Volume 2-2012



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THIS WEEK'S RAR TUNES:  Listen by clicking on the links or covers below.

Yours truly is offering up a little Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Greeks, who knew a thing or two about winging it philosophically. Use this link or click on poor Democritus below to hear "A Simple Explanation".

Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to breeding stock... Use this link or click on the good people below to hear another in a nauseating string of RAR originals - "(You Do) That Thing That Sets Me Free".

Yours truly has been all about myself of late, which is why I am behind on record reviews and most everything else, but I do have a new batch of recordings, starting with "Betty from Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as my actual Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to all those weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to everybody else's movies.

Call it "creative destruction", like Mitt Romney does. "Until Sam Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain - personified by the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who has left an unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my metaphor for early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must be dealt with so that honest souls can carry on.

Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever she is, pictured below on the cover to my next- generation version of "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes",  introduced several years back as a tune about "the dark side of loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie may not let me exploit her in this way for long, but as long as she does isn't she perfect? I mean, for this song?

"Just Eleven Minutes"  comes from a few years back, and from the same box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the versions provided below come much closer to my ambitions for this story of a booze-fueled cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. The song is almost entirely played around the single chord of E, with occasional transitions through A-B, for those keeping score. The "psycho" version was the original inspiration, but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version has some nice qualities. Unfortunately it also shows that as a guitar player I am no Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up. (Randy Barker played with Michael Woody and the Too High Band, which in the end gave him way too little exposure, but those who heard him play remember it even 30 years later as something special.)




(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress 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




"The Musical Meccas of the World"








Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects




The Jane Does



LA.Archives: Click here to read archived pieces on the L.A. music scene.


THE JANE DOE'S, who refer to themselves as a red-eyed soul” band, occupy a place on the music dial that is visited by few others of their musical capacity, which is great. There is something casually non-commercial about their sound, as if they just don’t care to recognize the conventions of popular trends. Or maybe it’s that they don’t aspire to anything “usual.” Instead they offer a strange acid drip of Prince-like funk and soul in some songs (“Junkie”), a smooth Sunday soul (“California”), sleazy Rhodes funk (“All”), and wasted wistfulness in the song that put them on uber-Producer Brian Eno’s radar screen (“Quiet Inside”).

In fact, maybe the Doe’s are meant to be a motion picture soundtrack. Certainly Eno thinks so. He was commissioned by British Director John Maybury to compose a score for his film The Jacket, which stars Keira Knightley and Adrien Brody in a yarn set in a psychiatric hospital. Eno was so taken by the spacey, morose song that he used it as a recurring theme in the film, including over the end credits.

In fact, Doe’s front man Andy Tubman was a natural for the moody piece. A former “music therapist,” Andy had worked in “psychiatric hospitals and rehab centers,” and he has retained his unusual perspective on the power of song. As the Doe’s website says – “Tubman uses music to communicate in new ways with people living in pain and at the very edges of the human experience.” Geez, doesn’t sound much like pop radio, does it?

In fact, The Jane Doe’s are doing pretty well with Internet Radio stations. PULSE NOW RADIO: PulseNow Rated, whose website receives 4.9 million hits a month and whose Sky Digital channel attracts 2.5 million listeners worldwide each month, has begun to feature The Jane Doe’s 2005 LP The Jane Doe’s in heavy rotation. (You can go to the website at to vote for the band and encourage airplay, plus you can see the band’s profile on The Jane Doe's page on Pulse Now.)

Moreover, the tune "Quiet Inside," which was a collaboration between Tubman and artist/producer Keith Gattis, has just been named a 2007 Independent Music Awards Finalist. (Independent Music Awards finalists list can be found at

THE JANE DOE'S ARE: Andy Tubman  (vocals, guitar), Daniel Thomas  (bass), Brad Colton (percussion), Dennis Hamm (keyboards) and Ian Grom  (drums).


One good movie tune deserves another, apparently. Andy Tubman has also scored a new psychological thriller, Rodeo Girl, starring Rachel Hunter and legendary actresses Tippi Hedren and Louise Fletcher. Rodeo Girl, which is scheduled for theatrical release in 2007, features three original songs by The Jane Doe’s.

The Jane Doe’s were recently featured in the world press, including the L.A. Times, Prefix Magazine, and Max Magazine in Germany. The Doe’s have also been featured on the popular LONELYGIRL15 video blog, with their video receiving over 960,000 views in its first month online.

From their website – “The Jane Doe’s are currently supporting The John Popper Project and playing select dates on the West Coast in support of their debut LP while working on a follow up EP with legendary producer Mike Post at his studios in Los Angeles, CA that captures the energy and essence of their live show. In early 2007, The Jane Doe’s will embark upon their first national tour.

RAR Note: The Doe’s website makes what, to me, is an odd claim, i.e., “With The Jane Doe's on stage, Tubman & Co. take you on a journey into the soul's core with a presence reminiscent of Jeff Buckley and Jamiroquai.”  Reminiscent of Jeff Buckley and Jamiroquai? Okay, Jeff Buckley has a legion of fans who still mourn the loss of the late singer/songwriter, but do people reminisce about Jamiroquai? And have Jeff Buckley and Jamiroquai ever made it into the same sentence? Maybe something there sheds light on the Doe’s most unusual approach.

RAR Rethink: I don't know, the more I listen...maybe Buckley and Jamiroquai? Whatever they are doing, I love it. Andy has a voice like someone I know, but clearer, and this is a really cool band of players - cool in the McLuhanesque sense. No sitting passively here, though the rhythms may suggest it. Give yourself to these guys and you'll be rewarded.




Sad Again

You Got It Goin' On

You Bring the Devil

Quiet Inside (acoustic)

*Copyright © 2006-2007 The Jane Does, all rights reserved 

The Jane Doe’s MP3s can also be heard on MySpace at


Alestar Digby flat out rocks in that old school way, with power chords, accessible hooks, clear song structure, and rock attitude. This is Bad Company and a hundred other bands that have sounded that way, but it remains refreshing when done well and Alestar does it great. He sometimes sounds like Jim Morrison and The Doors, which is not a comparison you find associated with a lot of acts. Alestar has got that certain sexuality thing happening, a sort of full-throated animal appeal. He pushes the boundaries with his lyrics, and his music has a ring of familiarity that supports his rebel purr.

Alestar polled the most votes in Outstanding Songwriting and competed strongly in the Outstanding Solo Artist category in the 2006 Rock City News Awards. This guy is a hit songwriter all the way, really apparent and impressive.

The Austin transplant was big in Texas with his band Gentleman Jake and the Beat Elite. In L.A. he is performing in a power trio, holding down lead guitar/lead vocal duties and blending with Austin Nicholsen (bass, backup vocals) and David Jordan (drums).

There is an interesting All Access Magazine interview with Alestar at A New Jersey native, Alestar was a child prodigy on the piano and then proceeded to the drums. He attended the Manhattan School of Music where he studied classical composition. Since moving to Hollywood, Alestar has played such top venues as The Roxy, the Key Club, the House of Blues, Troubadour, and at The Gig.





Looked Around the World

The Best


Copyright © 2006-2007 Alestar Digby, All rights reserved



It wouldn't be overstating anything to note that ANGIE MATTSON is one of the more striking figures on the Links. Nor would it be an overstatement to say that she is not exactly your standard issue folk-rock singer/songwriter.

Angie landed her song "All Right" in So Goes the Nation, a 2006 documentary about the efforts of Bush and Kerry campaign workers in the bellweather state of Ohio. She has a seven-song EP, Monarch, available. These are pretty good credits for a girl who only learned to play the guitar and write songs a handful of years ago.

There is an interesting "Music Street Journal" interview with Angie at, which yields the following nuggets:

Favorite Movie: David Lynch's head scratcher Fire Walk With Me

Favorite TV Show: HBO's twisty "Carnival" 

Favorite Book: Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, or maybe Mario Puzo's The Godfather.  

Favorite Song Themes: ", lust, loss, following dreams, murder, and strippers in Japan."

Reading this I turn into Barney Fife - You're scaring me, Ange! There is a fascination here with the dark and the perverse. In fact, the more you learn about Angie, the more you start to read in that face in her disarming photos; a kind of a steely substance that may only be available to those gifted with hybrid beauty and brains. (Angie has a degree in that most perverse of all scientific pursuits - biology. Yikes!)

Angie's story only becomes more intriguing when you get around to listening to her music, which blindsides me with the authenticity of her resonating Southern soul - largely because she's from Michigan. But don't miss what it is, which is powerful acoustic-based folk-rock, "white girl soul" as Angie calls it, and it's great. Angie has a seriously rich voice to go along with her seriously dark themes. This is used to good effect on her Monarch EP, produced by Rudy Haeusermann (Lisa Marie Presley, En Vogue, many others) who Angie found through his website. His big sound is right for Angie's voice and songwriterly depth.

RAR Note: Angie is such a tough nut to crack. I was listening to her song "Drive," from her MySpace site, and thinking what an enigmatic soul she comes across as being. She has a really arresting voice that is hard to reconcile with her chameleon charms, and a collision of vulnerability and over-the-top worldly understanding that is somehow heartbreaking. Angie wrote that she thinks I "get" her. I'd like to think I do, but I may flatter myself. The only thing that is really clear to me is that Angie is cool. I dig her. In a way, she inhabits a bluish space on this site where drinks may be shared with The Jane Doe's. It's a hipster bar where they don't serve anything the average schmuck might imbibe, only tequila and absinthe.

Looks like a still from a Quentin Tarentino picture, doesn't it? Must be a Reservoir Dog around here somewhere. Angie, who grew up singing in theatrical productions, had an acting part in the 2003 Chris Rock vehicle Head of State.





Side Note: Angie sang a Beatles cover on a CD for children with autism. You can find out about it at





Angie has two MP3s available for listening on her MySpace site at  and clips from her release Monarch can be heard at her main site. "Drive" seems to be her definitive pop-rock number to this point.

Copyright © 2006-2007 Angie Mattson, all rights reserved 



There is a profile, photographs and links for Angie at singers1.htm. It includes a reference to her experience as a dancer.











ABOVE: The photo above, from Angie's MySpace site, prompted some photographer fella to comment - "sweeeeet geeezus. Angie, you are, without a doubt, one of the purest natural beauties I have ever seen. There. I've said it..." She is pretty awe inspiring as an object of art. What do you bet these comment pebbles don't even leave a pinging sound at this point.



Bang Tango, in the form of last-original-member-left-standing Joe Leste plus guitarist Mark Simpson, bassist Lance Eric, and drummer Timmy Russell, has found new life with the mid-2006 release of From the Hip. From the hip indeed, this is some pretty mature, deep-groove rock from a band that began life as a follower during the  "hair band" revolution of the 1980s.  Joe and his San Diego mates - originally guitarists Kyle Stevens and Mark Knight, bassist Kyle Kyle, and drummer Tigg Ketler - garnered attention in 1987 with the release of Live Injection, a live-in-concert LP. That got them signed to Mechanic/MCA. They landed "I'm A Stranger" on the movie soundtrack of Black Roses and placed "Love Injection" on a compilation LP titled Street Survivors (Metal Blade). Psycho Cafe was Bang Tango's debut release with Mechanic Records. That was in 1989 and a video for "Someone Like You" from the LP got rotation on MTV, particularly during the "Headbanger's Ball" program. Bang Tango worked in the "glam/sleeze" genre. The LP didn't take off though. Bang Tango released Dancin' On Coals in 1991, Ain't No Jive in 1992, and Love After Death in 1994, but  the band wasn't destined to survive the Seattle grunge period. They dropped from sight and the members went their separate ways, though Bang Tango remained dear in the hearts of metal enthusiasts of the period.

Bang Tango founders Joe Leste and Kyle Kyle "reunited" in 1998 when another live concert LP, Live, was released, then in 1999 a compilation called Greatest Tricks was released as was a new LP United. That was the last that was heard of Bang Tango until 2006, when Joe Leste brought back this new unit.

True metal heads have not warmly embraced From the Hip, songs for which were written by Joe Leste and various collaborators and not the original writing team. It is odd, in a way, that Bang Tango is dogged by their own early innovations, which, somewhat predating the Red Hot Chili Peppers, blended funk with their metal. The funk is gone from the new Bang Tango and all that is left is a straight ahead sleazy street rock, which the new unit does really well. On the strength of the 2006 release, I would say Bang Tango is re-visioned and sounding better than ever, but I'm not tied to their original sound. The new stuff sounds like Guns n'Roses to me, really strong if in a really familiar vein.

Joe Leste 

Photo by diana gualda


The lineup of players for the From the Hip studio work included: Joe Leste – lead vocals, Alex Grossi – lead guitar, Anthony Focx – guitar, b-vox, Chris “Curtis” Roach – bass, and Matt Starr - drums


It's All Okay

Mother Mary

I'm The One


Copyright © 2006-2007 Bang Tango, All rights reserved




SINS OF A DIVINE MOTHER is the band in which you will find former Bang Tango bassist Kyle Kyle. Sins does an ultra hip techno rock, and for my money if you want to hear current grooves from old members of Bang Tango, listen to the MP3s of Sins Of A Divine Mother on their MySpace site:







You got to love BLAXMYTH - "ghetto metal" warriors for the oppressed. They received a nomination in the 2006 Rock City News Awards. They didn't come away with a Rocky, but you might have thought they would have won in the political awareness category. To wit, singer Brimstone sent the following, which very nicely states the philosophy behind the group:

There’s so much negative shi* going on in our world at the moment that it’s very hard to know just where to begin. Let me see here, there is the hoax of the Federal Reserve and IRS perpetrating one of the biggest frauds in history against the citizens of the United States.

There is a criminal rogue element that has operated as a shadow government against the will of the people of this country in the cover of darkness and lies. Overturning the precious freedoms and principals of the citizenry that have stood since the foundation of this nation. Legalizing (illegally) things such as mass surveillance, torture, the suspension of habeas corpus (our rights to legal counsel and a trial), the mass building of detention centers in this country, national identification cards, compiling of files of legal dissenters and peaceful protesters, the erosion of this nations sovereignty etc.    

Let’s not forget the biggest mass murder that has taken place on U.S soil this century with evidence of involvement pointing to the highest levels of this government. Can we say September 11, 2001 Ladies and Gents? I knew that most of you could!! Can we say false pretense for war, young soldiers blood for corporate gain and power? How deep does this rabbit hole go?? and

Well BLAXMYTH has looked into that not so mythical rabbit hole and seen how far it goes down. Take it from us it goes all the way into the inner sanctum of the bowels of hell, right into Satan’s den. That’s why BLAXMYTH has chosen to stand tall in the face of all the corruption and adversity that exist at this moment in our history. We understand the risk that is involved in taking such a stand but it’s well worth it to us. The threat of imprisonment or death is something that we all have considered but we know that there is such a thing as an honorable death.

As many great men and women have gone before us as an example of extreme courage. We have incorporated those values of the heroes and she-roes throughout history and have attempted to live up to the fearlessness that they exhibited.

Music is our weapon of choice in this battle of truth against disinformation. Our music is called Ghetto Metal to be precise, which is a fusion of metal, funk, blues and hip-hop. The lyrical content of what we speak, addresses the things that I have mentioned above and exhorts people to be revolutionary in thought and combat the evil that is being shoved down our collective throats. We have used this platform to win over countless fans as well as high honors on the national level with our unrivaled live stage show. Stay on the lookout for BLAXMYTH as we continue or mission of edu-taining the masses around the world.

We all need to stand up for our freedoms while we still have the chance. Remember that silence is complicity. Speak now or forever be silenced!

Long Live Ghetto Metal, Long Live BLAXMYTH!!!!!!


aka The Watch Man

Lead singer Sackraphyce


BRIMSTONE (Second Vocals)
JOHNNY B (Bass Guitar)
FREAK (Lead Guitar 1)
WILL (Drums)



Set Off the Bomb


Beautiful Lie


Copyright © 2006-2007 Blaxmyth, All Rights Reserved 

Brimstone   *
ABOVE: Throwing it down at the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland 2006. BELOW LEFT: Brimstone on vocals and bassist Johnny B. BELOW RIGHT: Will.



Here is a charming quote from an L.A. club owner regarding rock band CALAHAN: "If G&R fucked AC/DC and had a kid who banged Oasis, Calahan would be the love child."

With ringing endorsements of that type, Calahan has been riding high on the L.A. club scene since 2003. With help from former Bow Wow Wow Producer Leigh Gorman and guitarist Billy Duffy of The Cult, Calahan released an EP titled Rock N' Roll Helmet in 2004, then followed in 2005 with their third full length LP On The Rocks, featuring GNR keyboardist Dizzy Reed. (Calahan had previously released an EP titled Calahan and an LP titled Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof.) This adds up to 30 Calahan originals released over the past three years.

From their website - "In the mist of all of this recording, the band still manages to tour all over the California coastline and in some parts of the east coast, including a slot headlining New York's annual NikStock festival in 2005. Calahan is well known for selling out and putting on great live shows.

"Some note worthy clubs to have hosted the band range from San Francisco's Slims and The Great American Music Hall, to Hollywood's Viper Room, House of Blues, Whiskey A Go Go, and Key Club. The band is also no stranger to more cozy rooms, having set up residencies at The Kibitz Room, The Cat Club, and The Lava Lounge."

Calahan landed their tune "Rock'n Roll Helmet" on the soundtrack of Showtime's series "Weeds," and two others for the independent film Alligator Run. They were awarded Best Hard Rock band at the 2005 Rock City News awards.

ABOVE: Contemplations in an L.A. restroom. BELOW: On stage at The Vine Street Lounge in September 2006. On their website, Calahan proclaims themselves "The Best Rock'n Roll Band on Earth."



Calahan as four tunes from their 2005 release On The Rocks available for listening on their MySpace site at


Calahan released On The Rocks in 2005, which has aired on Live 105, Indie 103.1, and Internet stations like BNRX Radio, Club Fiend Radio, Electric Effect Radio.

Calahan is:



TRACE DEVAI tells a story, on his website, of growing up in L.A. across the street from Ray Charles’ house. “I would hide in the bushes and overhear the most amazing rhythms and melodies coming from his keyboard out the windows, I’ll never forget.” The inspiration apparently took. Just after graduating from high school, Trace got a gig as a backup singer to no less than Alice Cooper, with whom he did two world tours and 150 shows. Then, at a very young age, he found himself living in Paris, working the rock clubs, and writing songs, until after two years he determined to return home to L.A. to start “the quintessential rock band.”

The quintessential band apparently consists of Johnnie Rockets (John Gerard) on one guitar, Hollywood Phil on another, new bassist Neil, and drummer ZigZag. Johnnie serves as Trace’s songwriting collaborator – Trace refers to him as the “heart” of their group, himself as “the brains.”

“The Brains” is more than a big picture man – Trace says “My rock is for arenas and stadiums” – he is also a physical guy. “I’m more about sex, vitamins, and rock n’ roll,” he says, citing Mick Jagger, Axl Rose and Tina Turner as front person role models. “I’m not into geek rock, I’m bringing sex back to rock music,” says Trace.

RAR Note – So Trace is bringing sex back, and Justin Timberlake is bringing “sexy back.” These may be the only two guys on the planet who were under the impression that people had lost interest in sex. Impossible as it may seem, I begin to wonder if I, unaware of the sex deficit, have by sheer accident been having a better time than either of these two young studs! And just for the record, I haven’t been having that much fun.

 Trace Devai at the Key Club in L.A.

An advocate of “health and fitness,” the sex-sure Trace is currently starring in a “” DVD that is now available in stores.

Apparently the libido-oriented rocker caught the attention of another well-known sex pot, Jenny McCarthy, who hired Trace and the boys to appear in her short-lived television series “The Bad Girls Guide.” They appeared in Episode 6 – The Guide to In and Out, but their musical performance was unfortunately cut from the show, leaving them in the roles of “rock models” (just standing around looking pretty).

In fact, pretty is working! Trace Devai took home the Rocky at the 2006 Rock City News Awards for Outstanding Hollywood Band, an honor that had been awarded the previous year to another beautiful band, Otto’s Daughter. Trace took home the Rocky for “Sexiest Front Person” at the 2005 awards.


Hot Rod

Sexiest Thing Alive

Not Without You

*Copyright © 2006-2007 Trace Devai. All rights reserved 

Trace Devai has three songs for download from his MySpace site at  


As this poster points out, Trace Devai is becoming a staple at the winner's table of the Rock City News Awards - the Rocky. Trace Devai won in the "Best Modern Rock Band" category in 2004, according to this poster. (Have these categories been changed to reference "Outstanding" rather than "Best?") Trace was selected "Sexiest Front Person of 2005," and in the recent 2006 awards won "Outstanding Hollywood Band."


From September 2008 Edition:

To Boycott or Not


Los Angeles, California - "Pay-to-Play is a terrible disease that has been happening in the Hollywood and Los Angeles area since the time I lived in Hollywood Hills in the early 80's and continues to this very day whereby clubs and promoters are ripping bands off by not paying or by even charging them to perform. This is the main reason why I have refused to perform In the LA area for so many years."

So says L.A. expatriate Nikki Ferrari, from his new digs in Slovenia. "It's just so very wrong and affects everyone in the music industry, and I mean everyone right down to the clothing retailers who sell the clothes we wear on stage to the studios, producers and engineers that record the bands to the music stores that sell the equipment and their employees to the manufacturers of musical gear and equipment and so many many others."

Pay-to-Play has been an issue, particularly in L.A., for the past two decades, as "promoters" have found ways to exploit the phalanxes of young entertainers competing for time on the area's stages.

The L.A. musician who, in his role as lead vocalist for the punk tribute band Hollywood 77, goes by the name "Freekshow" has been particularly high profile regarding the issue of late. He has blogged, on the MySpace site he created to encourage boycotting the practice of Pay-to-Play, of his efforts to enlist Musicians Union Local 47 (Los Angeles) on the subject.


MUSICIANS PAY ALREADY: Pay-to-Play highlights a variety of thorny aspects associated with being a performing musician.

First and foremost, club musicians hardly get paid in the best of circumstances. To make $50 to $100 per player for a four-hour gig is about what one can expect. Even mid-level auditorium attractions like Richard Thompson and Lyle Lovett don't do better than break even after expenses, unless they are playing solo or in duet. (Lovett was profiled in The New Yorker a couple years back, while touring with his Big Band, and told the writer he works six nights to pay the boys and hopes to get a seventh night for him.)

Freekshow's guide on the right alludes to the quality of the shows that Pay-to-Play promoters mount, which in his experience are indicative of the level of commitment they have to musical acts they "present."

That last part really goes to the heart of this issue.

Musicians sort of accept that playing clubs isn't really much of a paying proposition. They do it, at least in the beginning, for the thrill. It is fun to pursue your image of yourself and be rewarded for it by the chance to take in an audiences response. It is, as the commercial says, "priceless."

What galls about Pay-to-Play is who the money is going to: the "show producer" equivalent of scalpers.

The practice of booking four or five acts on a bill in an evening and turning over crowds for two or three shows a night is common in the popular clubs. (Look at the Whiskey Hollywood schedule, for instance.) It also is common to get hired into a club because you come with a drink-buying crowd, a guaranteed cash business. And even great and experienced musicians aren't surprised by postage stamp sized stages and crowds there to see a later act.

When a person gets all that discomfort and inconvenience after turning in pre-show ticket receipts in advance it may feel a little abusive.

It is a razor's edge, trying to balance dream and ego fulfillment with the cold realities of life.

"As someone who started at a young age, I can't even tell you how many hours of hard work and time I put into practice and money to purchase equipment," opines Nikki Ferrari. "When I was performing in NY, thank god, I was getting paid, unlike LA. Every night, for example, before a bass strings at a cost of $44 a set. My god, if I had to do that performing in L.A. I would have to rob banks on top of working a full time job just to do a show.

"A band has to pay for rehearsal studio rent, gas to get there etcetera, etcetera. To think now a guitarist will spend $3,500 for a Les Paul and another $6,500 for a Marshall stack, and another $150 to $200 for strings and picks each month is just mind boggling on top of all the time and expenses involved in being a performing band or artist.

"For a long time I have known about pay to play and steered clear of L.A. Clubs completely. I have heard all the reasons and stories provided by the club owners and the promoters and they have a great way of legitimatizing their reasons, the number one excuse being that they can just hire someone to spin some discs for $100 a night and that they don't have to risk hiring bands and have no one show up to their clubs.

"And secondly, the 'hey this is L.A. this is where you get discovered' kind of attitude."

Photo of Nikki Ferrari: Carol Oliveto


Any thoughts on Pay-to-Play? Send comments to






Welcome to NIKKI FERRARI's rock life: licks, chops and babes, sort of an MTV video come to life...

I don't know if its really that way for Nikki, but the ease with which he demonstrates his immense talent makes it hard to imagine otherwise. His is a bigger than life character, Photo by Carol Oliveto                      the kind rock loves. Music from him feels like it has to be governed like horsepower; you can feel that however powerful the thing he is doing, it is made richer by a sense that there's still more under the hood, which creates awe. Listening to the old Bill Withers chestnut "Ain't No (Sunshine When She's Gone)," below, you get the feeling that Nikki has done the definitive version. It opens with an urge to shred the acoustic guitar, so every well- phrased chord progression that follows feels on the edge of lift off, and then there is the voice. Nikki has a deep vein of soul peculiar to rock singers who came on the L.A. scene in the "modern era"; sound wise think Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth. He has that intimate gravel that butters out into sweetness. Then there are the guitar exercises, which are virtuoso in their precision speed dynamics; pretty extraordinary for anybody, and especially a guy who has made his mark as a bassist.

Nikki threw together his demos for the 2006 Rock City News Awards - he was nominated in the Outstanding Solo Artist category - in three days, against the advice of his handlers. He wasn't after all, able to give them the "real stuff."

Says Nikki - "The real material I'm working on for the new album I could not put out there yet as it will not be released for months and with the incredible vocal work and musical ideas we did not want anyone to jump on the band wagon and wipe me out before I get started on the marketing and PR campaigns." 

Incredible vocal work and musical ideas? It ain't braggin' to state fact. Again, listen to the MP3s below, which may not be the real thing but leave no doubt about the truth to come. And by the way, Nikki won the Rocky for Outstanding Solo Artist. "The competition was huge man, didn't even get the votes, no album out and yeah still in shock!" Nikki said after the awards show. He didn't top the on line vote in his category, but vote totals in the Rockies only factor into the judges' decisions. Quality of musicianship and artistic expression are listed as other qualifiers, and Nikki clearly made up the difference with the acknowledgement conferred upon him by the panelists. Nikki is sort of undeniable.

He is under the watchful eye of an industry veteran. "I am working with John Valenti as a collaborator and consultant vocal coach, trend coach, etc." (A trend coach?) "He had four albums out in the late 70's-early 80's as well as a #1 R&B hit and Overall Billboard's #37 top 40 in 1976. Valenti is just a great guy and so freekin' talented! Johns album's are on back order all the time and he is huge in Japan. I am also working with several famous producers on this one. Some other really exciting things have happened...just so much right now its quite overwhelming."

Photo by Carol Oliveto

From his website - "Nikki Ferrari's talent, recording, and performance skills have landed him in world class recording studios and facilities from Boston to Tampa to New York and Los Angeles. Working in state-of-the-art recording facilities with the music industry's most successful, knowledgeable, proven producers and recording engineers Nikki has gained invaluable knowledge and experience from the industry's most sought after and respected masters. As a multi-talented musician, instrumentalist and vocalist, Nikki is also well known for his bass playing and has recorded with world renown drummers and many famous record producers. Winner of several awards, including the BMA Boston Music Awards as Bass Player of the Year his latest achievement landed him a nomination at the Los Angeles Rock City Music Awards where his previous band was awarded 2005 Outstanding Hard Rock Band of the Year."





She's A Wizard

Please Me

No Looking Back

Ain't No



Copyright © 2006-2007 Nikki Ferrari, All Rights Reserved 


Photo by Carol Oliveto

Photo by Neslihan Ayakta

SHEMONSTER is really Vikki Panetti, who comes to the Links as one the most compelling of the new entries. Her band made a good showing this year in the Rock City News Awards, being nominated in the Outstanding Solo Artist, Outstanding Female Fronted band, and Outstanding All Girl Band categories. These designations may seem contradictory, but the one constant is Vikki, who fronts the post modern punk-metal collective. They are noisy, defiant, in your face, political-activist thrashers, and Vikki gives them voice. 

Vikki grabbed national attention this year for the work she has done to save the life of her brother Scott Panetti, who is on Death Row in Texas for the murder of his former in-laws. The case has garnered national attention because Scott has a long history of mental illness, including twelve years in mental institutions. He is a diagnosed schizophrenic and his case raises issues around not only capital punishment itself, but the act of executing a person who clearly falls short of meeting minimal standards for awareness of his own actions. Vikki has fought ferociously on his behalf, launching an at least temporarily successful web-based petition to have his execution stayed. In October she was a featured panelist at an Amnesty International-sponsored conference at the University of Wisconsin, held just before the mid-term elections in which Wisconsin residents voted on an advisory resolution considering establishment of the death penalty in the state. The student newspaper The Badger reported on Vikki’s presentation, which included this statement - “[My brother had] a lengthy history of 14 commitments for mental illness … [and] was allowed to represent himself as a lawyer in a court in a capital murder case.” The newspaper article continued – “Panetti said the mentally ill should not be executed, adding that allowing people with histories of mental illness to represent themselves in court ‘makes a mockery of our whole criminal justice system.’ ”


LEFT: Singer Vikki Panetti at The Roxy. RIGHT: Vikki at an unnamed venue.










Vikki’s campaign has included the release of “Death by Texas,” which is provided among the MP3s below, a searing condemnation of politics and attitudes in the Longhorn state.

I asked Vikki if it ever concerned her using the name “Shemonster” while campaigning so publicly on behalf of a Death Row killer. Wasn’t she concerned about playing into misperceptions? Being stigmatized? The answer is no she’s not. In fact, she takes inspiration from another performer whose family was on the other side of a family tragedy, actress Charlize Theron, whose mother killed her abusive, alcoholic father in self defense. “Have you seen the recent movie Monster? Its based on a true story about a woman on death row in FL.” Vikki admires Charlize’s courage and conviction. “Charlize produced that movie and she knew if she did not create a role like that for herself she would continue to be typecast in Hollywood.  I can relate to it.” Vikki took her band’s name from a comic book about a super heroine. “Their is also an old comic book movie called Shemonster that is cool.  I like the premise, ‘hell hath no furry like a woman scorned.’  Even the most gentle woman can turn into a mama bear!  I am a very nice person but I have street smarts and I have been on both sides of the tracks all my life.  I can be a terror if I’m pushed into it.  Shemonster is just an alter ego like Marilyn Manson or Kid Rock.”  

SAVE SCOTT PANETTI: You can read about Vicki's brother Scott, who is on death row in Texas, at It is a truly sad, poignant, and significant case with extraordinary ramifications for the death penalty as practiced in America. Scott Panetti, who has a long history of schizophrenia and hospitalization in mental health facilities, was convicted of murdering the parents of his ex-wife. He was allowed to act as his own lawyer in his trial and was subsequently sentenced to death. He is currently under a stay of execution pending appeals.




Shemonster MP3s can be heard from the band's MySpace site at


"Music is the great communicator" – Nelson Mandela

MATELL gets around. His MySpace site lists his locations as "Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Washington, and New York" (in case you didn't get that the first time).

Matell was nominated in two Rock City News categories in 2006, in Outstanding New Band and Outstanding Rhythm & Blues. He has gotten some traction from his debut release, titled This Is, What's Been Goin On, which is a salute to Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, TuPac and other legendary performers. A single off the LP, "Eastern Trees," has found some audience through the Internet. Matell says his MySpace webpage has been viewed by over 60,000 fans, and songs from the site were downloaded 55,000 times during the first two months after the site was posted. Matell reports that Internet, Commercial and College Radio Stations are requesting singles from the disc.

Matell has scored some high profile gigs, including as a featured performer in a tribute at the BMA Music Awards to legendary Jazz singer Nancy Wilson. He was a Special Guest singer for singer/actress Minnie Foxx on her Los Angeles concert tour. Matell was honored by VH1's Save The Music and nominated for "Song of the Year" as the lyricist for nominated tune "We Will Survive." "Eastern Trees" also garnered a nomination for a Best Editor's Choice Award for Outstanding writing for the American Poetry Society. 

The tenor Matell was trained as a singer by singer/songwriter Cydney Davis. Cydney Davis has written songs for Diana Ross ("You're Gonna Love It"), performed as a gospel soloist, and sung background vocals for all sorts of people, including Joe Cocker, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder. Matell is prolific songwriter, who recently signed with the Harry Fox Agency to handle the Mechanical Licenses for his 500-song catalog. 

Matell is part of an L.A. acting company and he has appeared in Bottoms Up starring Paris Hilton, Jason Mewes and Director Kevin Smith. He was also in the family film Just For Kicks staring actor Tom Arnold. Matell can be seen in the Black Eye Peas' number-one music video "Don't Funk With My Heart" and he appeared in Jay Z's Nokia Black Phone commercial, as well as another in Japan for men's deodorant spray Gatsby. Mattel also had a spot on MTV's Head & Body.

MR. HANDSOME: Matell states on his website that his "vision is to write and perform and be inspired by the legends that are no longer here with us. And to leave a legacy of his own for generations to come." That explains the Paris Hilton movie.

BELOW LEFT: Matell's "I'm Ready to Fight" publicity shot. BELOW RIGHT: This Is, What's Been Goin' On cover.



Matell has MP3s available for listening at his MySpace site at  




MATELL NEWS: Last year sometime Matell happened to meet actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in the movie hit Brokeback Mountain. Matell enthused to the actor how much he had enjoyed the movie, then wrote a song about the encounter. "Love Brokeback Mountain," a techno dance number, is turning out to be a huge "hit" for him. It was the top download from's Electronica and Dance section for the week Feb 3-7, 2007. The numbers for "Love Brokeback Mountain" are significant. The song debuted at #2 and has been averaging more than 2,800 downloads a day since it hit and shot to #1. These numbers equal those for Rihanna's tune "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)" on the R&B Charts and is tied with Eminem's "Shake That f/ Nate Dogg" on the Hip Hop Charts. Matell's tune is charting at #37 on the Top 40 Hit chart and has climbed past Justin Timberlake on the Electronica Dance chart at Matell describes the song as being about " love lost, love never going to be, love found, and i wish I could quit you love." Reviewers are commenting on Matell's vocal performance and on the guitar work on the track, which is available from or from Matell's site.


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©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), March, 2012