at www.RARWRITER.com      

--------------------"The best source on the web for what's real in arts and entertainment" ---------------------------

Volume 1-2019




What happened to the list?

As the CCJ transitions to a model better geared to leverage social networks, we are moving away from our past use of email notification services. If you would like to be added to our internal email distribution, please send your request to Rick@RARWRITER.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, which we will use to keep you notified of new features and news articles.


ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.



Use the RARADIO link to go to our radio page, where you will hear songs you are not likely to hear elsewhere.



"Music Hot Spots"




























Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively called ATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance is the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves at NOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.






City of Big Shoulders

The Claudettes

The track "Taco Night Material" was recorded with Grammy-winning producer Mark Neill (the Black Keys, Old 97's) at his Soil of the South studio in Valdosta, Georgia, and released on the Claudettes' spring 2018 album DANCE SCANDAL AT THE GYMNASIUM! (Yellow Dog Records). Currently, the Claudettes are already recording a new album with another Grammy-winning producer, Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show, The Devil Makes Three, Gaslight Anthem).

The song is the confession of a woman who finds herself trapped in an oppressive marriage. Facing a future of agonizingly domestic "Taco-Night Tuesdays," she chooses murder over a life of never-ending wifely responsibilities. It's a women's empowerment anthem (well suited to the current national discussion about women's rights) that doubles as a "killer" Halloween cut. The imagery in the video references 16th-century vanitas paintings, but here the still lives are not still. It’s a fast-paced, surreal romp with murder, intrigue, skeletons, bugs, rotting taco meat, singing appliances and, slimiest of all, fetid old gender roles. Created by noted Brooklyn photographer/artist Kate Stone, the "Taco Night Material" video was made using stop-motion animation and photographic cut-outs in a diorama-like set. It was entirely made by hand with no digital manipulation, and took about eight hours to animate every 30 seconds of footage.


Ike Reilly Assassination

Born on Fire

Indie rock raconteur and singer-songwriter Ike Reilly has released his seventh studio album, Born On Fire, on Rock Ridge Music and Tom Morello’s new label Firebrand Records. Morello who hails from the same hometown as Reilly (Libertyville, IL), says, “There's something in the water in my hometown of Libertyville. Marlon Brando, Adam Jones of Tool, my humble self, and now Ike Reilly. Ike is not just a great, authentic songwriter of the highest caliber but he's always ready to throw down at a union rally... or a bar fight. Ike's songs are a poetic cracked window into the lives of the heartland heroes trying to get by, find and keep love, and carve a place for themselves with humor and dignity. But we love him most because at the drop of a hat he'll travel 1,000 miles to play one song for a dying anti-war veteran. We are very proud to have heartland hero, Ike Reilly, on Firebrand Records.”

His first release in five years, Born On Fire features his band, the Ike Reilly Assassination, and was mostly recorded at IV Lab in Chicago, IL. Reilly’s longtime friend and Assassination guitar player Phil Karnats (Secret Machines, Polyphonic Spree) worked with Reilly and the band on production and the result is a group of rock & roll songs that would be hard to put in a specific era. Reilly said his hope for the record was that it sound like it could have been made “somewhere between the mid ’60s and the early 2050’s.”

In explaining the long delay between albums, Reilly cites the unfortunate loss of 15 complete recordings, and the development of a television series featuring Ike for the AMC Network kept the band out of the studio far longer than expected. Not really common reasons for release delays but not much is really common for the former doorman and gravedigger.

David Carr from the New York Times said, “Ike Reilly is a kind of natural resource, mined from the bedrock of music. All the values that make rock important to people—storytelling, melody, rage, laughter—are part and parcel of every Ike Reilly show I have ever seen. One of the best touring acts in the country, Reilly's band takes it as a personal challenge to upend and amaze every room they play in.”

Born On Fire features songs like “Live Like We’re Dyin’” and “Two Weeks of Work,” which reflect the influence of John Lee Hooker, Paul Butterfield, and the electric blues scene out of Chicago that influenced Ike and inspired him to start playing blues harp as a young boy. The title track, “Born On Fire,” is an anthem for anybody who has been put down, categorized, criticized, or told by some oppressor that they couldn’t be who they wanted to be or that they couldn’t do the things they wanted to do. It’s not so much a follow-your-dream song as it is a song that says “f*ck you” to anybody who tries to bridle or limit passion in somebody else.

Stephen Paul Smoker

Following the release of an EP in 2010 and after a year spent coming together as a live force to be reckoned with, Stephen Paul Smoker emerge with a harder, darker edge on their upcoming debut LP, Ripe Fruit, out March 20 via Kilo Records. The first track from Ripe Fruit, "Green City." Incessant stomp, gutter guitar that evolves to squall, psychedelic canyon vocals and elements of disco all appear in "Green City" by Chicago act Stephen Paul Smoker. This is dirty music for dirty times...

A Lancaster, PA native, musician Stephen Paul Smoker began his career at an early age, honing his craft as a touring musician and hired gun for bands like MewithoutYou and the Mint. Smoker relocated to Chicago to join and perform with childhood friend Grace Kulp and continued to tour with other acts such as the Loto Ball Show.

Inspired by the bright sun light in his Pilsen attic which doubled as his bedroom, Smoker created what would eventually become his debut EP , Violent Sun / Violent Fun, a no-frills, psychedelic DIY take on indie pop.

After releasing Violent Sun / Violent Fun, Stephen formed band and began to perform his music live. Teaming up with local Pilsen musicians Michael Kostal, Evan DePue, Bethany Smoker, Paul Roots, as well as Gerald Baily (Trumpeter/Black Bear Combo) and Emma Hospelhorn (Flute/Hollows) the group began performing live in late 2010, and spent 2011 preparing for their first full length release, RIPE FRUIT, which will be available March 20th, 2012 on Kilo Records. 




Skip Work - Sounds good to me...

Songwriter Archie Powell takes his relocation to the Windy City to a first studio LP.


"Nodding to the likes of Elvis Costello and Paul Westerberg, Chicago-based Powell and Co. sway between booze-fueled numbers like “Enough About Me” and breezier fare like “Loose Change.” The band particularly excels at capturing the unease of entering your 20s and struggling with a range of newfound problems…Lyrically astute and driven by a nervous energy, there's never any doubt that Powell will overcome these hurdles." - Chicago Metromix/Red Eye



The Meat Puppets



Everything is stop action but for the grooves!


The Meat Puppets are currently touring the west coast after returning from Europe where they played Up On The Sun at this years' Animal Collective-curated All Tomorrow's Parties. The Kirkwood brothers, joined by Shandon Sahm, are in fighting form live and bring a mix of their classic tracks mixed with material from their 13th LP, Lollipop, which eMusic praised for being "every bit as unique, diverse and melodically enchanted as their early stuff."




For a sampling of the new tunes, check out the trippy video for "Orange" and grab the MP3 of "Damn Thing." For a glimpse into the current trio's handling of classic material, check out this live video from ATP of "Enchanted Porkfist" and "Seal Whales." 




Raw, skanky...Black Box Revelation looks and sounds like what street rock really has to be. The band is touring the West Coast and will be fun for those in their snarling 20s.




Netherfriends is Shawn Rosenblatt (pictured right posing as Harry Nilsson), a cheeky bugger from Chicago who puts together albums worth of song samples strung together to create tracks for his original melodies and vocals.

I have always had deep doubts about the whole sampling thing, not that I don't admire the creative ways it can be handled, it just doesn't seem to me to be a legitimate contribution in terms of moving any art form forward. If one, for instance, took a photograph of a Picasso and then cut it into asymmetric patterns and pieced it all back together in some vaguely logical manner different from the original, would that be anything?

Well, it might be entertaining, and that's pretty much what you get with Rosenblatt, who is a whirlwind of creative impulse looking for any available outlet and finding it in this sampling thing. Still, when I heard he was futzing about with Harry Nilsson, whom I revere as a standard of Pop world vocal excellence, I was under enthusiastic to hear his work. Rosenblatt is clever, but he doesn't really sing, at least in the same world once inhabited by Harry Nilsson. You can use this link to have a listen and download and judge for yourself. Along the way, you may discover the following video, which is a Herculean effort to make a stop action film with the help of a few friends and an extraordinary amount of patience from everyone involved. Rosenblatt reports that it took him a month, and for my money it is time better spent than picking the bones of poor departed Harry Nilsson. The video below reveals Rosenblatt to be a character in his own right, a star of his own inner movie, the producer of his own imagination, and the engineer of his wilder dreams. This video is great fun!

Netherfriends is a touring act and the link provided above to Rosenblatt's Website will put you in a theater seat near him soon. - RAR


Model Stranger

With all the "True Blood" splattered all over this site it seems only right to have a little Model Stranger mixed in. The Chicago outfit sings about inner demons in a most convincing way.

Tipper Experience Rocks Santa Cruz

It may be music and is most certainly lights. Check out what these crazy kids will fall for...er, are up to now!

The Right Now






Use this link to hear The Right Now, "Half As Much".

There are only so many times you can take back that cheating lover or accept excuses from a lazy scrub. It’s easier said than done, but one soul band is taking a stand. The Right Now isn’t going to take it anymore. The Right Now is fed up. And on their second record, The Right Now Gets Over You.

The challenging title is a reality check, but delivered with a smile from singer Stefanie Berecz. “It’s just a representation of the stories in the songs. Nearly every track has a cheating character, or someone who’s had enough of their lover. It’s a mixed bag of empowerment and regret.” Gets Over You continues the “it’s complicated” theme of 2010′s Carry Me Home, although this outing shows Berecz in a darker, seedier role.

Recorded in a cathartic, week-long session in Los Angeles with producer Sergio Rios (Orgone), Gets Over You takes the Chicago septet’s soulful sound to the warm, crackling world of analog tape and vintage instruments. Berecz’s voice, often compared to those of Chaka Kahn and Joss Stone, takes center stage. The band shines with raw, gritty performances and elegant arrangements that are the result of countless hours of performing, rehearsing, and traveling together.

Berecz’s emotionally-charged vocal performance has been the band’s calling card at over 200 shows in the past two years. The Right Now’s electrifying live show — matching suits, choreographed horn section, and all — has earned them a reputation as “dynamic, complex, hip and just downright fun” (Gapers Block).

The past two years saw immense growth for The Right Now, including a sold-out release party at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall; tour dates throughout the Midwest, East, and South; festival appearances at SXSW, North Coast Festival, and Summerfest; and opening stints for Fitz & The Tantrums, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Bettye Lavette, Otis Clay, Orgone, Kings Go Forth, Jamie Lidell, and Tortured Soul. USA Today and mp3.com featured the band as a favorite, and live TV appearances (WGN) put the Chicago act on the national stage. Placements in a 2011 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and promos for Gilly Hicks and other national retailers also broadened the band’s appeal.

“It takes a man to admit that it’s over,” Berecz confidently croons on “Half As Much.” “But if you can’t, I can do it for sure.” While Stefanie Berecz may have gotten over the man in this song, audiences won’t be getting over her any time soon.






















Copyright © September, 2019 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)