Digital Gringo: “Project Mayhem” cannot be described as anything less than brilliant!

Right of the cuff, two things caught my attention about Modesto, California creative, Digital Gringo. Firstly, his biography reads: “Digital Gringo is a rapper that raps”. And secondly, how many rappers do you know that rhyme perfectly to the funky beat foundation of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove”? But my enchantment with this atypical rapper didn’t stop there, while listening to his aptly named 12 track album – “Project Mayhem”. In fact, as a description, ‘mayhem’ may actually be an understatement once you’ve run through the entirety of this recording. The tones and moods on this album run from

Omar Bowing: “Women” – the expansive arrangement gives it a progressive bent

Omar Bowing is an independent musician and songwriter located in Austin, Tx. Omar who plays the guitar and guitarviol works with a revolving group of musicians to bring his songs to life. In particular he often collaborates with Tyson Yen, who has lent his voice to almost all of Bowing’s tracks. Omar Bowing’s latest musical creation is simply entitled “Women”. Though mirroring the endeavors of history-making females, the track intends to be a respectful tribute to women in general – from mothers to wives, and sisters to nieces, daughters, friends and co-workers, etc. And in fact the track releases on

Glocck Vee: “IDGF ABOUT YO HITTAS” delivers sharp, telescopic views

Glocck Vee, is an American rap artist from Albuquerque, NM. He has overcome adversity in his childhood and now makes music about his experiences.  His latest single “IDGF ABOUT YO HITTAS” features Mike Beezy Bad Azz, a recording artist, and engineer. Glocck Vee currently works with Juelz Santana, Big Trill, And Maino, and has also collaborated with Mr.Pookie from Dallas TX, Stoney Crook Records. This is a track driven by reactionary outbursts of authenticity and real hip-hop. It’s a robust and dynamic project. Glocck Vee is pure, and, arguably, blunt. His latest single loads several compelling rounds of rage. And

The Jon Johns: “Road Trip Mixtape” – an adventurous attitude!

The Jon Johns are a duo of musicians/producers who have been making music together since 2018. Their music binds the past and the present together into a harmonious sound with musical influences from the 60’s to now. One-hundred-percent independent, the Jon Johns do everything from writing, playing, recording, producing, mixing and releasing their own music. They currently have their 9 track “Road Trip Mixtape” out now. Within minutes of the mixtape kicking into life, this supremely confident recording suggests a band at the peak of their powers, occupying their own orbit. It starts with “Make My Day”, a vast, expansive

Marcela Iglesias: “Human Doll” (feat. Eric ‘Well Written’ McCoy) – fun, bouncy and all around enjoyable

Love it or hate it, you cannot deny that Plastics of Hollywood are gaining traction and making serious waves in the entertainment industry. Spearheaded by Los Angeles, California, Talent manager and producer Marcela Iglesias, the community of plastic surgery enthusiasts are spreading their reach into the film, TV and music spheres. From Ken dolls to Jessica Rabbit and Britney Spears lookalikes Plastics of Hollywood have spent millions of dollars on surgery and aesthetic procedures altering and adapting their looks. Their aim is to simply feel happy and fulfilled in bodies they adore. By the very nature of its scope Plastics

Interview with Californian band City Kings

City Kings is an alternative rock band from Chino, California. Though mainly known for playing heavier hard rock sounding tunes, the band has a very versatile array of musical knowledge. They perform acoustic and softer renditions of their songs on streets of the Inland Empire, or original versions of songs on stages in local venues. The three-piece collective is made up of Chris, Adrian and Ruben. How and when did the City Kings project start and who are the collaborators involved? Christian Blankenship (City Kings): City Kings was basically started on Craigslist! I met our singer and guitarist Adrian after

Midas Well: “3am”- moments of pure body-high pleasure

Midas Well is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist currently residing in Austin, Texas. His album “Golden Rule” is coming soon to all streaming platforms via Jurnt Entertainment, along with his single “3am”. Midas raises the stakes in this stunning narrative. In lesser hands, all this creative weight could feel leaden. But Midas proves himself to be a craftsman, and gets the job done. Midas Well is a great musical artist and his new single shows that in a beautiful showcase of music.  “Golden Rule” is an album with a generous helping of highlights, not least because of Midas’ enviable vocal

DJ Raw B & Luke Sick: “Head Chucka” – a panoply of mic and beat making skills

DJ Raw B & Luke Sick are a hip-hop duo from the Bay Area. Their friendship grew into a partnership that led to collaborations on past tracks and projects. An album had been a goal for the duo, and that dream has finally been realized with “Born Illness”, an eight track LP that’s currently available on all music platforms. The album was produced via a digital collaboration between DJ Raw B and Luke that spanned the course of a year. This release shows a rapper and a beat maker who prove that they are not going anywhere soon. Both unwrap

Sevy Campos: “Thirsty” ft. Samuel Wallace – a Pop-EDM crossover flavor

Born in Arles, Southern France, Sevy Campos began to sing and play guitar at a very early age with the desire to follow in the footsteps of the famous Gipsy Kings, who are from his hometown. During his teen years Sevy across all of Europe, and lived in the UK for 5 years He then returned to France before going to Germany. His song “Thirsty” ft. Samuel Wallace, has been aired on MTV, and is currently play-listed on more than 160 radio and TV channels around the globe. Currently preparing his upcoming album, Sevy Campos is also planning to announce

OfficialVybe: “Anubis” – authentic, unaffected and uninfluenced

Two years after being a coma for 47 days due to open heart surgery, North Liberty, Iowa rapper Vybe aka OfficialVybe, is back with a brand new 18 track album, entitled “Anubis”. The rapper who initiated his craft under the guidance of Russell Barbary has since been produced by Grammy Award winner Matty Trump, on his single “Activist”, and has his songs available on over 600 stores in more than 120 countries. This album is chock full of more cast iron monster tunes than any mainstream rap album this year. In the world of casual rap fans, there are three

Close up with Rocker Rick Shaffer

Prolific recording rock artist, Rick Shaffer, is a founding member of the Philadelphia band, The Reds©, whose first self-titled album on A&M records, was produced by David Kershenbaum. It highlighted a blend of Rick Shaffer’s guitar and Bruce Cohen’s keyboards. The album was supported with live appearances with The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image. Shaffer has also done plenty of studio work and features on the Marianne Faithfull album (Island); Hilly Kristal’s, “Mad Mordechai” (Stereo Society); Peter Murphy’s, “Holy Smoke” (Beggars Banquet/BMG); and Marc Almond’s, “Fantastic Star” (Some Bizarre/Mercury); as well as writing, producing and recording, “Looking For Right,” for the film, “Collateral,” directed by Michael Mann. 2017 also marks Rick Shaffer’s eighth solo album, “STOLEN MOMENTS”, which was inspired by the concept that there are no guarantees or promises in life.

  1. Where did the songs on your eighth solo album, “STOLEN MOMENTS” come from, have you been storing them away and waiting for the right moment, or did inspiration suddenly hit you?

Rick Shaffer: All my albums are written in the moment prior or during the current recording. Although the track “Other One” was a lyrical idea kicking around a while. The musical idea of “Other One” was to wrap Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer” around Television’s “Marquee Moon” guitar atmospherics. The overall song material is written in a stream of consciousness.

  1. You were joined by Teddy Rixon (bass) and Stevie Carlisle (drums) on your new album, how did that affect the writing and recording process, were you in control the whole time, or was it more of a process where everyone left their mark?

Rick Shaffer: The rhythm section rolls with the songs presented, they play what they’re feeling and we take the song and sounds to where the production is realized. Teddy comes from the Bill Wyman / Ronnie Lane school of bass, and Stevie is a Nick Knox / Mo Tucker guy, and both are perfect for this album. We recorded twenty-two tracks and put together the ten that made the most sense continuity wise. Producing the material myself, gives me the freedom to get the tracks just how I imagined them in my head. It’ all about groove, vibes and tones.

  1. Okay, so we’ve discussed how the album was made, but for someone who is sitting on the fence, why should they grab themselves a copy of “STOLEN MOMENTS”?

Rick Shaffer: There’s no sitting on the fence. If you want some raw, aggressive, real rock-n-roll then jump on board. If you’re looking for the over produced, over thought out and, to these ears, boring, corporate projects, I’m not your guy.

  1. We always like to ask which artist and bands influenced you to pick up the electric guitar in the first place and who is inspiring you today?

Rick Shaffer: A bunch of artists, but early Stones, which led to the blues masters like Muddy Waters, Slim Harpo, Fred Mc Dowell and the great Magic Sam. Later the sixties and seventies rockers Bowie / Ronson, Iggy and the Stooges, Free, Lou Reed, and Mitch Ryder. A guy that I’ve been listening to lately is Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks.  I always focus on what I would call the “long game” artists like Link Wray, Van Morrison, Iggy Pop and Muddy Waters, people that continue to keep working on their sound.  The production sound was an interest also, like the Phil Spector Gold Star recordings, Chess Records, Motown and lots of the indie 60’s garage sounds.

  1. Was there a definitive moment when you knew you wanted to be a guitarist?

Rick Shaffer: I think it was more of a cumulative addiction, always tone, hooks and guitar riffs, hearing Keith Richards “Satisfaction,” B.B. King’s “Live at the Regal,” Peter Green’s “English Rose,” and the wonderfully distorted Link Wray’s “Rumble.”

  1. Do you remember your very first guitar and do you still own it?

Rick Shaffer: My first guitar was purchased from the Sears and Roebuck department store and was an acoustic Silvertone for $25 bucks which led to my first electric “Danelectro Longhorn” like Link Wray played. Unfortunately, I do not own them today.

  1. Your first gig: disaster, success, or long forgotten?

Rick Shaffer: I still remember the noise, the beat and crowd. I loved it and thought this is for me. How good the performance was — I don’t remember any negative crowd response, or being hit with anything, and there was a lot of dancing, so it was a success.

  1. What’s your favorite bit of musical gear in your collection, and what’s the latest addition you’ve made, or are wanting to make?

Rick Shaffer: My 1960’s Framus guitars are favorites, along with my 1961 Supro Ozark.  So it comes down to a few to get the colors and character on each song. The Premier Reverberation unit and the Mahoney Cal Tone fuzz pedal are essentials. Two new important additions on this album are a 1971 Framus “Caravelle” and ‘Embargo” pedal designed by Ant Farm Amplification that’s a take on the original Rangemaster. And I’ve been looking for a Hornby Skewes treble booster.

  1. It may seem like an odd question to ask as you’re still very much in the prime of your career, but what do you look back on as your proudest moment so far?

Rick Shaffer: The work my partner Bruce Cohen and I did working with director Michael Mann, and playing live the original line-up of The Reds on tour with Blondie, Police, The Ramones, and Joe Jackson.

  1. To get back to the album, “STOLEN MOMENTS,” when you aimed to recreate The Stooges “Fun House” production style in the studio, was it because you wanted to sound authentic, or were you trying to avoid an ultra-clean modern production sound?

Rick Shaffer: I didn’t aim for the “Fun House” production, as much as using it for inspiration to my own sound. It came through a bit in the recording process, because generally my production has a heavy lean on distortion and is consistently anything but clean. I think recoding live on a Scully 280 gives that early 70’s sound, and on tracks “Time Stays” and “Call My Name” we switched to a Ampex 4-track for that early Stones / Pretty Things sound. For me, the tracks “All I Want,” “Modern Lie,” “Other One,” “One In Five” and “Danger Awaits” really come the closest to The Stooges “Fun House” sound.

  1. In the UK and Europe music magazines and websites they’re incredibly pessimistic. After another year of declining sales of guitar music, everyone seems ready to proclaim the death of rock?

Rick Shaffer: Fuck em, there will always be rockers. What did that old Neil Young say? “Rock and roll can never die.”

  1. As a great guitarist in your own right, and as a former member of a highly successful act how do you respond when you hear commentators talking that way about guitar-based music?

Rick Shaffer: They’re morons that need something to write about and just show their intelligence, or lack there of.

  1. Is there an artist whose music you love that might surprise our readers?

Rick Shaffer: Sixties artist Laura Nyro, because her lyrics, imagery and intensity is a beautiful thing.

Rick Shaffer

  1. Is there a guitar or bit of equipment you remember being excited about buying in the moment, but now look back and just shake your head?

Rick Shaffer:  That would be a sixties Gibson SG Standard that didn’t have enough bite for me.

  1. In your eyes, what makes a great guitarist?

Rick Shaffer: Tone, memorable riffs and songwriting. Jimi Hendrix is one of the few artists that had the whole package.

  1. Time to annoy our guitar obsessed readers: the best guitar in the world is?

Rick Shaffer: The all purpose Fender Stratocaster . God bless Leo Fender.

  1. What is the best piece of advice regarding the music business that you actually followed so far, and what is the advice you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?

Rick Shaffer: Play it like you feel it, never give up, block out the noise and write your own material. The worst decision ever was A&M Records insisting The Reds use The William Morris agency to book our live dates. Because it meant firing Ian Copeland, a person we really loved, who was our original booking agent.  A bad moral and business mistake I felt at the time, but didn’t follow through on because of the record label agenda.

  1. How would you personally describe your music, in the length of a Tweet, to someone who has never heard your stuff before?   

Rick Shaffer: I don’t tweet, but I am on Facebook (facebook.com/TheRedsMusic).

  1. Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?

Rick Shaffer: Yes, they’re good tools to reach a larger audience, especially to connect with fans. Real talent will emerge in the long run, there has always been “short timers.”

  1. What is the one thing you have never ever been willing, or prepared to do, in your quest to sustain a successful musical career?

Rick Shaffer: Sell out the music for the bucks, or for anybody.

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