Tuesday, November 9, 2010

STYX Takes Us Back To The 70s

STYX visited the Salem Civic Center on October 25, 2010 and schooled the small crowd in attendance in what’s missing in today’s industry: true musicianship. The band has been on the road performing The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, two of their huge releases from the seventies, in their entirety. The last few years has seen a resurgence of bands from the seventies packing arenas all across the country and STYX has been riding high on that wave.

The band’s current lineup consists of only one original member, James “JT” Young on guitar and vocals, longtime member Tommy Shaw on acoustic and electric guitar and vocals, Lawrence Gowan on keyboards and vocals, Ricky Phillips on bass and Todd Sucherman on drums. Longtime member Chuck Panozzo is on tour with the band, but is in a weakened state because of being HIV positive and only performs in some of the bigger cities.

As the house lights went down that night in Salem, the large video screen onstage came on and we watched a person in their bedroom flipping through a vinyl collection of such seventies groups as Journey and Bachman Turner Overdrive. Then, you see the STYX album The Grand Illusion and they take it out of its sleeve and place it on a turntable. The band then hit the stage and began “Great White Hope”, song one on side one.

Tommy Shaw’s vocals on “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” were dead on and have aged like a fine wine. Lawrence took the spotlight for a huge hit of theirs “Come Sail Away” and received a huge, favorable response from the crowd.I, personally, miss Dennis DeYoung being in the band, but I do have to give credit to Lawrence Gowan. At times, he did sound eerily similar to DeYoung, but the guy has an amazing voice and he definitely knows how to win over a crowd. As the concluded side one, Tommy looked at the audience and asked “What do we do now? Flip it over!” and the video screen showed the actual vinyl album being turned over. Yea, kind of cheesy, but it does make you linger for those days of the pops and cracks of the vinyl.

James took center stage for a rocking version of “Miss America” that had the diehards on their feet. The band ripped through the rest of side two and then proceeded to take a twenty minute intermission before returning and starting side one of Pieces of Eight. “Great White Hope” kicked it off and the band really seemed to be genuinely having a great time on stage playing these songs. It was very infectious seeing Tommy and James smiling at each other and clowning around.

“Renegade” was without a doubt the big crowd pleaser of the night. Up until this point, the majority of the crowd was rather subdued and sat during the performances, but this song brought the entire place to its feet. The song is a definite staple for the local album rock station in town and the crowd was ignited with enthusiasm.

As side two of Pieces of Eight ended with the very mellow song “Aku Aku”, the band left the stage for a brief moment but then returned for a short encore. It consisted of a great cover of the Beatles “I Am the Walrus” followed by a Tommy crowd favorite “Too Much Time on My Hands” from Paradise Theater. The band then showed their appreciation to the fans by pelting them with STYX beach balls, frisbees and tote bags.

Overall, the show was a feast for the senses. The huge video screen provided a great backdrop all night long of art work and images. The ears were treated to a feast of instrumental expertise as the band sounded as good if not better than the recorded versions of these songs. It is very unusual to see a group that peaked in the late seventies and early eighties to be so on top of their game over thirty years into their careers. The music was top notch as were the vocals of everyone. A band like STYX just proves that these guys are from the old school of music making where you don’t do it because it’s the cool thing to do; you do it because you LOVE doing it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Terri Nunn of Berlin: Proving She Can Still Take Your Breath Away

The 80s was such a great decade for music. There were no rules and fresh, new bands were popping up everywhere. New Wave was introduced in the early 80s and riding that wave of creativity was the band Berlin. Fronted by the charismatic bombshell Terri Nunn, the band’s breakout EP in 1982, “Pleasure Victim”, brought them to the forefront of the synth driven MTV era. The band is probably known best for the love song “Take My Breath Away” from the movie Top Gun in 1986.

The band disbanded in 1987 and went their separate ways. Terri stayed busy throughout the years and in 1996 reformed Berlin with all new members. The creative juices immediately started flowing and the band hit the road touring and began recording. She reunited with original band mates in 2004 for the VH1 show “Bands Reunited”.

Terri recently slowed down from her very busy schedule long enough to answer a few questions that I had for her. It was an eye-opening interview:

Johnny: “Hi Terri thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions to let everyone know just what you have been up to. A lot of people do not realize that you were actually interested in acting early on in your career. The biggest piece of trivia to come out of that is the fact that you auditioned for the part of Princess Leia in Star Wars. So, what made you decide to focus primarily on music?”

Terri: “I wanted to be a musician/songwriter more than anything from the time I was 3 years old, but it scared the crap out of me. Some opportunities presented themselves pretty early in my life (15 years old) for doing television. At 18, I decided to try going after the music dream and got really lucky meeting John (Crawford, of Berlin) within a year. It was a lot of work, but our results together got attention pretty fast, so I made the choice of working on music full-time.”

Johnny: “Looking back, there weren’t many women rocking out or fronting bands. You were kind of a pioneer. I mean, you were pushing the envelope way before Madonna ever came onto the scene. “Sex, I’m A…” was a shocker back then, but pretty tame by today’s standards. Do you ever step back and think, ‘Yea, I was one of the first!”?

Terri: “There were a few women who really inspired me to rock out, Grace Slick being one of them. Along with the guest spot on her song, we (I, Martha Davis- the Motels and Gaye Ann Bruno) got to interview her on our weekly talk show “Between the Sheets. One of the questions I got to ask her what it was like for her to be truly one of the first female rockers on the planet. She said her role model was Mick Jagger and male role models are true for me too. Bowie, McCartney, Jim Morrison, these were the people I wanted to immulate onstage.”

Johnny: “A lot of people don’t realize what all has gone on since you reformed the band back in 1998. Your latest release was 2009’s “All The Way In”. Are you currently working on new Berlin music?”

Terri: “Yes, an all new studio album will be released in 2011! We’ve had quite a few releases since 1998: “Sacred and Profane” came out in 2000, the DVD “Intimate” in 2001, the studio album “Voyeur” released in 2003, “4Play” in 2005 and the DVD/CD package “All The Way In” in 2009.”

Johnny: “A lot of people mainly know you from “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. It was the number one song of 1986. Has there ever been a point since then when you thought ‘Oh my god, if I have to perform that song one more time?’ I had read that Pat Benatar once had that problem with ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”

Terri: “I imagine every artist goes through that exasperation when you have to play songs whether you want to or not, but I have been to concerts where the artist did NOT play the hits I loved and it bummed me out. It felt like they didn’t care about their audience, so why am I paying to be there? Bottom line is, I’m lucky to have so many songs people love and it is my duty and HONOR to play them for people. I love my songs.”

Johnny: “Speaking of which, what motivates you these days to continue creating music and to perform?”

Terri: “Music always has. Collaborating with people, writing new music, seeing the audiences have such a great time that it transports me into freakin’ bliss. These things are really motivating!”

Johnny: “As far as collaborating goes, what would be your dream duet?”

Terri: “Wow, so many. Singing with Grace Slick on the song she just released, ‘Edge of Madness’, was a huge orgasm for me. She wrote it to benefit the needy people in Louisiana right now. Hooking up with people is so fantastic in this business. Chris Cornell comes to mind now; I’d love to sing with him.”

Johnny: “Earlier you mentioned your weekly talk show ‘Between the Sheets’, with your co-hosts Martha Davis of The Motels and your manager Gaye Ann Bruno. Can you tell us more about it?”

Terri: “I’ve wanted to do a talk show for a long time. I co-hosted a show on 97.1 Free FM here in Los Angeles last year, but it wasn’t the right fit. Then Sam Phillips, who also had a show there called The Single Life, started HotTalkLA.com and invited me to host a talk show on her site as well. Gaye Ann and Martha had guested on the Single Life and she thought they were great too, so the three of us started ‘Between the Sheets’ last March. We interview guests and talk about music and pop culture and sex and current events and even sing on occasion! IT’S A BLAST! We’ve interviewed some amazing people already: Grace Slick, Howard Bloom (author of The Lucifer Principle, Genius of the Beast) and Devorah Iyall (Romeo Void). We also enjoy bringing people in with interesting stories: a man who’s physically turning himself into a woman, a man imprisoned for 24 years and just exonerated for a crime he did not commit, a woman who was married to another woman for 5 years without realizing it…fascinating stuff. You can check out all the podcast on HotTalkLA.com.”

Johnny: “A couple of quick questions for your fans. What’s in your I-pod?”

Terri: “Oh god, a lot of stuff. The latest people that I’m listening to are The Birthday Massacre (a really good band!), Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp, Nine Inch Nails and the new Devo.”

Johnny: “Do you have guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans?”

Terri: “I don’t know if it’s surprising, but I love vanilla frozen yogurt with caramel sauce. It’s guilty because most of the time I don’t eat dairy at all, but oh god, it’s hard to turn down.”

Johnny: “So, when all is said and done, what do you want to be known for? When someone says, ‘Hey, do you remember Terri Nunn?’…what do you want to come to people’s minds?”

Terri: “My music and, hopefully, that I empowered people and contributed to their enjoyment of life. Also, with this new talk show, I hope I expose my audience to more talented people and mind-expanding ideas in this world.”

Johnny: “Terri, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me and thanks to your manager Gaye Ann for setting this up. It has been an honor.”

Terri: “Thank you Johnny! Good questions! Best of love to you.”

To keep up with all of Terri’s ventures, keep up with her at www.myspace.com/berlinmusic or www.berlinpage.com or on Facebook.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

UPROAR Festval Blazes Through Charlotte, NC

Summertime and major concerts go hand in hand. It seems like all of your favorite bands sit the road when the hot days of summer arrive. Even with the economy in a state of disarray, there were quite a few new tours this year. One of the most anticipated was the inaugural year of the Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival.
This is Rockstar’s second festival this summer, coming on the heels of the highly successful Mayhem Festival. UPROAR is a smaller version of that tour with only one side stage and not as many bands on the bill. Now, these bands may not be as heavy as some featured on Mayhem, but there was still plenty of rock for your money.

UPROAR made its North Carolina stop in Charlotte on September 1 and the weather that day was just as hot as the pyro featured during Avenged Sevenfold’s set. After a local band, whose name was as forgettable as their set, attempted to get the crowd charged up, Hail the Villain took the stage. This Canadian band unleashed a surprisingly impressive 25 minute set on the crowd that definitely got them fired up. Met up with these guys after their set and I have to say that they are a very nice bunch of crazy guys and the band even has their own comic book. You really need to check out this band’s amazing interactive website.

New Medicine was up next and performed a pretty good set as more of the crowd started to fill up the stage area. Australia’s Airbourne really got the crowd fired up with a high energy stage show that focused heavily on their outrageous lead guitarist/singer Joel O’Keefe. This guy is a poster child for rock and roll rydlin when he is on-stage. He was climbing on top of speakers and shredding out solos and at one point even ventured out into the crowd on the shoulders of a crew member
while shredding the entire time!

HELLYEAH closed out the Jagermeister stage and ripped the other bands on that stage a new one with a set worthy of their name. This “super group” of sorts, consisting of Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray, former Mudvayne member Greg Tribbett on guitar, Tom Maxwell of Nothingface on guitar, Bobzilla of Damageplan on bass and the legendary Vinnie Paul of Pantera and Damageplan on drums, is dead set on bringing fun back to rock and roll and they are doing so with a vengeance.

The Rockstar main stage was up next with, even though they have been performing for ten years plus, the “still referred to as” overnight sensation Halestorm. Now, lead singer Lzzy Hale is the lone female performer on the tour, but she most certainly proves that she’s got the balls to front the stage just as impressive as any guy on the tour. Sporting a newer, shorter do, Lzzy and the boys commanded the main stage and got even the most skeptical metal fans in the crowd throwing horns by the end of their set. Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor’s side project Stone Sour were up next and Corey displayed a side of him that most fans do not get to see or hear. The dynamics that he brings to this band is so different than that of Slipknot in that he is a totally different artist by lyrically and vocally. The band ran the gauntlet of musical styles with several heavy numbers performed, mixed with a softer side on songs like “Through Glass”.

Avenged Sevenfold have definetly been the focus of a lot of media attention going into the tour. Mid-way through recording their highly anticipated new album, they lost their drummer and brother in music Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. Then the album, “Nightmare” debuted at number one and brought the band screaming back to the forefront with a sound that defies labels. I, along with a great deal of fans there, thought that these guys should be headlining this tour. All one had to do was look into the crowd and see that they were in agreement. I mean, there was like five Avenged t-shirts to everyone Disturbed shirt in the audience.

The Avenged show started with a road crew member hanging himself front and center as they screamed into “Nightmare” and began their pyro heavy assault on the senses. The band, with Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy sitting in on drums, unleashed on the audience an arsenal of songs that spanned their entire catalog, yet after a 55 minute set left all of us wanting more. M. Shadow's vocals were dead on target and lead guitarist Synester Gates proved he is a force to reckon with. Another summer tour where the next to last band on the bill stole the show from the headliner. Disturbed closed out the show with a less than inspiring set. They sounded good and they had a great intro to the show, but maybe it was the fact that they had to follow-up such an impressive set from Avenged Sevenfold. It was just a little boring on the senses after the set that was just witnessed.

Overall, the crowd was not as huge as anticipated, but they were appreciative of the fine music being performed for them all day long. Most bands did autograph sessions similar to Mayhem with some bands actually doing two different sessions with one at their tent earlier in the day for free and another at the FYE tent with purchase of their CD. I hope that this tour is around next year, for they really showcased some smaller groups that may have been overlooked on the summer tour circuit given the state of the economy. I guess we will just have to wait to see how much “roaring” will be done next year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fight The Lion Roars Forward

In an industry filled with copycat bands, it’s really hard to stand out and get noticed. DC’s Fight The Lion are attempting to do just that. Having just released their full length CD, “When The Mighty Fall”, they are winning over audiences with their great live show and a fresh batch of catchy songs off of their CD.

The guys have seen a lot happen in a short time. They have opened for such acts as Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Poison, Candlebox and Lifehouse while touring up and down the East coast. A sponsorship with Jagermeister, two EPS, a name change and a few personnel changes later, the guys are really to solidify their place in music industry.

The band, consisting of Jake Mimikos on guitar and lead vocals, Ron Cruz on lead guitar and vocals, Shawn Battle on drums and vocals and Jason Proctor on bass, seems to be defining their sound on this CD. Tracks seem to bounce back and forth between uptempo rockers such as “Runaway Lover” and “The Drive” to slower, more emotionally charged songs such as “A New Hope” and “The Changing”. On the slower tracks, Jake has almost a Michael Stipeish (REM) quality to his vocal delivery. You can really feel the emotional attachment to the lyrics of the slower songs by Jake.

The title track, “When The Mighty Fall” is a standout on the CD and sets the tone of the overall positive message that the band is conveying to the listener, focusing on the positive and overcoming negativity. This does seem to be the overall theme to the CD.

Ron has really stepped up his game on this CD, yet at times it seems as if he is holding back. The band’s live show really gives him a chance to flex his muscles. Shawn really puts in a solid performance laying down some thunderous rhythms on the disc. Jason, newest addition to the band, shows that he is a worthy addition as his bass provides a pounding back beat that compliments Shawn’s drumming to create a worthy rhythm section.

“When The Mighty Fall” is a great progression for this young band. Their songwriting on this CD has matured a great deal since their two EPs. For fans of modern and progressive rock, I would highly recommend checking out Fight The Lion. In a world of wannabees, these guys show a lot of promise and drive that will soon make them the ones to be.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

KISS Prove Why They Are The Hottest Show On Earth

It was a hot summer night on August 28th in Charlotte, NC, but it was about to get even hotter. KISS brought their “Hottest Show on Earth” tour to town that night. They showed all of those in attendance why, after 37 years, they are still the iconic giants in the art of over the top rock and roll showmanship. The current touring lineup consists of co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons plus Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on lead guitar.

The amphitheatre was packed that night and the lawn was so full that it was hard to see the grass! KISS came up with a great marketing campaign for the summer tour. KISS and smart marketing go hand in hand. As dates for tour were being announced, a special offer for the lawn seats was announced. A paid adult lawn ticket could bring up to four kids, under the age of 14, to the show for free. There were a lot of parents who took advantage of this offer. There were even KISS shirts for the smaller kids on sale at the merchandise booths. Smart move on Mr. Simmons and the boys!

Touring with KISS is The Envy, who are signed to Simmons Records, and The Academy Is. Both bands performed short, yet very good sets, but you could tell that the crowd was there to see KISS. The house lights went down and the video screens came on showing KISS towering above the buildings ala Godzilla as they marched along towards the concert hall. The next images were of the band coming from their dressing rooms to the stage. The now infamous introduction was made and a huge explosion rocked the amphitheater. The boys hit the stage firing on all cylinders performing “Modern Day Delilah” from their latest CD “Sonic Boom”.

The set list for the 2 hour and 10 minute performance spanned the majority of their catalog, but was short on material from the group’s non-makeup years. “Deuce”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Lick It Up” as well as the surprising non-makeup choice of “Crazy, Crazy Nights” were performed along with numerous others. A KISS show is known for its theatrics and they pulled out all the stops for the fans that night. Gene spit blood and flew to a platform near the top of the stage for “I Love It Loud”, Paul flew out into the audience for “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, Tommy shot rockets at the stage lights during his solo, Eric’s drum kit rose up to the lighting rig and Gene breathed fire at the end of “Firehouse”. Of course, there was a ton of pyro and flames all during the show also.

Paul billed the band’s encore as the longest in the history of rock and roll. Most bands play one or two songs for their encore, but then again, KISS is not like most bands. Their encore was six songs which included an amazing acoustic version of “Beth” with Eric coming out from behind the drum kit to center stage to sing.
KISS brought out members of the armed services to present a check to the Wounded Warriors Foundation. One dollar from every ticket sold on their summer tour will be donated to this worthy cause. Paul gave a heartfelt speech about our troops and living in the greatest country in the world and then led the audience in the pledge of allegiance. That’s something that you usually don’t get at a rock show.

The band closed the night with their signature song known worldwide, “Rock And Roll All Night”. The confetti sprayed out into the audience so thick that it was hard to see the band onstage at times. A barrage of smoke bombs, flames and explosions made the stage look like a 4th of July celebration. As Paul smashed his guitar in half and the show ended.

The band looked and sounded incredible. Gene Simmon’s trademark tongue was wagging all night as his monster boots lurked the stage all night long. Paul Stanley was more energetic that night than I have ever seen him before in concert and he jumped around in his platform boots like he was 25 again! Tommy and Eric have brought a sense of urgency to the band again. You can tell that they are having a blast on-stage and not just going through the motions. Paul said at the show that a KISS concert was somewhere between church and the circus. Ringling Brothers doesn’t have a thing on these boys!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glamnation Tour Spices Up Roanoke, VA

Adam Lambert brought his Glamnation Tour to the Roanoke Special Events Center in Roanoke, Virginia on Thursday, August 26, 2010. The event was close to sold out and the crowd was very diverse and very enthusiastic. Fellow season eight American Idol contestant Allison Iraheta has been opening shows for Adam on his tour and she proved to be a worthy tour mate. The eighteen year old Iraheta has a voice on her that is seasoned way beyond her years. The spunky little red head reminded me a great deal of a young Pat Benatar with her voice and stage presence. Her set consisted of several tracks from her debut CD “Just Like You” including a chilling acoustic version of her single “Scars”. Fans were treated to a surprise rocking cover of, none other than, Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker”.

While waiting for Adam, the crowd got pumped up by a great selection of songs by the Black Eyed Peas, Journey and Michael Jackson. The houselights then went out and a prerecorded version of “For Your Entertainment”, the first single off of his CD of the same name. Then Adam emerged at the top of a flight of stairs onstage in a top hat and long coat to his song “Voodoo” and the crowd erupted.

Adam proceeded to run through song after song including his bizarre spin on Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” that he performed on American Idol. “Fever” proved to be another crowd favorite that night. He shared the stage with two male and two female backup dancers along with a very tight four piece band. Let’s not forget to mention the pipes that Adam has blessed with. For those who saw him perform on Idol and we in awe of his voice, let me tell you that it is just magnified a billion times live. He has got to have the most powerful, pure voice that I have ever heard live.

The show was very colorful with a great laser show that added to the almost techno/rave feel of some of the performances. One of the highlights of the show was an acoustic version of the song “Whataya Want From Me”. The show closed with Adam’s current single “If I Had You”, which is currently in the top ten on VH1’s countdown. A short, one song encore was next which saw him cover T-Rex’s song “20th Century Boy”.

The show itself was a lot of fun. It was very high energy, with lots of dancing and a few wardrobe changes. I was hoping for a longer encore in anticipation of hearing his cover of Gary Jules’ “Mad World”, which was originally done by Tears For Fears and performed by Adam on Idol. I was also surprised at how tame his show was. I had read some things online about his show, but that night in Roanoke was free of anything that could be interpreted as controversial.

Unlike other Idol contestants who tend to jump into the industry way above their heads after Idol, Adam seems to taking a smart approach and touring smaller theaters and halls instead of trying to take on large coliseums. He is selling out the majority of his shows and getting rave reviews. For those who thought it was more important to pay attention to this man’s sexual orientation, you missed an amazing show that evening. Hopefully, this gifted artist will continue his momentum and build on it. Adam is proving that sometimes losing on American Idol is a great deal more rewarding than winning.

Red Velvet Car Brings Heart Full Circle

Storytelling is an art form that is slowly fading away in today’s music industry, but not if Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have their say. The Wilson sisters, over their 30 plus year career, have given us such lyrical classics as “Dog and Butterfly” and “Dreamboat Annie”. The eighties came along and a change came over the sisters. The focus suddenly became less centered on crafting personal lyrical gems and more on cleavage and big hair. It was an educational experience to say the least.

The changes in the industry in the eighties and nineties did cause the girls to stop and look at what was going on. They regained their focus and started to remold the legacy that they has established. The focus went back to writing personal and meaningful songs. It looks as if things have come full circle on their newest release entitled “Red Velvet Car”.

Heart is at a very unique point in their career where they don’t have to record, but they want to. There are still a lot of unpinned lyrical gems floating around in the heads of Ann and Nancy. What better place to start than returning to the home of their original label. This CD was recorded for Legacy Recordings which is part of the Sony Music Entertainment family. The band recording their debut album all the way through 1983’s “Passion works” under the Sony flagship, so this is a homecoming for them.

“Red Velvet Car” contains probably the most personal and introspective lyrics since those gems from their early seventies and all around their strongest CD in years. The lead off track entitled “There You Go” sets the tone of the CD with its unique arrangement of instruments and lyrical warnings. It is a very unique song that sounds refreshingly different for the band.

Radio has been all over the track “WTF” and for good reason. It’s a power rocker with Ann’s powerful vocal interpretation of the lyrics taking it to another level. “Red Velvet Car”, my personal favorite on the CD, is a very sexy slow song. The string section in the background of this song adds a profound layer to this song that just helps it transcend to another level.

Nancy takes over vocals on “Hey You” and just may be one of the best songs that she has ever written. It tells of a love come and gone and the being thankful for what was, but not being bitter or angry during this process. The addition of Nancy on mandolin adds a nice touch to this very Sheryl Crowish song.

“Queen City” pays homage to Seattle where the Wilson sisters grew up and where Ann lives today. “Safronia’s Mark” is another lyrical gem that is about the sister’s great, great, great grandmother from the Civil War era. It’s a beautifully arranged song that is another standout on the CD. Speaking of songs written about family members, “Sunflower” was written by Nancy about Ann and given to her as a birthday gift. Wow and to think that all I ever got from my sister was a card.

The last track entitled “Sand” is a new recording originally done by the girls sideproject The Lovemongers. The song, even though previously recorded, had never truly felt complete. They rerecorded it for this CD and added some different instruments and the song has finally seen its completed form. It’s a beautiful song that I thought couldn’t get any better than the original, but I was sorely mistaken.
Heart chose Ben Mink to produce this CD. They were familiar with his work since he produced Ann’s amazing solo CD entitled “Hope and Glory” back in 2007. He was a wise choice for this project as he continuously challenged the girls in ways that they haven’t been throughout all their recording years. As in challenging Ann’s vocals and asking her to hold back instead of just unleashing her vocals as she normally does. He even challenged Nancy’s play of the acoustic guitar some thirty plus years after she first picked one up.

“Red Velvet Car” is the first CD from the band since 2004’s “Jupiter’s Darling” release, but well worth the wait. Ann and Nancy may be a little older, but much, much wiser. Open the door and hope in this “Red Velvet Car” and be prepared for the musical ride of a lifetime.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heart; More Substance Than Style This Go Around

Church came early for me this week with the combination of a run-in with an old friend and the act of spontaneity. It was a muggy Saturday and my afternoon was free. I had read online that the legendary band Heart was playing a very small, intimate amphitheatre in Raleigh, NC. Although we had no tickets, we decided to take our chance by driving down and seeing who may extra tickets for sale in the parking lot.

Sure enough, standing right by the entrance gate was a woman holding up tickets that she needed to unload. We purchased them for the very low price of only $10 each and entered. I should have known right then that it was going to be a very special evening. The opening act was a new male vocalist by the name of Erick Baker who took the stage all alone and very vulnerable with only his acoustic guitar and the mic. His voice, very similar in vein to David Grey (reference provided from a friend) was amazing and he definitely poured his heart into each song. At one point, I remember hearing him and thinking that the song sounded very familiar. He was doing an slowed down, acoustic version of the Beastie Boys “You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party”, which he managed to pull off and make it work. Just a quick side note, please look into this artist for he is a very talented guy on the verge of a major break.

The sky started to fade to night and the air started to cool and the setting was great for an outdoor concert. Heart hit the stage about 9:00 and it did not take long to see that these ladies are truly the real deal. In a age of “here today, gone today” flavors of the week in the music industry, it’s always rewarding to see an act like Heart. The Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy for those not in the know, have been rocking out for over thirty years and still do not get the respect that they truly deserve.

Ann kept the banter between songs very short, acknowledging that there was a lot of history to cover and for the crowd to have a goodtime and enjoy the evening. The arrangements on some of the hits that they have been playing for years were toyed with just a little bit to give the songs a fresh interpretation. Their big hit from the eighties “These Dreams” showcased Nancy on mandolin which was a great artistic move on the her part. It really added to the structure of the song and made it, in my opinion, even better than the original version.

The band is actually touring this summer to support their new CD, “Red Velvet Car” and they played three tracks from it that night including the texting friendly appropriate song called “WTF”, which was actually a good little rocking tune. The band continued to mix up the classic hits from the seventies and the hits from their big, yet brief heyday in the eighties. Ann’s version of “Alone” was stripped down to an almost keyboard only performance that really showed why her voice is one that the most underappreciated voices in the history of music. How many times can you say that you have gone to a concert and that the singer’s vocals sounded even better live than on the CD itself? Ann’s voice live has that pure, raw emotion feel to it that gets stripped away during production in a studio.

All the seventies classics seem to have been spotlighted including the rocking “Barracuda” , “Straight On” and “Magic Man”. A very cool little “mash-up” was their classic “Even It Up” mixed with the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” which sounded amazing. A personal highlight for me was my favorite of their classic seventies hits “Dog And Butterfly” on which Ann can do no wrong. Such a beautiful song on which Ann’s connection with the lyrical content is an element lacking in so many singers today.

Heart fans know that the band is notorious live for doing some amazing covers of classic songs from bands that they are fans of. A prime example being the solid cover of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”. Well, the girls may have just topped themselves with the encore played this particular night. The two song encore started with a wicked cover of Zeppelin’s “What Is And What Should Never Be”.

What was about to happen next is one of those events that you feel honored to have experienced. At that point, we were taken to church by the Wilson sisters as they graced the crowd with a cover of the Who classic “Love Reign O’er Me”. Now, I am a Who fan and had even talked on Face Book with a fellow writer about the exact same song earlier in the day. To add to the irony of it all is the fact that I was even wearing a Who shirt that evening! What proceeded to happen over the next six minutes was nothing short of spiritual. The power of Ann’s voice delivering the poetic words of Pete Townsend’s masterpiece from Quadrophenia. That, combined with the superb musicianship supplied by the band, created one of the strongest musical moments that I think I have ever witnessed live.

Overall, the show was nothing short of a stellar display of pure talent. Artists like Ann and Nancy Wilson are rare in today’s music scene. True, back in the eighties, they did get caught up in that “packaged” artist machine that pushed style over substance, but it didn’t take them long to come to their senses and get back to what it was all about…the music. Did they play all the hits that night in Raleigh? No, quite a few of their big ones were left out, but just about everyone there walked away with a feeling of satisfaction and definitely getting their moneys worth. In today’s recession, that just doesn’t happen too many times.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Super bob......Different Name, Same Rock And Roll Attitude

Washington, DC. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? President Obama? The White House? Politics? Probably alot of negative stuff involving the government is the first thing that comes to alot of people’s minds. Yet, there is something refreshing coming out of DC that just may take the country by storm.

They go by the name of Super bob, although they played under the name bob for many years. That story will come later. I discovered these guys by accident one night when I went to a club in North Carolina to see another band and I happened to get there early. You know how sometimes you want to go late so that you don’t have to sit through some lame group while waiting for the good stuff to begin? Boy, was I about to be pimp slapped into paying attention to who this band was setting up their equipment.

Four young guys were up there and two were pretty average looking while the other two consisted of a guy with very long dreads and another with shorter, multi-colored dreads and tats. Ok, that did catch my attention a little bit. Then, the sampled music began to play over the PA system and their first song began. It was shaking up a hot soda and then letting the lid off. The guys just erupted on the stage and began jumping all around and slinging instruments and totally killed it. They grabbed your attention and refused to let you go. Their sound is like a hybrid of Korn and Rage Against The Machine and early Red Hot Chili Peppers, yet they do it in a way that makes it their own, not like they are imitating another.

That was over a year ago and I finally caught up with these guys shortly after the release of their new CD “Rock n Roll” at a small venue in VA before their show.

JP: “Hey guys, first off thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I saw you last year at the Somewhere Else Tavern in North Carolina and you totally blew my mind. I had never heard of you guys before, but you won me over that night. You were amazing. I was trying to find some stuff online about you and how things got started. Can you catch me up to speed?”

Adam: “Well, Matt and I have been friends since we were really little and we always knew that this was what we wanted to do. In our first band, Matt played bass and I sang. I didn’t like the sound of my voice for what we were attempting to do so we switched.”

Matt: “Yea, I didn’t really think that I had a great voice but it just worked. Drew, he used to be our sound guy, but he sucked at it. He was the world’s worst sound guy! So, we needed a drummer and he learned the set in like a week and a half. Then Carl came in and this lineup has been together since 2004.”

JP: “The name bob, which of course is now Super bob, how did you guys decide on that for a name?”

Matt: “Well, we just wanted something simple. You know, a name that everybody would get. You see the name and you have no idea what we will sound like but after hearing us, you always associate our sound when you see that name.”

Adam: “Yea, kinda like Korn, plus we wanted it to look good on a sticker. As far as the name goes, it was something that we decided to do because another artist had a similar name and we just went ahead and instead of waiting, we decided to change it. We wanted to keep our logo and just add an adjective. So far, it has been a smooth transition.”

JP: “So, tell us about the early days of the band.”

Adam: “Oh, we sucked! Well, musically we did. We went to see Korn and we knew that’s what we wanted to do. I high energy type show, not just stand around.”

Matt: “Yea, the fans were always commenting on how great we were on stage and how they loved the show. We are always pushing each other on stage to be better.”

JP: “With the way you guys are always jumping around on stage, there have got to be alot of accidents.”

Adam: “About every month and a half, we usually have some sort of accident. Carl has gone through several stages. Matt’s back has been sliced open with a guitar before.”

Matt: “Six seconds before a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club in DC, I blew my ankle out. I tore the tendon off the bone and proceeded to do the rest of the show on one foot.”

JP: “I am amazed that nothing worse has happened to you guys with the energy that you bring to the stage. Let’s hope tonight’s show is accident free.”

The guys are touring no win support of their second CD entitled “Rock n Roll”. The stage to them is their ring and they dare you to step in. They are on a crusade to save rock and roll and they will not take no for an answer. Powered by a diet of crack and steroids, they let you know who they are and that they mean business from the start. Just listen to track one of their new CD. The song, “Pleasure To Meet You”, lets the listener know that they are not just “another played out radio song”. Carl’s pounding bass and Adam’s crunching guitar riffs combined with Drew’s amazing back beat has created am amped up sound for them that is very contagious. One listen and you cannot help but to bob, no pun intended, your head long with it.

“Push” is an awesome song that is more in the vein of one of their influences Korn. One of my favorite songs on the CD is entitled “Coffee and Guns” and is both lyrically and musically one of the standout tracks on the disc.

The guys told me that they tried different things on this CD because they wouldn’t have to be performing them in their live set. They experimented with acoustic guitars, like on “Lonely as It Takes” and “El Chupacabra” as well as some new electronic tricks of their own.

Their set that night in Roanoke had the crowd in that tiny club on their feet the entire time. No matter the size of the venue, these guys bring it 110% each and every performance. They tour up and down the East coast doing 120 dates last year and looking to surpass 150 this year. It’s that old school mentality of bringing it to the people live and proving themselves that is making believers out of people. Check them out on Facebook or at www.myspace.com/bobband or www.superbobmusic.com.

If these guys hit a club anywhere near you, then drop what you are doing and take the time to check them out. If you are a fan of Rage Against The Machine or Korn, then their sound will be right for you. It is an addictive combination that they have put together. Carl lets his bass do the talking as he pounces around on stage. Adam is very energetic and likes to snarl out at the audience and get the crowd involved and feel like part of the show. Drew, hide behind his drums is always working up a sweat providing the back beat for these guys. Matt, what can we say about Matt that hasn’t already been said. A guy who is more energetic than a daycare class on a fieldtrip to the zoo! His unique multi-colored dreads make him stand out and his unique voice is insane. These boys are old school believers in hard work, blood, sweat and tears...well, not sure about the tears part. Check out their crusade to keep rock and roll alive.

Mayhem Tour Tears Through Raleigh, NC

They’re several definitions of Mayhem in the dictionary. A state of disorder or riotous confusion, havoc. That may be the best of them to sum up this year’s successful Rockstar Mayhem Tour. It made a stop on August 3 on a blistering Tuesday afternoon. The Raleigh venue was one of, if not the, smallest venues and crowds on the tour which has pulled in some impressive numbers in this summer’s dismal touring season.

The gates officially opened at 2:15 with a steady stream of black t-shirts, piercings and tats roaring through. Ah, the summer outdoor concerts, you have to love them. You see so much that you never expected to see and that usually has nothing to do with the artists performing. The crowd is like the show before the show!

Going to a show like Mayhem requires a few things from those in attendance. Sunblock is important as the temp that day was in the upper nineties with minimal shade to be found. Another is stamina and the consumption of lots of water. Lastly and probably most important is money.....lots of money. Every band was selling merchandise and almost all were doing meet and greets. Most of them required you to buy their CD and you got an autograph and picture with them. This is a great marketing move, especially with the industry being in such a downward spiral because of downloading. The mucho dinero also comes in handy considering beer was $9, Gatorade was $6 and hotdogs were $5 each.

The band’s schedules on the two secondary stages, the Silver Stage and the Jagermeister Stage, were staggered. One band would play their set on one stage and within minutes of finishing, another started playing on the other stage. Get the picture? Each band’s set was roughly thirty minutes in length but an intense thirty-minute set. All killer with no filler!

3 Inches Of Blood kicked off the day with a loud set that got alot of the hungry head bangers going but just wetted their appetites for more. In This Moment’s set saw lead singer Maria Brink go out into the crowd to the soundboard for their final song, “Daddy’s Falling Angel”, to get a circle pit going around the board. The fans were game and started a huge dust storm that looked like cattle being herded to their slaughter as their circled her.

Shadow’s Fall had a great crowd for their set which included a great cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at The Moon” that got the crowd singing along. Lead singer Brian Fair pulled a little guy on stage, maybe 7 or 8, who could barely see over the barricade but had been head banging their entire set. He let this little rocker watch the last song from the side of the stage. Talk about a Mayhem memory!

Norma Jean and Chimaira, who had just played a club date the night before with In This Moment in Charlotte, NC, got some of the best crowd reactions with their ear splitting sets. There was lots of crowd surfing going on. Hatebreed closed out the Jager stage showing that after sixteen years of doing what they love, they still have what it takes to teach some of the younger bands how to rock out properly. These guys are an excellent example of true hardcore and always believing in what they are doing.

The band’s kept a tight schedule and right at 6:30, as shown in the program, Five Finger Death Punch took to the main stage. Vocalist Ivan Moody has assembled a tight unit of guys who, although were not friends to begin with when formed, have grown into a vital band in today’s scene. Ivan is great with the crowd too. At one point asking who in the audience had bought their new CD and then asking who had illegally downloaded it. Well, a question like that made some shy away from answering but there were quite a few who admitted to it. Ivan said that, even though it took fifteen cents out of his pocket for every copy downloaded illegally, the main thing was that it brought them out to the show. Their cover of Bad Company classic song “Bad Company” got a great response from the crowd.

Richmond, Virginia’s Lamb of God took the stage next. They are celebrating their fifteen years of slaying audiences this year. These guys are another example of never straying from your beliefs and compromising. Their aggressive forty minutes set had very little banter with the crowd and they simply gave the audience what they came for, the music. A set of all substance and very little style. Don’t get me wrong, these guys don’t depend on props or a fancy stage to make their point. They have a great light show but no fancy distractions to take away from the fact that they are here to thrash your faces off. These guys weren’t nominated at Revolver’s 2010 Golden Gods awards for Best Live Band because they sit on barstool and sing.

Next up was Rob Zombie, who definitely puts on a show. Almost the complete opposite of Lamb of God, Rob is over the top with his stage show. You know for a fact that two of his influences growing up were KISS and Alice Cooper when you see his show. There were flames and robots and smoke everywhere and that was before Rob even came out on stage! His set mixed in a few White Zombie songs along with his solo material. “Dragula” and “Never Gonna Stop” had the crowd on their feet. He paid tribute to his idol Alice by doing a cover of “School’s Out” which was awesome. His guitarist John 5 has been playing dates on a broken foot and teased him about it. He asked him if he wanted to play something softer that would hurt as much and he went into “Sweet Dreams” which he covered when he played with Marilyn Manson. Rob said that he was going to play a classic to get the older people in the grass seats up and played a hyped up version of his White Zombie classic “Thunderkiss ‘65” that went over great with the crowd.

At most venues on the tour, after Rob leaves so does most of the crowd. It almost seems as if he should have headlined. For those who left early, they missed a great performance by Korn. After some ups and downs the last few years, it seems as if they have returned more to what got them established back in 1994. That heavier, kind of edgy sound that you remember Korn having back then and less electronic. They played a few new songs from their latest CD and went old school with the rest of their set list. Their show was also full of pyro and a great overall stage show. Lead singer Jonathan Davis seems to have the boys back on track and their set at mayhem showed that they haven’t lost a thing.

So, after almost twelve hours of being in the blistering sun, the day had come to an end. Well, except for fighting all the traffic out. This year’s Mayhem Tour has been operating with ticket sales averaging a little over 20% above last year’s tour, which is good news for all of us metal fans. I cannot wait to see what tour producers Kevin Lyman and John Reese will have in store for us next year. I hope the smaller turnout doesn’t discourage them from coming to Raleigh, NC again. For those who were there, it was an awesome day full of rip your face off metal and for those who missed out, maybe next year! Horns high metal heads!

Monday, August 9, 2010

In This Moment Are Home At Mayhem

In the movie "Almost Famous", Creem magazine Editor Lester Banks tells aspiring fifteen year old writer William Miller that whatever he does, do not become friends with the band. Writers and reviewers are seen as the enemy. That advice ran through my head the night before I was to interview In This Moment. You see, I became friends over the last few years because, well to be honest, I was totally captivated by them. I had never experienced anything like them live before. I have seen them numerous times since my first show with them on OZZFEST in 2007 and we have become friends.

I went to their show in Charlotte,NC on August 1 where they played with Norma Jean and Chimaira. It was an off date from their successful Rockstar Mayhem Festival this summer. In This Moment played first and proved why they are stealing shows on the secondary stage at Mayhem on a daily basis. Their set that night was a very tight eight song set focusing heavily on their new CD "A Star-Crossed Wasteland". The band opened with "Just Drive" and proceeded to rip through tracks like a buzz saw through fresh lumber. "Daddy's Falling Angel", from their first CD, closed the show with more intensity than most bands combine into their entire set.

After a meet and greet with the fans at the merchandise booth, I was escorted back to their bus for the interview. The band is sharing a bus with Norma Jean, so it was a bit crowded and chaotic. So, Chris (Howorth, lead guitarist) led me to the back of the bus to Maria's quarters where we were to conduct the interview sitting on her bed. Yes, you read that right! I conducted my interview while sitting on the bed with Chris, Maria and her dog Twinkles. Don't be hatin' people!!

JP: "Hey guys! Well, it's been a while since we last talked and alot has happened in your career. Can you tell me a little about being on this year's Mayhem tour and how it's been going?

Chris: "Mayhem has been amazing, right from the start! This is the kind of tour we belong on. We know all the bands and are friends with everyone, so it has been great. Last year's Warped Tour was fun, but we didn't get to meet as many bands and weren't friends with as many like we are at Mayhem. The crowds have been absolutely insane!

JP: "So tell me, what was your initial reaction when you heard the first week's sales of the new CD. According to Billboard Magazine, it sold 10,500 copies the first week and debuted at number forty!"

Maria: "We were really, really excited about it. He was more stressed about it than me."

Chris: "I had been thinking about it like 2 weeks before the news came out. We were getting reports from the label of how many copies different outlets had sold. Nowadays the trend is to sell half of what you did last time. We knew we were growing and we were really shooting for 10,000. So, we were really stoked when we heard."

JP: "You worked with producer Kevin Churko again. What type of working relationship do you have with him now? Does he challenge you to think outside the box?"

Maria: "We love him and we're like family with him, yet at the same time he will tell us if something is good, yet not quite good enough. So, I think we have a great relationship with him."

JP: "The Promise" has generated alot of buzz amongst the fans. I had heard that the song was originally suppose to be with Ivan from Five Finger Death Punch. Can you fill me in on it?"

Maria: "Yea, we have been wanting to do something with Ivan for a while now. He was originally our choice to sing this duet with me. Adrian Patrick was the fill-in for Ivan to show him how the track was suppose to go. So, we layed down a rough track for Ivan and sent it to him and he loved it."

Chris: "Literally, the day before we were suppose to record with Ivan, the record company stepped in and for whatever reason, it didn't happen."

Maria: "So, instead of going out and looking for a big name person to step in, we decided to go ahead with Adrian. He totally shocked all of us with his voice and it is so rich and alluring. It's also kind of cool that nobody really knows who he is either."

JP: "The marketing of the new CD, with the utilization of Facebook and all the different exclusives that the outlets had for it, who was involved with all of that?"

Chris: "The plan was that we wanted to make it different than the last time because of the timing of the CD and how we were growing. So, we wanted to do something special for the fans and give them alot of options. The exclusives and the preorders were the record company's decision. Some fans actually bought multiple copies because of what they wanted."

JP: "I'm guilty as charged! I have to admit that I bought copies for my kids as well as getting multiple copies for myself!"

Chris: "Well, you are a part of that 10,500 so thanks for supporting us."

JP: "OK, I have to ask about your mic stand. What is going on with that?"

Maria: "I wanted a unique stand and I collect antique dolls and such. So, it was literally the night before the first Mayhem show and I said to myself that I gotta do this. So, Chris and I sat in his bedroom and he helped me hack it all together and sew it all up. He kind of surprised me because he was really passionate about it and he's usually not an artsy fartsy type of person."

Chris: "She kept on badgering me about it and I knew that I wasn't going to get any peace until it was done."

JP: "Back to last year's Warped tour, looking back on it, what can you draw from doing that type of tour?"

Maria: "To me, the positive would be all of the teenage girls who come up to us and say that they saw us there last year. We do any tour with a positive attitude and take out of it anything positive if we can."

Chris: "Also, it helped us by introducing us to Kevin Lyman who does Mayhem as well."

JP: "So, what's ahead after Mayhem for you guys?"

Maria: "We are going to a few select dates headlining and then we will take about a month off and the go back on the road. The CD is still very new so we plan on touring our butts off here and internationally, but nothing is confirmed yet."

JP: "So, if you guys weren't in a band, what would you be doing right now?"

Maria: "I would be in a circus or an actress. I would need an artistic outlet."

Chris: "If I wasn't doing this, then I would be trying to do this."

JP: "Or possibly designing mic stands?"

Maria: "Yea, but we would still need to hear the roar of the crowd."

JP: "Your fan base continues to grow and grow. You have such an amazing one on one connection with so many fans. Are you worried that connection may be lost as you grow bigger?"

Maria: "I'm not really worried about losing it. We will just have to try harder. I mean look at Korn, as big as they are a t the top of their game and they manage to do signings."

Chris: "We will continue to but just as long as it's safe. Not as much for us guys as it is for Maria. You can't help it, there are alot of strange people out there and we don't want to put her at risk. I mean, we can't go to the soundboard after or before e show as easily anymore and just hangout. Even when Korn does it, it's very controlled and organized. Yet, no matter how big we do get there will always be those fans and friends who have been there since the beginning that we will have that special bond with....no matter what."

JP: "The next single is 'The Promise'. I know you have already shot the video. When will both be released and is there talk of a third single yet?"

Maria: "The single comes out in September and the video will follow. As far as a third one, it depends on how well 'The Promise' does. If it blows up, then we will look at what is possibly the next single."

Chris: "Yea, the record company will pick one and we will pick one and then we will fight it out."

At this point, I thought our interview was complete. I was in for quite a surprise!

Maria: "Do you want a special little treat?"

JP: "Now how can I say no to you?"

Maria: "Do you want to see the rough, rough version of the video for 'The Promise'?"

JP: "Are you serious?"

Chris: "Yea, nobody outside of the band has seen this. Not even our families, you will be the first."

At that point, they turned on the tv and DVD player and I watched the rough cut of the video. Now, Maria swore me to secrecy. She does this all the time! Last year on tour, she told us that they were on the Mayhem 2010 Tour and that I couldn't say a word yet because it wasn't public knowledge yet. I watched the video, probably not knowing that my jaw was hanging wide open. I remember that when the screen faded to black that I looked at Maria and said, "Wow, that was hot!" and she started giggling. Now, I cannot talk about the storyline at all, but I can tell all the fans that it is a very sexy and hot video that uses the art of sexuality in such subtle ways that it makes the video smolder. Oh yea, the ending, if left the same, is very hot too.

So, the interview was over and we left the bus and got pictures and autographs. My shirt smelt like Maria's perfume for a few days and I didn't want to wash it. It was a great night at Amos' and one that I will not forget. I will always have that memory of interviewing Revolver's Hottest Chick In Metal Maria Brink while sitting on her bed in the back of their tour bus. Oh yea, Chris was there too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In This Moment Find Their Sound

In their early career, In This Moment had reached a pivotal crossroads when writing began for their third CD. Their first CD, “Beautiful Tragedy”, was heavy and introduced the world to the screamo vocals of one Maria Brink. Their sophomore release, “The Dream”, was a more polished and melodic sounding CD on which Maria focused more on singing than her trademark screams. This sound seemed to alienate their early fan base while, at the same time, it exposed them to a whole new audience. How could they bring the best of both of those elements together to please such a diverse audience?

The hype behind their third CD, entitled “A Star-Crossed Wasteland”, began to build with Maria and lead guitarist Chris Howorth stating in interviews that they had finally found their defining sound. The first song and video released, “The Gun Show”, was an indication of what was in store. The intro sounds like you have just walked up on a good old fashioned gunfight, but instead of Billy The Kid you are confronted by Maria the Hottest Chick in Metal ripping your head off with her signature screaming. The song is heavy and intense with drummer Jeff Fabb displaying a style that we really haven’t heard on any of their prior releases. When listening to this song, you can’t help but want to start pumping your fist in the air.

“Just Drive” meshes both sounds into one from their earlier stuff. Don’t let the acoustic guitar intro fool you because this is no ballad. Maria combines both her screaming vocals with her more melodic and smoother vocal style on this one. The lyrics are definitely universal on this song, as we have all just wanted at one time or another to just get in the car and drive to get away. Chris also shines on this one with a blistering solo. A very nice surprise to hear him let loose and take some chances musically.

“The Promise” may be the best track on the CD. It’s a duet with Maria and Adrian Patrick of the band Otherwise. It is a great song full of powerful lyrics and emotion as the two go back and forth trading off vocals. The two definitely compliment each other in very similar styles. When they sing to each other “My promise is I will hurt you” it is believable and real.

The title track starts off with a beautiful piano solo and Maria’s vocals. The song builds intensity towards the chorus and turns more into a power ballad. “Blazin” is another full throttle ahead song with its chorus sounding very similar to “Violet Skies” from “The Dream”. Again, Chris shows off his skills for us with another blistering solo. “The Road”. One of my favorite songs lyrically on the CD about being on the road but never losing focus on what is waiting for us when the road finally leads back to home. One thing that shines on this song is the use of Chris doing background vocals. It really gives the song depth with his vocals behind Maria’s.

The next track entitled “Iron Army” seems to have taken on a life of its own with the fans. An in your face power metal song that has Maria singing the lyrics until the chorus and then she unleashes a fury upon the listener unlike no other. I recommend not listening to this with your headphones on as the fury of her vocals will leave your ears bleeding if not just totally rip your face off. This is an intense song and should be one included in their live show at some point.

The “Last Cowboy” starts with Maria, in spoken voice, telling us a story of a cowboy looking for that elusive kiss to bring his cold, dark heart back to life. The chorus again is a great example of layering Chris backing vocals behind Maria and creating a great addition to the song.

“World In Flames” closes the CD with an emotional bang. Maria, as well as the rest of the band, has proven to us on each of their releases that they are no one trick pony. This is a power balled for this generation of younger fans that missed out on the great power ballads of the eighties. An emotionally charged song of death on the verge of taking us away, but not even that can keep the love of two people apart. Maria’s vocals are top notch as you can shut your eyes listen to her and feel as if you are in that room with the flames on the other side of the door. The song starts to build at the 3:27 mark to a powerful climax with Chris laying down a solo worth of the Hall of Fame for power ballad solos. The way the song builds towards the end is very much along the lines of one of my all time favorites by Aerosmith “It’s Amazing”.

Have the band found their sound? I think time will tell, but the initial reaction has been very favorable across the board. The lyrical content of “Beautiful Tragedy” is very deep and may have a slight edge on this release lyrically. Overall, I think this is a stronger release from the band as a whole. Everyone seems to have stepped up his or her game on this one. I hear more of the eighties influences on the guitars this time. The layers created by the musicianship of Blake Bunzel on guitar allow Chris to go back and lay down those blistering solos. Blake’s performance is very solid throughout the entire process is shows alot of growth by him on this release. Jeff Fabb is a beast on every track and gets my award for MVP. He really has stepped his game up and shown us a side that we have never heard from him. I know Maria gets alot of attention from the press and it is deserving, but Jeff really doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.

“A Star-Crossed Wasteland” is nothing short of their greatest work of art to date. Check the band out on the road and see why everyone is buzzing about this group. If you are tired of radio’s same old flavor of the week, then you should take that ten bucks that you were going to spend on that lame emo band and hear what true musicianship sounds like.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Amanda Abizaid Paints An Emotional Canvas

Have you ever discovered something that you wanted to keep a secret, yet couldn't wait to share it with someone? Like when you tried ranch dressing on your french fries or tried dipping your fries in a chocolate Wendy's frosty? Well I was fortunate enough to hear an artist live last summer in my small town that totally blew me away. Her name was Amanda Abizaid and her show in the humid Virginia summer air gave this music fan chills.

The American Lebanese singer, songwriter just released a new CD entitled "This Life" and I could not wait to hear what this prolific storyteller had to say. Most people are familiar with her song "A Place In Time" from Paramount's "The 4400" and "Dreams And Ashes" from Lifetime's Odd Girl Odd, Smallville and Charmed. Don't let this artist fool you, she is no one trick pony. Her versatility is one that will shock and amaze you on many levels.

The lead off track is entitled "Blue Star Red Sky" and it sounds unlike anything that I have ever heard before. It is one of my fave tracks on the CD. I could hear such pioneers in music as Prince or Beck doing something this original. Amanda has a very sexy, soft spoken vocal delivery on this song that fits it perfectly.

Two tracks use an instrument called the bouzouki in such a way that almost makes it sound as contemporary as the drums or keyboards. The instrument is of Greek decent and is similar to a mandolin. It produces a sharp, metallic sound when played. "Wash Me" uses the bouzouki with results that make this song popish and even radio worthy. The song also has an insane drum loop that is very infectious. The other song that utilizes the instrument is "My Friend" which is a slower song with deeply rooted lyrics speaking of friends reaching out to each another.

"How Can I Explain" takes a turn in the blues direction with more lyrics from the heart. I am not sure if Amanda is writing from her own experiences or from friends close to her, but the lyrics on this song and others on this CD and very personal and heartfelt. The title track is a very emotional piece about being out on the road when trying to keep a relationship together. The vocal delivery on this one shows a soft side to Amanda's vocal styling that really makes the listener feel the impact of her words.

Overall, I think this is an excellent CD. The only complaint that I would have is that it clocks in at just under thirty minutes. It left me wanting to hear more! There are definitely no "filler" cuts on this CD. Amanda wrote and produced all the tracks on the CD and she also plays the flute, piano and acoustic guitar on it. Now, how's that for versatility.

To find out more about Amanda, you can visit her at www.myspace.com/amandaabizaid4400 or at www.amandaabizaid.com. Her CD can be purchased at www.cdbaby.com. If you are lucky enough to see her live, do not pass up the chance. Her personality is very infectious and you will fall in love with her and her music within minutes. This CD just goes to show that the talent inside this lady is abundant and worthy of recognition.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Martha Davis of The Motels: No Sleeping Allowed

For some, the eighties was a decade of forgettable fashion, absurd trends and not the greatest melting pot of music. I would beg to differ with alot of those people, for I grew up in the eighties too. One of my fondest memories was discovering the sultry voice of Martha Davis of The Motels. "Only The Lonely", "Take The L", "Suddenly Last Summer" and more great songs were staples of the eighties. She had the most mesmerizing eyes in her videos, ones that seemed to look deep into your soul. Flash forward about twenty five years and you'll find Martha working harder than ever, but you may just be surprised.

Martha recently released her first children's album entitled "Red Frog Presents 16 Songs for Parents and Children", although her idea goes back some thirteen years. "The idea for the children's album came some years ago from a big purple dinosaur. When my grand kids young, the airwaves were being permeated by Barney. My daughter was complaining about having to listen to the songs over and over, her further complaint was that the songs were, how you say, stupid. The songs I listened to as a kid were dark, funny, adventurous and never really talked down to kids. I then set a goal to write a kids album that would be fun, clever and palatable for adults as well. Well, that was about thirteen years ago, maybe more. I shopped it to the labels and I was told that it was too intellectual for children, so I shelved it. As of late, I had noticed pop bands getting into the children's market with some new and wonderful stuff. I ended up rewriting almost the entire album, so now we have a second album. I'm sure one day the former album will see the light of day," stated Martha.

How has the children's album been received? "It has only been out a short time (available by digital download right now on Amazon.com and Itunes) and with very little fanfare, we just plopped it on the internet. There is negotiation currently to have it released on an actual label, which would be wonderful. We'll keep you posted."

Martha's love of music and creating is apparent as she talks about all that she has been working on. Hearing her talk about her creations is like talking to a proud mama. "I have been making music of some sort since I learned my first three guitar chords at the age of eight. I couldn't possibly think of not doing it. It's part of who I am," said Martha.

Martha is currently has so many projects under development that you need a flowchart to keep track of all of them. She is putting together an album of jazz standards that she has written through the years that sound more from the 1920's through the 1950's than modern. There is also talk of new Motels music coming soon and possibly live dates. She is most definitely a multi-faceted woman.

Still, Martha is most remembered as the voice behind The Motels. What an amazing time to be in the music industry. The music was new and refreshing, it was a totally new scene. As far as road stories go, can you share you best and worst that pop into your head? "Well, as far as best goes, going to Australia in 1980 and not knowing 'Total Control' was a hit. When we first started playing, the whole audience rose with the lighters a blaze and swayed to the rhythm of the song. We had no idea, it was very cool. The worst? When a moth, a very big moth, flew into my mouth during an outdoor concert. You're basically faced with two choices....I swallowed."

Speaking of the music industry, it is a far cry from what it was like in the eighties. Care to comment? "Oh, I can comment....it's crazy!! The music industry I knew when I first signed appears to be gone. The record labels I think missed a great opportunity to be part of a new frontier. It's the wild west out there. Everyone can and does put out their own music, but there is very little filtration, which is what the record companies use to provide. I think there will be a distillation process, but it will involve intense creativity on the part of the artist to make themselves known in a crowd. The record companies? I'm sure there will be some new business models appearing."

I have been a fan of Martha's work for sometime now. I was an eighties child and I cannot tell you how many spins her "All For One" album got on my turntable. I love asking more intimate, personal questions at this point to get some goodies for the die hard fans that most sources don't. If she could record with anyone right now who might it be? Her response was David Bowie, but she would not turn down an evening with Radiohead. If she could only have one CD while trapped on a desert island, she chose Bowie's "Low" or Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe". Last question, do you have any guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans? "I love housework, cleaning, yard work, I love work! I refer to myself as having two speeds: I am either working on something or asleep! OK, I also love to read, which is sort of a middle position. OK, I lied again! I love comedy, Jon Stewart, Simpsons, new fave The Mighty Boosh and rom coms (romantic comedies), probably not what people would expect, what can I say?"

Speaking with Martha is never a dull moment. She and her new business manager, Gaye Ann Bruno, have so many projects in the works right now that it seems like sleep is not an option. Fans of Martha's can keep up with her, if anyone can possible keep up with her pace, at www.themotels.com, www.myspace.com/themotels or www.myspace.com/marthadavis. She is a rare breed of artist who is always creating her next piece of art. I asked her what legacy did she wish to leave behind? What did she want to be remembered for? She summed it up in one simple word: songwriting.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great White Infests Roanoke Bike Show

There was something in the air last month on April 10. Maybe it was all those exhaust fumes from all the motorcycles gathered for the Blue Ridge Bike Festival at the Roanoke Civic Center. Then again, maybe it was aroma of aqua net and spandex that gathered outside waiting for the doors to open. The scene outside was almost like a time warp: excessively teased hair, over applied eyeliner and very tight pants. Actually, that was just most of the guys!

That night's entertainment saw two of the best "hair bands" from the eighties on the same stage as Great White and Dokken were there to rock the crowd. Great White's career has been all over the radar throughout their thirty plus year career. The band gained national exposure in the late 1980s with several MTV friendly videos and songs that rode the "hairband" wave of popularity. Their popularity declined a bit in the 1990s but they continued to tour strongly and release new material. In 2003, they received national exposure again, but for all the wrong reasons. A club that they were playing at in West Warwick, Rhode Island caught fire due to a deadly combination of pyro that the band were using and foam soundproofing material that was behind the stage. 100 people dies in that accident including the band's guitarist Ty Longley.

Most of Great White's "classic lineup" is still intact with Jack Russell on vocals, Mark Kendall on guitar, Michael Lardie on guitar and keyboards, Audie Desbrow on drums and Scott Snyder on bass. The show was definitely a stripped down version of their eighties tours with less lights and no pyro techniques at all. This allowed the focus to be on the music: less style, more substance.

One couldn't help but notice that lead singer Jack Russell came out on stage on crutches and sat on a stool for most of the band's performance. In a meet and greet with the band after their set, Jack told me, "I just out of the hospital a few days ago from back surgery. I figured, going out on the road and performing for our fans was going to be more fun than some morphine drip!"

Jack didn't let his setback hinder his vocal performance. He may not look the part that he did in the 1980s and 1990s, but that voice of his is still just as magical. The band has been known for its bluesy style of metal and they haven't lost a step.
The band ripped through such classic cuts as "Rock Me" and "Call It Rock And Roll". A personal highlight of mine was "Save Your Love" during which Jack's vocals were insane! This man still has a set of pipes on him! The band was very tight and proved why, after 30 plus years of touring and recording, that they are still around.

The crowd was very into the band's set from the beginning through the "who would have guessed it?" encore of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" and actually were hungry for even more! It's always great to see bands like this who resist to roll over and play dead just because their style of music isn't the flavor of the week. Great White does this because they love to do it, not because it's the cool thing to do. That's why the industry today has too many "here today, gone today" artists. Great White is a rare breed that is true to its calling....true rock and roll pioneers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ashes Of Erin Scorches The Arizona Desert

The sun in Arizona is known to be smoldering hot and not much can grow in its desert like conditions, until now. Ashes of Erin, a group a five separately influenced individuals with a common motive: to create a sound unlike anything they had ever heard before. The band consists of Jenna Slate on lead vocals, Bryan Diehl on guitar, Josh Rafferty on guitar, Drew Alnas on bass and vocals and Andy Schroeder on drums. The band was named after a friend of theirs named Erin who was a huge supporter of their local scene early on. She died of cancer in 2007 and her husband suggested to Bryan, as they were spreading her ashes out in California, that they should name the band after her. They all agreed that it would be a great way to honor her for her support.

Ashes Of Erin began forming back in the summer of 2007. Josh and Bryan were in a band together and decided to leave to start forming their own band. Drew and Josh had been friends for a very long time and had even played together in another band. The guys saw Jenna performing with a friends band and asked her to come down and audition. She then proceeded to belt out the heaviest of all the songs that the band had and they knew then that they had found their new lead singer. They found their solid foundation in November of 2008 when Andy answered an ad that he saw on My Space.

I spoke with Jenna and Bryan to learn more about the group and how they got to where they are now. "The recording of this Cd was a nightmare....Ha ha! Seriously though, we started recording the album with some of our old members. It was almost finished by the time that Andy joined the group, but we decided that the sound had changed drastically just from him joining. So, we thought that it would be best to scrap that recording entirely and start over. we re-recorded everything at the beginning of 2009. Those sessions were a lot of fun though. Byron, who recorded the album, was a blast to work with and we worked very hard with him to achieve the sound we wanted on the album."

The five members of the band bring a very diverse mixture of styles and influences, from the Human waste Project to eighties rock to death metal, that mesh together to help form a unique twist to the common metal core style. Jenna's vocals run the gauntlet from gut wrenching growls to a very melodic vocal styling. One moment she sings to steal your heart away and the next she's screaming like she's going to rip it out of your chest! The band's music style also crosses back and forth across the "typical" metal core stylings. The band mixes aggressive, fast paced lines with slower, more melodic ones, henceforth creating a style that is very unique to this growing style.

Their CD entitled "This Somber Eve" is an assault on the ears of mind. The opening title track is an instrumental that kicks the door down at the end and explodes into the song "I". Jenna vocals run all over the board her ands sets the pace to let the listener know to expect the unexpected.Other standout cuts include "Abnormal Drifter", "One Pill Kill" and my favorite "Denounce The Air", which I think is Jenna's stellar vocal performance. "'Distorted Revelation' is probably our most "radio-friendly" song we have on the album. It is my favorite because of the meaning behind the lyrics. Most of my lyrics are fictional stories but this one was based off a traumatic event that happened to me so I think I'm more emotional when I sing it," stated Jenna.

"I think Distorted stands out a bit from the rest because of it's mainstream sound. But my personal favorite is probably Dead Fish. That one is just so brutal and fun to play," responded Bryan.

The musicianship in the band is also top notch. Bryan and Josh definitely trade off some intense guitar licks. In the meantime, the back beat propelled by the rhythm duo of Drew and Andy help to maintain that driving aggressive attitude that is expected from this band.

As my last question, I always ask the bands that I interview what CD they would want with them if they were trapped on desert island. Jenna replied with, "It would be 'E-lux' by the Human Waste Project. Seriously, one of the best Cd's that I have ever heard. I totally wish they were still around."

Bryan said, "That's a tough one! I think I'd have to take a Pink Floyd album, maybe 'The Wall', since it's a double disc."

"This Somber Eve" is a CD that will certainly appeal to lovers of the metal core style of music, but it is also diverse enough to cross over that line to appeal to fans of other stylings of new rock. It is fast, furious and in your face metal. Be prepared when you push play...it will grab you by your neck and demand your attention through it's entirety. It is most definitely a workout of epic proportions on your senses.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kama Linden: A Testament To Positivity

Kama Linden is the embodiment of positive energy. I stumbled across her recently on MySpace and her infectious music immediately commanded my attention. Upon further investigation, I soon discovered that I was about to uncover a shining gem in this bleak music industry.

Kama began recording in 2000 for her debut release entitled "Uninhibited", which was released in the summer of 2004. Her overseas market quickly embraced her and her music, especially in Australia and the UK. A constant barrage of live performances has also helped to showcase her talents to an inviting public.

Her second CD entitled "Better Late Than never" was released in June of 2008 and the media machine got cranked up again. Touring the states and overseas again helped to showcase her talents on a live audience who could see that this young lady is extremely talented and not just a manufactured artist. I asked her how the new CD compared to her first effort? "I think it is much better and more autobiographical. This one took less time to make yet it has a story from beginning to end."

Kama, whose influences include Pink and Melissa Etheridge, describes her sound as ambitious, enthusiastic and intuitive. She can be somewhat of a camillion when it comes to pinpointing her sound. Her new CD has standout rock tracks such as my fav "If Looks Could Kill" and "Drink" to dance songs such as "Been There, Done That" and the title track. She then pulls the rug out from under your feet with a touching ballad entitled "You've Forgotten Me".

Kama is also a skilled yoga instructor. "Sometimes what starts out as your survival job becomes your other life. My idea is that people have been taught by yoga instructors how they need to look and they end up getting hurt. 90 degree feet, head through arms to look at the belly button, take your foot in pigeon and yank it sideways so you can tear your meniscus. I teach people how to use neutral spine, their own turn out and flexibility," stated Kama.

After doing a little research on Kama, I noticed that the term "angrychik" seemed to pop up alot. Is there a story behind this term? "Yes....women with an opinion are considered bitches. How dare you say what you feel, not just wait for your Mrs. degree, get ahead in business and in life. Think Alanis...with a plan."

One last question for you Kama. I am curious to hear your answer to this one. If you were stranded on a desert island with only one store bought CD, what would you want to have there with you? "It would be a tossup between Pink's 'Funhouse' and Evanescence 'The Open Door."

If you like your music upbeat and positive, then I suggest checking Kama out. Her CD is diverse and the styles switch up quicker than you can keep up with. She will always keep you guessing. One constant throughout all of her styles is a message of positivity and hope. Give her a chance and check her out at www.myspace.com/kamalinden or at www.kamalinden.com. With all of the bad news that we seem to see and hear from our various media outlets each day, Kama and her music are a welcome relief.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bruce Kulick No Longer Walks Alone

KISS are an iconic band known for their trademark makeup and over the top stage shows. Their non-makeup years, from 1983-1996, tend to be overshadowed by their kabuki inspired legacy. During these years, the band toured and released many platinum and gold albums exposing a whole new generation to the band. One very important member of that era was lead guitarist Bruce Kulick.

Bruce joined the band in 1984 and toured and recorded with the band. He slowly began to find his niche in the band while winning over support from the fans. His guitar playing on their 1992 release “Revenge” is considered by most as Bruce’s best work with KISS and their best non-makeup album produced.

Bruce kept busy after KISS releasing two solo CD and numerous side projects including Union with ex-Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi and the Eric Singer Project with KISS drummer Eric Singer and Corabi also. Bruce just released his third solo CD entitled “BK3” which started generating a buzz months ago on the internet and in the KISS community.

I spoke with Bruce at the KISS Coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach, SC for his CD release party on February 6, 2010. I asked him how he felt about the initial response from the fans and critics on his new release. “Wow, the reaction has been wonderful. It took almost seven years to complete this one. With my other two releases, I didn’t use a talented team around me and I was very single minded. I didn’t look at my other records as trying to put out my own Revenge, which is the benchmark that my producer Jeremy and I committed to. Also, some of the time element was scheduling. I mean, if Gene Simmons commits to working with you but you have to wait a year on him, then you’re gonna wait,” responded Bruce.

The initial buzz on the net centered around Gene’s inclusion as vocalist on one track and also his son Nick on another. So, how did this come about? “Well, Gene offered Nick, but trust me, I was already going to ask him. After watching the show, I knew Nick had musical aspirations, but to be quite honest, I didn’t know that Nick was so good. I also didn’t know how important the song would end up being on my record. It was a major score to get him and he picked a great track. It’s a very sonic sounding song on the record and putting his giant voice on it just made it complete.”

I asked Bruce how the whole KISS Coffeehouse release party concept come together? “It was the record company’s idea. They wanted to do a KISS related thing and since there were no expos scheduled at the time of the release, why not do something here. I had never been here as a featured member of the KISS family and it was just the right thing to do, even though I had to fly over 3000 miles to get here. I mean, let’s face it, the core of my audience is KISS related.”

How different was it to release the CD with everything that is going on in the industry as opposed to your last release? “We definitely went more old school this time. I mean, part of the time factor was that we go it a label and got is distributed nationally. I never had anything like that with my other releases. It’s my first CD available at retail, everywhere from Best Buy to I-tunes are offering it. KISS fans tend to love the whole package, the physical CD to hold, so I spared no expense with a trifold digipak complete with a sixteen-page color booklet. I think it looks great.”

What can we expect in the near future from you? Any touring? “We did a small show in LA at the Cat Club to release the CD and we did a n eight song set. It went off very well. I had Fitz from Union on drums and some other talented guys, but I’m not in a position to say look for my tour starting whenever. It is good to know that I have a great bunch of guys that I can count on if that situation presents itself. Right now, I want to keep this initial buzz going and initial sales could generate more interesting things. I am hoping to do more in-store appearances and interviews. I have the Cleveland Expo coming up in March and I know that I’m just an email or phone call away from something exciting happening at any given moment.”

I played a little word association with Bruce next to see what his reaction would be.
I asked him to say the first thing that came to mind.

Gene Simmons- “Very bright business man who is also a very talented musician, but doesn’t say it.”
Paul Stanley- “Total rock star.”
Tommy Thayer- “A guy who knows how to do whatever job KISS asks him to do and a really great guy.”
Eric Singer- “Amazing drummer who never shuts up.”
Eric Carr- “Very missed, very talented, lost too soon.”
John Corabi- “Bluesy singer.”
Bruce Kulick- “An intolerable perfectionist who is very proud of his new record and hopes that everyone will come out and support it.”

My last question is one that I ask of all my interviews. If you were trapped on a desert island and could have only one CD with you, it cannot be a burnt CD, it has to be an official release, what would you want? “I think I would have to go with ‘Are You Experienced’ by Hendrix.”

The CD itself is an amazing step forward for Bruce. He seems to be more comfortable both vocally and with his playing. It is a bigger, bolder sound from Bruce. It kicks off with “Fate”, a great fast paced song with a unique, almost spoken, vocal type from Bruce until the chorus. There are plenty of KISS references in this song too. Hot lead off track, definitely sets the mood for what’s in store.

Gene’s track, “Ain’t Gonna Die” is next. This song blows away Gene’s contributions to KISS’ “Sonic Boom”. You get a little non-makeup era vibe on this one and Gene’s vocals are great, not to mention Bruce’s solo too. The addition of the string section on this song also adds another layer to this great arrangement.

My favorite track on the CD is next, the mini Union reunion with John Corabi on vocals and Brent Fitz on drums. “No Friend of Mine” is the song and it is stellar. John’s bluesy vocals really standout on this track and just begs for another CD from these guys. Bruce and John have such great chemistry between them that it needs to be tapped into more. A big two thumbs up on this rocker.

Gene’s not so little boy is up next with “Hand Of The King” and I guarantee you that if you have a preconceived notion as to what this is going to sound like, then most likely you are going to be blown away. The song is dark and Nick’s vocal debut proves that he has the chops to pursue this if he chooses to. That, plus a blistering solo by Mr. Kulick makes this a stellar lead off track for this release.

“I’ll Survive” is a great slower number that reflects back on Bruce’s shooting a few years back where he was just an innocent bystander and was the recipient of a shooters bullet; very introspective lyrics. “Dirty Girl” features vocals by Doug Fieger who was the lead vocalist of the Knack. Come on now, we all remember muh-muh-muh my Sharona....right? This is a very rock/popish catchy song with a great hook and chorus. Irony of this song is that with all the attention the song was garnering for Fieger, he tragically passed away shortly after the release of the CD after a long battle with cancer.

“I’m The Animal” features German rocker Tobias Sammet on vocals and ESP/KISS drummer Eric Singer on drums. An instrumental track entitled “Between the Lines” features the talent of Steve Lukather, best known for his work with Toto.

Bruce really does shine on this CD and he should be very proud of the art that he has created. Personally, I think the inclusion of Jeremy Rubolino as producer gave Bruce the push he needed to go that extra mile and strive forward as a musician. Jeremy also co-wrote all tracks with Bruce and plays bass and keyboards too.

I truly hope that Bruce gets the recognition that he deserves with this CD. He is the most underrated member of the KISS family and his contributions have never truly been acknowledged. I hope that Bruce gets to take his creation out on the road and share it with his fans. BK3 is a stellar CD for both KISS fans and fans of great guitar driven rock. Best of luck to you Bruce!