Nina Diaz | Alex’s Bar | 7/25/14 [PHOTOS]

One of my favorite female rock vocalists is Nina Diaz. Usually the front woman for the punk rock band Girl In A Coma, she’s decided to take a little hiatus from the band to record some music solo. The results are a set of music that is wrought with emotional expressions of melody that act as confessional. Continue reading

Rachel Goodrich & The Grrrls| Hotel Cafe | 2/28/14

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After The Record Company wrapped up their set, they told the crowd to hang out to catch their friend Rachel Goodrich play a set. I hadn’t intended on hanging out, but I decided I’d google her to see what she was all about before deciding whether to leave or not. Allmusic.com described her style as follows:

“Miami Beach-based singer/songwriter Rachel Goodrich‘s eclectic blend of vaudeville-inspired indie pop, swing-jazz and country-folk (the artist frequently describes her sound as “shake-a-billy”) is made all the more singular by the vast number of instruments at her command.”

Wikipedia also noted that:

“Her first album, Tinker Toys, was self-released in 2008 to which the New York Times dubbed her as a “queen of the Miami indie rock scene”. The second, self-titled album was produced by Grammy-nominated music producer Greg Wells. Goodrich’s song, “Light Bulb”, was featured in an episode of the TV series Weeds […] a Crayola commercial advertisement [and a] BT Infinity – “Light Streams” advert.”

Wanting to hear what her “shake-a-billy” was all about, I decided to stick around.

She took to the stage with her “grrls” and the trio (Rachel on guitar, a bassist and a drummer) started to jam out music that was a throwback to the 50’s era rockabilly with overtones of modern day pop sensibilities. At first, they reminded me of The 5 6 7 8’s … that all-female Japanese rock trio featured in Quentin Tarantino‘s “Kill Bill Volume 1, but I quickly put that comparison to rest since  Rachel Goodrich and the Grrrls vocals sounded much better.

A little bit honky-tonk and a little bit surf-rock with a bit of punk and western-swing sprinkled on top, Rachel’s wispy and subtle vocals enhanced the catchy hooks and had me shaking my groove thing. Ah … “shake-a-billy” … I get it. I enjoyed what I heard and liked her Facebook fan page after the set.

In my opinion, with a fuller repertoire and more exposure, I can easily this band getting booked for local festival spots at FYF Fest or Ink-N-Iron next year, and I’ll be keeping my ears to the web to see what else they have coming up.

As an aside, it was a shame that most of the packed crowd for The Record Company dispersed before catching Rachel and her band do their thing. It was a fun set that was a great night-cap to the blues rock show that The Record Company put on. C’est la vie en Los Angeles, I suppose. At least my view was unobstructed …

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, the Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

The Record Company | Hotel Cafe | 2/28/14

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Considering that this was the 4th time I’ve seen The Record Company perform live in the past year, I don’t think I need to restate all of the reasons why I dig their music. If you haven’t been following this blog, feel free to check out my previous blog entries HEREHERE and HERE.

I will, however, note two things.

First, for their final songs, the band brought a pianist to the stage. Though the audio from my video below may not really demonstrate the following observation, I must admit that the additional piano really did fill out the sound of the band. It added a lush fullness that added another dimension to their already solid sound.

Second, Chris Voss, the lead singer and guitarist, shared a humble moment with the audience noting that it was four years ago that he had arrived in Los Angeles. He went on to to mention that back when the band was starting out, they played the Hotel Cafe. This show was only the second time that they’ve been able to grace the Hotel Cafe stage, and Chris emphasized how much it meant to them to play there once again.

On April 4th, the band is playing a gig at The Satellite to promote the release of their EP “Feels So Good” on Vinyl. I recommend that you go.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, the Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

 

 

Scars on 45 | Hotel Cafe | 2/28/14 (Photos)

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Scars on 45, a band from England, happened to be playing an early set at the Hotel Cafe when I went there to catch another band play. I hadn’t heard of them before, but for an early 8pm set, they definitely had the room packed with their fans.

Currently signed to o Atlantic Records’ Chop Shop Records label, Scars on 45 achieved some success when their single “Heart On Fire” was featured on the season 8 soundtrack to the popular television show , Grey’s Anatomy. They released an album in 2012, which Amazon.com ranked as number 7 out of 50 “Best Albums of 2012”.

They played a solid set and their adult contemporary, pop-rock sound reminded me a bit of Fleetwood Mac. Towards the end of their set, after thanking the appreciative crowd, they recalled a bit of the band’s recent history, finishing with a smile that they were all back where they were when they began, working on music in the same small room they started off in.

I wasn’t able to get any video of them performing, but I’ve included their hit “Heart On Fire” below, and the only photos I could take at the venue with my point and shoot (I should have brought my DSLR!) are of the vocalists of the band (Danny Bemrose and Aimee Driver). Enjoy.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devises. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK, to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!

Nina Diaz | Hotel Café | June 9th, 2013

IMG_3511I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Nina Diaz’s solo gig at Hotel Café.  I’ve been a fan of the band that she fronts, Girl In A Coma , for several years now and having seen them perform live three times (including the day before at the Ink-N-Iron Festival , I guess I kind of assumed that she would be doing acoustic covers of their recordings from the past four albums. It wasn’t that.  It was so much better.

Before delving into her set, let me first get this out of the way: I’m in love with Nina’s voice. She is a tour de force. She can sing with sultry inflection or belt out punk choruses, and she does it with what seems to be the greatest of ease. I’m a grown ass man, but I’ll have to admit, after listening to songs like “Adjust”, “Smart” and “So” off of Girl In Coma’s album “Exits and All the Rest” , I fell in love with Nina’s voice like I did back in middle school when I heard Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry”. It’s comparing apple to oranges- their vocal styles are completely different- but I think that you get the picture.

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Autographed poster. I had two pens. You’ll notice that she signed it with both. LOL.

Nina’s set consisted of material that I’d never heard before. With just her voice, her guitar and a set of loop-pedals, she delivered a powerfully emotional set that really was something truly breathtaking to behold. Through her new songs, it felt as if she was telling the sold-out audience of 140 patrons about what she had been going through in her life. Yes, the songs were heavy- delivered with either pent up, fierce fury, or gentle, thoughtful, longing- but Nina engaged the audience in between her songs with playful banter to relieve any tensions her lyrics may have imparted.

Before the third song, she dedicated it to the Spurs, and wanted us to imagine the Spurs wearing nothing but spurs.  After another song, she explained that song and the lyrics “Do you really love me the way you say you do?” is actually about Karma… a very nice prostitute who’ll give you everything you deserve. She even made some lighthearted confessions about the music she had written, admitting when she used the same chord progressions on two separate songs.

But there is no getting around the heaviness of music. She wrote a song about those who go through bad stuff in life and keep it all in.  She wrote an empowerment song about not knowing what kind of person you truly are until you go through a bad break up (“Fall In Love”). She wrote another song that I think she called a “wedding singer song” about her ex- who she made a subtle jab at by calling him a dick … okay, maybe not that subtle- that had the defiant lyrics, “One last kiss, one that you’ll never miss […] all he seems to care about is friends, fame, name [.]”

Perhaps the most heartbreaking song she sang was the song she dedicated to her father, “Mortician’s Musician” (in case you didn’t know, or couldn’t tell, her father is a mortician). I had shivers run down my spine, and goose bumps pop up on my arm, when she sang the lyrics, “I’m not a fool for writing songs, I’m a fool for trying to get you to sing along.” <sob> I desperately want to hear that song again.

She closed her set with a cover of the INXS song “Never Tear Us Apart”- very apropos- but the audience wouldn’t let her leave the stage that easily. She agreed to sing one more song, and advised the audience that she hadn’t planned on singing a Girl In A Coma song, but ended up performing “El Monte” to close out the evening.

Afterwards, I met up with a friend I had invited to the show. The first thing she said to me was that it was the first time, in a long time, that a singer has ever made her laugh and cry at a concert. It went without saying. We experienced something magical that night.

I grabbed the set list from the stage, and went to the merchandise booth to say, “Hi,” to Phanie (drums for Girl in a Coma) and Jenn (bass for Girl In A Coma). I waited for Nina and got her to autograph the set list and the poster that I had ganked from the wall (just so you don’t think I’m a clepto, I asked the bouncer if I could first!). I chatted with some of her friends while her fans greeted her. Sneaking in during a lull, I bid my adieu and head off.

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Clockwise, upper left: Me and Nina, Nina and the autographed set-list (again, signed with both pens. hehehe).

On the 45-minute drive home, I tried to put into context what I had experienced. I’ve been to a lot of amazing shows this year, but this one was different. I got emotionally involved at this show.  And as cheese-ball as it may sound, with Nina sharing bits and pieces of her life, I had become emotionally invested in Nina’s story. In the intimate, dimly-lit venue, for the first time, I felt her frustrations, pain, heartache, longing, revival, strength … the gamut of emotions cover the spectrum. The fact that she performed alone on stage also added a certain gravitas and intimacy with her outpouring of personal history. It almost felt like she was confiding in us.

I plugged my phone into the car stereo and began playing the video clips I had taken. When the clip of “For You” started playing I started thinking of Jeff Buckley’s “Live in Sin-e” recordings. When you get me thinking about one my all-time favorite recordings, you’ve left an impression. Nina left an impression. Whether these new songs are recorded with Girl In A Coma, or whether she puts it out as solo material, people need to hear this music. If Nina ever has a solo gig in your neighborhood, you’d be a fool not to go. Puro heart. Puro rock and roll.

Below, I’ve included several snippets from the show. My only regret is that I wish I had taken more footage.

UPDATE: 11/14/13: God bless the soul who recorded Nina’s entire set and posted it to Youtube.  Now you can watch her amazing solo gig in its entirety.