Category Archives: Chelle LaFleur

Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Tech Support


So while ShapeShifter’s busy takin’ some time to themselves, not that they should or anything, it seems their techs went and got all antsy on us. Just like a lot of us ShapeShifter fans do when there’s nothing new to report.

Instead of sitting around and moaning about how they can’t wait until the band is active again, Bobby, Cookie, Creek, and Chuck decided to make some noise of their own.

That’s right. These four brave souls who put up with my ShapeShifter boys night in and night out have decided to form their own band. They called themselves Tech Support, which is a clever enough name if you don’t know what they do and the ways in which techs really do support the men they work for. The women, too.

So this new Tech Support band’s busy playin’ all the spots around Riverview. Never more than a day’s drive away, just in case their bosses need ’em for something. You know: fix a string, tune something, tighten a drum head. Doesn’t sound hard. But yours truly guesses that once you get used to the prima donna treatment, there’s no going back.

Not that Chelle’s calling those ShapeShifter boys prima donnas.

Well, okay, she is.

She’d love to do it in person, too. Face-to-face and all that. After all, how’s a rock writer supposed to write about rock if she don’t get a chance to listen to it?

That means that any of you who’re thinkin’ of takin’ your pretty little selves out to Riverview to check out Tech Support live and in person, check with me before you jump in your rental car. Chelle here don’t drive. She needs a lift to the gigs. And you can be there to watch what happens when she calls the ShapeShifter boys prima donnas to their faces.

I bet those Tech Support boys will laugh the whole time they’re agreein’ with me.

What? You STILL haven’t joined the Monday Poetry Train? No rules, people, no rules! (or is that the problem?? Hmmm? Also, scroll down a post for a new thing I’d love to see the world join me in: Sunday Best. You decide what’s best and talk about it on Sundays. How easy is that?


Byline Chelle LaFleur: The Heroin Diaries


Now, listen up, folks. Chelle here don’t often step outside her fictional world and into Susan’s, but today, she’s just got to. What Susan saw the other day just burned us both up too much for me to keep quiet. And since we all know that when Chelle talks, people listen, she let me have the floor for this one.

You see, Susan stopped in at the Borders on McKnightmare — she swears that’s the street name but ol’ Chelle’s got her suspicions — to pick up Nikki Sixx‘s The Heroin Diaries already. Good thing she got the chance; she’s only been reminding the Tour Manager to go and do it for her the past five weeks or so. Good thing that Tour Manager don’t get paid for his gig, or he’d be out on his hiney.

Back to the book ’cause this is what it’s all about. Mind you, that there book’s been on the Best-seller list since it came out, back in October. You’d think a best-selling book would be near the front of the store, right? On them best-seller racks?

Nope. Susan had to ask for help finding the book. Stuffed away — I gotta say it was face out on the shelf — in the music section.

Now, I ask you. Is that where you’d go look for a book about a drug addict? Hidden away on a shelf, not in plain sight? And what about this so-called soundtrack to the book? Where’s it at?

People, people, people. I don’t care how big a jerk Nikki Sixx might be — I hear he’s not, but even if he was — he deserves better than this. Susan’s not even a hundred pages in and already, she’s over at her own computer, typing away on a post about it. She’s gotta rave. She’s ready to make them kids she calls The Opening Act read it, even though they’re way too young to get more than “Drugs are bad” outta it. This book’s got power. This book oughta be required readin’ in schools ‘cept all them biddies who scared of their shadows would have a fit at the idea that Nikki Sixx is a bigger nudist than my good friend Mitchell Voss. But still, this is beside the point.

This is actually all about the marketin’ of this fine creation. ‘Cause let Chelle tell you, them marketers missed a hell of an opportunity to blow the roof off the way things get done.

First off, how many other books have come out with their own soundtrack? Where’s the push to sell the book and the music together? The music biz is so busy whining about how nobody’s carin’ enough to buy a CD, but here’s a chance to change that. Instead of makin’ someone pay full price for the music while you give ’em 20% off on the book, how about a package deal? Throw in a coupon for a free t-shirt while you’re at it. But for goodness gracious, you marketin’ wanna-be geniuses, don’t leave it up to rock writers like me to tell you how to do your jobs! You just might wake up and find that you’re outta your job and it’s now mine. Just ’cause I can do it better’n you don’t mean I want it. I like what I do.

And how many studies have we been seein’ lately about how people ain’t buyin’ books no more? I ain’t gonna go through the whole song and dance again, boys and girls. Go read the paragraph before this one. You might need the reminder already. This is where I mention that Nikki’s said he’s giving part of his bucks to charity, too. Hello? Raising money for a good cause? Why aren’t you with me, people?

Here was a chance for y’all to work together. Music and books, just like in Susan’s vision, comin’ together in this whole package where they make each other better even though the one can get along just fine without the other. Best of all, a lot of music people, they don’t read much. Same goes for a lot of book people — they don’t listen to a lot of music. Cross those folk over, show ’em a new way, people!

Here was a chance for y’all to sit up and smell a new day. And you blew it. Hidin’ a best-seller in the music section. Not offerin’ a package deal on the music and book together.

No wonder book sales are down and Susan and Rob Zombie are the only ones buyin’ CDs anymore. You people in charge, you just don’t get it. This was as plain on the noses on your faces, but God forbid you look in the mirrors.

Marketing people. Is this the sort of garbage they teach you in college? Then Chelle’s damn glad she didn’t waste her time.

Note from Susan: While I fully understand that those front displays are all paid placements and that the issue in my not finding the book was because someone at Pocket Books didn’t pony up the cash, maybe what Chelle and I ought to point out is that, with minimal publicity, this book sits at #16 on the November 18 edition of the New York Times Best-seller list for Non-fiction (see link above), and that this is its fifth week on the list. Maybe it’d still be in the top ten with a bit of help. And to be fair, I didn’t even see Slash’s new autobiography anywhere in the store, which is listed as debuting at #8 on the list. (Because let’s face it, if I’d seen it, I’d have bought it, too.) As for the Rob Zombie comment, I heard an interview with him on my beloved XM radio, and he admitted to being the only person left who buys CDs anymore. Since I still do, that means I’m in rare company; I think Zombie’s a genius.

And by the way, Chelle and I wrote this last week; I’ve since finished the book. Go get it.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Castle of Tunes


For this week’s Poetry Train, Rhian asked us to come up with scary stuff. This situation, based on real-life happenings, has been giving me nightmares. Pretty scary.

Now listen up, girls and boys. We got a problem on our hands and it’s up to us music lovers to solve it.

Most of you know ’bout that chain of live music joints called Castle of Tunes. It’s a good chain; they ain’t the problem here, so don’t go burn them down. Good people work for them. They open their doors to bands you probably ain’t heard of yet, and they make sure the bands come from all walks of life and on one night or another, they try to suit the music fix for every single person on the planet. Castle of Tunes just might take over the world but that ain’t the problem here.

The problem starts with the people who own the land some Castles sit on. Those people decided that certain bands — like Hammerhead or Deadly Metal Hatchet, Carrion or Bitterness — don’t have the family values that the big, land-owning corporations like. That those bands I just mentioned, they aren’t good enough for people who spend money at the big corporation’s theme parks, movies, books, and all the other things they try to make us buy.

You see, music lovers. I know you do. They’ve crossed the line. They’ve gone from suggesting what we should buy to telling us what we can’t buy. Which in this case, that be music. Live music. The kind that feels good and is loud and ugly and noisy and some of it’s Satanic and some of it’s violent and Lord knows that in the case of Hammerhead, it’s sexual, too. Some of it’s the sort you wouldn’t be caught dead listening to. And some of it, you can’t get enough of.

That scares the big corporation people. So much that they won’t let these bands play in the places built on land they own. Because, you know, someone might have fun or find some sort of inner peace or something from music they don’t approve of. God forbid.

Music lovers, it’s time for us to stand up and put an end to this. Unless you’re under eighteen, no one’s got a right to tell you what you can and can’t listen to, and if you’re under eighteen, take a few minutes and educate those people who think they’re your dictators. You never know where a new fan will come from.

The big corporation’s gonna refuse to be educated. We gotta deal with them the way our parents dealt with us when we were kids and we were bad: ignore ’em. Ignore their movies, their theme parks, their cute cartoons and those stuffed animals you guys like to give us girls. Spend your money on the bands. Buy t-shirts. See if the boys in Deadly Metal Hatchet will stuff a Hatchet, and give that to your girl. It’ll hurt less when she uses it on you.

Take yourself to the other clubs. If you hear a band’s been thrown out of Castle of Tunes, go see ’em at the place that’s got the nerve to take ’em in. Make sure that place earns lots of bucks from that show. Let the corporation see how much green stuff they lost. Make ’em understand that they can’t control us music fans.

We got the power on this one, boys and girls. Let’s use it. And once you do, be sure to lobby for ol’ Chelle here. She might be out of a job once the big bosses at the Trumpet read this piece. That’s okay. Chelle’s got to fight. ‘Cause once people stop bands from comin’ ’round town, Chelle’s gonna be out of a job anyway.

Want more Chelle?

Here’s her bio.
The first Chelle piece: Jock La Feet
Bitty Bands


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — The Gathering Rising


Welcome back to the musings of fictional musical journalist Chelle LaFleur!

So Chelle‘s been keeping this spot humming lately, hasn’t she? And she’s not stopping now. She’s not allowed, not so long as the city’s humming like it’s going places. Wouldn’t that be nice.

That’s why it’s so important that all you out there in newspaper land get off your rears and get out to experience for real some of what Chelle’s so busy writing about. I don’t do this so you can stay home, peoples. I do it so you all know where to best spend your precious entertainment dollars. In other words: I suffer so you don’t have to.

The Gathering Rising is the latest discovery that Chelle just can’t stop raving about. A band out of Omaha, they look like Nerdvana would look if Nerdvana were trying to look like contemporary geeks. Yeah, you know the type; they’re what Chelle had expected Temple of the Book to be. Cerebral. Electronic. The sort you get stoned and listen to. Not that Chelle or anyone at the Trumpet gets stoned or advocates getting stoned, mind you. It’s just that anyone who does might get more out of the music. Ready for a big word? Aural. Grab a dictionary; Chelle di. Expand your mind. That’s what aural means. That’s what The Gathering Rising does. They may not have screaming guitars, but they’ve got a cool name and a sound that indie rockers will dig. And while Chelle hopes that indie rock never takes over the throne from good ol’ Rock and Roll, she’s thinking that The Gathering Rising can break away from college radio and make bunches more fans.

You heard it first and you heard it here: If you see Chelle in a Nerdvana or The Gathering Rising t-shirt, don’t be shocked. The best metalheads are those who know there’s more to music than heavy.

This was actually inspired by literary agent Nathan Bransford’s not-so-recent comment about book titles involving the words Gathering and Rising. That, of course, inspired this. I was going to make them a metal band, but just for Nathan, I made them more the sort I think he’d like. Which sort of explains right there why he’s probably not the right agent for me.

At any rate, for more top-tier writings and poetry, check out Rhian’s poetry train! And join in, will ya?


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Nerdvana


Now, you all know that it’s part of Chelle LaFleur’s job to be a busy girl. Bands come to town, Chelle’s there in the audience, reviewing the show for this here Trumpet newspaper. Bands get ready to come to town, Chelle’s on the phone with them, getting interviews so her precious readers have a clue or two about the bands playing our lovely city and might actually turn out to check out something new.

Anyone who’s been reading this here space for awhile knows how many different bands Chelle sees. And that being the music critic means that Chelle sometimes has to go hear bands who she wouldn’t download if you paid her to. Not that they’re not good. They’re just not her style.

That’s the case with a band just breaking into the national music scene. You say you love music? Then go check them out, but don’t be expecting to run into Chelle LaFleur out and about the town inside of one of their shirts. Actually, they have a pretty good name: Nerdvana. Maybe if they want to win this city over, they can comp me the 4XL ol’ Chelle needs and she’ll even wear it to a ShapeShifter show. Chelle’s used to sticking out in those metal crowds.

She stood out in the Nerdvana crowd, too. Turns out saying Nerdvana’s the polar different from ShapeShifter’s being gentle with you good readers.

They’re from Baton Rouge, of all places, so you’d think they’d rock. Their name Nerdvana screams of the irony and alternative rock you Tulane types dig so much. We’ll save the irony and alternative rock for another time ’cause there’s nothing ironic about Nerdvana. Alternative… yeah, they’re an alternative to most of what’s out there, but alt radio ain’t gonna be hugging these guys and making nice on them so fast.

Good thing I’m not Nerdvana’s manager ’cause for the life of me, Chelle can’t figure out which radio station to stick ’em on. They belong with the Golden Oldies and poodle skirts and sock hops. They got that harmonizing thing going, they’re four boys with crew cuts and ears that stick out and square glasses and probably pocket protectors, too. Their guitar player holds his axe so high that Mitchell Voss gets arm cramps just looking at them, but then again, if anyone wears their guitar lower than Mitchell Voss, I’d like to meet him. Or her.

The best way Chelle can put it is that these boys croon. The old men who sang the standards before they were standard? They’re up there in heaven, where all good crooners go, cheering these boys on. Seriously. You could play Nerdvana in the middle of any of those oldies and unless you listened to the words, you’d think their songs were as old as the others.

Maybe they’ll turn out to be nothing more than a novelty, which is fine with Chelle LaFleur, who refuses to put on a poodle skirt ’cause that’s just disrespectful to poodles everywhere. But you heard it first and you heard it here: Nerdvana’s doing something different. If you can take their kind of music, make sure you look into ’em.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Screaming


… now that I’ve pretty well shredded that Alabama band, let me tell you about this t-shirt I got from the good souls who work for Deadly Metal Hatchet. They sent it in size 4X, so that right there tells you they’re serious about having me wear it and not use it to wash the car I ain’t got. It also tells me that they care about ol’ Chelle LaFleur here ’cause let me tell you, having something made in a 4x costs extra bucks.

Now, most of you know all about Deadly Metal Hatchet. They’re an okay band, one of those bands you always want on your bill ’cause they’ll help pack the joint and if you’re smart, you’ll take a cut off their merchandise sales, too, ’cause people can’t get enough of that Hatchet. They’re not dumb, either. They’ll be the first to tell you that they’ll never be able to pull in more than five thou peoples a night. They’re about the Hatchet more than the music, they know it, and they don’t care, so long as their merchandise sales are good.

This t-shirt they sent me’s got the Hatchet on it, of course. It’s sticking out of what my medical editor says is a lung and let me tell you, she had a good old time showing me all the different parts of a lung, all of which are right smack there, right where they ought to be. Anatomically correct and all that.

It’s a cool shirt. My medical editor said she’d have stolen it if it were her size, so I got on the phone and tried to mooch one for her. They’ll be in the stores soon, so keep your eyeballs peeled for ’em and keep off my medical editor’s clothes.

Before y’all go out, though, there’s one thing you need to know about this latest Deadly Metal Hatchet shirt. It’s a black shirt with white print. White print that glows in the dark and makes fat Creole women like yours truly here scream when they walk down a dark hallway and see their size 4x besom glowing at her.

I told you first, and I told you here. Chelle LaFleur screams. Deal with that fact, and get your own damn shirt. Mine’s hidden at the bottom of the pile ’cause if it’s not, it glows all night long and keeps me up, staring at all those anatomically correct lung parts.

You heard it first, and you heard it here. Deadly Metal Hatchet shirts and bands from Alabama. Both make ol’ Chelle scream.


Byline Chelle LaFleur: Temple of the Book


Have you been over to Rhian’s poetry train? Have you jumped on???

Have you joined Dewey’s comment game?

Are you ready for my summer reading contest???

Now, on to what you’re here for. The fiction.

Now, you readers know that ol’ Chelle LaFleur can bang her big fat head with the best of them. And you readers know that ol’ Chelle LaFleur can rock out with the best of them. That’s why Chelle LaFleur is so much more than just a music critic.

Chelle LaFleur’s gotta earn her keep at this here Trumpet newspaper, and so Chelle got to go out one night and check out Temple of the Book, one of those three-man, acoustic bands where all the members wear their brown hair pulled back in ponytails and they all have John Lennon glasses on. The whole audience would be pale-skinned or else would be all dredlocked up. I just knew it.

Has Chelle told you lately that she’s the world’s stupidest journalist? Has she?

Temple of the Book is three dudes, yeah. They’re not all acoustic, they don’t wear ponytails and the only glasses were the ones they were drinking their beer out of. And they rock. Hard. Geoffrey, the guitarist, might be able to out head-bang some of you regulars, and that’s no joking on Chelle’s part.

I may have been the only dark face in the crowd, but don’t think people don’t know who Chelle LaFleur is. I been to lots of shows and seen lots of bands and that was the first time I got a shout-out from the band onstage. Well, okay, there was that time that the ShapeShifter boys started asking if I was there, but that was different. This was a band who was glad to see ol’ Chelle, and who said they played harder ’cause I was there. I don’t think praise gets no better than that.

The shame of all of this is that, typical of this city, no one came to see Temple of the Book. There were about thirty of us there. What’s the matter with you people? Are you really dumb enough to think that our music clubs will stay open if no one shows up at them? Do you think these bands can make it and make a new name for the city without your support?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it can be hard to figure out what sort of music a band plays. Some of them don’t do themselves any favors, picking those brainy names that makes them sound like they should be wearing John Lennon glasses. But don’t a night checking out a new band beat that tired old TV show you didn’t want to watch in the first place?

You rockers ought to get over yourselves and check this band out. Three guys: one guitar, one bass, one drummer. The bass player sings some of the smartest, most with-it lyrics I’ve heard. I know this first-hand not just ’cause I heard them, but because they wrote some of them down for me. Look here:

You say you mean it
You back it up with actions
And when push comes to shove
You push right on back

That’s from the song called Braveheart. Yeah, it was a movie or tall tale or something. But think about it. Think what it’s saying in today’s world. You gonna let yourself be pushed around and made to live a life you don’t want to live? You know how tired I am of hearing you people whine because someone’s pushing on you and not letting you have your own way. Well, here’s your power. Take it and make some changes already ’cause Chelle’s sick of hearing the whining.

You heard it first, and you heard it here. Temple of the Book. Check them out.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Flipped


With apologies to Karen!, who was expecting to see this posted earlier.

I swear, you’da thought my desk was hostin’ Christmas the way the whole greedy office buzzed around here the other day, sniffin’ around for handouts. What do you mean why? You think Chelle LaFleur’s not worth sniffing around?

This one time, you just might be right, but don’t let that get to your head. It’s the mail that was so hot. A good ten packages stuffed full of CDs showed up, all at once. Looks like record company folk really do care that I know what I’m writing about when these bands roll through town.

Now, don’t no one go telling them that I know more’n I let on. You really think I get all hot and bothered over a record company thinking I’m so dumb, they gotta send me lots of CDs and press kits about their bands? Got any clue how much money someone’ll make on eBay once I’m dead?

Even funnier than the fact that I’ve got these folk snowed is the way my coworkers react. You’d think they’re in a record store or somethin’, pickin’ up all my new music and turning it over, as if the back cover will tell them the secrets of the universe or somethin’.

Ever notice that? How every single person on the planet picks up a record, a cassette — yeah, remember those two things? — a CD, whatever, and turns it over and gives it a good, long look?

Seems to your friend Chelle here that if the universe wants to give up its secrets, it’ll do it inside the record and let it come out that way, in the music. I’ve never seen anything on the back of a CD ‘cept a pretty picture — okay, I’ve seen plenty of ugly ones and even more boring ones. — and some really small print that hurts Chelle’s old eyes.

You heard it first and you heard it here: It’s a waste of all our time time to flip a disc over and read what’s on the back, but I dare you to try and stop yourself before it’s been flipped. Like women who want to keep their mouths shut when they put mascara on, we just can’t stop.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — More about Typos


Here I go again
about typos. Sue me, all right? I’m a journalist even if I never went to school for it. But maybe that’s why it gets my goat so much, you know what I’m saying here, people? If Chelle LaFleur can find a way to spell right, so can you.

Yes, it’s that simple. No, don’t you dare come whining to me about how busy you are and how something like spelling shouldn’t matter. It does and it should. If I can hustle to make my own bills and still take the time to spell right, so can you.

Besides, we live in a world that’s more and more about our computer screens. We don’t see faces no more; we see pictures and while y’all might have some pretty darn interesting body parts, that’s something else you gotta consider.

Here’s the deal: The Trumpet here is looking to hire some freelance writers, now that they’ve gone and put me on staff full-time with a salary and everything. We all know they did this so I’ll stop writing for every news outfit in town and so they can keep me for themselves, but that ain’t the issue, here. What it’s all about are these applications we’ve been gettin’ in at the office.

“I wanna be a righter.”

I kid you not, that’s what one application said. You wanna be a lefter, too? You wanna get an interview? Work with real people and not monkeys or your greased-up right hand? Learn how to spell.

One kid came into the reception area wearing a dirty red hoodie, pulled up and looking like it hadn’t been washed in a year or two. Alls we could see was his nose, and that didn’t look too clean, neither. I kid you not. And this small voice comes out, “I can write music reviews.”

Well, people, lookie here. That’s Chelle’s job. No one said nothing about writing music reviews.

Look. I meet folk like you daily. You all wanna have a glamour job like ole Chelle’s. But to get where I am, and to get to the point where you can write a column like I do and use slang like I do — but you’ll notice it’s all spelled right slang — you gotta impress. You gotta make people believe that you can do the job from the first second they lay eyes on you.

You can’t do that if you can’t spell. Take two seconds and look up those words in the dictionary. You just might learn something along the way, and learnin’s always a good thing. Use that word you just learned and make someone think you’re smart.

I remember a day when being smart was sexy. Well, in this corner of the world, that hasn’t changed. Smart is sexy. Good spelling is hotter than hot. And being professional from the get-go is what’ll get you where Chelle is.

You heard it first and you heard it here. You may not get to where ole Chelle is, but if not, it’s only you that’s holding you back.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Bitty Bands


As part of the Debut a Debut contest that Erica at Writing Aspirations and I are throwing, I thought that I’d start featuring some of our debut authors, too. First is Lila Shaara, whose Every Secret Thing is one of the debuts you can win copies of — an autographed hardcover or an audiobook on CD!

Now, on to Chelle and what she’s got to say today.

Now someone had better explain to me just what’s goin’ on here. Okay? I’m listening, so you all had better start speaking.

Now see here. I know I’ve encouraged letters and feedback from you all. And for the most part, what you people have to say rocks. I like that you don’t hold back in your letters, and I like even more that you show me some respect when we meet up face to face. Not a lot; just enough.

What I don’t like is this recent bombardment from you all about my horn-tooting of those little bands out there. Why? What’s your issue here? Don’t you know how big bands get made? They start out as little bands and they slug it out and they find a way to make sure they stand out. If they stand out enough to catch my cynical old ears, so much the better, don’t you think? Have you ever known me to go nuts for a band that was so terrible, you changed the radio station every time they came on?

Well, you gotta account for taste in there, too. But my track record speaks for itself: every single bitty band I’ve told you about has found their way to success of some size, and all of it’s been deserved. Sure, some of ’em broke up before they made it as big as they could have, but that’s the nature of bands, boys and girls. They’re made up of people. People don’t always get along.

Sort of like you all and me, right now. ‘Cause sure as I know my name’s Chelle LaFleur, I know that you ain’t feeling this bitty band love the way I am. And I don’t know why, unless you’re just perfectly happy to keep on doing the same-old, same-old.

If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t be taking up the air I’m tryin’ to breathe, you know what I’m saying here, boys and girls? I’m here to find good music and not care about how big their arenas are or how gigantic their heads are or how humongous their staffs are, pushing their great big news down my fat throat. It’s about the quality of the music, and damn if I care who’s making it.

Okay, unless it’s those ShapeShifter boys, but they’re another story. They’re one of those bands who earn your respect, just because they’re so damn cute, and so damn into what they’re doing and we all know they won’t be a bitty band for much longer.

So quit’cher bellyaching at me already. If no one looks for the next ShapeShifter, how’s anyone gonna find them?

You heard it first, and you heard it here: Bitty bands rock. C’mon out with Chelle and give ’em your support.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Musical Hanukkah Celebration


Now, why aren’t other cities’ local scenes smart enough to do somethin’ like this? I’m talkin’ about what my favorite band’s got going on in the city of Riverview this time. Don’t be sad if you missed the news; they almost snuck this one past yours truly, herself. Almost.

Ready for this? It’s brilliant. It’s worth copying. They threw a musical Hanukkah party for the members of the local music scene. Anyone involved — roadies, musicians, promoters, journalists — could get in for a ten buck ticket that they had to get in advance and buy through KRVR, the radio station that’s so high on the Riverview scene that Bobby Bands, himself, is trying to horn in on their turf. (I hear they had the balls to turn his ten bucks away, too.)

For fifty bucks more, you could jam onstage. With the sponsors of the night: ShapeShifter. And since everything from the food to the club to the labor was donated, all the money went to one of those “keep music in our schools” charities that are so hot right now.

Took me two days, but I got hold of ShapeShifter’s Mitchell Voss. “It was Eric’s idea, really,” he said, and handed the phone over. For someone who usually lets his guitar talk for him, ShapeShifter’s Eric Wallace had a lot to say. Here’s some of it.

“Monday is the quietest day in the entertainment industry, so we picked it, figuring that no one would be committed elsewhere. And since Hanukkah runs for eight days, there’s always a Monday during Hanukkah. We can do this for years to come, and I hope we will.

“Why Hanukkah if no one in the band’s Jewish? Well, my dad and I were talking about this, wondering if the Jewish kids ever feel bad that Santa doesn’t come to their houses–“

He got interrupted here by my favorite blabbermouth. “Look, Chelle. We have Christmas parties out the wazoo. New Year’s Eve parties. You can’t turn on a fucking radio without hearing Christmas carols until you’re blue in the face and stuffing a CD in the player so fast, you break the fucking thing. It’s all about Christmas around here.”

“So we figured,” Eric said. “That we’d honor the religion that was around before Christianity but gets drowned out this time of year. We’d have a Hanukkah party and celebrate our music scene at the same time. After all, Hanukkah’s a holiday of rededication. It just seemed to fit with the idea of reminding everyone that we’re still into the local scene. It doesn’t matter how big we get; it all starts at the local level. Just like the rededication of the Jews’ temple.”

“And we managed to talk the cook into making potato pancakes for everyone, too,” Mitchell laughed in my ear. Ooh, baby. Laugh away.

Focus, Chelle. This was a good thing. Over three hundred people turned out, and they filled the fifty spaces for that big old jam with the superstars themselves. That was an extra fifty bucks for that honor, remember. Once you do the math, you get a pretty nice $5500 for charity.

And then those ShapeShifter boys topped that. They matched the take, making a cool $11,000.

Eric said his father’s church was also going to make a donation in the name of the Riverview Musician’s Hanukkah Celebration, and is going to work throughout the year toward getting more of the city’s religious folk of all denominations and faiths involved for next year. The funds won’t stay in Riverview, either, but are going to Music Lives, a foundation that spreads the wealth and the message across the country. This is important, Mitchell told me, “because without music in the schools, some of us won’t get to sing in the choir and find out that we can do more than croak. That’s what I got out of choir. That and the chance to be around all those girls in their concert best. Man, that alone made being in the choir worth it.”

So, c’mon. This is one bandwagon worth jumping on, and go figure that it’s ShapeShifter leading the way. Again. Y’all laugh at my face, tellin’ me I’m nothin’ but a ShapeShifter groupie, but if they’re doin’ stuff that’s this good, why aren’t you one, too?

You heard it first and you heard it here: Musical Hanukkah Celebrations are going to be sweeping the country. Get involved now.

(a note from Susan: While Chelle LaFleur, our slightly single-minded journalist, and ShapeShifter are as fake as the Musical Hanukkah Celebration, the Music Lives Foundation isn’t. Endorsed by Paul McCartney and Fidelity Investments, they’re helping keep music in our community’s schools. Check out their website; read the stats about how music helps our children. And if you’ve got an extra $50, for the price of a jam with ShapeShifter, you can make a positive impact on the world. If you can’t do fifty, do what you can; their minimum is five. Go on. Skip that latte and donate instead. And be sure to tell them you heard about them here.)

Another note from Susan: Music Lives seems to have folded. If you’d like to make a difference, check out the 2008 Musical Hanukkah recipient, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. You’ll be glad you did.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Typos


All right, all right. Leave me alone already.

Over the past few days and don’t ask my fat ass to count them, people, I’ve gotten more e-mail from you readers than I have in the past six months combined. And you’re all whining about two stupid mistakes.

I’ll own up to one of them. I forgot to add the letter S on the end of the magazine title the other day. But can you blame a girl? I was all caught up in that picture — it is still, at this moment, making me fan myself with a funeral fan I found in the bottom of my desk. Thank God for funerals, boys and girls! And so what if I decided that this issue of guitar gods ought to be about one and only?

As for the capital letters, don’t be blaming me for that. I read guitar gods magazine every quarter. I know darn well they have this thing for lower case letters.

No. If you want to blame that on someone, you go blame it on my copy editor, who now has about three back issues featuring guys I never liked anyway, like that tribute to Jim Shields once he finally gave in to the AIDS, sitting on her desk, teaching her that screwing up like she did just makes old Chelle even nastier than usual.

Speaking of nasty, who’s the smarty-artie who sent me that nasty t-shirt last week?

You heard it first, you heard it here, and this time, you heard it right. guitar god magazine featuring the very godlike Mitchell Voss. On sale in two more days.

Can you stand it?


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Autumn Leaves


Any you girls ready for a drool-fest? I’ve got a picture here that’ll be on the cover of the November Guitar Gods magazine featuring the one and only, totally drool-icious Mitchell Voss.

And girls, this ain’t no posed picture. This is the Handsome Man himself, outside, playing in the autumn leaves. I’ve never been sorry I don’t live somewhere where the leaves change colors until I saw this picture, let me tell you. I’m ready to up and move my fat ass to Vermont, or wherever they had to go to get leaves this color so early in the season. I’m not just ready. Oh, no. This puppy’s got me packed and on the road. It’s that hot.

My friend Mitchell is wearing a hoody that’s a pumpkin-orange, and he’s actually — can you believe this? Write this one down for posterity — laughing. That’s right. You read that right. The man can laugh. I know that’s been widely speculated about and even I had doubts about it, but apparently, even if they had to stick an ice cube down the front of those delicously tight jeans, the man can at least act like he’s doing it long enough for the camera to snap.

I hear from a reliable source that there’s plenty more inside, including pictures of Mrs. Mitchell herself, the low-key but very famous Kerri Voss, and — don’t pass out on me now, girls — their boys. I haven’t been priveleged enough to see the rest of the spread yet, but I hear it’s a doozy.

Boys, I don’t know what to tell you ’cause I don’t have an inkling of what’s inside, or why they’re running this now, during a quiet period for the band. It doesn’t matter. It’s ShapeShifter, and we’re all missing that thunder they call music.

Start saving your pennies now. Flood the newstands; I’m told the on-sale date is November 1. Let’s make this be the next in a long series of Guitar God magazines that sell out their print run. Funny, but a little bit of research tells me that of their top-ten best-selling covers, four of them have included ShapeShifter’s god-like frontman. The #2 seller, Terry Fantillo, only has two in that same top ten. Seven wives, but only two covers.

Remember the on-sale date and check out that picture. I told you here, and I told you first.


Byline: Chelle LaFleur — Jock La Feet


New Orleans club fixtures Jock La Feet played The Ninth Street Dive tonight to a packed house. Nothing new there; Jock La Feet is a band that, with a better name, oughta be out there on a bigger scale, sorta like Rat Catcher. I may have only been around this scene for a few short months and may have spent zero time on the far side of the levees, but I gotta tell you, if you don’t think that Jock La Feet can compete nationally, you haven’t heard Jock La Feet. Which makes me wonder if you’re realy dumb enough to think you can read this review and feel like you were there.

After a write-up like that, what I got to say next will make you wonder. And that’s ’cause at their record release party last night, Jock La Feet got showed up by this little band from somewhere West of the Mississippi, four dudes who rolled into town in their lead singer’s dad’s Ford Bronco, with the equally bad name of ShapeShifter and an even worse gimmick, where each band member identifies with an animal.

It’s their music that makes these four guys — two who seem to like their leather pants a little bit too much (was that dinner on them?), and two who seem even more bland than that — stand out. Nothing could have made New Orleans ready for this band, and as you know, this is a city that’s seen and weathered an awful lot.

Opening with “Take the Stage,” ShapeShifter erupts with speed and sound, sort of like a meteor if it was racing toward the planet, bound and determined to make contact. And like flying space junk, you can’t get away. Believe me, there were a few in the packed club who were dumb enough to try.

From that — again, horribly titled — song, ShapeShifter delivered a half-hour’s worth of music, almost ten songs in all, and all available on the band’s first record. Which, no surprise, they were selling out of the back of Daddy’s Ford Bronco until the cops tried to arrest them for not having a permit. (They escaped by skipping town.)

I’m telling you here and now, this is a band you’re gonna wanna watch. They got a lot of growing to do before they’re half the band that Jock La Feet is, which means they have a ways yet before they’re ready to tour like this again. Doesn’t matter, though, ’cause they blew Jock and the boys two parishes over.

Remember the name: Chelle La Fleur. I told you here, and I told you first.

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