Fortunate Youth Bring Their Signature Sound Back Home

FORTUNATE YOUTH play The Novo Nov. 21, Observatory / North Park Nov. 23 , Observatory / Santa Ana Nov. 24 and 25; press photo

FORTUNATE YOUTH play The Novo Nov. 21, Observatory / North Park Nov. 23 , Observatory / Santa Ana Nov. 24 and 25; press photo

Good Vibes!!! This phrase is at the center of reggae music and is a pivotal force in the popular L.A. reggae act Fortunate Youth.

“Basically, myself and another member were really looking to create a name that was positive,” explains Greg Gelb of the band. “And fortunate youth being a kind of state of mind, you know a positive state of mind, and music keeps you young; so, if you have a youthful mindset, you’re kind of lucky to be young forever through music.

“Four of us went to high school together – Jered Draskovich, Corey Draskovich, myself Greg Gelb, and Travis Walpole- and our singer Dan Kelly is a transplant in the L.A. area from Mississippi so we kinda linked up with him. There were like two bands that we decided to put together. And later added our drummer from Las Vegas, Jordan Rosenthal.

“Our manager decided to have a birthday party and we decided to take these two bands and combine forces. And along the way we have added other members which has turned it into a six piece.”

FORTUNATE YOUTH: press photo

FORTUNATE YOUTH: press photo

Reggae is a fluid art form; while constantly maintaining a close tie to its roots, over the years it has shown an incredible ability to fuse with many other styles of music along the way. “We kind of joke about that,” muses Gelb. “We all have our own interests, some similar and some different. And when it came out, we all decided to band together and what came out was our sound.

“Definitely reggae influenced…. but I tell a lot of people we blend a lot of different styles into reggae, and that is what we enjoy about it,” reflects Gelb. “It’s kind of like an open book where you can blend a lot of cool styles and the reggae vibe is open to a lot of that. It has allowed for a good collaboration of sounds. I think what we most enjoy about being in the reggae genre is the community; it’s very welcoming and everybody is really positive.”

Speak to any reggae fan, and they will tell you seeing it live is a necessity for far too many reasons to list. “Definitely the energy,” states Gelb. “It all starts with everybody in the crowd, a kind of reflective and positive energy that goes back and forth.

“One of the most fun songs we play live, in terms of a high energy song, is “Burn One.” I think that’s a crowd favorite for sure so that’s always fun. Another fun song I enjoy is “Things,” that’s a fun song to play. I don’t know if you know, but four of us switch instruments throughout the show. So, I play guitar and then get a few songs on the bass. The four of us each get to jump on the bass in the set so we kinda joke that we all like to fight over the bass.”

“It’s fun, you know,” Gelb continues. “We all have fun playing the bass. It’s a little bit…. you get to move around, it’s a little more simplified, and is a key element to the feel. So, yea, we have fun playing the musical instruments.”

Currently embarking on their West in Peace tour, the band is excited to be playing the west coast again; and thus, created a whimsical name for the tour with a funny story behind it. Gelb explains: “We were hoping people would get the bit of humor with it. The concept is based on the West Coast tour so there’s the west. One of our songs that illustrates the theme we are going for with our music is “Peace, Love, and Unity” so that’s a track of ours that we play almost every set. When people ask us what we are all about, that’s what we try to embody. That’s what we wanted to incorporate as well so we pieced those two things together.

“Then we decided to throw Elmer Fudd as the kind of spokesperson of that with the way he talks. Instead of rest in peace, he would say west in peace. And when we commissioned a friend for the flyer, we made a picture of him meditating and looking peaceful. So, it was just a twist on positive and rest in peace.”

Being from Hermosa Beach, Fortunate Youth looks forward to some hometown shows and the opportunity to bring their sound to longtime fans.

“The Observatory is like a backyard party for us,” reveals Gelb. “Just in terms of how a lot of friends come out so it’s definitely a good fun party feel to it. We are excited to record a live album there and get that experience there and put it out for people.”

With this tour, Fortunate Youth is spreading their love all around SoCal beginning Nov. 21 at The Novo, Nov. 23 at The Observatory North Park, Nov. 24 and 25 at The Observatory Santa Ana, Nov. 28 at The Majestic, and Nov. 29 at The Date Shed. Catch them at one, or even all, of these dates for deep reggae vibes you won’t find anywhere else!

Dance The Night Away With The Orb

THE ORB play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21; photo Roney-FM-K3-Media

THE ORB play Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21; photo Roney-FM-K3-Media

The Orb recreate a live musical collage of their greatest hits during this, their 30th year anniversary, currently on tour in the states. Breaking out samples and sounds, beats and rhythms, The Orb impact an audience with their trippy sounds and visual aids.

“It’s a mish mash of old and new,” founder Alex Paterson noted. “With bits of old things being played over new things and vice versa. A bit more energetic. A bit more danceable, rather than hip swaying.”

The Orb bring their own elaborate visuals to compliment the live music which are dependent on the size of the screen available at each venue. The bigger the screen, the bigger the visuals. While producer/collaborator Michael Rendall joins Paterson for the musical side of the live spectrum.

“It’s a very similar set up as me and Thomas (Fehlmann) with a lot more freedom.,” Paterson said. “We’re sacking the Americas… We’re throwing American techno back at them…old style…payback time. It’s all good fun. And remember it’s 30 years since the beginning of House pretty much in the world.

“But the visuals compensate for everything you see… I’m just the conductor.”

Mixed throughout the setlist of reimagined greatest hits are several songs from No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds. Tracks such as “Doughnuts Forever” and the 15 minute “Soul Planet”, one of Paterson’s favorites to play live.

THE ORB "No Sounds Are Out Of Bound" cover art

THE ORB “No Sounds Are Out Of Bound” cover art

“Soul Planet all the way,” Paterson confirmed. “It’s the last track on the album and it’s the longest track on the album. It’s what we can all do very, very, very well. When we do a long track, we can investigate what’s going on in 15 minutes, it’s good fun.”

“And Rush, “Rush Hill Road” which is a single and a video. That goes down real well. We muck it about, make it sound a bit heavier.”

The catchy “sing along” album version of “Rush Hill Road” features Hollie Cook on vocals.

“Dare I say I know her dad, Paul Cook, from the Sex Pistols”? Paterson teased. “I used to be a Killing Joke roadie, and Paul’s met me years ago many times in different clubs and things and we all eventually did a gig, it was quite bizarre, with the Sex Pistols when they did a reunion back in the 90’s, it was really odd.

“So anyway, I met Hollie a couple times through the reggae connection, as well, then she started doing an album with Youth (Killing Joke), and Youth being one of my best friends invited me over, and we did a track on her album, then she did a track for me on our album.”

Prior to No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds, The Orb released Cow, a unique and truly original flow of atmospheric songs, alternating and overlapping samples such as – animal noises, rushing rivers – but it wasn’t really toured or performed live.

“Well, what I can tell you about that album is that no musical instruments were played in the making of that album,” Paterson revealed. “It was an absolute joy to use samples in a very constructive way…not even bars, not even loops, just sounds; and then creating our own music with those sounds.

“The whole thing was (put together) a little under 10 days. It’s a small album, it’s only 41 minutes long. It sits very well on the palette.

“Lots of the recordings were taken in America when we went down to the Moogfest three years ago in Durham and I discovered the river Eno which I thought was quite amusing, so I recorded it. And that’s on the album, as well.”

Hanging out in clubs in the late 80’s, hearing things that he liked, Paterson wanted to do his own thing similar to what he was hearing.

“I was lucky to have people around me with studios that I could go in and muck about,” Paterson recalled. “Creating my own music in ‘88, ’89, was very much fun. A lot of freedom. A lot of experiments. Not afraid to do things.

“Everything’s gotten a lot easier with the advent of mass production of computers. It takes away a lot of the studio costs, which is quite good, really. Because you can spend a lot of time in the studio doing this thing.

“I haven’t finished yet. It’s a good feeling to feel that a childhood sort of dream that you always wanted to make music, you always wanted to be known for your music, your art, I did it.”

It’s not often that The Orb play in the states so don’t miss them at Teragram Ballroom Nov. 21.

“Looking forward to Los Angeles,” Paterson admitted. “We should be rocking you by then.”

Diiv Trip West To Observatory

DIIV play Observatory/Santa Ana Nov. 18; photo James Christopher

DIIV play Observatory/Santa Ana Nov. 18; photo James Christopher

DIIV put their shoe-gaze back on as they head to the Observatory Santa Ana Nov. 18, then return for a New Year’s Eve show at Highland Park Ebell in Los Angeles.

DIIV is the creation of Beach Fossils guitarist Z. Cole Smith. And the two full-lengths by the band, Is The Is Are and Oshin, are very much saturated with guitar presence. Even though the album is rich with ethereal vocal tones and chords, the guitar workings surface above all of that creating a thick choir of melody.

DIIV; photo James Christopher

DIIV; photo James Christopher

One can get lost in the harmonious hum of both studio albums, and just before the monotonous seems to take a foothold within the progression of the songs, the texture of the music shifts into moments that will remind some listeners of Joy Division and Bauhaus, minus the atmosphere of darkness and depression that one can feel from those bands. No, DIIV is music for rocking on silvery fluffy clouds or for a smooth drive down the coast on a sunny day. That’s music perfect for tour dates in California, isn’t it?

DIIV; photo James Christopher

DIIV; photo James Christopher

There are harder hitting patches in the music giving it a groove and maintaining an indie-rock feel. Then there are sections that seem to fade into the background giving the sound an even more dreamy quality, which a shoe-gaze junkie would be fiending for.

The diversity in the compositions is something sure to take notice of with this band. I find it is not common and/or easy for most bands to keep a multi-genre title under their belt. Bands tend to be more one genre over another. Such is not the case here with the balance in the music that DIIV keeps steady.

DIIV; photo James Christopher

DIIV; photo James Christopher

There are even moments where the band’s shoe-gaze trips morph into psychedelic ones with artsy statics and noises to boot. But should it be that one had their hair in their face for too long or forgot where they were, the sound soon shifts again and takes the listener somewhere else.

DIIV; photo James Christopher

DIIV; photo James Christopher

The aspect of the music that seems to keep you in this lucid-dream-state instead of floating off into unconsciousness are the siren-like male vocals that softly sneak in on most of the tracks. They are wonderfully hypnotic and mantra-like at times.

For all the cold-floor-bliss-rockers lurking in SoCal, you can follow DIIV like a dead-head would follow The Grateful Dead for three nights. Although the last night is on a Sunday and may not give you ample time to come down off three doses of DIIV by the time you need to wake up for work Monday. Yet, you may enjoy extending that trip into a potential manic work week and choose to just relax while on the job.

Jinjer Brings The Melody And The Fury To SoCal

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

“Well, it (Jinjer) doesn’t mean anything at all,” according to bassist Eugene Kostyuk. “It has no connection with ginger, like hair color or….

“It is another fact that now there is no founding member in the band. And honestly, none of us know how the band was made. I am absolutely sure that it was named Jinjer because people liked the word; maybe they had no idea what it means or care. Just Jinjer, and that’s it.”

Such is the enigma of this Ukrainian band and they are an enigma in all the right ways. The current lineup – in addition to Kostyuk, is comprised of guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov, Vladislav Ulasevish on drums, and vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk – has developed an evolving sound based in progressive death metal, yet absorbing broad influences ranging from jazz to Nu metal. Jinjer has been making waves around the world due to their unique mixture of these sounds.

“Each of us has absolutely, well not quite absolutely, but quite different musical tastes,” Kostyuk explains. “Me personally, I’ve always, well for a really long time, been into progressive metal. Death metal, such as bands like Daath, and the European progressive scene, like Opeth and Gojira. And these bands influenced me a lot along with some Nu Metal bands, especially Mudvayne who is one of my most favorite bands ever.

“Roman, his musical roots come from thrash metal bands like Metallica and Slayer. And later he got into Nu Metal bands like Slipknot. And Vlad, he is a big fan of the death core scene.

“Tatiana, on the other hand, is on the opposite side. Recently she has been getting out of metal, and one of the only metal bands she still listens to is Gojira. But she has been more about jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues. She is a big fan of Amy Winehouse, loves Pink a lot, and No Doubt. Music like that. I could talk about this endlessly. There are so many bands we listen to, got inspired by, and probably borrowed elements from.”

In this way, the musicians in Jinjer share a commonality of interests yet celebrate their differences, deftly illustrated in their music and live shows. But what does this sound like exactly?

“Describing music with words is difficult,” Kostyuk admitted. “Imagine Opus meets Lamb of God. And this mixture describes us more or less okay… is an okay description of a Jinjer live show. On one hand it’s hardcore and heavy; yet on the other, we have a lot of light and easy moments, some kind of jazzy and funky elements – which let people relax and rest between these hardcore blast beats.”

Kostyuk further elaborates, “A good show is a combination of factors. It starts from how I feel physically and mentally, going into the venue and how big it is, how good the sound is, how active the crowd is, and the combination of all of these is what makes a good show. This is how I see it.”

Every band will tell you that different songs sound better live, while others suit the studio environment better.

“I can’t pick any I prefer but there are a couple that I think sound better live than on the record, ‘I Speak Astronomy’ and ‘Pisces’,” Kostyuk conveys.

“And now on this tour with Devildriver, we are playing unreleased songs from the new EP. And I have to say, I really enjoy playing them live. It’s just absolutely incredible. We haven’t had new material in a long time and finally we came up with some stuff, and it is just mind blowing.”

Now on their second tour in America with Devildriver and Raven Black, Jinjer is excited to be on tour, as well as having an opportunity to test out the forthcoming songs on their soon to be released EP.

“We just released the first single, it’s called ‘Ape’,” Kostyuk revealed. “It’s been out online for one week. The EP, if I’m not mistaken, will be out in November. It’s gonna be five tracks of new songs.

“I would love to see all of our American fans on this tour, especially since we are playing the new songs and really look forward to their reactions, cuz no one has listened to them before.”

Catch Jinjer in all their mysterious glory, and get some brand-new aural treats, when they play the Whisky in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick in San Diego Nov. 18.

The Record Company Bring Blues And Love To SoCal

THE RECORD COMPANY play HOB/San Diego Nov. 9 and The Wiltern Nov.10; photo Jen Rosenstein

THE RECORD COMPANY play HOB/San Diego Nov. 9 and The Wiltern Nov.10; photo Jen Rosenstein

The Record Company, a power trio known for their blues-styled rock, are coming to California to finish their current 2018 tour. The three-man group play at the House of Blues in San Diego Nov. 9 and The Wiltern in Los Angeles Nov. 10.

Chris Vos, the band’s lead vocalist and who also provides guitar instrumentals for The Record Company’s songs, says he looks forward to these two shows. The region is the home of Vos who says there could be no better place to end his group’s current tour.

“I love California,” Vos proclaims. “I love the people. I love the open-mindedness. I love how everybody just is such entertainment aficionados. They all know and they’ve all been around the block. It’s great. I just simply enjoy being in a place where I can go when I’m home and see any number of different type of inspiring entertainment or inspiring natural beauty.”

It’s also in SoCal, specifically in Los Angeles, that The Record Company first formed in 2011. The band’s roots go back to 2010 though as that’s when Vos first met Alex Stiff, the group’s bass player, who took a liking to the music Vos had produced.

“He heard what I had done previously,” Vos recalled. “He liked it and invited me to hang out. He was having a little get together with some friends. He has a huge pile of vinyl he’s amassed over the years. We just went over there and spun some records and struck up a friendship.”

It wasn’t until after a later meeting with Stiff and Marc Cazorla, who would become the group’s drummer, that the idea to form a band began.

“We were just listening to some records one evening,” Vos said. “We had the speaker in the window and sitting out on the back porch and we just decided ‘hey, let’s get together, hang some microphones in the living room and record it and see what it sounds like’, and we liked it.”

THE RECORD COMPANY; photo Jen Rosenstein

THE RECORD COMPANY; photo Jen Rosenstein

From there the group began playing locally and self-released their first music as a 7’’ single vinyl in March of 2012. However, the group’s tenacity and innovation has helped the group finally reach the musical mainstream earning critical praise, musical appearances in film and TV and even earned the group a Grammy nomination in 2017 for Best Contemporary Blues Album Give It Back To You.

These accomplishments are owed to the group’s unique take on rock and roll best described as blues rock: a fusion genre combining elements of blues and rock. While this mixture isn’t new and has been around for years, Vos says that he and his bandmates, in composing their songs, do their utmost to make the music they produce as fresh and new as possible.

“We try to root out cliché as much as possible,” Vos explains. “It’s like, if I’m playing this melody on a guitar, it sounds like something I’ve heard a million times. But if we make it a bass-centric melody and we kind of lean on that, it all of a sudden sounds different. It sounds like something a little more fresh. We’re just always trying to find a way to root out those things and just find some new inspiration anywhere we can.”

Vos says that the biggest reward he gets from completing these songs, specifically the ones Vos and his fellow band members made for the group’s recent album All of This Life, is being able to play them live.

“It’s a thrill, a great thrill,” Vos enthused. “That’s one of the great rewards of recording an album is being able to take that music out to people and putting it out in front of them.”

Though Vos says he’s enjoyed playing in venues like the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Madison Square Garden, he isn’t picky in where he likes to play live music.

“People always ask me what’s your favorite place to play and, I swear to god, this is not a cop-out, I say ‘wherever I am that day’,” Vos said. “Because that’s the only day you’re actually living.”

After the group’s upcoming Nov. 10 appearance in Los Angeles, Vos and the rest of The Record Company will not be touring again until March which will see them go to Europe.

“We have some pretty big shows that I unfortunately can’t say what they are,” Vos states. “But we’re going to be having a big announcement coming up very soon that’ll be at the beginning of the year for some more dates.”

Vos however says that The Record Company will keep playing music whenever opportunity allows in-between these tours and in the future.

“We’ll be doing summer festivals and just getting out there with some other bands and just keep on playing. We’ll play the whole country and play it again. We’ll go up to Canada, play there. Go overseas, play there. We’ll play anywhere they put us.”

Crazy Energy Of Dream Wife

DREAM WIFE play The Echo Oct. 10 and Constellation Room Oct. 13; photo Hollie Fernando

DREAM WIFE play The Echo Oct. 10, Casbah Oct. 12 and Constellation Room Oct. 13; photo Hollie Fernando

Listening to Dream Wife’s self-titled debut album, it sounds like they’re having a ton of fun, which guitarist Alice Go enthusiastically confirmed. Looking at their tour schedule, it seems there’s no rest for the wicked!

“It’s true, it’s true,” Go declared. “It was like straight after we released our album in January this year we went straight out to play Laneway Festival in Australia. And kind of since then pretty much this year has been nonstop. So, yea, it’s going to be great to come out and do a headline tour to the U.S.”

And playing live is what it’s all about, the live show being the truest part of their whole project, one that started a few years back when they all met at art school in England.

“It’s where the energy, where the soul comes from, it’s basically jamming in the practice room, it’s the way we interact with our friends and family, it’s a crazy chemistry in Dream Wife, it’s always such a great energy on stage, and we hope that translates to the crowd and I think actually as a band we try to break the ice… it’s the way we play…and have a good time ourselves,” Go explained.

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

Dream Wife; photo Joanna Kiely

It’s interesting how Dream Wife has both playful and serious songs that make you stop and think one moment, then let loose and be silly the next.

“It’s always a really special part of the set when we play our song “Somebody”,” Go mused. “I think it’s when everyone actually is respecting everyone else around them and it brings the focal of attention to that.

“Then coming from that song later in the set to “F.U.U” where it’s everyone screaming “bitch” together as a crowd … I think it’s the major extremes in the set that hopefully everyone can enjoy themselves and everyone can take something from it.”

Vocalist Rakel Mjöll, writes the lyrics, weaving together stories from conversations between the band members or their friends, keeping it true to heart, with the possible exception of “F.U.U” which may or may not have evolved from jamming the theme song from the Fresh Prince.

“There’s a couple of original stories at this point,” Go laughed. “I think we were just jamming around with the theme tune for the Fresh Prince and it just escalated… I think that playful nature comes across in the way we like to write. At this point I’m not even sure what the origin story is!”

Bella Podpadec plays bass and while they used to work with a drum machine, they currently play with a live drummer, Alex Paveley.

“He’s amazing,” Go said. “I think having live percussion brings a lot of energy. That backbeat is really important to this band and the sound.”

Dream Wife; album art

Dream Wife; album art

But, back when the three women started this project, they wanted to figure out amongst themselves what their terms were, what they wanted from the band and how they wanted to navigate the music industry.

“You want to figure out what your project is on your own terms before someone else comes along and tells you how it is, so we were very wary of that sort of stuff,” Go explained.

“At the moment I think we have an amazing indie label – Lucky Number – based in London, they’re very supportive, and we really trust them to enable us to take this project in a way that we see fit…we can do some things we were never able to do before… but it still feels like a project that is in our control in terms of vision, content, message, where we want to go musically… I feel very lucky about the position we’re in.”

While Go feels a lot has changed in the male dominated music industry, she also feels women need to band together, in a sense, too.

“I think yes, a lot has changed in that it’s a conversation in a more open way with diversity and equality in the music business,” Go said. “I have a sense that ultimately it’s still a conversation that needs to be pushed and we can’t lax on that otherwise things stay stagnant and don’t change. It’s about continuing the conversation.”

For decades women in music have often been viewed as a novelty or a manufactured thing. One or the other. There weren’t many women in rock that were role models.

“Yea, yea, totally, totally, totally,” Go enthused. “It’s either a unicorn in the traditional sense or it’s a kind of no control situation… a manufactured situation or a fake situation.

“It’s like the Spice Girls were so exciting as a kid and girl power … I think there’s something empowering about that feeling now and reclaiming that as well as reclaiming the place in music where we’re more serious as musicians…yea, yea, it’s kind of complicated, isn’t it?

Be a part of the wild energy and catch Dream Wife Oct. 13 at Constellation Room.

Music Tastes Good: A Tale From The Photo Pit

SANTIGOLD; photo Andy Ortega

SANTIGOLD; photo Andy Ortega

It’s about time someone finally brings the greatest things in life together in one place and with this being the 3rd Music Tastes Good Festival, it was done perfectly! This 2-day festival on September 29th and 30th allowed me to stuff my face with delicious food on the way to get photo coverage of the next artist, burn off some calories while dancing and doing photographer jiu-jitsu in the photo pit, then repeat, over and over again! It was glorious!

The event was held in the downtown Long Beach Marina Green area with familiar landmarks in the background such as the Long Beach Convention Center, Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific and the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

SHAME; photo Andy Ortega

SHAME; photo Andy Ortega

The first artist I covered was Shame, a UK-based rock band. It was a great way to start my day off right since they brought an amazing energy that kept the audience on their feet, while keeping the photographers in the photo pit on our toes as well. Shame is the type of band that moves all over the place on the stage (well, except for the drummer and keys obviously). It makes it easy to get a “money shot” where the singer’s hair is caught swinging mid-air, or the guitarist is captured leaping off a speaker. This was mid-afternoon in the outdoors on a sunny California day, which means I could get sharp, action pics with my shutter speed as high as 1/500 or 1/1000!

OLIVER TREE; photo Andy Ortega

OLIVER TREE; photo Andy Ortega

The next artist I was covering, Oliver Tree, was performing at the other stage called the Gold Stage. It was at the opposite end of the festival, which meant I would need to traverse through the smoke of food trucks and the central Taste Tent where many people were being trapped with the luring scents coming from within. It took all of my willpower, but I just couldn’t resist.

CHERRY GLAZERR; photo Andy Ortega

CHERRY GLAZERR; photo Andy Ortega

In the Taste Tent, you could get a $5 voucher to try a dish from many of the chefs in attendance. One of the chefs, Nancy Leon of Tijuana, Mexico, was serving Seaweed Baja taco that consisted of snow crab, mackerel w/ avocado, Meyer lemon, crispy panko, and shiso micro greens served with wasabi dressing.

LIZZO; photo Andy Ortega

LIZZO; photo Andy Ortega

Another chef, Sincere Justice of Oakland, California was serving his “BO KHO TACO” with Vietnamese styled braised brisket (bo kho), roasted garlic lebne, lemongrass morita salsa, herbs, and cucumber. Sounds tasty, eh?

As I stumbled out of the Taste Tent, belly full and a slightly uncomfortable grin on my face, I made my way to the Gold Stage just in time for Oliver Tree.

JANELLE MONAE; photo Andy Ortega

JANELLE MONAE; photo Andy Ortega

I covered a few other artists including Cherry Glazerr, Blake Mills and Lizzo. Next up was Santigold! But there was a problem. By this time, the attendance at the festival had swelled. It seemed like everyone that was going to arrive this day had just entered – including a swarm of photographers that had lined up along the side of the stage to get access to Santigold’s performance. The energy for concert goers was at its peak, but for us concert photographers, it was at the point where I was a bit worried. Would the photo pit delve into a barbaric, rude, mosh pit of starving artists competing for the best spot???

BLAKE MILLS; photo Andy Ortega

BLAKE MILLS; photo Andy Ortega

As the music started, the security guard began letting us in. He counted each person and as I approached, I heard him say “… 19, 20, Stop right here, Sir”. Yup, I was number 21 and immediately a shiver ran down my spine. I stuttered, nervous and a little upset, and asked him, “When do the rest of us get in?”. “Two songs, then your group gets to go in for two songs”. I was so relieved! While the photo pit was still quite crowded, I was pleased to see that we were able to squeeze through and get the shots that we were happy with.

NEW ORDER; photo Andy Ortega

NEW ORDER; photo Andy Ortega

Later that night, I enjoyed covering New Order as they played their hit from 1983 “Blue Monday”. Ah good times!

On day 2 of the Music Tastes Good Festival, I covered Sun Kil Moon, Lizzo and Janelle Monae. Ate more food and checked out the shops and art that was displayed throughout. All in all, the Music Tastes Good Festival was a great experience for the foodie, the hard-core festival goer or the music-obsessed family to enjoy a wonderful time.

Lee Rocker Set To Storm Orange County Once Again!

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

“It goes way back, but I’m from a musical family of classical musicians from New York,” states the legendary Lee Rocker.

“My dad was a solo clarinet for the Philharmonic, my mom was a music teacher at the college there; so, there was music constantly around the house. And I started really playing instruments like the cello around seven years old. It’s kind of a family business, you know?

“Started The Stray Cats in my dad’s garage. And you know, by the time I was seventeen had a record deal in England. So, it started super young.”

Rocker has been a seminal force in music ever since his twenties and shows no signs of slowing down either.

“I gotta say, playing music really is…just a passion,” Rocker explains.

“It’s like breathing, it’s something I gotta do. You know, it’s sort of hard to describe but its part of me and I love doing it. I’ve been on the road and recording for almost forty years, 39 years, and in a way, it just gets better and better. I’m passionate, always pushing myself, always trying to learn more, do things a little differently, and figure new things out. So, it’s a constant growth in a way.”

Lee Rocker

Lee Rocker

Well known for his work with The Stray Cats, he has his own band that plays regularly too.

“It’s a four-piece band I’ve had now for a couple years,” describes Rocker.

“My guitar player is Buzz Campbell, and Buzz I’ve known for god…at least twenty years and we’ve worked together for probably close to that. I’ve got a great drummer, Larry Mitchell, and a wonderful like multi-instrumentalist guy, Joey Eights… like the number. And he plays pianos and guitars and harmonica. The band is a well-oiled machine I gotta say. We have a new record coming out soon, a live record we did at a venue called Daryl’s Place, which is Daryl Hall’s place in New York.”

Their upcoming show at The Coach House is especially momentous for the Orange County native.

“I’m stoked and looking forward to The Coach House,” Rocker excitedly expounds.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. It gives me a chance to not only do the concert but tell some stories, to talk about some things behind the music.”

He further elaborates on the upcoming live show, “I’ve cherry picked songs from throughout my career. Certainly, doing my hits like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” and “Sexy And Seventeen” from my Stray Cats years.

“And then things from throughout my career that I’ve written and songs that I’ve done with people – ranging from George Harrison, or Keith Richards, or Carl Perkins – who was a really good friend of mine and wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”. And I definitely have some new stuff, I’ve been in the studio, and I’m gonna bust out a couple brand new songs that I haven’t even had a chance to record yet.

“The audience is what it’s all about. The energy in the room and I gotta say, for me, it doesn’t matter if that room is 500 people or 5,000 people. It’s just that human thing of being in a room, and that transfer of energy between an audience and a musician is just so cool.”

His affection for music is readily apparent, and as a result he has touched numerous people’s lives.

“When you meet people and hear how your music has changed people’s lives, it’s pretty amazing,” Rocker said.

“I spoke to someone a little while back…a man from Japan who said he had seen the Stray Cats in the eighties. He loved the band so much that he learned English and moved to America. It’s really moving stuff…you know, monumental.”

As for the future, it looks as bright as ever.

“We are putting out a new live record I mentioned called the Low Road,” Rocker revealed.

“It’s just a great live concert that is also a DVD, a CD, and also on vinyl. That should be out in December.

“Next year, I will definitely be putting out a new studio record of songs that I’ve written. So, folks should check the website and social media cuz we are gonna be talking about it and things are coming up quick.”

Make sure to catch Lee Rocker and his band as they rock the night away and divulge fascinating stories from his lengthy time as a musician. It all goes down Oct. 6 at The Coach House!

Shonen Knife To Stab SoCal With Joyful Pop Punk

SHONEN KNIFE play The Bootleg Oct. 5; photo Tomoko Ota

SHONEN KNIFE play The Bootleg Oct. 5; photo Tomoko Ota

The influential Japanese band Shonen Knife shall soon be coming to entertain SoCal with their upbeat pop punk style. The bardic three-woman band is scheduled to play at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles Oct. 5 and The Casbah in San Diego Oct. 6 which will end their current ALIVE! In The USA 2018 tour which celebrates the release of the group’s latest live CD/DVD ALIVE! In Osaka.

Naoko Yamano, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, looks forward to these appearances.

“We have a plan to play some songs from our 1990’s and 1980’s which we have never played in the U.S.,” Naoko said. “Also, we are preparing various fun songs from recent albums. We have new costumes, too.”

Shonen Knife is also noteworthy for influencing bands such as Sonic Youth, Red Kross and Nirvana. The latter’s lead singer, Kurt Cobain, was well-noted for being an outspoken fan of theirs and credited for providing inspiration.

Shonen Knife’s place of origin can be traced back to 1981 in Osaka, Japan. The group’s formation was spearheaded by Yamano who has remained with the group and has helped produce 20 studio albums and help musically at numerous live performances.

However, Yamano remains the only consistent member of the band. Shonen has undergone quite a number of lineup changes over the years.

Shonen Knife; press photo

Shonen Knife; press photo

“I asked our original bassist Michie to be a member,” Yamano remembers. “She was my college friend. And I asked my sister Atsuko to be our drummer. When Michie left the band, Atsuko switched to bass from the drums. Then we had three drummers including a support member. Risa is our present drummer. She joined the band from 2015.”

If you’re curious as to what exactly a Shonen Knife is and why it’s the band’s name, Yamano credits that to a moment of inspiration during a school class she once attended.

“At an English examination, a girl in front of me had an old pencil knife in her pencil case,” Yamano recalled. “The brand name on it was Shonen Knife in Japanese. Shonen means boy in Japanese so it means Boy Knife. The image of it was cute and dangerous. I thought that described our music, so I used that name.”

That name has stuck and so has their music which is best described as a mixture of both traditional pop and punk rock music featuring upbeat tempos and lyrics. Such songs have been an invaluable part of Shonen Knife’s appeal and why they continue to maintain a loyal following.

Yamano, who is largely in charge of composing, says the songs are largely based on simple observations and happenings in her life.

“I write down topics which I find during my daily life,” Yamano explained. “Then expand them to be lyrics and put melody lines on them. Writing lyrics is very difficult for me.”

Their music has not only been played in Japan but also here in the States and around the world. This has given Yamano and her bandmates exposure for concertgoers around the globe.

“I don’t see many differences between the U.S. and Japan when we play,” Yamano states. “But our U.S. fans are always very cheerful and friendly, and they are music lovers. I like that.”

For Yamano, playing live remains just as terrific as when the group started playing 37 years ago.

“Playing live is exciting. When the audience loves our music, I am very happy.”

Following the end of the tour Oct 6 in San Diego, Yamano says she and her fellow musical compatriots have much more to do.

“After the U.S. tour, we will have some shows in Japan,” Yamano said. “Then I will start to make new songs and record a new album. Then we’ll tour all over the world.”

ALBUM REVIEW: Electric Six “Bride Of The Devil”

Electric Six "Bride Of The Devil" album cover

Electric Six “Bride Of The Devil” album cover

Detroit’s very own Electric Six roar back with Bride Of The Devil their newest release on Metropolis Records, and the hardest working band in showbiz or at least in The Motor City have decided it’s time to rock your world and rock it very, very hard.

So, here’s the thing about the Electric Six, they are funny, and I mean really funny guys, who just happen to be able to lay down a groove like the bad ass Detroit street rockers that they are, all without taking themselves too seriously (god bless ‘em) and Bride Of The Devil is their own twisted take on the “RAWK” anthem. Filled with hooks, wailing guitars and over the top vocals, Electric Six have gifted us with a blast of fresh music that will rock your socks off – cowbell included at no extra charge.

Electric Six are nothing if not direct, and Bride Of The Devil opens with… “The Opener” a chugging slice of muscular rock that sets a horns up, rock attack attitude for the whole album.

“You’re Toast” is a stadium sized bone crusher wrapped up in a 3 minute 21 second bow and containing not one but two face melting guitar solos. Don’t tell these guys that rock is dead because they ain’t buying it and after hearing this smoker neither am I.

Electric Six; press photo

Electric Six; press photo

“Hades Ladies” arrives just in the nick of time to be the anthem to the best holiday of the year (of course I mean Halloween) and if you’re not singing along with the grin inducing chorus on this little piece of ear candy you’re either dead or just a tone-deaf fool.

Of course, what every ROCK epic needs are a couple of slow numbers to get the girls on the dance floor. Electric Six know the rules and Bride Of The Devil has its share, the stand out being “Worm Of The Wood”. Maybe it’s a paean to an absinthe fueled night, its snatches of debauchery remembered only as a trippy hallucination… or maybe it’s not, how should I know? All I can say is it’s a great track and the awesome chorus that borrows a bit from Romeo Void, kicks ass, and when they do this one live I’m grabbing my girl and slow dancing real close.

So now that Electric Six have given us Bride Of The Devil, a most perfect soundtrack to THE perfect holiday I ask you, isn’t it the least we can do to thank them by buying their record? A concert ticket? And maybe even a friggin’ t-shirt? And should some shady character approach you at the show with a contract, only valid when signed in blood… well sign the damn thing because they don’t call rock-n-roll the devil’s music for nothing!