Soul Great Charles Bradley Returns to the Road

Thanks Fans for Support During Cancer Treatment & Recovery


CHARLES BRADLEY; press photo

Charles Bradley will return to the road with His Extraordinaires for festival appearances this summer and fall. The soul great is set for NYC-area performances, the inaugural Arroyo Seco Festival in Southern California, and more. See full tour routing below.

The dynamic live performer has successfully completed treatment and has been given the go-ahead by his doctors to return to the stage following a stomach cancer diagnosis last fall. The 68-year old singer made his first live appearance post-treatment last month at the High Water Festival in Charleston, SC and is excited to be back. He is grateful to his doctors for the excellent care he received and to his family, friends and fans for rallying around him. Bradley notes:

“I am so grateful to my beautiful fans and touched by all the love and support they showed me through my crisis and time of sickness. They truly lifted me up and kept me going. I am honored and glad to be back and am going to give you all of my love.”

Charles Bradley released his critically lauded third album Changes on Daptone Records in April 2016. He performed shows across the globe and made a number of national television appearances including Conan and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He also returned to Austin, TX for SXSW where he delivered a show stopping set, among many other things.


May 26 George, WA – Sasquatch Festival
May 28 Sonoma, CA – Bottle Rock Festival
Jun 01 Brooklyn, NY – Governors Ball Pre-Party @ Brooklyn Bowl
Jun 02 New York, NY – Governors Ball
Jun 03 State College, PA – Happy Valley Music Festival
Jun 10 Asbury Park, NJ – Punk Rock Bowling @ Stone Pony
Jun 16 Monterey, CA – Monterey Pop 50th Anniversary
Jun 22 Detroit, MI – Chene Park Amphitheater (with Joss Stone)
Jun 24 Pasadena, CA – Arroyo Seco Music Festival
Jun 30 Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Jazz Festival
Jul 01 Waitsfield, VT – Friendly Gathering Festival
Jul 04 Montreal, QC – Montreal Jazz Festival @ The Metropolis
Jul 07 Des Moines, IA – 80/35 Music Festival
Jul 13 Chicago, IL – House Of Vans
Jul 15 Birmingham, AL – Sloss Music & Arts Festival
Jul 16 Louisville, KY – Forecastle Festival
Jul 29 Philadelphia, PA – Xponential Festival
Jul 30 Oro-Medonte, ON – WayHome Music & Arts Festival
Aug 03 – 04 Portland, OR – Pickathon Festival
Aug 05 Whister, BC – Wanderlust Festival
Aug 06 Kaslo, BC – Kaslo Jazz Festival
Aug 12 Missoula, MT – Travelers’ Rest Festival @ Big Sky Brewing Co
Aug 19 Wellston, MI – Hoxeyville Music Festival
Aug 26 Pine Plains, NY – Huichica East Festival
Aug 31 Salt Lake City, UT – Twilight Concert Series (with The Roots)
Sep 04 Montauk, LI, NY – The Surf Lodge
Sep 16 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Rock In Rio 2017
Sep 29 Lincoln, NE – Lincoln Calling
Oct 01 Long Beach, CA – Music Tastes Good Festival
Oct 07 Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival

Jean Luc Ponty Revisits The Atlantic Years With Original Band


JEAN LUC PONTY plays Saban Theater Jun 3 and The Coach House Jun 7; press photo

In the world of violin, Jean-Luc Ponty is akin to The Beatles or Brian Wilson, a beloved figure and beacon of innovation for not only his instrument, but the genres of jazz, rock-fusion, and prog-rock. On tour with his original band from his most prolific period in the 70’s and 80’s, Ponty is playing Saban Theater Jun. 3 and The Coach House Jun.7.

It’s called the “Atlantic Years” tour—named for the albums he recorded for Atlantic Records— and for Ponty fans or fans of any of the genres he helped change forever, these are shows you don’t want to miss! Concert Guide Live chatted with Ponty—at home in Paris about fatherhood, moving to LA to play with Frank Zappa, and why this tour could be his last.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You were born into a family of classical musicians. Was there any other choice for you as a career, or was it music all the way?
JEAN LUC PONTY: It was a natural attraction to music. It’s not because you have parents who are both musicians, and they could force you into it [laughs]. I loved it from the beginning, except for when I wanted to become a fireman because I loved the shiny helmet. As soon as I started learning musical instruments I loved it.

CGL: Was there a time you ever considered doing anything else?
JLP: No, in fact between 13 and 14, my mind was really set on becoming a musician. Music was my life. My parents were not too crazy about it, because they were struggling as music teachers, and they were worried for my future. It took me awhile to convince them to let me do it. My father said, ‘Ok, but you really have to do it right, and you really have to become good at it. You have to practice five hours a day from now on.’ At age 14 I started getting locked in the house and practicing five hours a day [laughs]. It was a bit tough, at that age, but I knew it was the price to pay and I was ready to invest my energy, because I wanted to do it. I wanted to dedicate my life to music.

CGL: One of your daughters is also a musician. Did you find that you experienced some of those same anxieties and fears that your parents had?
JLP: Exactly the same. And she behaved exactly like I did with my parents [laughs]. What’s important is to make sure someone has a strong will and a strong intuition about what they want to do and also that they have the talent to do it.



CGL: You’ve traveled all over the world playing your music. What do you look forward to about touring the U.S.?
JLP: I moved to America in 1973 when I was 31 years old. So many things were happening there at that time, musically, creatively, that was really the place to be. I didn’t know what would happen when I moved there. The first thing I did was tour with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but beyond that I didn’t know. Once I was in the states, it was a chain of opportunities, one after the other. I decided to start my own band because I was writing music and it was important to me to start performing my own music. So I started my band in 1975 in Los Angeles. My real career, with my music, started in America, so I have a special relationship with the American audience because of that and Los Angeles in particular.

CGL: This tour is called the “Atlantic Years”. Why this tour? Why now?
JLP: After all these years, there was a renewed interest in the music of the 70’s and 80’s, my music and others. South America in particular, where I have a strong following, they really wished to see me come back with the same band. This was a few years ago. So we went to South America and then same thing in Europe.

CGL: Then the compilation was released [Electric Fusion: The Atlantic Years]?
JLP: They asked me to collaborate with the remastering and choice of pieces and all that. I’m not the kind of guy who listens to his own music all the time. I just move on to new experiences. It’s like when you look at old photos. You say, ‘Wow, that was many years ago. Ok.’ It’s not something that’s a priority. Having to work on the remastering, I rediscovered what I did then. So the touring in South America and the release of this compilation made me relive this period and I discovered that there are a number of pieces that still sound good today. They did not age.

Then, three years ago I crossed paths with Jon Anderson, the singer from Yes. We met in the 70’s or 80’s already and had talked about the possibility of doing a band together. There was a mutual interest in each other. But it didn’t happen. We were both busy with our own lives and projects. So many years later, we meet again and said, ‘Well maybe we should do it now.’ So we did it. When we put the band together, we were looking for a mixed band of rock musicians who had worked with him, and musicians who had worked with me. For different reasons, it turned out that we ended up with all my musicians who had toured with me in the 80’s. Being reunited with them really gave us the desire to do a reunion tour and revisit the music that we did together.

CGL: So you’re enjoying playing this music again?
JLP: Because there are sections where we improvise, it’s not like rehashing the past. It becomes alive again because we improvise, maybe we change a few arrangements and each of us also has had different musical experiences, so we’re somehow richer musically and that’s why it feels so good.

CGL: Most musicians who have been touring and performing as long as you have find it to be a bit grueling. Are you at that point? Or do you still love to get out there on the road?
JLP: I agree, it’s grueling. It’s grueling [laughs], but it’s still worth it. I don’t want to call it my last tour or a farewell tour, because you never know, but it’s one of the last for sure. There are not going to be many more after that. It all depends, physically. At my age I feel blessed that I have no pain. Some musicians tell me that I play better than ever. As long as I can physically be in shape and play well, it pays off for the grueling experience of going through airports and traveling. Once you’re onstage and you reconnect with the audience and longtime fans, it’s precious and such a reward. I feel very blessed to be able to do it. So that pays off all the pain of traveling and jet lag and all the rest.

CGL: You are widely regarded as an innovator of your instrument and innovator of jazz, of rock-fusion. Do you think there is still room for innovation like that in modern music? Or has everything been done?
JLP: No, I think there is still room for innovation. There’s less than when I started. My generation, when we were in our 20’s, it was like discovering a new land. There are very talented young people, it doesn’t stop with a generation. They find ways, with hindsight, to absorb what guys like us did before. I meet a lot of young musicians around the world who like what we did and have been inspired by that. Those who are really talented and musically intelligent find ways to create music that takes the good things and gets rid of the bad [laughs]. What they took is the spirit of adventure in adapting jazz or rock to today’s style and feeling.

On this tour, I’m inviting young violinists who are really very talented, to come join me on the stage. That makes me feel good to know that there are young talents who, once I disappear, are going to keep doing it. I’m reassured that music is in good hands with the young generation.

The Coathangers Announce Summer Tour

Their new EP, Parasite, is streaming everywhere and out on vinyl June 30 on Suicide Squeeze Records!


THE COATHANGERS ep cover “Parasite”

When The Coathangers first stormed on the scene over a decade ago, their power resided in their ability to craft a crooked hook out of a grimy guitar line, a delightfully crass chorus, or an enticingly ham-fisted drum-and-bass groove. With each successive album, the Atlanta garage punk ensemble has increasingly tempered their brash charm with sharp-witted pop.

Not that the band ever fully excised the primal howl of The Gories or the sparse strut of ESG, but with the trio’s latest EP, Parasite, The Coathangers explore the space between their initial unbridled expressionism and their recent nuanced song craft.

“I’d like to think the EP takes you on a journey through the band’s existence,” says guitarist/vocalist Julia Kugel of the sequencing of the five songs on their latest offering.

Parasite kicks off with the title track, a rowdy throwback to a younger, angrier incarnation of the band. Crafted in the wake of the election and during a tumultuous period in the band members’ private lives, “Parasite” is pure catharsis.


THE COATHANGERS; press photo

“During the making of our last album, I didn’t want to scream anymore, I just wanted to sing and focus on melody. When we came to this recording, I just wanted to scream and curse.”

If the EP is meant as a journey through the various stages of the band’s career, it certainly storms out of the gate with the same kind of piss-and-vinegar of their eponymous debut. And while “Wipe Out” is another rowdy venture, with bassist Meredith Franco taking over the lead vocal duties over a steady barrage of pointed power-chords, it also showcases the rousing choruses that elevated the trio from underground heroines to an internationally renowned garage act.

Despite the adverse times, The Coathangers’ mastery of pop cannot be contained forever, as is evident in the EP’s single “Captain’s Dead”, with its sultry verses, triumphant chorus, and a bombastic freak-out of noisy guitar. The journey through The Coathangers’ musical evolution leads to a revamped version of “Down Down” off 2016’s Nosebleed Weekend LP and the smoky twang of “Drifter”, in which drummer/vocalist Stephanie Luke demonstrates her knack for solid Dusty Springfield-style ballads.

Parasite‘s cover features an illustration of The Coathangers as sirens of the sea, an image that aptly captures the nautical themes of the EP. But the notion of The Coathangers as both mischievous and enchanting is certainly fitting too, as is evident in the alternately piercing and beguiling tracks on their latest EP.

Suicide Squeeze is proud to offer Parasite as a one-sided 12″ on Sea Green vinyl with a b-side etching with an initial limited pressing of 2000 copies. The EP is also available digitally.

Come Hear Legendary Guitarist Dick Dale!

dick dale

DICK DALE plays The Coach House May 27; press photo

Legendary guitarist, Dick Dale, continues to play to live audiences everywhere and will return to San Juan Capistrano’s icon, The Coach House, May 27. SoCal has been fortunate to hear Dale perform at The Coach House numerous times partially because he and the owner go way back.

“Gary (Folgner) and I have been very dear friends from the beginning of time,” Dale mused. “Many, many, many years ago he called me up and said ‘I would like you to come and play at my place’.”

This was back when Dale had a 15 piece rock band with keyboards, horns, backup singers, double drums, etc. and there was no way he could pay the whole band to play at his place.

“So my drummer and my bass player said ‘We’ll come and do it, Dick, you just bring your guitar and we’ll back ya’,” Dale recalled. “I got afraid because usually I have the whole band to fall back on. But they convinced me.”

Once he had stripped down the band it naturally led to creating his now signature style of guitar playing but don’t limit it by calling it “surf”. He plays a variety of music from Rockabilly to Boogie Woogie to Jazz to Big Band and everything else.

In fact, Dale pointed out that the word “surf” can actually become a negative and prefers not to use in advertising because it limits his attendance.

Many years ago, he performed a sold out show at Fullerton College, but when he returned several months later, something was amiss and the place was only half-filled.

“When I went outside the building there were all these surf posters so I took the booker and walked him up to a black man and I said ‘Excuse me, sir. Would you go and see the king of the surf guitar?’

“And he said ‘No, man. That’s not my bag, man.’

“Then I said it in a different way. I said, ‘Would you see a guitar legend, even if you never heard of him?’

“His reply was, ‘Oh man, I dig guitar, man. I’ll be there in a minute’.”

Several years into his career, in the late 50s, Dale wanted to give his band a name like many of the bands of that era, which is when The Deltones came about.

“We would perform at Riverside National Guard Armory in San Bernardino,” Dale recalled. “We thought the radio would be the big deal. We would take ads out on the radio that would say ‘Go see Dick Dale and The Deltones’.”

Now, 30 plus years later, people still remember the name The Deltones. Dale says people often tell him he looks familiar, or ask him if he plays guitar, but it’s the name The Deltones that they seem to remember more than his own name.

“You know why they remembered The Deltones?” Dale asked. “Because it was the last thing that was said to them on the air – Dick Dale and The Deltones!”

Dale’s lengthy career has witnessed and pioneered much in the music industry and he has a lot of stories to boot. He rarely does interviews anymore because he feels there’s too much sensationalism and wonders why people can’t just write good things. This is something he and his wife, Lana, feel strongly about.

“All we want to be is left alone. Let us take care of God’s creatures, the animals. And we will entertain and try to help people who have the same ailments that we have by showing them, ‘Look at me, I’m still on this stage and I’m not taking drugs to do it’.”

Having said that, when he’s off stage Dale does like to converse with people and share the things he and Lana have been through, showing he’s the same as they are.

“We are just showing the people that we are like them and we give them little tips when they ask us, ‘How do you perform on that stage? It looks like there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re what, 80 years old? ’,” Dale said. “But there are times I’ve had to sit in a chair. There are times they had to carry me on the stage, the pain was so great.

“I’ve been in the martial arts ever since I was 18. It’s been a way of life. I learned things to help fight pain and how to deal with it.”

Over the course of the interview, Dale shared some of the things he’s learned by experience over time which are akin to words of wisdom.

“I have a statement I’ve always said – when anything hits you in the face whether it’s illnesses or pain – I always say, ‘Deal with it.’ Then I say, ‘Get used to it.’

“The other one is, ‘Your body follows your mind. Don’t be so weak in your mind that you will allow something in your body that will kill you.’ Your body is your temple. Treat it like your temple. That’s what we do.”

Mark your calendar and don’t miss witnessing some legendary music and you may even get to hear a few funny or enlightening stories in between the songs.

Get Lost With DIIV


DIIV play Music Box May 18, Observatory May 19, The Regent May 21; photo Sandy Kim

Are you ready to get your shoes on and your shoe-gaze on? Brooklyn’s DIIV (formerly Dive) are crossing coasts to bring you an ample dosage of the genre. They have three trips planned for SoCal starting May 18 at Music Box in San Diego, The Observatory in Santa Ana May 19 and The Regent in Los Angeles May 21.

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.

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 Sandy Kim

DIIV; photo Sandy Kim

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.

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.

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.

Poptone To Take SoCal On Nostalgia Trip


POPTONE play HOB/Anaheim May 15, HOB/San Diego May 17, Teragram Ballroom May 19, The Glass House May 21

On the eve of their first Poptone show ever, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins were excited, ready, and willing to begin performing a retrospective of Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, and Tones on Tail in front of a live audience.

“I didn’t realize just how much I missed it actually. I feel about 20 years younger since I started rehearsing,” Ash mused while Haskins chuckled.

“I’m sort of made to do this. I’m not any good at anything else. I mean, I like painting and stuff. I’m pretty good at riding motorcycles but you can’t do that for a living. Well, some people can but I couldn’t. So, yeah, I’m just having an absolute blast.”

This new found enthusiasm and excitement after not touring for many years, has also introduced unexpected new behaviors, especially considering the many changes in the 21st century.

“I catch myself looking at equipment magazines and stuff, which I’ve never done, like new effects pedals and guitars,” Ash admitted. “I’ve never done that in my whole life. And I sort of have a couple of these magazines in the bathroom. It’s very strange. I don’t know what’s happening to me.”

Poptone is taking a bit of a nostalgia trip by presenting the cream of the crop between the three bands, playing them as close as they can get to the original versions. Most songs were chosen by Ash and reflect songs that he wrote and sang on.

“I think for me the Tones On Tail material has a powerful cache because as you know we haven’t played that material in over 35 years,” Haskins said. “So I think a lot of people are excited to hear that”.

“I mean 70% of the set is Tones on Tail material because we did one small tour of the U.S. and the one of the UK but we made a really good record,” Ash explained.

“It sort of stood the test of time really well. But the bottom line is those songs haven’t been played since 1983 or something so people really want to hear it.

“And things like t-shirts and stuff, you know, nothing was ever made officially for Tones on Tail. It’s almost like Poptone sounds like a 21st century version of the band.”

Daniel Ash

Daniel Ash

Remarkably, Poptone was motivated by a dream Ash had about playing live, which he was completely burned out on doing. He really hadn’t been interested in touring anymore even though a few people had wanted him to do so for a long time.

“I can’t understand why I had this dream…I just got this revelation about four in the morning about eight weeks ago, nine weeks ago, now, where it became extremely apparent I should play live again,” Ash recalled. “The obvious choice was Kevin should be involved and it sort of evolved from there.”

Diva Dompe, who has several albums of her own and happens to be Haskins’ daughter, will join the two and play bass.

“It’s very cool and very exciting,” Haskins said.

“Something I’ve noticed is we lock together really tight. We feel like a really tight rhythm section.

“I’ve got to give Glen (Campling) a real big shout out because his input on Tones On Tail is remarkable. The bass lines and all his synth work were so unique. And Diva kind of picked up those bass lines really easily so it just felt a very natural fit.”

Keeping close to the original sound also naturally led to Ash sticking with his Boss pedals, even though there are tons of new guitar effects on the market.

“That’s all I used when we recorded all those songs so I don’t need anything new. And a Wah-Wah pedal, a Cry Baby. That’s it.”

Known for previously using H&H amps with the three bands, Ash has recently switched to Blackstar Amps, which is coincidentally made in Northampton, where both he and Haskins were born.

“It’s small, really light, and loud as fuck,” Ash explained.

While occasionally using a Telecaster or a Takamine12-string guitar, his preferred guitar remains to be a Fernandes with a sustainer, although you can’t get them in the U.S. anymore.

“They’ve sort of died the death here. I’ve used that thing for years, I really love the sustainer on it.”

Ash jokingly prodded Haskins to confirm that he uses DW drums which was “really good because they’re chrome”, Ash’s favorite color.

“Since they’re circular the glare goes all over the place,” Ash excitedly recalled.

“I love a bit of glare anyway so if it does start glaring I love it. I’ve got a bit of glare on my guitar. It’s like a mirror finish thing. So hopefully it will still have an impact shooting the lights out all around the room.”

Ash promises they have “some little tricks up our sleeves” in regards to the live show. Without going into detail all he would admit was “they are trying to get away from the old fashion, boring rock show”.

As far as the future of Poptone, the possibility of new material, etc., is anyone’s guess.

“I have no idea what’s going to come out of the three of us,” Ash speculated.

“We have no clue as to what it’s going to be as far as what we’re going to turn out. But at the moment, the next nine-ten months we will have tunnel vision and are going to try to be a killer live band. That’s our main objective at this point in time.”

You can catch Poptone at House of Blues Anaheim May 15, House of Blues San Diego May 17, Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles May 19, and Glass House Pomona May 20.

The current set list is:
*Tones On Tail: Go! OK This Is The Pops, Movement of Fear, Christian Says, Happiness, Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley cover), Lions, Twist, Performance, There’s Only One
*Love and Rockets: An American Dream, Mirror People, No Big Deal, Love Me, Sweet F.A.
*Bauhaus: Slice of Life
*Daniel Ash (solo): Flame On
*Adam Ant (cover): Physical

Los Lonely Boys Playing It New Again


LOS LONELY BOYS play The Coach House May 25, Belly Up May 26, Greek Theatre May 27; press photo

Grammy Award-winning rockers Los Lonely Boys will play The Coach House May 25, Belly Up May 26 and The Greek Theatre May 27. The close-knit trio of brothers, Henry Garza (lead vocals / guitar), Jojo Garza (bass) and Ringo Garza (drums), released their breakthrough single “Heaven” in 2004, which went onto become a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts.

“We play anywhere from dive bars and pubs to the greatest stages of today,” Jojo said. “If it’s a small place that won’t let us rock, then we play acoustic. If it’s a small place that wants us to rock then we plug in. We’ve always been versatile and will remain to be so. We won’t solidify ourselves to being only one thing musically.”

On the road, Los Lonely Boys remain one of the more prolific touring rock bands, famously performing nearly 200 shows in front of over 350,000 fans during their 2009-10 tour. Despite the repetitive nature of an exhausting tour schedule, the band finds it quite easy to remain motivated for every live show.

“The idea that each night makes every performance and song new again is how we keep the spark,” Jojo said. “When playing songs like ‘Heaven’ we find that the new ears listening and the new eyes watching are what really make the songs feel new.”

While the band prides itself in its original songs, the trio has also recorded several popular covers of classic rock hits like Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through The Night.”

“They’ve all been fun,” Jojo said. “Some were challenges because we didn’t grow up listening to them, but for the most part man we can play anything. I mean anything.

“We love writing and creating, but nothing beats paying homage to the greats before us–especially if the tunes rock.”

The brothers experienced a particularly frightening moment several years ago when frontman Henry was hospitalized after taking a fall off stage. The band was ultimately forced to cancel 43 shows due to the seriousness of the injuries Henry sustained.

According to Jojo, two things have remained the same through both critical success and personal tragedy — faith and family.

“The truth is for us no one has your back like your brother or family,” Jojo said. “Respect and appreciation for one another is what keeps us above the rest. Don’t get me wrong, we disagree with each other sometimes, but most of the time we are all on the same page. God first, family second, business and everything else fall in line after that.”

All Them Witches Let Loose


ALL THEM WITCHES play The Roxy May 12, The Constellation Room May 13, The Casbah May 14; photo Paul Harries

When you witness the musical tour de force that is an All Them Witches performance, what you’re really witnessing is four men transcending the earthly realm through the gateway of their music.

Often embarking on mind expanding solos and tangential jams, their songs never exist the same way twice. A feat that really only works when the whole band is working as one, eyes closed, heads down, bodies in intimate, wordless communication.

Lead by bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks Jr., he and his bandmates write songs of a uniquely psychedelic nature, ones that beg for us to join them in that alternate plane of existence.

With their latest release Sleeping Through The War, our minds are primed to wander as we are immersed in an ocean of reverb, weird echo delays, and chest-rumbling fuzz. But just as the metaphor implies, their music plays out in waves of sonic dynamics. One moment, you’re floating through hypnotic, calming waters, and the next, you’re thrashing amongst the waves of a musical hurricane.

But the album isn’t just a variety of sounds and vibrations. As the title implies, the album is also an exploration of the current world order. And while many of the lyrics are deliberately open ended, you get the impression that Parks and co. are concerned about the current trajectory of the human race.

And so when Parks sat down for an interview with Concert Guide Live, just a couple days before All Them Witches embark on a 17-date tour, the focus was about the nature of musical expression. How can music wake up those who are sleeping through the war? Is there a definite purpose to music? Find out what Parks has to say below, in an excerpt from a stimulating, rant-filled conversation about the importance of music.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Your latest album is very much in conversation with politics and society. Have you always seen music as more than just feeling vibrations? When did you realize you could use it to spread and talk about important ideas?
CHARLES MICHAEL PARKS JR.: I think maybe when people started really showing up to our concerts and I realized that all of these people had made the same decision all at the same time. They made a decision to end up at that place with all of these other people to do the same activity. And that’s when I realized, “Oh, that’s the power of music. It gets people to the same place using the same words but being interpreted in different ways.” So that’s really powerful to me.

CGL: Do you see music as a form of activism then? In that it has this power to unite people?
CMPJ: I feel like music can be a form of activism. But you have to use some of the guidelines of — I don’t want to say the enemy — but, I feel like advertising is kind of the enemy of music. Everything is about mind control and money. And music is the opposite, right? It’s about how you feel, and how you relate that to the world. But advertising and music have become the same thing over time. You have to build a brand for yourself. It’s what all the people have been rebelling against for so long. You know, “don’t put me in a fucking box.”

But I don’t need to be mass marketed, I don’t need to trick people into liking me. I’ve always said that as our music changes, people are willing to come and go. And that’s fine, people can think whatever they want about my music, and take what they need from it and leave. So, yeah, I feel like it can be a form of activism.

But at the same time, you can’t just fall into the same thing that Dylan or Hendrix were doing. Because what they were doing was being kids and living and singing how it related to them. You have to hide it now. You have to make people think that they thought of it.

And that’s what I mean when I say you have to pull from advertising. You have to get people to come up with the idea for themselves. You can’t give it to them because nobody cares about that. In an age of internet and instant gratification, you can find whatever answer you’re looking for at the click of a button. Information is killing us because it’s just made us completely apathetic. We have all of the information and we don’t know how to process it. People only stick to an idea if they think they came up with it.

CGL: Is this album about that? Is it your way of using music to “inception” people with ideas?
CMPJ: Well, I’m just trying to be honest with my feelings. Which I think is not really done a lot. It’s hidden in a machismo kind of way for guys, and I don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to identify — I mean, I do identify with every guy in a lot of ways — but I’m tired of the bullshit macho stuff. It’s unnecessary, it’s a facade.

In doing that, I have to be able to use my emotions and use sadness and be able to be honest about those things, that I can feel those things. And of course everybody feels it whether they want to admit it or not. And if you don’t, you need to. You need to cry, you need to actually feel something. So that’s all I’m doing.

When I get on stage, that’s my safe place. It doesn’t matter how many people are in front of me. I get to let loose. I’ll dance and jump around and yell, which I wouldn’t normally do in everyday life. That’s my spot to be like, “Here’s me. Here I am. Here’s all my friends, and this is what we do. And this is how we feel about it.” And then the lyrics are just open to interpretation. Because if you get the feeling, you’re going to get some kind of hint of the meaning.

All Them Witches will be sharing their music at The Roxy May 12, The Constellation Room May 13 and The Casbah May 14.

LANY, Machine Heart: A Tale From The Photo Pit


LANY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

After shooting shows for several years, I’ve learned that it’s always worth it to talk to the fans. I arrived at the Observatory in Santa Ana to find out LANY’s show was sold out. I wasn’t surprised as I’ve been a witness of sorts to their growth over the past year. Mind you, this band from Los Angeles hasn’t even released their debut, yet.

I got into the venue and immediately got into the pit to catch the first band, Machine Heart. While in the little photo trench we concert photographers call our office for the night, I couldn’t help but overhear the chatter of the fans behind me. Some needing water, but were afraid to leave their barrier spot. Others dreaming about their after concert meal, some periodically announcing a countdown until LANY would appear on stage.


MACHINE HEART; photo Lauren Ratkowski

When it came time for the break between bands, I immediately jumped back into the photo pit to get a good spot. About six photographers were shooting Maiden Heart, but I knew more would show for LANY. I sat on the barricade near the middle of the stage and began listening to the fans again.

I couldn’t help but notice two girls next to me with fists full of roses. For those unfamiliar, the rose has become a symbol of the band. It adorns their album cover, merch, and everything in-between. I asked how long they had waited in line – 7 a.m. They had also attended LANY’s previous show in Pomona the night before, but they weren’t the first ones there for that one. Fans had been camping for over 24 hours for that particular show. I’ve met some very dedicated fans, but I was impressed that such a young band had such passionate fans despite not having released their debut album.

The lights finally dimmed and screams filled the venue. It was time for LANY.

Twelve photographers were jammed into the pit alongside me, so I was thankful I had arrived early. Frontman Paul Jason Klein made his way to the stage, starting with just a guitar and a microphone. His vocals were almost drowned out over how loud fans sang back to him. Klein made his way over to the girls with the roses and grabbed two of them, then ended up directly over me in the pit. This usually makes me panic a bit because shooting straight up at someone usually is never flattering. I tried to take a step to the left or right, but there was no room for that. I was surrounded by photographers on both sides and the hands of the audience were reaching to Klein behind me.


LANY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Well, what goes up must come down. So I sat on the barricade and shot almost straight up, hoping for the best. I ended up with my favorite shot from the night in that position! A minute later, roses were flying through the air toward the band, covering the stage. It was something out of a movie.

The band had great lighting and production, which makes my job a little bit easier. Their lighting started out with a 4 bulb LED strobe from behind the stage, creating a dramatic scene. As the songs progressed, it drifted into the perfect blend of soft purples, oranges, and blues. This creates great backgrounds while still allowing the artists not to get lost in the photos, much like what usually happens with solo use of red or blue.

Photographing LANY was a fabulous experience. It was refreshing to see such a young band have such a strong, passionate following. After all, there is nothing better than a sold out venue filled with positive energy!

Delain And Hammerfall Tour 2017 Hits SoCal


DELAIN and HAMMERFALL play The Whiskey A Go Go May 9 and The Grove of Anaheim May 10; promo photo

For all the melodic-symphonic and power-metal-heads out there in SoCal, the Delain and HammerFall tour will make stops at The Whiskey-A-Go-Go May 9 and The Grove of Anaheim May 10. The remainder of the U.S. tour encompasses 12 states and two tour dates in British Colombia.

Delain is a musical exploration into the realms of pain, sorrow, yearning and love. Many of the songs are graced by the elegant female vocal performances of Charlotte Wessels who ascended quickly within the Dutch group. She was basically an unknown when joining, but evolved to become a song and lyric writer for the band alongside founder and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt. Now she has 5 full-length releases under her belt and what was meant only to be a studio-band is now on tour.

The overall sound of Delain will appeal to both metal and mainstream fans due the well-blended collage of heavy guitars, synths and choruses. There is almost a new-age feel to the music that at the same time retains an edge and classy sense of aggression. That edge and aggression is created by the two axes in the band: Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold


HAMMERFALL; press photo

Hailing from Sweden, power metallurgists HammerFall tell a tale of perseverance. From their debut creation Glory To The Brave in 1997 and up until the band’s most recent full-length release Built to Last in 2016, the band has suffered a series of serious set-backs. Sickness and affliction have beset their rock and roll path: Shortly after the release of their 1998 album Legacy of Kings, vocalist Joacim Cans came down with a throat-infection so dire that he could no longer sing for most of the remaining tour dates that year.

Ironically, Cans was a “one-night-stand” vocalist replacing Mikael Stanne who was unavailable to sing for The Swedish Rockslaget contest in 1997. Cans’ performance helped to bring them into the semi-finals and that must have been enough to attract the attention of the German label Nuclear Blast which offered the band a four-record deal that same year. But alongside this success, Cans’ throat-infection then spread to the bassist, Magnus Rosen and then the whole of the band’s support crew.

The group was also subjected to more commonplace and less severe trials: Members quit and new members joined. Yet in 2002, another hammer fell on HammerFall: After the release of Crimson Thunder and while on tour, song-writer, guitarist, back-up vocalist and keyboardist Oscar Dronjak was injured in a motorcycle accident. Dronjak sustained minor injuries. But such impacted him enough to where he was forced to take a break that led to the inevitable cancellation of further tour dates.

With a band like HammerFall, the lyric: “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll” could easily come to mind. And here we are in 2017, 20-years later, 15-band-members later, 10 full-length-releases and 27 ep’s/singles later and they are on tour again. These are some impressive achievements for a band that was intended only to be a side-project.

So, prepare yourselves for an intense wave of melodic-symphonic metal and a falling hammer of mid-paced, high-toned, folksy and ballad-rich five-star power metal! For fans of these genres, these are shows you don’t want to miss!