Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leon Ware At The Edison (aka Nikki Grier Broke My Heart)

Leon Ware is a singer, songwriter and producer, best known for crafting the 1976 hit album, I Want You, which was
originally designed for him, but ultimately it became a classic (and my favorite) Marvin Gaye album. Ware is also notable for writing the Top 5 R&B single, "I Wanna Be Where You Are", for Michael Jackson in 1972, and creating the Body Heat album with Quincy Jones. He also collaborated with Maxwell on his stunning debut album Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite.

Nikki Grier is a singer with a gift.

Part church, part R&B, part classic soul and all woman, Nikki walked into my life a few years ago at Harvelle's as a featured singer with Ryan Cross' SoulFunk. She tore it up (and then some) leaving my heart racing and my jaw on the floor. I became an instant fan.

Nikki's live appearances have been rare in the past, but she used to frequent The Toledo Show so I would often see her on Sunday nights. She hasn't been around in a while, so when I saw she was going to be at The Edison with Leon Ware, I was anxious to attend. In the past Nikki has told me stories of New Year's Eves spent in Japan in front of thousands, singing with Leon Ware.

Nikki's latest release "Soulgasm" says it all. Sensual and seductive Nikki's charms are impossible to ignore. In addition to her own music, Nikki has been a staff member at Aftermath (Dr. Dre's imprint) writing and singing alongside label superstars Eminem, Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vintage Trouble : Who'll Be The Next In Line?

When I first met Vintage Trouble last year, they were the hardest working band in showbiz, let alone the L.A. club scene. From the Westside to the Eastside when they announced their only L.A. show - you better believe it - the line on 4th Street outside the club stretched down the block and around the corner.  This unprecedented event is a sure sign that the people want 'em!

And who can blame them?

This past Friday the band showed what happens when you play 80 shows in 100 days.  They learned their craft - they got real good!! They exhibited rock 'n' roll perfection.  Not a formula, but a genuine organic soul thang, with Ty Taylor onstage taking everyone to church and infusing them with powers beyond those experienced by us mere mortals.

Vintage Trouble is Ty Taylor (v) Nalle Colt (g) Rick Bario Dill (b) & Richard Danielson (d).
Their first album The Bomb Shelter Sessions is available now!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goo Goo Muck : The Dolls D'Amour

Ever since the beginning of time I have known the Goo Goo Dolls. Their collective membership - Robby, Mike and Johnny - as well as the others that have been a part of Team Goo Goo - have also been in my life. Some briefly, some ironically, but forever part of the story - ever since the beginning of time.

Tonight, like many a hot August night before, the Goo Goo Dolls presented their opus of greatest hits alongside some of the songs from their recent CD Something For The Rest Of Us and a couple of unreleased ones as well. The band is playing in unholy 90+ degree heat here on the East side of L.A. but the sold out crowd is happy to be here. 

And so is the band.
Having been playing on and off for the last couple of seasons and most recently in and around Southern California, this is the homecoming gig and the final date of the tour. The friends, the industry and the fans all show up for this one. 

Tonight NY is preparing for an enormous hurricane moving North up the coast, this coming in the wake of an earthquake(?) in Virginia last week. The aforementioned temperature tonight is unseasonably HOT which is rather odd considering last summer it was overcast and never reached anywhere near these degrees of celsius.

Last year I brought my teenage niece and nephew to this same spot to see GGD. They were babies when Iris first came out, but their mother loved the song and many of the band's others and the twins were raised on the sweet voice of Johnny Goo passionately pouring his heart out amid big bad strings and an entire orchestra of intimidating learned musicians all there to play whatever Maestro Rzeznick told them.

There's the history of the band. I was there for some of it, missed a big chunk in the mid-nineties, but picked up where we left off a couple of years ago when I attended a free promo mini-concert in a Best Buy Parking lot in West L.A. I stood in the meet and greet line and sent my then 14 year old niece ahead of me to get his attention. He barely noticed her, even as she faux-sexily told him they would one day be married. They both laughed. Then I stood up. Johnny had been wearing mirrored aviator shades (inside) but took 'em off and we embraced (masculinely). Rob and Mike too - it had been a couple of years since I'd seen them. The folk in line behind us stood and stared at the obvious rush of familiarity passing between us.

Ally and Maureen Benedict (Burning Stars) hung out with me as I got my photo pass. There were some strict rules. I think I signed a confidentiality agreement and it's not really all that interesting except for the fact i had 2 photo passes one which said "AllNight" and the other which said "Whole Show". John clarified later that he wanted me to be able to stay in the pit at the foot of the stage all night long - snapping away til my digits turn blue. But like the other photo pass possessors I obediently  abandoned that prime spot because of some vague technicality. I walked around snapping whatever and whoever I felt like because I had the right combo of passes for that.

That's a lot of people who came out to see my friend John's band!!
After the show was a small meet and greet. 
I was surprised to run into my friend Kirk Fletcher! (pictured above)
and here's a picture of Kirk's date with Johnny!!


Friday, August 19, 2011

The Floor 41 : The Hip Shots

If it were any other Monday, I wouldn't be in Hollywood at the King-King at The Floor! Only on the 3rd Monday of the month, this unique club experience is still the place to be if you want to dance, play or sweat or if you enjoy watching and listening to people dance, play and sweat.

I spent this past weekend at a wedding (congratulations Bjørn & Megan), and tonight La Floor Familia officially celebrated Jacqui and Wes' engagement (pictured above with me). Some more pix with me in 'em - all shot by Dorthea Lauran, who handled my photo duties for me. What did I do instead? Hung with the band, dropped some poetry on the crowd and caught up with the awesome folks who frequent this disco inferno known as The Floor.

Alexander Burke
Annukka and Carla
Maiko Maya
Surrounded by my fave peeps : 
Carolina, Dorthea, K.G. and Sascha (photo Doug Silton)
Roman Vazquez
Mela Lee and Magnolia Memoir's Gordon Bash and Alexander Burke.
Ricardo Hambra
Jacqui Ugarte
Tommy King
Asa, Ethan, Ruslan and Walter
Dessy DiLauro
Ric'key Pageot
 Always full of pretty people and hidden talents, you never know who or what you might see. Regulars like hip-hop soul monks The Club Bullies, nu-skool tap-dancers Kelsey McCowan & Sarah Reich, electra/gothika chanteuse and artisté Dorthea Lauran, DJ's Uniek and Wes Wunder, multi-disciplined hyphenates Paris Paul, Vakisha Coleman, K.G. Superstar and Doug Silton, dancer/musician Pake-Lika, drummer Asa Watkins, percussionist Ricardo Hambra, keyboardists Ruslan Sirota and Tommy King, and dancers! Lots of dancers! To name but a few - Walter Jones, Tiffany Bong, Marshall Watson, Stephanie Klausman, Minn Vo, Pepa Yuan, Lisa Solar, Roman Vasquez, Charlene Rose, Holly Hyman, Shaheed Qaasim, Dakota and of course hostesses Carolina and Sascha!
Club Bully K.G. Superstar
Maiko Maya and Tommy Johnson
Dakota Ferreiro
Ricardo Hambra
Walter Davis
Sascha Escandon
Ruslan Sirota
New talent was abundant;  Dessy DiLauro, Ric'key Pageot and Tommy Johnson - all musicians I know from Harvelle's coincidentally - threw down with some heavy duty playing that dazzled this enthusiastic Hollywood crowd. New bass recruit Ethan (don't know his last name but he has played with The Toledo Show in the past) as well as the return of Tommy King on keys rounded out the core band - Asa, Ruslan, Ricardo and Alexander all led by sax/flutist Walter Davis.

We'll do it again next month. 
Just let me towel off and catch my breath.
For the full photo album of the night, check it out on Facebook [here].

FTP blog shout-outs to those m.i.a - David Polon, Ryan Michael, Josavelle Ramos-Cruz, Gabriella Gala, Liinda Garisto, Molly D'Amour, Julian Le (happy 21st), Bjørn Fleuren, Sophie Turner, my Italians - Annalisa Rinetti, Vanessa Crocini and Robbie Angelucci, Dezmond Meeks, Brian & Rebecca, Peter Grant, Kimberly Green, Dan Lanois, Mark Howard, Denise Zavala, Jillian Shmitz, Martin Yernazian, Lizbeth Santos, "El BBQ de" Raymond Castellon, Chloe Arnold, Sir Harry Bowen, Ombrey DeGrate, Jeremy Erwin and Tetsuya.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


i reached out to you-
because of stubborn beauty.
i was just ok, til i saw the name
now i'm slightly off-course
but not nearly asunder
what was this about again?
what was i supposed to learn?
i'm nightly again,
and older than now
and i should be able to move
the sugar-coated truth
the original sin
the unspoken lie
is what makes me ashamed
and that's nobody's fault
it's just do or die
but it just ain't worth it
so i'll soldier on
and if you should read this-
or hear this-
or spear this-
you'll laugh at my lyrics
you'll curse at my truths
it wouldn't be worth it,
you're nothing worth it.
you're nothing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blues Hand Me Down :
The Return Of V.T. To These Hallowed Shores

You know you want it!!
You can't live without it!!
Why should the UK have it all?
Trouble's on it's way...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dolls And Dames Dot Net : Launch Party

DollsAndDames.net is a website started by a couple of dancers I know. They held their launch party at Harvelle's which was turned into a good time with burlesque performances, aerialists, bar-top pas-a-deuxs and a fan dancer who utilized the length of the whole club to literally "shake a tail feather" (right). Congratulations to Mindy Cantu and Desiree Yost!
Dressed to party, these dames are putting the burlesque world in a cyber spin!!
Shamari and Toledo (of The Toledo Show) stroll down the red carpet.
Cevin, Harvelle's owner with Mindy - Toledo Show dame and website proprietress 
This little blonde doll just couldn't keep her clothes on!!
Wardrobe malfunction indeed!!
Toledo has 1 of each (a dame and a doll).
Entertainment included aerial acrobatics, a bar-top singer (above) and the Johnny Cash cover band Cash'd Out (pictured here with Mindy). 

Thank you Cevin, David, Mindy & Desiree 
and Dan (for the photo above of Heather and me).