It’s no secret that great art comes from the margins. From those who are either pushed to create from inner forces, or who create to show they deserve to be recognized. Los Angeles based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, always felt the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting.
As a young black girl growing up in Nashville, she searched for her own roots, looking first to the blues she heard from her mother’s boyfriend, and learning from a local guitarist. Moving to Los Angeles in her teens, she searched for herself in the LA punk scene, playing house shows with FIDLAR, and shoplifting DVDs from big box stores to trade at Amoeba Records for 80s punk albums. But here too she found herself on the outside, working to bridge her foundation in country blues and American roots guitar traditions with the punk scene she called home. She first made her name with this work, bringing a wickedly virtuosic touch on the fingerstyle guitar that sprang from her own self-discoveries on the instrument. But her restless spirit, a byproduct of growing up semi-nomadic with a single mother, led her to Venice Beach, California, where she’s been grinding the pavement for some years now, making a name for her prodigious guitar work and incisive songwriting, which touches on everything from police violence to alcoholism to love found and lost.
Her new album, With The Sun, out February 2, 2018 on Hen House Studios, is the culmination of years of burning curiosity as an artist, the result of many wandered paths to find some new way to speak her heart. For the first time, she’s writing songs first and crafting the guitar work second, focusing on her own poetry and trying to tell her own story. She’s an outsider artist in the truest sense, living on the margins of the establishment and fueled only by her own creative genius.
To help achieve With the Sun’s larger vision, Sunny War turned to the ragtag group of Venice Beach musicians she’s fallen in with, mainly members of psych folk band Insects vs Robot, including multi-instrumentalist Micah Nelson, fiddler Nikita Sorokin, and guitarist Milo Gonzalez. Produced by Harlan Steinberger at Hen House Studios in Venice Beach, which also doubled as the record label, the new album pushes and pulls between cleverly arranged orchestration and the DIY aesthetic that remains as Sunny’s throwback to her punk roots. For an artist with so many different influences, the album is remarkably cohesive, choosing to focus on Sunny’s songwriting and intricate guitar work. As an artist, Sunny borrows ideas and patterns at will from across the canon of American music. Her influences range from Elliott Smith, Black Flag, Joan Armatrading, and Tracy Chapman, to Robert Johnson (“To Love You” is her homage to Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot”), Elmore James, and Bessie Smith. “I feel like I am a blues guitarist, but I don’t think I’m a blues artist,” Sunny explains. “I only use the scales and techniques that I know and the only time I was trained in music was on blues guitar. I really love Elizabeth Cotton and Mississippi John Hurt. I still like to listen to them to feel that there’s nothing wrong with me playing the way I play.”
“…her right thumb plunks the bass part while her forefinger upstrokes notes and chords, leaving the other three fingers unused. A banjo technique, it’s also used by acoustic blues guitarists. Her fingers are long and strong – Robert Johnson hands – in jarring contrast to the waif they’re attached to. The walking bass line sounds like a hammer striking piano keys in perfect meter, while the fills are dynamic flurries – like cluster bombs. I haven’t heard a young guitarist this dexterous and ass-kicking in eons.”
– Michael Simmons, L.A Weekly
Born in Dreieich, just outside of Frankfurt Germany, guitarist Michael Jost (pronounced ‘yoast’), found his way to the bohemian Venice Beach boardwalk, in Los Angeles California, where he now lives and makes music.
Owing to Michael’s unique European heritage, his rigorous classical training, and his 21st Century American experience, you can hear something very different in his passionate, Spanish-style guitar. Michael’s travel companion is Miss Lucy, a Flamenca guitar built by Tomas Delgado of Candelas Guitars. She has a strong character, with a warm and beautiful sound.
Michael has a unique sound. His music is a journey in time and space fueled by his passion for music and his instrument. His influences are very multicoloured and involve different styles, continents and time periods from Paco De Lucia and Stravinsky to Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd.
No two of Michael’s live performances are ever the same, drawing from his recent albums, Zeitlos and California Burning, as well as unreleased songs from his upcoming album, Concierto.
Zeitlos is a timeless and unique blend of acoustic, classical and flamenco styles, entwined with the sounds and soul of Venice, California. His earlier album, California Burning, is a psychedelic fusion of electric and acoustic guitar.
The Blood Moon Howlers are a psychedelic, neo-noir blues/rock band with some funk in the trunk out of Los Angeles, CA., formed in 2017. Their music features both male and female vocals, groovy guitar lines and unique drum beats and percussion that’ll put a wobble in your walk.
Their most recent critically acclaimed singles “At The Barrel 33 (Mess Around)”, “Moonlighters” and “Tilted Patrons” released in 2020 are spreading like wildfire all over online platforms and publications, magazines, blogs and have been played on radio stations all over the world. They have also been featured as the Artist Spotlight on SoCal’s 88.5 FM for multiple weeks in a row, which lead them to being the featured band on the AUX RTN Podcast affiliated with 88.5 FM.
Most recently, The Blood Moon Howlers played the first ever virtual reality Burning Man Festival being the largest virtual reality event in history, played on Jam In The Van in Los Angeles, Sunset Sound Studio’s “Into The Vault” series and were a featured band on Medicine Box’s “Tree Talks”.
Virtual Tips for The Blood Moon Howlers
Born from the tradition of bringing good stories to music, Brother Billy’s first release “Don’t Fall Asleep on the Tracks” has conjured up spirits of the past with tales of jilted love, pointed historical commentary, and folks having raucous good time.
With the evocative puberty anthem “Red Ribbon” to the cynical retort of “Your Grand Design” he gets right to the sweet, the sad, and the naughty.
His Hopeless Choir is a revolving door of many talented musicians that give a little to help a lot in lifting up the spirit of his oh-so-spirited music.
From the snow-capped mountains of Oklahoma to the pale-painted deserts of Louisiana – from the coal-firing cost of California to the sweeping serenity of New York City – everyone could use the kind of smile that comes from spending a little time with Brother Billy.
Adrienne Braswell is an Award winning Taos Singer/Songwriter at the New Mexico Music Awards. Her knock-out voice and multi-genre muse of Indiefolk-Blues-Jazz-MysticalPop have taken her to many stages, from the vibrant Austin club scene to The Copa Cabana in New York City; sharing venues with B.B. King, Jimmy la Fave and Lyle Lovett to name a few!
Virtual Tips for Adrienne Braswell
The Aliens were formed at the request of David Catching (guitar player for Queens of the Stone Age/Eagles of Death Metal) to open up for his band Earthlings? at The Opium Den in Hollywood in November of 1998.
Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures) was in the audience of that first gig and requested The Aliens adjourn with him out to The Rancho De La Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree, California to take part in a series of recordings he had been doing called The Desert Sessions. The Aliens were featured in Desert Sessions Volume 6.
This illustrious beginning started a career of playing such unorthodox venues as a whore house, funeral, several rumbles (that is, appearances that turned into rumbles), many desert generator parties, and a summer residency at a transvestite/butch dyke bar.
The Aliens That Ate Hollywood are currently touring the Universe and were last seen playing at a hole in the wall on the outskirts of Uranus.
The Aliens were delighted when asked to make an appearance (abduction) at Radio Venice TV.