iOS app Android app

Melissa Webster
GET UPDATES FROM Melissa Webster

Entries by Melissa Webster

Mayer Hawthorne Seduces at the Hangout Music Festival

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2015 | 1:03 PM

"I'm a beach guy. This is lovely man... the humidity is actually really nice for my vocal chords. It feels good... It's like a natural little steamy shower." Mayer Hawthorne

Channeling a wholly different kind of "little steamy shower" on the picturesque beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast at the Hangout Music Festival Kick-Off Party over the weekend, 2014 Grammy nominee Mayer Hawthorne slowly seduced the audience with a mixture of hip-hop, funk, disco and groove, as if his greatest musical influence, the soul-seducer himself, Barry White was standing beside him egging him on. Cute, engaging and sexy, like a bold red wine jacket in black pants and Vans, Hawthorne hit the drums like a tribal dance to lure in the audience while he hypnotized them with his sensual voice and amorous play.

Playfully teasing, he joked to the crowd, "Hey Joe, did you hear about them two dudes that was supposed to open for us but they canceled them?" alluding to the recent Billboard award-winning, Grammy award-winning artist Sam Smith, who was supposed to perform at the Hangout Festival and other events, but had to cancel due to a throat hemorrhage and subsequent surgery and recovery.

When he got to "Allie Jones," a reggae-inspired, heavy bass number with a fight-the-power fist in the air, he prepared the audience for maximum enjoyment, "Now if anyone's got one rolled up, now's the time to light it," and purred with the satisfaction of the Cheshire Cat that got the cream when he said "It feels like we got something special going on," before sliding into the love song "Get To Know You" of the same seductive lyrics.

Even when the power went out and interrupted the set for a few minutes, Hawthorne charmed the audience into sticking around for the duration. With his bad news, good news assessment of the situation, he donned a megaphone to tell them "The bad news is the power is out onstage. The good news is that we rocked so hard that we blew out the power," delighting the audience into believing they were co-conspirators with an R&B star in the unexpected turn of events. He livened things up after the power failure with a pure adrenaline rock-out awesome guitar riff cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," before moving into a motown vibe, wrapping up his set amidst the backdrop of the multi-colored ferris wheel that had just come to life and lit up the darkening sky as it changed colors from red to blue to green.

Focused on his collaboration and upcoming tour with Jake One for the recently released album Tuxedo, he described as "gangster boogie funk," he hinted at a follow-up solo album within the year, with a possible release for next year. Laughing about it, he divulged, "When you're on a major label, there's a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure, to write hits and things that can be pushed to radio, whether or not they actually do it or not... but I'm gonna make the record that I really wanted to make," adding, "You're gonna have to wait to see."

This post originally characterized a statement made by Mayer Hawthorne as a reference to the music artist Sam Smith. made references to Sam Smith,...

Read Post

Women in Business Spotlight: Kathryn Johann Brings Mermaids to Life

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 1:41 PM

"It's been a passion of mine to help women feel as good as possible so they can enjoy their time at the beach." - Kathryn Johann

Buying a bathing suit is scary. Even the most confident, empowered, ball-busting corporate executive will admit it, if only to herself. It's scary. Because...

Read Post

Featured New Artist: Exes, With Exclusive Video Premiere "Marshall"

(2) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 4:12 PM

"Marshall" by Exes

Riding on the wave of excitement around a new Sony/ATV licensing deal, newcomers L.A.-based indie pop-punk rock band Exes vault on the alternative music scene after being "Birthed in a bedroom studio after a lifetime of screaming the choruses 'El Scorcho' and 'Your Little Hoodrat Friend.'" Snarky, cynical and jaded, especially when it comes to ex-girlfriends, their latest three-song EP Massive Nights is fun and masterfully danceable, with lyrics anyone who's been scorched by an ex will easily relate to, and probably turn up to full volume.

"A lot of these particular songs are more me getting past my own baggage, writing it out, dealing with it, calling myself out on how ridiculous I can [be]. Life is messy, but there's such a beauty in being honest about how terrible and wonderful relationships can be." - Sam Young

Members Sam Young (Primary Lyricist, Vocals and Guitar); Stevensly Rippin (Bass Guitar); Ryan "IMMA" Saylor (Drums); and Eddy "CAN'T FAIL" Hewitt (Guitar, Vocals and Horns) are currently recording at Kitten Robot Studios as they gradually add towards a full-length LP. According to Hewitt, "We're trying to get stuff out as our funding will allow," with the plan to release at least one new song for the "summertime."

You can check out their music and get info on upcoming shows at these links:

Read Post

Larry Livermore: Spy Rock Road Album Release, Featuring a Teenage Tre Cool

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 6:28 PM

"Story," composed by Larry Livermore and performed by The Lookouts on the album Spy Rock Road

When music industry icon, and founder of the now defunct Lookout Records, Larry Livermore needed a drummer for his punk rock band The Lookouts in the mid-1980s, he was out of options. According to his memoir "Spy Rock Memories," he had run through two drummers who didn't work out; one because of creative differences and a contentious break-up, and the other due to weariness and a sense of futility in battling the harsh weather conditions just to practice with the band on a remote mountain in Northern California where they lived, a few hours north of the cities of Oakland and San Francisco. Out of desperation and a lack of options, he asked the son of one of his neighbors, 12-year-old Frank Wright, III; aka Tre Cool, if he wanted to be in a punk rock band.

This choice was a bit of an embarrassment for the band, especially for The Lookouts' bass player Kain Hanschke, publicly known as Kain Kong, who was an older teenager at the time and naturally didn't want a kid in the band. It didn't help that Tre Cool had never played the drums before, much less shown any interest in punk rock. But necessity won out, and with Cool always eager for a bit of fun and a challenge, on the first day of practice, when Livermore's only intention was to just show this 'kid' the basics so he could keep time with the music, he admits of Tre Cool, "Hell, on his first day, he was already better at it than me." With a natural talent for music and within only a few years from this "first day," Tre Cool went on to become one of the greatest drummers in rock n roll in the multiple Grammy award-winning pop-punk megaband Green Day.

After almost three decades, The Lookouts have finally released twenty obscure songs from those early days on an album called Spy Rock Road, produced by Don Giovanni Records. Not even remotely the shitty 'early years' album one would expect of musicians just starting out, it rivals any punk rock album out there, then and now, in talent, quality and sheer unfettered attitude; and in the songs "Generation" and "Out My Door" and "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Religion Ain't Cool" and too many more to name, we finally get to hear how extraordinary Tre Cool's talent was at such a young age and why, according to Livermore, his contribution to Green Day made all the difference to their success.

As for Larry Livermore's memoir, "Spy Rock Memories," that inspired the release of The Lookouts music, it's not so much the nostalgic lamentations of a music industry icon, though that's a huge part of it, but instead an emotional roller coaster of one man's twenty-plus years adventure in an insulated rural mountain town suffering from narrow-minded tunnel vision mixed with the kettledrum of Anarchists, Anti-Capitalists and hippies, brought on by a marijuana-induced paranoia and strict libertarian ideology, as he struggles to fit in, encountering contradiction and hypocrisy while maintaining the integrity of free speech and a free press as a journalist who wouldn't conform.

The prose is so beautiful, so wonderfully ripe with symbolism and nerve-wracking, edge-of-your-seat imagery, it takes on the qualities of a literary fiction novel, leaving one to wonder if this is just an epic story he made up in his head. Of course, it isn't. In Livermore's own words, "It's all as true as I can possibly make it." And that just makes it all the more intriguing as he battles the elements, both human and natural, of the remote mountain town on the north face of Iron Peak on Spy Rock Road, so sparsely populated even using the word "town" feels like a bit of a stretch.

When his first priorities to survival on this mountain became fire and water, at times the novel felt like I was reading an extension in the Hunger Games series, where making it through the intense rains of Fall, the blizzards in winter, and the extreme droughts of summer were nothing short of a test in perseverance, resourcefulness and hardline stubbornness, morning, noon and night; I couldn't help but wonder why the hell anyone would choose to live there. For over twenty years. When they had the resources for a more civilized alternative. From the scenic view of mountains and meadows and bubbling streams, and the quiet serenity of the remote location getting back to nature ensures, and the quirky eccentricity of the neighbors, by the end of the novel, I began to understand.

As if the obvious challenges weren't enough, there was the height of the Reagan-era "War on Drugs" to contend with that guaranteed annual drug raids on the mountain's population of marijuana growers, wild animals, one particularly humorous battle with a skunk; and a hilariously ironic twist on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", with a black bear who decided Livermore's couch was the perfect place for a nap. There were very real and scary threats from the locals who weren't happy with Livermore's honesty about the local goings-on, specifically about the drug trade, in the articles he wrote for his nationally recognized Lookout Magazine, and then his eventual acceptance into the local fold when he became a hero for railing against a business that wanted to tear down trees in the one block of a town in order to "put up a parking lot," like a real-life version of the song "Big Yellow Taxi." And once again, it gives us a peripheral glimpse into Tre Cool's early years, having been raised on the same mountain in the same harsh environment, where the children are described as more innocent, and more carefree than their counterparts in The City.

[Regrets about leaving Lookout Records] "Yes, of course, just as I have regrets about leaving Spy Rock... But if I hadn't left those places and things, I couldn't be doing what I'm doing now. It's sort of how life works, I guess."

Touching on the punk rock mecca of the 924 Gillman Street Project in Berkeley, Cali. he was instrumental in creating in the 80s and is still thriving today, Livermore discusses proudly its successful endeavor, "... it's always gratifying and rewarding to go back there and see what we started continuing to thrive. It's kind of against the odds, too; it's hard enough to keep a for-profit entertainment venue/cultural center going for 28 years, let alone one run by volunteers and guided by essentially anarchistic principles."

Between his commitment to Lookout Records and the bands they represented, his work with Lookout Magazine and Maximum Rocknroll (MRR), and his ever-increasing travels to San Francisco and London and wherever the bands were playing that gradually led him away from home, the bittersweet ending will wring you out to dry. Luckily, there's a follow-up book, but Livermore says, "the actual title will be announced next month [April 2015]," and is projected to release in early summer of 2015, where he'll draw us into a behind-the-scenes look at the success and drama that unfolded during his time at Lookout Records.

To get a copy of Spy Rock Road or "Spy Rock Memories," and updates on his as yet untitled follow-up book, you can check out Don Giovanni Records at

Read Post

Prima Donna Nine Lives and Forty Fives Album Review

(1) Comments | Posted March 8, 2015 | 5:22 PM

"Every tune on this album has its own groove, but it's all rock n' roll. We were really just going for whatever felt right. Some songs are hard and loud while others are totally danceable" - Kevin Preston, lead vocals and guitar

With a "... laser focus. Firing on all...

Read Post

EXCLUSIVE Song Premiere: Happy Fangs "Controlled Burn"

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2014 | 4:45 PM

The 9th track on the Happy Fangs debut full-length album Capricorn, set to release on January 27th, 2015, "Controlled Burn" is pure raw energy and powerful vocals with a sexy edge in a free-for-all of creative styles blending perfectly together. Produced and engineered by Lance Jackman at The Dock Studio,...

Read Post

Branden Daniel & The Chics "In Light" Video is Totally Groovy

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 10:31 AM

Recently added to the mtvU rotation, "In Light", the first single release ahead of an upcoming completed LP by Branden Daniel & The Chics is a groovy tune with trippy visuals you might have to be stoned to fully appreciate. With some engineering magic, this bass-heavy chilled-out song has no actual guitars in the production. As lead vocals Branden Daniels describes it, "The novelty of "No Guitar" was for us as a rock n' roll group exciting enough that I suggested I'd play the slide part on the bass." With a Pitch Shifter Guitar Pedal and an amp, they were able to create the slide guitar vibe on the bass and stand the norms of traditional rock-n-roll on its head. And then they took it up a notch with a throw-back, psychedelic acid trip of a video. It's an exciting tease for what to expect on the new album.

"It's just exploration down the beaten path of pop music"

With Branden Daniels on vocals and bass, Nate Krause on keyboards and Matt Winter on drums, "In Light" was recorded in stages with producer Tom Biller (Karen O, the Eels, Fiona Apple). The LP is six completed songs in, but with no official release date yet. Inspired by music icons Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Beatles and Kurt Cobain, and often compared to Jim Morrison and The Doors, Daniels describes his vocal "speed" as raging highs and deep lows, reflecting the roller coaster ride of his personality and his need to "let it out" through his music, with the influence of the artists who came before him as reinventing themselves through an up-and-down journey. "As a musician, if that touches you, it stays with you and there's no telling when it's going to become a part of what you do."

"It's a made up fantasy land of a business that typically can give severe vertigo to even the strongest most determined artist."

Making it a family affair, Branden's five-year-old son, Hayes, joins him onset with a cameo appearance on the drums, displaying a natural talent as an entertainer and helping to balance out the juggling act all working parents face. "It keeps me from the ledge," Branden admits, revealing a gratitude for the family support that makes his career easier.

In their off-time they're into skateboards, boating and vintage motorcycles, and catch the shows of other musicians in the area. As for other hobbies, Branden combines creativity with ordinary menial tasks, like cleaning and taking showers, "Nothing's better for creativity than showering, I shower twice a day, that's got to make it a hobby."

Be sure to check out their Tumblr page periodically for possible upcoming tour dates

 photo 67175e9a-6f91-4e10-9811-60d07d30f700_zps1c63a19f.jpg

This post originally listed an unsubstantiated rumor about the band's future touring, which has been...

Read Post

Exclusive Video Premiere: The Two Tens, "Scene"

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 3:15 PM

Adam Bones & Rikki Styxx of The Two Tens Volume 1 EP

"Adam bleeds rock n' roll....which is my only requirement!!" - Rikki Styxx

Garage punk at its best, "Scene" is a high energy explosion of sound that hits its mark from the first outburst, making one wonder how it can possibly come from a band made up of only two people. Realizing they had the same work ethic, compatible styles and philosophy about rock n roll, The Two Tens band is the latest pairing of Adam Bones (previously of Adam Bones) on vocals and guitar, and Rikki Styxx (formerly of the Woolly Bandits) on drums, and their genius together is evident from the first crashing cymbal and mind-blowing guitar riff. Planned as four EPs named Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 and Volume 4, respectively, releasing over the next four months and culminating on February 10th (Two Tens) as a full-length LP titled Volume, Adam Bones assures us "each EP will have its own surprises [that'll] range in style within the umbrella of... garage punk." "Scene" is the first of many video releases over the next four months from the Volume...

Read Post

EXCLUSIVE Song Premiere: iamNateAllen Featured Solo Artist

(5) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 10:34 AM

"I think it's important to think about the fact that a white man can openly carry a gun into a business and be celebrated and a black man can be shot to death for suspicion of having a gun" - Nate Allen

When people hear Nate Allen, they immediately reference the quirky, zany, off-beat, colorful interactive floor show of the folk punk band Destroy Nate Allen, and the feel-good love vibes of his relationship with his life-partner Tessa. What they don't expect is a social commentary on the hypocritical, mixed-up priorities of America at large and the stark differences between Nate Allen's personal life journey as a privileged white man versus the personal journeys of his American friends who are people of color. In Nate Allen's freshman solo album, Take Out The Trash by iamNateAllen, we find an honest and often uncomfortable reality check that America still has a long way to go in achieving racial, social and economic equality.

Reminiscent of Violent Femmes and Social Distortion, with a little Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure, Take Out The Trash is an eargasm of blues, folk and punk, with soul-wrenching lyrics that remind us of the days when the meaning behind the music actually mattered. Catching up with Nate Allen during their Kickstarter fundraising campaign before the album launch and subsequent tour, he let us in on what to expect from the songs and the motivation behind this unexpected album:

1) Your press release said this project started as a personal outlet to express your feelings about the racial issues/disparities surrounding you, and then it 'accidentally' became a full length album about social issues in general. Can you elaborate on that? What racial issues were you confronted with personally?

When I wrote the album I was a part of a church group that was very diverse and there was a conflict that happen to fall along racial lines. As my older black friends started talking about their experiences in Portland I realized their experiences were VERY different from mine. It was very eye opening what they had been through. It was like they literally lived in a totally different place even though we were friends and lived in the same city. I realized I had been blind to what they had been experiencing and to what they saw daily. The issue that confronted me personally was how blind I had been to things around me and how much I didn't realize how privilege and gentrification played a part in my decisions. I was amazed how I could live somewhere for 5 + years and then feel like the lights were one day "turned on". As I tried to understand where they were coming from, I started processing our discussions through songs and sharing a few with the group as they were written.

2) The album opens with "Open to Everything" as the first track. What exactly was going through your head when you wrote it? Is it about wanting to take the risk but being afraid of getting hurt when you let your guard down, or about releasing all judgement and prejudice and giving everyone/everything the benefit of the doubt and a chance, even knowing it makes you as vulnerable as they are? Both?

I would say "Open to Everything" was written as I wrestled with the idea of wanting to be open, honest, sensitive and understanding of all things while at the same time realizing that we all have limits and capacities.. such as you can only experience and process so much before life becomes overwhelming... or I can only drive so much before my muscles get sore and start to cramp. I was seeking to be as reflective as possible so that song has a lot of little references to many life experiences. This song, like the whole album, is all based on actual events.

3) Do you think social inequality is a pressing issue in this country that needs to be addressed in a real and tangible way, or is it blown out of proportion to the realities of the bigger picture?

I think it's important to think about the fact that a white man can openly carry a gun into a business and be celebrated and a black man can be shot to death for suspicion of having a gun. As far as the bigger picture, discussions of inequality seem to only exist when there aren't greater problems at hand (like survival in the midst of war, famine or natural disaster). Like most issues social inequality is complicated and has plagued humanity in one form or another since the beginning of time. I would say the bottom line comes down to each individual becoming more aware of how they perceive the people around them and where those perceptions come from.

4) Are there solutions you support or see being attempted?

Lately I've been into, which raises awareness for the one in 6 men who have been sexually abused as a child.

5) "Hunger Pains" talks of the need to always be on top of your game if you want to succeed. Have you felt the pressure of constant competition and striving? In what ways has it affected you and did you falter to disastrous results?

When I wrote the song I was looking for work and feeling like I had to be on my "A Game" at all time. I grew up with great pressure to always appear like I had it together and to work hard constantly, which did have negative results. I became a work-a-holic with an addiction to stress and deadlines. I couldn't give myself a day off. I have spent much of the last year working on getting to the root of what has caused these ingrained habits. I would say with some joy that I'm less anxious and less hungry for people's approval now.

6) You singled out "West Side Blues" as a recommended track. What does that song mean to you?

West Side Blues is really the telling of the situation I talked about in question one. I had as many of my friends from the group as possible sing-a-long on it to make it a community event. I also enjoy the bluesy nature of it. I'd never really played anything I would call blues before and I think "West Side Blues" became a song I really enjoy sonically.

7) I really love "Social Equality." The simple straight-forward lyrics and mellow flow carry an intense message relevant in today's society. Do you believe "white privilege" numbs/blinds white Americans to the struggles that still exist today for people of color, that their inability to relate to it distorts their ability to really see and understand it? That they don't believe it's real?

Yes White Privilege exists. It's kind of weird to talk about this as a white guy, because my perspective is limited. I was unaware of this privilege in many ways growing up in a 99% "white" small Oregon town but I've definitely benefited from it at times. When I lived in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, I remember a friend talking about how we were a "protected class," meaning there would be a stronger police response if we were harmed. On one hand it was comforting, on the other it was really messed up that it was a very true statement. I don't remember that even being on my radar growing up. There have been other times when I was definitely profiled for being the "different" person but I would say my experiences have been nothing like your average black man in the US. One element of white privilege is what is passed down to you. We all carry the baggage of our family line- particular fears, temptations, struggles, etc that somehow seem to get passed down (spiritually, psychologically, whatever) to us. The effects of slavery and discrimination (trauma, shame, etc) take their toll on people alive today. There are parents and grandparents alive today who remember seeing members of their community hanged or dragged to death through the streets. That sort of thing has a way of weighing heavily.

8) Is "Goodbye Letter" a song about friends who have died or about people who have given up and accepted their under-realized potential?

Goodbye letter is about many things that convey the same emotions the song references: friends who have died, friends who have been wrongly locked up, friends who have undersold themselves and friendships that have drifted apart over time or distance. I am a person who highly values friendship. On the scale of defensively detaching vs. internalizing emotions I am definitely a person who internalizes things as they happen. As I was thinking of all the losses I have experienced I found myself asking what keeps a person going and what would I want to pass on to someone struggling. I tried to think about what everyone, whether Christian, atheist, anarchist or capitalist could identify with. I narrowed in on Hope as one of the few things that I think everyone really needs to keep going.

9) "Photograph" is a contradiction of holding on and letting go as current realities change, with a nostalgic regret that you didn't appreciate what you had when you had it. But at the same time, it offers hope that something new can be built. Am I interpreting that correctly?

I think you nailed it.. it's also a gentle reflection about how much life just slips by and is forgotten.

10) Will you be touring with this album in addition to Destroy Nate Allen?

Yes. The plan is for these songs to be supported the next few times I am on the road. Either solo, with a band or playing alongside Destroy Nate Allen.

To check out iamNateAllen tour dates, you can go here:

11) Tell me about the Kickstarter campaign. What are the dates and can you give me the link to it? What are your fundraising goals?

I am using as way for people to pre-order my new album and have a part in helping the album get pressed on CD and vinyl. I was looking into just doing a pre-order on our website but I've found kickstarter to be a very useful platform in the past so we decided to use it again. We came up with some pretty sweet rewards including laser etched mason jars and greeting cards that both contain lyrics from the album to make things more interesting. Also I asked over 30 friends to contribute a song to a compilation mixtape we are releasing with the kickstarter. Anyone who contributes to the kickstarter will get a download of the songs. During the kickstarter I am blogging about each artist so that our friends and fans get to learn about a wide variety of bands that have nothing or little in common except for knowing us. My goal is to raise $3,300 to finish off the album art, cd duplication, & vinyl pressing. If we raise more than that we should be able to make some colored vinyl and maybe pay some...
Read Post

Thee Hobo Gobbelins: A Perfect Halloween Album

(2) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 3:59 PM

Thee Hobo Gobbelins' Oddities and Entities may well be the perfect Halloween album. Every song tells a weird scary story to a folk rock, spooky-night-at-a-barn-dance, hand-clapping, foot-stomping good time that leaves one a little bit creeped out. It's as if gypsy punk and bluegrass had a baby, and...

Read Post

The Smell of Death by Bruce Duff: A Book Review

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 2:40 PM

If you ever wondered why every band member in every band in every photo from every gig on every tour in the entire history of rock-n-roll invariably looks haughty, cool and bored with the entire effin thing, it's because they are. Bored, that is. Like mind-numbing boredom. As if touring...

Read Post

Mike Dirnt Has the Best Instagram Account Ever

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 4:09 PM

With every photo he posts on his public Instagram account, Mike Dirnt, bass guitar player for the rock band Green Day, tells a story. A personalized, real-time slice of life story. Whether it's about his children, his wife's struggle with breast cancer or his work with Green Day and other...

Read Post

'Guns' by Negativland: In the Era of Open Carry Protests

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 2:25 PM

"Guns" by Negativland

"The Internet has created a culture of mediocrity," Mark Hosler of the experimental band Negativland told me over a cup of tea in December 2012, mere days before the Sandy Hook mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conneticut. Though he was talking about how the Internet's easy access and availability has eliminated previously established thresholds that used to block inferior work in music, photography, journalism and publishing from ever reaching the general public, the broader culture of mediocrity in America is far more alarming.

Call me jaded, cynical, whatever, but I can't help thinking there is nothing that has become more mediocre or predictable in America than gun advocates in Texas pushing for open carry laws free from regulation or even the need for a license, who prefer to spread their message through fear, i.e. openly carried loaded guns, on unsuspecting consumers just minding their own business in some random store or restaurant, at the expense of any intelligent public discourse, compromise or basic consideration for the confused Americans they confront, who only know that strangers with loaded weapons have just walked into their midst.

Given that mass shootings have become indiscriminate and normal in the United States, Americans' fear and confusion over such a vague and pointless "protest" is understandable. Given that our cowardly government leaders, bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have done little to nothing to resolve this issue, America's lack of tolerance for these kinds of stunts is even more understandable. And when NRA officials publicly oppose so-called open carry protests as well, then there's really no question these extremely misguided open carry idiots need to be reigned in before it escalates and someone actually gets hurt.

I admit I'm no constitutional scholar, so correct me if I'm wrong here, but the Constitution's Second Amendment allows for the right to bear arms. That's it. Just to bear arms, right? It does not specify what types of "arms" you can bear. It does not specify where or how exactly you can bear these arms. It certainly doesn't say your right to bear arms, for no other reason than simply because you can, trumps your fellow American's right to shop, eat and live in peace, free from your drama and unnecessary melodramatic bullshit.

So this is my "protest," and I direct this specifically at pro-gun, let's-bring-back-the-Wild-Wild-West, open carry advocates currently walking into public establishments in Texas with AK-47s. You have the right to bear arms. Awesome. Congratulations! Nobody is taking that right away from you, but this is a nation of laws, not the Wild, Wild West, and common sense trumps personal, selfish, self-serving ideology that puts your neighbors at risk.

Negativland gets it right in this "Guns" video, when they say "Sit back and wait," because with idiots like this trying to bring back the nostalgia of the Wild, Wild West and make it cool; with the NRA condemning it as "weird," and then backtracking and apologizing to these idiots, thus validating them; with no political leaders willing to truly take a stand and implement significant regulation and limits on gun ownership and access, the next mass shooting is just around the corner. "Sit back and wait" again and again and again.

At some point, people like the ones in Texas and the NRA that enables them will have to be held accountable. Real accountability, not prayers and platitudes, instead of allowing them to hide behind the myriad of excuses so far used to blame for America's gun violence epidemic, every excuse except the ones that are actually to blame, which are America's romantic delusions of the bygone days of the Wild West, Americans' easy access to guns, and the laughable gun laws that put those guns in the hands of mentally unstable kids, or, ya know, gun extremists who think it's a good idea to carry a loaded weapon into a restaurant full of children.

I'm tired of wasting time on more pointless debate that goes in circles and gets us nowhere, while the bodies of dead kids continue to pile up and people in Texas walk around with loaded guns in their hands like they're Wyatt Earp. "There's something downright weird about this whole thing."...

Read Post

Net Neutrality Advocate Speaks Anonymously About the Upcoming FCC Vote on a 'Pay to Play' Internet

(1) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 2:19 AM

He asked me to call him Colin Gallagher. Posting as ABISprotocol on github, he has many names and many handles among many online platforms, but today it's just Colin. And he, along with thousands of other advocates for free speech and a free Internet, are genuinely concerned about the upcoming...

Read Post

Exclusive Song Premiere: "Still Have You" by Fever Charm

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 5:28 PM

It's been a couple of years since I met this teenage band riding on the cusp of adulthood in the San Francisco Bay area. Making the transition from the carefree days of high school, when beaches, friends and girls were the only things on their minds, into the responsibilities of...

Read Post

Carolyn Haines at Daddy's Girls' Weekend

(1) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 12:17 PM

"Rich bitch. I aspire to it... not there yet, but I'm hoping," Carolyn Haines, author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series says half-jokingly of her signature character when we sit at a little table underneath a live oak tree dripping with Spanish moss outside a...

Read Post

Fish Heads and Folktales by Peter Moran

(0) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 2:31 PM

A beautiful story about the family who chooses us and the ones we choose, Fish Heads & Folktales is a novel that explores the life of Peter and his cross-cultural experience as a Korean-born baby adopted by an American family to live in the U.S., and his journey...

Read Post

Honah Lee: 'The Inevitable'

(1) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 6:02 PM

Honah Lee "The Inevitable"

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes it doesn't work out at all how you planned or hoped for. Sometimes no amount of sacrifice or hard work, or talent, or skills, or strategy makes any difference at all. People betray you, resources break down or disappear altogether, and you end up exactly where you started, spinning your wheels as if you never made any effort or progress at all. In the creative fields especially, the questions "Why exactly am I doing this?" and "Is it even worth it?" run rampant as artists struggle just to survive while they put whatever time and emotional resources they have left after the drudgery of daily life into their art. It was during one of pop-punk band Honah Lee's darkest years of struggle and adversity -- when giving up and giving in was at its highest peak -- that they created the track "The Inevitable" from their latest album, as yet untitled that's still in progress.

From the death of Dim's (lead guitar and vocals) father only seven months after his sister's death, to Jim, the bass player, being hospitalized for a month from a bad case of meningitis, to the van breaking down that stalled their tour for yet another month, 2013 was rife with setbacks and emotional turmoil for Honah Lee, motivating them to be even more determined to make 2014 stronger and more productive.

Inspired by a childhood memory of the comedy rock band Green Jelly releasing an all-video album with an accompanying CD as the soundtrack, Honah Lee is releasing a music video of the album in production one track at a time, starting with the first track "Party Goggles," followed by "The Inevitable" and "Driftin," until each song on the album is recorded and released with a video each month. This is in addition to a 14-date tour already in progress. On March 27, Honah Lee will be sharing the stage with Glen Matlock of the iconic punk rock band Sex Pistols, as well as Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls. This show will be held at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Tony Goggles, who plays drums, is the filmmaker producing the videos. As the lead vocalist, Tim Hoh, Jr. describes it, "Each of us have our role! It takes a lot and luckily we've been able to put our egos aside and keep this train rolling!" Still delivering pizza as if he's 21, Tim often struggles with the question of whether he'll ever grow up or if he'll "always be a brat who doesn't care about that" while he lives life to the fullest trying to make a music career his first priority. When questioning his life choices really gets him down, he focuses on the fans to keep him going. The little pat on the back is all he needs to remind him why he has to keep playing, admitting it's that and the fact he really doesn't "know how to do anything else."

Individual song and video releases are coming out once a month, with the full album -- including bonus tracks and exclusive add-ons -- releasing on iTunes in the summer. You can check out the first three tracks and video HERE and go to their Facebook page HERE. Check out the new videos on their YouTube Channel HERE.

"Party Goggles," "The Inevitable" and "Driftin" are available for download on iTunes.

Or better yet, check out a few shows for exclusive songs and other tricks up their sleeves. A great time is guaranteed:


3/15 @ J.C. Dobbs - Philadelphia PA
3/21 @ Mill Hill Basement - Trenton NJ
3/22 @ The Gutter - Brooklyn, NY
4/3 @ Newell Volunteer Fireman's Social Club - Newell PA
4/4 @ TBA - Dayton OH
4/5 @ The Melody Inn - Indianapolis IN
4/6 @ The Berkley Front - Berkley MI
4/7 @ Mac's Bar - Lansing MI
4/8 - VIDEO SHOOT - Lansing MI
4/9 @ Northside Tavern - Cincinnati OH
4/10 @ The Green Lantern - Lexington KY
4/11 @ 123 Pleasant Street - Morgantown WV
4/12 @ Clancy's - Keyser WV

Read Post

Destroy Nate Allen: A Love Story

(13) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 4:14 PM

"Glow In The Dark" by Destroy Nate Allen, published with permission from the album 'Glow In The Dark'.

At some point in your life you'll meet a couple who just so completely gets it right, it permeates throughout all they do, inspiring something so sweet and strong and stable, you just want to bask in the glow of it and hope like hell it rubs off so you'll know that kind of love too. Nate and Tessa Allen of the band Destroy Nate Allen are this couple, and their love story unfolds in the music of their latest album Glow In The Dark. Quirky and off-beat and crazy fun, Glow In The Dark is the kind of folk punk rock you want to listen to lying on your bed with your eyes closed as you plan your day when you just want the day to make you smile.

The story begins in 2004 when the band was known as simply Nate Allen. He'd just moved to San Francisco where he met Tessa, and they quickly became best friends over a span of three years before they started dating, marrying eight months later in February 2008, and the band evolved from there. Tessa joined him on the road once they were married and they expanded their performances to include the audience in the ongoing romance, inspiring sing-a-longs, circle pits, power slides and theater games, with them in the center as part of the crowd. Their entire show is a hands-on experience Nate Allen described as, "People either love us or hate us. Either way we don't allow indifference."

With the help of Kevin at Vinyl Remains, this album went from a 7" compilation of on-the-road favorites to their first big record. A vinyl in Dayglo pink and green, it's a fun, happy reminder of the personalities of Nate and Tessa, and include many fan favorites from the road, like "Jesus Keep Me Safe From The Cops," "My Parents Managed Apartments," "Loving You Means Everything From Me" and "Turns Out You're Perfect For Me," but the biggest take-away for me lies in the songs "Glow In The Dark" and "Broken Wings."

"Glow In The Dark" is a sweet, catchy song that captures the essence of their relationship and let's us know they're in it for the long haul, and "Broken Wings," an acoustic solo for Nate Allen that speaks of heaven and hell and the choices people make, is so quiet, simple and emotional, he admits he was so upset he nearly broke down when they recorded it. As quirky and fun as their music is, the lyrics are laden with religious and political references they've grappled with throughout their lives, and the deepest emotional pull of their feelings for each other. Contradicting the music and tone of their performances, the lyrics give us permission to laugh in the face of the serious shit around us.

The song "Loving You Means Everything From Me" gives us a glimpse of the dynamics of their relationship and the on-going argument they have about which one of them is more "punk," a common tongue-in-cheek argument in the punk rock community as a whole. Nate laughingly admits that Tessa is probably the winner, because she sported a mohawk for six years, as Tessa insists "Street punk! Street punk! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

If you want to experience this love story in action, check out a show and feel inspired by a relationship we all hope to have someday, you can get the album Glow In The Dark and tour info about Destroy Nate Allen

Read Post

The Death of Kelly Thomas Due to Police Brutality -- A Song by Bryan McPherson

(1) Comments | Posted January 19, 2014 | 2:32 PM

"Kelly Thomas" by Bryan McPherson

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, in an Orange County courtroom in Southern California, a jury laid to rest one of the most publicly controversial episodes of police brutality in California's troubled history. Kelly Thomas was a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia who had a sometimes violent history, who was beaten by police officers of the Fullerton Police Department on July 5, 2011 while he pleaded "I can't breathe." He died from his injuries five days later, spurring protests against police brutality, a successful recall election of public officials, and a national debate about the treatment of America's homeless population.

Though ultimately removed from their jobs with the Fullerton Police Department, two of the six police officers involved in the beating were found not guilty this week of involuntary manslaughter, murder and excessive force, and another officer's case was dismissed entirely, despite a video account of the incident, the fact that there were six officers involved and Thomas was unarmed and mostly subdued, and the resulting death from his injuries at the hands of these officers. I'm usually a strong, outspoken supporter of law enforcement, and I understand the kind of pressure and danger they face on a daily basis, but this was a travesty of justice to be sure. Five shots with a taser? Six officers? Ten minutes of relentless assault on an unarmed man? What the hell was that jury thinking? Only eight hours of deliberation on whether or not to hold these officers accountable is an insult, not only to Kelly Thomas, but to America's justice system that is supposed to be blind, unbiased and especially fair to the most vulnerable among us, even when the incident occurs in one of the most conservative districts in our country. So now it's up to the civil court process to find justice for Kelly Thomas, and I wish his father the best of luck.

One of the greatest things about indie art, be it in music, film, books, etc. is the freedom to express the brutal, in-your-face and often uncomfortable inherent truth in the world around us that is all-too-often stifled in corporate entertainment out of fear of offending somebody. And few do it with more honesty and emotion than those in the punk and alternative rock music scene, which is especially vocal in California. The political and social commentary in this genre of music is what I respect most about them, and what keeps me coming back for more when faced with the often shallow alternative of mainstream music that lacks soul, heart and relevance. They make sure people like Kelly Thomas are not forgotten, that though his death was dismissed by the ones meant to protect him, justice is found in the hearts and minds of the rest of us.

"Kelly Thomas" is a heart-wrenching song by Bryan McPherson, in memory of a man who was let down by all of us when he needed us most. In the Dylan-esque style of folk punk rock, McPherson succinctly captures the anger and emotion felt by those who most closely followed the case to its bitter end.

Give it a listen, and be sure to give us your thoughts on Bryan McPherson's music and the Kelly Thomas...

Read Post