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
Ohio-born and raised, LA based keyboardist, singer and songwriter Al Holbrook.
Holbrook grew up influenced by funk, blues and hip hop genres. Over the years, the artist has perfected his style of raspy, blues-based music that’s infused with gritty soul and R&B. The result is a sound that is instantly catchy and also down-and-dirty. The vibe is designed to make live shows feel like a big party, keeping every performance new and exciting.
Holbrook has hit many hot spots, such as the Bourbon Street Blue and Boogie Bar Nashville (Residence 2013-2017) The Bluebird-Nashville, The Mint LA, Rhythm Room LA (Residence current) to Mojo Blues Club Copenhagen and Dillons Reykjavik. They’ve played festivals and clubs around the world. The group’s sound showcases Holbrook’s diverse style, with songs ranging from funky, and folky to bluesy and hip Urban vibes. The band has released several discs: “Dirt Road”, “Rocket Ships for Dreamers”.
Aroyn Davis is an eclectic 29 year old from South Central LA. The multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, keys and drums) is well versed in all musical genres from Punk Rock to Hip Hop. In his early 20’s you could find him DJ’ing in an after hours club, playing bass/guitar for a Brazilian Reggae band, producing hip hop/R&B tracks or even playing a hybrid of Punk/Ska/R&B/Jazz with Angelo Moore’s (Fishbone) band Dr. Maddvibe. These days he plays bass with Particle Kid and Sunny War. Aroyn wears many hats and has been focusing more recently on developing his solo singer songwriter material.
He will present this body of work under the name: A’Dā (pronounced “ay day”).
“Their sound is huge, lyrically it’s fun and she is a perfect
example of why women are born to rock”
– Tracey Moyle, Good Call Live Magazine
Known for her devilish sass and theatrical performance, Jollee takes you on a wild Wonder Woman Rock n Roll ride to the other side. Combining old school rock with heavy blues; these hard rockers are recreating history and making it their own with powerfully fierce vocals, heavy drum beats, unique guitar riffs and thick bass lines, Jollee’s innovative and energetic tunes are truly unshakable.
Hailing from Gold Coast, Australia these rockers are passionate, quirky, hella funny and put on a performance you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Balam Garcia is a Los Angeles based guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, mastering engineer, and mixing engineer. He combines groove-based styles such as Blues, Funk and Soul music with his Jazz and Classical music training and influences.
Born in the state of Veracruz, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California, it is no wonder that this culturally-mixed musician manages to incorporate such an eclectic variety of sounds into his playing and compositions.
His sounds are reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s blues guitar playing, combined with Herbie Hancock’s harmonically and rhythmically driven styles of improvisation, all the while, paying homage to the west coast Hip-Hop sounds of his hometown of Los Angeles–and the many world music styles he grew up listening to at home, including music from West Africa, India, Brazil, Cuba and his native country of Mexico.
A prodigious guitarist, Balam recorded his first album at age 12, called “Stuff I Like”, which was pressed on Vinyl, and debuted at an art gallery in Italy. At just 16, Balam auditioned for the prestigious Berklee College of Music and was given a full tuition scholarship. He has recorded music for films like Pine Flat, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival.
An experienced touring guitarist, Balam has shared the stage with artists like Haley Reinhart, Justin Nozuka, and Joanna Teters. Balam Garcia currently releases his original music under his name–on all streaming platforms. An advocate for arts education, Garcia is a teacher and supporter of Neighborhood Music School, a non-profit that provides music education to children who would not otherwise have access to it.
Balam aims to bring peace to his community and the rest of the world by spreading positive vibrations through conscious music and his signature “East LA Soul” sound.
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.
Years on the road as a nomad eventually brought Drew Dolan to the realization of his purpose: to connect people through music. This approach has combined a genuine need for cathartic creation that simultaneously draws a thread to the listener. With story-telling lyrics that are delivered with a soulful voice that travels from silky smooth to as gritty as gravel, his “true stories” matched with his keyboard playing groove their way into the ears and hearts of whoever listens.
With a style that has a firm foundation in his Chicago roots, Drew Dolan draws influences from all over the map. With hints of Bill Withers, Leon Russell, Dr. John, Ray Charles, The Meters to name a few, he bridges the gap between yesteryear and present day.
Dolan was the former lead singer/writer of The Proof., who released an EP called “Bang Bang” (leading single “Happy Street”), enjoyed success online with features on Jam in the Van and Sofar Sounds and quickly attracted a Soundcloud following that reached over 200,000 spins in less than two years. The music found a home on terrestrial radio as well on esteemed stations such as KCRW (featured release on “Morning Becomes Eclectic”) and many other non-com/college stations across the country. After years of playing some of LA’s most renowned stages (The Troubadour, The Hotel Cafe, Harvelle’s, Mrs. Fish) the band recently decided to move in different directions.
He is currently writing, playing as a soloist and collaborating with a new cast of talented musicians. Whether playing solo or with his new project “The Council,” Dolan’s sonic offering is to be experienced and shared.
King Baumgardt is coming up on it’s 20th anniversary, more or less, who’s counting. They said they never could decide on a band name, but it was always clear that both their names had to be included. They make their home in Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt, not known for it’s great support of their local musicians, loves these two as their own sons and daughters.
Matthias Baumgardt, born and raised in Frankfurt’s East End, formed his first band at 14 and the neighbors looked on and grew up with him as he moulded Frankfurt’s live music scene until it fit him like a glove. He brought Rock, Rock‘n Roll and Blues to us and made them accessible, touchable, danceable and live-able! Music – as a way of life.
In 2000, April King wandered into the short-lived, but legendary Blues and Beyond in Frankfurt. At the end of the evening, Matthias asked her where she’d been all this time. Her answer was, “Waiting for you to finally show up, I guess”. April brings with her an authenticity and an unstoppable voice, she has been compared to everything from stardust to cinderblocks, you have to decide for yourself.
King Baumgardt is in the studio right now! Setting down the psychedelic stuff. It’s not clear, when this is all over, where we will be playing the big stuff. The people we pay our royalties to are sucking us dry and every time the city gentrifies a neighborhood we loose another Honky-Tonk to play in, now in the Corona aftermath, most of our venues won’t even open up again.
Born in 1967 in LeHigh Acres, Florida, grew up as one of the “Little Ones” in a family with six kids. Her career began as a baby singing the gear-changes of the car motor as the King Family tooled up and down the Southeastern seaboard.
April enjoyed an awesome vocal/musical education at the youth performing arts school.
Finding no room for herself in classical music, she went to NYC. Dropped by Germany for a visit, got stuck. That was in ’92, and she’s been there ever since.
April met Matthias in 2000. Started playing the Blues. Travelled a bunch of places, played everywhere. Married, got two kids. More you don`t need to know, cause anything else she says will probably be made up!