Sunday, August 27, 2017


Fun showcase August 24, 2017 at Sayer's Club, Hollywood, Calif. with ZANDER BLECK, heartthrob rocker with a sort of Chris Robinson/Jim Morrison mashup vibe. A onetime Interscope protegè, Zander has great stage moves and leather pants, as befitting his day job of professional model, plus much interaction with his audience including coming over to crouch where I was crouching taking photos (see pics at bottom, guest photographer © 2017 Donna Balancia, Editor of California Rocker.) 


He writes hooky mainstream-with-groove songs like "Mercy Me!" and delivers them in darker but friendly fashion. He has the goods.
Too close to focus, but good theatre! Wrote guest photographer Donna Balancia, "Heather Harris gets all the rockers to sing to her - Must be nice being a renowned music photographer." Hmmmm, possible exaggeration but thanks!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MIKE WATT, THE DOGS and O.G. L.A. punk pioneers glorify the Redwood LIVE 7/22/17

     One of L.A.'s great treasures (via their Michigan stomping grounds inception and a pre-punk spurt in NYC before The Ramones even crawled out) for decades in a now rare appearance at the Redwood with Mike Watt and others, THE DOGS careened and rocked in full cry to a packed house of appreciative fans of all ages, such is The Dogs' perennial appeal: genuine Detroit-spawned hardest rock played mega-fast, super-tight and magnificently...
 Wrote California Rocker editor Donna Balancia: "I never before realized how POWERFUL The Dogs are! The Dogs unquestionably are a truly great band.  Wrote Falling James (original L.A. punk of Leaving Trains who influenced Mark Lanegan's Screaming Trees,) "That was an intense Dogs set last night. It also amazes me that three people who play such furious and aggressive and swinging music are also such sweethearts offstage." Falling James also rose from his music journalist's seat at the L.A. Weekly to play a rare set just before The Dogs.
The Dogs (Loren Molinaire-guitar, leads vocals; Mary "look ma, no retouching needed!" Kay-bass, vocals; Tony Matteucci-drums, vocals) long have proven their crossover from good band to great band, probably from somewhere in the late 1960s (see their history, LINK* LINK**and LINK***.) In fact, their dependable greatness ofttimes makes booking a chore, since hard rock bands without a sense of history or humor appearing on the bill are blown offstage. Routinely.

No such risk for Mike Watt though, who swims in his own idiosyncratic oasis of greatness with a variety of his personal spinoff bands (The Secondmen, The Missingmen, Hellride, etc.)  In fact for over a decade Watt faced down the F5 tornado that was The Stooges and Iggy and The Stooges for their touring and recording ensembles, fully "one of them." In Watt's predictable humility, he refers to the experience as his privilege to share their stage of history. 

Whimsically and oddly, he spent a bit of the set with his tongue extended in what was not a fleeting moment. Otherwise, his Missingmen trio reeled around in 100mph rockjazzbo improv, clearly having a blast in their own dexterity to the infinite approval of the audience.

Also on the O.G. L.A. punk bill besides Mike Watt, The Dogs and Falling James were The Alley Cats, and Billy Bones from The Skulls.

Above, photographer Ellen Berman, California Rocker Editor Donna Balancia and her friend Bernadette Brennan. Below, Leslie Knauer, who was in the band Kanary with Mary Dog and Tony Dog for a dozen years, with Al TeMan, both now in band Naked Hand Dance.


Monday, August 14, 2017


They are as difficult about whom to write as their music is accessible.  They are complex, commercial-hooky, funny, sardonic and poignant. They are clever and universal, 30 years on the scene yet fresh. They are The Jigsaw Seen in all their magnificent, quirky glory who tour constantly yet play their native Los Angeles once or at most twice a year...

July 13th was once such rarefied occasion at the Silverlake Lounge and all in attendance rejoiced. Each song sported its own signature sound, very much demonstrative of how a great band differs from a merely good one. "Where The Action Isn't" still sounds delightfully Stooge-y to me. No electric sitar this go-round, but 1962's crossover Henry Mancini instrumental hit "Baby Elephant Walk" from the John Wayne African animals' adventure flick "Hatari!" was fully worthy of its Jigsaw Seen revival and treatment...

"For the Discriminating Completist" is their most current release on Burger Records,  replete with rare cuts from their many albums and previously unavailable selections. Obtain your needed copy in a variety of formats here: LINK*

 The Jigsaw Seen are 
 Dennis Davison, lead vocals, guitar,
 harmonica, percussion; 
 Jonathan Lea guitar; 
 Teddy Freese, drums,
 Andy Bartel, bass.

Kim Yee, Evita Corby and Dennis Davison of the Jigsaw Seen after his show...


Thursday, August 10, 2017


One of my happiest art history discoveries came late in life! Natural and modern from way back in the 1900s, here's

Zinaida Serebryakova, oil on canvas, At the Dressing Table (self portrait), 1909.

 Zinaida Serebryakova had a hard life. Although wellborn from an artistic family and happily married to an engineer, he was arrested in the Russian Revolution and promptly died in prison, leaving her with 4 young kids to raise. As in the film and book Dr. Zhivago, her family's apartment was delegated to have many strangers living with her involuntarily. 

 If Serebryakova wanted to make a living in art, she was ordered to follow the (hardhanded kitsch/faux futurist) Social Realism style favored by the Bolsheviks. And wouldn't. She took a mural job in France in 1924, then couldn't re-enter the U.S.S.R. where her children remained with her sick mother. France let her stay but judged her work "lightweight" in subject matter and style, and it did not sell particularly well. She continued painting anyway.

Self Portrait with a scarf, 1911

By 1928 Mother Russia relented to let her two youngest kids come stay with her but forbade the two eldest. She didn't see them again until 1960 and Nikita Krushchev's thaw in the Cold War when her oldest two kids were allowed to go visit her for the first time in 36 years. Her work was exhibited in her homeland, the then Soviet Union to great acclaim in 1966, the year before she died. I consider her the equal of Jean Renoir or Mary Cassatt. 
House of Cards (her four children,) 1919 

 In the meadow, 1912

Self portrait, 1956 ↑   Moor, 1932 →                                  
 Portrait of Boris Serebryakova, 1908 (her husband)

  Moroccan woman wearing a pink dress, 1932

Castellan Valley, 1929

The Crops, 1908

Bee keeping, 1900

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


August 6th, 2017 was the 50th anniversary of the first Love-In at Griffith Park, Los Angeles with an enactment of 1960s-style peace, love and companionship by those picnicking on the grass.  The nearby venerable 1920s Hershell-Spillman carousel proved irresistible to the celebrants, and fun merry-go-round rides, astride, lady-like or otherwise, were immediately on the agenda.  

Many baby-boomers from that original era remain in fine enough fettle to really make the most of their fun. Some even confessed to ingesting psychedelics!

 Pictured at the very top, left to right: Miss Mercy of Frank Zappa's fabled girl group The GTOs, Cher Torisch, onetime 1960s fashion model who can still pass for a model Georgianna Steele-Waller, and writer Terry Moreland Henderson. Above, Georgianna, Mercy and Terry are also seen on the carousel and picnicking.
Yours truly photographing others, guest photographer Georgianna Steele-Waller.
 An oldskool vintage Griffith Park Love-In circa 1967, photographer unknown.

Seen below, your humble photojournalist 50 YEARS AGO in my school uniform, distributing peace, love and flower petals at The Westlake School for Girls.
My time at this event was limited due to the next one on my agenda, and I was sorry to have missed seeing my friends Evita Corby, Catherine James or being able to hear Johnny Echols (co-founder and guitarist for Love, 1960s's great rock experimentalists with Arthur Lee) playing acoustic guitar. Evita later admitted to soaking up The Young Rascals' apropos 1967 song "Groovin' (On A Sunday Afternoon)" in prep for revisiting these happier times in her own youth.

Songs that one plays, iPod or car deck pick themselves, and mine on the way there most certainly did not reflect unbridled, joyous nostalgia. The '60s to me was an unhappy time of grossly obstructive, mean streak-beset parents plying road block after road block to a teen who had known her life's calling in the arts since she was 3, and who had already veered to center her talents in the entertainment industry coinciding with an innate love of music born of that era's great stock of same. In the 1960s I was known for being adventurous, tastes in music and beyond, but more precisely this represented efforts devoted to escapism, since I had neither the grounding of supportive parents nor of, given most teens' burgeoning hormone supply, the opposite sex. I had picked on an amazing 18 year old ladies' man with Byronic curls, creative as all get out, but it was wholly unrequited, albeit unrequited with a lot of interaction for two years. (see LINK* and LINK**.) I would never want to go back to my youth.

Instead my car deck choice to this occasion was from a later 1971 Jimmy Webb song "All My Love's Laughter" but from the male character version as sung by Jennifer Warnes on her excellent 1972 eponymous album produced (and weirdly! He had the future Grammy winner warbling 1967's "Magdalene My Regal Xonophone" by Procol Harum. I loved it!) by the Velvet Underground's John Cale. It reminded me of the ladies' man Bryonic curls guy.

"Don't lose your heart to 
the beautiful sinner...
...he stands in the shade
and the light is there in him
but you'll never know 'til it's night...

Don't try to hold on
To Satan's proud baby

He stands with his flock
All alone on the hill...

...He's winning and you never will."

--fair use © 1971Jimmy Webb 

Next on my agenda happily was a weekly dog playdate for the Golden Retriever Sarabelle and Scottish Deerhound Gia with their chums Diego and Quinn the Borzois, and Eroica and Fain, more Scottish Deerhounds. I was still clad in my polychrome retro-60s get up, as seen in the photo directly below, center, © 2017 guest photographer Kurt Ingham. 

The human guests were  Sherry, Ian and Paul, plus I was coming home to the love of my life and for the last 40 years, Mr. Twister. Trade-offs of aging aside and unmet professional aspirations yet to come, the present is infinitely better. The song I would play would be Pharrell's "Happy." Or even Keith Richards' version... ;-)

Below, Eroica with bunny ears; Sherry feeds 
the multitudes, and Twister, Ian and Paul laugh
 at canine antics...

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