Rock music, art history, film, fashion, entertainment and fine art fuel my passion for writing. Armed with an analytical and creative mind, I continue to develop my writing by reporting on contemporary culture and fine arts. Both my formal and informal education enables me to draw from my wealth of knowledge on the above subjects. My Bachelor of Arts degree in art history taught me valuable research methods that I use in combination with my reporting skills to craft features with accuracy.  I continue educating readers while also entertaining them with my writing. I naturally closely observe human behavior and interject the mood and details of an event into my reviews. I look forward to continue covering important musical, cultural, film and art events as well as exhibitions.

Working as an intern for the online music site Arena.com, I gained insight into the music press. As I transcribed the editor’s interviews with hard rock and alternative bands, I learned the best type of questions to ask the band members. When I interviewed local bands Dry River Yacht Club and The Father Figures, I was much better prepared to ask the questions necessary for a concise and interesting feature. When I wrote a record review for the hard rock band The Winery Dogs, I learned how to describe the CD in fewer and more specific words.

Although the rock press like most other areas of music has always been dominated by men, I discovered there are more women rock journalists now but it is still a man’s world in hard rock, metal and alternative music.  It was a valuable experience for me to take on hard rock and punk as an outsider and persevere in this male-dominated area of music. I will write and attend shows where I am a minority in both the audience and in the press box.   My love of music and my time spent studying and reading music journalism and history will keep me in the writing field I love most, rock journalism.

Earning the Journalism and New Media Studies certificate has been a goal for me over the past four years. I work full-time at Paradise Valley Community College in Student Development, and I have come to appreciate the importance of milestones in life. The certificate for me has been an important milestone, and its completion signifies hours of hard work coming to successful fruition. I have watched my writing grow and flourish over the past four years and am proud of my current body of work. This year two of my features, “A Phoenix son, Oscar winner, Havok descend upon US Airways Center” and “Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center Inspires,” were the Puma Press cover stories and cover photo. This year I was pleased to be asked to write film reviews for the program for PVCC’s Desperado Film Festival. I also gained self-confidence in my ideas and my writing skills. Now when I encourage students to complete their degree or a certificate I will be saying it from a place of experience.

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Features, interviews and opinions:

Check out:

Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center Inspires

PVCC’s Desperado LGBT Film Festival educates, entertains

Zia Record Exchange creates pop culture wonderland

Artist Andy Warhol maintains iconic status, remains relevant

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Museum reviews:

‘David Bowie is…’ captivating, creative, chameleon

‘Andy Warhol Portraits’ explodes at Phoenix Art Museum

Designers bring fashion back to U.S.A.

 

Concert Reviews:

robertplant1vegasnetweb

Legendary singer Robert Plant dazzles

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A Phoenix son, Oscar winner, Havok descend upon US Airways Center

‘Lips’ smiles, metal crowd moshes and head-bangs

Sedona’s decker. hypnotizes audience with new release ‘Patsy

Black Keys performs classic rock, blues to clamorous crowd

Arctic Monkeys packs Comerica Theatre as popularity soars

Rob Zombie ushers in Halloween at Scottsdale AZ

Cher’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour triumphs in Phoenix

Alternative darlings, Imagine Dragons, pack U.S. Airways Center

Janelle Monae entertains and empowers audience

Lady Gaga entertains Phoenix with extravagant show

Johnny Depp steals show at Cooper’s Christmas Pudding

‘Serious guitar music geeks’ gather at casino

Madonna entertains Phoenix with ‘MDNA’ tour

KUPD presents second Desert Uprising

How I survived three days of heavy metal

Muse dazzles audience with elaborate multimedia show

Arena.com

Michael Cornelius: Jr. Chemist + Skate Punk Turned Father Figure

Dry River Yacht Club Evolves Their Soon To Be Legendary Style

The Winery Dogs: A Self-Titled Classic

Desperado Film Program Film Reviews

‘Cupcakes’

‘The Way He Looks’

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Appearances and book signings

Olympic Champion shares life struggles, triumphs

Special guests add fun, bring personal touch to 2015 Desperado

80’s Icon Billy Idol ‘pops’ into Changing Hands bookstore

The Doors’ Densmore draws crowd at Zia

 CD, film, book, an icon reviews

Life After Death’ both haunts and inspires

Tribute: John Newman scores big with debut CD

American Icon Pete Seeger dies at 94

The Holy and the Broken’ traces history of Leonard Cohen’s failed ‘Hallelujah’

Cate Blanchett, Jennfier Aniston shine in hit comedies

Cher returns with hit album, new tour, TV comeback

Critics hail ‘New Day’ as Bowie’s best since 1980

Jeff Buckley’s opus ‘Grace’ still fresh, new

Miscellaneous

Jared Leto chops off ombre locks, reveals icy new look

Phoenix Art Museum hosts ‘Andy Warhol Portraits’ exhibition

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Surviving Motorhead

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lemmy of Motorhead, Foto: Chris Pizzello/AP/dapd

         Waiting for Motorhead, I could feel the excitement building in the crowded room,  at the Marquee in Tempe, AZ. on March 10th.  The concert was sold out and the packed crowd was getting rowdy and impatient.  A fight had broken out earlier when the crowd favorite, Clutch was playing.  Neil Fallon, heavyly the bearded lead singer, told the audience to stop fighting as this crowd was family.  The concert goers seemed pleased at his statement as eveyone clapped loudly.  I was bored with Clutch and although they were no doubt great musicians, their music sounded like all those 70’s bands I disliked in the 1970’s.  Sorry to say, there were only two types of exciting music in the decade of the ’70s: glam rock and punk rock.

          There is not much room on the stage at the Marquee so the roadies did not have alot of equipement to move but they spent most of the 40 minutes between bands checking the sound system and getting the instruments placed on stage.  The audience kept yelling “Motorhead,” “Motorhead,” “Motorhead.”  It was difficult to find a place to stand because if you stood in the center of the room you had to put up with the mosh pit and if you stood close to the stage on the side you were right in front of the monster amps. 

           I went with two friends, Andy and Robert and we eached picked a different place to mark out spot according to our comfort level.  Robert stood in the center so he could view the whole stage; Andy started out on the side close to the front but the loudness overwhelmed him and he went further to the side and back; and I stood close to the front in front of the monster amps.

           Finally, the lights went out and the audience started yelling and screaming  and Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee walked on the stage to a round of very loud clapping.  Motorhead is legendary, as they have been around for 35 years.  Lemmy, 65 years old, is a metal rock icon and can still play fast and loud.  He is respected by his younger peers in rock and rock and is considered the father of speed metal.  This Englishman, who was Jimi Hendrix’s roadie in 1967, has influenced Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax and an entire generation of metal bands.  He still wears his raven black hair long, dressed in black and wears his custom made cowboy boots.

           Motorhead delivered and did not disppointed us as we had high expectations of this concert.  They played fast and they lived up to their reputation as being the loudest band ever.  My friends and I could not  hear for the next 14 hours.  They did all their most popular songs with “We are Motorhead,” kicking off their high energy and high speed set.  “Ace of Spades,” and “Killed by Death,” sent the audience into a shouting, clapping frenzy with plenty of the sign of the horn being displayed.  I was surprised that the band only played one song,”Get Back in Line,” from their most recent album, “The World is Yours.”   Motorhead is 35 years old  and  has recorded  20 studio albums and have plenty of material to chose from.  The band played about 90 minutes counting the encores and without hardly any breaks between songs. 

          The band put on a great show and they sound to me like punk, early rock and roll  and metal done super fast.   I could see the influence of early ’50s and ’60s rock on Lemmy, who grew up listening to early rock.  He just rocks alot harder than the early rockers.  I can not wait to watch VH1 Classic’s recently released documentary on the candid man, called, “Lemmy,’ again.

Zia Records Expands

Posted: March 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Zia Records at 19th Avenue and 19th

          Next to the rows of CDs, DVDS, Games and records that have defined Zia Records for decades now you can find a  new addition.  What is the recent edition to the multi-media store that is Phoenix oldest, “Independent Record Store?”  In their recently expanded  Thunderbird and 19th Avenue store you will find  books, both used and new.   You will also find seating in the book area and two small tables covered with oversized coffee table books. 

            The book selection offers variety and has a large number of music and entertainment books.  The used books are priced very reasonably like an biography of the Rolling Stones for $2.99 and Lemmy”‘ autobiography went for $7.50.  There are also sale book bins that offer five books for $5.00.  There inventory does not compare to Bookman’s or Half Price books but you can find some treasures while you are shopping for your music, films or games.  It is definately worth checking out.

            Over the last couple of years the Thunderbird location has expanded its vinyl collection which includes both new and used records.  Previously, most of the new albums were from alternative, classic rock and metal artists but now pop artists have  joined them and Rihanna and Jay-Z can be found next to  Arcade Fire, Dimmu Borgir and Pink Floyd.  Most new albums cost more than CDs but the used record prices are very good with albums as low as $2 or $3. 

            This Zia Records has a large metal section and it is always well stocked.  That is just one of their many catergories that you find in the store which makes your shopping easier as every section is clearly marked.  Zia is noted for it’s used merchandise and there is always a large amount of it among the new.  Their is also a bin for marked down CDS for as low as $5.  If you want to hear a new release before you buy it several listening stations are set up in the CD section by genre.

              If you are having a difficult time finding used DVDs, as more video stores go out of business, check out Zia’s selection.  One of their eye catching displays featured cult films and you could not help but look at all twenty five because they were not films you are likely to even see on cable.  Zia also has one of the Valley’s largest selection of music DVDs.  There is also a bargin bin with marked down DVDs with some good titles.

               Zia has now begun to handle British music magazines in their magazine section.  They also have collectable toys and band related merchandise like The Beatles recycle bags, Ramones and the Misfits wall hangins and posters.  You can also find collectable CD and album sets like the Beatles “White Album” in mono boxed set  in Mono for $140. used and David Bowie’s deluxe set of “Station to Station” also for the same price new. 

                 When you first walk in the store you will find in the front their “hot used” stock.  There is the CD bin, the DVD shelf, the book table and the Vinyl bin.  This is a great feature because they put their most sought after and interesting used items there.   

                  If you want a multi-media store with a great variety to chose from then this is the store you want to visit.  You will find great deals and stock you can’t find else where in the Phoenix area.  What you will not find here is a friendly atmosphere.  You are always greeted by the person at the counter closer to the door when you enter but you don’t always know if they really do want to help you.  And unfortunately, this Zia especially continously has the most unfriendly cashiers.  It is rare to see them smile and they do not appear to be very helpful.  But if merchandise and selection is more important to you then go to this Zia.  

 

TRX2 moves to new location.

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Interior of TRX2

 

When you walk into TRX2 on Peoria and 35th Avenue you do not know where to  look first.  The store is listed as a multimedia exchange on its business card.  First thing you notice is how you are hit with a myriad of bright vivid colors from the brilliant orange and blue painted interior to the colorful albums and wall posters. The store is small and packed with vinyl albums and 45s, used CDs, used games, used DVDs, turntables, and used game systems. Although, they have a lot of stock, everything is well organized and easy to navigate. The store recently moved from 43rd Avenue and Peoria, where they were located for five years.

Vinyl bin at TRX2

When TRX2 was at their larger former location, the store had the distinction of being the only record store in Phoenix where a cat resided full time.  She lived in the store as soon as the owners adopted her after they found her in the alley behind the store in a pile of garbage.  She never went outside even when the front door was open and would walk around the store gently meowing.  If you were in the store longer than 5 minutes she would come up to you and let you know she want to be petted.  After a few head pets she would leave and if you stayed awhile she would come back for additional stroking.  Unfortunately, the owner of the new building where TRX2 is now housed did not want the cat to live in the store.  She now resides at the owners’ home.

The prices are very reasonable with used DVDs are as low as $5.95 and albums sell for $4 and up.  They have a large selection of vinyl 45s as well.  The album bins are filled with classic rock and there is a great selection of Beatles, the Doors, the Rolling Stones and other bands from the 60s.  They also have many new wave and 80’s bands as well as disco and R&B.  If the early roots of rock is what you are looking for they have it as well. There is a good variety of used DVDs in stock that contains comedies, action, music and drama.  The south wall is filled with all bands of used video games and the rarer games are in the glass display case that doubles as a counter.

Chris, who owns the store with his wife Katie, is one of the friendliest and personable owners in the business.  He cheerfully answers all your questions and if he does not have what you are looking for he will refer you to other stores in the area.   Chris, thirtyish, with lots of piercings, really enjoys his job and takes pride in his store.

Game wall in the back of the store

On a Sunday, the store was steadily busy, with most customers coming with children for game items or to have their game discs polished.  The owner said some days he sells more CDs or DVDs than games, so the clientele choices vary.  When asked why  people buy the vinyl, Chris replied that one of the reasons vinyl records sell is because the customer likes to feel the albums as they look through the bins.  He thinks people can feel more attachment to the physical album and also said, “Most customers buy more than one album.”  As he was talking an older customer came in and bought a USB tunable because she wanted to convert her albums to MP3s. You can also purchase plastic covers for your records and pictures frames for album covers to display as art, as well as a vinyl cleaner kit.

TRX2 is a small store but with a lot of variety and great stock.  You will get friendly service but you are left alone to enjoy  just  looking around.  It is the type of store you just might find that treasure for a good price, like a Buddy Holly album from 1959 for $7 or the Adam and the Ants, album, “Strip” for $5.  The only thing missing is the store cat.

 

The entrance in the back of Stinkweeds on Camelback and Central

Sean Parker, in the critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated film, “The Social Network” brags to Eduardo Saverin, that he brought down the music business.   Saverin points out that the music business won the court battle and shut Parker’s company Napster down.  Parker replies with a smug look on his face, “Want to buy a Tower Records Store?”   Tower Records, American’s popular chain record store opened its first store in 1960 in Sacramento, Ca.  When Tower filed for bankruptcy in 2006, they had 89 stores in twenty states.  I can remember four  Tower Records in the Phoenix Area: the Mill Ave and University location, the Chris Town location, the one in Mesa and the last location that opened was at Desert Ridge Mall.   Parker’s Napster was not the crucial element that brought down Tower Records.  It was the rise of MP3s and other chain stores that began to stock music such as Walmart, Target and Borders.  Before Facebook was the “social network” Tower Records was a “social network.”

Record Stores were more than just a store to rush in and buy records.  It was a place to hang out with friends or to meet new friends that were looking at the same records you were.  A place to take a first date to so you could learn a lot about each other in a short period of time by checking out each other’s music.   Or you could talk to the music clerks who never seemed to get tired of talking about the store stock.  I have spent hours in record stores and have made new friends as a result.

Tower Records and Circles Records, a local large record store that opened in the mid 70’s  are gone.  But the Phoenix area still has some great record stores with almost ten of them being independently owned.   I went to one of the independently owned stores this past Saturday as I wanted to spend my $25 gift certificate from my co-worker Tawni Rachel.   I had been to Stinkweeds twice before and both times I had found a vinyl record or CD I had not found elsewhere.

Interior of Stinkweeds.

Stinkweeds, is a small record store in the eclectic strip mall on Camelback and Central in Phoenix.   The store has been in business for 23 years and was previously located in Tempe.  Stinkweeds  has only three employees and they are all very knowledgeable about the store according to the owner Kimber Lanning, who was working in the store when I stop in on Saturday.  Another employee is Lindsay Gates is a local musician who plays bass in several local bands.

When you first walk in the little store you see an array of color as you gaze over the racks of CDs and albums.  Although the store is small in size it is laid out very neatly and the space is used wisely to showcase a lot of merchandise.   It is very well organized and the lighting brightens the store.  The bulk of the merchandise is made up of CDs but they also carry a fair amount of Vinyl as well.  They carry mostly new stock but you can also find used records and CDs.  There are some books on music and alternative music magazines you rarely find elsewhere on the front wall.  They carry several turntables, my favorite being a  very bright green with a pink label reading,  “High End for the Serious Vinyl Junkie $350.00.”

Turnables for sale at Stinkweeds including the high end model.

Accompanying me on Saturday was my teenage son Ian making his first visit to Stinkweeds.  We spent about thirty minutes in the store going through the rows of CDs and Vinyl records.  The majority of music in the store is indie and alternative music with a sprinkling of punk and gothic music.  They feature artists on independent labels and some imports.  They also have a small section on jazz and blues and another small section on Hip Hop.  If you are looking for mainstream pop or rock you will not find it in Stinkweeds.  You will find Syd Barrett albums but no Pink Floyd, you can buy a Peaches CD but not Britney Spears and the only pop music I found was Iggy Pop.  New releases from the more popular indie artists where featured on the listening wall and included: Gage the Elephant, Arcade Fire, Decemberists, Adele and Cold War Kids.  There was also a small selection of single CDs neatly lined up on the wall behind the counter.

My son and I had an enjoyable shopping experience at Stinkweeds.  He bought a new CD while I bought new Vinyl.  Dario only politely asked us once if he could help us and then he left us alone and let us take our time going through the merchandise.  There is no pressure selling here.   When we were checking out I noticed a big white board behind the counter that listed ticket prices for local shows at reasonable prices of $10 – $25.  This was the first time I noticed the store sold tickets and I liked the fact they support the local music scene.  There was also a wide rack near the door that held flyers of upcoming events.

If you are into supporting the local economy, like music that is not played constantly on the radio,  enjoy listening to vinyl records or just want to keep record stores alive then Stinkweeds is for you.  If they do not have that hard to find music you have been looking for please ask them as they will try to order it for you.  And as a plus there is a candy store in the same strip mall that you will want to check out, but that is another review.

Check out Stinkweeds at http://www.stinkweeds.com/

Hello world!

Posted: January 20, 2011 in Uncategorized