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Jimmy Kunes talks National Wrecking Company, Cactus, and more!

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 13:01


"It’s an intense record. It’s an intense world we’re living in." ~ Jimmy Kunes

Jimmy Kunes is a man on the move. He's just finished up with one of his "Freed Live" tributes to Free (and some Bad Company) at B.B. King's in New York City as he heads out the door for Europe with Cactus for some shows before he'll return to oversee the release of his killer new project, National Wrecking Company. Before he jumped on a plane for Italy we had a chance to get a preview for the album, and to catch up on all the dizzying details!

National Wrecking Company is one of those rare records that sounds like you know it the minute you hear it. The songs, melodies, and riffs are classic hard rock, but there's also a definite sense that they've captured the times we're living in, and there's a great sense of urgency to the material. It's a record that deserves to be heard. That's where we started the conversation:

This is real classic hard rock with a modern sound, did you write with an agenda to sound that way or is it more organic? Tell me about the band and how this record came together.
   
Jimmy Kunes: "Funny you should ask a question that was right on the tip of my mind, so to speak.  "Randy (Pratt) had started to assemble very strong hooks, riffs and grooves along with one of his drummers, Neil Cicione and TC Toliver (Plasmatics). He had me in mind to check out a few of these ideas that were then arranged into songs by our engineer/ producer JZ Burrell. "I was knocked out by how original and utterly exciting they sounded and immediately came up with lyrics, subject matter and imagery for the songs. It all happened quite rapidly. "So, I took in my lyric drafts and started laying vocals down."They had also been quite prolific in keeping the ideas churning and would hit me with a new one after I'd finished a vocal. I would come up with a root idea on the spot and elaborate on that, go out to the vocal booth and build it up from there. I was right on my game but the songs were so hooky, catchy and crafted so well that it all just seemed to glow and flow very easily. More often than not we would finish off 2 songs in a day's work. Very satisfying. "So yes it was a very organic, fresh way of approaching writing lyrics and laying vocals down for me." 
Has the band had a chance to play play out yet? Are there plans to gig with National Wrecking Company?

Jimmy Kunes: "NWC is very much a studio project as this point, but who knows?  "It is extremely compelling material that I would imagine would go down very well and will see the live light of day at some point. I would be very much into doing a few songs from the record with Jimmy Kunes Band. We do a couple of songs from Flood The Engine as well… "We are all very busy with all of our respective independent projects, as well as Cactus, so we will have to see how it all spins out after we officially release our album. (Due in October '17)"

What kind of distribution are you doing? Label shopping, releasing it yourselves, etc.?
Jimmy Kunes: "We will definitely be putting it out either way. We might release on Randy's label (Hyperspace) or we also have a few labels we would be into National Wrecking Company finding a home on. There is already interest being shown."


You’ve been on fire creatively as of late with this coming after a really great Cactus album last year - how do you keep the creativity coming and what inspires you.

Jimmy Kunes: "Thanks Tony!  "Everything inspires me! And I always have a notebook, pad of paper, phone note section, voice memo on iPhone is VERY useful and I'll constantly be jotting words, titles, phrases and singing melodies down. "The really exciting thing is I've been waking up with semi-fully formed songs which will I chronicle on one of the above mediums for future projects. "I am also well into work on my 3rd solo record, Jimmy Kunes Congregation, so never a dull moment over here! Ha!"
It’s an album of big themes, what’s on your mind when you’re writing lyrics these days?

Jimmy Kunes: "Well first and foremostly everything is overshadowed by the state we're in as a nation these days.  "Also the way we have systematically raped and stripped our land/country of its natural resources. For years now. How the polar icecap is melting. How the air is being tainted and polluted. How the levels of harmful levels of lead are being identified in water supplies. How we haven't made any real strides to implement wind power and alternate sources of energies. How there are people in power that are in bed with the all-powerful industries and corporations that are insuring that we never will do so. Until it is too late. And it's too late.  "I think it's obvious what songs on the album reflect greed, malice, political agendas and blind willfulness to drag us all asunder. "It’s an intense record. It’s an intense world we’re living in."

Your voice is in great shape, how do you keep it so sharp and powerful, any secrets?
Jimmy Kunes: "Ah, thank you Tone. "Really just using it as much as I can. There obviously come times when one needs to take it easy and rest it a bit. I try to arrange sessions, gigs, etc. in a way that I don’t overstrain my vocal cords too much. Pacing myself during tours as much as you can helps. I tend to really give it all I got out there, but there ya go. "Part of being proficient in something such as singing full time is knowing how to sing around something live that you've recorded that would maybe make you too winded, or not quite being able to hit certain notes live. That's the beauty about live performance for me. It never ever gets boring and nothing’s ever the same way every time out. Keeps one very fresh.  "There is a certain template for a vocal in a song that you basically adhere to, but there’s also room for improvisation that surprises even myself every night."
You are a very busy guy who regularly does projects that pay tribute to some great singers and bands, tell me about your influences and how you approach covering such voices and bands like Free, Paul Rodgers, Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, Ian Gillan and others.

Jimmy Kunes: "I really believe you are a product of what you listen to at an early age. I was really lucky to have an elder brother (Bill) who had a killer collection. "A lot of the artists you mention above were and are influences, but that in turn makes you want to dig back to see who influenced THEM. It's a never ending journey. "In the past I put together a Deep Purple MKIII celebration and we are still doing our FREED LIVE!!! band as well. We play tomorrow night as a matter of fact. We have a blast playing our favorite styles of music so it's a kick for us."

What are you hearing these days that impresses you?

Jimmy Kunes: "Typically when I write, I try not to listen to too much current or newer stuff. Not enough time! And one doesn't want to be nicking lines from something you’ve heard that might get lodged in the old memory banks."When you were writing and recording the NWC album, what conversations were you having with your band and co-writers?

Jimmy Kunes: "By the time I got to work in these things, songs were fairly completely formed but arrangements were tweaked by myself and Josh to make them more "singable" and to flow as far as being able to tell the storyline and being able to come up with a clever turn of phrase or chorus. "The guitars were farmed out to Randy’s friends and ex-band mates Phil in Florida and Jesse in Portland. They added their parts and overdubbed on their end. Phil also made some trips up to Electric Randyland in Plandome, Long Island where we recorded the Cactus albums as well as my two solo records. Keyboards and piano were recorded by our man Scott “The Doctor” Treibitz who also played amazing Hammond, piano, mellotron and keys on my records.   "It all came together quite easily. So it would be Randy, Josh and I together in the control room while I was tracking and we would bounce ideas around.
 
 "A very fun album to do. They should all be this much fun!"

Speaking of fun, you’re been doing some shows with former Starz guitar slinger, the great Richie Ranno - is this all leading somewhere?

Jimmy Kunes: "Glad you asked this.  "I actually play tonight with Richie in New Jersey. We also have recorded a tune for an upcoming September release for a tribute album to The Godz, a 70’s Columbus, Ohio-based band. Again with the z ha! "That went so well we are putting in place ideas to do a proper record together. Richie is a great songwriter, musician, engineer, producer and we also work very quickly and very efficiently together. "Plus, he was in an ultra-cool band like Starz. I mean "Cherry Baby"! Come on!"
You’re getting ready to hit the road again with Cactus, and the band has been through some changes over the last year, tell me about what’s changed and how it all feels.

Jimmy Kunes: "Everything has changed but it has lead to some very exciting positivity as well."Jim (McCarty) decided he just cannot do the road anymore. It is a hard graft. Even for me. It's a physically demanding strain at times with all the travel involved. Bless him he plays constantly in Detroit in the blues scene there. Pete as well wanted to just concentrate on Vanilla Fudge as opposed to touring with two bands so he's doing that. I'll see him later at the gig with Richie so that'll be cool. "Paul Warren, another Detroit native and guitarist extraordinaire (Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Nite City) has stepped in and brought a real blast of '55 Stratocaster energy to the band. He lives in Nashville and we've already jammed together down there a couple of times. We share the same penchant for obtuse humor, the occasional glass wine or ale and of course the same musical tastes. Terrific guy and terrific player."We did a German tour in May (Black Dawn Over Europe ‘17) that ended up in Verviers, Belgium that was particularly outstanding. We saw a lot more of Germany this time around with s couple of days off to explore old cathedrals. And Castle Frankenstein! (Thanks Oli!) And Bier Gardens. Fantastic. "We also took Carmine's friend and ex-band mate Tony Franklin (Roy Harper, The Firm, Blue Murder) with us to Venezuela for two sold out shows this spring. Amazing gigs, amazing times. "James Caputo from Staten Island is with us on bass."

You’re heading off to Europe with Cactus, then what does the rest of the year hold for Jimmy Kunes fans?

Jimmy Kunes: "We've started work in the next NWC album already! I go in on Monday to start laying down some vocal tracks so I'm very excited about that.  "I'm also working with Freddy Villano (Quiet Riot, Dee Snider's Widowmaker) and Tom Jude (Doro Pesch) of American Mafia on some new tunes which is very exciting. We write killer songs together. I co-wrote 2 on the 1st A.M. album (Rock and Roll Hit Machine),  (Everytime  and Man On The Flying  Trapeze)."Always something new, fresh and exciting. Keeps the doldrums away!"

Jimmy Kunes talks National Wrecking Crew, Cactus, and more!

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 18:17


"It’s an intense record. It’s an intense world we’re living in." ~ Jimmy Kunes

Jimmy Kunes is a man on the move. He's just finished up with one of his "Freed Live" tributes to Free (and some Bad Company) at B.B. King's in New York City as he heads out the door for Europe with Cactus for some shows before he'll return to oversee the release of his killer new project, National Wrecking Crew. Before he jumped on a plane for Italy we had a chance to get a preview for the album, and to catch up on all the dizzying details!

National Wrecking Crew is one of those rare records that sounds like you know it the minute you hear it. The songs, melodies, and riffs are classic hard rock, but there's also a definite sense that they've captured the times we're living in, and there's a great sense of urgency to the material. It's a record that deserves to be heard. That's where we started the conversation:

This is real classic hard rock with a modern sound, did you write with an agenda to sound that way or is it more organic? Tell me about the band and how this record came together.
   
Jimmy Kunes: "Funny you should ask a question that was right on the tip of my mind, so to speak.  "Randy (Pratt) had started to assemble very strong hooks, riffs and grooves along with one of his drummers, Neil Cicione and TC Toliver (Plasmatics). He had me in mind to check out a few of these ideas that were then arranged into songs by our engineer/ producer JZ Burrell.
"I was knocked out by how original and utterly exciting they sounded and immediately came up with lyrics, subject matter and imagery for the songs. It all happened quite rapidly.
"So, I took in my lyric drafts and started laying vocals down."They had also been quite prolific in keeping the ideas churning and would hit me with a new one after I'd finished a vocal. I would come up with a root idea on the spot and elaborate on that, go out to the vocal booth and build it up from there. I was right on my game but the songs were so hooky, catchy and crafted so well that it all just seemed to glow and flow very easily. More often than not we would finish off 2 songs in a day's work. Very satisfying. "So yes it was a very organic, fresh way of approaching writing lyrics and laying vocals down for me." 
Has the band had a chance to play play out yet? Are there plans to gig with National Wrecking Crew?

Jimmy Kunes: "NWC is very much a studio project as this point, but who knows?  "It is extremely compelling material that I would imagine would go down very well and will see the live light of day at some point. I would be very much into doing a few songs from the record with Jimmy Kunes Band. We do a couple of songs from Flood The Engine as well… "We are all very busy with all of our respective independent projects, as well as Cactus, so we will have to see how it all spins out after we officially release our album. (Due in October '17)"

What kind of distribution are you doing? Label shopping, releasing it yourselves, etc.?
Jimmy Kunes: "We will definitely be putting it out either way. We might release on Randy's label (Hyperspace) or we also have a few labels we would be into National Wrecking Company finding a home on. There is already interest being shown."


You’ve been on fire creatively as of late with this coming after a really great Cactus album last year - how do you keep the creativity coming and what inspires you.

Jimmy Kunes: "Thanks Tony!  "Everything inspires me! And I always have a notebook, pad of paper, phone note section, voice memo on iPhone is VERY useful and I'll constantly be jotting words, titles, phrases and singing melodies down. "The really exciting thing is I've been waking up with semi-fully formed songs which will I chronicle on one of the above mediums for future projects. "I am also well into work on my 3rd solo record, Jimmy Kunes Congregation, so never a dull moment over here! Ha!"
It’s an album of big themes, what’s on your mind when you’re writing lyrics these days?

Jimmy Kunes: "Well first and foremostly everything is overshadowed by the state we're in as a nation these days.  "Also the way we have systematically raped and stripped our land/country of its natural resources. For years now. How the polar icecap is melting. How the air is being tainted and polluted. How the levels of harmful levels of lead are being identified in water supplies. How we haven't made any real strides to implement wind power and alternate sources of energies. How there are people in power that are in bed with the all-powerful industries and corporations that are insuring that we never will do so. Until it is too late. And it's too late.  "I think it's obvious what songs on the album reflect greed, malice, political agendas and blind willfulness to drag us all asunder. "It’s an intense record. It’s an intense world we’re living in."

Your voice is in great shape, how do you keep it so sharp and powerful, any secrets?
Jimmy Kunes: "Ah, thank you Tone. "Really just using it as much as I can. There obviously come times when one needs to take it easy and rest it a bit. I try to arrange sessions, gigs, etc. in a way that I don’t overstrain my vocal cords too much. Pacing myself during tours as much as you can helps. I tend to really give it all I got out there, but there ya go. "Part of being proficient in something such as singing full time is knowing how to sing around something live that you've recorded that would maybe make you too winded, or not quite being able to hit certain notes live. That's the beauty about live performance for me. It never ever gets boring and nothing’s ever the same way every time out. Keeps one very fresh. 
"There is a certain template for a vocal in a song that you basically adhere to, but there’s also room for improvisation that surprises even myself every night."
You are a very busy guy who regularly does projects that pay tribute to some great singers and bands, tell me about your influences and how you approach covering such voices and bands like Free, Paul Rodgers, Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, Ian Gillan and others.

Jimmy Kunes: "I really believe you are a product of what you listen to at an early age. I was really lucky to have an elder brother (Bill) who had a killer collection. "A lot of the artists you mention above were and are influences, but that in turn makes you want to dig back to see who influenced THEM. It's a never ending journey. "In the past I put together a Deep Purple MKIII celebration and we are still doing our FREED LIVE!!! band as well. We play tomorrow night as a matter of fact. We have a blast playing our favorite styles of music so it's a kick for us."

What are you hearing these days that impresses you?

Jimmy Kunes: "Typically when I write, I try not to listen to too much current or newer stuff. Not enough time! And one doesn't want to be nicking lines from something you’ve heard that might get lodged in the old memory banks."When you were writing and recording the NWC album, what conversations were you having with your band and co-writers?

Jimmy Kunes: "By the time I got to work in these things, songs were fairly completely formed but arrangements were tweaked by myself and Josh to make them more "singable" and to flow as far as being able to tell the storyline and being able to come up with a clever turn of phrase or chorus. "The guitars were farmed out to Randy’s friends and ex-band mates Phil in Florida and Jesse in Portland. They added their parts and overdubbed on their end. Phil also made some trips up to Electric Randyland in Plandome, Long Island where we recorded the Cactus albums as well as my two solo records. Keyboards and piano were recorded by our man Scott “The Doctor” Treibitz who also played amazing Hammond, piano, mellotron and keys on my records.   "It all came together quite easily. So it would be Randy, Josh and I together in the control room while I was tracking and we would bounce ideas around.
 
 "A very fun album to do. They should all be this much fun!"

Speaking of fun, you’re been doing some shows with former Starz guitar slinger, the great Richie Ranno - is this all leading somewhere?

Jimmy Kunes: "Glad you asked this.  "I actually play tonight with Richie in New Jersey. We also have recorded a tune for an upcoming September release for a tribute album to The Godz, a 70’s Columbus, Ohio-based band. Again with the z ha! "That went so well we are putting in place ideas to do a proper record together. Richie is a great songwriter, musician, engineer, producer and we also work very quickly and very efficiently together. "Plus, he was in an ultra-cool band like Starz. I mean "Cherry Baby"! Come on!"
You’re getting ready to hit the road again with Cactus, and the band has been through some changes over the last year, tell me about what’s changed and how it all feels.

Jimmy Kunes: "Everything has changed but it has lead to some very exciting positivity as well."Jim (McCarty) decided he just cannot do the road anymore. It is a hard graft. Even for me. It's a physically demanding strain at times with all the travel involved. Bless him he plays constantly in Detroit in the blues scene there. Pete as well wanted to just concentrate on Vanilla Fudge as opposed to touring with two bands so he's doing that. I'll see him later at the gig with Richie so that'll be cool. "Paul Warren, another Detroit native and guitarist extraordinaire (Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Nite City) has stepped in and brought a real blast of '55 Stratocaster energy to the band. He lives in Nashville and we've already jammed together down there a couple of times. We share the same penchant for obtuse humor, the occasional glass wine or ale and of course the same musical tastes. Terrific guy and terrific player."We did a German tour in May (Black Dawn Over Europe ‘17) that ended up in Verviers, Belgium that was particularly outstanding. We saw a lot more of Germany this time around with s couple of days off to explore old cathedrals. And Castle Frankenstein! (Thanks Oli!) And Bier Gardens. Fantastic. "We also took Carmine's friend and ex-band mate Tony Franklin (Roy Harper, The Firm, Blue Murder) with us to Venezuela for two sold out shows this spring. Amazing gigs, amazing times. "James Caputo from Staten Island is with us on bass."

You’re heading off to Europe with Cactus, then what does the rest of the year hold for Jimmy Kunes fans?

Jimmy Kunes: "We've started work in the next NWC album already! I go in on Monday to start laying down some vocal tracks so I'm very excited about that.  "I'm also working with Freddy Villano (Quiet Riot, Dee Snider's Widowmaker) and Tom Jude (Doro Pesch) of American Mafia on some new tunes which is very exciting. We write killer songs together. I co-wrote 2 on the 1st A.M. album (Rock and Roll Hit Machine),  (Everytime  and Man On The Flying  Trapeze)."Always something new, fresh and exciting. Keeps the doldrums away!"


Black Country Communion back in action with new video & album!

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 12:51

My pals in Black Country Communion are beck in action with a smoking new video out today, and an album, IV, that will launch on Friday September 22nd!


I'm going to get out of the way, and let the music do the talking, but it's great to have the boys back in action!

Here is the press release:

Black Country Communion are pleased to announce two exclusive concerts in Europe during January 2018 to support the release of their new album “BCC IV”. The band will play Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Tuesday 2nd January and London Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday 4th January 2018.

These will be the only two concerts the band will play in the UK and Europe. Planet Rock will run a 48-hour ticket pre-sale from 9am on Wednesday 2nd August. Order your pre-sale tickets from www.planetrock.com.




Tickets will then go on sale to the general public from 0844 844 0444 and can be booked online from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.eventim.co.uk.

Black Country Communion the Anglo-American rock group comprising vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa, release their long awaited and highly anticipated fourth album, ‘BCCIV)’, via Mascot Records on Friday September 22nd 2017. This is the band’s first studio album since 2013’s ‘Afterglow’.

Just like its three predecessors, ‘BCCIV’ was overseen by Kevin Shirley, whose catalogue of hit records for Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Journey, The Black Crowes, has made him the hottest producer that rock music has to offer. Shirley, who originally had the idea of putting Hughes and Bonamassa in a band after seeing them jamming together onstage in Los Angeles back in November 2009 – is the group’s unofficial ‘fifth member’.

Black Country Communion is an earth-shattering combination of American and British rock influences—a bona fide super group that conveys to the world a simple but important message: classic rock is alive and well, and in good hands in the 21st century. Their communion together forms something that is greater than the sum of its parts, creating a legacy being cemented within the halls of music history.

The initiative for the new album came from Joe Bonamassa, who contacted the band in 2016 to see if they would be up for going back into the studio to write and record a fourth album.

Says Joe, “I just felt the time was right for Black Country Communion to go back into the studio and write and record a new album. When I contacted Glenn, Derek and Jason, they immediately agreed to give it shot. The timing was right.”

During October 2016, when news first broke about the band getting back together, things on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, started blowing up and fan reaction was overwhelming. It was clear to see that BCC fans were hungry for another album. BCC IV is destined to become one of the biggest hard rock albums of 2017.

Black Country Communion’s inception took place when front man and bass guitarist Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa fused their styles on stage in Los Angeles in November 2009 for an explosive performance at Guitar Center’s King of the Blues event. With the help and guidance of producer Kevin Shirley, they further added to their rock lineage by recruiting drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian.

Sidemen - Long Road To Glory coming to the big sceen in August!

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Mon, 07/31/2017 - 01:00

Earlier this year, you will remember that I played a role in helping Sidemen: Long Road To Glory run a very successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $200,000 to pay for the final rights and clearances, and to move the film into its next step, that of distribution and being brought into theaters around the country. 

Well, as many of you now know, Abramorama, the company that brought us The Beatles 'Eight Days A Week' in 2016 and the Grateful Dead documentary, 'Long Strange Trip' this year is now bringing Sidemen to big screens with its premiere happening on August 18 in New York (see listings below).

Sidemen: Long Road To Glory is an intimate look at the lives and legacies of three legendary bluesmen; piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen. The film captures some of the last interviews and final live performances, before their deaths in 2011. The historic live shows are accompanied by performances and personal insights from many of the blues and rock stars these legendary musicians inspired including; Bonnie Raitt, Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Tim Reynolds, Shemekia Copeland, Robby Krieger, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Perry, Joe Bonamassa and Johnny Winter.






Abramorama is the preeminent theatrical distributor of music films in the US today and recognized for the consistent high quality of its work on award winning feature films. An innovator in the focused, personalized form of film distribution and event cinema, Abramorama provides invaluable alternatives to filmmakers and content owners.  An industry leader in marketing and promotion, Abramorama continues to trail-blaze exciting new pathways for filmmakers to find their audience. Over the course of more than 15 years, Abramorama has successfully distributed and marketed hundreds of films, including Ron Howard’s Grammy award®-winning The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years; Amir Bar-Lev’s Long Strange Trip – The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead; Corbett Redford and Green Day’s Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk, John Scheinfeld’s Chasing Trane – The John Coltrane Documentary; Brett Bern’s BANG! The Bert Berns Story; Jill Campbell’s Mr. Chibbs; Tomer Heymann’s Mr. Gaga; Dawn Porter’s Trapped; Kim A. Snyder’s Newtown; Charles Ferguson’s Time To Choose; Asif Kapadia’s Senna; Neil Young’s Greendale; Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty; Sacha Gervasi’s Anvil! The Story Of Anvil; Banksy’s Academy Award®-nominated, Exit Through the Gift Shop; the surprise indie hit Awake: The Life of Yogananda; Laurie Anderson’s astonishing New York Times critics’ pick, Heart of a Dog, Showtime’s National Board of Review Winner Listen to Me Marlon and Draft House Releasing’s 2016 Documentary Academy Award®-Nominee and IDA Best Documentary Winner The Look of Silence. Abramorama is a founding partner of The Seventh Art Stand program, an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia, that ran in more than 50 theaters across the United States in May of 2017.



This historic documentary that lovingly looks at the lives, careers, and legacies of Pinetop, Hubert, and Willie is in my humble estimation one of the greatest movies ever made about the blues, and it will leave you remembering why we love the blues and perhaps a bit teary-eyed. It, as is the movie itself, a testament to perseverance. The movie and these men both saw things through to the end, and at the end of the road there is glory to be found.

Filmmaker Scott Rosenbaum (and in an effort to be transparent and with full disclosure, Scott is a dear friend) has done what many thought could not be done. He took an intended concert film that was meant to be an homage of sorts to The Last Waltz, and in the wake of his three subjects' deaths in rapid succession (all three died within eleven month in 2011), he turned the film full circle into a celebration of the legends' lives with tremendous contributions of so many of the rock and blues superstars who were influenced by their greatness. Future generations will owe him a tip of their hats, as do we.

It's with no small sense of satisfaction that I compel you to get out an enjoy this film. You can thank me later.





RGD's Tony Conley announces new book, Paul McCartney In The Beatles!

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Sun, 07/30/2017 - 15:37
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
JULY 17, 2017

PAUL McCARTNEY 
IN THE BEATLES

Good Mojo Press announces upcoming release 
and Indiegogo campaign featuring incredible artwork and more 


"Analyzing a Beatle is like trying to describe a season. It is, by definition, an attempt to describe a force of nature. If art is subjective then all that matters is taste. Mr. Conley's loving, penetrating book on Sir Paul is definitive. His understanding of Vaudeville Paul & Little Richard Paul embodies the ethos of an artist that recreated songwriting and performing for generations to come... A black bird singing in the dead of night, forever." - Michael Des Barres, host of Little Steven's Underground Garage | SiriusXM Radio

Tony Conley, music journalist and voice behind the long running Rock Guitar Daily, and publisher Good Mojo Press are pleased to announce their new release, Paul McCartney In The Beatles. The book takes a comprehensive look at the music and musicianship of Paul McCartney during his career with the Beatles. Paul McCartney In The Beatles is set for release in November, 2017.

What it's all about: 

Conley's inspiration for the book sparked nearly thirty years ago while living in Los Angeles. During that time, he met Denny Seiwell, ex-drummer for Wings, the first band McCartney put together after leaving the Beatles. "Denny told me some great stories of his time with McCartney and Wings, and he had a unique demeanor concerning the experience of working with Paul." said Conley, "He always came back to the music and musicianship. That has always stuck with me."

While a great many books have been written about McCartney and the Beatles, Conley paves a less traveled path, opting for an in-depth look into the musicianship and the music created by McCartney and the band instead of the well trodden road of biography.

"I think at the end of the day, this is an analysis of someone who does what he does creatively for all the right reasons, and in the right ways," Conley says, "My hope is that people will read the book, and become inspired to work as hard and as fearlessly for their own art."

To go along with the book, Good Mojo Press will be creating playlists for the major streaming sites that will serve as a musical guided tour to the book. It's the writer's hope that people will read the book and listen along as they read, as he believes this provides and creates the most enjoyable, comprehensive way to experience the book.

Good Mojo Press to launch a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo on July 24, 2017 featuring incredible art as perks:

The 30-day campaign features as perks some of the most stunning and original art ever created and committed to a crowdfunding effort. In addition to these one-of-a kind items, there will also be books, posters, t-shirts, and other goodies available. Some of the one-of-a-kind opportunities for collectors to own: 

  • Stephen Holland (official Artist of the Grammys) offers an original 28" x 42" painting entitled, McCartney In The Beatles.
  • Renowned sculptor Tony Natsoulas has created a series of ten original McCartney clay masks that have to be seen to be believed.
  • Five specially made museum quality lithographs (archival grade printing on a custom designed cloth) featuring the artwork of John Lennon.
  • The original prototype of the Ben Fargen built and designed John Lennon Artist Series Amplifier that features a print of Lennon's famous self-portrait and his signature - all officially sanctioned by Yoko Ono/Bag One Arts.  

Paul McCartney In The Beatles will be available through Amazon, select retailers, and the Good Mojo Press website, and also as an e-Book.

About Tony Conley:

Tony Conley is the voice behind the long running Rock Guitar Daily (35,000 monthly readers) and a contributing editor and writer at many online publications. Conley makes regular appearances on several classic rock radio stations around the country as a rock music expert and industry insider. A lifelong music business professional, he has worked in management for Guitar Center for many years, and has played with and worked for such acts as Iggy Pop, Bobby Womack, Guided By Voices, and many others.

Advance praise for Paul McCartney In The Beatles:

"Tony Conley takes us beyond the pop star mythology to the core of the artist. The innovative and game changing genius bassist, pianist, guitarist, drummer, songwriter and singer. Behind the boyish grin, the "cute Beatle" was and is still nothing less than one of the greatest hands-on musicians of the last few centuries." - Johnny Hickman, Cracker

"Analyzing a Beatle is like trying to describe a season. It is, by definition, an attempt to describe a force of nature. If art is subjective then all that matters is taste. Mr. Conley's loving, penetrating book on Sir Paul is definitive. His understanding of Vaudeville Paul & Little Richard Paul embodies the ethos of an artist that recreated songwriting and performing for generations to come... A black bird singing in the dead of night, forever." - Michael Des Barres, host of Little Steven's Underground Garage | SiriusXM Radio

For interview opportunities and press, please contact:

Tony Conley
(937) 441-4502
maccabook@outlook.com

Sonny Landreth - Recorded Live in Lafayette - Electrifying Acoustic Beauty

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:05

Recorded Live in Lafayette is Sonny Landreth's first official live release in ten years, and the two CD set is made even more special by being a largely acoustic set, an acoustic set that is also very exciting. In fact, it's electrifying.

I would imagine that most Landreth fans are like myself, and have never had the opportunity to see the acoustic side of Sonny's musical mastery. Everyone knows that it's harder to keep the energy up on an acoustic gig, but it turns out that the true excitement to be found in the Louisiana native's music is in his total sense of commitment to his material.

It's all in the details: his rhythm guitar playing never takes time off, the precision and soulful nature of his rhythms keep you moving in a wonderful way, a way in which it does its job without being showy, but masterful nonetheless; when the accordion comes in for a solo on the set opening "Blues Attack" the band locks into a sophisticated syncopation that allows the solo to fly. Then it's time for Sam Broussard (yes, the same Sam Broussard who along with Sonny created the strings and soundscapes that made Landreth's instrumental album of 2012, Elemental Journey such an incredible record) to take a solo on acoustic guitar, and you instantly see why he's sharing a stage with on of the greatest living guitarists. Now it's time for Landreth to solo, and his pristine playing exhibits why he's one of the most unique and talented guitarists on the planet.


Speaking of the band, you have longtime Landreth collaborator Dave Ranson on the ukulele bass, Brian Brignac and his cajon (the box-shaped percussion instrument from Peru which has become a standard for acoustic performances), Steve Conn on the accordion, and of course, their leader Landreth. There is no question but that it's Landreth's show, but he gives ample room for everyone to display their skills and wares. These fellows move through a career covering set not just playing like their lives depended on it, but also like they are truly listening to each other. Very complex rhythms come across sounding very natural, relaxed, but also very intense.

"Back To Bayou Teche" is a Landreth setlist standard, and this full band, electric rendition is made special by the accordion and the second guitar. Then you have "Brave New Girl" which gets a relatively stripped down treatment from the string and keyboard laden studio version (Elemental Journey album), and it does not suffer from the absence of a more dense arrangement. It is, in fact, elemental and gets down to the basics of the gorgeous composition and the exquisite guitar playing. Mind you, again, the entire band is brilliant, and there are great lessons in what every member is playing.


The production on this set is stunning. Every detail is crystal clear, the tones are sumptuous and corpulent, and the mix is one that would be difficult to improve upon, and that's well worth noting in these days where it is more common to find live releases being tossed out like t-shirts at the merch booth (and with about as much care). No, this sounds like there was much thought to such things as microphone placement, tone tweaking, and once again, some very careful listening and attention to detail.

I'll wrap things up by talking about the reason we're all here, and that is the music, the songs. This is a great career spanning set, ranging from Sonny's 1981 debut album right up to 2015's "Bound By The Blues". If by some crime you've never been on the Sonny Landreth train, this is a great way to climb aboard. The songs have aged beautifully, the playing has only gotten better, and Sonny Landreth and his ace band could not be more on point.

In a time in which we are so often disappointed by the quantity and quality of the goods we're seeing, it's great to know that there are guys like Sonny Landreth, who is doing his absolute best at every turn. He's surrounded himself with excellent collaborators and bandmates, and that it's all being captured and presented in a way which is not just satisfying, but also very exciting.

Find Live In Lafayette here.
https://usa.mascotlabelgroup.com/sonny-landreth/


Masses of new Content for Eight String guitar!

Rob Silver's Free Resources for Guitar - Tue, 05/02/2017 - 06:34

Before you scroll down for the free stuff, please click  one of the links below and check out all my content for Eight String on Amazon!

I now have five volumes of Basic Scale Guides for eight String Guitar available in print of Kindle formats. There's a lot more content available now on amazon including Harmonic and Melodic Minor and their modes, Diminished, wholetone and Augmented and Blues and Pentatonic scales, all arranged to take full advantage of the range of the eight string guitar.



CLICK THE LINK BELOW AND HELP SUPPORT THE BLOG!


VOLUME 1- MODES.
All modes mapped out in all positions. As 3 and 4 NPS shapes and as various extended range patterns.


VOLUME 2- HARMONIC MINOR AND ITS MODES.
All modes mapped out in all positions. As 3 and 4 NPS shapes and as various extended range patterns.


VOLUME 3- MELODIC MINOR AND ITS MODES.
All modes mapped out in all postitons. As 3 and 4 nps and as various extended range patterns.


VOLUME 4- SYMMETRICAL AND OTHER SCALES.
ALL the weird and wonderful sounds you could hope for. Diminished, Wholetone, Augmented and so much more.


VOLUME 5- PENTATONIC AND BLUES SCALES.
INSANE MULTI-OCTAVE Pentatonic and Blues scales as well as traditional 2 NPS patterns.

RENEGADES – 84-16 (MCD 5tr)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:33

Some bands really take their time to record. When it comes to Renegades, these songs were written back in 1985 and recorded in 2016. 29 years! Must be a record. To be honest, listening to the music, I barely notice the difference. Another proof it all moves in circles. Timesless music, indeed! Sure, lyrics like Meet Us Backstage oozes of juvenile innocence (or Steel Panther influences). The song itself sounds quite Mötley Crüe influenced. It actually sounds really good! Singer/guitarist Valentin Pecovnik was previously in the band Joke and has also been part of the internet project band Hellvalla Burn. Queen Of Pain is another nice slice of glammy 80s style melodic metal that should attract fans of bands like Poison, Crüe and Steel Panther. The band features, besides Valentin, lead guitarist Mikael Ahlqvist, bassist Per Runfors and drummer Richard Svensson. Really good, crispy, still tight production, too! Good stuff, indeed!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2016
Label: private

ETERNAL FEAR – Killing Time (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:30

Swedish metallurgists Eternal Fear presents their fifth release, this time mixed by Blaze Bailey guitarist Steve Ray, and I do think this is the band’s best product when it comes to the production. The band mixes influences from classic heavy metal with touches of both Manowar, Metallica, Maiden and even some Falconer. It’s heavy and crushing, but Ove Johnsson’s vocals are neither your traditional high pitch power metal style, nor the Metallica style grunting. He’s somewhere in-between, melodic enough to attract the power metal fans and rough enough to attract the metal fans. Musically it’s sort of the same thing. Heavy enough, yet melodic enough. Songs like Black Country even verges on thrash but the vocals keep it on the metal side of the border. Killing Time takes it to Trouble territory, almost a bit doomy, while Halls Of Odin screams folk metal, a bit like Falconermeets Sabaton but with good vocals. A good piece of Swedish steel that should attract fans of… well… metal!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Country: Sweden

Label: private

EDDY MALM BAND – Northern Lights (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:29

I heard the Eddy Malm Band demo several years ago and liked it so much I wanted to include a demo track on the compilation for my latest encyclopedia. According to the liner notes on the CD this track was what made No Remorse pick up the band, which makes me happy and proud! So, yes, I am happy the album is finally out! It’s funny, I was expecting Heavy Load, but what I hear is more of Eddy’s band prior to Heavy LoadHighbrow, and that makes me even more happy. To be honest, I was a bigger fan of Highbrow than of Heavy Load. It’s not really raw, raunchy and brutal, but quite clean and melodic, and I really like that! I’ve also always been a fan of guitarist Per Hesselrud’s guitar playing, even though it has mostly been displayed in his quirky bands Bosse and IFK Doom (a hilarious band where they do Sabbath songs in Swedish). The rhythm section featuring drummer Mike Kerslow and bass player Tomas Malmfors is tight as a rat’s ass. I Had Enough is a straight ahead classic rocker, closer to AC/DC than Heavy Load, while Turn It Down sounds like it was written for Highbrow. Nasty Woman slides in closer to the classic NWoBHM era. Heavy Load fans will most likely recognize track #6 – a new rendition of Dark Nights from the Heavy Load Metal ConquestMLP. It always tough to record a new version of an old and well-known track, but I like the heavier punch to the new version (and, did I mention I like Per’s guitar playing?). The boogie-oriented Get Out Of Here again takes us back to the NWoBHM era and bands like Saxon, Maiden, Chevy and Dedringer. Danger is a cool stomper where Eddy shows he hasn’t lost his vocal power from the 80s. Next is yet another re-make, this time the A-side of the first Highbrow single from 1978, A Loser. A really great version, actually, except for the weird clicking sound (echo??) in the chorus, which I don’t really get. The album finished with the heavy rocking title track. A really good album indeed!
Janne Stark
Label: No Remorse
Year: 2016

Country: Sweden

BONAFIDE – Flames (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:26

Sweden’s rock n roll machine #1 is at it again! They are definitely one of the best live bands in Sweden, no doubt. The energy, power and joy is only surpassed by Aussies Airborne (Well, f**k they surpass EVERYONE!!). The band’s new album, Flamescontinues in the old tradition with the, not surprising, lovely shameless vintage AC/DC flirts, such as Smoke And Fire and Bottle Of Jack. But, there’s way more to the album than that. Take a track like Power Down, which shows a new side of Bonafide, with a nice blues-quirky side with nice little twists and turns. Absolutely love that track. Pontus Snibb is not only a first-class singer, he also treats his six string with love and emotion, which definitely shows in his geetar majik in this track. The lack of brutal metal distortion is compensated with nice punchy bass guitar, a proof that heaviness ain’t just about the amount of distortion, but about the entire package and what the joint string forces create together. A power pack! Another cool surprise is the soul oriented influences in tracks like Written In Stone, which made me think of The Black Crowes and some vintage Skynyrd, also in the cool harmony guitar part. Keep A Safe Distance is another cool stomper which I think will go down well live! It’s only rock and roll, but I like it, yepp, I do!
Janne Stark
Label: Off Yer Rocka
Year: 2017

Country: Sweden

SKULL PARADE – Skullparade (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:24



Swedish hard rockers Skull Parade (featuring former Treasure Land bassist Magnus Lind) released their debut in 2014, a pretty good debut indeed. The follow-up opens with a kick ass quirky hard rocker entitled Nightmare, which makes me think of both Dizzy Mizz Lizzy and TNT in their “Transistor” era. Nice melodies and cool guitar playing. Drained continues in the quirky vein with some really cool and odd chord changes. If you’re into bands like Galactic Cowboys and Matches For Maggie (sure, you wouldn’t know about them, would you?), these first two tracks should be right up your alley! Beyond Protection almost draws a bit on thrash or US power metal. Not a huge fan of the vocals in this one. The oddly entitled Lost Ball In High Weeds starts out with acoustic guitar and vocals, but soon turns into some strange doom type song with a touch of Metallica in the verse, while the chorus is almost a bit grungy. Interesting. Fair Weather Friendthrows the ball in a totally different direction, fast but still quite proggy and with singer Erik Anell not trying to smooth things out. He’s a good singer, but he sometimes gets a bit too rough around the edges for my taste. Acid Rain starts out as an acoustic ballad and turns into a slick poppy thing, quite different from the previous songs. Train To Nowhere takes us back to the quirky, funny hard rock that started the album, and it’s definitely where the band catches my main attention. Awaken The Masses is another tracks that’s a bit hard to define. Great, quirky guitar playing, cool riffing, but the vocals is the letdown for me, I’m afraid. This 9-tracker finishes with Ballad Of Cloaks, a theatrical, doomy, semi-ballad. Actually not bad at all! Except for the f***ing saxophones… So, my general impression: a bit scattered, but it still comes together in a way, some great songs and some that didn’t attract me that much, great musicians, cool guitar solos, but the vocals are the weak link for me. Works great in some songs, but feels a bit too raw and untamed in others. Well worth checking out!
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Country: Sweden

Label: Rexius Records

NEW CONTENT FOR SEVEN STRING

Rob Silver's Free Resources for Guitar - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 08:05
It's been a while since I have had a chance to get any more cotent online, but there is a lot of new material coming.

"The Harmonic Minor Scale and its Modes for Seven String Guitar." has just hit Amazon in print and kindle formats.

This is the second volume of, "Basic Scale Guides for Seven String Guitar."

It's rammed full of 3 and 4 note per string options so you can fly around the neck.

There will be a lot more to follow as well as matching volumes for eight string guitar.

There are a couple of free sample pages below, but please click the links and check out the content on amazon

"The Harmonic Minor Scale and its Modes for Seven String Guitar." amazon.com

"The Harmonic Minor Scale and its Modes for Seven String Guitar." amazon.co.uk

or just search for title on amazon in your country:

"The Harmonic Minor Scale and its Modes for Seven String Guitar.











Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A - An Instant Classic

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 05:04

This is without a doubt my favorite Schenker outing in decades. Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A is going to be very tough to beat as the best live DVD in 2017. It's early in the year, but this is what you call an instant classic, and for all the right reasons.

Michael Schenker has been building on his legend for years now, having left behind the days of a tougher struggle, and now he has finally to my mind once again surrounded himself with a stage full of musicians who are truly up to his game. He's never had a bad band, but that's not the point by a longshot, the point is that this band better suits his songs, his playing, and his temprament at this stage of his life. He plays the gig of a lifetime here, a performance as strong as any he has ever put on, but the beauty is that there is an amazing amount of proper attention to be paid to the whole band, and the whole experience.

The Michael Schenker Fest is a great idea that finds Schenker reunited with the three lead singers who loom largest in his solo history. Gary Barden is from the first iteration of the Michael Schenker Group, and here he seems to be experiencing a return to form that we've been waiting on for many years. He's eased into a lower toned vocal approach, and his husky phrasing and easy stage presence are just as effective as his halcyon era with the band in the early '80s. Next in line is Graham Bonnet, a man who left an indelible mark on Schenker fans with just one album, Assault Attack, in 1982, a record that is still the favorite of many a Schenker fanatic. We waited over three decades to see Graham and Michael smiling at one another onstage, and it was worth the wait. Rounding out the lineup of singers is McAuley/Schenker Group frontman Robin McAuley, who brings his unique set of melodies and still blazing vocal chops to the proceedings, giving the audience yet another flavor of the Schenker legacy.




Then there is the thrill of hearing all three singers combining their efforts in varying degrees to celebrate Michael's time with the great UFO. It's so good to once again hear singers sing this material with the obvious love and commitment these great songs deserve. McAuley handles the heavy lifting on "Shoot Shoot", and "Rock Bottom" (which has never sounded better musically to my ears), and he's joined by Barden and Bonnet for a fun filled run at "Doctor Doctor". These guys are not just having great fun, and doing a great job, they are egolessly presenting a celebration of the music of Michael Schenker to their respective fans. The smiles the musicians exchange throughout the program are alone worth the price of admission.

Now I must talk about the band, this band. I'll start where it all begins and that is with Michael Schenker. Michael has written as many classic riffs as any of the greatest guitarists of the last fifty years, his solos are such that they are known to his fans as well as the riffs and choruses of the tunes, and his command of technique combined with an emotional sense of composition has made him such a legend that it has truly been a daunting task to keep up with his high water marks. However, here he manages to take the legend to the next level - he's playing explosively, he's having a great time onstage, and the visceral excitement he displays while flexing his musical muscles with this band is a sight to behold. A thing of beauty and majesty.


Great rhythm sections make bands great. Of this there can be no denying, and over the years Michael Schenker has played with some remarkable teams, but to my ears the team of bassist Chris Glen and drummer Ted McKenna are as good as any, and I will say that they are my personal favorite. I've been intensely following the music of Michael Schenker since 1975, even to the point of getting myself hired as a guitar tech for the McAuley/Schenker Group for an all too brief period. I know the music, the lineups, the individual players, and I'm a good enough musician in my own right that I can say, this is an area where I am an expert. I could write you book on the topic. Chris Glen and Ted McKenna have been playing together since 1972, and it sounds like it. Glen is a marvelously melodic bass player, and his adventuous flights of fancy are a wonder to behold, and his tone is perfect. Maybe the best in all of hard rock for his era, certainly my favorite. McKenna is a master of knowing when to steadily rock the rhythm and when to turn the beat on its ear as Schenker lays down is very unique rhythm chops. Schenker's best rhythm section since they were last Schenker's rhythm section.

The band's secret weapon can be found at stage right - Steve Mann plays the classic utility role of guitarist/keyboardist/background vocalist that was inaugurated in the very early days of UFO, and he fills the role as well as anyone, up to and including the fabulous Paul Raymond. Where Raymond brought more of a Ian McLagen/Faces vibe to the proceedings, Mann is a bit more of a smoking hot lead player who can execute some nice harmonies with Michael, and his keyboard playing is more synth based and vibey, though he certainly nails the legendary parts necessary to make "Doctor Doctor" and "the solo sections of "Rock Bottom" as effective as they need to be. Mann is a fantastic foil for Michael Schenker, and I hope they continue to work together moving forward.


The DVD is very well shot and directed. You see the fun, the energy, and when someone should be in the frame, they are, and that's a huge key to any concert document. It looks fantastic, and the sound is superb. Whatever efforts that were put into this project in post-production is well worth the efforts. This is one for the ages. I just hope I've managed to express how much I love this package. It does exactly what I wanted it to do - it returned me to every era of Michael Schenker music, and all the great musicians of those eras and bands that I have revered for so long, and isn't that what rock is supposed to do? Plus, it makes me look forward to new music and what could lie ahead. It makes you feel great, it makes you feel alive, and it makes you want to keep rocking.      


My First Band: Anacrusis 1977

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Thu, 02/23/2017 - 01:16


I remember the beginning of Anacrusis much better than the end. I had been hanging out learning to play guitar for a couple of years with a fellow by the name of Wendell Napier. Wendell could player guitar like nobody I had ever met, and to this day I've not played with many musicians who were more natural than he. We had gotten pretty good at playing together, so we decided to form a band and do a show. All in the same week.

We were picking talent from the neighborhood in which we had went to high school, a little part of Dayton, Ohio known as Northridge. We easily figured Mitch Mitchell as our bassist, as he was the only bassist we knew. He had been playing in school variety shows, and local outfits for some time. As for a drummer, we elected Bruce "Smitty" Smith, an unlikely choice given to the fact that Bruce was a probably the least likely candidate we could imagine. Bruce Smith had an intellect, an appetite for learning that was as big as the great outdoors, stood well over six feet, and must have weighed a good deal over two hundred pounds. A large, gentle, intelligent man-child whose tastes for music we imagined must run towards jazz and classical. His glasses stated that this just must be the case. This turned out to be an inspired call, for Bruce could play the drums fantastically. I'm anxious to hear his recollection of how exactly he came to join this motley crew, as I simply don't recall the conversation or the circumstance, but it must have been a doozy.

Last, but most certainly not least we chose a fellow several years our senior to be our vocalist and frontman. Bob Pollard may have been best known as a legendary high school and college athlete (he threw the first no-hitter ever for Wright State University's baseball team), but I knew him as the absolute biggest rock 'n' roll junky in my world. He was a friend of my brother's, and I owe just about everything I know and love about rock to those two. They introduced me to everything that mattered, and I followed in their footsteps as a record collector, novice guitar player, and wanna be rock star. Bob knew, and he had a secret that maybe not many beyond me knew. He could sing, and he wanted to be a star.

I believe we first called Bob on a Monday evening. We told him we were forming a band, he was going to be our singer, and that we had a show on Friday night. He thought we were nuts. Here's the story in his words:

"Tony Conley and Wendell Napier called me on Monday night and said, "Do you want to be in our band? We have a show on Friday night." So, I go, "No, there's no way, that's impossible." They called me again the next day and said, "So, do you want to do it or not?" I said, "Okay, man, you must have something if you're going to be that persistent." I practiced on Tuesday night with Mitch and one of the guitar players. On Wednesday night I practiced with the other guitar player, Tony Conley, and our drummer, Bruce Smith. On Thursday we had a full band rehearsal and because everybody knew their shit, we had like twenty-five songs. We had them down in one practice. We played the show on Friday, and there had to be three or four hundred people there. We did all covers, we did UFO, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, and kicked ass. I've never been so excited about a show in my life. It's been all downhill from there, haha!" ~ Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll, James Greer.

Since then, Bob has never said another good word about Anacrusis. I suppose he has his reasons, it's all cool. 

To the best of my recollection, this was in the spring or early summer of 1977. The venue was Brookwood Hall, a dilapidated union hall that sat in a corn field next to nothing, and later became the scene of some of the most celebrated punk rock shows in history. But, that's another story.

We then went on to play a short residency (probably a few weekends) at a local dive called The Domino club, ran by a bearded biker by the name of Gibby Davis. These shows were the things of legend. We were loud, extremely energetic (there was no shoe gazing, that would get a beer bottle bounced off your head), and also, in short order we had even managed to work some original material into the set, something that was extremely taboo at that time. The beautiful thing is that the tunes were good enough that people thought they were just songs they didn't know yet. In fact, I believe we even once played a whole set of our perhaps ten originals (Sonny The Monster, Daddy's In The State Pen, Self Inflicted (Ariel Nostalgia), Fame and Fortune, Status Symbol, Somewhere  Sometime, and a few others whose titles are perhaps lost to my memory).

I believe our greatest night at The Domino Club was the evening that we hosted the class graduation for the Northridge High School class of 1978. Yes, they held their graduation party in a bar. Welcome to Dayton, Ohio, 1978. There were probably close to a hundred under aged kids in a bar, getting their rock 'n' roll on. Did I mention we had flash pots? Yes, we even blew up Bart Hanselman pretty good when he went up close to investigate why one pot wasn't going off when it should. My first wife was an officer of that year's class, and a cheerleader to boot. We corrupted those kids as best we could. Mind you, we played completely sober, no drugs, and no groupies. We were playing music, did we really need anything else?

We did some other shows around town, perhaps the funniest being a new years eve show in someone's basement, who had no idea what they were getting themselves in for, and we wrecked the joint and basically had a paid rehearsal as the guests stayed upstairs cowering in fear. Not that we were dangerous, just awfully loud. Then, there was another gig that we played at an apartment complex swimming pool where the cops showed up, and I swear to God we went into Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" as soon as they showed up.

This all transpired in less than a year, and what transpired to end it, I've never really been certain. I've heard Bob Pollard says that he was thrown out when he wouldn't allow Wendell to fire Mitch. I know that Wendell had issues with Mitch's playing, but as much as I wish I had a clear memory of this, I just don't know. 

Whatever the causes the band had come to its end, and it may have just died of our lack of knowledge concerning what to do next, and how to do it. Hard to say, but I will say that I've mourned its death for all the years since, as it was a joyful experience that I've never near replicated.

Not too terribly long after that, I received a call from Bob Pollard, he had a manilla folder of lyrics, and a handful of original tunes. We got together in drummer Kevin Fennell's basement with Mitch Mitchell on the bass, and we put together a dozen original tunes under the name of Guided By Voices. However, to this day Bob has never mentioned this, though it was the first iteration of what became his legend. This was in 1980 or 1981.

Many years later, in 2005, Bob and I briefly reconvened our musical partnership as I served as lead guitarist and musical director for a project that released on the record, Lightning Head To Coffee Pot, under the name of The Moping Swans.

I wish I could do it all over again tomorrow, it was truly one of the greatest pleasures of my life, though I'm sure I was too young, and unknowing to have known that then.






  

          





 














Then on the Dixie Strip where Bobby (Robert Pollard) got his start in music with a band called Anacrusis that was great for a bunch of young kids at a place next to where Flamingo's is at now that was so small,but those kids rocked that place and packed it way past what capacity was.

Reverb.com Proposal

Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 22:25


Reverb.com

Reverb.com has grown in just a few years into a major player in the retail musical instrument business. Not just a retailer, not just a tech company, but its competition is clearly more traditional brick and mortar stores, and one large online store (Sweetwater Sound). However, its main difference is that it operates as more of a mall than an independent outlet with many stores under its umbrella. It is, for all purposes, an online mall.

It sits just behind Sam Ash ($385M sales in 2015), Sweetwater ($433M sales in 2015), and Guitar Center ($2.1 B sales in 2015). It differs from these companies in both its business model, and in the fact that they are a rapidly growing concern, whereby the others are more or less established and either relatively stable in their numbers (Sweetwater) or struggling (Guitar Center under its incredible debt load).

I realize I'm not telling you anything you most likely don't know. I'm just putting this up to show you where I am going in my thinking.

To this point Reverb.com is golden - it has performed amazingly well, and is seen by its base as a great and reliable resource. Everything you provide is top flight, and it's very difficult to find any faults.

The question that comes to my mind is what could be the next step to grow the business, the market, and to win customers from these other established entities. How to leap-frog over Sam Ash and Sweetwater, and start the charge on Guitar Center.

Probably the best way to make this leap to greater awareness, more customers, more sales, and a brighter future may be accomplished by enlarging and extending the concept of the content generation already in place. Content marketing that will envision more of a lifestyle branding, and a nurturing of an audience who may not realize who you are or what you do. A way to introduce the online model to a lot of people who are squarely in the demographic, but still uncomfortable with this medium.

I'm not talking about any new invention here, just going through the best of what's come before, and developing a better way of delivering on the promise. 

What I have to offer is a team that is well proven in content generation that can augment what you already have in place to tremendously enlarge your outreach (which is already wonderful). Whether this would be an internal addition to the company or exist as a contracted entity is a question, but I prefer the control offered by being internal, plus you have the added bonuses of manageability and accountability.

What I'm really talking about here is adding theaters to your mall. Your existing audio-visual content is already the best in the world, and this is just moving that concept forward in the time-tested method of the mall movie theater. A way to drive customers to your mall - they come for the movie, but they end up shopping at the stores and eating in the food court.

Also, I feel that it is important to be able to do this in a way that doesn't eat up money - co-oping and sponsorship dollars can be utilized to defray many of the production costs involved to make costs manageable, and the venture profitable. Advertising and marketing that carries its own weight.

I have three offerings along the path of content marketing that I think will play very well in the market. The first two are intended to be cable TV productions:

Reverb.com Presents: An Evening With...

This is a concept I developed a while back when we were working with Joe Satriani and his manager Mick Brigden that was entitled G3-TV, a guitar-centric venture that finally gave way when Joe realized he didn't want to be in front of cameras. This particular part of the project never left my desk.

An Evening With... is a one hour show that is split between live performance and a moderated interview (think a combination of Austin City Limits and The Actor's Studio). The difference in this show being that it is done as a live event in the same theater every two weeks, and before an audience that has bought tickets. The advantages are obviously having the same physical setup and crew at every taping, and the ease of production provided by that. We would actually put on a two and a half hour show, editable down to one hour.

In addition to the content of the show itself, this also allows for massive content generation for the back side and the Reverb.com site for gear pieces, and augmented artist interviews. We could easily co-op this stuff with gear manufacturers, and retailers as well.

Reverberations By Reverb.com

Reverberations is a series that presents regular mini-documentaries (30 minutes). This show would be more conceptual than a performance based show, or a talk show format. It will encompass a multitude of real life musical tales that let viewers see what they rarely get a chance to see. Whether it's on the road for a band's first tour, its last tour, newest record, or a look at an artists career, this is the first regularly series of real life musical documentaries, that is not unlike a new Muscle Shoals or Sidemen: Long Road To Glory coming out every few weeks. A week to shoot, a week to produce.

Content marketing in this way will allow Reverb.com to attach itself to the programming without the programming ever becoming a commercial for Reverb.com, but at the same time will provide the opportunity for massive ancillary content generation for the core business as a byproduct.

Reverb Records

Reverb Records would be a boutique record company that could fill in the blanks being left in the classic rock/classic blues rock/country fields in the American market at the moment. Projects that can be created easily, managed, and recorded with reasonable budgets that can actually be profitable, and that would further cement the worldview of Reverb.com being a home for all things music. This one is the longest shot, but if done correctly could be a real sleeper. One such project that I helped put together that would be a fit was last year's Supersonic Blues Machine's first record that featured a core band of Fabrizio Grossi, Lance Lopez, and Kenny Aronoff, who were augmented by guests such as Billy Gibbons, Eric Gales, Warren Haynes, Robben Ford, and Walter Trout. This project was done for Mascot Records, and the band has been headlining blues festivals and corporate events around the world.

Well, by now I'm certain that you may well think me insane, but the truth of the matter is that these are all things that have been developed by myself and my team over the last few years, and we can not only make them happen, but we can make them happen in a way that grows a business without being a financial albatross. 

Much of this centers on the skills and vision of myself and my partners, writer/director/producer Scott Rosenbaum, and our business development specialist and fundraiser guru Breck Philip. Together we are poised to enter into further discussions and see where all or any of this could lead.

   

















         

Blindstone - The Seventh Cycle of Eternity (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:17

Danish power trio Blindstone continue their relentless journey in the sign of the mighty riff on this their seventh musical journey. This time around the band has gone through a change in personnel, introducing drummer Sigurd Jønk Jensen, replacing Anders Hvidfeldt. Anders did an outstanding job, but it feels Sigurd is switching the Blindstone drum department up yet another notch. He actually gets to show his skills already in the thundering opening track Dead Man's Blues, a heavy blues rocker, true to the Blindstone trademark. Guitarist/singer Martin J Andersen lets his guitar speak loudly all over the track, riffing, soloing and filling every crack and crevice with a tasteful bit of wah-ornamented guitar magic. Rolling switches into low gear and offers some crude and fat bass riffing from Jesper Bunk. Man, this is one steamroller of a track! Rebel In Black offers some nice dynamics with a cool verse and slow pace riffing. The backbeat bluesy On My Way offers a change in pace and sound with some (I presume) neck pick-up Strat riffing. One thing I actually do feel has changed a bit, is I don't (so far) hear as much Frank Marino influences, apart from Martin's similar vocal range and style. Ok, Looking Back, a beautiful ballad, does have a touch of Marino mixed with Trower, which is top notch in my book. Martin also stays away from the wah in this one and the solos are just out of this world in tone, clarity, feel, presence and tastefulness. Frickin' outstanding! The oddly title By The Suns Of Warvan, You Shall Be Avenged is a cool heavy riff-oriented instrumental with a strong feel of early Satriani. Wish Satch, whom I'm truly a huge fan of, would record a song like this today. Multi-facetted, melodic and un-shredding, still with truly impressive guitar work. Thunder From The North continues with some heavy guitar chugging and a surprisingly hooky and melodic pre-chorus. A great track, indeed! A Love Manifesto continues in the vein of its predecessor, but still with a totally different approach. Heavy, break-filled verse leaving lots of space for highly personal Martin's low-key vocals that fit so well with this type of music. It also offers another dose of killer solos. Stonesnake opens with some busy drumming and continues in a up-tempo boogie:ish vein, suddenly switching down to half speed in the verse. Killer track! Once again the band moves into the grinding, steamroller heavy-as-lead territory with Once You See The Signs. A crusher! Another cool surprise now comes in the form of Hendrix penned Power of Soul, a heavy blues rocker that has been given the proper Blindstone treatment. All in all, yet another top notch release from the Danes. Seven albums and not a single let-down. Impressive!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard
Year: 2016

Country: Denmark

Brett Ellis -The Warriors Before Me (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:15

This time ace guitarist Brett Ellis visits a bunch of tracks penned by others, a tribute album if you will. He starts off with the obvious choice of one James Marshall Hendrix and Ezy Rider. A highly flammable version with some explosive and impressive guitar work. Moving on to usual suspect #2: Robin Trower and yet another killer interpretation of Twice Removed From Yesterday. For me, personally, Brett's vocals have been the weak link, but damn, the cat has really improved. Killer vocals, indeed! Tryin' Anyway by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush also gets the proper Ellis treatment. Stellar guitar work with the unmistakable Marino wah-vibe nicely in place. Love the jazzy piece in the middle! Next up, maybe not that obvious, but an outstanding sadly overlooked track by Uli era Scorpions, Living And Dying, sung by Rick Reed with Allison Smith handling the harmonies. Wow, Brett does hand us some outstanding un-obvious classics, clearly proven by his stellar version of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow's Self Portrait. Damn good job, I must say. Lovely guitar work and killer vocals (Graham Heath handles the harmony vocals on this one)! I always love me some funky Pat Travers, obviously Brett and I share a similar taste. It clearly shows in his explosive interpretation of Go All Night. Not that obvious, but it is also on my list of "awesome timeless classics"; Black Sabbath's Supernaut, here given a new dimension by killer female singer Allison Smith. Next up, a highly unexpected track! Outta Love Again by Van Halen! Didn't see that one coming! Any good? You betcha ass! Better drum sound than the original and Brett puts his own twist on the guitar solos, which I like! Oh yeah!! The next track I used to fiddle around with myself, trying to learn the intro solo, which Brett has done a great job with. He's also given the track the proper heaviness it deserves. Which track it is? Bad News, originally recorded by G-Force, the short lived side project of Gary Moore featuring ex-Truk/Captain Beyond, now ZoomLenz singer Willy Daffern. Graham Heath, who handles the lead vocals on this one, sure has a strong touch of Daffern. Elis also gives proper treatment to tracks by UFO, Johnny Winter, Foghat, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but before finishing off I have to mention the brick heavy outstanding version of ZZ Top's Neighbour Neighbour. Damn, it ROCKS big time!
Janne Stark
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2016

Country: USA

Dellacoma - South of Everything ( CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:12

Australia has a way of delivering high quality bands one after another: Electric Mary, Tonk, Airbourne, Tracer, Toehider etc etc. Add Dellacoma to the list. This bunch I'd add to the same category as fellows Tonk and Electric Mary. Good time, melodic, energetic and edgy hard rock with great riffs and ballsy vocals. The album kicks off with the highly infectious Moving On To Something New which actually made me think of early Enuff Z'nuff. Walk The Plank continues in a similar almost early Crüe oriented vein, while Lessons Learned offers some chunky Aerosmith:ish funky riffing. The album is however not all party party party, which shows in heavy, almost doomy Time Falls Away. Change kicks off a bit reminiscent of Buckcherry, but actually better in my opinion. Good time rock n roll! Fjh (Get Me Out) continues in the same vein while Fameslavesgoldoffers some nice southern rock oriented riffing gone AC/DC. Killer track! A really good debut album indeed. Not at par with Electric Mary (not many are in my book) but clearly placing themselves in the upper mid-region.  The opening track promises a lot, but is never really challenged when it comes to hooks and catchiness. Interesting to see what the follow-up may offer.
Janne Stark
Country: Australia
Year: 2016

Label: private

Freerock Saints - Blue Pearl Union (CD)

Stark Music Reviews - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 08:10

Now here's a new exciting offering from Greece! Bluesy hard rockers Freerock Saints, fronted by female Areti Valanopoulou. A vocal power pack with a smooth side to it. Flanked by Super Vintage guitarist Stavros Papadopoulos the two serves a platter of outstanding 70s oriented hard rock with a bluesy touch and some Zeppelin tricks for good measures. Tracks like Roll With The Wind offer the classic take-a-break-while-I-sing verse. It's not only how well you fill that gap, but also how you follow it up that matters. The duo checks both approved boxes. Areti delivers some great whiskey tinged Plant-like vocals and Stavros then kicks in with riff magic a la carte. I mean, he's already showed in his other band that riffing is his business, and he does it like pro. Shot Down In Flames takes us to Bad Company territory, and it also shows that you can make a sound ballsy even though you have a dangerously clean guitar sound. It also helps the overdriven guitar solos pop out a bit more. Blue Pearl opens with Stavros letting his Hendrix vibe fly freely. A cool bluesy ballad where Areti's soulful vocals lifts it up a notch. If you're into stuff like Sass Jordan, Black Pearl or Skyline, check this band out!
Janne Stark
Country: Greece
Label: Grooveyard Records
Year: 2016


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