View more photos in the "Nightranger: Rockstar Karaoke" slideshow.
Will Internet radio render terrestrial radio obsolete? Is blogging really killing print media, or can the two forms complement each other in the future? Can competitors in the club biz come together to form an online community that benefits all? Does Nightranger look like Lady Gaga? The answers to these pivotal music-culture questions and conundrums were explored last week at the two-day Digital Music Forum West seminar, held at the Roosevelt Hotel (okay, maybe not that last query). Though some of the liveliest panels took place during very un–rock & roll time slots (9 a.m.!), we’re glad we got up early for ’em, even if it was difficult, thanks to the flowing libations at DMF’s preparty mixer and dinner (hangovers are ubiquitous at conventions, and we felt it our duty to do it right). It was at the poolside Tropicana Bar prebash that one digital-nerd type decided we look exactly like the “Poker Face” Pop Tart, and he even got minglers to agree! Not so, but we would consider L.G. as a Halloween costume if she wasn’t so overexposed — in every way. Reggae radio king Native Wayne concurred, though our conversation yielded more interesting stuff, namely about Indie 103.1 (the station his Sunday “Smoke-in” show called home and still does on the Web). According to Wayne, the beloved station could be back on the airwaves — albeit with a different number on the dial. Time will tell if this one is more than wishful static, but after hearing the perspectives of Pandora Radio’s Tim Westergren, and Dave Conway of Little Radio, we’re not sure it will even matter a few years from now. Advertisers are truly accepting the net as a viable radio option, it seems. Conway, by the way, offered more broadcast-related bits: His station, which has been on something of a hiatus, broadcasting limited shows from Cole’s Restaurant (the Regent Theatre, which was to be the new HQ, didn’t work out), will be back full-force in a brand-new warehouse and events space kicking off on New Year’s Eve, and if past parties are any indication, it’ll be anything but “little.”
DMF’s dining hour saw a spirited debate about the record industry, its fairness to artists, and how radio can still contribute to success these days; Gaga came up again. Gag! (DJ/Producer Victor Duplaix, who was a panelist along with Garth Trinidad earlier in the day, and Dave Dederer of Melodeo/The Presidents of the United States of America, a.k.a. the lads who brought us “Lump,” provided some provocative commentary.) We didn’t participate in the discussion or dessert — only because we had another shindig to dig into: the Autoclub Speedway’s Pepsi 500 Preparty in a different part of the hotel. Talk about killing two birds in one nest. A panelist posse that included Conway, The Roxy’s Nic Adler (a big NASCAR fan, who’da thunk it?), The Comedy Store’s Alf Lamont and marketing heads from The Viper Room and The Andaz, joined us back at the pool for partying with racing gods Jeff Gordon and Dale EarnhardtJr., Playboy playmates (plus a future one, we’ll bet: Audrina Patridge) and where-are-they-now actors Scott Speedman and Skeet Ulrich (both still lookin’ fine). Speaking of hunky thespians, paparazzi magnet Balthazar Getty was to be on hand with his band Ringside for a performance, but even though he posed on the “blue” carpet, he was nowhere to be found when the group took the stage (he usually plays keyboards, but another fellow filled in). Not good for the band, whose star power arguably got ’em the gig, not to mention media attention (Getty’s pal Joaquin Phoenix directed the video for the band’s best-known tune, “Tired of Being Sorry”). Maybe Getty was rushing home to try out the contents of his Extenz goodie bag? Like Viagra, the popular “male-enhancement” product serves as a racing sponsor, and there was a load o’ samples and freebies at the soiree. Guess fast cars really are penis extensions.
ROCK THIS TOWN
One of our favorite panels at DMF was called “The Social Strip,” and the discussion outlined how the clubs on Sunset Boulevard recently came together via social media such as Facebook and Twitter to increase business. By touting each other’s shows, offering two-for-one specials and even hosting a “Tweet Crawl” (in which participants toured and microblogged about Book Soup, The Roxy and the rest of the above), they’ve not only increased business in the area but they also created a real community and a model for global promotion and reciprocal support in the future. See Twitter.com/theSunsetStrip for info on the next Crawl and more. We found ourselves on the Strip only a few nights later, when the Roxy hosted Rockstar Karaoke, a benefit for the Painted Turtle Camp for seriously ill children, created by Page Adler and Paul Newman. Dee Snider hosted the event (and did some more-than-decent Ozzy covers), which also included Slash (a jam whore, and we love him for it), Mark McGrath, Jason Bonham and Zoe Bonham doing Le Zep, Slim Jim Phantom and his son rockin’ Stray Cats and pretty much all of Foreigner’s current lineup onstage. A hot-blooded hootenannny for a great cause, which you can learn more about at thepaintedturtle.org.
REST IN PUNK
We really have no words to express the great loss this city, this world, has suffered with the passing of punk legend and author Brendan Mullen this week, except two: “Thank You.” The sweet and feisty Scotsman often helped us out with info and IDs of more seasoned scenesters at various events we both attended, and we always managed to learn something after chatting with him. He was just as giving with others, too, as a person and a champion of the DIY music movement. Read his book (with Marc Spitz) We Got the Neutron Bomb, and more recent photo tome, Live at the Masque, for glimpses at his amazing life. (See Kristine McKenna’s remembrance of Mullen on page 80.) Another music innovator, artist and musician Gidget Gein, who died last year, brought friends and fans together for the unveiling of his new memorial bench at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, on October 10, the date he passed. The marble and gold bench, bought with funds raised at a benefit at the Dragonfly last December, reads, “Luv is GG.” The Hollywood Forever’s next Cinespia screening of Halloween, on October 31, should be the perfect night to visit the former Marilyn Manson member (whose real name was Bradley Stewart). After all, he was the original Spooky Kid.