Music Friday Blog

  • Two golden voiced women with very different stories– one from London, one from American Idol .

    amanda-singing-300_sq.jpgFriday's program features two women from different parts of the world, different generations and different paths to success. Amanda Campbell started in London and is now the frontwoman for the soulful jazz/rock/blues band in LA.  She is releasing singles now with her smokey voice and gripping lyrics.  Casey McQuillian went the "American Idol" route, gaining experience and connections that amplified her prodigious talent, but had to deal with bullying - and turned that into inspiration for songs. (photo- Hillary Short).




  • Hard Rock Friday this week

    DEREK_DAVIS_GUITAR300sq.jpgActually, it is a coincidence that we booked two hard rock bands this week, especially after booking one last week.  no, we are no going metal, but we do enjoy some head bobbing and banging every once in a while and it is a break from the many, many wonderful singer-songwriters we have had lately.  So tune in and enjoy Derek Davis and his solo launch and Last Giant second album - the first with this band configuration.





  • SWIRL and Maggie McCLure. Rock and pop. Friday

    maggie_mclure_300sq.jpgI love contrasts.  SWIRL is really, really hard rock - and really, really good hard rock and deeply literary.  Listen carefully, while you headbob and crowd surf. Maggie McCLure is as bright and fun and pop as you can get and still be a very series, talented singer-songwriter.  Which is why you have heard her music in network television shows.  She knows how to give directors the emotion and the feel they need.

    They won't be on together, but as the two bookends of Friday's show, I think they will be a study in the bookends of American music.  I am going to try to get Maggie to hum or even sing a few tunes.  SWIRL - not so much: my microphone is not geared for it, so we will listen to their latest album.


  • Alih Jey and Vanessa Zamora lite up Civic Center Studios

    aligh_jey_with_cunao_300.jpgSapo Verde Music stepped out in a big way this weekend with an all-star program of female artists at the newly remodeled DTLA venue Civic Center Studios. A packed house was treated to Latin-Grammy nominated rock guitarist Alih Jey and wildly popular Vanessa Zamora.  Opening act Ruzzi warmed the house up with her gut-grabbing electric guitar licks and Cuñao backed the girls-with-guitars with their eclectic rhythms and world melodies.

    Sapo Verde Music is Alih Jey’s record label and production company. The Civic Center Studios night was its debut live event and if they are all this good, LA now has another first class promoter of live American Latino Music.

    Set for an 8 pm opening with 9 pm music, you knew quickly that something special was in the offing when the crowd was already thick by 8:30 pm – unusually early in the LA music scene. That something special started with Mexico City-based Ruzzi, who broke from a gaggle of friends and fans in the back of the club to stride onstage, push back her trademark hat, plug in her guitar and welcome an eager crowd.  As the projected light show streamed across her face and body,  she picked a 50’s slow dance rhythm and then looped it. Once the beat got going she caressed her axe’s high strings for a bit of 50’s nostalgia before taking us through a set that included whistling, Vanessa Zamora in a duet, hard rock, sweet ballads, and of course, her magic fingers.  Singing almost completely in Spanish, but talking to the audience in Spanish and English, Ruzzi not only set the stage, but she showed us a rising talent to watch.

    Ruzzi perfectly set the stage for the first headliner, Latin-Grammy nominated Alih Jey, backed by the incredibly talented LA-based world folk band, Cuñao.  Jey is known for her hard rock blues and pop in English and Spanish (”Steal My Boyfriend” “Aqi Voy”) but she surprised everyone with songs by her father and grandfather – both cherished musicians in her native Dominican Republic as is her mother.  Jey got very personal, telling us the stories of her family, especially her grandfather, one of whose songs, popularized by his son – her father -  she gave us.   Her sweet voice and superb acoustic guitar filled Civic Center Studios high-ceilinged space, carried by the percussion and color of Cuñao’s joyful, energetic music. The effect was one of songs swirling around like the dynamic designs projected on the walls.  She was joined at the end of her set by Alexandro Hernandez of ¡Aparato! who deepened and extended Jey’s guitar notes with his own world-class playing.

    Closing the night was Vanessa Zamora, Tijuana-born and, like Jey, from musician parents. Zamora began playing piano at 8 and developed her voice and style throughout university at Guadalajara,  releasing her first album, Hasta la Fantasia in 2014 – an instant success. She has followed up with a series of singles, building a deeply dedicated fan base on both sides of the border. Talking to the audience in English and Spanish, but singing in Spanish, Zamora was often echoed quietly by audience members softly singing the memorized lyrics to her popular singles.  Ruzzi, joined Zamora onstage for two songs, adding her electric color to the acoustic rainbows that Zamora shaped with her liquid gold voice and seamless guitar. Seeing Zamora onstage is always surprising. She draws little distinction between audience and entertainer, standing with friends or circulating through the crowd during other performances, inviting other musicians onstage with her, carrying on conversations with the audience while she tunes (which she does often and precisely). Her casual clothing (bomber jacket over black tights and sleep length t-shirt) emphasized that this is the music of the people, and the people only get the best.

    A silent talent in the room was the room, the Civic Center Studios.  A high-quality boutique film and video studio that reconfigures itself for public and private music events, CCS is a white room for colorful music.  With a bar at one end and a stage at the other, full lighting and a cracker-jack sound system, plus full dressing rooms for musicians and an upstairs lounge, it has the facilities to make both the audience and talent feel like they are getting the royal treatment.  The curved white walls lend themselves to visual projections and the studio is well equipped to use them to change reality and create a vibe. While a few of projections on the artists were distracting, especially in the dim light selected for the evening, the overall result was one of comfort, luxury and quality.  The remodeling is still underway, but CCS is bringing a welcome touch of class to the DTLA music scene.




  • Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars rock us this Friday

    full_band_on_stage_300sq.jpgEver since I returned from Cuba I have been looking for ways to bring Cubana musica to MusicFridayLive!, but it has not been easy because it is so hard for Cubanos to come to the US to play.  That is our loss, not theirs;  Cuban bands tour Europe and Asia all the time, it is just those of US 90 miles away from Havana that can not enjoy them. This week the embargo broke, at least for one band.  Juan de Marcos recorded the first albums of the Buena Vista Social Club 20 years ago nd he has assembled an all-star band of Cuban artists - some of them from various iterations of the BVSC and managed to get permission to tour the US.  That tour lands in in LA next week (I will be there!) and we get to talk with him Friday.  This will be musical history.


  • Jenny Ball - twice this week. Bliss

    jenny_along_trumpet_up300_sq.jpgJenny Ball of Jenny and the Mexicats is our guest live this Friday and I just got done interviewing her on the radio.  How's that you say?  How could I interview her before she is interviewed?  Easy, she was on my other show, MusicaFusionLA - the bilingual English-Spanish show I co-host on Wednesday afternoons ( 1 pm  And that is fortunate because we had an hour to talk with her and learned a whole bunch that will guide the conversation this Friday - such as she moved to Spain and started a band with a Spaniard and two Mexicans without speaking a word of Spanish, and the police tried to stop a fan from singing her lyrics at a how, so they invited him on stage to sing with her.  We will talk about those things and more and play songs from her crackerjack new album Mare Abierto.



  • Top producer and hot new star this week

    I love it when we have a look at the full spectrum of how songs and stars get made.  We start the show with a hot, rising new star who worked up to the finals in The Voice and is now making waves on her own, Lauren Ruth Ward.  In the second half of the show, we talk to Jared Faber, one of LA's top producers for stars like Lauren, plus TV shows and films and his own Latin-Grammy winning music.  Should be a great show! 

  • Friday night, Girls RockLA rocks out with Halo Circus, Los Hollywood, and Stars at Night.

    girls_rock_la_mastercompressed300.jpgThis Friday at the 333Live Club in DTLA, the 7 edition of GirlsRockLA will blow the roof off with Halo Circus, Los Hollywood, Stars at Night and Kanvas. This will be the concert of the year for the Latina-led music community in LA. Don't miss it. 






  • Gayle Skidmore this Friday. Magic, whimsy and pop rock

    gayle_skidmore_300sq.jpgI can't get enough of Gayle Skidmore and her music.  She is a musical shapeshifter who moves easily from humor to pathos to joy, all the while carrying y ou along with infectious rhythmic melodies and an angelic voice. She toys with notes, with instruments (she plays 20 different ones!) with tempo, with mood. It is no wonder that she has a shelf full of awards and is in demand across the country. And all of this flows from a life that has moved through many, many dimensions and adventures.  This will be such a fun interview.



  • The Slants this Friday. Enough said.

    PThe_Slants_funny_300sq.jpgI can hardly wait to talk with this band.  Not only have they named their band to mock a Vietnam-era derogatory name for Asians, they have sued the US Patent Office for not letting them copyright it - and they work with communities across the country that have been as marginalized as they have.  But they are not marginal as far as their music goes; they fill huge venues and set download records.  Their music is impossible not to dance too; their shows blow the roofs off of venues and their stories are fascinating.  Don't miss this interview.