at www.RARWRITER.com      

--------------------"The best source on the web for what's real in arts and entertainment" ---------------------------

Volume 1-2016






Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.


ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.


(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"Music Hot Spots"




























Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.




General interest pieces from previous editions of the Links at RARWRITER are archived here. Click on a link below to go to the archived article.

Is the Blues A Dead Form? (Moved to "The Blues" page)

Why Bach Matters

Death of the Flat Picker

Flying Burrito Brothers at Altamont

2012 Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame

Dan Hicks Celebrates 70 at Davies Hall

Terry Bozzio

Re-inventing Kenny Loggins

The Louvin Brothers

From Another Drumming Planet

Death of Amy Winehouse

J.C. Burris

Loving Katy Perry

George Gershwin

Van Dyke Parks

Robert Firks

Survive Amy Winehouse

Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

Did the Late Norton Buffalo Just Play the Ryman Theatre?

Something Big Is Coming

Mike Port, Are You Out There?

How To Sing the Blues

Graphic Designer Daniele Montella

Drummer Earl Palmer (1924-2008)

Historic Seeds - Madonna, Mariah and Britney

Johnny Vernazza and the Night Visitors

The Wrecking Crew

Angels - Albert Lee and Johnny V

Johnny Vernazza, Jerry Garcia and Steve Miller














NOTE ON REORGANIZATION: Several articles related to Colorado artists that have previously been stored on this page have been moved to the Boulder Archives page. If you are looking for something you have found here in the past, but now seems to be missing, please check the Boulder Archives.


Why Bach Matters

Why Johann Sebastian Bach Would Be Living on Food Stamps Today

The piece below - one educated man's point of view on why Bach remains an important composer today, and why modern pop music hardly lasts more than a few weeks - won't satisfy any academic's standards in explaining what is so classical about classical musical. It does, however, put into context something about what is wrong with music today; that is if there is anything wrong with music today. Not to give away the ending, but the fellow in the video below is going to say that pop music is of low value because it is one dimensional, a riff on a single emotion (for instance), as opposed to the work of Bach, who toured listeners through a range of exquisite emotion that taken altogether added up to a thematic statement. Correct he is, in this viewer's opinion, but thanks be to Bach's lucky stars to have worked in the early 18th Century, before the advent of radio and the information chunking age. We don't really do big themes, anymore, not only because we don't do long form music, as they did in Bach's time, but because we modern listeners just aren't that smart. We need little bits of information at a time, because there is this attention span deficit that vexes. And besides, knuckleheads like Bach and his "songs" that go on forever are just too much to remember. Today, A&R people would suggest that Bach read some books on music marketing and focus his melodies more; stop the rambling about, establish a hook, and build to a big chorus. Just judging by his looks , I suspect that Bach may have replied with something like "Fuck yourself, you idiot moron", because his were less politically correct times, though I would hope instead that he might have gotten ironic with it and said something like, "So you want me to be more like Bruno Mars? Or Jason Mraz?" Or perhaps simply become curious as to direction and asked today's music directors - "Where, exactly, are we going with this?"



Chris Ethridge (1946-2012)

Flying Burrito Brothers at Altamont

Musician Chris Ethridge passed away recently, an event that brought renewed focus on his career and attention to a bunch of videos of Ethridge in his performing days. The one below is from the ill-fated Altamont concert in 1969, which became notorious for its shoddy execution, including the use of the Hells Angels motorcycle club for security. Mayhem ensued, including a murder just in front of the stage. The video below captures part of the event, with Ethridge on stage with seminal Country-Rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers. You don't get much of a look at the Burrito Brothers (which included Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow, though there is a nice few seconds showing drummer Michael Clarke, an old friend of this site, who came to fame in the precursor band to the Burrito Brothers, The Byrds.



Doc Watson (1923-2012)

Death of the Flat Picker

For musicians in my age group, the Baby Boom generation, North Carolina-native Doc Watson, who passed away recently at age 89, was the guy who built the artistic bridge that connected "traditional-plus" folk music to the space age. That he did it as a blind person seemed to focus his hearing and his sense of touch, which seemed super human in many respects. Though he had been an electric guitarist early in the history of electric guitar, and laboring in obscurity, it was his return to his acoustic roots that launched him into a mythical stratosphere, which is the plane on which he spent the last 50-plus years of his life. 













Doc Watson had some specific gifts: extraordinary timing and a seemingly peerless vision regarding his right-hand attack. Watson was remarkably horizontal in his left-hand approach, all double and triple stops and, as you can see from the video here of him playing "Black Mountain Rag", a master at playing across the fret board to find the dynamics that lesser players assume are the province of vertical thinking. There were no pyro-techniques with Doc Watson, no showboating, but rather incidental accents and flavorings that happen with such complete integration into the melody lines he played that one might listen and wonder why no one ever thought of that before! But no one had, and few ever would, because precious few could match the casual virtuosity of his right-hand approach. The casual aspect to Watson's playing was hugely impactful, because while he was playing at what, for most people, would be breakneck speed - emphasis on the picking hand - Watson never seemed about to go off the rails. As it was with the dancing of Fred Astaire, Doc Watson made playing the acoustic guitar - which is not nearly as pliable of an instrument as the electric, the Les Paul he had played when they were first developed in the '50s - seem effortless, like a natural expression. And through videos such as this, Doc Watson will live on to inspire people for generations to come, just as has Estaire with his grace and style. - RAR


Is this Anything?

Rock Hall of Fame Set for New Honorees

I keep trying to remember why we have the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame, and why exactly it is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Even why the building looks like it does, which I have a hard time equating to rock'n roll, if such was the design intent of architect I.M. Pei (“I didn’t know a thing about rock and roll,” he has confessed - see RnR HOF site).

The stated mission of the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame is "to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music".

Ray Charles - among the first class of inductees - could see what a line of cheap chum that all is. Like many of these cultural recognition schemes, the Hall of Fame started as an idea hatched among a bunch of New York music industry people, whose simple notion was to get a brownstone in the city and populate it with rock memorabilia and charge admission for visitors to get in. Then the City of Cleveland, Ohio, which was in the midst of a revitalization program (North Coast Harbor), heard about the organization and made them an offer. "They had these wonderful diagrams for a museum that would be much larger than any town house we had originally thought of,” said HOF spokesperson Susan Evans. This led to a design competition among major cities, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Memphis, any of which seemed more culturally suited to such a venue than does Cleveland, but credit to the State of Ohio and the Cleveland delegation that pressed for the museum, which they won 25 years ago. They put up $65 million to build the thing, which is really why the museum is in Cleveland.

On one level, there probably is value in having some repository for high-end memorabilia from an important aspect of American culture, a museum as it were. On the other hand, it's just a roadside attraction; more appealing to multi-generational families than, say, the boyhood home of Dwight Eisenhower or other such museum alternatives, but still just something set up with a ticket window. And it is in Cleveland.

Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed is widely credited with promoting the genre called "rock and roll", and the first Rock'n Roll concert is said to have been staged in Cleveland in 1952. Freed, who hosted a radio show under the moniker "Moondog", hosted an event called "The Moondog Coronation Ball". In a manner that may have pre-saged the payola scandal that brought down his career - Freed died of alcoholism in 1965 at age 43 after struggling with post-scandal employment - show promoters oversold the event. In fact, hustlers flooded the market with counterfeit tickets and 20,000 people showed up for a venue that would hold no more than half that. Riot conditions developed. Opening act Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams performed one song and then the police shut the whole thing down. That, on some level, was the "birth" of the rock'n roll concert experience, though hardly the birth of the genre. And even that concert claim is dubious. There was, after all, the Apollo Theater and other venues that had been presenting the forerunners of rock, in the form of Blues, Jazz and Folk musicians, for years. So really the City of Cleveland has precious little to do with rock'n roll, but Alan Freed - one of the first Hall of Fame inductees - had a tremendous amount of influence on popularizing the genre, not that it wouldn't likely have happened anyway even without him. Who knows the real weight of any individual's contributions? In Freed's case, the world did.

Freed relocated in 1954 to do radio in New York City, and he was featured in a series of movies (Rock Around the Clock, most notably) with rock'n roll themes, which made him a big star. His influence spread to Europe in 1956 when he began doing 30-minute rock'n roll shows for Radio Luxembourg, and in that audience were youngsters from England, including Liverpool. One of them - John Lennon - had a band called Johnny and the Moondogs, which he renamed after learning that Alan Freed already owned the "Moondog" handle. Freed's Radio Luxembourg show is really the linchpin that linked the purely American form of Rock'n Roll to the coming era of British Rock.

On the other hand, in a really conceptual way, I suppose one could imagine a tornado of rock music, with its debris funnel touching down in Cleveland, Ohio. Then the main funnel could be viewed as expanding upward and outward to include all places and events after "The Moondog Coronation Ball" of 1952, connecting all spots on the globe, because that is really where the excellence extolled by the mission statement of the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame resides: in the ether, and in the minds of the beholder (now viewers as much as listeners). Excellence, after all, is at least somewhat subjective. This year's inductees include the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the late singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, Donovan, The Small Faces/The Faces, which included Rod Stewart and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, and Guns'n Roses (though Axl Rose, now touring that band with a different lineup, is declining to attend).

Of that group of inductees, only Donovan strikes me as truly worthy of the honor. That few can remember exactly why is, perhaps, reason enough to have such commercial reminders as the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame - in Cleveland. - RAR 

(Archived 041012)

Dan Hicks at Davies Hall

Celebrating 70 Big Time

See kids, subversive musical types like Dan Hicks, who will celebrate his 70th birthday April 6 at San Francisco's plush Davies Symphony Hall, have been flipping off photographers forever. This is probably one of the weirdest affectations of all professional poses, but practically part of the standard kit of deliverables for deconstructionist of the popular music vein. This is, after all, street business, and the louts who get knocked around all day for low pay have a kind of "fuck you" attitude and somehow Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks have always captured that in an alternative musical way.

Hicks started his musical life as a boy drummer in a Santa Rosa high school marching band. He was distracted for a time, earning a degree in broadcasting from San Francisco State College, where he also took up the guitar, but after graduating he drifted into loud and loose company, becoming the drummer for the seminal "San Francisco" rock band The Charlatans.

The Charlatans came into full form at a 1965 house band engagement at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, and there, good readers, began the modern era of music in San Francisco. What happened is that the Red Dog performances became a "be-in" type of event, a psychedelic forerunner that would set the template for what was soon to become the "San Francisco Sound". With a passing reference to the 1967 Summer of Love, the SF sound carried a distinct musical signature that blended folk, rock, blues and jazz, producing strains that were identifiable for their San Francisco DNA even while exhibiting a phenomenal range of musical stylings. Ambitious bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service came out of that pot house. Dan Hicks, though known to only the most hip of musical connoisseurs - that has changed over time, as he stayed around to become a living legend - was a key figure in what seemed and smelled like an organic development.

San Francisco, prior to The Charlatans, was high-end jazz clubs, the bohemian scene in North Beach, and Carol Doda, a waitress (whose breast measurement had been enlarged to 44") who almost single-handedly created the topless bar and made The Condor Club an historic site. There was a folk scene and within that there was a subversive element, including the members of The Grateful Dead, whose inspiration included jug band music, which even in 1965 seemed about as deconstructionist as one could get. There's that fuck you finger, again, or so subversiveness has always seemed to me. The mere act of choosing alternative instrumentation - and in 1965, that included the instruments of our grandfathers, because the electronics of rock'n roll had obliterated the wood era of modern music - seemed radical, like a statement that said we can control your hearts and feet and minds without banks of Marshall amplifiers to make you feel energized. At the same time, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks - Dan Hicks had moved on from The Charlatans by this time - were that dangerous contrapuntal alternative, cutting through the fog of the psychedelic era with acerbic wit, devilish licks, a fun stage act, and attitude. And it was not necessarily the attitude of gratitude, or any other such Summer of Love bullshit, but more like the attitude of a sly table-side slight-of-hand artist; the kind that picks your pocket while you are watching him mysteriously toss playing cards so they stick to the ceiling above. Just for reference, I always thought of Dan Hicks as Dan Hicks and the Special Niche, because like his friend Ray Benson, with Asleep at the Wheel, Dan Hicks rolls into town with a truck load of musical tradition that onstage translates into gravitas and makes one feel the presence of a dangerous force.

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, because of authentic talent and all of that history just referenced, means something. Exactly what that something is may be a study still in motion - I sense there are clues in the wonderful artwork that Dan Hicks has created for his album covers over the years - and on April 6 a whole bunch of highly qualified subject matter experts are getting together at Davies Hall to play it out, make tribute to Dan Hicks, and see if it all adds up to a conclusive whole. The performers that night will include the Original Hot Licks plus The New Millenium Hot Licks (Roberta Donnay and Daria), Tuck & Patti, Rickie Lee Jones, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Maria Muldaur, John Hammond, Harry Shearer, Van Dyke Parks, Roy Rogers, Jim Kweskin, Bruce Foreman and Ray Benson. - RAR                                                                       (4-6-12)


From Another Drumming Planet

Terry Bozzio

Six bass drums, two snares, and 26 melodically tuned toms of various sizes (all DW Vertical Low Timber drums), a Roland Handsonic, glockenspiel, six hi-hats, 30 cymbals, three gongs, and a one-octave tuned set of Wuhan Chinese bossed gongs. Toms are arranged in rows of two and three, many of the cymbals are stacked, and 18 floor pedals are arranged in a semi-circle for operating kicks, hi-hats, toms, and various percussion instruments...

There is an old baseball maxim that states that fielders are easy to find, particularly in the Latin leagues: shake a tree and a dozen gloves fall out, but try to find a guy who can hit major league pitching and you are in pursuit of one of the rarest treasures in all of sports. (In what other pursuit can guys who are successful in less than 30 percent of their efforts pull down 7-figure annual salaries?)

Ditto for really good drummers. Drummers are falling out of trees too - what else could explain such personalities - but most land on their heads and then start banging away without having any knowledge of musical composition or even basic notation. They are not musicians, in all too many cases, but more like framing carpenters who lay down a bull work of scaffolding upon which to hang melodies and chord changes and vocal arrangements. This has always been a fairly abysmal process, at least from a songwriter's perspective; rather like trying to wire a house with the assistance of a friend who really only knows how to hammer studs into place. It is frustrating as hell, and I suspect that it has gotten ironically worse over the last couple decades, since the advent of hip-hop has led young dudes to believe that "building beats" is the same as making music. All it really is, of course, is providing a static metronomic groove over which to mouth a bunch of rhyming words, usually unencumbered by the demands of actual melody. This is the thing I hate most about hip-hop: lack of musicality, with melody jettisoned in favor of bleats and exclamations and repeats - which now that I think of it is all the same things that most drummers provide, not melodic enhancements or expressions, but droning click tracks marked by periods and exclamation marks.   

Back in the early 1980s, a drummer friend of mine - I actually do have friends who are drummers, despite my cold reaction to what many of them do - named Gerry Capone introduced me to Terry Bozzio, the former Frank Zappa prodigy who at the time was running his band Missing Persons. Fronted by Dale Bozzio, Terry's wife at the time, and including refugees from Zappa's outfit (Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and Bassist Patrick O'Hearn), Missing Persons was pretty straight-forward stuff compared to the musical-intellectual boot camp the players had emerged from (i.e., Zappa), but the drumming was anything but "beats", as the kids of today say.

Terry Bozzio was using a big kit even back then, though about half the size it is now, and the thing that really jumped out at you was his polyphonic approach to playing coupled with Olympian physical capacities. He had a string of  tuned hi toms that he could roll through with one hand, and do it seamlessly in such a way that his drums were a part of the musical arrangement, rather than just a set of boxes providing a groove beat. It was awe inspiring, not in that Travis Barker bombast way, but in that way that was really born in the much earlier big band era, when master drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich (among many others) were propelling sophisticated sounds with musical ingenuity and showmanship.

Bozzio recently gave a clinic on drumming, which is what the video above comes from. If you are wondering if that ridiculous drum set he sits in the center of is all bells and whistles, just gimmickry and useless overkill, check out his video for some thoughtful illustrations of percussive musicality. - RAR



Re-inventing Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins used to be cool.

Man, that must have hurt. And while it is a paraphrased version of the news that landed hard on Kenny Loggins' protruding ears, it is pretty much the narrative that infected Loggins' label of 30 years, Columbia Records, now a part of Sony Music.

"It wasn't until I got a call from my manager, who heard it from a secretary to an under-assistant, who was told in passing by the janitor, that my services would no longer be needed at Sony." So writes Loggins in a blog he is doing for Huffington Post's "Over-50" series, an invitation for participation being something of a cold bath in itself. The Baby Boomer generation is having to get used to the fact that our youth is gone and there are new fools in town, more fun than the likes of us, with all of our spent energy and growing reliance on philosophical perspective.

That's what poor Kenny is left with, philosophy, which in our age group usually means that he watched those Bill Moyer interviews with the hot-house-flower-of-philosophers Joseph Campbell, who taught us all that we are on a journey, which is meaningless unless that journey is our own. This is pretty comforting bullshit, pardon the editorializing, to those such as myself who tend to cling to the sustainable nature of its central thread: that we are not seeking a destination so much as experiencing an adventure. I am not sure why this strikes us as profound, given the results of the empirical study that make up each day of our lives, but somehow it does feel profound to us.

Kenny Loggins thought that he had arrived, some thirty years ago, at his destination and that the rest of his days would be in situ; specifically, in that situation of "fame", where he would always be supported by the good folks at Columbia. Or, as he writes - "I'd been on Sony/Columbia Records since I was 21 years old, and the habit of being their recording artist was deeply ingrained. I'd seen about six different company presidents come and go, so I began to actually believe I would slip by like Johnny Mathis did, and just hang out there forever, '10 feet tall and bullet proof.'"

He had good reason to feel secure, because his albums were still selling a million units; not chart toppers, but steady. On the other hand, Loggins sells almost exclusively now to a diminishing pool of old women who fell in love with him in the 1970s when he was with Loggins & Messina. I personally know women who swoon at the memory of his young self. On the other hand, a few years back I saw him playing a Saturday afternoon skating event called something like "Kenny Loggins On Ice!" and knew then that he was in trouble.

One might get the impression, from reading Loggins' Huffington Post blog, that all this drama at the end of his Columbia career happened only recently. Such is not the case. Loggins has been around forever, hitting first with the Electric Prunes, when he was only 18 years old.

Loggins gets songwriting royalties, which puts him in a better financial situation than someone like Whitney Houston, who was exclusively a singer for hire. That said, mechanical royalties don't amount to much if your tunes aren't played on the radio or covered by other artists, and over Loggins 30-year tenure with Columbia that kind of payback diminished greatly, until by the time he and Columbia parted ways there was not a great deal of money in the Loggins coffer.

Loggins, suddenly faced with unemployment, panicked as most anyone would. He apparently burned through his savings, and lost another marriage, trying to scramble together a self-produced CD ("It's About Time", 2003) that went nowhere. (He hadn't produced anything but childrens music and Christmas albums since 1997). "But through that process I'd discovered the problem with my head wasn't what I was doing, it was why I was doing it. I had to see that 'writing' for me is simply who I am, and that's not really Mr. Rock Star. I had to learn to stop judging my success, indeed my self-worth, by my sales. 'Control the controllables,' my friend Bill Leopold used to say, and whether or not folks flock to your door with fists full of cash does not fall under the category of 'controllables.'"

Loggins landed on his feet, in that humbling way that might be devoutly wished for by any other marginal music pro: he got a gig developing music for a Target commercial. That connected him with some other music pros that he feels comfortable with - Garry Burr and Georgia Middleman - and so they have launched a new band, Blue Sky Riders.

Kenny Loggins is starting over again, just as we all do, getting up each morning regardless of what happened yesterday, and wandering out into those uncharted regions armed with only his experience of having traveled before, and whatever remains of his skills and resources. - RAR


The Louvin Brothers

A story of hills and eyes, and hills that have eyes, and guitars, and harmonies that leave the writer without words to express... READ MORE




Amy Winehouse (1984-2011)


Damned few authentic talents have emerged in music, not just in the past however many years, but ever. They come along only once in a great while and for some reason many of them last only a brief time. So it was with Amy Winehouse, found dead yesterday in her North London home. Her "Back to Black" video is a pretty good summation of her world view, which was unremittingly inspired but bleak. She wanted to be an artist and she achieved that. She also disastrously became a substance abuser and manic depressive with the associated self-esteem issues, and through all that an icon to less-than-fabulous disaster. And yet to her fans, there were only the classic melody lines, the smirk, the pooled eyes, and the deep, round-tone voice, un-diluted by any inclination to be any other than itself. Her toothy smile bespoke a vulnerable soul, which was the final link in the connection she made with fans around the world. We rooted for her to survive, to get well. I have no idea if she now is, only that we all have lost a channel to something real in human feeling and expression, and with her passing a bit of our own opportunity to know the sublime is lost. - RAR


J.C. Burris

Doin' that Crazy Hand Jive...


The picture is from an Arhoolie album featuring the artistry of a true folk musician: JC Burris.

Born in 1928 in N Carolina, nephew of blues giant Sonny Terry, JC moved to San Francisco in 1961 & played in Barbara Dane’s Sugar Hill club and on the streets.  

He had a stroke in 1966 and it would take some 7 yrs to recover from the effects.

I met him in mid 1970’s when I opened for him at Rosebud’s in Benicia, Ca.
He played solo harmonica & sang, rhythm bones, hand jive, and one of the highlights of his “show” was when he brought out Mr. Jack, a dancing man (like those on the picture)
Whom he characterized as being “bad” and needed to be “hit on the head.” When Mr. Jack was “punished” he danced on a wooden board to an eccentric, old time, rhythm.

When JC did the Hand Jive there was nobody better.

The video will show all of this and it is good that it was captured on film.

Both Sonny Terry & JC Burris were captured on film by Pete & Toshi Seeger in 1957 in N Carolina. On DVD by Vestapool.

I saw that dvd today & was reminded how kind JC was to a young & certainly fledgling musician.
He got up & played harp w/me on Blood Red River & today I learned that he knew Blind Boy Fuller as a child.

Check out the link & celebrate a nice guy who was very talented & passed much too young. - Douglas Strobel




In the ongoing battle of good vs. evil...


Loving Katy Perry


The hot weather brings the summer tours and for the past three years that has pitted two of the only colossally large pop acts left standing: Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. RARWRITER.com respects both, but it is Katy we really love. The video below of her extremely compressed preparation time before launching the first big show of her tour tells why. Katy has an amazing perspective at 26 years of age, which compares rather favorably against the monstrous machinations of Lady Gaga.






First Published June 2010






First Published June 2010







First Published March 2010

First published March 2010


From October 2009


Trauma, Unrest and Need

Something Big Is Coming

by RAR

If social history means anything at all - and it does, usually more than we can comprehend as it is happening - we are about to experience something fresh, new and revitalizing; something through which the human spirit will be reborn, at some level, and aspects of living will be reinvented for a new age.

What we may go through to get to this new place may not be pleasant. In fact, it will likely be awful.

What will transpire, however, will inspire generations to come while antiquating the thinking of generations that have gone before. Mankind will not be transformed but as a global community we may feel that we have been.

We will fall under the spell of a new avatar, who will tap into that channel of communications that exists incomprethin our human beings and vibrates at the core of our response to the world we experience.

It happened in the 1930s, during the ironically dubbed "Great Depression", the first world-wide socio-economic phenomena in human history, which ushered in a new age of planetary engagement and awareness. In that "event" we had the key ingredients of change: traumatic disruption to the status quo, social unrest including broad public disillusionment with ideas previously considered "sacred", and open expressions of need.

We turned on the radio, tuned into film, and opened our hearts in hopes that our voids would be filled with something hopeful, imbued with salvation. And while we met on the battlefields of Europe, Africa, the Pacific Isles, and Asia, we slaughtered to the sound of an odd entreatment, of big bands crashing wildly on brass and skins and melodic metals, Sinatra stepping forth from Tommy Dorsey's army of sound to rev up the romance, and build the launch pad of the next generation, which was pop culture.

It wasn't all for the good, of course. In electrifying the young people of "the Greatest Generation", Sinatra and his counterparts paved the way for a transition to youth culture that had the unfortunate effect of bidding adieu to some of the greatest contributors of the first half of the 20th century: George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington... Sinatra, to his everlasting credit, always made it a point to introduce his songs with references to their composers, their arrangers, and to his supporting musicians.

The establishment of pop culture, with its emphasis on youthful themes, became a catalyst itself in the 1950s, in which trauma took the form of the "Korean Conflict", there was growing civil unrest in the south, and the needs of the nation included growing economic disparities featuring pockets of devastating poverty, and this in a nation that now stood astride the globe and claimed the 20th as the "American Century".

This combination of societal pressures coupled with technological change ushered in "the age of Elvis", who married visuals with music in a way that changed the way people expressed themselves thereafter, and in turn opened the door for "race music" to enter into the panoply of the new pop culture. Big wheels turning indeed.

Trauma to the new pop culture world, which by then had become a televised event, came in the form of a rapid-fire series of bullets discharged in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. It was a crack in the newly formed cosmic egg, to borrow a title of the times. Trauma, Unrest and Need, the holy triumvirate of change, unsettled horsemen on the road to apocalypse, rode us into the next age, the "Age of Aquarius" whose avatars were The Beatles, whose spell we have remained under these many years.

Who will it be now, that the cycle of trauma, unrest and need is upon us anew; possibly not fully vested yet? The shock may be soon to come, and it feels unsettling. The trials of life, gnashing of teeth, rending of hair...it is precursor to what will eventually be, which will likely be profoundly positive, for hard times tend to strip humanity to its core, and while this often reveals the worst in us, the thing that always prevails in the end is love, the best in us. However dysfunctional we become as groups and individuals, the one shared aspiration we have without question is the need to love and be loved. The Beatles got it right and they produced a brilliant tribute of sound in celebration of the insight.

Now it is someone else's turn, someone who is somehow gifted with light the way the previous avatar's of change were. They will always be artists, rather than politicians, business people or religious leaders, because art, and particularly music, transcends all human experience, speaking uniquely to each and every one of us even as the entire world hears and shares its sound.

It is magic, and the next Cosmic Magician is out there somewhere. Maybe this time this person will be a Black or an Asian. We haven't seen a female avatar as yet, but it could be part of what will change. Whatever color, and whether boy or girl, the person will be as a Shaman, confident and wise in his or her ways, though likely without pretension. He or she will be young and it is almost a certainty that "we" do not know at this time whom he or she is.

Someone does though. Maybe there are friends who notice a certain flash in someone in their company that seems other than that coming from anyone else. There will be charisma and nascent creativity that will start to grow by staggering bounds. There will be fun and energy. There will be organic phenomena, like people skipping work to go hear this agent of change sing and play, drawn to the flame like a moth to a light, and lines will grow around the block where this "change artist" sets up to play. And word will get out through the Internet and social networks, and the message will somehow obliterate the competing, numbing buzz of those who don't yet know that they are of a time already past.

They won't have seen or heard anything like this.

And the spirits and the minds of people worldwide will be changed through some future event, some Ed Sullivan moment when some cosmic MC will step before the cameras to say "Now yesterday and today our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has seen the excitement stirred by these youngsters from..."

And the camera's will pan to the new light, and the world will be born anew.






The Beatles, 1964, rehearsing back stage for the "Ed Sullivan Show". There is a nice account of the story behind the booking of The Beatles for the series of Ed Sullivan shows they did in early 1964, which introduced them to American audience, thus bringing "Beatlemania" across the pond from Britain to the U.S. Click here to read the back story.




Sons of Adam Bassist

Mike Port, Are You Out There?

Recently, RARWRITER.com received an email message from a former Boulder resident - "back then it was 'Cynde Holmes'" - who was interested in information about another former Boulderite. The communication went as follows:

"I came across your web site looking for an old friend from Boulder. To my surprise, I read about many people I used to know from Boulder CO back in the 70-90's. I was a wild one back then. There is a friend of mine I knew in Hollywood[ Calif} back in the 60's. His name is Michale Port. Bass player. Was in a group called The Sons of Adam. They never got very far. The man who produced Sonny & Cher was their manager. {I think} Michale also did studio work for a band called Love. I don't know how old you are, so I don't know if these musicians are before your time. Is there any way you can find out if he is still on the planet? He was a close friend and for some crazy reason I thought of asking you. It was really good to read about so many guys I used to know and hear where they are today. Boulder was a crazy town, I was one of the crazies from there. Thanks for whatever you can do. In fact, Michale was the reason I wound up there, It was the last place I saw him. Cindy. P.S. At one time he thought of changing his last name to Anderson {it was his grandparents' name}."

Originally a "surf band" out of Baltimore called the Fender IV, because guitarist Randy Holden had wangled a Fender endorsement, they drifted west and eventually reached L.A., where they became the Sons of Adam and had one minor hit single with "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I," which was a British Invasion-flavored departure from their earlier surf sound. Sons of Adam, pictured here (circa 1966) from left to right, are: Michael Stuart-Ware, Randy Holden, Joe Kooken, and Mike Port.

RAR did a little looking around for information on Port and the Sons of Adam and found this intriguing note at http://mza-garage.blogspot.com/2008/04/sons-of-adam-moxie-ep-compilation-raw.html amid a quote from Sons of Adam guitarist Bryan MacLean (1946-1998):

"Mike Port was our bass player. Thin, soft features, baby face, gentle, expression, but the other guys had filled me in. As a kid, Mike was forced to fight his way through one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Baltimore everyday, to get to the store and buy his Mom a pack of camels, so he got tough. (more in his book)."

That quote appeared in the book 'Pegasus Carousel' by Michael Stuart-Ware, the drummer for the Sons of Adam. Go to http://www.bryanmaclean.com/sonsofadam/index.htm for additional information on MacLean and the Sons of Adam.

MacLean had been a roadie for The Byrds, joined the Sons of Adam and lived with the band in their communal style in L.A. before splitting for a new band, Love, leaving this quote: "The Sons of Adam are never gonna go anywhere. They’re just another band. My group Love is about to record some shit that’s bound to blow everybody’s mind ..."

MacLean had met multi-instrumentalist Arthur Lee, whose band The Grass Roots was a popular house band at The Brave New World club in West Hollywood. When a San Francisco band by the same name released their first LP, the L.A. Grass Roots changed its name to "Love." Essentially a psychedelic rock outfit, they produced some interesting music including a lasting composition, "Alone Again Or" that was written by Bryan MacLean.

If you are out there, Mike Port, or if anyone has information on Mike Port, contact Rick@RARWRITER.com.

RAR NOTE: Go to http://www.hollywoodagogo.com/Faces%2012.htm for some great period photos of the band Love.

(First published in March 2009)


Profile: Graphic Illustrator and Concept Designer Daniele Montella

Genoa, Italy - Genoa-born Daniele Montella studied art, painting and sculpture at the Artistic Liceo before becoming Art Director for Italian advertising agency Artematica. He has been credited with concept art and painting on numerous video games, including Crime Stories: From the Files of Martin Mystère (2004), Leader S.p.a. Druuna: Morbus Gravis (2001), and MC2-Microïds. You can learn more at Daniele Montella's website at http://www.dan-ka.com/2008/home.asp.

RAR became aware of Daniele's talents through an image called "Haunted House," described in detail at http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=2634. Daniele takes readers and viewers on a step-by-step explanation of how the extraordinary image was pieced together from other images and enhanced to produce the final truly wonderful vision. I have used the image of Daniele Montella's "Haunted House" on the Essay page of rarwriter.com. Take a little time to wander through the detail of that composite image. I could spend all day there, myself. Really fabulous work by a gifted visual designer. - RAR




Reprinted from September 2008 edition


Drummer Earl Palmer: 1924-2008

"I Invented this Shit"

Los Angeles, California - Earl Palmer, the legendary New Orleans drummer who died September 19 just a couple weeks short of his 84th birthday, was reportedly once asked by Cracker band leader David Lowery if Palmer could "play along" with Lowery's songs. The drummer, who earned his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame credentials playing with Fats Domino (all his hits), Little Richard ("Tutti Frutti"), Lloyd Price ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy"), and Smiley Lewis ("I Hear You Knockin'"), is said to have listened to young Lowery's tracks and reported - "I invented this shit."

Palmer was good for quotes. Of his non-combatant role as a World War II GI, he said "They didn't want no niggers carrying guns." In later years, after he had established his musician's credentials and his trademark sound, he was once asked if he would loan his drum kit out for a session; the session called for his "sound." Palmer reportedly replied - "You really want 'em? Really? Okay. Cost you triple scale and cartage...What the hell, they think the drums play themselves?'"

Palmer is often credited with inventing rock drumming's big backbeat, reportedly borrowing from his New Orleans Dixieland experience to create a special groove for Fats Domino's "The Fat Man." Palmer said, "That song required a strong afterbeat throughout the whole piece. With Dixieland you had a strong afterbeat only after you got to the shout last chorus. It was sort of a new approach to rhythm music."

In fact, Palmer spent a lifetime translating his experience with traditional music into innovative approaches to percussion. By the time he was five years old, Earl Palmer was tap dancing in the black vaudeville circuit and touring with Ida Cox's Darktown Scandals Review.

Palmer migrated to the west coast and Hollywood in 1957, and for the next 30 years played on movie and television soundtracks, as well as on sessions for Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector, Rick Nelson, Ray Charles, Eddie Cochran, Ritchie Valens, Bobby Day, Don and Dewey, Jan and Dean, Larry Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bobby Darin as well as jazz sessions with Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic and Count Basie, as well as on blues recordings with B. B. King.

Palmer never let New Orleans slip from his musical vocabulary. "You could always tell a New Orleans drummer the minute you heard him play his bass drum," he said, "because he'd have that parade beat connotation."





Reprinted from May 15, 2008 edition





Guitar Gods Among Us

Johnny V and The Night Visitors

Photo by Arlic Dromgoole

Links buddy Johnny Vernazza and his band of bluesmeisters have been booking around San Diego and L.A. steadily of late. At their recent show at the Malibu Inn they were visited by guitar greats Don Peake and Albert Lee, along with stellar blues belter Diane Lotny. Pictured Above (from left): Don Peake , Diane Lotny , Albert Lee, Gregg Gerson , Johnny Vernazza, Val L'Heureux, and Mark Bentley.

* * *

ABOVE: Drummer Gregg Gerson (front and center behind the kit) performing The Rock Concerto 2006, Alexander Markov & Ivan Bodley with The Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra & TRT Istanbul Youth Chorus, Conductor Ender Sakpinar, Ataturk Cultural Center, Istanbul, Turkey April 2, 2006 - April 8, 2006. (From his website)

* * * * *

Drummer Gregg Gerson has a look of unending youth, but there is a huge reservoir of experience behind his innocent look. He has been a dude at the top registers of the musical food chain since arriving in New York City in 1976. His first exposure was as a flutist playing for street change. This gained him the attention of a core group of pro musicians including Jack Sonni of Dire Straits, and players comprising a club band called "The Doug Rock Show" that included Carlos Alomar of David Bowie and Iggy Pop's bands and John McCurry, whose credits included Cyndi Lauper, Alice Cooper, and Billy Joel, all acts in their primes at the time. Gerson's career took off. He was recruited by guitarist Steve Stevens into the Billy Idol band and recorded and toured with Gloria Estefan, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and Roy Orbison. He played and recorded with jazz guitarist Stanley Jordon and performed with Roger Daltrey and The British Rock Symphony. (You can read all of this at Gregg Gerson's site: www.gregggerson.com. ) 

Diane Lotny is another New York City native with a resume as long as your arm. She has recorded and performed with Dr. John, Albert Collins, Irma Thomas, Albert King, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Buddy Miles, Coco Montoya, Leon Russell, and on and on. (You can read all about Diane at her site: www.dianelotny.com.) 

When Diane Lotny showed up at the Malibu Inn last week, where she sang a few tunes with Johnny Vernazza and crew, she had in tow a couple friends of her own, Albert Lee and Don Peake.

Don Peake (pictured at left in a 1972 photo taken of him recording Jackson 5 Motown tracks and playing the Crown guitar that is now part of the permanent iconic guitar collection at Cleveland's Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame) is one of those guitarists whose work you have heard your entire life, but whose personal credits may not have registered. Don Peake was among the guitarists for "The Wrecking Crew," the name given to the brilliant assembly of musicians brought together by Phil Spector to build "the wall of sound." He was also a Motown stalwart, and played lead guitar for Marvin Gaye ("Let's Get It On"), and on many of the Jackson Five's hits, including “ABC” and “I Want You Back." He recorded with the Commodores, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations, and many more. He played on the John Lennon records that Phil Spector produced, and on all of Barry White's hit records, some of which he arranged. He went on to become a soundtrack composer for film and television. (He scored 77 "Night Rider" episodes.) Don has a site at www.donpeakemusic.com that is way worth the visit. He started his professional musical career in 1961, as a 21-year old lead guitarist with the Everly Brothers. He toured the U.S. and Europe with them for two years before going on to his studio career. Established in the music industry for decades, Don has served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Composers and Lyricists and has judged the "Arranging Category" for the Grammys for the last 3 years. He is a member of the Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the Television Academy.

* * * * *

ANGELS AMONG US: There are those, like Eric Clapton, who suspect that Albert Lee may be the most talented guitarist in the world. Albert, pictured left with another pretty good guitarist, Johnny Vernazza, is preparing to do a show in England with former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman. Wyman has assembled a band of stalwarts to open for a Led Zeppelin reunion, or at least such is the plan. The show keeps getting postponed, most recently because Jimmy Page is said to have fallen in his garden and injured his pinky. Mr. Page has also been quoted as saying he would be "wearing an emotional condom" for the Zep reunion show, so hard to gauge his commitment. Rather than whiling away the hours wondering if Led Zeppelin will ever get off the ground again, do yourself a favor and watch Albert Lee's performance videos on YouTube.com. Click here to see the most effortless (and egoless) guitar mastery available anywhere in the world today!







Johnny Vernazza, Jerry Garcia and Steve Miller




LEVI DEXTER made a strong showing in the 2006 Rock City News Awards in the Outstanding Psychobilly and Outstanding Roots Americana categories, if you can call polling 24 or 25 votes strong. It was enough to finish at the top in both categories, which probably says something about the turf Levi trods. Rockabilly just isn’t the rage it once was, but how about Levi Dexter being around doing it after all these years? Rock on Levi!

Levi, you might recall, first appeared on the scene in the late-‘70s, a little ahead of the Stray Cats and the mini-rockabilly craze that flashed briefly at the dawn of MTV. Rockabilly got another round of life several years later when the swing dance craze hit, but not so much for Levi. He was long ago consigned to a ghetto of kitsch and nostalgia, a perception he attempted to blunt by booking himself among acts associated with less-retro genres, punk for awhile, then modern rock. He has traveled under various names, including Levi & the Rockats, Levi Dexter & the Ripchords, and Levi Dexter & Magic. Moving in on 50 years of age now, but preternaturally youthful looking and sounding, the London-born Levi feels more at home on a bill with rockabilly performers now than he used to, and he counts Rip Carson, Ray Condo, the Hyperions and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys as rockabilly bretheren.



This Paul Bakan photograph on Levi's website is titled "LongGoneLeviDexter. " The notion of being "long gone," as the term was used in the '50s, seems quaint now. But that is how it looks when you get there. Cool, eh? Iconic. Levi has contributed.




Roy Rogers Sells His Home


Want Roy Rogers' Home? 
It's For Sale

It looks like Roy and wife Ganell are headed for the hills - or mountains, actually. They have their Novato, California home on the market and they are moving to the Lake Tahoe area.

I am taken by this story in that for a lot of people who grow up in the San Francisco Bay Area, as Roy did, Tahoe is that place they all went on family vacations when they were kids. And when they got out of college, many of them went and got jobs in Tahoe while they figured out what they were going to do with themselves as adults. And then they moved away and got real jobs but still return to Tahoe regularly, and they conceive children there - it's like a spawning ground. My wife was conceived there, as was one of my kids. Tahoe is the Rivendale of Northern California, and apparently Roy is going native.

I also like this story because I think people outside of California will find it interesting to see what you can buy in this state for this price. It is a topic that never ceases to inspire wonder - as in, I wonder why anyone would live there (in California)? 

Californians can give you one million three-hundred-ninety-five thousand reasons - or whatever amount they are trying to qualify for a mortgage.

Starting Price: $1,395,000    
Realtor's Description - Nestled in the hills of Pleasant Valley, the residence of Roy Rogers, slide guitarist and producer, is on one and one-half acres of private, prime real estate. Offered for the first time in 16 years, this comfortable custom ranch home boasts valley views, gardens and nature, all within reach of the best Novato offers. Easy one-level living, the home has 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths; a living room made for entertaining; an Italian country-style dining room; two fireplaces and hardwood floors throughout. A family room with 8 foot French doors opens onto the pool and Robert Tenaka designed large deck. The Dining Room opens to an inner patio, two offices, and a two-car garage. Located near award-winning Novato Schools, there is easy access to horse country and the Verissimo Valley Nature Preserve....or keep your own horse on the property. This property affords a rare opportunity for a new owner. Create your own vineyard, private compound or develop a new residence. Investigations are underway for a possible lot split.


  • 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

  • 1.488 acres of private, prime real estate....Close to the Best of Novato and Award-winning Schools

  • Custom one-level ranch home with valley views, gardens and nature..plus 2 offices and a 2-car garage

  • Living room made for entertaining; 

  • Italian country-style dining room; 2 fireplaces; Hardwood floors
  • Family room with French doors opens onto the pool; Robert Tenaka designed large deck
  • Rare opportunity: Create a vineyard, compound, new residence..or keep your horse on the property
  • MLS# 20633812
  • View Listing Details





Between 1999 and 2002, BARBEE KILLED KENN was a lot of people's favorite San Francisco punk-rock band. Fronted by Miss Dian, a former Vegas flamenco dancer and beauty pageant contestant, BKK was a high-energy, up tempo and largely upbeat "mostly all-girl" group. Together, Dian and bassist Athena are some of the best songwriters I have encountered in my 20-plus years in the Bay Area. Seem implausible? Listen to the MP3s below, which I love for their energy, intelligence, sense of humor, surprising melodic changes, and because they are just plain fetching. (Okay, so I'm weak for girl groups.) Barbee Killed Kenn isn't really a group anymore, at least not in any steady way. Athena has moved to Southern California and previous to that they lost guitarist Ruba F. Tuesday (see profile below), whom they tried unsuccessfully to replace, and her departure seemed to dissolve the band. (I met them through a classified listing as they advertised for someone to fill their Ruba-vacated guitar slot, unlikely as that is to imagine. Note to SFMusician ad posters - a little more detail, please.) I hadn't heard of them in a couple years, then heard that they had recently played a reunion gig in San Francisco and found them - where else? - on myspace. I listened to their songs and am blown away all over again. Their time as a prominent act in San Francisco was just after the millennium, and even then their sound seemed unstuck in time. They really belong musically to the new wave of the early '80s. They put me to mind of a louder Josie Cotton or The Waitresses, with a kind of a camp punk musical edge. In a kitschy way, though, the songs work.

As good as the songs are, they wouldn't work as well as they do if it wasn't for front person Dian, who has a really appealing pop voice and likeable stage presence. She is self-possessed and projects fun and star quality. Dian and Athena have recently "resurfaced" with a new unit - The Unprofessionals. The songwriting duo is providing the material for the new band, but it sounds to me like their pop-punk days may be behind them. The new sound is more acoustic and thoughtful, more aged in some ways, but still good. Ruba has gone off in different directions, finding modest success with some good groups - The Zodiac Killers, Dead Vanity and Subimage.

Dian - Athena - Ruba

On stage at the Paradise Lounge, San Francisco



Staring Problem

Head Over Heels

Something Better






Copyright © 2006-2007 Barbee Killed Kenn, all rights reserved 

"I'm a friend of Dian's (from Barbee Killed Kenn).
I've known her for years and she used to sing back up
in my old band, The Servants.  I totally agree with
everything you said about her.  She's got that star
quality and presence that you can't buy."
- Dave Rude




You see this girl RUBA F. TUESDAY... As a punk-metal guitarist, she was the music engine of Barbee Killed Ken. That's her revving up the BKK MP3s above. 

As I recall, she left that band to concentrate on school, an effort that apparently paid off handsomely. She earned a degree in molecular biology and is now a manager in an engineer recruitment firm. But that hasn't diminished her focus on thrashing guitar. She has gone right into three excellent follow-up bands to her BKK experience: Zodiac Killers, with whom she released three LPs and toured Europe; Dead Vanity, which had a great sound and was really her band - hear the MP3s offered here; and now Subimage, in which Ruba resumes a supporting role, backing songwriter Chris. (Apparently surnames weren't being issued to people born during a certain period or after a certain date. The brainy Ruba apparently thought to make one up.) They are all great bands that carry a certain Ruba stamp. (As she says on her myspace site - "More than hard core - it's Ruba core.") This is one to keep an eye on. Mad skills.









Dead Vanity


Dead Vanity MP3s:



Before I Fall

4 a.m. Love Song


Copyright © Dead Vanity, all rights reserved

Dead Vanity was Ruba's "baby" - the band in which she surfaced as a primary songwriter.


Zodiac Killers

The charming Ms. Tuesday wrote an email message to me the other day describing her music career to date.

"BKK was my first band - when I first started I had only previously played in my bedroom and could barely even play guitar standing up. Songwriting - I couldn't even fathom it. Eventually, after playing 173598716716 gigs and working with Athena and Dian who are very talented songwriters, I started to pick up on it. I made a significant contribution to several (BKK) songs including "Head Over Heels", "U-Turn", and "Rockstar Boy" with some other contribution on the other songs.

"After BKK, I got a 4-track, a drum machine, a microphone, and a bass and I started working on my songwriting skills. Eventually, I wanted to do something with my creations so I formed Dead Vanity through networking, word-of-mouth and the help of the internet. A year into it, our singer, Daija, was going through a transitional period in life when she decided she wasn't in a spot where she could give the band her all so we split for a while. When things settled down in her life, we tried to get the band back together but by then, our bass player had committed to another band and could not accommodate the dual band schedules.

"As far as how I see myself, I really like the description 'Super side-person' - it fits nicely. I like to work with really charismatic frontpersons and play off their personalities. Dian from BKK, Greg from Zodiac Killers, Daija from Dead Vanity, and Chris from Subimage are all very special and have great styles and ways about them. I can't be in a band with a bland front person because I feel like I have to hold back. I tried to be a front person for a while but I'm more comfortable in a supporting role...and plus I can't really sing that well unless I'm harmonizing with someone. :)

"With Subimage, it's definitely a 'fun-thing.' I'm committed to my career as a professional sales representative which keeps me busy 50-60 hours a week. I don't have much time to song-write these days so I've hooked up with someone who does and who's style I really like and who is open to my contributions. It works out nicely. I'm having fun exploring the more 'stylish' side of my musical tastes and less of the 'aggressive stuff,' but part of me misses jumping off drum risers and participating in relentless headbanging....I may go back to that someday...:)"


This is Gary Swan's autographed Tommy Chong photo. Gary has been Tommy's music director for many years. He says Tommy has only tried weed twice...but did not inhale.


Lydia Pense and Cold Blood


Some time earlier this year my wife came home from a weekend in the Sierras where, as she reported with great excitement - "I ran into Lydia Pense!" I immediately thought that she meant that literally, because we had occasionally suffered vehicle damage with the wife behind the wheel. I mean, she doesn't actually know Lydia Pense. Except that, everyone who was in the San Francisco/Oakland area between 1967 and 1977 feels that they do, because musically speaking they all grew up with Lydia Pense. She, to this day, is the female voice of San Francisco, even more so than Joplin ever was because Janice left, and then she left forever, and Lydia remains.

Lydia disappeared for awhile in the '80s and early '90s, taking time out to raise a daughter, but she came back with the same energy and voice to resurrect Cold Blood, which she built anew around a stellar cast of local Bay Area players.










ABOVE: Lydia with Cold Blood (clockwise from far left) - Rob Zuckerman (sax), Steve Dunne (guitar), Donnie Baldwin (drums), Steve Stalinas (keys), Rich Armstrong (trumpet) and Evan Palmerston (bass). LEFT: Playing a sold out show at the Fillmore.

CD Cover - Link to Artist's Site Lydia and Cold Blood released Transfusion in 2005 to strong reviews. The release reunited players associated with Cold Blood's long history, as well as the association of Cold Blood and East Bay Grease champs Tower of Power.

There is a review of Transfusion at http://www.jazzreview.com/cd/review-17215.html



Face the Music - From Transfusion - Lydia Pense (vocals), Steve Salinas (keyboards), Mike Morgan (percussion), Steve Dunne (guitar), Rich Armstrong (trumpet, percussion), Evan Palmerston (bass), Rob Zuckerman (alto, tenor, baritone saxes), Donny Baldwin (drums). Plus 14 guest artists including Skip Mesquite, Lenny Williams, Michelle Shocked, David Garibaldi, Bobby Vega, Mic Gillette, Dennis Cruzan, Roger Smith, Raul Matute, David Kessner, Mike Rose, Michael Carrabello, Jeff Tamelier and Joel Behrman.

Copyright © 2006 Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, all rights reserved 

About 1974 Cold Blood, as a band, had one of those moments of truth and recognized their star. They went from the album on the left to the image on the right, and forever more became "Lydia Pense and Cold Blood." The very provocative cover of Lydia is deceiving, however, because they weren't really selling a gorgeous chick. They were selling the best rock'n blues singer of her day - and many other. Lydia was produced by guitar man Steve Cropper, who was a big part of the Stax Records house band Booker T. and the MGs.




The Oakland Tribune recently did a feature on Big Rick, which he seems to be happy with - it is posted on his blog (see below) - but to me it almost completely missed the point. The focus of the article was on how much Big Rick loves music and radio. Big Woop. I would imagine every deejay on every station more or less loves music and radio, maybe some more than others. The thing that makes Rick Stuart special - and he is special, easily the greatest disc jockey I have ever heard, bar none - is that he is Big Rick, the finest tongue-in-cheek monologist I have ever heard anywhere. He practices his endearing silliness between songs, and even through commercial spots, virtually non-stop during each of his six-hour air stints. He does it with such humorous aplomb, matching nuance and subtlety with occasional bursts of obvious buffoonery, that I listen wondering how many radio listeners are really getting how great he is. Big Rick, flat out, is a master.

I think of Big Rick Stuart as the anti-deejay, the one who is so distinctly different, so flaunting of commercial radio's ridiculous conventions that he stands apart from it like a touchstone to intelligence and perspective.
I first heard Big Rick 20 years ago when he was with The Quake, which was San Francisco's short-lived modern rock station. That station was just great, about the closest thing to commercial radio playing college radio play lists that I had ever heard, but it didn't last long before the station went belly up. For awhile all we had in San Francisco was San Francisco State's KUSF college station, which coincidentally gave Big Rick his start. It's play list was spotty, its deejays amateurs, and the signal was weak, so we yearned for a commercial alternative.

While The Quake became a footnote in San Francisco radio history, Big Rick moved on to the then-new SF radio station KITS, otherwise known as "Live 105," which filled the modern rock void left by The Quake. Though it was and is part of a Philadelphia-based syndicate of stations that has since gone into the pooper, it was great in its early years in the mid-80s. It was the place where you could hear Nina Haagen and Guadacanal Diary, acts that existed almost exclusively on college radio and in the clubs of Europe. Big Rick had the great good fortune to be surrounded with an on-air staff - like Roland West the reggae aficionado, and super mix master and music director Steve Masters - that made Live 105 a cutting edge place. Steve Masters was bringing back music from Europe, which gave the station an eclectic and wild play list, particularly for the evening shifts (Big Rick's drive-time and later), and Big Rick was just smoking with hilarious banter.

Big Rick seems totally unscripted - he just starts talking and keeps it up until his spot is over, and listening to him is akin to watching a high wire act. Sometimes he slips, starts to fall, but catches himself. He's a little like Johnny Carson use to be - at his funniest when he is struggling. Other times he is flat-out brilliant, weaving his stories and insights through intricate turnbacks and asides, and somehow wrapping them up in neat bundles just in time for the next segment. And none of it is serious, it's all for laughs. Big Rick is endearingly self-effacing, the target of much of his own humor. He'll get on kicks that he will revisit - he used to go on forever about his "pea-sized brain" - but there is nothing pea-sized about this guy. Remember that Ellen Barkin line in Buckaroo Bonzai - "You're like Jerry Lewis - you give me hope to carry on." That's Big Rick Stuart to me, a sign of intelligent life in the universe. Sure, he loves radio and music, but he also sees right through it, or sees it for what it is, and he is forever puncturing pomposity and self-importance, not with snotty attitude and cheap insight, but with an "everyman's" humor that is so sharp that I'm not sure "everyman" gets it.

As "Live 105" went into decline I became bored with the station and stopped listening, then after a time learned that Big Rick had moved on himself, landing at the venerable San Francisco adult-rock station KFOG. The first time I heard his familiar voice on KFOG I could hardly believe it, because KFOG for years was a really musty old dinosaur (though it premiered in the '80s around the same time as "Live 105) that played a lot of classic rock, including the Grateful Dead and other bands closely associated with '60s San Francisco. My first thought was that Big Rick didn't sound very happy at the sleepy station, which played music that he had poked fun at for years. But it wasn't long before he became himself again, and now he is pretty much the same guy he always was - older but as funny and loveable as ever. He seems to find things to like about the KFOG play list, though I sense he recognizes that he is no longer associated with cutting edge radio. Still, the radio personality Big Rick Stuart is always worth the listen.

Big Rick has a blog at http://www.bigrick.fm/blog/blog1.html that you may find entertaining, particularly if you are familiar with the San Francisco Bay Area.

You can hear Big Rick's show streamed on line weekdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Pacific by going to http://www.kfog.com and clicking on Click To Listen.




JILL CAROLE has been on the edge of stardom since her 1998 signing with England's Mystic Records and subsequent tours of the U.K. She toured with Al Stewart, the "Year of the Cat" guy who has developed quite a connection to Bay Area artists (see Paul Robinson's profile below), and Colin Blunstone, who was once lead singer for the '60s band the Zombies, as well as Byrds founder Roger McGuinn. Jill has also toured with Suzzy Roche of the Roches (now there's your Boulder, Colorado link, the Roches being long-time residents). She had a minor hit, in the fall of 1999, with her single "Every Now and Then," which did well on adult contemporary charts. From her website - "She also received airplay for her witty and topical tune, 'I Slept With Kenneth Starr' on San Francisco radio stations KGO-AM and KPFA-FM. Larry Kelp, music critic for the Oakland Tribune and host of 'Sing Out' on KPFA in Berkeley, called the unreleased political thriller 'one of my favorite songs of 1999.'" (And in a political sense, there's your Bay Area link.)

The Alabama native, but long-time Bay Area resident, grew up in rarified air similar to Deborah Winters, profiled above. Jill's mother was an opera singer and Jill apparently inherited her three-octave range. From her website - "(Jill) left the South to study at Amherst College and then at The Berklee College of Music, where she twice received the top singer-songwriter award. She migrated to California, trading her acoustic guitar for an electric, and rekindling her affair with the piano."

Jill's music is hard to classify, but it is certainly wild and sex charged, a sort of adult pop-punk. The themes are adult (marriage, infidelity, cultural iconography) and manipulative but tasteful and certainly smart. They are produced for a modern audience, maybe even a modern rock audience with their emphasis on techno effects and club-inspired spatial choreography. (Scot Mathews produced her Trophy Wife LP.)


RAR Note - I am really not sure how active Jill is these days. At one time she was playing SF clubs with her rock band The Contrarians, but I haven't heard of them being around for awhile. I hope to find out more about this talented singer/songwriter and update this profile in the future.


BELOW: Jill Carole's Trophy Wife was released in 2002. The Easter Bunny, Sex and Santa Claus was released in 1998.


Jill Carole MP3s can be heard from the CDs page of her site.



BOB LOGAN is a talented Bay Area guitarist whose stock and trade over the years has been playing in show bands and supplying soundtracks to Electronic Arts video games. He is a smoking jazz fusion/jazz funk player who also has a deft touch on acoustic guitar, all of which is demonstrated on his CD release titled Faster Than The Speed Of Wood? 

Bob is Lee Ritenour-like in a lot of ways, but he's got some Barney Kessel in him, too. He tends to favor double harmonized leads and, like a lot of jazz guys his playing is a smorgasboard of techniques and approaches, as much a part of the movement of each piece as is the infrastructure of chorus, verse and bridge.


2nd Ray - Barney Kessel type jazz instrumental

Acoustic #1-acoustic instrumental

Pedal Over the Bridge-acoustic instrumental

C.F.T.-Lee Ritenour type jazz-funk instrumental


Copyright © Bob Logan, All Rights Reserved 



I, RAR, have spent a lifetime trying and failing to achieve my fondest dream, which is to establish and maintain a really great band. For some reason I have had trouble finding a large group of supremely talented musicians who want nothing more than to unselfishly lay their personal interests aside so that I may fully satisfy my personal obsession with...well, me. You know, the man and his  music. (You wonder why this hasn’t worked?) Still, I’m a mere lad, not  54 for another month yet, so figure I have a lot of time left to achieve my sincere, heartfelt, potentially world-shaking dream.

To this end, I recently contacted my dear friend Gary Swan to ask how he goes about putting together his bands. Gary has been a professional musician his entire life, has played with top players forever, and for the last four has been Music Director (MD) for the Pointer Sisters.

Here is Gary ’s advice, written in his email short-hand:

1.       The Golden Rule is “He who has the gig rules.”     2.       “The bottom line is money and somebody is paying somewhere.”    3.       “Get your charts done on your songs and horn parts” – I told Gary I need horns, you know, like more cowbell – “so when you go out of town you can pick up horns locally.”    4.       “Might be cheaper to find a locale band and fly in and rehearse them or maybe taking one great player for your music director. That's how it's done. With Bonnie Pointer and Mary Wells and lots of other acts I MD for I send tapes to the local players with charts and arrive three days early and practice the band and the star for the most part will only make about a thirty minute sound check.”     5.       “If you are going to get on the track you must go as fast as everyone else, meaning look pro. Have CD'S & Charts.”     6.       “KNOW your songs. The band is there to go over the music and your performances should remain flawless, no mistakes. So practice while you wait.”    7.       “Sell CDS at gig to cover the cost.”

 And before trying to become Chris Daniels & the Kings, Gary suggested this: “Go book small gigs anywhere or create a gig at a coffee shop or bar. Perhaps host a jam session. Monday night is always a good night for a jam session. Or find the jams around you and go listen to players. The bottom line is the only way to attract players is GIGS! No promises or ideas are going to bring you players. And if it did they are not mature and ready to pull off a show of any size and will look like amateurs. But a gig, wedding, anything will bring you great players for 50 to $100 bucks.”

 So, I'm taking Gary's advice. I know it's going to be a long, hard road, but look for me Tuesday and Thursday afternoons down at The Pizza Pirate. I’ll be playing children's’ birthday parties for awhile, until I can get my horn band together. Of course, if the kids don’t like me I’ll have to take a fallback position yet to be determined. Please send your positive vibes my way. I’d like to make this happen while I can still affect a comb over.

Gary writes:  "Next we will put up my new book, "MY STRUGGLE TO STAY AT THE BOTTOM."



Here is a story I never thought I'd live to tell - either a good news or a bad news item depending upon whether or not you are a songwriter. Bay Area cover bands have fallen on hard times. Rich Flynn, featured above, who has played around the Bay Area for years in both cover and original music units, reports that "bar bands" have fallen out of favor with a younger generation that would prefer a DJ and current sounds. "These days if people walk into a place and see a stage set up with musical instruments, they turn and walk back out the door." The exception seems to be those venues that are known for featuring original acts. In San Francisco that would include places like Hotel Utah, The Paradise Lounge, and Cafe Du Nord, among many other throughout the Bay Area. It is ridiculously expensive for Bohemian songwriters to try to survive here - hell, it's ridiculously expensive for corporate cheese eaters to survive here! - but hard core Bay Area music fans have always supported the fresh idea, and still do. The cover bands, however, not so much.










Copyright © November, 2018 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)