at www.RARWRITER.com      

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

Volume 1-2016






Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated with the Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.


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.


(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"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 calledATWOOD. 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 Deliveranceis 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 atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.




Music Reviews


Sales on the Side

As the music industry has shrunk in size, declining 5 to 6 percent each year since 2000, the business of selling CDs at live performances, as an added revenue stream as with t-shirt and poster sales, has taken on a new level of importance, if only to the artists producing these products. But one wonders if there is any purpose to it beyond further subsidizing an opportunity to play in a club. Here, RARWRITER.com reviews examples of the independent label CD offerings that typify the small-market genre.

Let the Music Rise: Volker Strifler's claim to fame has been as a cohort of the Ford Brothers' efforts (guitarist Robben, of Joni Mitchell and other name associations, harmonica-playing brother Mark, and drummer Patrick) and as the leader of the Volker Strifler Band. Volker is excellent in all of those roles, a German-born blues machine who totally gets the American southern influence on his primary form of expression. Volker plays killer guitar and growls vocals like a guy who has cotton picking in his background. All that said, RARWRITER.com was most excited about his solo effort of earlier this year, Let the Music Rise. Self-produced apparently as a labor of love, Volker stretches out on this album in truly inspired ways, from the instrumentation he chooses to the range of material, which is broad and personal. Unfortunately, the CD copy RARWRITER.com received for review was apparently damaged so that we could listen to only snippets of each song. We have no idea if this CD is available anyplace, but perhaps that makes it all the better, like a rare pearl that can only exist as legend. Volker Strifler may not have much to do with music today in any commercial sense, but more is the pity. He strikes us as the real deal, an honest-to-god bluesman whose musical virtuosity is equaled by his innate soulfulness. 9-10-12

Running on Gravity: Dennis Wanebo is a bright guy from Boulder, Colorado, a former lawyer whose passion for music led him to pursue it full time following a health scare. After releasing a couple CDs with his band Martian Acres, Running on Gravity (a typical Wanebo-style allusion, and a typical humor trope) is a solo effort that features Wanebo's innate sense of musical sophistication and melodic and lyrical nuance. His music, often characterized by lovely harmonies - Wanebo sings particularly effectively in his higher registers, and works well with others - is completely adult in subject and scope, which puts it in this category of subsidiary products. There are radio-friendly tunes here, such as "Mostly Lost", and there are ageless sections ("Queen of the Blues") when no one would know that Wanebo is no 21-year old, but radio is non-existent in the 21st Century anyway and was never smart enough to support a Dennis Wanebo, save possibly for a few early golden years of nascent FM. RARWRITER.com admires Wanebo greatly, but suspects that commercially speaking he has every reason to make that face he is making on his most recent CD release. We look that way a lot of the time. This CD is exceptionally well performed and produced, and at times one hears a classic like Graceland in this work, making it seem that if a visionary producer were to commandeer Wanebo's song selections and direct him down a principal path, that there could be something truly great at work here. Unfortunately, the market just isn't there to perpetuate such a magical development. This is no fault of Dennis Wanebo, who does fine work on this CD.

A Deep Oasis: Lorrie Singer and Bradley Kopp are a husband-wife team from Austin, Texas, and long-time music pros. Both are regular performers on the Austin and Texas regional music scenes, and with A Deep Oasis they have taken a first stab at writing their own material. This seems odd, at this late stage of their careers, that songwriting hasn't been a focus for them up until now, but one might attribute this to their exposure and access to material from their social peer group of established songwriters. Iain Matthews, for instance, contributed to this LP of Americana that is notable for Kopp's crisp guitar work and Singer-Kopp's accessible tunes. The "deep oasis" reference is hard to get, for deep does not really characterize the intent of these songs or the approach that Singer-Kopp have taken to producing this recording. They are precise but perhaps a little too slick to achieve that soul-shaking resonance associated with depth. These are more like simple stories of common folk told in a straight-forward but exceptionally professional way. Here we have that fault line that divides creative vision from performance artistry. Singer-Kopp have the performance artistry part down pat, but they probably run up against a wall regarding the songwriter vision part. It feels like product to be sold at the show.

Saltwater: Vera Lynn Bush has people who believe in her, which one assumes is based on respect for her radio-friendly style and sheer horsepower. Her songs are right in the pocket with contemporary country blues, and she has an AM voice, by which I mean she comes across even in a lo-fi context. There are no cringe moments in her vocals, just pure consistency across a wide dynamic range, including her attack and melodic scope. There are no doubt more than a few – probably more than a million – songwriters out there who wish they had Bush’s apparently natural feel for hook-filled pop. On the other hand, she works with a lot of songwriters. (One suspects that she holds a deep bag of tunes.) It might be interesting to strip away all the other collaborative influences, as she did on the track “Life Is All About Love”, the only such solo flight on the 2010 LP Saltwater, to get a better handle on who she is. One may not listen to Saltwater and come away with any particular connection to the artists herself, and that may be due to her collaborative approach. It probably also says something about marketing songs in our present age. There is something smartly generic about Vera Lynn Bush’s tracks, like the later output of someone who has run into a lot critiques along the way to becoming a pro. And she is a pro, right at the top end, and supported on Saltwater by a high-end group of Nashville musicians from the “Memphis side” of Music City. Stylistically Vera Lynn Bush is edgier, but fans of songwriter Gretchen Peters will hear a bit of similarity in the balladry of the two, as well as the interest each has shown in dueting with cowboys (“Faster Than Angels Fly” for Bush on Saltwater). Vera Lynn, on the other hand, is a honky-tonker next to the intellectual story spinning of Peters, and she is not targeting the same demographic, whatever their peripheral crossover. On the other hand, one wishes that Vera Lynn Bush would fall under some stylistic influences that would package the girl on the sleeves of the Saltwater LP and keep her at that level of presentation. Unfortunately, Vera Lynn has shown way too much willingness to use YouTube to emphasize some stylistic shortcomings that one suspects are undermining to her crossover potential. And one wishes that she was making more personal statements, because she has great capacity for hitting southern fried gold once she puts her musical-spiritual-presentation package into maturity mode. It just feels like she needs an older, classier sister. 9-10-12

Chance Happening: Kree Woods is someone who has a chance to have something big happen, this due to her up-energy, low-on-cliché approach, and a youthful freshness that comes across on small speakers. She landed a single, "Cave In," on MTV's 2011 season of The Real World: Las Vegas, which  peaked at No. 10 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts. So far it has been just EPs for Woods, but this and her self-titled Kree Woods are really top-end commercial offerings. Of those releases reviewed in this edition, Kree Woods is the performer with legs, the one who could do more with her material than simply supplement live performance income with side sales. To the extent that radio hits are still a possibility, Kree Woods would be the horse to back.

Leap of Faith: Julie Rust has been described as doing music that is "ponderous" - not really a word one associates with a musical compliment - and "beautiful". However labored, the descriptives are apt. Julie Rust has a beautiful, clear tone to her voice that has the odd effect of communicating distance from her listener, as if she belongs to a class that you, the listener, probably don't. She does intimate work that you, the other, will never be able to fully embrace, but rather must just observe. This is Rust's crucible. She feels like an aesthete whose cold remove puts her in an odd place, but one that could be well exploited for soundtrack material, particularly if the music is required to communicate that peculiar isolation that is so common to highly evolved egos. She does a nice job of presenting a fragile-as-glass world, too effete to exist beside those of other china princesses, such as the sublimely sensual Tori Amos, but right on for the protected birds of the caged and cosseted realms, the wives of well-to-do business types and the financially secure for whom only emotional disturbance is in play.

Review of an "Edited Trio" House Concert: the sum of the parts…










The Edited Trio, from left, is  Brett Perkins, Mark Davis and David Zink. ► Performing "Don't Know How to Get Through"

By my reckoning Songwriters (capital S) are a mysterious bunch!

The process of receiving the offerings they make is equally mysterious!
I have listened to a bunch of songwriters over the years & some grab me & some don’t!

I grew up in a “golden age” of pop radio: late ‘50’s, up to MTV!

I heard classic FM radio “abornin” & have spent time “studying” the work of many of the best songwriters in detail.

I had money when the first spate of CD reissues came around & then found YouTube.

I know Artists that I count as friends who are excellent songwriters & will us them as the benchmark with which I make other critical judgments. The bar is high!

Three of these writers simply “stopped the bus” when I put their discs on & in these cases I left them in my “morning” disc player for 30+ days! I didn’t take them out until I wanted to hear some Dylan.

The edited Trio (www.editedtrio.com) is/was such a revelation!
Comprised of three strong solo songwriters: David Zink (whose disc Popzinkle I reviewed here) Brett Perkins & Mark Davis.

Brett & Mark were unknown to me when I accepted the invite to a House Concert. They both have serious bonafides & the requisite websites…check them out.

Each of the artists first did 3 songs solo w/Brett going first.

Right out of the box he stunned me: clear, strong voice, compelling lyrics. For You is v melodic & set the bar for the 2 songs that followed. I will miss hanging out w/you (?) is a great song & I couldn’t find it referenced on his site(?) He said he had been referred to as “the pop guy” of the group. I bought his 2002 disc Danish Weather & couldn’t be happier w/the choice: the songs are melodic & adult & have good, sometimes great arrangements, hooks & his influences are “on his sleeve” throughout the proceedings…good stuff!!

David Zink followed. I had heard David perform in this very room & his album PopZinkle was one of the discs I played for 30+ days. (read my review @ RARWRITER.com). My wife & I have enjoyed it on a number of road trips. David did not disappoint. Drawing from 4 discs he played a v strong harmonica prelude to a bluesy, rockin’ tune, followed w/song from Popzinkle (Wings of Love) & closed w/a song about stalking a woman…just kidding….David uses dynamics extensively & is v animated & has a sly humor that is hard to ignore….a great singer & player topped only by his thoughtful, highly melodic writing…he’s the bluesy rocker of the group but much more indeed!

Mark Davis then came on: the brooding rocker indeed!! Strong, sweet voice (he’s John Lennon on a good day) w/much soul in his delivery & lyrics. He opened w/ Everybody’s Born Believing & I was a believer a few bars in!! How can someone make a song with a title like Black Cloud into a song you want to hear again? 2 of his solo numbers are on disc ‘because there’s nothing outside’ & I purchased ‘immaculate’ also & there is much to recommend on any/all of his discs….his 3rd solo number ‘me & my old man’ is on immaculate & like any really good song it “works” w/out the great arrangement on the disc…he uses string sections to incredible effect and a bunch of acoustic piano & makes the songs sound there is no other way they should be performed. This is a song/studio tour de force at once likeable but bearing up well under repeated listening.

The Trio came on after a short break & made magic as soon as they opened their mouths…using vocal unison & shifting lead voice, shifting harmony combinations they sang melodic music w/2 guitars & Brett playing percussion (Cajon) to good effect. They capoed the guitars (ala Peter, Paul & Mary) to produce specific sonic effects for strong songs. All this material is the result of a group process & indeed has another identity from music on the individual discs. We listened to the 5 song edited Trio disc on the way home & found the few studio additions (string section, bass) to be welcome adornments to well crafted songs w/interesting melodies, well arranged vocals & lyrics that speak to grownup concerns & the spiritual quest inherent in our lives. We have been thrilled by groups of men singing together over the years & these guys join the ranks w/a strong freshman effort!
You can help these guys produce the next disc by going to www.editedtrio.com & checking out the options for support. Pax, Doug

Douglas Strobel is a life-long musician and music educator and a regular contributor to RARWRITER.com.


Mohammed Fairouz

Straddling Eastern and Western idioms, Mohammed Fairouz, one of the most frequently performed composers of his generation, has emerged as a force on the musical scene. Praised by the New York Times as "warmly sympathetic", his music has been received at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Kennedy Center and internationally throughout the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Australia. He has received commissions from Musicians for Harmony, Northeastern University, Imani Winds, Cygnus Ensemble, Counter) induction, Alea III (Boston University), Alwan for the Arts, the Second Instrumental Unit, among others. The composer will have six world premieres in 2011-12, including his Piano Sonata No. 2 “The Last resistance”, his first wind quintet, a clarinet quintet, a multi-movement choral work called "Anything Can Happen", an extended art song, and his third symphony. An album of Fairouz’s chamber music, entitled Critical Models, is slated for release on the Sono Luminus label on November 15. - Stuart Wolferman.

Listen to Track 1: "Litany"

More on Mohammed Fairouz at his Website: www.mohammedfairouz.com

RAR REVIEW (4/4) - Critical Models:



Vintage Blue is a 5-piece alt-rock unit out of Chicago, who recently released their debut LP, Strike the mics.

Vintage Blue has talent, but this debut effort lacks focus, as if it is a compilation from tracks recorded by several different bands that may previously have been fronted by singer/songwriters Ben Bassett and Ryan Tibbs. One of them writes a little more pop, while the other veers toward coffee house acoustic. One sings like a guy who could one day have a hit, the other not so much.

Vintage Blue is the subject of the debut of "A&R with RAR", an audio-visual presentation in which yours truly comments while listening to the CD tracks. This is a unique opportunity to form your own reactions to Vintage Blue while reading review comments. Check it out.

The Edited Trio:

Brett Perkins, Mark Davis & David Zink. Live at Blågårds Apotek, Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2011.





Jinx Jones Has A New CD that Finds Rockabilly to Be Alive and Kicking


RAR - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and The Revolution Culture Journal

He (Jones) is spectacular, not only in his considerable pyrotechnical flash, but in the soul and depth of his musical choices. He is a studied composer, a player who truly owns his instrument. He is also a clever lyricist and an accomplished singer. There he is a role player, performing the lyrics almost in character, and this is a character we all recognize as Mr. America, our Everyman. He works with his hands and strength of his back, and he leads with his heart...



Steven L Smith rocks Memphis-country with Outside of Tupelo


RAR - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and The Revolution Culture Journal

Steven L Smith seems to get that sometimes guys go into those bars where mostly naked women swing around on poles and, after a few drinks, they fall in love with them. This seems counter to the instincts that draw men to these clubs in the first place, but then men are weak and drink is strong, and the instinct to care for vulnerable souls is even stronger, one’s own and those of others. “I fell in love with a woman on a pole,” sings Smith in the opening track of Outside of Tupelo, his 2010 release on his Vinyl Record Company label. It is the kickoff to an album’s worth of top-flight country with white whiskers and a sure step.



Sam Broussard Reviews Steve Conn's New CD Beautiful Dream.


Sam Broussard - Musician/Writer.

There’s a lot of good music out there these days. Powerful sounds burnished by sonic landscapers, singers who can emote at the heights of passion all day, musicians who can play anything and do, and amateur musicians who create mood cathedrals on laptops that sound just tossed off, pulled out of a pocket and dropped into your inner spaces, mixing in with the howling winds of your very own and very unique void.




Diana Olson on Heinali and Matt Finney's Internet Collaboration

Ukrainian composer Heinali and American poet Matt Finney have never met each other in person. Their internet collaboration has produced two acclaimed eps and now they are working on their third album.



APEYGA Takes Jazz Fusion to a Deep, Disorienting Pleasure


RAR - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and The Revolution Culture Journal

APEYGA, the three-piece heavy-jazzadelic unit out of Culver City, Southern California, who recently released Ring, their third LP, is an indie film producer’s mother lode of disturbing, disorienting, sonic assault; just the kind needed for that FEAR.NET gore fest my wife keeps on all night long, so that now I can’t sleep unless I hear women screaming in the background.




Douglas Strobel Reviews PopZinkle, the Latest from Pop-Folky David Zink 


Douglas Strobel is a lifelong musician and instructor and a regular contributor to RARWRITER.com

I envy you the opportunity to discover this music!  PopZinkle is a remarkable song cycle written in response to the tragic events of 9/11!





Al Jardine takes a nice ride back to the pretension-free era of '60s rock


RAR - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and The Revolution Culture Journal

“San Francisco was our first stop along the way, where Dad started up a blueprint company. They sent him to Los Angeles to do it all over again and that’s where my musical odessey (sic) begins.”
So reads the liner notes on A Postcard from California, Al Jardine’s sentimental labor of love chronicling his boyhood journey to California and his serendipitous meeting, at El Camino College, with a kid named Brian Wilson.




Aussie Steve Lee offers a paean to the equalizer with I Like Guns


RAR - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and The Revolution Culture Journal

Whatever it is about guns, and songs about guns, that has always resonated in the soul of man – it was a staple on AM radio in songs from Johnny Horton, Marty Robbins, and others when I was growing up in Middle America – it has clearly put its stamp on Australian singer-songwriter Steve Lee. 


















































































































































Music Review Archives - Use this Link




Copyright © November, 2018 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)