CD Reviews

Aaron Bowen

Spring the Necessary Pilgrimage

Aaron Bowen’s latest album is Spring the Necessary Pilgrimage. He is a local multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer/everything else who has made a reputation as a guitarist, but also has avoided being cornered into any one genre. He has played and recorded locally for a couple of decades, and the new disc is a wonderful testimony to the broad […]

Annie Rettic


Annie Rettic is a local singer/songwriter who plays several instruments (including five-string viola and mountain dulcimer), and her new CD Heartstrings is quite unusual. It is collects some Rettic originals, another original by local singer Sweet Joyce Ann, and a cover of a standard. Then, Rettic opens up what is already a group of quite […]

Smitty & Julija

Made in Ojai

Soulful, soul searching, soul bearing, soul matching, all terms to describe the singer-songwriters who write tunes less as candidates for hard rotation on radio or various streaming services and more like updates on the status of their psyches. Much of it is endearing and attractive, depending on the melodic craft and canny poetics of the […]

Alicia Previn


Alicia Previn has quite a back story. The daughter of a knight who has conducted major symphony orchestras, including the London Symphony (Andre Previn KBE) and American jazz singer Betty Bennett, who sang for Benny Goodman. She trained on violin as a child, and later was a member of several bands in the ‘70s; by […]

Sue Palmer

Gems, Volume One

San Diego’s Sue Palmer is a pianist known to the world as the Queen of Boogie Woogie, and throughout the 20 selections on her dealer’s choice anthology, Gems Volume One, we find the sobriquet is hers alone to wear. A constant and vital presence on the local music scene for 30 years plus, Palmer’s energized […]

Jeffrey Joe

Don’t Get to Know Me

Mortality is a bitch. Not only is our time on this planet far too fleeting, attachments get formed (if you’re lucky), and when those bonds are broken by the inevitable, it can be a tremendous strain on the heart. For those who knew Jeffrey Joe Morin before his untimely passing on 07.17.17, his second compact […]

Marklyn Retzer

Dandelion Tatoo

Dandelion Tattoo is the latest from Marklyn Retzer. The five-song EP follows two full-length efforts, including 2014’s Presence, by the beach rocker, a teacher by day whose music typically celebrates good times, surfing, and love without drifting too far into the lanes mapped out by Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. Produced by Ben Moore, it […]

George Lawton & Rick Heller

Songs of Woody Guthrie

Most folk music fans recognize Woody Guthrie, but many may not realize that he wrote more than 1,000 songs. He was not only a folk singer but a folk hero, a role model for the organized labor and peace movements. Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way/ Songs of Woody Guthrie offers a glimpse into the […]

Mike Slayen

DUDE: A Guitar CD

I take the CD, DUDE: A Guitar CD, 12 Notes & the Truth, from the jewel case and pop it into the CD player. The disk is by Mike Slayen, who has been making a name for himself as one of the finer classical guitarists in southern California. So I prep myself for a nice […]