossible Tracks’ Directed by Ellis Bahl

The Kills Play Terminal 5 in NYC Sept. 23

Alison Mosshart of The Kills - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia for East Coast Rocker

Alison Mosshart of The Kills – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia for East Coast Rocker

The Kills, AKA our favorite duo of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart, released their fifth full-length album, Ash and Ice earlier this summer. Today, the band shares their music video for “Impossible Tracks,” which was directed by Ellis Bahl.

Alison says about the video: “Introducing our new video for IMPOSSIBLE TRACKS! Shot by director Ellis Bahl, at Luna Park- the old weird and wonderful amusement park of dreams and nightmares so iconic to Melbourne Australia. We’d always wanted to shoot there, so on our last tour down under, we took this fine opportunity.

“Welcome to off season … winter time, blistering bitter cold, the park to ourselves all day and night. The lights buzzing, the gears cranking, a hallucinatory stream of whiplash and spin. We shot between bursts of monsoon weather and crooked wind, we rode the rides, played the games, and lost ourselves in the mirror house. Enter in, the guts of the park, through the mouth of lights, Luna’s pearly teeth, past the big bad gaze of those glowing blue eyes… Buckle your belts and take the ride on impossible tracks.”

The Kills‘ North American tour kicked off last week in Pomona, and to celebrate the band have released a collector’s edition 7-inch of stand-out single “Doing It To Death.” The one-track release features an etched b-side and is limited to 1000 copies worldwide. Grab one from the merch booth at all upcoming shows, or exclusively from the band’s webstore while supplies last.  More info HERE.

The Kills Tour Dates
9/13      Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theater
9/14      Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
9/16      Madison, WI – Live on King Street
9/17      Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
9/18      Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
9/20      Portland, ME – State Theatre
9/21      Montreal, QC – Metropolis
9/23      New York, NY – Terminal 5
9/29      Manchester, UK – Albert Hall
9/30      Glasgow, UK – Glasgow O2ABC
10/1      Leeds, UK – Leeds Beckett Students’ Union
10/2      Nottingham, UK – Nottingham Rock City
10/4      Oxford, UK – Oxford O2 Academy 1
10/5      Avon, UK – Bristol Anson Rooms
10/6      Birmingham, UK – Birmingham O2 Institute 1
10/7      London, UK – London Roundhouse
10/18    Paris, FR – Olympia
10/19     Paris, FR – Olympia
10/21     Amsterdam, Netherlands – RAI
10/22     Berlin, Germany – Tempodrom
10/23     Hamburg, Germany – Grosse Freiheit 36
10/25     Cologne, Germany – E-Werk
10/26     Munich, Germany – Tonhalle
10/27     Zurich, Switzerland – Volkhaus
10/29     Milan, Italy – Fabrique
10/31     Lyon, France – Le Radiant
11/1       Barcelona, Spain – Razzmatazz 2
11/3       Lisbon, Portugal – Coliseu Dos Recreios
11/4       Porto, Portugal – Hard Club
11/5       Bilbao, Spain – Kafe Antzokia
11/7       Toulouse, FR – Le Bikini
11/8       Nantes, FR – Le Stereolux
11/9        Antwerpen, Belgium – Arenbergschouwburg
11/11      Lausanne, Switzerland – Metropop Festival
11/12      Le Mans, France – Festival Bebop
11/13      Brussels, Belgium – VK Club

Life of Lemmy Kilmister Celebrated with Statue at Rainbow and Concert at Whisky on Sunset Strip

Would Lemmy Have Loved The Honors on Sunset Strip?

Lemmy Statue

Lemmy Statue takes its permanent home at Rainbow Bar and Grill – Photo © 2016 Donna Balancia


SUNSET STRIP – If Lemmy Kilmister were alive, would he have been overwhelmed by events held in his honor on the most famous road in Rock N Roll?

— On Wednesday night hundreds gathered to see the unveiling of a statue created in Lemmy’s image that has a permanent residence at The Rainbow Bar and Grill.

— The night before, Ultimate Jam Night at Whisky A Go Go had a Lemmy Tribute, complete with the regular jam musicians and a few special guests including Tracii Guns and Dug Pinnick of King’s X.

Fan Love for Lemmy

All the festivities were probably more for the fans than for the outrageous Motorhead frontman, but in any event, Lemmy is immortalized now on his beloved Sunset Strip.

“I’m here because I loved Lemmy’s music,” said Debby Cincianella who came from New York City for the unveiling. “Lemmy meant a lot to a lot of people and we want to honor him.”

John Hammer drove all the way from Bakersfield to get the event in time for the presentation.

“I drove like crazy to get here,” he said. “I had to see this.”

READ MORE and SEE MORE PHOTOS at CALIFORNIAROCKER.COM[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”12″ gal_title=”Lemmy”]

The Who Hits 50! Tour Continues Going Strong Throughout East Coast

The Who Hits 50! Tour East Coast Rocker

The Who Hits 50! Tour makes 20 stops in the East – logo provided by AEG Live

By DONNA BALANCIA – The Who celebrate “The Big Five O” with a North American Tour that kicked off April 15 in Tampa and hits 20 locations in the East. 

The Who’s West Coast swing of The Who Hits 50! tour will return to the U.S. on May 15 in Seattle when the band returns from Canada dates.

Tickets are available at www.thewho.com.  The tour is presented by AEG Live.

Special VIP packages are available. As the show is sponsored by Citi, Citicard members can buy tickets. For more information on Citicard, go to www.citiprivatepass.com.

The Who released a greatest hits album collection, The Who Hits 50!,  through Geffen-Universal Music Enterprises.  The recording includes tunes from The Who’s early days, when the band was called The High Numbers, through today.

The Who has sold more than 100 million records since the band was formed in 1964.  Two of the original band members, Keith Moon and John Entwistle passed away.

The Who Hits 50! Tour:

The Who

The Gang Of Four Players May Change But Performance And Music Prove Better Than Ever

© 2015 Donna Balancia

Gang Of Four – © 2015 Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — Bands these days. Why keep the name if there’s only one guy left?

Calling a band by its years-ago name — even if most of the players are gone — appears to be a common practice.  Maybe they do it for the money or to keep the fans. But in most cases the band’s name is the same, but the integrity of the music is all but abandoned.  Or going through the motions.

When the fans come out for a band they love and have always wanted to see, only to find there are new musicians in the group, it can be risky all the way around.  There are some bands that should take a hard look at why they tour under the same name, but with a completely different sound and look.

© 2015 Donna Balancia

© 2015 Donna Balancia

Gang Of Four isn’t one of those.  Gang Of Four has a new cast of characters from the days of its youth, but surprisingly, it’s a great change in lineup.  Maybe founder Andy Gill’s presence is enough to satisfy the hard-core GO4 fans as he truly retains his trademark looks and moves.  And frankly, the purists probably haven’t really had a chance to complain over the years anyway, as the lineup in GO4 has changed pretty often.

But the core is still the music.  And the message and the integrity of Gang Of Four’s music comes through loud and clear.  GANG OF FOUR EAST COAST TOUR DATES

Gill has done a fantastic job in schooling “the new guys” in how to keep the same sound but simultaneously strike out in a new direction.

© 2015 Donna Balancia

Gang Of Four’s Thomas McNeice, Andy Gill and John Sterry – © 2015 Donna Balancia

The latest incarnation of the 1980s-era “post-punk” troupe shows boundless energy. The compelling moves of bassist Thomas McNeice and vocalist John Sterry, mixed with Jonny Finnegan’s drumming is a rewarding experience that left a recent LA audience at the Echoplex with its collective mouths open and calling for encores.

In a music world where more and more bands have fewer and fewer original members, it’s to be commended that GO4 doesn’t rely on the nostalgia factor to win over audiences.  Sterry is a fun front man whose accent had more than one of the ladies in the audience swooning.  He brings a smirky aloofness to his performance and he seems very much in the moment singing everything from the reliable standards “Not Great Men,” “Damaged Goods,” and “At Home He’s a Tourist,” as well as tunes off What Happens Next, “Stranded,” and “Isle of Dogs.”

© 2015 Donna Balancia

© 2015 Donna Balancia

The band last played LA at the El Rey — with Alison Mosshart, who is featured on two of the tracks on What Happens Next (“Broken Talk,” “England’s In My Bones”} — and despite the robust performance held here as recent as only last spring, the Echoplex show last week still drew a good crowd.

The crowd was kept engaged not only by the strong vocals and movements of Sterry, but the compelling boundless moves of McNeice who covered lots of stage while swinging his dreads and hefting his bass in sweeping motions.

© 2015 Donna Balancia

Andy Gill – © 2015 Donna Balancia

Gill is the center presence of stability in the group, and plays a crucial role when less is more in terms of keeping a band’s brand in tact.  Gang Of Four shows how it’s done.  The band gets tighter with every show and the players seem more confident and comfortable in their roles.

With the “return” of many of the bands today, it’s good to see that some of them actually have what it takes to hold their appeal and to build on that to capture a younger audience.

But really, in the end, it doesn’t matter what the name of a band may be.  It should be about the music and the performance.  The guys named Andy, Thomas, Jonny and Sterry nailed it.  After all, they’re the Gang Of Four.

Henry Diltz Honored with Lucie Award for Music Photography at Carnegie Hall Ceremony Next Week


Henry Diltz

By DONNA BALANCIA – Photographer Henry Diltz will be honored with a prestigious Lucie Award for his work in Music Photography at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday.

Diltz said he never expected to be honored for his career.  After all, photography is something he just loves to do and that is reward enough.

“Being a photographer is a solo thing, the actual act of doing it, that is,” the 77-year-old Diltz said. “It’s not like being a opera singer or circus star or a rock star. You don’t get the applause. It’s something you do alone over the years.”

But as the photographer who has shot some of the most famous record albums of our era, the award is well-deserved. The Lucie Awards are given each year to exemplary photographers who make a mark in their respective fields.
“I’m aware that people have read my name,” Diltz said. “In the 1970s I noticed I did a few album covers and sold more than a million records, a million people read my name. Yes your name does get out there.”


Frank Zappa – Photo © Henry Diltz

Among some of his famous subjects are Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and many others. These days, Diltz continues to shoot but he has started to take stock in his images — and those of other photographers — as he is a curator and co-owner of Morrison Hotel Gallery located in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

“Around the turn of the century, Peter Blachley my partner at Morrison Hotel Gallery said, ‘You must have quite an archive.’  And I thought, ‘Archive – that sounds too professional. I don’t like the sound of that.’  But I do have a lot of cardboard boxes. People would ask, ‘Are you a professional photographer?’  I thought, no, I do it because I love it.  But then, I thought, I have supported myself for more than 50 years, put kids through school on the money I’ve made, so I suppose I am a professional.”

Diltz said his career as a documentary photographer started during the down time musicians experience between gigs.  He was playing in the band, Modern Folk Quartet in the 1960s when he picked up a camera and it stuck.

Henry Diltz

The Monkees – Photo © Henry Diltz

“In the ’60s and ’70s a lot of your life was hanging out,” Diltz said. “As a musician you’re hanging out. And musicians know how to hang out. You’re not doing anything productive, just passing time enjoying life. So as we were hanging out, I was taking their pictures incidentally.  In doing that to all of my friends, it taught me to be a documentary  photographer. I was only doing it because it was fun.

“I picked up the camera in March of 1966.  During all that time, I was exploring life. I did something else equally good, and that was to write down things I’ve heard. I have stacks and stacks of notes, I don’t write the whole conversation, I’d just be like ‘Wow, that is so great what you just said.’”

Diltz was the official photographer for Woodstock, the Monterey and Miami Music Festivals and was the photographer to document the burgeoning music scene in Laurel Canyon in the 1960s. He left Laurel Canyon when he got married, had kids and moved to the valley.

As for how he manages his inventory of life, he has tried to stay current with the most modern technology.


The Doors – Photo © Henry Diltz

“I always used color slides, for those there were no negatives. Say you work for a record company they want all those. With digital you can keep some also. I have a ’32-trillabyte’ external hard drive.”
His conversation is just as creative as his photography process, which legend has it is a fluid experience as simple as pulling the car over on the side of the road when inspiration strikes.

With the well-known Crosby Stills and Nash couch shoot, the group and Diltz were driving around waiting for inspiration to hit, when they found the white frame house with a couch in the front.  They set up shop and took some photos.  They realized the musicians were not in the right order and went back shortly after the shoot to simply re-arrange the guys on the couch.  The house was razed and the couch was gone.

Life is not as glamorous as it appears for music photographers today as they deal with more and more issues of control, Diltz said.


CSN album cover by Henry Diltz

“Unfortunately, unscrupulous people could make a poster out of the image and the group has no control,” Diltz said.  “As for limiting photographers to shooting the first three songs of a set, I’m not so sure why they have to do that. Maybe they want to look good or they don’t want the photographer to make a poster and make money.  That’s why they started saying ‘sign this contract.’

“But as a photographer I hate that,” Diltz said. “And I did go along and have those concerns for the first 30 or 40 years of my career. Now as a gallery owner I understand the pictures we sell are not usually taken on stage. It’s the backstage pictures that are interesting, a publisher said to me, ‘I want to see Neil Young in socks and underwear.’”

The art of the rock photograph is to capture “the seeing and the hearing,” Diltz said. “Music is the soundtrack to our life. We all have songs to bring us back to memories. As soon as you hear a song you remember. We also have eyes to see, if we’re not there at the concert another way to see the show is in magazines.

“Photography is an adjunct to hearing the music, if you can’t go to a show, you can appreciate through the photos,” Diltz said.

As for those starting out, Diltz said, “Just photograph everything you can.  Take pictures of your family, take pictures of the cat, take pictures of your friends who play in bands. I photographed my friends in bands so that on the weekend we could have a slide show.  I took photos because I wanted to entertain my friends with a slide show on the weekend.”

Diltz will be part of a special event on Oct. 28 called “An Evening with Bernstein, Diltz and Nash,” featuring Joel Bernstein and Graham Nash.  The three will hold a retrospective of their photography work at the Roxy Hotel in NYC.

Despite a Multitude of Changes, Skid Row Still Puts on Impressive Show

Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill of Skid Row - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill of Skid Row – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Dave ‘The Snake’ and Rachel Bolan are Masters at Reinventing Ever-Present Skid Row

By DONNA BALANCIA — Skid Row has undergone some changes over the years, but the band still rocks just as hard as when it was in the heyday 1980s.

Skid Row seems to cruise over the bumps in the road, including lineup changes, but the band is dedicated to its fans and putting on a good show.

Co-founders Dave “The Snake” Sabo and Rachel Bolan keep the ship steady as they recruit talented colleagues from other bands they have played in.

Lead singer Tony Harnell reminds us a little of David Johansen only with a metalish twist, but the charisma exudes from veteran guitarist Hill, whose wild hair and perpetual devilish grin give the band a lift.

Skid Row will be hitting the road, stopping in Wisconsin, Canada, Sweden, Colorado and Las Vegas before coming to Oak Ridge Park in Clark, N.J. for the Food Truck and Rock Carnival on September 19. SEE THEIR WEBSITE

Scott Hill and Tony Harnell keep the energy high at Skid Row shows - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Scott Hill and Tony Harnell keep the energy high at Skid Row shows – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Sabo and Bolan originally formed Skid Row in Toms River, N.J. in 1986. The band’s first two albums went multi-platinum. The band underwent some changes, namely replacing Johnny Solinger with Tony Harnell last April.

With Harnell, formerly of TNT, as new frontman, and Rob Hammersmith on drums, the band plays on.

Skid Row has released five full-length albums, a live album, three EPs, and a compilation album. For Skid Row tour dates check out the band’s website.

EXCLUSIVE: Rolling Stones Add Los Angeles Date to Popular Zip Code Tour

EXCLUSIVE: By DONNA BALANCIA — The Rolling Stones will play the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood as a warm-up date to their Zip Code tour, our sister site, CaliforniaRocker.com, has learned.

The Rolling Stones are preparing for their Zip Code tour, which kicks off at San Diego’s Petco Park May 24, and hits 15 U.S. cities.

This is a developing story. GO TO CALIFORNIAROCKER.COM for updates.

Road Trips, Drug Trips, New York Icons Highlight TriBeCa Film Fest 2015

The music of Them Guns is featured in Melanie Shaw's girl buddy pic "Shut Up And Drive" - photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

The music of Them Guns is featured in Melanie Shaw’s girl buddy pic “Shut Up And Drive” – photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Documentaries about Saturday Night Live, Kurt Cobain and a girl buddy pic that features the music of the band Them Guns, highlight the TriBeCa Film Festival 2015.

TriBeCa Film Fest runs today through April 26.   Here is a FILM GUIDE

— In “Live From New York!” Filmmaker Bao Nguyen traces New York’s evolution through the development of the show Saturday Night Live in his documentary. “Live From New York!” is the festival opener. The doc features interviews with Tina Fey, Chevy Chase and Chris Rock.

— Produced by Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, “Montage of Heck” tells the story of Cobain’s rise from his Olympia, Wash., roots to his rock superstar status as frontman of Nirvana.

— “Shut Up And Drive” was directed by Melanie Shaw, who said the road trip pic was based on a real-life adventure of her friends. The filmmaker told IndieWire that her influences come from her friends. In addition to the idea for the story, Shaw even used some of the songs created by her pals, the band Them Guns.

“Melanie directed our ‘Lost Boys’ video, and put a few of our songs in it and we are really excited about it,” said Them Guns bassist, Chuck Holiday.  Them Guns will play the “Shut Up and Drive” after-party Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. at Santos Party House in TriBeCa.

Other music-based films of note include:

“As I Am: The Life and Times of DJAM,” and “Orion: The Man Who Would Be King,” about Jimmy “Orion” Ellis.

Read more here at IndieWire and RollingStone.com for details.

Richard Hell to host Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt at Symphony Space

Richard Hell by East Coast Rocker

Richard Hell photo by Inez and Vinhood

NEW YORK CITY — Richard Hell hosts filmmaker Kelly Reichardt at the Thalia on Dec. 4 for a screening of her film Meek’s Cutoff, a story of betrayal and survival set in 1845 on the Oregon frontier.  The film stars Michelle Williams.

In reviewing the film, Hell writes: “Kelly Reichardt is brave and stubborn.  Like the characters in her film, she’s determined to find her way to beautiful, sustaining new territories and she knows she can only rely on her own instincts and judgement to figure out, moment by moment, how to get there.”

For more information go to Symphony Space.




Richard Hell on Lydia Loveless: ‘Her Music Makes Me Cry’

By DONNA BALANCIA — Richard Hell has never been one to shy away from raw emotion.

But the punk rock icon and current-day writer says the music of young Lydia Loveless makes him — well, wistful.

“Lydia is the only current singer-songwriter the power of whose music and voice consistently makes me cry,” Hell said of Loveless who performs at the Symphony Space Thalia theater tomorrow night.

Richard Hell’s Thalia Series

Hell curates a performance series called “Night Out with Richard Hell” for Symphony Space in New York City.

Lydia Loveless has managed to impress Hell because of her words and genuine approach to the music.  A native of Columbus, Ohio, the modern country performer and her band are making waves in the music scene.

She is among several young artists Hell interviews during his ongoing series at Symphony Space.

Hell’s series of interviews and performances take place in an intimate setting at Thalia.  His upcoming shows in the series include:

Ariana Reines, Friday, Nov. 14

Filmmaker Kelly Reichart, Thursday, Dec. 4

Musician Donald Cummning, Feb. 12, 2015

“I’m curating and hosting a series of events at Symphony Space for which I’ve dragooned one youngish artist per evening to sit still to be interviewed on stage by me before he or she performs,” Hell said.  “The interviews will be 25-30 minutes and the performances 45-50 minutes.”

Hell said he selected the Thalia theater for the cozy setting, as the theater has 168 seats.

“The main thing though is that all these people are interesting and talented and this is a unique chance to see them so intimately,” Hell said.

Since Hell retired from music in 1984, he has written two books and a series of articles for a range of magazines and media outlets.

For additional information on Richard Hell or any of the artists he interviews through the Symphony Space series click here.




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.


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.


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.


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

One Year Anniversary of Lou Reed’s Death

1-year anniversary of the death of Lou Reed

Lou Reed: One of Rock N Roll’s rare animals.

Lou Reed

Taking time to remember one of the greats who died one year ago today: Lou Reed.

Here is a great video with a rare performance of Satellite of Love

Thanks Lou for all the great music.

You’ve been gone a year but it doesn’t make it much easier.



‘Little Kids Rock’ Benefit With Joan Jett Raises $1.5M

Joan Jett will be honored with concert benefit Little Kids Rock

Joan Jett: Rock and Roll Royalty

Editor Update: This event raised $1.5 million, according to our friends at Little Kids Rock.

By DONNA BALANCIA – NEW YORK CITY — Joan Jett will be feted by some of the top names in the music business this Friday night during the Little Kids Rock charity fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, and Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys are among the artists will honor Jett and nephew of Clarence Clemons, Jake Clemons.

Jett will be presented with the “Rocker of the Year” award.

Jett’s tunes “I Love Rock and Roll,” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” skyrocketed off the charts and helped cement her place in history as one of Rock and Roll’s most famous figures.

Jett’s music career has seen a resurgence as of late and she has also been producing and acting.

Several months ago, on the CBS daytime show, The Talk, Jett discussed the impact social media has had on the music world.


Also being honored is Jake Clemons, the nephew of the late Clarence Clemons, who is a singer-songwriter in his own right and who is a member of the E Street Band.

Little Kids Rock helps bring music into the lives of children who attend disadvantaged public schools.

Among the stellar performers honoring Jett and Clemons are Mike Ness of Social Distortion, Billie Joe Armstrong, Darlene Love, Glen Hansard and Kathleen Hanna.

Tickets and more information are available at the Little Kids Rock website.






Rockers Team up For Veterans Matter

Stevie Nicks new album, Mellencamp, Kid Rock

Stevie Nicks, John Mellencamp and others team to support the charity

Stevie Nicks, Darius Rucker, John Mellencamp and Kid Rock are among the growing roster of rockers contributing time to Veterans Matter, an Ohio-based organization working on behalf of veterans.

The Veterans Matter program was started in 2012 in Toledo, Ohio, by Ken Leslie, a once homeless activist who had become aware that the primary obstacle facing many local homeless veterans eligible for long-term housing assistance was the lack of a rental deposit.

Veterans Matter was created as a simple solution to that simple problem by paying the deposit directly to landlord and has expanded to help house veterans in six states.

The program’s simplicity and demonstrated success rate attracted the attention of Dusty Hill of ZZ Top and John Mellencamp, who each helped raise funds to house homeless veterans in their home states, accounting for a significant portion of the almost $250,000 raised so far.

One hundred percent of the money raised goes to the program, as overhead costs are donated in-kind by Leslie’s company and other friends. 1Matters.org, a local non-profit that attained national visibility when John Mellencamp visited Toledo some years ago, is the fiscal agent for the program.

“Cumulus, the artists, and all of those involved in helping Veterans Matter are here because they fought for us. Now we fight for them. Veterans Matter,” Leslie said.

The East Coast Rocker Interview: Johnny Winter a Humble Blues Innovator

Johnny Winter is a Grammy-nominated producer and blues historian

Johnny Winter is a Grammy-nominated producer and blues historian – Graphic courtesy of Johnny Winter


Guitar Great is ‘Just having fun again.’

Johnny Winter has learned to become a great teacher — and a student — of time’s lessons.

In an interview originally published last fall, Johnny Winter told editor Donna Balancia all about his likes and dislikes and his climb back to the top of the Rock N Roll charts.

“I never knew my career would last this long, but I sure hoped for it,” said Winter, who at the age of 69, has survived a finicky musical landscape to emerge as one of history’s most well-respected blues artists.

Sporting his signature long white hair, cowboy hat, and characteristically cool demeanor, Winter sat down with EAST COAST ROCKER to chat about his career.

Winter, a Blues Foundation Hall of Fame inductee, is a Grammy-nominated producer, known for his work with blues greats like Muddy Waters.  The famously fair-haired, Texas-bred blues buff and older brother to rocker Edgar Winter, has come through dark times to reach the light-heartedness that now marks his personal life and his musical career.

His relationships have been an important factor to get him and keep him healthy, in particular his friendship with guitarist Paul Nelson, who has been one of the most significant people in his life.

Check out Johnny Winter on Late Night

Check out Johnny Winter on Late Night

“Johnny’s a blues historian,” said Nelson, Winter’s bandmate and manager. “He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to listen to Pavarotti. He’s cemented to the blues.  He not only plays it, he knows the blues.”

Nelson has helped Winter instill a healthy lifestyle to keep touring and recording.

“It’s been a long road, but he’s sober now, he’s smiling now and his vocals are clear,” Nelson said. “There was a time that there was so much that came so fast, like in the 1970s, it was when he went from blues to rock. Then through the 1990s he had a rough time.

“I met Johnny in 2000, he had been a recluse,” Nelson said. “His management was not up to date.  I firmly believe that when you’re young you need older management, when you’re older you need young management.”

Winter has become a new man since turning the corner and quitting drinking and partying.

“No, I don’t do any of that anymore,” Winter said. “I’m not drinking or doing drugs. If I didn’t quit, I wouldn’t be alive today.  This was my choice.  I’ve been clean for 10 years.”

Winter lives in Connecticut, but has fond memories of his home town of Beaumont, Texas, where as a kid he did a lot of fishing, he said.

“There are some really great parts of Texas,” Winter said. “My folks aren’t alive, so I don’t have much cause to go back there too much these days.”

The Screamin' Demon is at it again

The Screamin’ Demon is at it again

His business and personal interests have diversified over the years.  He’s even come out with his own signature hot sauce called “Screamin’ Demon Hot Sauce.”

While he said he is encouraged that young people today are getting into the blues, for the most part, he said, he’s not too fond of the “sound of today.”

“I hate the new music,” he said. “I just do.”

His touring keeps him busy, and promoting his album, “Roots,” has been a labor of love, Winter said.  It’s through his touring and promoting the blues that he stays in touch with the fun in life.

“These are the songs I heard when I was first getting into my music,” he said. “It’s just real good music.”

Back in the day, the average age of fans at a Johnny Winter concert was 20, today the average age is 55. He is appreciative of his fan support.

“When my fans come talk to me they always say things like, ‘I’ve been listening to your music for 40 years,'” he said. “And let me tell you, that’s a pretty good feeling.”

Dick Dale Interview: For King of the Surf Guitar, ‘Being on Tour is My Cure’

By DONNA BALANCIA in SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — For The King of the Surf Guitar, music is the medicine.

“I have to perform to stay alive,” said Dick Dale, whose trademark surf sound defined a generation and has since the sixties inspired musicians around the world.

“My mind is what pushes me through,” Dale told East Coast Rocker. “The doctors say, ‘You’re a tough son of a bitch. But let me tell you, I rode the pain train all through my operations.”

At 76 years old, Dale, who doesn’t smoke, drink or take any drugs, has had his share of health issues.  Cancer and diabetes are atop a long list of diseases he battles with the help of his wife, Lana, who only leaves his side when he’s on stage.

Dale is in the midst of an East Coast swing and the touring is non-stop.

But Dale, who came to California as a child said he’ll always love playing his home state and has a fondness for Southern California in particular.

But his words are not so kind for others.  His illnesses have given him new insights into the failings of the healthcare system, particularly what he considers the disregard of lower-income retirees and veterans who have fought for our country.

“What is happening to our troops from a medical standpoint?” Dale asked. “What happens when they come home?  I am blessed because I have my wife, Lana, but what do these troops have?  They left their wives, their newborns, their families to fight for us, many have lost limbs and they come home to get no reward, whereas the politicians get insurance for the rest of their lives.  What are the wounded getting?”

Dale, himself, was in the Air Force and was commended for his successes as an Air Force Firefighter.  He wants the servicemen to be cared for and he doesn’t appreciate the supposed groups soliciting funds on their behalf over the telephone.

“I got all sorts of people calling to ask for money for the servicemen, the police and the firefighters, but I know that only a little bit of the money goes to them,” Dale said. “A friend of mine advised that anyone who wants to give money should bring the money directly to the source.”

Dale has succumbed to the sensibility of dietary restrictions, like cutting out sugar. He loves grape leaves and tabbouleh, much in keeping with his Lebanese heritage.

His music developed because of his Lebanese heritage as well, as he was always interested in working with Egyptian and Arabic beats and tunes.  His famous Misirlou and his vast and legendary collection of surf songs was inspired by those familiar Middle Eastern sounds, only played at triple speed.  Back in the 60s, it wasn’t initially accepted — not because of the region of origin — but because of the guitar.

“They called it devil music then,” Dale said. “Yes, that’s really true.”

The stories are well-documented that he and his father, who helped Dale book a gig at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, would only get a permit to play if the kids attending wore ties.  Dale’s dad grabbed a box of ties to hand out to the bare-footed surfer kids who wanted to attend the show, and history was made.

Dale had a strong relationship with Leo Fender who was like his second dad, Dale said and that friendship would last through the years.

His music survived the years, through the ups and downs, and while it has been debated that The British Invasion cut short the full potential growth of the surf sound, Dale was luckier than most musicians to get another shot at major fame.

Dale recalled the night when a young movie director came a knocking at his dressing room door. The director was Quentin Tarantino and he had something great in mind for Dale.

“He said, ‘I listened to your music and I want to create a masterpiece of a movie that complements the masterpiece of music you created.'”

The movie, of course was the 1994 feature film “Pulp Fiction.”  The film would breathe life into the careers of several of its participants besides Dale, most notably John Travolta, who had been fighting a stigma of typecasting from his more recent feature comedies.

“Quentin told me he had had doors slammed in his face,” Dale recalled. “And he was very humble.  And because he was humble, I took a liking to him.  He said, ‘I have John Travolta,’ and I said ‘OK, sure, go for it.'”

When the film was completed, Dale said, Tarantino sent a limo for Dale to come to a special screening.

“The success of the film gave Quentin the last laugh because everybody shut the doors on him,” Dale said. “And it gave Travolta the last laugh, and so on.”

But for us and for The King of the Surf Guitar, it’s easy to tell that despite it all, he’s laughing — and his laughs are far from his last.



Tom DiCillo and The Black and Blue Orkestre Build Bridges with New Album

Tom DiCillo Black and Blue Orkestre East Coast Rocker Interview

—Tom DiCillo: Music plays a leading role in all his work — All photos courtesy of Tom DiCillo

With Bandmates Will Crewdson and Grog Rox, Trio Collaborates on Trans-Atlantic Recording

NEW YORK CITY — It’s been a few years since we’ve spoken to Tom DiCillo, writer and director of such films as Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion, and the compelling 2009 documentary about The Doors, When You’re Strange. But paths always cross again and we sat down for a Q and A with the director, an East Coast Rocker in his own right.

Fresh off the release of his unique album Hurt Me Tender, recorded with his band The Black and Blue Orkestre, DiCillo shares his opinion on music, film, and on life, as told by one of the few truly independent filmmakers and artists around.  This is Part One of a three-part series.

Hurt Me Tender  is a complex and reflective collection of songs DiCillo  created with his band mates Grog Rox and Will Crewdson. The threesome is known as The Black & Blue Orkestre.

DiCillo sat down to talk with ECR Editor Donna Balancia.

ECR: Tom, I’m extremely happy to catch up with you. In reviewing your work, it’s obvious that you love and respect music. You’ve written and directed films about aspiring musicians, accomplished musicians, and you’ve even collaborated with established musicians.  Now you have an album of your own. How have your Hollywood experiences influenced your music, in particular the Black and Blue Orkestre’s album Hurt Me Tender?

TD: I’ve actually had very few Hollywood experiences. But I do know this;  Hollywood is about power and the perception of power. People telling you what to do, and when you can do it. So, picking up the guitar every now and then is a salvation. It’s a direct connection to something creative.  And you can do it whenever you want to.

Black and Blue Orkestre Tom DiCillo Donna Balancia

Trans-Atlantic Trio: Will Crewdson, Grog Rox, Tom DiCillo

ECR: The Black and Blue Orkestre is a really unique ensemble — and the assembly of the music when all three partners in the band don’t live anywhere near each other is extremely compelling.  How did this happen?

TD: Hurt Me Tender came out of a 5-year collaboration that started with me and UK guitarist Will Crewdson. We connected when my film Delirious was opening in the UK and Will sent me an email saying how much he liked the film. He mentioned his musical tastes and somehow that prompted me to send him the first song I’d ever really sung, my version of “16 Tons.” Will liked my voice and laid down some amazing guitar tracks.

This began our electronic trans-Atlantic collaboration. Eventually I sent him some songs that I had written and again Will added greatly to them with his guitar. Up until that time all the bass and drums were programmed by me. It was Will’s idea to bring in Grog, bass player and lead vocalist for her own group Die So Fluid. I would sketch out a mix with my vocal, Will’s guitar and a basic drum track and send it to Grog in LA. She composed and recorded a bass track and sent it back. Soon, this was how we were doing all our songs.

Will Crewdson was inspired by the films of Tom DiCillo - East Coast Rocker Interview

Will Crewdson

Finally, we had about 12 originals and I just said ‘Let’s see if we can at least get them out there as some sort of album.’ I didn’t have the time to try and get a label interested. But, I thought that all that work should at least be gathered together as some kind of finished product. So, the whole effort became finishing the songs we’d been working on for five years and making them sound like they’d all come from the same musical moment of inspiration. And finally, at the end of 2013, we got them all mastered and released them via Ditto Music.

As of this date we have never performed live together in the same room, city, country or continent.

Frozen Sunset Video by Tom DiCillo and Black and Blue Orkestre

Grog Rox in Frozen Sunset Video

ECR: I love “Shoe Shine Shuffle,” “Frozen Heartache,” “Whiskey Promise” and of course, “Hurt Me Tender.” There is such a sense of longing and adventure at the same time. Can you describe the storylines behind each of these great songs?  What inspired each of them?

TD: There is a vein of something personal in each of the songs. I find I can’t write music (or a film) that doesn’t have some deeper connection for me. All the songs originated out of some simple musical idea. With “Shoe Shine Shuffle” it was a guitar lick that the lyrics, “There’s a word for it,” attached themselves to. As the song developed it took on the idea that all of us have at times prostituted ourselves. It is the way of the world. Some of us do it by choice, most of us are forced into it by circumstance. But, to judge someone for this is idiotic–almost as idiotic as thinking that only “bad” people do this. In some form or another, everybody’s done it. It is especially true in the film business.

Shoe Shine Shuffle BBO East Coast Rocker

Shoe Shine Shuffle by the Black and Blue Orkestre

TD: Great songs are like really good short films to me; the music conveys something that brings both visual and emotional layers. I like words and phrases that also create a distinct emotional world. “Frozen Heartache” is about a woman who is obsessed with a man who could care less about her and she keeps telling another guy all about her torment. She’s so consumed by her obsession she never sees that this other guy is in love with her. I’ve been there. It was Grog’s idea to add her voice on the chorus, “Everybody knows” and I think it adds a spooky, kind of gothic 50’s touch.

Frozen Heartache Black and Blue Orkestre

Frozen Heartache by Black and Blue Orkestre on Soundcloud

“Hurt Me Tender” is the last song I wrote for the album. It started as a kind of latin/gypsy chord progression; something Elvis may have done in the early 60’s, like “It’s Now Or Never.” The title is actually a reference to Elvis, but bent slightly into the psychological realm approaching the masochistic. It’s about a guy who is drawn to a woman whose joy and beauty cover a fear of the world that renders her helpless–and at times exceedingly cruel. I’ve found this combination to be a powerful aphrodisiac for people, especially men.

TD: Your words “longing and adventure” about these songs are very interesting. They imply a certain say, sadness or melancholy at the same time some kind of unexpected drama. I think that’s a good description of what we tried to do with the album. The songs are about people that have come up against some of the shoves and collisions in life. And like all of us, they have the bruises to show for it. That’s one of the reasons the group is called The Black & Blue Orkestre.

ECR: You are attracted to the music of Link Wray, who has a credit on your first film, Johnny Suede.  Is Link Wray a big influence for the BBO?

TD: Yes. I’ve always been impressed by what he brought to the amplified guitar. I like anybody who is genuinely trying something. And somehow, you can always feel it when it’s real.


END TOM DiCILLO #BlackandBlueOrkestre PART ONE

Stefan Marchello: Keeping The Good Rats Tradition Alive

Sons of Beloved Good Rats Founder Peppi Marchello Lead the Band into a New Era

By DONNA BALANCIA, East Coast Rocker

LONG ISLAND — The Good Rats’ founder and lead singer Peppi Marchello had thousands of fans who loved him like family.  Now his sons  Stefan and Gene Marchello are taking the helm. After a fantastic tribute concert in Peppi’s honor last week, East Coast Rocker Editor Donna Balancia caught up with Stefan, who is carrying on in his father’s name. Topics? New music, beer and a laundromat.

Peppi Marchello

Book cover design commemorates the life of Peppi Marchello

ECR:  What are the plans for The Good Rats since the loss of your father?

SM:  Well since the loss of my dad we have had an outpouring of love from Peppi’s fans. Our fans got behind a special Kickstarter project that helped us fund a book called PEPPI MARCHELLO The Songwriter.

The book will have pages of lyrics and great photo’s. Some pictures of Peppi rocking out and others of the family man he was. We will have videos, documentaries, audio books, and of course new music to look forward to.

My dad and I were working on the 34 new songs that he wrote. Best time of my fucking life!!! Lots of stuff we finished but lots more to complete.

In fact, we have the new CD coming out in late April or early May 2014 along with a video called Why The World Should Love The United States of America.  If anything it wins the longest song title…It’s actually a patriotic rock song that anyone who loves America could appreciate. So we have lots of great stuff for the fans and I look forward to keeping my dad’s legacy alive.

Stefan and Gene Marchello take over

Stefan and Gene Marchello – Donna M. Kross Photo

ECR:  How are you and your brother, Gene stepping up?

SM:  Well like I said I’m out there playing. Also, as many shows as he can my brother Gene comes down and plays the guitar and sings songs as well. He’s out there doing his two bands he sings in. One band is a U2 tribute band called 2U and the other is a Journey tribute band is called Almost Journey. Of course he is amazing and I think both bands are the best tribute bands you will find. He will also be helping me finish some of Peppi’s new songs.

ECR:  What are some of the goals for the band ?

SM:  Short-term and long-term goals are pretty much the same. Gonna keep playing out as much as possible. Try and keep the die hard fans happy and make some new fans along the way. And of course finish up all the great songs and projects Peppi left for his fans.

The Good Rats - East Coast Rocker

The Good Rats in their heyday

ECR:  What were among the most unique venues you’ve ever played?

SM:  Well, a couple come to mind. One was when we played a laundromat in New Jersey. It was a friend who owned it and he wanted us to play. So,we went there and people were filling the washing machines with ice and beer. It was actually a cool idea and everyone had a great time.

Then there was The Prison Tour in Pennsylvania. We did like 23 prisons all in 30 days. There were lots of stories that came from this tour. Things like broken fingers, accusations of heroin use. Those are long stories… but a short simple one was when I saw my picture ripped down and the other guys in the band pictures were still hanging up. I was told that a prisoner thought I was cute and took it back to his cell to have his way with my pic. I guess I should be flattered. We did all men prisons except for one. Of course, those women really were happy to see us!!

Dee Snider and The Good Rats for East Coast Rocker

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister joined The Good Rats on stage last weekend in tribute to Peppi Marchello. – Video by Harry Buck.

ECR:  What are the common threads that keep the Good Rats similar to the former incarnation of the band?

SM:  Well, the biggest one is blood. I worshipped my father and his talent so I try to really bring that to the show. The guys that play along me are huge loyal Good Rats fans so they really learn the parts like it’s played on the album and they love performing the songs. Dan “The Man” Smiraglia is on keyboard and Michael A. Brenna is on drums.


The Good Rats’ new album, Afterlife – Mary Reilly photo

ECR:  When is the new album coming out?

SM:  The new Good Rats album will be called AFTERLIFE. It will be out in late April early May 2014. It’s also available right now on itunes. ECR:  Any venues outside of New York that you guys might play? SM:  Right now we do New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. I’d love to play anywhere they’d let me stand.

ECR: What were unique features about Peppi’s music and what has he handed down to you?

SM:  He was a perfectionist. I don’t think you can find one guy who played in this band — and there were lots of them — who didn’t become a better player for it. It was because of his perfectionist leadership skills they improved. So I will always remember his drive and approach on doing your best but always knowing you can always strive to improve.

When it comes to performing he once told me….The people came to forget about their problems. This is their getaway. Leave your own stress and problems at home and entertain their problems away…Simple, but for me insightful.

Moog Synthesizer Genome Project Complete

Moog Synthesizer painstakingly recreated East Coast Rocker

The Moog Synthesizer. It no longer shoots rockets.

ASHEVILLE, NC – It has taken three years, but Moog Music engineering team has reverse-engineered and built a 1:1 re-creation of one of the world’s most famous keyboards: Keith Emerson’s Moog Modular, using original processes and components.

Moog Synthesizer

Known as “The Synthesizer Genome Project,” the revitalization of the keyboard was painstakingly undertaken by engineers at Moog Music’s Asheville, N.C. headquarters.

When it was created in 1970, the original Emerson Modular included the following:

·       81 total modules / custom panels

·       12 unique, custom built modules including: sample and hold, preset programmer, custom LFO’s and DRONE VCO Control

·       903 Noise Source and 905 Reverb

·       First synthesizer with performance presets

·       Shoots rockets

The Emerson System, by Moog Custom Engineering, is to be released later this month and is based on the original Emerson Modular. The Emerson System will include the following:

·       Every standard module printed from original circuit board films

·       Original/vintage and new old stock components sourced from around the world

·       All face places are reproduced using original transparencies and techniques

·       Each module is hand build and soldered with original schematics and service manuals as guides

·       No longer shoots rockets

Bob Moog East Coast Rocker

Bob Moog

More information is to come.  The Moog Music 500 series modules and electronic musical instruments are designed and lovingly handcrafted at the Moog factory in downtown Asheville, N.C. Moog Music and its customers carry on the legacy of Dr. Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer and Founder of Moog Music Inc.

The company puts on the annual Moogfest in Asheville.  This year the lineup features Kraftwerk 3D and Pet Shop Boys.

For more information, go to Moog Music and Moogfest websites.



On Todd Rundgren’s Les Paul Award: ‘We’ve Been Waiting So Long’

Todd Rundgren in 1981 - Photo courtesy Eric Gardner

Todd Rundgren in 1981 – Photo courtesy Eric Gardner

By DONNA BALANCIA — Todd Rundgren will receive the Les Paul Award at the National Association of Music Merchants Show, and fans say it’s been a long time coming.

Todd will be presented with the award at the 29th annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards during NAMM for his several decades performing and writing music, his producing skills, and continued experimentation in electronic music.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement in professional audio technology and production and will be presented Friday, Jan. 24 at the Anaheim Hilton.

Todd’s recordings ranging from “Hello It’s Me,” and “Can We Still be Friends,” to the Boomer vacation theme “Bang The Drum All Day,” are known to the masses.  His consistently interesting and artistic live performances may be known to fewer.

But how is it that this prolific musician and producer of such talents as Rick Derringer, Hall and Oates, Patti Smith, Grand Funk Railroad and Meat Loaf could go all these years without a nod from his colleagues?

Maybe, we’re told, Todd just didn’t clap loud enough at the right times. Or for the right people.

Utopia: Todd Rundgren, Willie Wilcox, Roger Powell and Kasim Sultan

Utopia: Todd Rundgren, Willie Wilcox, Roger Powell and Kasim Sultan

Besides, Todd doesn’t have time to deal with professional politics, because he’s too busy giving back.

Like the time he and his band Utopia performed during the benefit at South Street Seaport in New York City to raise money after Derringer’s instruments had been stolen. Even robotic Roger Powell stiffly glanced up from his keyboard through wrap-around shades to blurt into the microphone in his monotone voice: “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Over the years Todd’s shows have always included some kind of suprise: New wave jumpsuits, a cool new version of a classic like Debussy’s “Bolero,”  or a techie treat.

One year we saw Todd play a San Diego stage all alone with two projection screens on either side that simultaneously broadcast his unplugged session.  It appeared as if he did all the adjustments and fine-tuning himself, and, it sure didn’t sound like he was up on stage by himself.  The audience was enraptured – the guy sitting next to me admitted his admiration and love for Todd, and alternated between swooning and weeping during the show.

Innovative tech sounds can be heard on Todd’s recordings. But technology infrastructure is something that made him a standout. Todd licensed an I-Pad-like slate to Apple years prior to anything similar, and he established a distribution model based on “interactivity” — long  before the word became the mantra of Northern California’s Silicon Valley.

But sometimes, Todd’s adventures in technology are misunderstood.

Todd Rundgren: Trying technology and more.

Todd Rundgren: Trying technology and more.

As Bugs Bunny once remarked, “They laughed at the guy who discovered Penicillin,” and there may have similarly been a giggle when Todd held a press conference for last spring’s release, STATE, via an online Google Hangout session, sporting some fancy glasses.

But it is an evolving era as Todd says, and he’s been happy with his laptop and software.  But now his new music innovation will come through a different type of interactivity.

He and Michele are investing time and efforts into their latest mission: Spirit of Harmony Foundation.

“The purpose is to provide support and funding to school programs and other sorts of organizations who are trying to bring music to people who don’t have it,” said Todd, “Especially in terms of learning how to play instruments, learning how to understand what music is all about and having the opportunity to express yourself through that medium.”

UPDATE:  Check out the newly created website for the Spirit of Harmony Foundation

Everclear’s Art Alexakis named to LA College of Music Post

Photo by Donna Balancia

Photo by Donna Balancia

By DONNA BALANCIA — ANAHEIM — Art Alexakis of Everclear has been named the chair of the songwriting department at the newly renamed Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena.

The announcement was made during media day at the 2014 NAMM Show in Anaheim. Alexakis played his hit “Santa Monica.”

LACM representatives and Alexakis also discussed the importance of bringing music education into the schools and are working with Lennon Bus