Friday, October 16, 2015

INTERVIEW: Catching up with Counting Crows' Adam Duritz

Adam Duritz during soundcheck at Irvine Meadows
photo by Jessica Klausing

Interview by Jessica Klausing

The questions were provided courtesy of the Counting Crows Merry Murder of Fans Facebook group.

This interview is featured on Los Angeles Digest

In 1993, Counting Crows was put on the map with their successful debut album, August and Everything After. A seven-time platinum award winning band, Counting Crows is still going strong as ever today. Currently, the band is touring throughout North America, Europe, and Australia in support of their seventh album, Somewhere Under Wonderland.

 I spoke with lead singer, Adam Duritz on a stop in Southern California over the weekend. We discussed stage preparations, rumored new releases and if he still lurks on old fansites.

What did you think of Ryan Adams' cover of Taylor Swift's 1989 album? Would you consider covering an entire album?

Adam: I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. Yeah, I could see us doing something like that in the future. I love interpreting other people's material. Our tour mates, Hollis Brown, has done something like that. Their second album, Gets Loaded covers Velvet Underground's Loaded. It's a great album!

Are you working on any new material?

Adam: Not really right now. I am preoccupied with the tour. It's hard to make myself write something on the road.

How do you physically and/or mentally prepare for a certain song on stage?

Adam: I try not to think too much about it. I don't have a special way to prepare. I just start singing. All of the songs have different feelings and there are different ways to interpret them. You just get on stage and do it.

How do you expend so much energy--give so much to the crowd and then adjust to the silence afterwards?

Adam: It was something I had to get used to after a while. In the beginning, it was weird for me to try to connect to ten thousand people and then become isolated. I don't mind it so much now. The quiet can be nice. After all it does give your voice and ears a break.

What's your favorite Rock N' Roll antidote on the road?

Adam: I really enjoy playing gigs. It does have a lot of strain on my voice. So, I try not to do a whole lot of talking in between shows. I had a friend that bought me a white board as a joke since I mostly have to text and email to communicate. I do talk when I absolutely have to but I mostly just hang out in a room and be quiet.

Out of all of the songs you have written, which either song or line has the most personal significance to you and why?

Adam: All of them are very personal. I never pick a favorite. The same goes with making the set list each night. We only pick songs that we feel like playing that night. That way we never get tired or sick of certain songs.

Are there any plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Recovering the Satellites next year?

Adam: Not really. I just thing those anniversaries are gimmicks to get people to buy things. At one point, Recovering the Satellites was my favorite record. We have talked about releasing a deluxe set of footage from that tour. We do have a lot of film from that time period.

What happened to the unreleased song, "Suffocate?" Will we finally hear a studio version?

Adam: Oh yeah, I remember that song! It was going to be on the album, Recovering the Satellites. The song was never finished. I just don't think it's good enough to be released right now. We have tried playing it and just never really got it.

Will you consider another impromptu project like your All My Bloody Valentines? The fan interaction was unique.

Adam: Yeah, my girlfriend and I had broken up a week before Valentine's Day. I didn't want to sit around and be miserable so I decided to learn a different song for each day of the week. I didn't sleep for about a week trying to learn those songs. All I had were recorded versions on my cellphone. So, it was a bit difficult at times. Afterwards, I tweeted for fans to submit art covers for the album and then had them vote for their favorite on Facebook. I might do something like that again someday.

Who is your guilty pleasure on the radio?

Adam: I don't listen to music on the radio, just online. The Weekend has that song from Fifty Shades of Grey that gets played a lot. That has to be good, right? For favorites I really love Miguel. He has such an incredible ear for melody! I think it's disrespectful to the artist to call them a guilty pleasure though. I remember promoting Justin Timberlake's first album on the Counting Crows website when it first came out. That pissed a lot of our fans off. Music moves people in different ways. If it's something that you enjoy then you shouldn't be ashamed of it!

Do you ever lurk on Counting Crows fan sites ( and Counting Crows fan groups (Merry Murder of Fans)?

Adam: No, I haven't. I used to back in the day interact on the old AOL forums. I was able to build a community that led to the message boards on our website. There was no social media back then. Now I just communicate on our Twitter and main Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

REVIEW: Paul Stanley Woos The Roxy with Soulful Music

Written by Jessica Klausing

Paul Stanley or better known as "The Starchild" among the KISS fandom took the stage with his 10 piece ensemble, Soul Station. The unmasked 63 year old rocker crooned soulful R&B covers to an intimate audience at West Hollywood's Roxy club. The band made their debut on Friday night.

The Soul Station lineup consisted of: Paul Stanley (vocals, tambourine), Longtime KISS drummer Eric Singer (drums, backing vocals), Sean Hurley (bass), Alex Alessandroni (keyboard), Ely Rose (keyboard), Rafael Moreira (guitar), Crystal Starr, Ayana Layli, Nelson Beato (backing vocals) and Ramon Yslas (percussion). 

Even though no KISS songs were played, Gene Simmons and Bruce Kulick were spotted showing their support in the VIP section.

"There was a time long ago when you'd turn on the radio and you'd hear songs written by real songwriters, sung by real singers, played by real musicians," reminisces Stanley.

A KISS member playing Motown and Philly soul is quite an unexpected surprise. However, Stanley explained his passion for these songs because of their optimistic messages and that they weren't created by a computer! The Temptations; "Just My Imagination", The Delfonics' "La-La Means I Love You," The Five Stairsteps' "O-o-h Child," and The Spinners' "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" were just a few of the many classic hits in the setlist.

Ayana Layli and Paul Stanley
photo by Jessica Klausing
His vocals were a bit hard to hear, which were overpowered by the backups or drowned out from the bass. This caused a bit of a minor frustration among the audience. As some could be heard shouting for the mic to be turned up!

Stanley's impressive falsetto and Soul Station playing the songs' original composition made up for the minor sound problem. No over the top instrumentals or heavy metal riffs were used at all during the night. What better way to honor the greats than to play their music authentically.

"These songs mean a lot to us. They're beautiful songs. You could sway and touch the person next to you--you could also get punched in the face," jokes Stanley.

His positive attitude was very infectious throughout the night. The fans were seen swaying and singing along in an admirable fashion. Everyone seemed to have as much love for the classics as Stanley. No KISS song requests were being shouted out!

From left: Nelson Beato, Crystal Starr, and Ayana Layli
photo by Jessica Klausing
"We've got great, great singers. I would be nothing without these singers," Stanley admitted, referring humbly to his backup singers.

At one point lead vocals were passed to backup singer Crystal Starr during Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." Starr's powerhouse voice really uplifted the mood. She nailed every high note while Stanley played the tambourine. This was perhaps the biggest highlight of the night considering everyone was up and dancing at this point.

More Soul Station tour dates are expected to be announced soon. The show's performance will also be released on DVD. 


"Get Ready" (The Temptations)
"La-La Means I Love You (The Delfonics)
"Just My Imagination" (The Temptations)
"Ooo Baby Baby" (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
"Sideshow" (Blue Magic)
"You Are Everything" (The Stylistics)
"Tracks of My Tears" (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
"Let's Stay Together" (Al Green)
"Betcha by Golly, Wow" (The Stylistics)
"The Way You Do the Things You Do" (The Temptations)
"I Want You Back" (Jackson 5)
"Who's That Lady" (The Isley Brothers)

"O-o-h Child" (The Five Stairsteps)
"This Old Heart of Mine" (The Isley Brothers)
"Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" (The Spinners)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

RECAP: Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker Campout X 2014

Written by Jessica Klausing

Campout 10 poster

  I have been a pretty big fan of both Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker for many years.

 Well, I started out listening to Monks of Doom first and worked my way back to Cracker and then Camper Van Beethoven . So, I'm a little out of order with things. I had heard of this allege “Campout” in a place called Pioneertown. Listening to Counting Crows This Desert Life, I had become pretty familiar with Pioneertown and Pappy and Harriet’s through the song, “Ms. Potter’s Lullaby.”

 In fact, it was listening to a Counting Crows bootleg that inspired me to want to make it out there someday. During a live version of "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby," Adam Duritz talks about wanting so badly to escape so he spends the night out in the desert. Adam's description of Pioneertown had really intrigued me. I wanted so badly to escape the confinement of the life I was living as well. I had spent most of my life in my dull hometown and was ready to escape like Adam.

 At the time, I was living in a small rural town in Georgia, between school and work; I never had the funds or time to fly out there. The closest thing I had in attendance was watching the first ever Campout on DVD. It was not until 2014, when I moved to Los Angeles that I would finally be able to attend my first three day annual Campout extravaganza.  

                                                     Thursday, September 11, 2014

                                                         Day 1: Crumb Initiation 

Yucca Valley

On September 11, 2014, I drove out to the high desert for a weekend I would never forget. Yucca Valley has a very chill vibe to it. Despite the dry desert heat, a sense of serenity washed over me as I stepped out of the car. The desert itself was beautiful. Nothing but sand, cactus, blue skies, rocks and Joshua Trees that stretched on for miles. This was the picturesque inspiration for any country western lyrics. I especially loved the fact that the little town was quiet all day and night! It was a much welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of metro life in LA! Once I checked in to my respective hotel and was settled, I immediately wasted no time in getting to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Pappy and Harriet's bar
photo by Arie Haze

 The palace is a little restaurant and bar in the middle of nowhere complete with an intimate indoor and outdoor stage. It does not look like much at first but it has plenty of personality. This place is literally a gem buried deep within the desert. Robert Plant, Modest Mouse, and Vampire Weekend are just a few of the many all star talent that performs on these stages. The food is even really good! In fact, I ate there all three nights for dinner. I personally recommend the pulled pork sandwich. Around 6PM, all of the Campout attendees were to line up outside the palace for their festival bracelets. It was at that time I was introduced to many of the other fans in line.

Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker have a tight nit community of fans known as “Crumbs.”  The Crumbs consider each other more like family. I couldn’t agree more. Attending the festival alone, I was quite intimidated at first. It seemed like all the fans knew each other, except me. But  I was immediately introduced and literally welcomed with open arms into the group. It’s always great meeting other die-hard fans at various shows but the Crumbs are flat out the nicest, most welcoming bunch I have ever met.

Frank Funaro (middle) surrounded by the Crumbs
Photo by Arie Haze
Talking with the Crumbs, I became more familiar with the Campout customs. Each Campout day has a particular costume theme. Today was Funaro day. Everyone was to wear their Funaro shirts in honor of Cracker drummer, Frank Funaro. Frank suffered a severe arm injury that kept him from playing the drums this year. He was still there in attendance for Campout to support his fellow Camper/Cracker family. It was a real pleasure getting to chat with Frank. He’s a big flirt and such a delight to be around.

Cracker Duo with Greg Lisher
Photo by Arie Haze
 At around 9PM, Johnny Hickman and David Lowery opened Campout as the Cracker Duo with Greg Lisher. The Duo mostly performed stripped down acoustic versions of some of their hits such as "Low," "Dr. Bernice," and "Teen Angst." I really perked up as soon as Johnny crooned into my all time favorite Cracker song, “Another Song about the Rain.” Johnny’s haunting “Ahh Woo” vocals blend deliciously into the clash of his guitar. I can't get enough of this beautiful song. 

This Campout was a particular special one because both CVB and Cracker had new albums. Cracker’s new double album, Berkeley to Bakersfield was not available until December but the Duo played several songs from the album.

My favorite of the night was “King of Bakersfield.” This song has a nice old school Conway Twitty western sound with bittersweet lyrics. David explained that the Berkeley side is influenced by punk and garage while the Bakersfield side is more California country. It’s a nice record that showcases the band’s talents with both alternative rock and country. However, I tend to favor the Bakersfield side more. Maybe because it’s pure and gentle pace makes me yearn for the desert life?

                                                         Friday, September 12, 2014

                                                                Day 2: I Live in LA

Rose and Buster's Wine Bar

Jonathan Segel – 7:30pm- 8pm (outside stage)
Paul Chesne Band – 8:30pm – 9:15pm (outside stage)
Camper Van Beethoven – 9:45pm (outside stage)
The Dangers w/ Johnny Hickman – midnight – 12:45am (inside stage)

After an incredible first night, I was beyond ready to continue on with my Campout adventures.  During the day, I walked through the small town of Yucca Valley to check out the scenery, which included a stop in Rose and Buster’s Wine Tasting Bar. The owner, Buster is a local to the Mojave desert and just happens to be a Crumb. The bar is decked out in a swanky hippy desert style. Do the wine tour if you have a chance. Buster will treat you to an assortment of delicious cheeses and rare organic wines that can't be found in stores.

 It was also a pleasure bumping into many other Crumbs throughout the little town. Everyone was regaling last night’s performance and was hyped about the other bands for tonight’s lineup. Tonight’s costume theme was New Wave and Punk. I think Team Punk pretty much dominated the costume category for the night.

New Wave and Punk Crumbs
photo by Arie Haze

  Later that day, I returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for my dinner before the festivities began. As luck would have it, some of the guys from Cracker and CVB were having dinner there too. The cool part was I actually got to sit at an adjoining table with David Lowery and Jonathan Segel. Such great guys! I chatted briefly with them and Greg Lisher about music until our food arrived.

photo by Arie Haze

 While the bands were setting up, I took a walk through the old abandoned Roy Roger’s western movie set, which is now Pioneertown. During certain parts of the day, some of the shops are open to the public. I found out that Kerosene Hat was recorded in the now closed movie soundstage. I like all of the Cracker albums but Kerosene Hat is my favorite and most listened to out of the bunch. It’s such a surreal feeling for me to just take in this area that was the inspiration for many of my favorite Cracker songs.

 Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher
photo by Arie Haze

 Around 7:30PM, everyone gathered to the outdoor stage to watch Jonathan Segel. I don’t know really how to describe Jonathan’s set other than 'hippy trippy instrumentalpalooza.' I can dig it! Everyone else seemed to as well; as the smell of weed sure lingered on throughout the entire set.

Paul Chesne Band
Photo by Cathy Merriman
  The Paul Chesne Band was next up and managed to build on the psychedelic atmosphere with some grungy desert rock. “Wet Dog Man” is a gritty dive bar anthem for the rebels. I prefer the more old school piano based "Pink Champagne." The band has a solid blues meets twang sound in the lyrical style of Gram Parsons and Jeff Tweedy. It takes quite a bit to impress me when it comes to country. I will say that Chesne knows how to give a strong delivery.

The much anticipated Camper Van Beethoven took the stage next. CVB had just released their new duel albums, El Camino Real and La Costa Perdida. Similar to Cracker, each album takes you on a musical journey through the different parts of California. El Camino Real focuses on the darker sound of southern California, while La Costa Perdida has the more trippy northern California sound. Their music has always interfused psychedelic rock, ska, folk, European dance and pop. Expect the random. What else could you really expect from them?

Camper Van Beethoven
photo by Arie Haze

The band played quite a few of their new songs. My favorite of the set was "I Live in LA." Having just moved to LA, the lyrics reminded me of the bittersweet goodbye I gave to my friends and family before I left. Another favorite was  “Northern California Girls,” which is a sequel to the Beach Boy’s “California Girls.” Of course, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was a treat getting to hear the surfy hit "Take the Skinheads Bowling." Jonathan's violin styling complimented Greg's Telecaster along with Victor's bass, holding up the rhythm. These guys were in top form for the night.

 After the set, I managed to chat with Victor Krummenacher. I love and respect all of the guys for their hard work and talent, but Victor has a special place in my heart. As I stated earlier, I am a big Monks of Doom fan. I gotta admit I was a little bummed they weren’t on the bill this year, but Greg did confirm to me that a new album was in the works! I told Victor how much his music meant to me and that I just moved out here. He gave me a hug thanking me for coming along with a hearty welcome to California! It was definitely the highlight of my night for sure.

The Dangers with Johnny Hickman
Photo by Arie Haze

 At midnight, we headed to the inside stage for Johnny Hickman and the Dangers. Chris LeRoy and Johnny Hickman gave a powerhouse performance of pop hits such as "Lucky," "Stranger," and "Radio City." Their energy was contagious. This is the kind of music you expect to hear waltzing into a saloon. I was already wiped out from the previous bands but their esteemed brand of Honky Tonk rock kept me on my feet til the end.

                                                      Saturday, September 13, 2014

                                           Day 3: Crumbs, Crows, and Cracker OH MY!

Meet N Greet poster signing
photo by Arie Haze
Los Rios Rock School – 7pm – 7:45pm (outside stage)
Brant Bork and the Bros – 8pm – 9pm (outside stage)
Cracker – 9:30 pm (outside stage)
The Hickmen – 11:30pm – 12:15am (inside stage)
Victor Krummenacher Band – 12:45am (inside stage)

The last night of Campout. Just when I thought nothing could top the first two days, tonight just got better. Around 5PM, the Campout bands held a special Meet N Greet session. By special Meet N Greet its basically you buy the official Campout poster, and the bands all sign it in an assembly line fashion across the table. I defiantly wanted some token to commemorate this weekend, so I participated.

Los Rios Rock School
photo by Cathy Merriman
 At 7PM, the Los Rios Rock School opened the show. Los Rios Rock School provides programs to help teach kids to play instruments and record professionally. The owner, Tyler Marolf is such a nice guy and you can tell he is really passionate about helping his students. They covered many Cracker hits such as "Low," "Movie Star," and the crowd favorite, "Eurotrash Girl." I was amazed at the talent. I could see that the Cracker guys felt the same way. They stood off to the sidelines cheering the kids on. These kids really got into the music like seasoned professionals. One Crumb even exclaimed, “these guys are gonna be the headliners for Campout 50!” 

Brant Bjork

 Next up was Brant Bjork and the Bros. I can’t give you my actually review of them that night because I couldn’t hear anything! I had made it up to the front row at this point. Once Brant hooked up his double stacked amps, instinctively, everyone started putting on their ear plugs. I had never heard their music so I didn't think it would be such a big deal. Geez, was I ever wrong! Sure enough the bass was melting the skin off my face. All I could hear was BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, the entire set. I couldn't make out any words! One of the Crumbs felt bad for me and went to get me a pair of ear plugs. Even with the ear plugs, I still couldn't make out anything. Next time I see these guys, I will remember to stay in the far back row!!

Once I got home I did give these guys a proper listen before I made an opinion. I'm really glad I did because what happened next was unexpected.Their particular brand of stoner rock is the type of chill music you want to just listen to while laying on the floor staring up at the ceiling. It sounded a lot more aggressive in person.

Photo by Mike Sausser
Everyone cheered as soon as Cracker took the stage. Tonight’s final theme was “I want out of this circus,” where the Crumbs and the band were all dressed in assorted circus attire. The stage was even decked out with creepy clown dolls. Everyone went all out for the last night of Campout. Tonight was my favorite theme of all. Everyone wore the most creative assortment of costumes and it felt more like a Halloween show than an indie desert rock festival.

Circus Crumbs
photo by Arie Haze
Cracker brought it home with some soulful country rock. The band played many of their popular hits, "Low," "Teen Angst," "Sweet Potato" and "Big Dipper" Johnny never fails to amaze me. A seasoned guitarist that can shred it during "Eurotrash Girl" and then change dials into a soulful blusey "Take Me Down to the Infirmary." Most fans have a favorite preference between Cracker and CVB. I really couldn't begin to decipher my favorite. Just like their double albums, they both represent different genres but compliment each other so well.

Ben Mize dressed as a clown
Photo by Mike Sausser
The biggest treat of all was seeing that Counting Crows ex drummer Ben Mize filled in as the drummer for the night! It was a mix of Cracker/CVB and Counting Crows music that had convinced me to pursue my lifelong dream of moving to California and coming to Pioneertown. Being here to witness the best of both worlds was beyond a dream come true for me. After Cracker’s set, I made a beeline to talk to Ben. He was such a nice, down to earth guy (as all of the guys are). We bonded over the fact that we are both Georgians, in fact; Ben nicknamed me “Georgia” for the rest of the night.  It was particularly cool getting to chat with Ben about This Desert Life (which is my all time favorite Counting Crows album).

Johnny Hickman
photo by Arie Haze

We both went inside for a few drinks and to check out the Hickmen. Johnny kept the party going with more electrifying Honky Tonk rock. After the Hickmen, I got a chance to chat with Johnny. He was such a sweetheart! He saw that the air was making me chilly so in an attempt to warm me he gave me several big hugs and a kiss.

Victor Krummenacher Band
photo by Arie Haze
 Victor Krummenacher Band closed out Campout. Being a huge fan of Victor’s music, I was very excited about his hearing his solo work. Victor's music is a cross mix of old fashioned country with a twinge of Irish folk. It's on a much darker side of the spectrum than the sarcastic CVB. Much like Cracker and CVB, Victor was also celebrating a new album release. His ninth studio album, Hard to See Trouble Coming was released earlier last year. "If I Could Only Close My Eyes" has Leon Helm type vocals with an emotional brooding of drums and pedal steel. Amidst the gloomy tracks, "If You Wont Break My Heart, I Wont Stand a Chance," has a slight early rock N roll feel that stood out for me.

Porch Stock 2014
photo by Arie Haze

 After Victor’s set everyone headed outside for the traditional Campout closer of “Porch Stock.” Porch Stock is basically Johnny and a couple of musician friends’ improvised sing-a-long jam session outside the Pioneertown hotel. This was quite a celebratory way to close out the 10th annual Campout!

                                                “Last of the great Pioneertown bars”

Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace

Campout X has been very special to me. I have made lifelong friends and am very blessed to have spent three wonderful nights listening to incredible music in a breathtaking atmosphere. All of this made my hectic move worth it in the end. I can guarantee this will NOT be my last Campout! I look forward to more shows and making more Crumb friends. Thank you fellow Crumbs and to the CVB/Cracker extended family for memories that I will always cherish. If you are a music fan and want to get the hell out of the city then I encourage you to check out Pappyand Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. You will be glad you did! They always have talented musicians that perform there. Campout is usually held every September, unless otherwise noted. Tickets for Campout can be purchased on Cracker or CVB's websites.

Friday, August 7, 2015

REVIEW: The Offspring 'Conspiracy of One' chaotic night at the Hollywood Palladium

Written by Jessica Klausing

Featured on AMBY

Dexter Holland (vocals), Greg K (bass guitarist), Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman (lead guitarist) and Pete Parada (drums) brought a night of chaotic endeavors to die hard punk fans at the sold out Hollywood Palladium.

As soon as the Huntington Beach rockers took stage, beer cups and clothes went flying in the air. The black and white fire skull logo proudly illuminated the stage as the audience pounded and roared with excitement while Noodles’ guitar wailed right into “Bad Habit.”

 At one point, the entire balcony was shaking. It was a wonder the whole thing didn’t collapse.  I know it is not unusual for fans to go berserk at the start of a show. But, this was off the chain! I have never been to a show where this much hype was bottled up in one room ready to explode.

Greg K
photo by Jessica Klausing
Noodles seemed to enjoy all the chaos, thanking Hollywood for “being a creative audience.” Noting that “chaos is where the creativity develops.” He proceeded to comment how “Hollywood is gritty with such a great mix of personalities and people.”
 And gritty it was indeed.

You don’t get the full experience at an Offspring concert unless you thrash around in an aggressive mosh pit covered in sweat and beer screaming the chorus lines to the punk anthems like a patriotic warmonger.

The band launched into into their popular hits like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)”, “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and my personal favorite, “Come Out and Play,” from their 1994 platinum selling album, Smash

 Their 19 song setlist was a lot of fun, which included material mostly from Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace (2008), Conspiracy of One (2000), Americana (1998), and Ixnay on the Hombre (1997). It was nice to see that the band didn’t solely focus on their older lineup but showcased plenty of their newer stuff in the mix.  I prefer an assortment when a band has such a huge musical catalog. Of course, it is always great to hear the popular hits but refreshing to listen how the band has progressed over the years. They have evolved more than just catchy lyrics to a tighter production.

Holland took a moment to let everyone know how much the band loves playing at the Palladium--noticing how it looked like everyone in the audience knew the lyrics!

Photo by Jessica Klausing
The audience was a diverse mix of old and young punk fans. It was a satisfying experience seeing that the age barriers didn’t segregate fans from the show. There was no rivalry only a unification of fans singing their hearts out together. Its experiences like this that reminds me why I love attending concerts. Music is the universal love that connects us all no matter what walk of life we may come from.

After an hour of performing, the band had walked off stage until the audience chanted for “one more song”, which of course, the band was more than happy to oblige.

The band returned with an encore of “Want You Bad” and “Self Esteem” The songs ended the show on a high note prompting a little crowd surfing action.

The Offspring has been praised for bringing punk rock and pop punk together. Despite being around for more than 30 years with most of their mainstream success in the 90s, these guys prove that they’ve still got what it takes to put on a damn good show!


Bad Habit
All I Want
Come Out and Play
Coming for You
Have You Ever
Staring at the Sun
Nitro (Youth Energy)
You’re Gonna Go Far Kid
Gone Away
Gotta Get Away
Why Don’t You Get a Job?
(Can’t Get My) Head Around You
Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)
The Kids Aren't Alright


Want You Bad
Self Esteem

Sunday, May 10, 2015

AIR + STYLE 2015: Day 1

Written By Jessica Klausing

For the first time, AIR + STYLE brought big air, snow and music to Pasadena's Rose Bowl. Hosted by Shaun White, This two day festival featured world elite snowboarders and skiers qualified from the Innsbruck and Beijing events. This was also the first time skiing was added the lineup where 16 professional skiers competed on the Big Air Jump.

Despite the cold weather and rain showers, the competitions were completed with more than 40,000 spectators in attendance!

Because this is a music blog, I am not going to cover the athletics.

 For the results and additional information check out the AIR+STYLE main page.

In addition to the competition, AIR + STYLE brought 18 incredible bands performing over two stages. I only attended Day 1 so that's all I will cover. The Saturday lineup consisted of: Bad Things, Phantogram, Diplo, Kendrick Lamar, Teenage Wrist, In the Valley Below, Metz, The Black Lips, and Portugal The Man.

Below are my favorite songs from each of these bands. Enjoy!

Bad Things

 These guys were the first act of the day. This is an American Synthrock band that features professional snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White on lead guitar. I didn't think at first I was gonna dig it. Despite White's athletic celebrity status, this band has some songs worth checking out. "Caught Inside" stands out among their predominant garage band sound. This song is smooth with a nice steady drum beat. The group also includes lead vocalist Davis LeDuke, bassist and former Augustana member Jared Palomar, guitarist Anthony Sanudo and the lovely Lena Zawaideh on drums and vocals.


This band was my favorite of the day! Their music is catchy, chill and motivating. What's not to love? Sarah Barthel can belt out the pop vocals like nobody's business! It's hard to find a bad song out of their catalog, but "Fall in Love" is their ultimate best in my opinion. Barthel's voice just pulls you into a deep hypnotic spell with no chance of ever coming back. Seriously, I can't stop playing this song on repeat.


Electronic music lovers unite! This American DJ is usually seen with his associated act, Skrillex, or as the duo are better known as Jack U. This electronic dance music (EDM) sound can be described as Dubstep. Honestly, I am not much of a fan to Dubstep. I personally prefer the more traditional House or relaxing Trance. "Revolution" is one of the exceptions to the rule for me. It's upbeat and fun, which is the whole point to EDM, right?


                                         Teenage Wrist

When it comes to music I'm genuinely a sucker for 90's garage and indie sounds. So, I was quite pleased to discover Teenage Wrist. In a world full of autotune it's pleasant to get back to the simpler sound of sweet nostalgia. Not a whole lot of information can be found other than their Facebook and Twitter accounts. What we do know is the band is a collaborative side project that consists of Kamtin Mohager (The Chain Gang of 1974), Marshall Gallagher (Swing Hero) and Anthony Salazar. "Slide Away" is the second single off the band's forthcoming EP. According to the band, this song is a sample of what we can expect for future releases. If that is true, then I don't think music lovers will be disappointed.

 In The Valley Below

Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob blend the beautiful harmony that is Americana, blues and synth pop. Their sound is almost a dead ringer in the style of Peter Bjohn and Jon Jon. This dynamic duo has already gained attention by European alternative radio. "Peaches" is the opening song on the their debut album The Belt. It's a fitting pick to give listeners an introduction into Gail and Jacob's synchronized chemistry.  


This Canadian post punk trio are a real punch to the gut. If you are not too much into the heavy metal scene then you might have a hard time listening to their new stuff. It is heavier, darker and much more sloppier. Those that love heavy distortion, screeching vocals with growling guitar riffs may appreciate "Wet Blanket" or "The Swimmer." My pick is the somewhat tamer "Spit You Out." This song has the right amount of feedback in which can almost resemble Nirvana.

The Black Lips

The Black Lips are a self described "flower punk" garage band. Basically, it's another term for psychedelic rock. Despite their provocative stage antics, their sound has a 60's British rock vibe. Granted a demented 60's sound but the lyrics are quite catchy. "Bad Kids" is one of those dark songs that you can't help but sing along.

Portugal The Man

Portugal The Man is an American rock band that hails from Wasilla, Alaska. Most of their songs have a quirky synth sound to them while under toning symbolism for the darkness of human nature. I like "Sleep Forever." That song has a beautiful "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis like eloquence to it. However, "Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue" receives the honorable mention for its deliciously dark combination of bells and falsetto vocals.

Kendrick Lamar

Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar closed the AIR + STYLE Day 1 as the last performance of the night. And what a fun way to close the festivities indeed.  Lamar brings a fresh sense of swag to west coast hip hop. His arty self expressions give hip hop a much needed positive look on life. "I" is perhaps the best example of that point. The song is a reminder to keep happy and be blessed in things that you have despite the bad times.

Plus the line "These days of frustration keep ya'll in tucking rotation" is a real doozy. It gets stuck in your head for days!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brother Sal: Whorehouse Congregation

Brother Sal. Photo by Marytrini Garcia-Hernandez
Written by Jessica Klausing

The first time I heard Brother Sal and the Devil May Care was on a night the band decided to play in the style of 1920's saloon music. You know, the kind of thing you hear walking through the Mainstreet USA part of Disney World. However, I was quite intrigued from what I heard that night. They certainly did stand out among the other Los Angeles bands. 

I came back to see the band again and again. Each time witnessing a more unique setlist from the last. From the beautiful soft cover of Andrae Crouch’s “Take Me Back” to the soulful rockin' “Old Devil’s Whelm,” This piano centered band is the real deal. This is raw talent at its finest, folks.

Sal refers to his band’s genre as whorehouse gospel. If that phrase alone does not intrigue you then I don’t know what will. 

According to Sal, “It’s the same thing you hear in a dirty whorehouse and the same thing you hear at a church. It’s the good and bad that’s deep within all of us.” 

Their music is filled with religious undertones that connect the beauty and struggles of everyday life.

Sal hails from Virginia, where his grandmother taught him the piano. She taught him how to play old gospel tunes. From her Sal learned to use the left hand. This would lead him to start playing in jazz ensembles and house parties for fun. 

“Playing piano keeps me sane and from just going fucking crazy. At the time, I just sat down to play for myself, still continuing to do so to this day," says Sal.

 Due to the encouragement of friends, Sal began his musical trek by playing at local jazz clubs. He received strong reception and was able to book gigs several times a week as a professional piano player. 

“I started trying to write but to do that you need to have a voice. Going through fatherhood my voice changed. I had more to say. I tried to see life through my newborn son’s eyes. After divorce, my voice changed again. This time my writing became deeper and more meaningful.”

From left: Sal (Piano), Craig Macintyre(Drums), Erik Kertes(Bass), and David Immergluck (Guitar). Photo by Marytrini Garcia-Hernandez
Sal stays motivated by reading and listening to music. 

“The most important thing is understanding literature. Reading expands your mind to become a better person.”

 He’s an avid record collector with influences that range from: Randy Newman, Hank Williams, The Band, and Bob Dylan. But it’s the American classics like Stephen Foster that hold a special place in his heart. 

“These cowboy prairie songs are the ones that we never forget. The lyrics and melodies were perfect. It’s much more important to look back than forward. Back then people sung about what they knew about. That’s something that should never go away—that’s American music! America, for all that it is never takes away how good our music is— it’s something that has affected our world for a hundred and fifty years.”

Brother Sal does have an album currently available titled, Blood and Dust. The album teaches us to keep our faith even through the tough times. Sal writes as if his soul is reaching out to grab you and pull you in the story. He provides listeners with the use of imagery, metaphor, poetic allusion and irony. This is all of the musical brilliance without the autotune or other overrated industry filler.

One of my absolute favorites on the album would be “Scenes On Sunset.” The title is actually an acronym for the SOS distress signal, which foreshadows the tone of the stories.  The song is based on a young prostitute and a homeless man that Sal encountered on Sunset Boulevard. 

“I was coming out of the studio late one night and met this young woman. She was a twenty two year old college student that found out she could make fast money walking the street. She lived this life to help support her daughter. One year later, as I was driving down Sunset, I see this guy falling out of the bushes. I offer him a ride while listening to his outlandish stories about the Bible. He wanted to get back to his ex wife and kids that had abandoned him and didn't want him back.”

 The crescendo along with the soft piano makes it such a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. This is the type of heartfelt song that makes you just listen closely and forget the world around.


Brother Sal’s newest album The Other Side of Sin will be released soon. The album was recorded at Boulevard Recording. I was lucky enough to get to hear a sneak peek of the song, “Poison.” I have to say that I was not disappointed in what I got to hear. It sounds like this new album will feature more of the band’s electric side of the spectrum.

 Below is "A Good Hearted Man," one of the songs that will be featured on the new album.

Brother Sal and the Devil May Care play Sundays and Thursdays at The Piano Bar in Hollywood.

I want to take the time to introduce the rest of Sal’s band, The Devil May Care. The band consists of a powerhouse of talented musicians: Eli Wulfmeier, Frederik Bokkenheuser, David Immergluck, and Jonathan Flaugher. These guys are simply amazing to watch live. The band has no rehearsals so listening to each other is quite crucial. There are times that Sal may step off stage for a minute leaving the band to improvise. I was lucky enough to get to chat with all of these incredible musicians.

Eli Wulfmeier- Guitar/Vocals

Not only is he a talented guitarist but he has worked as an actor and producer. Right now he is currently working on a solo project under the name “Leroy From the North.”

What was your journey like venturing out becoming a professional playing gigs and releasing CDs? Do you feel like you've reached your goals? 

I moved to LA from Detroit about eight years ago to pursue a career in music. At the time, I did not know anybody, so I just started playing with other bands and eventually ran into Sal. As far as reaching my goal that would be a no. My ultimate goal is to keep playing and recording as much as possible.

Is there a significance to the setup in terms of the sound or genre of music your currently making? 
It’s more guitar driven similar to americana or psychedelic.

Do you have a particular approach to songwriting? 
 I keep a notebook with me everywhere I go to write down any inspiration I have. I do try to write at least five minutes everyday to keep going. Other times, I will sit around and just play guitar and then try to decipher the lyrics, sound, subject matter and melody.

 Do you have any favorite LA venues? 
The Troubadour, I used to go there about every day of the week. The Piano Bar is a big family there. Ryan, the manager takes care of us.

  Is it hard to balance the guitar work with piano/vocals on an album? 
The band has great chemistry. We have all played together so long that we have learned to listen to each other. The basic structure is Sal will play a verse and chorus and we all see where it goes. Sometimes, he calls out who is gonna do a solo. You just have to listen to know when to hang back.

 What about your experiences working in film? 
I recently got to help write a score for a film called The Widow Son. They needed a Neil Young type soundtrack. It’s different watching the footage and seeing how the characters react then trying to make the music fit the scene.

 What can we expect from your solo project? 
  I am currently working on a solo record under a working title at the moment. The band is called "Leroy From the North." The music has similar elements to Brother Sal without the piano but much more in the style of Leon Russell.

Frederik “Freddy” Bokkenheuser-Drums

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, he started playing drums at the age of seven and started playing professionally at fourteen. After gigging and recording for a decade around Europe, he continued his career in Los Angeles playing with Jay Nash, Joshua Radin, and Ryan Adams.

What's it like working with Sal? 
The thing about working with Sal is it is such a fun gig-- like a musical playground. We never rehearse or have a setlist. Sal sends us a text that afternoon saying “Let’s play this song in the key of..” Between the covers and originals, we have over a hundred songs. We never know what we are gonna do but just go with the moment.

I have always heard that drummers were hypersensitive listeners.
Always. There are times when you have to take lead over the song, so I'm always looking at Sal for cues. It is very important to have that connection with the other musicians.

 Favorite originals to play?
 "Poor Richard’s Almanac" has become Sal’s anthem. "Old Devil’s Whelm" is another favorite. 

What are your thoughts on the natural ability vs the practiced player? 
Hard work goes a long way. If you don’t have certain mechanics down it will be hard to play free. You will be constricted.

Any updates on the new album? 
 We are hoping to get it mixed soon. David Immergluck produced it.

 What was your inspiration to become a drummer? 
I was a huge fan of The Police album, Zenyatta Mondatta.  I remember looking at pictures of Stewart Copeland and tried to emulate his style. From then on, I would put on whatever rock N' roll album I could find.

David Immergluck-Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals

This man right here needs no further introduction. He’s a multi instrumentalist who is best known for his work in Counting Crows, Camper Van Beethoven, John Hiatt, and Monks of Doom... just to name a few. He’s a versatile musician and producer with an insane record and CD collection that ranges in the thousands.

What are some of your favorite guitar riffs? 
"Oh Well" part 1-Fleetwood Mac, "Dancing Days"-Led Zeppelin, “A Woman like You"-Bert Jansch, "Clear Spot"-Captain Beefheart, and "Smokestack Lightning"-Howlin’ Wolf.

Which of your gear can you not live without?
I have a 68' silver face Fender Vibrolux that has some cool mods in the caps. As for guitars that would be my 72' Les Paul Junior.

Do you have any producer influences?
  I listen to a lot of records from the 70's. I especially like the Rolling Stones style so I try to produce in that direction. As for producers, Don Smith, he could identify the magic early in a song. I'm also a big fan of Dennis Herring and Jimmy Miller.

How was recording the new album?
Great! The process went by rather quickly. We managed the finish in three days at Boulevard Recording.

How did you become a part of the Devil May Care?
 Sal was playing a gig at the Hotel Café. I was sitting on a bar stool next to Brian Wright. Sal just stuck out as the real deal among all of the other acts. I listened to his record and knew I had to be in the band! It was the kind of music I grew up wanting to play.

What are you currently listening to at the moment? 
Bob Dylan-Sidetracks

Do you have a particular music routine? 
I am constantly listening to music 24/7. Playing live is the musical gym for me. It's always great to exercise the musical muscle by playing new material.

Jonathan “Jonny” Flaugher-Bass/Vocals

Jonny holds a masters at the Manhattan School of Music and has worked extensively in New York as a jazz bassist. Since then he has began his career working alongside: Ryan Adams, The Weepies, Shakira, and Vanessa Carlton. He's also composed for film and is currently producing various artists.

Sal was telling me that the bass has been the quintessential part of the band. I also understand that you can duplicate the left hand on guitar, which is hard to do. Do you agree?
 Every role is important. Music is our language. Sal and I have a very similar musical background. We've played jazz, ragtime, and gospel. All of that goes in Sal’s band.

How and why did you first pick up the bass? 
I was inspired by my uncle, who is not blood related, he was a bass player. I played clarinet but wanted to play bass clarinet. I have always just been interested in that kind of stuff. In high school, I borrowed a friend’s bass. Soon after that I started playing the upright bass.

What are your types of musical influences? 
Mostly rock N roll, jazz, country, Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Paul McCartney.

 Is there a unique significance to the band's set up? 
 Our rhythm section plays pretty actively. In the beginning, Sal was not sure of the setup. He had more people in the band than the audience. Now its stripped down.

How did you meet Sal? 
I came to LA to record on different records. When I met Sal at Hotel Café,  he had a gospel band. We both had a similar musical background. He wanted me to come play on Blood and Dust at Sunset Sound in 2008. After recording that album, I became a permanent member.

 What are your long term goals? 
 To keep getting better and better. I have worked hard to get where I am. I  just plan to keep improving and learning more.