Sunday, August 30, 2015

Music streaming suggestions: Riverside, Calif. musicians

Nowadays, a large percentage of music is consumed via Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, iTunes and iHeart Radio, Tidal, Google Play Music as well as the just launched Apple Music.

While listening to your favorites, many of these streaming platforms will suggest similar artists that could become a regular part of your future playlists.

With that in mind, we’ve paired some high profile national acts from across America with recommendations of compatible independent ones who have ties to Riverside, Calif.

photo by Bob Steshetz

Charlie Musselwhite

Background: A master blues harp player since the mid-1960s, the Grammy and W.C. Handy Award winner (pictured above) reportedly inspired Dan Ackroyd’s character in the “The Blues Brothers” movie. He’s gained a new audience lately, thanks to recent collaborations with Ben Harper and Cyndi Lauper.

Latest album: “I Ain’t Lyin’” (Henrietta)

photo by Kim Martin

LOCAL MATCH > Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers

Background: Among SoCal’s prominent blues practitioners for decades, Piazza formed the Mighty Flyers in the late ‘70s. Since then, the singer/harmonica player has racked up accolades and put out nearly 20 albums. His current effort adeptly mixes originals with old school covers by Johnny Ace and Lee Dorsey.

Latest album: “Emergency Situation” (Blind Pig)

Where to hear: Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio

photo by Steady Jenny


Background: The zany LA funk/rock/ska band’s 1985 single “Party at Ground Zero” was in heavy rotation at KROQ, but came to national prominence six years later when “Everyday Sunshine” and “Sunless Saturday” became top 20 alt-rock radio hits. They’ve made several film appearances over the years. Paul Hampton of Riverside’s The Skeletones currently plays keyboards live with the band.

Latest EP: “Intrinsically Intertwined” (Fishbone)

photo by Mike Presser

LOCAL MATCH > The Debonaires

Background: Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary, The Debonaires returned in a big way last year. The ska/reggae band opened for the English Beat at the Orange County Fair and put out a long-awaited, highly recommended new album featuring guest appearances by members of Fishbone and The Slackers.

Latest album: “Movin’” (Jump Up)

Where to hear: Spotify, iTunes Radio, Pandora 

photo by Clara Balzary

Red Hot Chili Peppers 

Background: Best known for such platinum-selling hits as “Under the Bridge,” “By the Way,” “Dani California,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” the veteran alt-rock band from Los Angeles co-headlined Coachella Festivals in 2003, 2007 and 2013.

Latest album: “I’m With You” (Warner Bros.)

LOCAL MATCH > Soul of the River

Background: Together since 2002, the laid back, four piece group specializes in spirited funk and compact jam rock music that frequently recalls the Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson, Sublime and Marcy Playground. Both KCXX and KUCR have also given airplay to Soul of the River, which regularly plays Relay for Life events.

Latest album: “Soul of the River” (909 Records)

Where to hear: Spotify

photo by Don Miller

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Background: One of the few bands that found success amid the mid-1990s swing revival and is still active today, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy appeared in the film “Swingers,” had a minor hit with “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three,” played the Super Bowl XXXIII Halftime Show and did the theme to TV show “3rd Rock From the Sun.”

Latest album: “Rattle Them Bones” (Savoy Jazz)

photo by Mike Ingram

LOCAL MATCH > Big Papa and the TCB

Background: Led by Chris Thayer (a graduate of Riverside’s La Sierra High), the award winning swing quintet incorporates old school rhythm and blues into its sound. Big Papa and the TCB has performed at the Fox Theater and many other IE venues and saw the song “Go Big Papa” featured in a national TV ad campaign for Papa John’s Pizza.

Latest album: “Six Pack of Cool” (Inland Blue)

Where to hear: Spotify, iTunes Radio 

Shanachie Records


Background: The highly popular smooth jazz saxophonist/flautist started putting out albums in 1986; several have topped the contemporary jazz chart, gone platinum and earned Soul Train Music Awards. Najee has toured and recorded with Prince and countless heavyweight musicians. The new album features sleek Ambrosia and Antonio Carlos Jobim covers and guest turns by Alex Bugnon and Robert Damper.

Latest album: “You, Me and Forever” (Shanachie)


Background: A frequent performer at local schools, where he sometimes plays sax while riding a skateboard (!), Boykin served as a behind the scenes musician on Fox TV show “Glee” and has shared stages with John Legend, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Ledisi and others. His 2013 disc is a mélange of jazz, R&B and gospel, which the artist says captured a “fresher essence” than prior efforts.

Latest album: “Pink Sand” (Boykin Music Group)

Where to hear: Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio

My article originally appeared in the August/September issue of Riverside Magazine, which can be viewed at

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