East Coast Rocker

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Donna Balancia and Vince Conrad Release Single ‘One Step at a Time’ to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

Punk Rocker and The Writer Want to Give Back

By JOHN DALY

Donna Balancia, music journalist, and Vince Conrad, music producer and founder of bands The Smart Pills and American Bad Taste, have released a single called “One Step at a Time,” to help support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Downloads of “One Step at a Time” are available on Bandcamp and CDBaby for $1.99 and a portion of all sales will go to The Food Bank of Corpus Christi, one of the organizations helping hurricane victims.

“At a time when most of the country is going back to school,’ we can’t forget that many victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas have nothing to go back to,” Balancia said. “Vince and I want to help, even if it’s in some small way like a music download.”

donna balancia bandcamp

 

‘One Step at a Time: Like Aimee Mann Meets The Cars’

“One Step at a Time” is an upbeat 1980s-style adult contemporary song similar in sound to The Cars, and Balancia’s melodious vocals sound like “an upbeat Aimee Mann,” according to a review by Alyson Camus in Rock NYC Live and Recorded. “The chorus will stay with you on first listen,” Camus writes.

“Vince is known for his work in the punk rock world and he’s a multi-talented musician,” Balancia said. “He’s a prolific songwriter, guitarist and arranger. I’m the wordsmith, singer, and melody composer. We’re releasing an EP in the fall, but this song, ‘One Step at a Time’ is being released early so that we can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.”

Vince Conrad and Donna Balancia released upbeat 1980s-style single ‘One Step at a Time’ early to help raise money for hurricane victims – Photo by John Norris

The Punk Rocker and The Writer

Conrad who made his mark in the 1980s with punk bands The Smart Pills, The Aliens and American Bad Taste, recently released some hidden gems he unearthed while going through his storage unit.   He remastered and re-released several of the original punk recordings from the 1970s. Check out his website here at VinceConradProductions.com 

For disclaimer, Balancia is the editor of CaliforniaRocker.com and the president of The Entertainment Magazines LLC, the parent company to this site and several other websites that cover tourism, technology, film and music. As a hobby, she has been singing and playing music since she was a child, she says.

Conrad and Balancia crossed paths many times in the 1980s in New York City, but never actually met until their love of alternative music brought them together at a Los Angeles punk club to see a Walter Lure show.

Check out “One Step at a Time” and donate here at either at Bandcamp or CD Baby

For more information contact EastCoastRocker.com Editor Balancia at editor@californiarocker.com

Slash, Vince Neil, Alice Cooper Rock and Raise $525 G for MSA Research

Slash, Vince Neil, Alice Cooper, East Coast Rocker, Photo with permission by Truscello

Slash, Vince Neil and Alice Cooper were among rockers at the Kerry Simon benefit in Vegas – Truscello/Wire Image

By DONNA BALANCIA — LAS VEGAS — Slash, Vince Neil and Alice Cooper were among top names from the music world who gathered this past week in Las Vegas to help raise money for MSA Research.

The Keep Memory Alive benefit was held on behalf of chef Kerry Simon, who has been battling the effects of the debilitating affliction Multiple System Atrophy since his diagnosis last year.

About 450 guests attended, raising nearly $525,000 towards MSA clinical care and research.

Others on hand were Sammy Hagar, Bill Murray, Todd Rundgren, Matt Sorum, J.D. Fortune, Lisa Loeb and Billy Duffy, all backed by the Las Vegas band, Sin City Sinners.

END EAST COAST ROCKER SLASH ALICE COOPER STORY

Bob Ezrin: ‘The Future of Music Depends on the Quality of Music’

Ezrin has worked with the heavy hitters of the music world including Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Peter Gabriel.

Ezrin has worked with the heavy hitters of the music world including Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Peter Gabriel.

Industry must call music ‘art.’  After all, Ezrin says, ‘A rose by any other name would NOT smell as sweet’ — 

By DONNA BALANCIA – ANAHEIM – Legendary producer Bob Ezrin told music retailers Thursday that the industry must continue to build its talent pool in order to thrive.

Prior to his keynote address to kick off the 2014 National Association of Music Merchants Show in Anaheim, Ezrin told East Coast Rocker that the more time the industry wastes worrying about ancillary issues, the less time it will spend on its most critical function:  To inspire and educate.

“If we spend time worrying about things like how to get the music out, the less time we will have to make insanely good music,” Ezrin told East Coast Rocker prior to delivering his speech at the annual event that draws thousands of industry members from around the world.

His morning keynote speech drew an audience of several hundred music retailers, many of whom forged through rough winter weather to attend the conference in sunny Southern California.

Using cool-sounding words doesn’t cut it for Canadian-born Ezrin, whose experience with “cool” is vast, having worked with hundreds of top musicians since the 1970s.

“When we talk about the future of making music, we have to watch the language we use,” Ezrin said.  “Someone said to me, ‘It’s about the ‘content.‘  No it’s not. ‘Content’ is for cereal boxes, not the art. If it’s called ‘content,’ you diminish the value down to breakfast cereal…When you talk about it with mist in your eyes …Now you’re talking about music.”

Ezrin spends much of his time in philanthropy.  He is co-founder with Garth Richardson and Kevin Williams of Nimbus School of Recording Arts in Vancouver.

Ezrin implores the music industry to use terminology carefully.

Ezrin implores the music industry to use terminology carefully.

Another word Ezrin can’t stand: “Monetization.”

“I don’t want to talk about business models, or the ‘monetization’ of anything, that’s a dirty word.  Unless what we make is great, nobody’s going to pay for it. ”

How will the industry make money?

“The best thing we can be doing is insure a march to excellence, to empower, inspire, to promote people who are straining to do something unique,” Ezrin said. “And to encourage them. Music is the very special creation of very special people whose entire lives and everything they’ve ever done, seen, felt or touched goes into what they do. That process is magical.”

Ezrin said: “There is a certain amount of technique involved. So how do we become insanely great? One of the things to do, whenever you set out on a journey, you need to make a list of things Not to Do, and a list of things To Do.  One of the things to do is to make a ‘Not to do’ list.”

Ezrin warned not to “Get caught up in toys, tricks, technology, packaging, positioning or any of those things before you have something to market,” he said.

Our society is perhaps too caught up in “chasing cool,” or “the latest” in tech and that viral or other song phenomena will happen without that tech factor most of the time, he said. Using the success of the catchy “Who Let The Dogs Out,” as an example, Ezrin said, “I’m sure that person was not sitting at a computer screen or at a conference like this.”

Ezrin, a prolific producer, devotes much of his time now to music philanthropy.

Ezrin devotes much of his time now to music philanthropy. Photo courtesy of Canadian Music Hall of Fame

Ezrin said: “At the end of the day when somebody like Psy comes around, it travels around the world.” He said, the market is “extremely rational. The stuff of real value does get supported and earns something for somebody. And the stuff that’s not so good, typically doesn’t.”

He said formulas don’t count, unless you’re making a widget and what happened before won’t predict the future.

“Art is only something artists can manage,” said Ezrin. “A craftsman is someone who can create and build code .. And an artist is someone who creates something that is different.

He said: “A rose by any other name would not  smell as sweet. If you called roses ‘kumquats’ it would not be the same.”

The music, and not the “content” or the calling it of such, is the key.

“It’s not technology or modality of delivery, it is the special creation of special people that especially touches the hearts of others,” that should be the concern of the industry.

The first line of offense in inspiring youths of today to take up an instrument is to put down the smart phone, Ezrin said.

“Kids, they hear things and kids are incredibly curious, thoughtful about what they see, even with their heads down things get in,” he said. “You need to inspire and educate.  Take them to a concert.  They may be on (the smart phone) but they internalize and maybe they’ll say, ‘I want to do that.”

‘Great Jersey Musicians’ a Work of Love for Rich Hoynes

Rich Hoynes, photo courtesy of Rich Hoynes

Author Rich Hoynes love Great Jersey Musicians and wrote a coffee table book about the people who make the music happen. A portion of every sale goes to charity.

BELMAR, N.J. — Richard Hoynes has accomplished a great deal as a corporate executive, a charitable benefactor and as photographer and writer.  Of course, we know him as Regional Photo Editor at East Coast Rocker.

Richard’s latest work, “Great Jersey Musicians,” documents some of the musicians he has come to know in The Garden State.

East Coast Rocker:  What sparked your love for music?

RH: I’ve been into music since I was born.  My mother sang and cut a 78 record back in the day, and encouraged my music passion.  She bought me my first electric guitar, a ’63 Fender Jazzmaster, when I was 14 years old.  I sang in choir all through grammar school and sang in a Christian choir in high school.  I taught myself guitar and I write songs, mostly songs about loss and love, like many musicians.

East Coast Rocker:  Why did you decide to incorporate both famous and not-so-famous Jersey musicians in your book?

RH: There are so many great musicians, many of whom are yet undiscovered.  I photographed those I heard who I liked.  To make it big in music is tough, and I think those who are both talented and have good business sense, make it. I also believe you become what you believe you will be.  Many musicians have a “starving artist” belief about themselves.  To be good, you must be hungry.  I think many musicians could benefit from some good business management help.   Though their art is amazing, some of the best artists suffer from self-sabotage in one form or another.

East Coast Rocker:  What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had in your career so far?   

RH: Probably having the honor of meeting Joan Jett and Daryl Strawberry. I started AMA Charitable Foundation in 2010 to help non-profits raise money.   We then hosted a fundraiser for autism for 5 schools for children with autism.  Joan came and brought a signed guitar, some signed records, and a Joan Jett Barbie doll.  I didn’t know there was a Barbie doll of Joan Jett!   (See the Joan Jett video here)   I gave her a guitar, that we had the children at Somerset Hills Learning Institute in Bedminster, NJ.,  sign for her.  In a spontaneous moment, someone from the crowd shouted, “Happy Birthday Joan!”   She had just turned 50.  Of course I spontaneously led the crowd in singing the Happy Birthday Song to her.  Of course, after the first verse I realized I was the only one singing.  She was gracious. I think there is a Youtube video of my embarrassing moment, but we had great fun and raised money to help some wonderful children.  (See the video here)

East Coast Rocker:  Who are your musical inspirations?

RH: There are too many to name.  I like all classic rock. The Beatles, The Stones, The Eagles, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.  I’m actually inspired by some of the great lesser known artists that play the Jersey scene today.  Pat Guadagno, who I affectionately in my book named “The troubadour of the Jersey Shore,”  is an amazing vocal talent.  You know you really like an artist when you have their music CD in your car. I’m inspired by Emily Grove, a 22-year-old singer who I watched from the age of 18.  She has a June Carter kind of sound and is a great songwriter. I’m inspired by Marc Ribler, an amazing singer/songwriter and guitarist.  He wrote a great song for Autism for my BEDSTOCK event and performed it live.  He wrote a song for Sandy victims called, “Our Spirit is Strong” and gave all the proceeds to Sandy victims.  He’s written TV commercial jingles. I’m inspired by JT Bowen who was the lead singer for Clarence Clemons band for battling alcoholism, finding God, and turning his life around.  I’m also inspired by Clarence Clemons son Nick, who took care of his mother after his dad left and is working hard to leverage his father’s legacy and name to run charity events.  He has a great soulful voice.

I worked with Nick to do a fundraiser for Clarence’s birthday at Lance Larson’s Wonderbar in Asbury Park.  We raised money for two schools at the Jersey shore whose musical instruments were destroyed during super storm Sandy. Tom Doyle, master luthier and guitar player, played with Les Paul and took care of his instruments.  Tom worked with Les for more than 40 years.  I took his luthier class in North West Jersey for about a year and refinished my ’63 Fender Jazzmaster. I could go on.  I’m inspired by the music.  I’m inspired by the kindness.  I’m inspired by the charity of so many of these artists who play fundraisers for free when they can barely pay their own rent.

East Coast Rocker:  What did you enjoy the most about producing this book?

RH: Probably the smiles on the artists’ faces when they see themselves in it and the admiration of those fans who once they pick it up, can’t put it down. I also enjoyed making something that people can enjoy in their living rooms and that benefits the musicians, their fans, and charity.  $5 of every book sale goes to charity.  I’ve donated almost 100 books to charities for their fundraising events.  The musicians get the book wholesale so they can make additional revenue from doing book signings and selling them to their fans. East Coast Rocker:  What characteristics draw you to a band or solo artist?

RH: I’m drawn to great musicians who are also gracious and generous with themselves and their time.  I like songs with meaning.  In addition to those I mentioned, I appreciate the music of folk singer George Wirth, and the blues music of Kelley Dewkett.  They tell stories that make me think.

East Coast Rocker: What’s in the future for you after this book?

RH: I have a passion for leaving the planet better.  I spend the largest share of my life working as a business executive for large corporations, IBM, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and others.  I’d like to spend the next chapter thinking of ways to help address the social and health issues of our times. There are many small non-profits all across America started by people who are passionate about a particular cause who have limited business experience, limited financial means and weak fundraising ability.  There are also a large number of well-funded foundations who work hard to focus their resources on meaningful efforts across the world. Rather than spending large amounts of time trying to raise a few thousand here and a few thousand there for charities, I would like to help the larger well-funded non-profit foundations focus their resources on addressing the social and health issues affecting us today. The top 10 charitable foundations have more than $100 billion in assets.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has over $34 billion in assets and donates more than $3 billion a year to help causes.  I met Bill Gates and Steve Balmer when I worked as CIO for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.  They do great work.  The Ford Foundation has almost $11 billion in assets.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has about $9 billion.  I’m thinking I would like to help them invest some of that. I think we should create a TV show that is a cross between the Jerry Lewis telethon and “Shark Tank” for non-profits.  We could bring together some of the top foundations with non-profits needing money to help fund and support specific efforts, and non-profit innovations in technology and new capabilities.  Do it live.  Allow people to donate live online and show the results in real time.  Film the results and share successes live, building a greater sense of community, volunteerism, and support for philanthropy.  If anyone knows how to make that happen, I’m in!

East Coast Rocker:  How do you manage to capture such great shots of the artists?

RH: Thank you for the compliment.  Nikon makes a great camera.  Can I say that?  I also use some great software products from Abobe Systems, Photoshop and Lightroom.

East Coast Rocker:  When meeting a band or singer have you ever been nervous?

RH: Yes. I would say I’ve been a bit nervous around many great musicians, until I got to know them.  I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but I met Bruce Springsteen when I was 19 in a bar called Key Largo in Belmar, New Jersey.  I said hello and introduced myself.  He was great.  I was also nervous when I met Joan Jett, though her warm and relaxed interpersonal style put me right at ease. Richard’s book, Great Jersey Musicians is available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Great-Jersey-Musicians-Photographic-Artworks/dp/0988814803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369163179&sr=8-1&keywords=great+jersey+musicians

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

Beastie Boys’ Mike D serves 19,000 free food plates after Hurricane Sandy

 

Rockaway-BeachMike D of Beastie Boys Gives Back

Courtesy of Good.com

Sometimes you just give back. New York City born Michael Diamond, a.k.a. Mike D of the hip hop group Beastie Boys, found that the quickest and most effective way to give back and bring about a little hope after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy was through food. Hot food. Free food. So that’s what he did.

Good.com sat down with the hip hop drummer and singer and he told them how Rockaway Plate Lunch came about.

Mike D and a friend, restauranteur Robert McKinley (the Felice wine bars in New York City), took a trip out to Rockaway Beach right after Hurricane Sandy tore through the area.

“So we loaded up Rob’s car to the roof,” he recalled, “and brought them out to Rockaway Surf Club. We saw right away all these people living without any power, without any businesses being open, and therefore, no food. We saw the immediate need for warm food, but we didn’t have time to put together a long-term cohesive plan, we just had to react quickly.”

They got together with McKinley’s contacts in the restaurant business and began getting volunteers and food out to the devastated area. But they soon realized that it wasn’t enough fast enough.

“But we quickly saw,” he said, “to get a lot of people fed and to have something warm we needed a truck.”

http://www.huliq.com/12092/beastie-boys-mike-d-serves-19000-free-food-plates-after-hurricane-sandy