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Reviews, Comments & Other Putdowns for this event (by Ray)

I picked up an LA Weekly, scanned through the live music section and mapped out the shows I wanted to see for the next month. I then proceeded to contact most of the bands I was planning on seeing via their official website and/or their MySpace and Facebook pages asking if it would be okay to photograph their show. I contacted the likes of High On Fire, The Bronx, 30 Seconds to Mars, some country festivals and a few others. I kept getting drawn to the ad for Serena Ryder at The Troubadour, whom I had never heard of. I looked up her website and found it to be full of great content with an easy-to-navigate layout. I listened to a few songs and watched some of the videos and thought this would be a fun show to photograph so I sent off an email… To my surprise, the manager for Serena was the ONLY person to reply back out of the multitudes of emails I sent out. Not only was he agreeable to let me in with a camera but was extremely polite as well and for that I am extremely grateful! I was (and still am) pretty bummed that I didn’t even get a “no thanks” or a “fuck off” from High On Fire and The Bronx, as they are at the top of my list but the Serena show made it all worthwhile. I’ll chalk up the lack of responses from the bands just being too busy and/or they receive way too many similar emails. Maybe next time…


  • Venue Review – The Troubadour:
    Still, one of my favorite venues to catch bands in the Hollywood/LA area. Easy parking, friendly staff, decent drink prices, good burgers, great sound and the bands are pretty much on time according to the schedule. The staff was, and has always been, very friendly and there is a minimum of attitude coming from them. The only thing they tend to hassle folks on is gum chewing… I get it but it is kind of an odd thing to focus on – maybe the owner sat in gum one night and made it a rule. Oh, the other good thing about this venue is that they no longer use TicketMaster and their over-inflated fees. Thanks Troub!

    www.Troubadour.com

  • Serena Ryder:
    I have nothing but good things to say about Serena, the band, manager and the road crew working the sound and the merch booth. Not only was everyone extremely friendly and polite but they were also down to earth. Okay, enough butt kissing – let’s move on to the show… Again, nothing bad to say here either; Great energy, entertaining, zero pretentiousness, and some great music from the stage. My favorite moment from the show was the last song entitled Sing Sing – you can see a version of that song on her website under the Live videos. As I stated before, I’m really glad I reached out and contacted them, otherwise I would have probably passed on this show and would have missed out. I purchased the Is It O.K CD at the show and was again pleasantly surprised at how much I like it – good stuff! Go check ‘em out and give them some support.

    www.SerenaRyder.com

  • Cuff The Duke:
    These guys were the backing band for Serena this night and also played a short set at the end of the night. I would classify them as Indie-Country and would be a great addition to a collection that includes Jenny Lewis, She And Him and maybe even Drive By Truckers. They were tight and delivered solid harmonies throughout both sets. If you were at this show and left immediately after Serena walked off stage, which most people did (sad), then you missed out on some great music. Go check em out…

    I’m guessing that their name is a John Wayne reference?

    www.CuffTheDuke.ca

  • Ryan Star:
    A two-piece on this night – piano, acoustic guitar, synth and percussion. It seemed like most of the crowd was here to see this show as a lot of folks left after Ryan finished his set. I saw a lot of what appeared to be industry people there and I am guessing that the suits were there checking out either their latest investment or scouting the rumors. Ryan had solid pipes and put on a good showcase of live-talent and songwriting skills. Not my cup of tea musically but I could see the masses really digging his tunes and at one moment in the show I thought he would be good on a Coldplay bill. I think that with the right push he could be hitting the charts within the year – maybe he already did and I’m just unaware… Don’t take my word for it though, go see for yourself!

    www.MySpace.com/RStar

  • Darren Criss:
    A three-piece that focused mostly on the acoustic guitar and vocals. I got a heavy Jack Johnson and Sondre Lerche vibe from this gig. If you like either of those two artists then I would suggest checking out Darren Criss as his music will slide on in nicely with their stylings. I know, I know… Every artist HATES being compared to other musicians, and so do I, but I find it is the easiest way to describe what a band sounds like. As you can tell, I am not a writer by any means so the less ramblings from me about all the bands I photograph, the better – trust me… Also, I met the manager of the band, who was a real nice guy and appeared to me like he was genuinely into the band and cared for their well-being, which was good to see. The only reason I bring this up is because soooo many artists out there get gobbled up in the machine and don’t have real people backing them unless they have a top 10 single, at which point they get all the attention they need. Remember kids, you are only as good as your last hit release once you get signed. Do as much as you can on your own, make sure to pay your taxes, don’t get caught up in the advance-money game, and no band girlfriends on stage! Again, I digress… Check them out at:

    www.myspace.com/DarrenCriss

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