SOUNDS OF SABBATH

RAINBOW

Return of Rainbow’s ‘Backyard Bash’ brought classic metal back home to the Sunset Strip.

It’s been a hell of a wait but on Sept. 5, the Rainbow Bar and Grill welcomed back all the heavy metal you could handle with the triumphant return of its annual Backyard Bash, an all-day live concert event featuring national and local bands cranking out heavy metal hits in the parking lot behind the Roxy and Rainbow.

After having its spring events canceled twice and their fall event once, the Sept. 5 Backyard Back marked the first time the Rainbow is hosting a rock and roll party of this magnitude. And it did not disappoint.

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THE GUERILLAS

L.A. street artists add refreshing vibrancy to Sunset Strip with homage to rock icons and Hollywood legends.

LACMA may have been on lockdown as we wait out the crazy corona crisis, but local guerrilla artists have been busy keeping the urban landscape interesting with original works of art that have been dotting the Sunset Strip lately.

Alec Monopoly leaves his artful touch in the 90210

Rock icons like KISS, Star Wars heroine Princess Leia, sports great Mike Tyson, and legendary rock and roll club Whisky A Go-Go are just a few of the fascinating subjects that inspired some of the stellar street art that we’ve come across recently in WeHo.

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BACK FOR MORE

Gilby Clark covering the Rolling Stones at Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood

Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood officially confirms it’s coming back to the Sunset Strip in August!

It has been a long couple of months trying to get used to some kind of balance of a normal life during this crazy corona situation that’s happening around the world. It’s been especially tough in Los Angeles County, where the mask mandate just seems to fluctuate with the wind.

However, I received some great news recently as I was walking down Sunset and passed the Whisky A Go-Go as it was hosting a surprise show by Yungblud.

I spotted Whisky’s owner and had to ask about the return of Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood, which is the greatest thing to happen to the world-famous club since The Doors was its house band. Mikael Maglieri confirmed that it was “definitely coming back, most likely in August.”

Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes showed up to Jam Night on his motorcycle

Then, a short time later, the official Instagram page of Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood confirmed that the night is coming back on August 24. Nothing could be more awesome than hearing that news, because that one single night is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen of the Whisky A Go-Go in my life, and I have seen plenty of shows there by the biggest artists on the planet going back as far as the awesome Eighties.

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SOUND EDUCATION

For Those About to Rook book

Rockin’ new book For Those About to Rock teaches kids music history with some edgy fun.

If you respect and appreciate good music and great artists, then you may be feeling a bit indifferent about the trending videos on YouTube that feature millennials and Gen Zers sharing their reaction to first hearing classic songs by legendary artists like the Bee Gees and Motley Crue. Now, watching strangers react to music sounds about as interesting as playing Zeppelin records backwards hoping to hear Satan. However, the most surreal part of the whole “reaction video” trend is that some young people simply aren’t ashamed of their lack of basic music history.

Granted, being able to name the four original members of KISS without needing to check Wikipedia won’t land you a professorship at the local university. But by the time anyone reaches their teen years, you’d hope they’d have some semblance of how and why Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles are just as important to American and world history as George Washington and Albert Einstein.

For Those About to Rook book

Considering how difficult it is just to get the American education system to provide a basic quality education, we’re not holding our breath. Fortunately, a new rockin’ new book has found a great solution. Author/rocker Kate Seldman‘s For Those About to Rock: A Kid’s Guide to 50 Legendary Musical Acts is a long overdue, gorgeously illustrated “text book” that highlights a rich musical education delivered in a fun and engaging presentation that would appeal to any young mind that loves learning.

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AMERICAN GRAFFITI

Artists turn L.A. streets into an urban art gallery any music fan would love.

In 2020, the Sunset Boulevard scene–from Rock Row to Dodger Stadium–has dramatically changed as a result of the pandemic and the nation’s turbulent political climate. And the changes extend beyond just the physical sense of seeing the famous, once-glamorous and vibrant landscape covered in bland blonde plywood and political graffiti.

The biggest impact is the deafening silencing of the world-class live rock and roll music that always seemed to be a ubiquitous part of the Sunset Strip. Regardless of when you visited Sunset’s Rock Row, there was always an exciting rock and roll energy and spontaneous soundtrack permeating the legendary thoroughfare and creating an intrinsic connection with visitors.

Until this year, there was always music in the night air, whether it was the power chords of superstars like Lita Ford or local faves like Budderside emanating from the Whisky A Go Go, or the rockin’ retro sounds of Missing Persons or L.A. rockers Warner Drive (pictured below) shaking the foundation of the Viper Room.

Warner Drive band

However, while the temporary closure of the Whisky, Viper Room and Roxy is tough on everyone, there is some good news.

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WHISKY CURES EVERYTHING

Five of the hardest rockin’ shows headed to the Whisky A Go-Go in 2021.

Sure, we all know that the year 2020 sucks worse than that recent Tommy Lee album, but with a promising vaccine reportedly on the way, there are plenty of awesome concerts that we’re looking forward to in 2021 as we start to make up for lost time.And thanks to Pfizer, we’ll be doing it mask-free and close enough to scare the band. (That was a Fast Times at Ridgemont High joke.)

While we certainly love, respect and appreciate livestream shows from our favorite bands and nightclubs, nothing can ever replace the euphoria and excitement and the intrinsic connection with bands and fellow fans that a live concert offers. Catching concerts at the Whisky A Go-Go–which I’ve done countless times for decades–is a unique experience that wows all the senses.

Whisky A Go-Go

Setting the scene for virtually every Whisky show is the ubiquitous aroma of fine cannabis that wafts above small cliques of Whisky patrons usually seen hanging out in front of the club between sets. The contact high provides a decent buzz that adds to the excitement of seeing the awesome interior of the legendary venue and its unique rock artifacts that cover its walls and pay tribute to past Whisky headliners and house bands like Motley Crue and The Doors.

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ROCKIN’ DESIGN: ‘FRANKENSTEIN’ LIVES

Van Halen

Add some cool color to a drab wall while saluting a rock icon.

After a few months of being cooped up inside all day during this unprecedented lockdown across the nation, you may find that you now have some free time to chill out and reflect on life and find inner peace. Or, you may have spent the last few months trying to drown your anxiety in whiskey and bong hits as Van Halen blares in the background on Spotify on a constant loop. I chose the latter.

Buzzed and suffering from lockdown boredom, I randomly found some old tubes of acrylic paint that I had lying around the house and I decided to paint over an old canvas that was sitting in the closet.

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IN LIVING COLOR

Troubadour gets colorful, hopeful facelift as iconic venue sits empty.

During these turbulent times, it’s now that we can certainly use live music as a healing process and to combat the isolation caused by the lockdown. So, it’s especially unfortunate that the Troubadour, one of my favorite local live music venues, has remained empty for months due to the pandemic.

Recently, one of the nightclub’s promoters was on the local news lamenting about struggling to keep the landmark concert venue afloat during these unfortunate times. And like most music fans, I certainly feel the pain of these promoters and clubs that strive to continually bring in quality artists that are keeping rock n’ roll alive.

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BACK FOR THE ATTACK

Dokken

Dokken and Lynch Mob bringing the hits to Sunset in 2021.

The world-famous Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset strip has been working overtime to keep rock alive while the nightclub is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus. The Sunset Strip landmark has been hosting livestream concerts from the Whisky stage by bands like Black Veil Brides, and on September 19, guitar goddess Orianthi will be busting some strings for a livestream show, and thrash metal monsters Armored Saint headline a livestream set on October 10.

Dokken

Now, the Whisky has revealed another amazing show to look forward, and it’s not a lifestream show either. It’s a live, in-your-face double whammy concert bill featuring Lynch Mob and Dokken performing at a special two-night headlining gig at Whisky on Feb. 5 and 6. Lynch Mob is, of course, fronted by guitar hero George Lynch from Dokken. And it will be great to see the “Wicked Sensation” rocker back on the Whisky’s stage and rockin’ alongside longtime on again/off again bandmate Don Dokken.

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LOVE CONNECTION

Courtney Love

Courtney Love reacts to news of her connection to Jeffrey Epstein.

Anyone who is a longtime fan of legendary Hollywood hardrockers Hole and the band’s enigmatic frontwoman Courtney Love knows that trouble seems to find the singer wherever she goes, even when she’s been hiding low these past few years.

Over the last two decades, Love’s many feuds, fights, and the strategic flinging of a purse to infamously disrupt a high-profile 1995 Madonna interview have kept her in the headlines almost as much as Hole’s hit songs have. It’s no wonder why, without confirmation from famous friend Michael Stipe, Love has publicly theorized that r.e.m.‘s classic alt-rock song “Crush with Eyeliner” is about her, even though the tune’s protagonist equates his crush to “three miles of bad road.”

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BLACK CELEBRATION

BVB

Black Veil Brides to livestream anniversary show from the Whisky.

Hollywood rockers Black Veil Brides are putting on their best leather and hitting the road…sort of. Andy Biersack and his fellow Sunset Strip refugees are taking the coronavirus situation in stride and have devised a great solution to keep on rockin’. On August 1, the band will head to WeHo to celebrate the release of its forthcoming new album by performing Re-Stitch These Wounds in full at the Whisky A Go-Go.

The special record release party performance will be the first time that BVB will be rocking tracks from Re-Stitch These Wounds, a 10-year anniversary re-recording of the Brides’ 2010 debut album, We Stich These Wounds. The new release is due July 31.

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ALICE REVISITED

Alice In Chains

Retro Rewind: Alice in Chains talk music, Van Halen…and goats.

By David Ciminelli

*To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Alice in Chains’ Facelift, which was released in August 1990, here’s a reprint of an interview that I did in October 1991 with Layne Staley and Michael Starr…

Walking into Alice in Chains’ tour bus feels a bit like entering into a scene from This is Spinal Tap.

A half-conscious groupie grabs her purse and combat boots and politely excuses herself as she exits. 

A few quiet moments pass before two members of the band enter the alcove at the rear of the bus. 

Alice In Chains

Looking a bit dazed and confused, the pair make themselves comfortable as they stretch out on the only two cots in the room. 

From their appearance, one can guess that they’ve slept in the very clothes they’re wearing. Incidentally, this is the same attire they will wear tonight when they perform before 15,000 fans in Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. 

For being members of one of America’s premiere hardcore-alternative bands, the pair look rather tame. Bassist Michael Starr is donned in standard thrash metal fashion: t-shirt, shorts, and combat boots. Frontman Layne Staley is shoeless and dressed in ripped jeans, t-shirt, and has his head wrapped in a bandana and his beard spun into a braid.

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FUTURE DAYS

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam reschedules European tour dates, adds shows.

Pearl Jam’s North American tour in support of the Seattle band’s 11th studio album, Gigton, is still pending due to the coronavirus pandemic, but its 2020 European tour has been rescheduled for June and July of 2021. The 2021 tour routing includes two new concert dates — Pinkpop Festival and Prague. Support acts will be announced closer to the concert dates.

Previously purchased tickets will remain valid for all rescheduled shows.

Pearl Jam

“We look forward to returning to Europe, pending these events can safely take place in Summer 2021,” said the band is a press statement that hit social media on July 23. “The safety and well-being of the band’s fans, crew and event staff continue to be priority.”

KICK OUT THE ‘JAM’

Whisky A Go-Go

Whisky’s ‘Jam Night’ delivers more treats than tricks in October.

Tuesday nights in WeHo have never been the same since “Ultimate Jam Night Hollywood” took over the Whisky a few years back. The weekly two-hour showcase of live music has brought back to the Sunset Strip neighborhood an authentic and always awesome rock and roll experience not seen nor heard since the days when Axl, Nikki and Blackie strode its storied streets. In fact, many of the stellar musicians in the “Ultimate Jam” band as well as the weekly surprise guests have likely rocked a stage alongside iconic bands like Guns N’ Roses and Quiet Riot at one time or another. The Tuesday night “Jam” band includes Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot) Matt Starr (Mr. Big), and Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group).1OAK

When not rocking the Whisky’s stage as frontman for the new revival of Sweet, staggeringly talented vocalist Paulie Z hosts “Ultimate Jam Night,” effortlessly segueing between announcing the artists and raising the roof with the house band on a few of the evening’s cover tunes. And all through October, Z and his crew were serving up more treats than tricks.

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‘CRIME’ REPORT

Geoff Tate’s Whisky show proves he’s still king of prog-metal.

Former Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate delivered a mind-f*** at the Whisky on August 17, and fans couldn’t get enough of the hard-rockin’ hits crushing their cabezas. Tate’s timeless classics had the crowd of 200 or so fans fist pumping and singing along throughout the nearly two-hour set that celebrated the 30th anniversary of Queensryche’s 1988 breakthrough album, Operation Mindcrime.

Promising to perform the prog-metal masterpiece in its entirety, Tate and his band delivered a faithful rendition of the 15-song concept album that saw his talented daughter, Emily Tate, guesting on vocals on “Sister Mary.” The multi-platinum Operation Mindcrime is one of Queensryche’s most memorable and successful releases, and arguably the Seattle band’s best album. And Tate and company blew the roof off the Whisky A Go-Go performing perfect renditions of the classic rock hits.

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TRACKING L.A.'S MUSIC SCENE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP