Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Playlist for a noisy, dark apartment. Everyone needs a slightly-gloomy playlist. Really.

Re-found this playlist today, fit the mood perfectly for reading and studing and learning and blocking-out the 65dB constant street-and-city noise (it is, I measured it).  This was a playlist that started with one song, one that I haven't been able to extract from my brain, ear or heart, since the Marillion weekends... and then which flowed into the others, other musicians, other bands, other songs, as playlists do, one after the other. See what you think. An alone-in-the-dark playlist, methinks.

(If you like the first song in the playlist, from Marillion, if you're in the USA... make sure you see them when they tour here next year.)

This is a YouTube playlist... just click, and listen. I use official videos wherever possible. (Still don't understand why you can no longer create playlists on iTunes so that you can gift them, or so that others can buy them... there's something really genuine in creating a personal playlist for someone special.)

1) Marillion, Somewhere Else
2) Mark Knopfler, Rudiger
3) Terry Lee Hale, Forget About Love
4) Gangstagrass, Long Hard Times to Come
5) Fuel, Hemorrhage (In My Hands)
6) Fitz and the Tantrums, The Walker
7) Elkie Brooks, Don't Cry Out Loud
8) Dido, Here With Me
9) David Essex, On and On

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Street art, murals, and a few blocks of midtown Sacramento

Spanish Fly mural, J Street
Bob Dylan, mural on Spanish Fly Hair Garage, Sacramento, by Pete Bettencort
Sunday morning, and I know there's an alley full of street art murals, somewhere in Midtown. I park on the street outside Spanish Fly Hair Garage, aide-memoire for finding the truck again, and of course, there's the mural of Hendrix, Joplin and Dylan on the wall of the hair salon itself.

Street art, Improv Alley
Corner of 17th St and Improv Alley, Sacramento
Turning down 17th Street, there's Improv Alley (short for Improvisation? A drama school? Where's the full stop, the punctuation? Why name an alley, Improv... is it a play on wor...?) And there's the start of the murals that begin on 17th Street and wrap both sides of the alley, all the way to the car rental parking lots 16th Street and back: walls, doors, even windows and garbage dumpsters, all painted, lettered: science-fiction, cartoon, cryptic, abstract, wild, and with heavenly blues and purples throuighout.

Skull and rat
Detail of mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento

Street art, Improv Alley
Detail of mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento
Broken windows and street art, Improv Alley
Broken windows, within a mural, Improv Alley, Sacramento
Back across J Street and through a parking lot to Jazz Alley, where there is a small parking garage (public? private? who knows), Sunday-morning light falling through the skylights, the walls all art, the lone car's glass a mirror of the striking reds of the wall-paint.

Street art and car
Art inside garage, Jazz Alley, Sacramento
(There are three street people sleeping the morning away in the doorway to a building on the alley. I feel furtive, guilty, like I have walked into their home, uninvited. So many people without homes in our city: by the river, under the freeways, in the parks. Makes me sad, ashamed, guilty... walking the streets of the city instead of driving in and out, I notice their plight more than from the driver's seat: many are friendly and smile, most are taciturn, some might audition for The Walking Dead, and one, just one, was so aggressivly angry that I was glad he just kept on walking right out of town on July 4th. Do I have an answer? No... but these are not "tramps", men of the road who chose a travelling way of life: these are people who, one way or another, have fallen to life on the streets, shopping-cart homes, and how many can climb their way back, alone? Do we even try to let them???)

Escaping man
Escape artist? Jazz Alley, Sacramento
"Painting my life... away", "No retreat, no surrender". One artist's words.

Outside, pink stars, an man climbing through a hole in the wall (or the universe?), and the Pink Panther. A vivid train of anger steaming across the wall of the ballet school (@gsillmatic).

Further up J Street, the pretty mural on The Bread Store is more sedate, calm, somehow less hungry. I guess they've eaten croissants for breakfast.

This is art. This is Sacramento art. You cannot walk far in this city without seeing street art, murals, tags, graffiti. Sometimes the edge of "art" and "graffiti" is blurred, especially by those who see all graffiti as evil. But think about this... Banksy this week opened a theme park, Dismaland. That's about as Main Street as you can get. For a street artist, that is.

(For more info on Sacramento Street Art and the artists, you might have to dig deep. Some Sacramento murals have been commissioned by business owners (I believe Spanish Fly is one of them). Some murals were "volunteered" and just appeared.  Submerge Magazine publishes a mural bike tour every year. Few And Far is a group of women artists who have shared their work here. And if you recognise any of the signatures on the muralss/art in the Toon's Tunes gallery, please let me know, so that the images can be indexed correctly.

Mural on wall of ballet school
Ballet school wall, Jazz Alley, Sacramento
Loads more photos from this morning's walkabout in Midtown, in the Street Art gallery, along with art and graffiti from other cities.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Someone to hear: Trixie Whitley, new album coming soon

New album coming from Trixie Whitley in the fall (or autumn, for those non-Americans amongst us).

If you have not heard Trixie yet, check out her beautiful previous album, Fourth Corner,  I hope to catch her on a tour near hear sometime... or maybe on a visit to New York?

Here's an example:

(Yes, you may recognise the family name. Yes, you may now go and spend the morning exploring Whitley music... I remember wandering around Voiron, in France, with Chris Whitley's Living With The Law on a Discman.... Don't know why I have that image, but it's there, and it's still one of my favourite albums of all time.)

Can't wait to hear the new one, Porta Bohemica, from Trixie.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Camping at Aftershock? Why not in a camper? JUCY!

Marillion, Cropredy festival, 2014
Cropredy Festival, UK
About a year ago last weekend, I spent a wonderful weekend camping, in a tent, in a field, a field near a canal with longboats, in the middle of the English countryside, at the Cropredy festival in England, UK, watching and photographing Marillion, Steve Hackett, the Waterboys and more... in the rain. And in the sun, but also in the rain. When it rained, it came down in buckets. Glad I took my wellies. And a rain poncho. And a few plastic bags for the camera.

But rain or shine, camping at a festival is so much part of the experience that it is really, really cool to see that camping is offered at Aftershock in Sacramento, for the first time, this year, at Gibson Ranch Park. Here's all the camping info.)

And what is even more cool, if you are travelling from a little further afield, like the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, is that you can rent a camper, drive here, camp, enjoy the weekend, ignore any problems with finding your way to a hotel and back each day... and then drive back home when it's all over. JUCY RV Rentals have a special deal for people attending aftershock: find out more here!

The JUCY campers sleep four people and I think it's such a very good idea, I might have to move out-of-town before October 24th so that I can rent one and drive back for the weekend. Seriously! And on the travel bucket-list... driving around New Zealand and Australia. JUCY are there, too!

(Anyone who rents one of these campers for Aftershock: tag #jucyworld in a picture of you and your camper at Aftershock, to receive 200 free miles a day.)

Here's a video about the JUCY business. Take a look... JUCY people, distinctive vehicles, very cool!

(I am hoping that unlike at a lot of British festivals, we won't have rain for Aftershock... but heck, bring it on, I'm ready: wellies, ponchos and plastic bags by the dozen. Just don't forget to bring my gluten-free birthday cake, OK???)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Thirty days until this year's TBD Fest! Poster series begins tomorrow! #weartbd

Enjoying the music at night, TBD Fest 2014
TBD Fest 2014
Only a few more weeks until the 2015 TBD Fest, and the full lineup is posted here. With headliners including Tyler the Creator, Pretty Lights and Tears For Fears, and about eight-seven other bands, it's going to be a weekend full of not only music, but also art, food, design, ideas... lots of good stuff. What started as a one-day party in 2008 has evolved into something huge and beautiful.

Remember last year, and the stunning ballet and DJ performance, D.A.M.B. and the Sacramento Ballet? Simply stunning, and unique. Or the crazy light show for Empire of the Sun. And my personal favourites of the weekend, The War On Drugs, and yes, I'm still listening to Under Pressure (and FYI they play the Treasure Island Music Festival, October 17th and 18th).

Tomorrow sees the first day of the TBD poster series begins: invitation-only, local poster artists will have their work displayed. See starting tomorrow, 19th August.

TBD Fest this year: 90 bands, five stages, and no doubt, much much more to see and do. It's artistic, it's eclectic, it's ambient and electronic and rock and just about everything you might imagine.. Buy your tickets here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ivan Moody, irresponsible "journalism", an old story, a few regrets... and, I hope, hope.

Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2013
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch
I still have more photos to edit from last night's ORGY show at The Boardwalk, but this... this just can't wait any longer. I've been wandering around Sacramento all weekend, visiting the Capitol, exploring the graffiti-covered alleys, walking to Old Sacramento for a pot of frozen yoghurt, all of this with my favourite Five Finger Death Punch songs on the iPod, striding out through today's 100-plus temperatures.

Why? Because... frustration at the despicable and unprofessional (there's no better word for it--despicable) way that TMZ and then other gossip sites, decided to share a "news story" (cynical quotemarks intended), and the way in which the world just copied and pasted, liberally sprinkled with "alleges" or "accused" or similar I-didn't-say-it-so-you-can't-sue-me terminology, no facts and no dates, no backstory, no research, no documentation, no nothing-at-all but the sort of nasty gossip that thirty years ago, would have reached the end of the street afters a week, and which today is around the world six times before you can refresh your screen. Truth or lies? What does it matter any more... nobody cares about truth, it's all about the number of times readers click through to an ad.

I'm not going to regurgitate the details here... you want to read it all, you just have to Google Ivan Moody's name. I have no clue whether he is, or is not, married. Nor do I know anything about his relationships or his family, violent or peaceful or anything else. I just know the man's music, his lyrics, his song, and the person I met and talked with and liked, very much, for all of a few minutes, last year at Aftershock 2014 here in Sacramento.

Don't think for one moment that I turn a blind eye to domestic violence, or to abuse, abuse of any kind (you don't have to hit someone to abuse them). I have no reason to do that. No reason at all. Just understand that this whole internet-news-gossip-fake-journalism-debacle stirred up something, and now I need to write it. Because... family violence, domestic violence, is not something to be hidden, or excused, or worst of all, ignored. By the same measure, it's not something to be invented or lied about or misrepresented or exaggerated. It is a very real and life-threatening problem. And it needs to stop.

Domestic violence is my responsibility, and it is yours, and it's the guy next door's and the woman's across the street. Each and every one of us. It will not stop: not without concious action, and not until every child born is raised in a safe and loving home. Each and every child. Every last one. To me, that is the key to so much.

Violence is the responsibility of the person who lashes out in anger. It's the responsibility of the person who stays, and who tries to fix something that cannot be broken, knowing that it's just going to happen again, and again and again, until one of you is hurt, in jail, or dead. It's the responsibility of the neighbour who turns a blind eye and deaf ear. It's the responsibility of the school teacher who coddles the bully. Don't tell me it's not easy: it is not easy. It's bloody hard, but it is responsibility that weighs lighter, the moment you lift it onto your shoulders.

(If it's two consenting, unfearful, equal adults having an escalated, both-sides-participating, drunken argument, then maybe that's not so much domestic violence as just plain stupidity... and maybe it's time for a rethink before considering doing the same thing again. )

Let me tell you a story...

There once was a young woman. She met a young man, a little older than she was, but not by so much, just enough to know a bit more about the world and its ways. He'd been to work, he'd been to the city, and he'd been in trouble, and he'd survived. He was funny, smart, bitingly intelligent. He read as many books as she did. They traded authors. They traded music. There was love, but more than that, there was a deep and rapid friendship.

They decided to marry, just like that. She was eighteen, he was twenty-five. On the wedding day, several of their family and friends didn't turn up: not because of the short two-day notice, all it needed to obtain the marriage license, but because they saw something the happy couple didn't.

They rented a home, a cottage in an idyllic country village. They went on midnight walks and they chose a dog and they made bread and they made a baby and they made a home and a hope and a future.

Was it doomed from the start?

"It could have been much worse, but it should have been better."

Hardly... she had grown up in a home where she knew she was loved. Her parents argued sometimes, for sure, but she had never known anger, nor the soul-crushing fear of someone you love holding a knife to your throat, nor pulling you around the house by your hair, nor punching you in places where the bruises won't show. She had never known any of that.

But it was doomed, alright. It was doomed from the moment he first hit her. That punch, that slap, that threat on the stairs: it rocked both of their planets out of orbit. It changed everything, everything.

And she left him. She took her bag and the dog, and walked out the door... and an hour or so later, in a roundabout way, came back to find him crying.

Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2014
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, whose lyrics are like chapters in this story
Yes, the relationship was doomed, from that first angry, violent, split second. But they didn't know it... they worked at their hopes, again and again and again. They raised two beautiful, happy little girls. He loved them, he cherished them. He loved his wife, but he could only tell her in a whisper  in the hollow of the night, when he thought she was sleeping, after he had been awake non-stop for three-amphetamine-fueled-days and before the paranoia stepped in. That was the dangerous time, that and the days on downers, the Valium that the doc gave out like candy, the codeine cough mix that he toured the county to find. Those were the days she hid her thoughts like shadows and anticipated his wishes like a genie with an angry master.

"We both know... it always ends this way."

Like I said: she had been raised in a home with love. With trust. With the fundamental knowledge that family is not like this. Family is not bruises, fear, or anger so volatile and so real that your heart could burst just waiting for the inevitable next time.

The day he hit, and kicked, her, in front of their children: that was the end. That was the last time. It was as if the truth of family broke through her marriage contract, her promise of love-forever, and her bloody stupid, irresponsible and inviolate pride. But this is the point of this story: it was her own childhood, and her own children, who saved that young woman. Sadly, it did not save the man.

It was by no means easy. Sometimes you have to live two lives, to live the one that matters. There's more to the story, but it's not for here.

Just walk away, make it easy on us both
Just walk away, there was never any hope
Just walk away, you already know the deal
Just walk away, pretend that none of this was real.

Regrets? For sure... it's a story full of regrets. Most of all, that he is not here now, to see the wonderful young women his daughters have become, nor to be the funny and irrepressible grandfather he could have been, sitting children on his knee to read them stories and to sing them folk songs in his deep and clear voice. And that he could not be here now, as a friend: not only to the young woman-grown-older, but to all the many others who knew him as their best pal: their partner-in-crime, or a local character, or the person who gave them a lift in his truck while driving from one end of the country to another. And a very deep regret that he, himself, did not have the same underlying belief that you do not hurt, terrify, or threaten to kill the ones that you love.

"If we could start again, would that've changed the end?"

Sounds like a Five Finger Death Punch song, doesn't it.

We all play a part. Every one of us: we have to try our best, every day, to raise our children in love, in trust, in truth and without drama or fear. Teach them to be kind. Teach them to be gentle. Teach them to be strong, and honest, and good. Let them paint, and sing, and dance, and make music: let them express themselves without fear. Let them know the boundaries of good, human behaviour, Let them learn a craft, or a sport or a martial art, because then they will learn self-discipline, and they will learn that agression has a place--which is certainly not in the home.

Mr. Ivan Moody: I hope one day we get to sit down together at the same table again, have a chat, have a cuppa tea, a bite to eat, put the world to rights. I'm sure you've got your own stories to tell...

Toon's Tunes is looking forwards to the new Five Finger Death Punch album, "Got Your Six", out soon and available for pre-order now. And to the upcoming tour, including the show in Reno: we're ready!!!

RIP Larry Hughes,  1951 -- 1988

P.S. If you see someone with bruises, or if they are acting in a way that makes you suspect abuse: ask them about it. If you can't do that, just say hello, how are you. Remind them that they are a person of value. Let them know that you know they exist. Sometimes, that is all they have forgotten. As long as they knew it, in the first place.

ORGY, at the Boardwalk, Orangevale.

Jay Gordon, vocals, Orgy
Jay Gordon, ORGY
In case you're wondering: they are a band. Not... you know. They are a band.

Today's lineup is far different from the original ORGYof the late 1990's, with Jay Gordon having reformed and remodelled ORGY since 2011. The result is an energy explosion that just makes you pogo. You have to pogo, No other dance fits. Just jump!

Creighton Emrick, guitar, and Nic Speck, bass, Orgy
Creighton Emrick and Nic Speck, Orgy

Bobby Amaro, drums, Orgy
Bobby Amaro, drums, Orgy

Jay Gordon, vocals, Orgy
Jay Gordon, ORGY
Jay Gordon just doesn't keep still, not for a second.

The music is driven by strong-and-heavy rhythms, but it's as light as a pop song sculpted from metal. Culture Club and Tears for Fears meets Korn and creates electro-punk-death-pop. Yes, it's fun. Yes, you can wear makeup, put ribbons in your hair, wear five-inch platform boots, and pluck your eyebrows out of existance. It's all good.

Creighton Emrick, guitar, Orgy (the band)
Creighton Emrick,  Orgy
The Boardwalk was the perfect venue for the show: ably supported by Graveshadow and The Alpha Complex (photos on their way soon!), ORGY were mingling with the crowd before the show, and on stage by 9.30 p.m.

Closing the show with an extended version of the ORGY classic remake of Blue Monday, just about every member of the audience contributed... singing, yelling, howling... and pogoing. It was crazy-fun. What a great evening!

Carlton Bost, guitar, Orgy
Carlton Bost, Orgy
Orgy are on the road: next stop is Las Vegas (21st August), at Vamp'd: also see the band's website for other dates this month.

More photos from last night's ORGY at the Boardwalk, Orangevale can be seen by clicking on this link to the Toon's Tunes ORGY gallery.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Been waiting to hear this--new music from Gemini Syndrome! Take a listen.

Best news... a new song, from Gemini Syndrome, ETERNITY, which you can (and should) pre-order HERE, and already listen to here on YouTube (below).

Around August 19th, next Wednesday, visit the Gemini Syndrome website, because there will be a new interview with the band published--and you'll hear all about what's been happening with the band over the past few months--and what's coming next.

Immediately next is a huge, nationwide tour, with Avatar and then continuing on in October with Nonpoint (both of whom are on my list of must-see-sometime-soon bands). Taking in much of the midwest, the east coast, Florida, Texas... those of us on the West coast will just have to be patient a little longer, or shell out on a plane ticket. Road trip to Colorado, anyone?

Aaron Nordstrom, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013
Aaron Nordstrom, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock
When I say you should pre-order ETERNITY, it's not only because it's a great song (it is), but also because the band are now independant, so buying the music rather than just playing it over and over and over again on YouTube will actually help fund keeping the music going.

Expect to hear another single in January, with the full, new Gemini Syndrome album soon after. (And if you still haven't heard Lux, you really ought...)

They will be busy. The tour runs from August 28th (Flint, MI) through until September 22nd (Fredricksburg, VA) with Avatar, and then Gemini Syndrome are back on the road first alone, and then with Nonpoint again from 18th October (Colorado Springs) until 23rd November (Kansas City, MO). Patchogue, NY is included. (What I want to know is: why are there so many good tours going to Patchogue these days, and not, as far as I knew, when I lived a few miles down the road in Mastic Beach??? Darnit...)

So here's ETERNITY. I'm going to be listening to it for a very long time.

More coverage on Toon's Tunes for Gemini Syndrome:
- I Still Say He's The Happiest Drummer On The Planet: interview with Brian Steele Medina
- Aftershock Festival 2013, and review of LUX
- July 4th, 2014, Sparks, Nevada
- Aftershock Festival 2012.
- Toon's Tunes Gemini Syndrome photo gallery.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blackalicious, touring, new album for pre-order... sounds good. Sounds really, really good!

Blackalicious' Imani, vol. 1
Local guys, Blackalicious, are heading off on a national tour, with their new album, Imani, vol 1., due for release September 18th. They headlined at this year's Concerts in the Park a couple of months ago (how did this summer go so fast, kids are already heading back to school), and now... the nation's going to see them too, beginning tomorrow in Orlando, Florida, passing back through Sacramento with a stop at the Boardwalk in Orangevale on September 11th, and ending up in Seattle on September 27th... with a whole load of dates in-between. And then they're off to tour Europe, too.

You can preorder your copy of Imani, vol. 1., first album from Blackalicious in ten years, on their website You'll recieve a free and immediate digital download with your order... and other treats. Look and listen and find out more. Imani, vol. 1 is the first in a trilogy of albums: there's more where this came from.

I love their fusion of rap, hip-hop, reggae, African/Middle Eastern rhythm/words/sound, funk... They are special. Take a listen. Look out for a few guest appearances, too. It's going to be a very cool album.

"Imani" means faith in Swahili. We all need some of that.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Echo and the Bunnymen, Sacramento: old, new, borrowed... and very blue

Echo and the Bunnymen
Echo and the Bunnymen, old out at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento
A sold-out show, and (I believe), the very first time for Echo and the Bunnymen in Sacramento, California: the setlist a mix of favourite Bunnymen songs from the '80's (Killing Moon, Lips Like Sugar), recent releases (Meteorites, Holy Moses), borrowed classics (The Doors' People are Strange, and I swear I heard Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side)... and just-a-ittle-bit of blue light. Just a little.

Ian McCulloch, Echo and the Bunnymen
Ian McCulloch, Echo and the Bunnymen

It was an in-the-dark show... all the better to hear the music? Or for Ian McCulloch's sunglass-shaded eyes? Whatever... a very enjoyable show, much appreciated by the the large crowd of fans at the Ace of Spades, singing along to the best-known songs.

Thank  you for the music!

Echo and the Bunnymen
Echo and the Bunnymen, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
< rant> Very enjoyable... if it wasn't for the people in the audience at the back who just kept on talking, throughout the louder songs, throughout the quieter numbers too. Shame... (Makes me wonder, what the heck else can a performer do, to keep your attention? This show by one of the greats, self-proclaimed by Ian McCulloch or not, and you just keep on talking? The couple next to me on the balcony managed to sing along to a couple of songs, they obviously knew and loved the music, and yet also continued a non-stop, loud and annoying conversation all evening. Sigh...  the Selfie Generation: more important to be able to say and show that you've been there at the gig, than to dive in with eyes and ears and heart, enjoy the moment and truly experience the music. Otherwise, you might as well stay home and watch a music video on your phone. Next time, please do that... there were true fans who could have used your tickets. < /endrant>

A couple more pics, including the set list, in the Toon's Tunes' Echo and the Bunnymen gallery.

More tour dates on Echo and the Bunnymen's Facebook page or website tour page.  I suggest checking both of these, because there are some inconsistencies (Sacramento date disappeared from Facebook, for example, maybe because it sold out early?)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Street Urchinz, and I've missed seeing these guys. Time to buy that new CD!

Tommy Norman, vocals and guitar, Street Urchinz
Tommy Norman, vocals and guitar, Street Urchinz
Been far too long since I've seen Street Urchinz, as you will see from the dates in the photo archive.

The lineup has changed: still fronted by Tommy Norman, but now with Jonny Shidler on trumpet and backing vocals, Jamey Shidler on drums, and Anthony Juarez on bass. They opened the show for Stephen Marley last weekend at the Ace of Spades, and did a fine job!

Street Urchinz
Street Urchinz
I love the way the bass comes through and dances with the trumpet. It adds something unique to what was already special: Street Urchinz, reggae, energy, fun, party!

Anthony Juarez, bass, Street Urchinz
Anthony Juarez, Street Urchinz
There is a new CD out, "Wasted", just released, day after the show at the Ace of Spades, and the MP3 version is available today on Amazon  Also, check out Street Urchinz' Facebook to find out how you can obtain your CD copy. And if you haven't already, take a listen to Dissolve. The physical CD is  out-of-stock on Amazon and second-hand copies are going for double price or more, but you can buy the MP3 on iTunes.

Jonny Shidler, trumpet, Street Urchinz
Jonny Shidler, trumpet, Street Urchinz
More photos from this show and earlier Street Urchinz' shows in the Toon's Tunes Street Urchinz photo gallery. And catch up with them at a venue near you soon!

Tommy Norman, vocals and guitar, Street Urchinz
Tommy Norman, Street Urchinz

Friday, August 7, 2015

Ten songs to listen to before Aftershock! Huge lineup!!!!

While you are (im)patiently waiting for Aftershock Festival, to be held this year at Gibson Ranch, Elverta near Sacramento, the weekend of the 24th and 25th of October, here are ten songs to listen to in preparation for planning your days at the festival.

These are not from the headliners--I'm sure you all know the top-of-the-bill bands already--but from a little deeper in the lineup. There are some real gems in this year's list.

Plan on being at Aftershock early, it's going to be non-stop entertainment.

1) Bring Me The Horizon: The House of Wolves.

Let's start things right, with at least four circle pits! Taken from the Live At Wembley DVD, this gives a good idea of what to expect from BMTH. You don't need caffeine; you just need BMTH! OK so BMTH are close to the top of the lineup, but heck, you cannot get too much of Oli and the band!

2) Pop Evil: Torn to Pieces
Pop, but evil... you know. Pop Evil. Learn the words to this one, it's a sing-along, an anthem, and you want to have those vocal chords well prepared in time for October. Also remember: Pop Evil's new album, "Up", will be out, prior to Aftershock, so you may want to preorder it for extra points.

3) Highly Suspect: Mom

As mentioned before on Toon's Tunes, these are must-see for at Aftershock  This is "Mom", another gem from the Brooklyn trio: see also the "Lydia" review, earlier on this blog.

4) The Pink Slips: Foxy Feline

Punk, rock, and very foxy. This will stay in your brain for the rest of the day. Earworm warning.

5) Yelawolf: American You

Never missed a Sunday service, never got a tattoo... you know the words. You know this guy, right?

6) Sevendust: Unraveling

Oldie-but-goodie... another singalong? Are you ready, Sacramento??? Sevendust are Unraveling before your very eyes... you just have to wait a few more weeks!

7) Eagles Of Death Metal: I Want You So Hard

Bluegrass, metal, rock, more than a tad quirky... but not a lot of death. What will Aftershock think of this band?

8) Art Of Dying: Die Trying

Wondering if these guys will have the biggest stacks of Marshall's at the festival. Not for lack of trying... yes, I think they will.

9) RavenEye: Breaking Out

Another Oli frontman, this one from Milton Keynes, England... and you know how Toon's Tunes loves the British rockers. You will not want to miss these guys. Seriously good.

This video, a Classic Rock Track of the Week from earlier this year..

10) Bring Me The Horizon: Go To Hell, For Heaven's Sake!

Talking of Oli again.., let's go full circle, Toon's Tunes one and ten today: Bring Me The Horizon. Aftershock: are you ready yet???

Echo and the Bunnymen: tomorrow in Sacramento, first time?

I'm looking forwards to tomorrow evening's show at the Ace of Spades... it's Echo and the Bunnymen, and I believe it's their first time in Sacramento. Don't miss it! May be one or two tickets still available... be quick!

In case you need a reminder:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stephen "Ragga" Marley, Jo Mersa Marley too... One Love!!!!

Stephen Marley, Sacramento
I don't know anyone who doesn't recognise the Marley name. We've been really lucky here in Sacramento recently: Ky Mani Marley a couple of weeks back at the State Fair, The Wailers at the Ace of Spades next Wednesday... and this Monday, multiple Grammy winner, Stephen "Ragga" Marley was in town, bringing his eldest son, Jo Mersa, too!

Jo Mersa Marley, Sacramento
Jo Mersa Marley, Sacramento

Stephen Marley and band, Sacramento
(I wonder if, one day, we'll see all the Marley family performing and recording together. They often pair up... but wouldn't it be wonderful to see what they could all do together? What a mass of talent... One Love!)

Stephen Marley

Stephen Marley's show ranges through smooth reggae, ("Do you like reggae music???"), one or two covers of his father's songs, some soulful-almost-R&B, and very energetic Dancehall. It was the really upbeat part of the show that I loved the most... but reggae is my happy music.

(I've run out of Blue Mountain coffee. I have to return to Jamaica. I may be gone for a while...)

A special shout-out to the young man who was the flag-waver on Monday!!!!

(The show was not my easiest-ever to shoot. Almost zero light, and what light there was, wasn't falling on Mr. Marley... so the pics are rather, even, more grainy than usual!

The tour continues with several dates in Europe, then back to the USA. Find all the dates here and more info on Stephen Marley's website tour page.

All the photos from Stephen Marley's show at the Ace of Spades can be found in the Toon's Tunes Stephen "Ragga" Marley photo gallery (or just click on any one of these pictures). And all the Jo Mersa images are in the Toon's Tunes Jo Mersa Marley gallery-click here!


Why you have to listen, and then listen, again. Black Map at the Ace of Spades

Ben Flanagan, vocals and bass, Black Map
Ben Flanagan, vocals and bass, Black Map
I like to listen to a band's music, while I'm editing photos. If I don't yet know their music very well, it helps me to pick out the images which best convey the sound, and the energy, of the performance.

And if the show/venue's live sound wasn't optimum on the night, it gives me another chance to listen, and listen well.

Chris Robyn, drums, Black Map
Chris Robyn, drums, Black Map
In this case, I'm really glad I listened to Black Map again. I like what this three-man band are doing.

Black Map are Mark Engles on guitar, Chris Robyn on drums, and Ben Flanagan not only the vocalist, but the bass player too. Heavy and beautifully so. Take a listen. They have an album "...And We Explode", plus an EP, "Driver".

Mark Engles, guitar, Black Map
Mark Engles, guitar, Black Map
(The sound at the gig on Saturday was really, really, really loud. There's a fine line between really-loud-and-good, and really-really-so-loud-that-you-can't-hear-the-music-any-more. This was not just Black Map's set at the Ace of Spades, it was the same for every band in the lineup. There's something to be learned here... for example, Hozier's recent show had the sound just perfect, same venue.) Sometimes, less (volume) is more (music)!

Anyway... I'm glad I did. I'm enjoying listening to Black Map, and I will be looking out for more from them. They've toured, just returned from Europe,  Here's an example of their live show:

More info: see their website or Facebook.

More pics from Saturday's show at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, supporting Some Fear None, see the Toon's Tunes Black Map gallery.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Some Fear None launch new album, To Live & To Die

Some Fear None, launch of
Some Fear None, Sacramento

Last night at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, local hard rockers Some Fear None launched their new album, To Live & To Die. Voted "Best Hard Rock" band in this year's Sammie awards, they are well worth a listen.

Nathan Giguiere, vocals, Some Fear None, launch of
Nathan Giguiere, vocals, Some Fear None
You can check out their music and will be able to order a copy of the album on the website soon!

Some Fear None, launch of
Some Fear None, album launch at the Ace of Spades
Many more pictures from last night's show in the Toon's Tunes Some Fear None gallery. Or just click on any of these pics!