Salt Petal Preview New Single ‘Disco Rats’

Los Angeles-based collective Salt Petal is invigorating audiences and critics alike with a tropical surf-dance sound in a category all its own. A cross-border combination of Argentinian folk, Brazilian tropicalia, cumbia and up tempo surf rock blurs ethnic and musical boundaries, bringing to mind Blondie, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, and 60′s rock and roll. The band’s sound is one of the freshest to come out of Los Angeles, showcasing deep South American rhythms with vibrant indie pop harmonies and textures.

Salt Petal’s latest release, Rare Hearts, set to release on April 28, was recorded at the famed London Bridge Studios in Seattle with producer Eric Lilavois (Saint Motel, Atlas Genius) and mixed and mastered by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, Avid Dancer). The album aims to be a constant reminder for humanity to have faith and love in ourselves, in order to continue to get through difficult moments. The central theme is “exploring the fight everyday against yourself to be able to see what you have around you” reveals vocalist Autumn Harrison.

Their sound is heavily influenced by the adventuresome explorations of South America’s music revolutions in the 60s and 70s, such as Tropicalia, Gonzalez confides,”Tropicalia had such a great philosophy of taking things on, consuming and devouring what was available and experimenting with it in a boundary-less way, in the search of a new identity.” Salt Petal aspires to do the same, with their new release Rare Hearts. They write from loving a variety of sounds found in California, with rhythms and sounds from across the Americas considered on equal footing with rock, soul, and blues. The musical collective describes their sound as subconscious and a natural extension of who they are and hope that Rare Hearts will inspire people to be passionate, courageous and of course to dance!

The band’s latest funky single ‘Disco Rats‘ is an engaging joyride filled with lavish electronics and bold Latin horns. One listen and you’ll understand why Salt Petal is in such high demand for festivals around the world.


Rambler Playlist April 24th

It would be difficult to argue there’s a more influential band in Austin right now ahead of Riders Against the Storm. The husband and wife duo of Chaka and Qi Dada are at the forefront of Austin’s progressive movement helping lead the city’s music industry into the future. Music, art, fashion, you name it…the three-time AMA Band of the Year does it all. Last Friday, RAS dropped their most provocative video yet…I know, I know…that’s a bold statement for this thought-provoking group. ‘Mali‘ gives homage to the forces/spirits bringing us back, and resurrecting us from the ‘dead,’ explains Qi Dada. ‘Mali follows two souls trapped in torture and humiliation tactics used on enslaved Blacks. The song and video is a statement about being recognized in the world beyond your trauma, and walking with a healthy arrogance, confidence, and self-realized power in the world.’

I have no idea how I’ve slept on Portugal. The Man for so long. But, I’m woke now. A few months back the ‘Lords of Portland’ dropped a fresh video for ‘Noise Pollution’ off of their upcoming album Gloomin + Doomin. Filmed in Alaska with director Michael Ragen, the psychedelic video features Zoe Manville and Mary Elizabeth Winstead along with an unconventional ‘chest day’ routine. The video was posted with the following message from the band:
“It’s been a rough month y’all.
Not to be dramatic and shit, but there’s a flood of noise right now that feels like it might drown us all. And it’s harder and harder to tell what’s fact, what’s opinion, and what’s just straight up bullshit.We’re not able to make sense of it, much less tell you how to make sense of it. Thank God there’s music for that. We’ve been working on a new record with your boy Michael Diamond for awhile, but we made a quick stop in Alaska with filmmaker Michael Ragen to shoot this video. Seemed like the right time to show it to you. We’re in this together.”

You can’t talk about Houston hip-hop without mentioning Lil Keke. The legend that gave Houston its ‘Southside’ anthem has been putting it down for the 713 since 96’. Twenty-one years after he pimped the pen on 3 N The Mornin’, Don Ke is still one of the most versatile lyricists in the game. He proves with just two versus on ‘After The Laughter’ that his flow hasn’t lost a step and he can still wreck a track. The video keeps it simple with the Herschelwood Hardhead front-and-center framed by the Houston skyline. That’s it. No fluff, no fillers, just Lil Keke and two scorching versus.

So, I just watched War Dogs this past weekend and although it proved to be a fairly entertaining way to kill two hours it was the closing credits that left the greatest impression. As Miles Teller’s character David Packouz finds himself alone in a Miami hotel room with a briefcase full of cash the screen goes black with Leonard Cohen’sEverybody Knows’ ushering in the credits. This 1988 classic from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is hauntingly prophetic as the baritone vocals covers topics from AIDS, social problems, and relationship and religious issues.


Photo of Portugal. The Man by Phillip Leach

Dallas Punks From Parts Unkown to Release “Trucker Speed”

Fast, hard, and in your face, Dallas rock trio From Parts Unknown is set to release Trucker Speed on Friday, April 28. The band is hosting a co-record release show the night before (April 27) at Three Links in Deep Ellum with dark psych-rockers Drawer Devils. Self-proclaimed space vampires Bullet Machine and punk supergroup Blood Letters will also perform. Exuberating all things rock, the Trucker Speed delves into a variety of topics from substance abuse, relationships, life as a musician, all the way to poverty.

Bleeding energy and chaos, the three track EP grabs hold and never let’s go. The indefatigable vocals on “Rad Pitt” are backed by a ska-like jump in the rhythm section, which eventually gives way to a screaming guitar solo that cascades to black at the end of the song. Although only just over a minute long, “Mendoza” is the instrumental southern-punk theme song to everyday life and features lightning fast drums, a wailing guitar, and a hammering bass line. Though the title track “Trucker Speed” focuses on singer/guitarist Ben McCracken’s wicked melodic voice, the song still holds the band’s signature maelstrom-yet-catchy sound close to heart.

These tracks contain the perfect amount of adrenaline that would provide anyone with enough energy to run around the world and back before any of the boisterous guitar solos have met their end. This EP is for people who always seem to hit every red light on the way to work, those that just need to let out pent-up emotions, and those daring enough to tackle trying to air-drum along. It’s more than just music, it’s a feeling of connectedness; that you’re not the only one going through rough times. Punk is a community, and From Parts Unknown has just introduced themselves to the family.

Trucker Speed Release Party April 27 at Three Links in Deep Ellum. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here in advance. The show is ages 18 and up. Three Links is located in Deep Ellum at 2704 Elm St., Dallas, Texas 75226.

From Parts Unknown’s EP “Trucker Speed” will be available for purchase on Friday, April 28 via iTunes and the group’s Bandcamp at or for streaming on Spotify.


Written by: Sawyer Click


The Brixton, Harder Concepts’ newest culinary creation, is proud to announce its first charity evening, appropriately named “The Taste of Sound.” World-renowned chef, Patrick Stark, who recently revamped all of Harder Concepts’ restaurant menus, created this new pop-up music project tailored to suit the dining room of The Brixton’s unique atmosphere. Partnering with Mohawk Militia, also founded by Stark, attendees will have a chance to give back to their local community while experiencing new food, music, and art. Bite into something new on Saturday, June 24 with an evening of entertainment and eats from 5 to 7 p.m. The Brixton is located inside The Shops at Legacy at 5800 Legacy Drive, Suite C-11, Plano, Texas 75024. Buy your tickets here.

“The goal is have fun, be social, and share while raising awareness about the power of clean food. The new Brixton menu is designed around ‘sharables’ or tapas-style plates,” said Stark. “The idea behind this event is to stimulate human senses through different types of art. It will give everyone a chance to make new friends, wake up their senses, take away some valuable knowledge, and truly perform the art of ‘breaking bread’.”

In addition to his numerous television appearances (ABC’s “The Taste” and Food Network’s “Rewrapped”, “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Mystery Diners”), Stark is celebrated in the Dallas community for opening Sundown at Granada, where he introduced Dallasites to a 99.5% non-GMO menu. His non-GMO efforts continue through this unique dining experience, stimulating all senses through an array of dishes and delights tailored to the event. The music provided by the band Amusé, led by Leslie Austin (vocals) and Chef Patrick Stark (lead guitar), will play six sets of songs to complement each course. As the chef serves one of the courses to guests, they will be asked to be blind-folded as an exciting way to enhance the taste of the food.

“I have always wanted to play music in a place where my kitchen operates and do it for something bigger than myself,” said Stark. “I love that Harder Concepts supports this event and my charity. This will be the first time I do an event for my charity while also encompassing my own kitchen and menu. Not many citizens realize we have a chemical warfare of sorts on the food supply in our own back yard. Once we contaminate our seeds and animals, there is no reversing it. If we don’t protect them, they won’t be available for our future generations. Instead they’ll be restricted to toxic strains of food.”

Other partners for the event include SweetBeat Vodka, the official vodka of “Taste of Sound,” locally owned and operated Melinda’s Hot Sauce, and another charity PCV|VRM Seeds of Hope (5013c). Tickets are $75, which includes 6-course meal curated by Chef Patrick Stark, a live performance by Amusé, live art by an artist to be announced, a live fire performer and a contribution to the Mohawk Militia charity. Featuring small bites, flights and rock shows on a 25-foot-wide stage nightly, the upscale eatery will also serve as a two-story nightclub. The Brixton will pair plates with craft cocktails and fine wines at affordable prices. On its two-level balconies, the upscale eatery and nightclub will offer front row seating for regular live events. Performances by the hottest bands and DJs in Dallas will be simulcast via a massive 15-by-nine-foot LED screen—the biggest at any club in Dallas.

Brothers Brian Harder and Jerry Dean Elliot, the masterminds behind the bar and restaurant group Harder Concepts, have partnered up with Chef Patrick Stark to create the globally-inspired menu. With concepts such as Addison Ice House, The Mucky Duck Bar, Scruffy Duffies, Saintbury Tavern and Ringo’s Pub, the duo brings nearly two decades of bar and restaurant experience to their newest concept, The Brixton. The
Shops at Legacy will welcome the trendy, posh nightclub with its rock ‘n roll edge to the center this spring— rounding out the group’s creation of a mini 6th Street right here in North Dallas.

For more information about Chef Patrick Stark, “The Stark Raving Chef,” visit:

For more information on The Brixton and Harder Concepts, visit:

About Mohawk Militia
The Mohawk Militia is a 501-3C charity founded in 2013, focused on the power of clean food, from growing and sharing, to consuming healthy food. The organization operates on a “learn and earn” concept, primarily for underprivileged children and veterans in the United States. Their concentration is to provide opportunities to learn about healthy eating and to earn wages by assisting with planting of vegetable seeds and harvesting of
organic crops. Currently, Mohawk Militia is partnering with Seeds of Hope, a Dallas foundation focused on helping veterans, to launch a project to build a garden on the premises of a local VA facility. Additionally, Mohawk Militia creates awareness of the importance of clean food throughout the Dallas Metropolitan area by hosting quarterly evening entertainment events incorporating clean food awareness, fresh delicious healthy food and fun musical entertainment; all proceeds go towards Mohawk Militia’s mission of providing clean food for underprivileged children and our returning soldiers.

About Harder Concepts
As a family owned business, our goal at Harder Concepts is to treat our customers like family. We offer quality food and beverages served by professional and knowledge team members, with a commitment to progress and forward thinking. Come hang out, eat, drink, watch the big game, and with our excellent selection of craft beers, full bar, and great chef run kitchens, you’re bound to have a memorable experience. Eat. Drink. Party

Conflicting Desires of Suzanna Choffel and ‘Hello Goodbye’

At some point in life we all face that inevitable question of “who do I want to be?” It usually occurs at major junctions in our lives when we must decide where we want to go. But, for many of us, this question lingers constantly in the back of our conscience resonating within the multitude of decisions we face each day. For singer-songwriter Suzanna Choffel, the question manifested itself into the seemingly conflicted struggle of balancing her pursuit of a stable family life and her craving for musical adventures. The juxtaposition of these forces married wonderfully to form the driving theme in her latest album Hello Goodbye.

Several of Hello Goodbye’s songs could be associated with major events in Choffel’s life. In the seven years since she recorded her previous album, Steady Eye, Shaky Bow, she has competed in front of millions on The Voice, chased her rockstar dreams in the Big Apple, and, most notably, delivered her greatest treasure: a beautiful daughter.

“I wrote a few of these songs before Lulu [daughter] was ever a twinkle in my eye. But, they still dealt with that push and pull of opposing desires,” claims Choffel. Nowhere in Hello Goodbye is that battle more evident than in the introspective opening track, ‘Continental Drift.’ “I wrote that song before moving to New York,” states the Austin native. “I began questioning my desires of staying grounded and connected to my roots in Austin versus setting out and trying something completely different. On ‘Continental Drift’ Choffel melodically illustrates her conflicting desires through a lucid inner-monologue that floats across the ambient waves of Charlie Sexton’s mandolin-cello: “And so you have to decide…on which plane will you reside/One will rise an empire and the other one will fall.”

Hello Goodbye was not intended to be a concept album. But, it does tell a story. And had Choffel not journeyed to New York, that story would sound much differently. “I think it took me moving away to embrace some of the rootsier, funkier sounds that found their way on here,” she admits. “Especially in ‘Sinkin’ Down,’ ‘Lately For You’ and ‘Keep on Movin’ — some of the grittier, bluesier ones.”

Leach AFM S Choffel 2015-3

A versatile and crafty urban folktress, Choffel excels within the various genres that span across Hello Goodbye which fuses together blues, jazz, funk, and rock; each track showcasing a different element of her ‘honey husked’ vocals. The upbeat, guitar-driven ‘Follow’ shimmies with infectious pop while the soft and jazzy, Bob Marley-inspired ‘I Could Be Loved’ leisurely plucks at the heart strings. The sultry vocalist plays hard-to-get while exploring new territory on the Madonna-influenced, club-pop of ‘New Word’ and basks in the sun-soaked, beachy-pop of ‘Inspire Me’ strummed sweetly through her ukulele.

Choffel’s maternal spirit radiates through ‘Go Forth’, a heartfelt inspirational ballad with an origin that transcends the everyday into the supernatural. “When I sat down to write that song, the words just flowed through me,” she claims. “It was so bazaar, finding out a week later that I was pregnant. The more I reflect on it, it’s almost like Lulu helped me write it.”

Hello Goodbye, bids farewell with the soothing acoustic lullaby of ‘Wish You Well’…“Oh we are the hearty and we are the weak…We are only as good as the words that we speak. If my heart is the temple, my tongue will be the bell…And I wish you well.”

Leach AFM S Choffel 2015

The reoccurring themes of love, passion, creation and renewal provide continuity to Hello Goodbye, while each track presents a unique opposition between sweet and soft and folk and funk. The album features David Boyle on keys, production and engineering, JJ Johnson on drums, Charlie Sexton and Andrew Trube on guitar, Brad Houser and Cat Popper on bass, Davìd Garza on vocals and guitars, and Jazz Mills and Michael Kingcaid on vocals.

Choffel may spend the rest of her life debating between which plane in life she wishes to reside. However, her passion is plentiful for both her family and her music and as long as mamma and Lulu are happy, her fans will be too.

Hello Goodbye” will be release on Friday, May 12. There will be an official album release party the evening of May 12 at 3Ten at Austin City Limits Live located at 310 W Willie Nelson Blvd. #1a, Austin, Texas 78701. Doors will be at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.

Choffel will be joined by Dan Dyer and Jonathan Terrell at the official album release party on May 12.

The official album release party in Houston will take place on Saturday, May 13 at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck located at 2425 Norfolk St, Houston, TX 77098.
The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.

In addition to the album release party, Choffel has also been selected to participate in the Americana Music Series presented by Sun Radio. The music series highlights Americana artists playing 3TEN ACL Live, the new intimate venue downstairs from ACL Live in the heart of downtown Austin, in partnership with solar-powered local station Sun Radio.

For additional information, please see

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Written by: Douglas Leach

Second Still Debut Gloomy Self-Titled LP

Dark, gloomy, and incredibly thought-provoking, LA-based Second Still has provided the world with a coldwave album that could wake the dead. Released via Paris-based label Manic Depression Records, the self-titled album tells stories of “frustrations, anxieties, and feelings of alienation” that the band experienced during a year-long stint of living in New York. Although the trio spent that long and lonely year writing the album, it only took them two days to record in the studio. This is the band’s first LP, with their debut effort, Early Forms (2016), as their only other music at the moment. Currently, the group is wrapping up their first U.S. tour in support of the album and have just released a music video for “You Two So Alike.”

Composed of vocalist Suki Sans, bassist Alex Hughes and guitarist Ryan Walker, Second Still prides themselves on encapsulating both the post-punk and coldwave genre. With a head-bob inducing drumbeat laying the groundwork for the psychedelic and driving guitar and bass, “Recover” focuses mainly on a punk-heavy sound with minimalistic vocals that only adds to the mix. Much of the album is composed of a haunting voice, feverish drums, abstract guitar parts, and a pounding bass. “New Barn” plays almost as a sort of synth-infused hip-hop that lingers in your mind long after the song is over, while there are songs such as “Strangers” and “Jo” that come off as a sepulchral ballad. Although the band is still young, they seem to have found their sound and are thriving in their niche.

Second Still’s self-titled album is intelligent, tenacious, and connected through and through. Machine-like in structure yet passionate in execution, this LP is more of an experience than simply mere songs strung together. Funereal yet inviting, everyone should be able to relate to some aspect of this unique piece of art and get lost in it.


Written by: Sawyer Click

Album Art: Jean Lorenzo


The place: a club in the middle of Brooklyn renowned for its sophisticated clientele, its receptivity to innovation, and its ideas from abroad. On a small stage in a tight, dimly lit back room, eight musicians are whipping a New York City crowd into a frenzy with an unprecedented, high energy, gut-busting fusion of jazz, hip-hop beats, rock muscle, funky go-go, and scalding hot bhangra. A horn section blares, percussionists pound, everybody shouts, and the group’s charismatic leader, Sunny Jain, holds the explosive songs together with rhythms from his dhol – the Indian double-headed drum played slung over the shoulder that provides bhangra with its frenetic heartbeat. And just as it was the month before, the line of patrons who came to this club in Park Slope stretched out the door and down the block because they couldn’t get enough of Red Baraat – a riveting octet that NPR has dubbed “The best party band in years.”

Versatility is one the band’s hallmarks. Red Baraat can mesmerize an audience with a funk groove, turn a switch, and drive the same crowd to the brink of delirium. Since its formation in 2008 and those storied nights at Barbès in Park Slope, the magic of Red Baraat has spread far beyond New York City. The group’s second studio album in 2013, Shruggy Ji, debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music charts and propelled the band on a nonstop three-year world tour that included appearances at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Along the way they sold out rooms as diverse as the Luxembourg Philharmonic and New York City’s iconic Bowery Ballroom and performed at the request of The White House, TED and Olympic Games. Yet no matter how much success and notoriety Red Baraat has achieved, Sunny Jain and his comrades have never stopped experimenting or adding new elements to their peculiar alchemy.

The group recently released their third studio album, Bhangra Pirates, featuring a key element that the first two did not: guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, whose surreal textures and percussive playing is the ideal complement to Jain’s thunderous dhol. Additionally, the sonic pallet has further expanded with processed effects on both the dhol and sousaphone. The formidable Red Baraat brass section remains intact: sousaphonist John Altieri, whose deep bottom end anchors the ensemble’s explorations, electrifying trombonist Ernest Stuart, dexterous sax man Jonathon Haffner, and trumpeter Sonny Singh, whose melodic sensibility has colored all of the band’s projects. Drummers Chris Eddleton and Rohin Khemani alternate between power and precision – Eddleton draws his inspiration from hip-hop and rock, while Khemani from world percussion, notably Indian classical music.

Each musician in the band pulls from distinct traditions while speaking through their instrument with their own particular musical vocabulary. That it works so well is a testament to Sunny Jain’s utopian vision and his faith that communication across cultures doesn’t have to be vexed in the slightest. All it takes is empathy, creativity, love, and willingness to abandon reservations and surrender to the spirit of music and the moment. This effortless outlook empowers Red Baraat to do what it does best – communing with their audience in a joyful, near hedonistic celebration of music and dance, which tellingly draws a crowd even more diverse than the players on stage. “The universality of what Red Baraat does is undeniable,” says Jain. “Bhangra Pirates embodies that push and pull in all of us…free spirit, community, rebellion, tradition, and new journeys.”

Red Baraat live @ Mohawk
912 Red River St, Austin, TX
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Doors @ 6:30
Buy Tickets – $16.00 General Admission

Red Baraat On The Web:

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Austin Music Foundation Launches ‘1645 Live’, MIC Program Winners & More

Austin Music Foundation is proud to announce the launch of a new music series, “1645 Live,” in partnership with C3 Presents. The sessions will take place at C3’s home office and feature performances by AMF Artist Development Program (ADP) participants and other local bands. “We are excited to work with AMF on this series and showcase some of the biggest talent coming out of Austin right now,” said Kristyn Ciani, C3 Presents Talent Buyer. “This is a fun way for us to remain at the forefront of what’s happening right here in our hometown and also allows us to connect to the artists in a more personal way.”

“1645 Live” will give emerging local artists the unique opportunity to perform in front of staff and friends of C3 Presents in a casual setting. “The idea for this series came from discussions with C3 about how we can work together to bring tangible opportunities to Austin’s most promising acts, and in a way that’s really special,” said Jennifer Dugas, Austin Music Foundation Programs Director. “We’re connecting local emerging artists to industry, but taking it a step further by creating an intimate space for them to showcase their talent in front of a captive audience of influencers.”

The series kicks off on April 19 with performances by Mayeux & Broussard and AMF ADP participant Gina Chavez and is sponsored in part by Austin Eastciders and Guns & Oil Brewing.

AMF is thrilled to announce the winners of its Music Industry Collaborative (MIC) Program awards. Destinee Ware (owner of One-2-One Bar), Chaka Mpeanaji (founder of Divine & Conjure Enterprises, Riders Against the Storm and RAS Day) and Dave Blue (founder of Spotcaller) each received $4,330 for a combined $13,000 in grants. MIC is a six-month program that provides strategies to grow and improve music businesses through a structured small group setting that also encourages peer-to-peer assistance. The program provides opportunities for participants to meet with business leaders and entrepreneurs who will share their expertise and experience.

“Through six months of intensive mentoring, instruction and soul-searching during the MIC program, Austin music business entrepreneurs are able to improve their businesses and themselves while making real connections with others,” said Brad Stein, Austin Music Foundation Board of Directors Vice President.

“MIC will put you in the room with the smartest minds of Austin Music, giving you fresh ideas on how your business can connect with the community,” said Dave Blue, founder of Spotcaller.

“Having been in business for over 13 years, the one thing I strive for is to continue learning and growing as a business owner and [the MIC Program] provided just that,” said Destinee Ware, owner of One-2-One Bar. “The mentors that donated their time to come and talk with us and just getting to know my fellow classmates was such a rewarding experience, I can’t thank AMF enough!”

“Conversations at the MIC program with AMF mentors and attendees led me to a much greater understanding of my strongest assets as a brand and business,” said Chaka Mpeanaji, owner of Divine and Conjure Enterprises. “From the beginning, I felt that AMF honored my contributions to the Austin music community with a sincere interest to help me be even more productive and successful. In 2016, my company paid more than 300 artists, musicians, designers, editors, videographers and engineers. Investment in people that create this type of opportunity in Austin is exactly where it’s at.”

Over the past two years of MIC, AMF and its program partners have awarded a total of $26,000 to five small music business owners. “AMF could not be more thankful to the MIC program sponsors, DTB Partners, who have provided their expertise as well as support of this program and individual grants to now five music business owners,” added Brad Stein.

The Music Industry Collaborative is an applicant-based mentoring program designed for active entrepreneurs with existing music-related businesses. For more information, visit

The Wine Down, presented by The Dreaming Tree, is back at 3TEN ACL Live for 2017 in partnership with the 2ND Street District, Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and KUTX with proceeds once again going to the Austin Music Foundation. Taking place on the last Wednesday of the month from April through September, The Wine Down will feature a different restaurant, band, local shopping and happy hour priced glasses of wine featuring The Dreaming Tree. The first event in the series will be kicking off on Wednesday, April 26 from 5-8 p.m. with music by Jonathan Terrell, bites by Alimentari 28 and a pop-up shop by Sikara & Co. For more info and to see the rest of the dates in the series, visit

Austin Music Foundation is excited to announce a new partnership with Independence Brewing for the brewery’s popular “First Saturday” events. Each month, AMF will work with Independence to curate a music showcase lineup featuring two opening acts followed by a headliner playing from 6-7 p.m., during which time a portion of sales from the tap room will directly benefit the Austin Music Foundation. The collaboration was a natural fit for AMF and Independence, a brewery that over the past 13 years has maintained a close connection with and support of musicians, artists and important local organizations that promote the arts. The next event will take place on Saturday, May 6 and will feature Austin Music Foundation’s May Artist of the Month, Skye Strickler. Brewery doors open at 1 p.m. and music will start at 4 p.m. with Skye performing from 6-7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. All ages are welcome but must be 21 and up to drink.

The Front Porch Easter Vigil Photo Review

Austin’s pub church, The Front Porch, held its 2017 Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 15 at Scholz Garten. The spiritual evening featured live performances by Kevin Russell of Shinyribs, Sam Baker, Body Rock ATX, Rabbi Neil Blumofe, Jimi Calhoun, The Djembabes, Gregory Eaton, Chucky Black and more.

“The Front Porch is a nonprofit Public House Church that brings together the diverse conviviality of a village pub and the meaningful discourse of a good church community,” said Stephen Kinney, Executive Director of the Front Porch. “We strive to create opportunities for people of all faiths and perspectives to connect through dialogue, art and music in a world often divided by religion, politics and culture.”

Track Rambler photographer J. Alan Love was on hand to capture highlights from the magical evening.


Photos by: J. Alan Love

Smashing Down Doors: An interview with punk rock renaissance man John Roecker

Los Angeles in the late seventies was alive with the sounds of distorted guitars; a melting pot of anti-establishment, counter-culture, blood stained creativity that seemed inevitable given its prior pristine image of flawless silver screen stars and snowy sanded seashores. Although a late bloomer, Los Angeles rode the waves of punk flowing in from London and New York, with lines round the block of the Sunset Strip in anticipation of the latest teeth shattering group to grace the stage of legendary nightclub, Whisky a Go Go. The Germs, X and The Runaways greeted the audience with acerbic intensity that more than inspired soon to be punk aficionado John Roecker.

‘Going to the city was the best education I could have gotten,’ he illuminates, ‘because everything was alive and on fire.’ Roecker has since made a name for himself directing Heart Like a Hand Grenade, a documentary about the making of Green Day’s concept album turned Broadway musical, American Idiot, producing a stop motion animated feature about cult leader Charles Manson, Live Freaky! Die Freaky! and more recently showcasing his song writing dexterity on debut record, One Foot on the Mattress, The Other on the Floor. At 51, Roecker still possesses youthful, boyish looks, with a humble air and willingness to engage with fans cementing why it is he has established so many high-profile musical friendships over the years.


Live Freaky! Die Freaky!

The eighties saw heavy metal invade the Sunset Strip causing Roecker to become disenfranchised by the once burgeoning scene of punk bands with their live fast attitudes leading to the subculture unavoidably dying too young. Yet with the rise of Nirvana and grunge leading music to take a turn for the dangerous once more, Roecker returned to LA striking up a friendship with X lead singer Exene Cervenka driving the two to open ‘You’ve Got Bad Taste’ a kitsch store specializing in ‘off-colour’ novelties such as, among other things, paintings by the infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy. ‘I would get in my car and go to these old warehouses’ explains Roecker. ‘I’d find boxes of dead stock, it was like going on an archaeological dig but instead of mummies I would find a box of Mr. T air fresheners!’

Hitherto the Ohio born punk did not always possess the confidence he does today, opting instead to pursue creative endeavours in his own time citing that there were so many remarkable artists out there that there was no way he could ever compete. ‘ In retrospect,’ he declares ‘that was total bullshit, I was just scared.’ So with the nineties waning Roecker shut up shop after four years in favour of becoming an independent filmmaker, striking up a friendship with Green Day frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong. This was an artistic partnership that would span several years beginning with Disease is Punishment, a live concert film focusing on Green Day’s enigmatic New Wave Punk side project, The Network. Although Green Day has never directly stated their involvement in The Network it is obviously them behind the masks and obscure pseudonyms with Roecker fulfilling the role of the group’s fictional manager, Dr. Svengali.

It was around this time that Roecker’s friendship with Billie Joe blossomed with the two of them talking for hours on the phone. ‘I explained to him how I miss albums that had a start to a finish,’ John recalls, ‘I told him he should go to some Broadway shows to get inspired because I feel musicals are cohesive.’ It was around this time that Green Day’s 2004 magnum opus, American Idiot, was conceived, which, after much persuading, Roecker spent nine months in the studio alongside the band filming what eventually became the documentary Heart Like a Hand Grenade. Unfortunately, despite an initial one night release in Hollywood’s renowned Grauman Egyptian Theatre the film didn’t see the light of day until 2015 after a deal was struck up with Warner Bros. ‘Would the film have done better if it came out after the album? Yes,’ admits Roecker.

As a child Roecker used to regularly go thrift shopping, describing the musty second-hand stores of LA being the home of sharkskin suits and old relics that once furnished the homes of the Hollywood elite. One of the items that pervaded these stores were copies of the book ‘Helter Skelter’, a true crime novel revolving around the infamous Manson Family. ‘It was everywhere, I used to joke that if the bomb went off it would be the only thing that survives!’ And thus the premise of Live Freaky! Die Freaky! was born, centering on a group of nomads in a post-apocalyptic world who discover the book and proceed to misinterpret it as the Bible. ‘I was always interested in people who followed,’ explains Roecker, ‘People who gave up their lives for someone else. The Jonestown Massacre that happened in the late seventies had a deep impact on me. Nine hundred lost souls taking their lives for a mad man but one thing that always fascinated me was Charles Manson and his family; a con artist who manipulated beauty queens and football stars to become murderers all in the name of making a name for himself.’

With a desire to create a film that was technically challenging, Roecker decided to use stop motion animation also noting, ‘there were a lot of sex scenes in it and I would be too shy to ask my friends to perform those filthy acts in front of the camera so puppets it was!’ Roecker’s friends just so happened to be famous musicians, which led him to utilise Billie Joe as Manson with Green Day’s Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool alongside Blink-182’s Travis Barker, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and Kelly Osbourne in supporting roles. The film was eventually completed on a shoestring budget of $10,000 ‘which is incredible when you think about it but maybe not when I recall stealing sand from a kid’s sandbox in the park to use in a desert scene!’



More recently Roecker met musician Dylan Melody and together under the moniker Roecker/Melody produced the album One Foot on the Mattress, The Other on the Floor. ‘Dylan was the one person that said I could actually write music,’ gushes Roecker, ‘his influence on me was what that orange orang-utan that occupies The White House right now always says: HUUUUUGE!’ The pair hung out at Roecker’s LA home drinking and writing music, eventually building a studio in the back house to record demos. Upon completion, the album was released by Frontier Records, home of early California punk bands such as The Adolescents, Circle Jerks and Suicidal Tendencies, the very groups that had had such an impact on John in his formative years.

One Foot on the Mattress, the Other on the Floor practically acts as a tribute to Roecker’s influences with its fast paced, no-nonsense punk rock displaying fragility with a macabre sense of fun. ‘What the Hell Happened’ laments musical heroes of latter years selling their souls for a comfortable life (‘both used to be so clever and cool, now you both just follow the rules’) while ‘It’s Lushotology’ serves as a doctrine for Roecker’s Scientology-parodying religion, whose motto is ‘less guilt, more booze.’ Elsewhere ‘Broken Cocktail Dress’ wears its musical theatre influences with pride concentrating on the plight of an individual proclaiming their love for a troubled soul.

In essence, although older and wiser Roecker is still the same young man who stood in line outside Whisky a Go Go, yet this would suggest he hasn’t moved on but an upcoming 28 song musical entitled LIE that deals with the relationship between Charles Manson and Susan Atkins proves otherwise. It’s more like Roecker has stuck to his beliefs, retaining his unique voice and aesthetic but with a drive that always leads him down fresh and challenging avenues. ‘There is a part in the beginning of my film Heart Like a Hand Grenade where I open the door to the studio and walk in to see the entire band,’ concludes Roecker. ‘At the end of the film you see me back at the studio but when I try to open the door it’s locked. You can come to your own assumptions on that, but with every door locked there is always another to smash down!’


Written by: Matthew Barnard

Photo credit: Kevin Scanlon of LA Weekly