Volume 3-2014





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Currently on RARadio:

"We Lost the Plot" by Amoreux"

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"




























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.



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.



Fagen and Becker/Steely Dan

Living in the 13th World

If you want to feel Steely Dan songwriters Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, just go to your favorite chord producing instrument and play a 13th, in any key. That chord is a doorway to an alternative understanding, another world if you are not native to its parallel universe. Play it and an immediate change comes over you. Night falls and you are suddenly in a cosmopolitan landscape of glimmering downtown, where moonlight mixes erotically with neon and sodium facsimiles to bathe the world in nocturnal hues. Somewhere out of sight a broken-hearted saxophone player gives life all that he has remaining. It is where life resolves into something dark and maybe a little scary, the world of the cultured introvert and the desperate outsider. It is Jazz world, where you get the bluest blues and the blackest blacks. READ MORE

Guitar Legend/Committed Anti-Terrorist

The Strange Trip that is Jeff "Skunk" Baxter

Hollywood types have had a long history of involvement in government operations, particularly with regard to promoting certain political agendas where their celebrity and status as cultural icons has often made them more effective as messengers than politically compromised elected officials might otherwise be. There have been challenges, however, for the political right of Southern California who have typically felt themselves to be in the minority among a liberal Hollywood establishment. It is an odd sense of oppression, given that it has been within their group that celebrity-based upward political mobility has developed. Notable among their stars, who have stepped forward to promote the interests of the right, are Ronald Reagan, who rode an acting career, involvement in union politics, and finally corporate spokesman duties to the governorship of California and on to the White House. And there was Charlton Heston, of the NRA, and former Mayor of Carmel Clint Eastwood. Other right-wing entertainment industry supporters have included actor James Woods, and musicians Gene Simmons and Kid Rock. Perhaps the strangest case, among the righties, is former Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. READ MORE

Vlad DeBriansky and Jack's Last Dollar








CCJ correspondent Diana Olsen checks in with the guitarist Vlad DeBriansky, who has a new band to support a couple new albums. He also has an excellent video providing background for his new work, which links his Ukranian folk roots to American Blues. His face may be familiar to some. A top-flight player who has had considerable commercial success in Eastern Europe, Vlad is in constant rotation on the History 2 channel, where he portrays the visionary Nostrodamus in "Nostradamus Effect: da Vinci's Armageddon". READ MORE

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

There is a good chance that you will find them playing an Indian casino somewhere.


As everybody knows, it is hard to miss someone if they won't go away. Or, even more to the point, it is hard to recall them fondly if they keep hanging around and muddying up our memories of them.

Speaking as one who grew up in that first generation of rock'n roll, I have always struggled with recording artists who find fame early, which in the rock era meant successfully selling product to the young people (kids) that were the principal marketing target, and who then over time slid back down the music industry ladder while continuing to hang around. You see them playing casinos and county fairs, or showing up on package tours with other retrograde acts, former stars.

When I was one of those young record buyers, who idolized some of those youthful artists and entertainers of my day (which is a weird euphemism we have invented to describe "lost youth"), it never really occurred to me that these people were going to have to make livelihoods for themselves after their period of fame had passed and the royalty earnings subsided. READ MORE

Street Performer - Sultans of Swing

Guitar George Knows All the Chords

This video of a "Brazilian street performer" showed up on YouTube recently and has been much appreciated by a certain generation of music fans. It features a solo performer doing a note-by-note rendition of the Dire Straits classic "Sultans of Swing". This is a marker song for aspiring electric guitar players, owing to composer Mark Knopfler's sophisticated use of a range of Nashville-oriented guitar licks that came to life with his brilliant execution, adding to the library of stuff top-line guitar players need to know how to do. This Brazilian dude has pretty much mastered the canon, performing Knopfler's composition with a fealty to tone and timing that achieves what any cover player would hope to do, which is pay tribute to what is special enough about a particular recording to show why someone would want to reproduce it exactly in the first place.

Brooklyn's Tyburn Saints

With the Night in Our Eyes

With the Night in Our Eyes, the new album from New York band Tyburn Saints was recorded by Ian Love (Rival Schools) in Brooklyn, NY and produced with Grammy award winner Guy Massey (Beatles, Manic Street Preachers, Depeche Mode, Spiritualized and The Chameleons) in London. It will be released by Balaclava Records out of São Paulo, Brazil. Tyburn Saints fully embrace the sonic landscapes of shoegaze and dream-pop, with blankets of warmth ushered in by Cocteau Twins-esque guitars (similar also to LSD and the Search for God or The Bethany Curve) juxtaposed against the intelligible, meaningful vocals of lead singer Johnny Gimenez.

Richie Blue Band

No Bar Too Far for Richie Blue

Blues guitarist Richie Blue has been a staple of California's Blues circuit for a few decades, beginning with his time with The Fabulous Beaumont Brothers. That band featured Amos Garett along with Richie's slide guitar, and it made Richie Blue a known entity in California. He gigged through the San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento club and festival circuit in a cycle that continues to this day, booking behind his motto "No bar too far". He has released three CDs on the San Francisco Farmboy label. His original song "Rooster" has been performed by the band Zero, Norton Buffalo, Stu Blank, The Sonoma Swampdogs and other Bay Area blues bands. He has worked as a session pro on more than 30 albums and CDs. In the video here he trades blues licks with another Bay Area pro, Russ Perry.

Les Fradkin - Canon in D

Rocking Classical on the Ztar (midi) - Best Classical Recording-Indie Music Channel Awards for 2014. Les Fradkin returns with an Exclusive Single Version of Canon In D.

Reinventing the wheel of sorts, Les Fradkin has done it again! Les recently won "Best Classical Recording" at the 2014 Indie Music Channel Awards for the single "Canon In D"! What makes this award even more impressive is the fact that the song was released five years ago as part of the 'Baroque Rocks!' album. Proving once again that classical & Baroque style music is standing the test of time. Fradkin is a classically-trained artist/musician along with being one hell of a rock guitarist that can play with the best of them. He is also an accomplished composer & producer who knows what sounds good and what doesn't. His winning composition "Canon In D" hits all the right notes and definitely feels right. Paying homage to German Baroque composer/organist/teacher Johann Pachelbel who wrote "Canon In D", Les has given a new zest of life to the original masterpiece. Using his one-of-a-kind Starr Labs Ztar, Les is able to produce an array of amazing sounds from just one unique instrument. Blending rock with classical/Baroque on Fradkin's version of "Canon In D", the mighty Ztar is able to make it all sound so electronic & New Age while still keepin' it classy. Fradkin's innovative approach did not take away from the original score at all because Les was able to have the New World & Old World come together as One. With two worlds colliding, Les is able to combine it all perfectly for the listeners of Today. Coined as a "virtuoso" MIDI guitarist, Les is putting a modern & inventive twist on Pachelbel's classic piece. 

Michael Butler

"Squeeze My Hand"

Quaint and cute might be words one could use to describe the video below, which also features much of what we at RARWRITER love about New York City singer-songwriter-musician Michael Butler. Back in 1998, Michael and his wife Lydia were cast as extras in a CBS TV movie titled "Her Own Rules". It was filmed in Ireland at Leixlip Castle, which is part of the Guinness family empire. Michael and Lydia's parts were not large, but they have been made lovingly memorable through Michael's use of footage from the film in videos he has produced in support of his reggae tune "Squeeze My Hand". He uses it as part of his press package, and it is charmingly effective at showcasing Michael's musical talent, his big heart, the extent to which he adores his wife, and his sense of humor. It's a feel good thing.


Our Favorite Song this Week!

Check out  "Todo Menos El Dolor" by Kimono Kult.

Use this link to go to the last edition and other archived pages.

East Bay Musicians Who We Have Lost

Heart of Rock'n Roll

The San Francisco Bay Area is fortunate to have among its denizens a fellow named Obert Sonstein, who gives a great deal of his time and energy to recognition of the Bay Area's music community. His beat is not so much the big name stars as lower tier genres like "Garage Bands of the 1960s", which includes production of an ongoing schedule of day-long reunions where old dudes and their old band mates take the stage in back-to-back-to-back performances. These events will occasionally include well-known players who came up among these other dudes who continue to perform out of their love and passion for the music they play. It is an uplifting celebration of something good about human nature.

The other thing Mr. Sonstein does so well is honor Bay Area musicians when they pass away, which is happening with increasing frequency as the Baby Boomer generation becomes a group of seniors. Visit his Facebook site Memorial Page for East Bay Musicians Who We Have Lost to read tributes to a long list of players who have transitioned to the next stage.

Caribou Ranch Closes its Gates

It is likely that the only people outside of the Boulder/Nederland Colorado area who know anything about Caribou Ranch and its recording facilities learned of it through liner notes on Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder or Joe Walsh albums, among other big stars. The studio was owned and operated by the Jim Guercio, whose fame and fortune derived from the pop band Chicago, along with Blood Sweat & Tears and The Buckinghams. A Chicago native and guitarist, Guercio moved to L.A. to find big commercial success as a producer and songwriter, as well as a session player. He was a Columbia Records staff producer and toured as a musician with the Beach Boys in the mid-70s. His tune "Distant Shores" charted for Chad & Jeremy. Guercio worked with Clive Davis to pair down Chicago's sound from something "experimental" to something more "pop", even changing the name of the band from The Chicago Transit Authority. Rancor ensued between Guercio and the band, which culminated in Guercio's retreat to his Nederland, Colorado recording studio/ranch (there was a working cattle ranch in operation there initially) in 1972. Caribou became a remote isolation station for big name talent, including John Lennon, who fancied the idea of a musical retreat far removed from the pressures of the east and west coast music industry centers.

Jim Guercio, who is now nearing 70 years of age, seemed to lose interest in the music industry years ago, and by the mid-80s Caribou Ranch became kind of a ghost facility in terms of musical energies. The Guercio family relocated to Montana and recently sold the Caribou facility to a tentacle (Indian Peaks Holdings LL) of the Walton (Wal-Mart) family for $32.5 million. The Guercios retained ownership of 40-acres of the former ranch property as well as the Caribou name. They plan to pursue a "lifestyle" business from their Montana retreat, as in suggestions for living to a certain standard. This is a popular trope these days, with celebrity-experts such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Conrad, and Jessica Alba following a trail blazed by Martha Stewart. Step one is always something like: "Begin by transferring a million dollars, or whatever you are comfortable with, from savings to checking, because you are going to want to buy some things to get started on your new lifestyle."

Things from the old Caribou Ranch lifestyle, such as the piano on which pop classics "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Bridge over Troubled Waters" has been donated to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. The curator for that collection is long-time Colorado music writer G. Brown.





Copyright © July, 2014 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)