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Episode #437: A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax

Jacqueline Jax logo photoGETTING TO KNOW BLACK ANGELS
by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

Interviewing: J. C. Martin

We first exploded back in the days of Myspace and launched very successfully at that time but these days we focus on playing live rather than using social media to work the fan base. I never intended to make a full album but you never know what the future will bring. 

The Story…
This was one of a number of songs written right after the death of my brother in law who was really like a younger brother to me. I had no interest in recording any new songs as we were still promoting our Bernie Sanders benefit album, “Go Bernie Go”. These new songs ended up helping us create a new album called “Big Big City, Bright Bright Lights”. We found a great female singer who had only sung on Electronic Dance Music tracks before to sing with us. Her name is Courtney Grace.


Big Big City, Bright Bright Lights…
This is a song about a band trying to make it big time in the music business and a relationship of a girlfriend of one of the band members who isn’t as thrilled about him being in the music business as he is.

The music..
“Big Big City, Bright Bright Lights” is a musical biography of the band, Black Angel, in the cities of Los Angeles/Santa Barbara and San Francisco/San Jose. The band really became a true, performing band with serious, permanent members when J. C. Martin moved from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011. The current band line up of J. C. Martin on vocals and guitar (Santa Clara); Rubin Ray on guitar (Marin); Mike Stever on bass (Berkeley) ; and Pat Woods on drums (San Jose) is the most dedicated, committed version of the band. But as the story goes…

The Album…
The new album is comprised of nine new songs that the band recently recorded and nine, older songs that have been very popular over the years and that the band has played live. Black Angel started in Santa Barbara in 1999 with Audrey (Mrs. Ike) Turner as a singer and Ronnie Turner, son of Ike and Tina Turner, on bass. The band played all over Santa Barbara and Los Angeles until Ike Turner and The Kings of Rhythm went back on the road and Audrey and Ronnie returned to Ike’s band. The band continued with J. C. Martin as the lead singer, songwriter, guitar player and producer with the able assistance of Ernie and Cory Orosco former members of the Strawberry Alarm Clock touring band. Other prominent band members from 1999 until 2011 included Lois Mahalia (Joe Walsh & Kenny Loggins protégé); Heather Wynalda (sister of soccer World Cup star, Eric Wynalda) and Danny Darling (Stevie Nicks, Leon Russell & Bonnie Raitt).
The band hit one peak in 2007 when the song, “One Beer”, was selected as the Song Of The Year by Chuck Eddy, senior music editor of Billboard Magazine in New York. The same year Black Angel had two albums each selected in the Top 35 Albums In The World by writers for Rolling Stone Magazine and Billboard Magazine. Black Angel was asked to open for both Aerosmith and Velvet Revolver soon after this as part of the first American version of the Euro Peace Tour.
The band went on hiatus for a time in 2008-2009 and resumed normal activity when J. C. Martin relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 and started playing with Pat Woods, Mike Stever and Rubin Ray. Playing weekly shows at such events as Fleet Week in San Francisco opening for the Blue Angels acrobatic air show; the Oakland Marathon; the Oakland First Friday celebration; San Francisco Off The Grid shows and too many clubs to mention, Black Angel fell into a groove and also recorded two full albums (“Pleasuredome” in 2014 and “Hard Livin’, Hard Times” in 2015) as well as a benefit, extended play album for Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, in 2016 called “Go Bernie Go”.
“Big Big City, Bright Bright Lights” features some songs that J. C. Martin wrote after the death of his brother in law, Paul Rogers, in 2016 and J. C. Martin’s son, Ben, in 2008. J. C. was inspired to write songs that reflected on the importance of these two individuals lives on his own. The new songs seemed to come out of nowhere and were each given to J. C. as complete songs in minutes as if they were gifts from God.

The songs seemed to call for a female singer and after hearing her sing on some Electronic Dance Musie tracks , J. C. Martin selected Courtney Grace to sing on four of the new songs. The new album contains a couple of songs that have gotten immediate attention from radio and fans, “Big Big City, Bright Bright Lights.” and “I Need A Drink”. Audrey (Mrs. Ike) Turner sang a great version of “Hip Hop Songs” and Micki Morris and Denise Patterson (Stevie Wonder & Bill Withers) showed their talents on “Go For It”. Jason Ball (Animotion) plays some great guitar licks on “Julie”. Check it out….You might understand why Black Angel has been called The American Rolling Stones for years and why they are proud to be compared to their favorite band.

All our band members live in the San Francisco Bay area (see previous question for where each of us live. I came from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara where are at the heart of the music business in the U.S. so San Francisco is a little slower. I have met more dedicated musicians here. Too many musicians in Los Angeles will quit a band if they don’t get a major record deal within 3 months.

Music business..
I have been very close to landing a major record deal for almost 20 years. Whenever we were close to signing a deal, our band was breaking up or there were major set back in my life such as losing my son eight years ago.

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with…
Probably Keith Richards as he has been my major musical influence. I learned to play Open G, five string guitar which gives you a sound a lot like The Rolling Stones, my favorite band. I have also learned a lot about song structure and lyric writing from people like The Rolling Stones; The Beatles and Bob Dylan.


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