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DVD Review: Dream Theater / Live At Luna Park

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Music News, DVD Reviews

8133NzIiMeL._SL1500_Dream Theater
Live at Luna Park
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Reviewed by: Roger Scales

I don’t think anyone could have predicted back in 2010 how loud the fallout from Mike Portnoy’s departure from Dream Theater and subsequent hire in 2011 of drummer extraordinaire Mike Mangini to replace him would be felt. Whether it’s due to mis-connections, miscommunication or misconceptions one thing was for sure – there was going to be change in the Dream Theater lineup and fans could either jump on board the new mighty sturdy bandwagon or stay afloat in the past waiting for a ship to pass in the night with a gunboat aboard hoping to hold the other members of Dream Theater hostage and demand Portnoy come back. With the album A Dramatic Turn of Events I think most fans could agree that not much was changing within the DT camp and the album brought forth the first Grammy nomination for best hard rock/heavy metal performance for On The Back’s of Angels in the bands history. You cannot argue with success. Read more

Concert Gallery: Gojira at the Palladium in Worcester, MA

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Latest Photo Galleries

Gojira
May 16, 2014
The Palladium – Worcester, MA
Photos by:  Matt Lambert

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CD Review: Tesla / Simplicity

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Simplicity
Tesla Electric Company

Reviewed by: Roger Scales

Never has an album cover and title truly described a band at its core. Tesla, although first arriving in 1986 at the height of hair bands and commercial rock, were really never a band about presentation. They never had big hair, stage theatrics, spandex or racy videos filled with vixens. They did however tour with many of these bands and like it or not got lumped into that era, fairly or unfairly. My introduction to the band was from the first time I saw ‘Modern Day Cowboy” on MTV and my first Tesla show was seeing them opening for Def Leppard on the Hysteria tour. I thought they had boundless energy, were fun on stage and wrote memorable classic rock songs that were easy to sing along with. Read more

Concert Gallery: Steel Panther at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, NH

May 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Latest Photo Galleries

Steel Panther
May 23, 2014
Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Photos by:  Mary Ouellette

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Concert Gallery: Mastodon at the Palladium in Worcester, MA

May 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Latest Photo Galleries

Mastodon
May 16, 2014
The Palladium – Worcester, MA
Photos by:  Matt Lambert

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Artist Profile: A Q&A with Guns N’ Roses’ Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

May 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

bumblefootmain

On a recent assignment, I had the opportunity to meet Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, a guitarist, songwriter, recording artist and producer – and since 2006, lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses.

Ron is not just a prolific artist – he’s also a terrific guy, intensely committed to philanthropy and non-profits, supporting a broad range of causes including multiple sclerosis, autism, burn victims, diabetes, cancer, blindness, and victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, drought, and hurricanes.

And when not writing/performing with GNR, Bumblefoot has a rich solo career; he collaborates with other artists; has a multitude of song-writing projects for TV, movies, video games; produces music; conducts music workshops and clinics worldwide; has done television acting; and is an entrepreneur with a line of hot sauces and guitar cases.

Check out what he had to say in our Q&A.
Interviewed by: Ilya Mirman

 
You have quite an eclectic body of work – are there some common threads that connect your various projects, compositions?
One common thing I see when looking at it all is a tendency to take a light-hearted look at life’s difficulties. Like pointing out a funny face in a storm cloud. I guess its my own way of taking power away from the dark side by twisting it into something that lifts the spirit. On the surface someone may see ‘funny lyrics’ but it’s often touching on deeper subjects that we all deal with in some way. Instrumentally on the guitar, I might do the same, adding moments of technique or intellectuality to a simple form. I like the contrast, but it’s really the completion, a balance of duality.

 
Aside from touring with GNR, what music projects do you have going on in parallel now?
I’m working on my next Bumblefoot album. It’s been long-overdue, but creativity happens when it’s meant to. That can be an easy way out, so keep in mind that sometimes you have to force yourself into the zone, and when you do this it’s also because you were meant to at that moment. I’ve always found it difficult to write while touring, I don’t get the down-time needed to re-charge the creative batteries and build momentum. On the most recent South American tour with GNR I forced myself to find a way, I’d be wandering the stairways of hotels for hours staring into space and writing words. Digging deep into yourself and allowing the needed emotional free-flow for songwriting, while being on the road where everybody wants your time and attention…   the two conflict each other, volatility and patience, it was torment. But that’s where the good stuff comes from, you need to feel, and that’s not a smooth road.
I have an upcoming US solo tour in June/July. It’s part of the “Guitars Gods” tour, featuring Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Hoey, Uli Jon Roth and Bumblefoot. I’ve been touring around the rest of the world for 17 years but this will be my first full US tour. I have info on tour dates as well as special VIP meet-n-greet packages at www.bumblefoot.com

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You do a lot of various workshops and clinics around the world – how did that start, and what about this is particularly rewarding for you?
It’s become my favorite kind of performing. What I like about performing is connection and interaction. There’s something a little awkward to me about the separation between the audience and stage, it sometimes feels like I’m a movie being watched, and that can lead to a disconnected robotic performance. At Bumblefoot shows I like to have people sing along, strum my guitar, I’ll come play in the audience, that’s what I like, being face-to-face and making a show together. And with workshops, it’s the most spontaneous and interactive of all performing. Audience Q&A leads the events in different directions, we all get to meet, we’re taking photos, signing merch, chatting, it’s very personal and sometimes go for over 6 hours, I have to be forced to stop, haha, prying the guitar from my hands… these events are not just for guitar players, it’s a personal performance with backing tracks, sometimes including a jam with a live band and audience members get to jam with us, sharing experiences and the things I’ve learned along the way. Teaching is the most gratifying, to inspire others, to give what you’ve received.

You’re a self-professed huge KISS fan. Can you tell us about KISS as an influence, and the all-star tribute band you helped form recently?
It all began with a KISS tribute album A World With Heroes launched by journalist Mitch Lafon, with proceeds going to a cancer hospice. I sang and played guitars on a cover of the song “Detroit Rock City”, with Rex Brown on bass and Brian Tichy on drums. Rex Brown sang and played bass on a cover of the song “Larger Than Life” with Mark Zavon on guitar and Brian Tichy on drums. After the album was released promoters began to ask, “So when are these guys gonna play live?” We started getting offers and we formed a band called “A.L.I.V.E.” where we’d play KISS songs from the albums Alive! and Alive II. We did a few shows in LA and Vegas in July 2013, just for the fun of it, as fans. I don’t know if we’ll do more shows, tricky to get all our schedules sync’d up. For me, being a KISS fan started at age 5, when I first heard the Alive! album. My first concert was KISS at Madison Square Garden NYC in 1979. They inspired me, along with many others, to do what I do. I only hope I can do the same for others.

Regarding your philanthropic endeavors: how do you decide which causes to back, and what motivates you?
Making music solely to entertain people has never been enough for me. Music can motivate people to do good things for one another, and it seems wrong to not act on this potential. I do what I can, when I can. It’s important to pick the right organizations and situations. I’ve seen too much failure in small charities where a lot of people’s time, effort and money are wasted on events that are unable to deliver proceeds where they’re intended and needed. I’m becoming more selective, I have to, the time just isn’t there and I have to make choices.

 
You’ve recently become a cultural envoy for the United Nations. What does that actually mean, and how did you get involved?
There’s a wonderful organization, theHDI.org with U.N. humanitarian and diplomacy programs, we work with U.S. Embassies around the world to make events that bring people together through music. I simply go, be myself and do what I do. I’ve had the pleasure of making music with fantastic local musicians playing rock, traditional cultural music, and have made good friends. I’ve been to Albania, Malaysia, Indonesia and Belarus over the past year, integrated as part of my own tours, with more plans for the near future. It’s been a blessing to have these experiences.

 
You have several entrepreneurial projects in the works – can you tell us about them? How did they come about, where are you seeing success? Are there things in the works?
I have a line of hot sauces with Cajohns Fiery Foods ranging from mild Bumblicious to extremely hot BumbleF**KED. I love to eat. Haha, who doesn’t? I love spicy food, often to the extreme, and when you’re passionate about something, you want to share the passion.   I had lots of ideas, flavor profiles and simple recipes for hot sauces, the good folks at CaJohns turned it into reality. We have more products we’ll be rolling out. I have some unusual ideas sometimes, haha.

Bumblefoot_Hot_Sauce

I also teamed up with Eastsport, makers of gear bags and backpacks, to launch a line of signature guitar cases.  We started with twelve custom cases in the collection, with my personal favorite the Deluxe Electric Roller Case.  I thought about all the years of lugging guitars around airport terminals, carrying gear to gigs, and anything that could have made it more practical, and put it all into a guitar case. Extra padding, deeper pockets, wheels, an attachable/detachable gear bag with dividers and cable ties, and a clear window to put your flyer in to advertise your band, gig, teaching. And now we just launched the BumbleBabe line of acoustic guitar cases . We’ll continue to expand on both lines of cases with different designs and materials.

The next goal I have is to create a worldwide music festival that will bring attention to indie artists all over the world in a unique way. There’s so much talent out there that deserves to be recognized and nurtured, I want to help make that happen.

 
Any television work on the horizon?
I was born with a natural cartoon voice, haha. I’ve looked into doing voice-overs and would like to pursue that. I’ve done some acting in indie films, been a guest on TV shows over the years, but mostly have provided music for TV and film. To quote one of my songs, (“Rockstar For A Day” from the “Normal” album) “I’ve got a face that’s made for radio, and a voice that’s made for I don’t know…”, haha.

For more info on Bumblefoot, check out:
www.bumblefoot.com
www.twitter.com/bumblefoot
www.facebook.com/bumblefoot
www.instagram.com/bumblefoot
www.youtube.com/bumblefoot
www.reverbnation.com/bumblefoot

DVD Review: Sensation – The Story of The Who’s Tommy

May 15, 2014 by  
Filed under DVD Reviews

51uv2Wo1hJLSensation – The Story of The Who’s Tommy

Reviewed by: Roger Scales

The Who’s double LP Tommy  (1969) truly set the standard as the first rock opera and took Pete Townshend from brash guitar player to legendary songwriter in one fell swoop. Some of my all time favorite Who tracks such as ‘Pinball Wizard”, “See Me, Feel Me” and “I’m Free” are featured here and tells the story about that deaf, dumb and blind kid. It’s hard to believe that the album was banned by the BBC and certain US radio stations who felt it was exploitative. I actually remember the movie from 1975 more from my childhood than the album itself, probably because I had such a mad crush on Ann- Margret. I was really looking forward to this DVD from Eagle Vision because as an album I have a much better appreciation for it now than I ever did then. This release does not disappoint and I found out a lot more about this album than I ever did especially the art work and a lot of what inspired Pete to create these songs in the first place. Read more

Concert Review & Photo Gallery: Volbeat at Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, NH

Volbeat
May 9, 2014
Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Photos by:  Jeff Palmucci

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Volbeat played the Casino Ballroom last week and I was there to photograph the show. The first time I met these guys was at Rocklahoma 2012 and they seemed to be great  guys. I remember ex-guitarist Hank Shermann geeking out over my brand new shiny Canon 5D3 camera as I was setting up for the video and thinking: “wow, a major rock star can be a camera nerd just like me.”

Hank is no longer with the band, replaced by ex-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano simultaneously with the new album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies. Caggiano can definitely pull off some awesome guitar, and is a great showman on stage. While in the photo pit, I noticed a kid about 10 or 11 standing in the front row against the rail. Caggiano came over and riffed to the kid, probably giving him the thrill of his life. Of course, I planted myself nearby so I could catch the action also. Make sure you check out the photo gallery below.

Although Volbeat is a Danish band, they come across as hard rock with a southern, rockabilly influence. They highlighted a bit of this influence during the show with a rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, and of course, in the new album with its western themes. If you haven’t heard Volbeat before and would like to give them a try, two of my favorite tracks off of Outlaw are Dead but Rising and The Hangman’s Body Count.

This is the second time I’ve photographed these guys in as many weeks, making the trip to Rockville at the end of April and getting a chance to see them there also. I suspect I’m a little obsessed. My family may be getting sick of me listening to them in the car. My wife definitely gives me a dirty look every time the “counting all the assholes in the room” lyric comes around. Ah well, worth it.

Set List:

  • Doc Holiday
  • Hallelujah Goat
  • Boa
  • Lola Montez
  • Sad Man’s Tongue
  • Heaven Nor Hell
  • Warrior
  • 16 Dollars
  • Dead But Rising
  • Fallen
  • Ecotone
  • Evelyn (featuring Trivium)
  • Radio Girl
  • Maybellene
  • Still Counting
  • Pool of Booze
  • Hangman’s Body Count
  • Mirror

Volbeat Photo Gallery:

 

Book Review: “Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed” by Michael Sweet

honestlydetail-01Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed
Michael Sweet
Reviewed by: Roger Scales

When I first heard about this book I basically expected a pretty vanilla offering from a very well known singer/songwriter/guitarist who just so happens to be a very devout Christian while fronting a heavy metal band called Stryper. I have been a very big Stryper fan going back as far as 1985, seeing them play in a small club in Boston and have never missed a single tour since. That being said, I was hoping that Michael’s book Honestly was going to give some insight to a number of questions I have had during the 30-plus year career of my fandom of Michael in Stryper such as who came up with the yellow and black outfit design? Why did Tim leave during the recording of To Hell With The Devil? Whatever happened to his short lived replacement Matt Hurich? Why in more recent years was their obvious reluctance to play songs off In God We Trust? Why did Michael essentially break up Stryper in 1992? Who got the band back together in 1999? Trust me, I got my answers and a whole lot more. Honestly is a no-frills look into the mind and soul of a man who has made mistakes, had musical and personal regrets but at the same time has been a loving husband and father while maintaining his stature as one of the top rock vocalists of his generation. Read more

Concert Gallery: Buckcherry at Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, NH

May 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Latest Photo Galleries

Buckcherry
May 10, 2014
Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Photos by:  Ilya Mirman

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