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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Shawn Mullins revisits 'Soul’s Core' album with new acoustic, electric versions

Sounds interesting. Read more from the press release below...

Twenty years ago, one record changed Shawn Mullins’ life. “I had no idea anything like that would ever happen with that song,” he says now, referring to “Lullaby,” his chart-topping 1998 single. “Back then I just wrote whatever I felt and I must’ve got lucky once,” he adds with a chuckle.

“Lullaby” appeared on Soul’s Core, the Atlanta singer-songwriter’s major label debut. Now, two decades later, Mullins is revisiting the album that catapulted him from the folk circuit to the international spotlight.

For Soul’s Core Revival, out November 16, 2018 on his own Soul Carnival Records, Mullins delivers brand-new full-band and solo acoustic versions of each of the album’s 13 tracks, breathing fresh life into songs he wrote as a young troubadour, traveling the country in a Ford minivan with his guitar and his dog Roadie.

Though Mullins is justifiably proud of the album he made 20 years ago, a simple reissue didn’t feel like the right way to celebrate it. “The songs, they mean something different to me now,” he explains. “I sing them differently.” He was also eager to capture them in the studio with his longtime touring band, Soul Carnival. “The way we’re playing these songs live and stretching them out, people seem to get totally blown away with it. So I thought, let’s put that on the record.”

Working with producer/drummer Gerry “Gator” Hansen, original Soul’s Core engineer Glenn Matullo, and legendary engineer/mixer John Keane (R.E.M., Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic) at Keane’s studio in Athens, Georgia, Mullins and his band recorded the tracks live with minimal overdubs and no auto-tune or digital grids, giving the project a timeless, vintage quality perfectly suited to his wise-beyond-his-years snapshots of touring life in the ’90s.“I really like that old-school approach,” Mullins says. “It’s important for it to be played by humans and not screwed with a whole lot.”

In addition to the full-band versions,Soul’s Core Revival also features a disc of solo acoustic renditions of Soul’s Core's 13 tracks, each introduced with a brief story about the song’s genesis. We learn how Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco inspired “Lullaby,” the tragic yet ultimately uplifting story behind fan favorite “Shimmer,” and that Mullins really was “parked on the state line on a cold November day” when he wrote “The Gulf of Mexico” in the parking lot of the famed Flora-Bama roadhouse.

Propelled by the success of “Lullaby,”Soul’s Core would go on to sell over a million copies and earn Mullins a Grammy nomination. But its origins were far more humble. “Quite a few of those songs started off as journal entries,” the singer-songwriter reveals, written while he was “traveling all over the country, playing little tiny places.” Songs like “September in Seattle” and “Twin Rocks, Oregon” capture little moments from life on the road — as does “Lullaby,” which was inspired by a conversation with a female fan at a folk music club in Los Angeles — the city Mullins described as “kind of like Nashville with a tan.”

Where the acoustic half of Soul’s Core Revival reconnects with the song’s roots, the full-band set recasts them in the light of the artist Mullins is today. Opener “Anchored in You” replaces the original’s acoustic guitars and stately waltz tempo with New Orleans horns and a smoldering Southern groove. “And on a Rainy Night” — one of a handful of songs Mullins “hadn’t played in 18 years,” by his estimate — gets a seductive new spin with backing vocals by acclaimed Atlanta singer-songwriter Michelle Malone and a haunting tenor sax solo by legendary multi-instrumentalist Randall Bramblett (Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood). “You Mean Everything to Me” blossoms from gentle folk ballad into gospel-tinged hymn, losing none of the original’s understated grace even as Mullins’ band fleshes out its mix of world-weariness and warmth with a panoramic arrangement.

Mullins humbly credits his band — which, in addition to Bramblett, Hansen and Malone features Radoslav Lorkovic on accordion and keys, Davis Causey and Patrick Blanchard on guitars, Tom Ryan on bass and sax, and Wayne Postell on trumpet — with transforming his songs in a way that feels both contemporary and classic. “I was just lucky enough to pick the right people and put them in the room,” he demurs. “I’m kind of just letting it happen with these guys. They are all so wonderful that I don’t have to give them much direction.”

But the other element that makes Soul’s Core Revival such a revelation, even to longtime fans of these songs, is Mullins himself. Always possessed of an expressive baritone voice, the onetime Army Reserve officer has matured into a soulful singer with remarkable range, both musically and emotionally. “I kind of get lost in the music a lot more than I used to,” he notes. “I used to have some anxiety on stage but now I’m not worried about, ‘Oh, am I going to be able to sing this note?’” Nowhere is this more evident than on the album’s lone cover, a version of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” that was already a Soul’s Core highlight, but now rivals the gut-punch impact of the original.

“That’s one of the first songs I connected to as a kid, even before I knew what it was about,” says Mullins, who also sites his parents’ Leonard Cohen, Bobby Gentry and Ray Charles records as early influences. The grandson of a big-band jazz bassist, Mullins had music in his blood, but it wasn’t until he met the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray that he was inspired to make it his calling. “She was so engaging and intense and punk, yet able to perform just with a guitar and her voice,” Mullins recalls of his early mentor. “I wanted to be just like her.”

In the years since Soul’s Core’s release, Mullins has become his own kind of Southern singer-songwriter, with a string of acclaimed albums, from 2006’s rootsy 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor (featuring the AAA/Americana No. 1 song “Beautiful Wreck”) to 2015’s witty, introspective My Stupid Heart (highlighted by the stirring but understated protest anthem “Ferguson”), that have established him as one of the most distinctive tunesmiths working in today’s Americana scene. And he hasn’t slowed down — he and Soul Carnival are already at work on his next album of new material.

But until then, Soul’s Core Revival is a welcome chance for Mullins to celebrate an early career milestone, and reflect on everything he’s accomplished in the years since. It’s a set for the fans who have stuck with him since he serenaded that girl in L.A. with a simple, heartfelt refrain — “everything’s gonna be all right” — and, he hopes, a chance to introduce the songs of Soul’s Core to a new generation of fans as well.

“I love the record. And this is such a great band, it’ll really blow people’s minds. That’s the thing, just to get out there and keep the tour going,” he says, sounding just as excited to hit the road now as he was 20 years ago when he sang the words (from “Anchored in You”): “The road is my home/And my spirit is wild.” Soul’s Core Revival is a well-earned look back, but the man behind it hasn’t stopped looking forward.

Peter Murphy & David J. to tour Bauhaus album 'In the Flat Field' in U.S. and elsewhere

This is exciting news. I did my second-ever interview with Murphy a couple albums ago (see elsewhere on my blog). Read all the tour details below... 

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of BAUHAUS, PETER MURPHY has announced the RUBY TOUR which will circle the continent beginning and ending in Southern California.

Along with fellow Bauhaus bandmate DAVID J. on bass, they will be performing their debut album IN THE FLAT FIELD in its entirety along with an extended encore of Bauhaus classics.

"There is something in you... a fire that doesn’t burn, but invokes light... where four individuals become one action and yet retain each of their own singular uniqueness," Peter says. "The David J lookalike that I've cheekily placed in the band is not only fooling you but has, by a miracle, become the real thing! It's David J himself! Look at thaaattt! David J 'is' the real thing! Now isn't that just right, if not, lovely?”

Adds David J on his recent tours with Peter, "This series of shows have been some of the most electrifying of my career! The band is super tight and playing with lashings of panache and as for M. Murphy, well, he is simply so damn ON! Ruby rising and then some!"

Kicking off on in January in Anaheim, the tour will also hit Seattle, Austin, New York and Chicago before concluding in Los Angeles in February. Full dates are below.

First emerging from the British punk and rock underground in the late 70s, Murphy (along with bandmates Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins) fronted the groundbreaking rock band Bauhaus which spawned four iconoclastic and ultra-seminal albums as well as keystone singles "She's In Parties", "Silent Hedges", and, of course, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" before disbanding in 1983. Murphy launched a successful solo career that has yielded ten solo albums so far, including his latest LION, released in 2014.

Tour dates:

Wed, Jan 16 – Anaheim CA @ City National Grove of Anaheim
Fri, Jan 18 - Portland OR @ Roseland Theatre
Sat, Jan 19 – Vancouver BC @ Vogue Theatre
Sun, Jan 20 – Seattle WA @ The Neptune
Tue, Jan 22 – Salt Lake City UT – Venue TBA
Thu, Jan 24 – San Diego CA @ The Observatory North Park
Fri, Jan 25 – Phoenix AZ @ The Van Buren
Sat, Jan 26 – Albuquerque NM @ Sunshine Theater
Sun, Jan 27 – Oklahoma City OK @ Tower Theatre
Mon, Jan 28 – Kansas City MO @ The Truman
Wed, Jan 30 – Dallas TX @ Granada Theater
Thu, Jan 31 – Austin TX @ Paramount Theater
Fri, Feb 1 – San Antonio TX @ Paper Tiger
Sat, Feb 2 – Houston TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Mon, Feb 4 – New Orleans LA @ Civic Theatre
Wed, Feb 6 – Miami FL @ The Ground at Club Space
Thu, Feb 7 – Orlando FL @ Plaza Live
Fri, Feb 8 – Atlanta GA @ The Masquerade
Sat, Feb 9 – Carrboro NC @ Cats Cradle
Mon, Feb 11 – Baltimore MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
Tue, Feb 12 – Philadelphia PA @ Union Transfer
Thu, Feb 14 – New York NY @ Terminal 5
Fri, Feb 15 – Worcester MA @ The Palladium
Sat, Feb 16 – Montreal QC @ Corona Theatre
Sun, Feb 17 – Toronto ON @ Phoenix Theatre
Tue, Feb 19 – Detroit MI @ St Andrews Hall
Thu, Feb 21 – Columbus OH @ Columbus Athenaeum
Fri, Feb 22 – Chicago IL @ Rockefeller Chapel
Tue, Feb 26 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater
Thu, Feb 28 – Los Angeles CA @ The Novo DTLA

Xymox on North American tour; reissuing 'Twist of Shadows'

Xymox's 1989 album "Twist of Shadows" has been remastered and is being reissued on limited double vinyl (500 translucent red; 500 black) on Nov. 9 and as a double CD set on Dec. 7 with bonus tracks via Pylon Records. 

This expanded release includes the club hits "Obsession" and "Blind Hearts," along with several rare 12" mixes and B-sides. A couple of the tracks have string arrangements by producer Tony Visconti, who was responsible for several of David Bowie's landmark releases. The two LPs are housed in a gatefold jacket complete with lyrics, and the artwork was designed by Vaughan Oliver of 4AD fame. The album sold over 300,000 copies and was their first on a major label. The 2-CD remaster also contains 10 bonus tracks in all with some very rare 12" mixes and B-sides which have never been available on CD. Click here to pre-order.

The Dutch dark wave band also just embarked on a North American tour (see dates below).

VINYL TRACK LISTING:

SIDE A
Evelyn
Obsession
Craving
Blind Hearts

SIDE B
The River
A Million Things
Tonight
Imagination

SIDE C
In The City
Clementina
Senses Coalesce - Bonus
Promises - Bonus

SIDE D
Obsession (Club Mix) - Bonus
Blind Hearts (Club Mix) - Bonus
Shame - Bonus

CD SET TRACK LISTING:

CD 1
Evelyn
Obsession
Craving
Blind Hearts
The River
A Million Things
Tonight
Imagination
In The City
Clementina
Senses Coalesce - Bonus
Promises - Bonus

CD 2
Obsession (Club Mix) - Bonus
Blind Hearts (Club Mix) - Bonus
Imagination (Dance Mix) - Bonus
Shame - Bonus
Hitch-Hikers Dance Guide - Bonus
Imagination (Dub Mix) - Bonus
Obsession (Edit) - Bonus
Imagination (Edit) - Bonus

TOUR DATES:

Nov 1- Ottobar - Baltimore MD
Nov 2- Bunkhouse - Las Vegas NV
Nov 3- The Casbah - San Diego CA
Nov 4- Echoplex - Los Angeles CA
Nov 5- Marty's on Newport - Tustin CA
Nov 7- DNA Lounge - San Francisco CA
Nov 9- El Corazon - Seattle WA
Nov 10- Star Theater - Portland OR
Nov 11- Star Theater - Portland OR
Nov 12- Venue - Vancouver BC Canada
Nov 14- Dickens - Calgary AB Canada
Dec 1- Lunario - Mexico City Mexico
Dec 8- Synthetic Snow Festival - Moscow Russia
Jan 19- Garagesound - Bari Italy
Apr 6- Dark Malta - Malta Malta
Apr 26- Kulttempel - Oberhausen Germany
Apr 27- Cacoa Fabriek - Helmond Netherlands
Apr 28 - Baroeg - Rotterdam Netherlands

[more dates to be announced soon]

An interview with Darren Criss

photo courtesy of the artist
The Lea Michele/Darren Criss tour [dubbed LM/DC] arrives at Humphreys in San Diego on Thursday, Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa on Friday and Los Angeles on Monday.

Read my interview with Darren below...

Before Darren Criss and Lea Michele joined forces to tour over the summer, the performers had Gleeks in mind.

“They really are the reason why we’re doing this. It’s serving up exactly what we think they want to hear,” Criss said, about the most ardent “Glee” fans, in a phone interview. “It’s a validation of knowing we’re doing right by the folks that have been so supportive of us over the years.”

The current run finds the pair performing songs first covered together on the Fox-TV series, like The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” and “Broadway Baby,” heard in Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies.” And Criss will surely include Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” which was among the most commercially successful “Glee” singles (reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100) after he did it on “Glee” as character Blaine Anderson of the Dalton Academy Warblers.

Since Criss and Michele cut their teeth in musicals (Michele on Broadway with “Les Miserables” and “Ragtime”; Criss with “Fanny” and his own Team Starkid’s “A Very Potter Musical”), the concerts also tend to include various selections from The Great White Way, the artists’ solo recording careers, personal faves, what Criss called their “crazy back stories” and more.

“The idea is to present a variety show of our lives,” Criss explained. “I wanted it to run the gamut” and really “paint a great picture of who we are and what our relationship is.”

He compared the format to the old cabaret tradition, further likening it to “an intimate hang in our living room, where you’re getting introduced to us and our stories via these songs. It’s not like a big old rock show.”

When Criss does meet and greets before the gigs, he will often get requests and takes them into consideration. “We’re lucky to have very enthusiastic, very avid and engaged fans – a lot of whom are very vocal about things they want to hear.”

One thing is certain: Criss tailors a tune for each city on the tour. While researching info, he “realized how much amazing musical culture abounds everywhere.”

The Bay Area native has performed “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant elsewhere, so the Costa Mesa set could easily contain a couple different tie-ins. “I learn it right before I go onstage and change it up every night.”

Last year, between filming the second season of FX’s “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (eventually winning an Emmy this past September for portraying killer Andrew Cunanan) and making guest appearances on “The Flash” and “Supergirl,” Criss released new music in the form of two EPs.

First came the brief, but impressive indie pop/rock-leaning “Lost Boys Life,” recorded alongside his brother – a member of NYC indie rock band Freelance Whales - as Computer Games.

Working on “Glee” for five years was “such an unexpected and wonderful gift,” said Criss. “But it put a lot of my musical endeavors on hold.” Broadway stints (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) also left little personal time for music.

After the siblings’ schedules finally meshed, Computer Games became “something both Chuck and I owed our teenage selves, knocking around in our basement in San Francisco.” More new music is expected soon.

Then there’s the more adult alternative-styled “Homework” EP (Criss’ first in seven years), with tracks dating back to Criss’ teenage years and a version of “I Dreamed a Dream,” from “Les MisĂ©rables.”

“As I crawl into my 30s (I thought), ‘I can’t believe I haven’t recorded these songs yet.’ I’m not a major label artist and I’m not trying to recreate the wheel,” he said. “I’m not trying to crash the charts or put out radio bangers. It’s a pretty selfish thing.

“The cool thing about being an independent artist is I can just record stuff, put it out for whatever mild fanbase I might have and my friends and family. It’s a fun, humble operation.”

My interview originally appeared in the OC Register and other Southern California News Group papers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Rod Stewart, Pat Benatar concert review: Ontario, Calif.

photo by Rankin, courtesy Republic Records
Rod Stewart is a real trooper.

The veteran pop/rock artist recently suffered a foot fracture while playing soccer at home with his sons. Instead of cancelling remaining dates on the tour, as many fellow seventysomething singers might do, Stewart valiantly went on with the show.

During a highly entertaining concert on Sunday night in Ontario, Calif., he performed while wearing a boot. A white chair was brought onstage, but Stewart still moved around the stage, mixed it up with some of the dozen musicians in the band and even continued the traditional ritual of kicking out a few soccer balls (humorously reminding himself to use the good left foot).

A bagpipe sound and fanfare led into an instrumental cover of the Bar-Kays’ 1967 R&B hit “Soul Finger.” Then Stewart sauntered onstage to kick off the 95-minute, 15-song set with “Infatuation.” After joking about the injury, he said, “I’m here, in good voice, so let’s enjoy ourselves!” Fans who filled Ontario Business Bank Arena – which just celebrated its 10th Anniversary – sure did.

Last month, Stewart released his 30th studio album “Blood Red Roses.” He co-produced and co-wrote a bulk of the eclectic 13-track collection with longtime collaborator Kevin Savigar. The deluxe bonus edition contains 16 selections, including a moving cover by Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout and Ervin Drake's "It Was a Very Good Year" - made famous by Frank Sinatra. "Blood Red Roses" debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. and the single “Didn’t I” went top 10 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart over here. I'd highly recommend it for old and new fans alike. 

There were some dazzling graphics on the big screens. During “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” slot machine images spun and revealed pictures of the late Robert Palmer (I’d totally forgotten that he scored a top 20 UK hit with his own cover two years before Rod’s take on the Persuaders song). Before a stirring “Rhythm of My Heart,” Stewart noted he was born right after WWII and dedicated it to those who have served in the military as footage from various battles and his 2016 knighthood ceremony with Prince William.

Stewart’s feisty tribute to old Chicago blues music came via “Rollin’ & Tumblin’, popularized by Muddy Waters. The track, featured on “Blood Red Roses,” was an early set standout. Taking a seat for a laid back “Tonight’s the Night,” Stewart’s romantic ode featured a female harpist, who elevated the intro and luxurious melody.

“Forever Young” was rousing as always, with the women on backing vocals, banjo and fiddle now wearing tartan miniskirts. During an extended instrumental, Stewart exited for another outfit change (and possibly medication) while the ladies turned it into a fun, mini “Riverdance”-type display. “Maggie May” was dispatched mid-set, prompted a loud crowd singalong. The always ebullient J’Anna Jacoby shined on the mandolin solo and another female musician vigorously added fresh keyboard sounds.

photo: Rankin, courtesy Republic Records
A short acoustic set started with “The First Cut is the Deepest” (paired with more gorgeous screen visuals and another fine Jacoby fiddle solo) as many of the musicians were seated in a row alongside Stewart. “Have I Told You Lately” was preceded by a funny aside about how the singer adored Van Morrison, but not his cantankerousness onstage.

Finally, the show took on more of a party vibe at the end as the band launched into a rousing “Stay with Me” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” complete the balloon drop and music solos galore.

In a career that spans nearly 40 years, Pat Benatar had never shared a concert stage with Rod Stewart – until Sunday. Backed by a three-piece band, including guitarist/co-songwriter/husband Neil Giraldo, Benatar was in strong vocal form during a solid 50-minute Inland Empire set.

Opening with “All Fired Up,” she transcended some sound system issues and trilled away on a rocking “We Live for Love.” A subtle piano intro by Giraldo led into a full-bore attack during “Promises in the Dark.” The pair did the lush “We Belong” semi-acoustically, as usual. Then Benatar explained what inspired “Hell is for Children,” the harrowing tale of abuse from 1980 album “Crimes of Passion” and it was intense. The crowd responded with loud approval for “Love is a Battlefield” before she finished with the hard charging “Heartbreaker,” which surprisingly segued into a cover of Merle Travis and June Carter Cash's “Ring of Fire.” 

Setlist: Rod Stewart, Ontario Business Bank Arena, Oct. 28, 2018

Main set: Infatuation/Havin’ a Party/Some Guys Have All the Luck/Rhythm of My Heart/Rollin’ & Tumblin’/Tonight’s the Night/Forever Young/Maggie May/Downtown Train/First Cut is the Deepest/You’re in My Heart/Have I Told You Lately/[Nutbush City Limits-band only]/Stay with Me/Do Ya Think I’m Sexy

Encore: Sailing/Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller

Saturday, October 20, 2018

An interview with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

photo: Lisa Johnson
The Bosstones play Scallywag Festival today in San Diego today and Downtown Las Vegas on Sunday. Here's an interview that I did with singer Dicky Barrett a few months ago...

Mixing ska and hardcore punk, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones emerged in the mid-Eighties and put out its first long player, Devil’s Night Out, in 1989. Four years later, the popularity of Third Wave ska was on the rise at Modern Rock radio and the Boston-area group landed a top 20 single (“Someday I Suppose”) and a gold record (Question the Answers).

The Bosstones really hit it big, though, in 1997, when Let’s Face It went platinum on the back of two top 10 alt-rock singles: the socially conscious “The Impression That I Get” and “The Rascal King” (plus “Royal Oil,” a minor success).

For the band’s excellent new album While We’re At It, the guys collaborated with producer Ted Hutt (Dropkick Murphys, Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly) for a third time.

Besides front man Dicky Barrett, the current lineup includes fellow founding members Joe Gittleman (bass), Tim “Johnny Vegas” Burton (tenor saxophone) and Ben Carr (dancer, backing vocals), as well as Joe Sirois (drums), Lawrence Katz (guitar), Chris Rhodes (trombone), John Goetchius (keyboards) and Leon Silva (saxophone).

I caught up with the sardonic singer from the Hollywood, Calif. office of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where he serves as announcer between Bosstones gigs.

Q: Congrats on the new album, which I think is one of The Bosstones’ strongest yet.

Dicky Barrett: I want to congratulate you on your excellent taste!

Q: The way people consume music has changed since the band’s last studio effort in 2011. Was there any apprehension about putting out another full-length album?

Dicky Barrett: No. It’s our 10th one. We’re an old dog trying to learn new tricks. We also want to do things the way we’re comfortable doing them. To do anything different than what served us in the past wouldn’t feel genuine. If we spent nine albums saying, ‘We love making albums,’ then we decided to dismantle that whole thing, I don’t think I’d feel right about it.

If it’s old school or antiquated and we’re not keeping up with a lot of the world, who cares? I don’t give a fuck. That’s what we do, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Q: You always envisioned While We’re At It as a continuation of the last two albums. Was that in the back of your mind while making it?

Dicky Barrett: I think I successfully kept that idea intact. It was an idea, a feeling, a vibe that these three albums, for many and various reasons, were going to be linked and attached. I’ve referred to them as a ‘trilogy’ and now that I’m on the other side of it looking back, I feel they definitely are. If you’ve heard Pin Points and Gin Joints, then The Magic of Youth, and now While We’re At It, I think it’s difficult to disagree. If you want to disagree, that’s fine with me too.

Q: Did the last presidential primary, the election result and aftermath serve as a creative spark for your songwriting? Judging by a few of the new songs, it seems to have had an effect.

Dicky Barrett: [Sarcastically:] What happened in that election? You’re going to have to refresh my memory. I was asleep at the wheel and I’m very self-absorbed. [Getting serious:] I think what’s going on in the world, what’s going on politically, what’s going on in my country and what’s going on in my head – it’s difficult not to [absorb]. That’s my environment. It’s hard not to be influenced by it and have it affect what you’re doing creatively.

To ignore the world’s events and what’s going on is a horrible way to live. I don’t do that.

Q: Was the songwriting process this time the same as you’ve done in the past, with you handling the lyrics and the other guys overseeing the music?

Dicky Barrett: Lyrically, historically, there’s very few words on any Mighty Mighty Bosstones albums that didn’t come out of my brain. Musically, I have to hand it to the other guys…we say, ‘Is this something we want to put on an album?’ or ‘Is it something we want people that love the band to hear?’ If the nine of us say, ‘yeah,’ then it’s done. Mission accomplished.

Q: On “Green Bay, Wisconsin,” the upbeat opening track, you really paint a vivid picture with the words.

Dicky Barrett: I’m so glad you said that. Thank you.

Q: Is it something you strive for as a songwriter – setting the scene?

Dicky Barrett: On that song, for sure. I had a handful of different goals. One, I wanted to write the uber-American ska song. I feel like we’ve kind of earned the right to do that or at least attempt to do that. I wanted it to feel as American ska as possible. Whatever that is to you. Whatever that is to me, being a little more important in that instant.

I wanted to tell the story of someone who has an enormous love for ska music and set that story in the Midwest. Then, I wanted to use a great big brush. [The subject] didn’t just put her headphones on. She put on her Beats by Dre in matte black. I wanted to be descriptive. She didn’t just draw on the back of her jacket. She drew a Jabsco on the back of an Army green Fred Perry parka with a Sharpie fine point marker. It felt sort of product placement-y, but nobody was paying me for it. I wanted to make no mistake about what she used to draw on that jacket.

At the same time, that’s a big fish to fry there, but it had to sound rhythmic, lyrical and musical. I didn’t want it to sound clunky. Different aspects of the story of her journey of what was taking place: going from Green Bay to Lake Geneva for a scooter rally – some things were thrown out that didn’t work. Part of the story that didn’t end. It had to flow and feel smooth like a scooter ride through the night. Maybe I’m over-explaining it, but your interest in the song excites me. I wanted to paint a specific picture.

On top of that, to make a long answer agonizingly longer: I wanted ska references that I would’ve avoided in the past – mentioning 2-Tone or Trojan Records or stealing a line from the Madness song “One Step Beyond.” I wanted to say, ‘Hey, this is my passion and always has been since I was her age. I love ska.’ Why not pay tribute to that in the process of writing the song? My short answer is, ‘Yes, thank you very much for noticing.’ My long answer, you just sat through.

Q: Songs like “Wonderful Day for the Race,” “Unified” and others have a very positive message, which has always been an integral part of the Bosstones’ catalog. Is that sense of musical affirmation needed more than ever these days?

Dicky Barrett: Knowing the Bosstones and me and what I do, yeah. Ska music is not stupid. It’s not, ‘We need a clown right now; we need a buffoon.’ It’s always historically been very smart and has the ability to recognize what’s going on socially and politically at the time, whether it was Jamaica at its conception or England in the late ‘70s. It also provides some relief, hope and good feelings. We can scream at a wall or we can dance or do both.

Ska music does both very well when it’s done right. Those two songs are good examples of that. They don’t ignore problems or the fact there is hope. It may be meaningless to say, but without hope, we have to hope.

Q: After hearing “The West Ends,” I looked up the history of Scollay Square. Had you talked to people about what that area of Boston was like before it was redeveloped in the 1960s and then channeled what you learned into that song?

Dicky Barrett: Sort of. It was where my uncle had some restaurants. It was where he and my father would go. It was fun and exciting if you were a young man at that time. It’s where you hung out. Around that area was a neighborhood that was very working class…[Later], people were relocated and moved out. The area was changed and in a lot of ways destroyed.

Q: The final song on the album, the epic “After the Music is Over,” is kind of a departure for the Bosstones, with those Dixieland-type horns at the beginning and then how it flows, almost stops at one point before building back up into a tribute for the departed. Can you tell me a little about making that one?

Dicky Barrett: It was basically hammered together – completely blacksmithed. There were three ideas and Joe was anxious to help me see it through to fruition. I wanted it to get real big and epic where we’re all singing that little part. I wanted it to start out as swing, then go into a traditional sounding ska song that goes back to who we are and what we love. It was created that way. Those three parts sat around for the longest time. I kept asking Ted, ‘When are you going to sew these together?’ He back-burnered that more and longer than I was comfortable with. Then he finally said, ‘Today’s the day.’ It seemed like work he was avoiding, but when he did it, he did it so perfectly. I felt bad I ever even questioning him.

Q: What was it like working with Ted this time in the studio?

Dicky Barrett: He’s so great and such a gentle soul; a creative guy. He’s one of us. Part of the family. If you get a chance to work with him or be in the same room, do it. Super talented.

Q: Do you find Ted can coax things out of the band that other producers can’t?

Dicky Barrett: I don’t know. All producers work differently. I wasn’t dissatisfied with any other producers we’ve ever worked with. Ted does what he does and the proof is in the pudding. Listen to While We’re At It and tell me he’s not a good producer. I’ll tell you you’re wrong.

Q: Who designed the densely-illustrated album cover for While We’re at It?

Dicky Barrett: Yo-Yo Yosef, an artist I worked closely with to create that. He is amazing. It came from my head and he made it happen.

Q: What was the inspiration?

Dicky Barrett: It’s based on our entire lives. There are things on there that took place during a period of time and what it took to shape the world as it currently is [for the Bosstones]. Those images exist within it. We wanted an album cover that was old school – you sit down, listen to the music and stare at the album for hours. I spent a lot of time on it and I’m very proud of it.

[The band has made some limited edition colored vinyl editions available.]

Q: At some shows in the recent past, the Bosstones have covered Johnny Nash’s 1972 pop chart topper “I Can See Clearly Now.” The message song fits nicely with your 2016 recording of Burt Bacharach & Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” from 1965.

Dicky Barrett: [“I Can See Clearly Now”] is a very ska-sounding song.

Q: Last year, The Bosstones marked the 20th Anniversary of your best-selling album Let’s Face It with a tour featuring all the songs and just reprised the setlist in L.A. Did you rediscover anything about those old songs in the process?

Dicky Barrett: I think the biggest thing we noticed, and the saddest thing about it, was so many of those songs had messages that, at the time, we couldn’t imagine 20 years later the problems would still exist. As you’re standing there belting out a song like Let’s Face It, you’re going, ‘Not much has changed, you know?’ At the time I wrote it, never in a million years did I think, ’Twenty years from now, I hope things change.’ We were hoping for immediate change.

Q: What do you think made that album connect with so many music fans? Was it just a matter of perfect timing?

Dicky Barrett: I think the planets lined up and it was the album we were supposed to make at that time. Who knows why things connect or they don’t connect? We were happy things did. We wouldn’t have loved the album any more or any less if it was a tree that fell in the forest.

Q: Around that same period, The Bosstones joined The Warped Tour and would go onto do it a few more times, including the L.A. Coliseum, where I saw you play in 2002. Since this summer is Warped’s finale, what do you think is the tour’s legacy?

Dicky Barrett: It paved the way [for others]. It was really great, well done and probably the best travelling festival tour. All the accolades go to [organizer] Kevin Lyman, who is a real visionary when it comes to live music. And a really good guy.

Q: The band has been around for 30+ years now. Looking back, did you think you’d still be together this long?

Dicky Barrett: No. At the time we started the band, I thought it would last a couple months. I’m so happy it was longer. I’ve had a great time and a great life, and I couldn’t have done it with better guys. I’ve enjoyed every single second of it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stagecoach 2019 news

Stagecoach 2019 takes place Friday, April 26-Sunday, April 28 for its 13th year at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, CA. American Idol judge Luke Bryan headlines Friday of the festival while Sam Hunt leads Saturday and Jason Aldean closes the event out on Sunday.

“I am so proud to present the Stagecoach 2019 lineup following our record breaking show last year,” says festival Talent Buyer Stacy Vee. “This line up is gigantic! Guy Fieri is coming back! We are going to make the site look even more incredible. The whole team is already working overtime to deliver an unforgettable experience from top to bottom.”

The 3-day event will also feature performances by Cole Swindell, Luke Combs, Old Dominion, Kane Brown, CAM, Lauren Alaina, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bret Michaels, Tom Jones and more. (Full lineup as of October 16 is below).

Guy’s Stagecoach Smokehouse is back this year with a new cast of the nation’s finest pit bosses alongside the most celebrated restaurants and BBQ vendors. Guy and friends will be showcasing their pits and rigs and offering taste tests to fans throughout the weekend with live demos. Stay tuned for the full food lineup.

“Just like everybody stands by waiting to hear the lineup for Stagecoach,” Fieri says in a quote to Entertainment Weekly about last year’s Stagecoach, “I want them standing by waiting to hear the lineup on who the barbecue badasses are, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Returning to the festival this year is the SiriusXM Spotlight Stage, which will once again highlight today’s rising stars like Tyler Rich, Travis Denning, Mitchell Tenpenny and more. The Honkytonk Dance Hall also makes its return alongside the latest fan-favorite, Nikki Lane's Stage Stop Marketplace.

High Class Hillbilly, owner and singer Nikki Lane hosts the Stage Stop Marketplace which highlights carefully curated artisans, vintage fashion and unique one-of-a-kind western wear. Cool down with a cocktail and a taste of Nashville while watching singers, songwriters and special guests on the all new Stage Stop Horseshoe Stage.

Car camping returns for 2019 with the added option to purchase Companion Camping Parking for additional vehicles. Revisit The Resort this season with full amenities like the internet café, charging stations, General Store, Supermarket Shuttles and on-site pedal cabs. These options and more will be available for purchase, with Travel Packages, Shuttles and the all new Safari Camping Experience available via Valley Music Travel.

Festival passes go on sale Friday, October 19 at 11 AM PDT at stagecoachfestival.com.

Pass Prices:

3-Day General Admission $349
3-Day General Admission/Shuttle Combo $409
3-Day Corral Standing Pit $1,399
3-Day Corral C1 Reserved Seating $1,399
3-Day Corral C2 Reserved Seating $899
**Prices as of the October 19 sale

All taxes, domestic shipping and fees are included in listed ticket prices. Pay in full or choose the Stagecoach Payment Plan to pay up to four equal payments from October 19 through January.

The STAGECOACH 2019 line up (as of October 16th) is as follows:

Abby Anderson
Adam Hambrick
Ashley Monroe
Aubrie Sellers
Becca Mancari
Brandon Lay
Bret Michaels
CAM
Carlton Anderson
Charley Crockett
Cody Johnson
Cole Swindell
Cordovas
Danielle Bradbery
Dan Tyminski
Dawn Landes
Devin Dawson
Filmore
Jason Aldean
Jessie James Decker
Jimmie Allen
Joe Diffie
Jon Langston
Jordan Davis
Kane Brown
King Leg
LANCO
Lauren Alaina
Luke Bryan
Luke Combs
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Mark Chesnutt
Michael Ray
Mitchell Tenpenny
Old Dominion
Parker Millsap
Rachel Wammack
Rita Wilson
Ross Ellis
Ruby Boots
Russell Dickerson
Sam Hunt
Sammy Kershaw
Scotty McCreery
Smithfield
Terri Clark
The Wild Feathers
Tom Jones
Travis Denning
Tyler Rich
Whiskey Myers
Whitey Morgan
William Prince

STAGECOACH is produced by Goldenvoice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lost Glen Campbell songs come to light on 'Sings For The King'

This collection sounds very intriguing...

From 1964 to 1968—in between recording sessions with the Wrecking Crew, touring with the Beach Boys, and recording his own albums—Glen Campbell was recruited to record songs for Elvis Presley.

Originally intended for Elvis’s ears only, 18 of these recently unearthed and unreleased gems will be released together on CD, LP and digitally for the first time, more than half a century later, as the lost album Sings For The King on Nov. 16 via Capitol/UMe. The collection will also be available on limited edition 180-gram clear vinyl exclusively at GlenCampbell.com.

Pre-order Sings For The King now: https://UMe.lnk.to/GCSingsForTheKingPR

Sings For The King includes songs written by the songwriting team of Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne. Weisman is significant for having written the most songs recorded by Elvis than any other songwriter in history at 57. Weisman and Wayne turned to Glen Campbell who had perfect pitch and an uncanny ability to match Elvis’s key and even mimic his delivery, to record fully fleshed out studio versions that they could present to Elvis for his recording consideration.

The songs were discovered by Executive Producer Stephen Auerbach who found the fifty-year-old recordings on long-forgotten reel-to-reel tapes in a storage space belonging to his uncle-in-law, Ben Weisman. Of the 29 recordings that have been rescued, there are 12 of Glen’s recordings that went on to be recorded and released by Elvis including “Stay Away Joe,” “Clambake,” “Spinout” and “Easy Come, Easy Go,” which were all made famous with singing performances of the title tracks in his movies. “Easy Come, Easy Go” is available today on all streaming services and as an instant grat download with digital pre-order. Listen to “Easy Come, Easy Go” here:https://UMe.lnk.to/GCSingsForTheKingPR

Glen and Elvis first met in 1956, when Elvis performed in Albuquerque, where Glen had recently moved to join his uncle’s band, Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. “I saw him in the rough,” Glen later said. “He was so electrifying.” In 1960, Glen headed to Los Angeles to find work as a session musician and took a regular gig at a club called the Crossbow, where Elvis and his friends would sometimes come watch from a small private room upstairs.

As a member of the incomparable group of LA studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, Glen appeared on dozens of immortal hits, from “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ ” to “Strangers in the Night.” In 1963 alone, he added his guitar to almost 600 sessions, including his one and only recording with Elvis, for the “Viva Las Vegas” soundtrack.

By 1967, Glen’s own career was exploding with the release of his breakthrough albums Gentle on My Mind and By the Time I Get to Phoenix, which both reached Number One on the charts, and made Grammy history by sweeping the Song and Performance awards in both the pop and country & western categories. The following year, By The Time I Get To Phoenix took home the prize for Album of the Year, the first country record to do so. Yet Glen continued to knock out songs for Weisman and Wayne in whatever spare time he had.

The relationship between these two Hall of Famers might have become more extensive: When Elvis was assembling his TCB band in 1969, his two finalists for the lead guitar chair were Glen and James Burton. But while Glen was riding high as a solo artist following the monster hits “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman,” Burton was available since his previous boss, Ricky Nelson, had recently broken up his backing band.

As it turns out, though, there was a deep connection between Elvis and Glen that almost no one was aware of—until now, with the release of Sings for the King. This historic collection casts new light on the quiet influence that one musical giant, and an often-overlooked songwriting team, had on America’s greatest rock and roll star.

Track listing:

1. We Call On Him (A Duet With Elvis Presley) *
2. Easy Come, Easy Go *
3. Any Old Time
4. Anyone Can Play
5. I Got Love
6. I’ll Never Know *
7. All I Needed Was The Rain *
8. How Can You Lose What You Never Had *
9. Spinout *
10. Magic Fire
11. I’ll Be Back *
12. Love On The Rocks
13. Stay Away, Joe *
14. Cross My Heart And Hope To Die *
15. Clambake *
16. There Is So Much World To See *
17. Do The Clam *
18. Restless

* Recorded by Elvis Presley

Paisley Underground bands The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, Three O’Clock, Rain Parade come together for unique album project

This album sounds very exciting. I interviewed Vicki and Danny when they played together for the benefit mentioned below in the OC Register. Read more details from the press release...

At the dawn of the ’80s, The Bangles (then just known as The Bangs), The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock (originally called the Salvation Army), and Rain Parade were all new bands in Los Angeles who formed the core of the small yet influential Paisley Underground scene.

In 2013, the four ensembles got back together to share the bill at L.A.’s Fonda Theatre for a charity concert that benefited the non-profit Education Through Music organization. The show went so well and everybody had so much fun that Danny Benair(The Three O’Clock), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), and Vicki Peterson (The Bangles) started talking about doing some type of album to celebrate their Paisley Underground beginnings.

The idea quickly formed that each band would cover one song of the three’s. Plans were discussed but lingered. The project didn’t take off until Benair mentioned it to Yep Roc Records co-owner Glenn Dicker, who loved the idea. The four groups then got to work, resulting in the terrific twelve-song collection succinctly entitled 3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, which Yep Roc will issue on purple swirl vinyl double LP and CD for Black Friday Record Store Day (Nov. 23) with a wider release (including digital formats) coming on Jan. 11.

These grads of Paisley High, Class of ’83, all went on to enjoy long careers in music, and are still active today. The Three O’Clock released several albums in the ’80s for Frontier, I.R.S., and Prince’s Paisley Park labels. They reformed in 2013, with principal members Michael Quercio (vocals/bass), Louis Gutierrez (guitars) and Danny Benair (drums) along with keyboardist recruit Adam Merrin, to perform at the Coachella Music Festival. The Bangles enjoyed wide success on Columbia Records throughout the ’80s with hits like “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and “Eternal Flame.” Their 3 x 4 recordings feature a lineup consisting of all four original members, including bassist Annette Zilinskas.

Rain Parade made albums on Enigma and Island during the ’80s before splintering. Matt Piucci spent time with Crazy Horse. David Roback formed the band Opal with the Dream Syndicate’s first bassist, Kendra Smith, before teaming with Hope Sandoval in Mazzy Star(“Fade Into You” fame). Roback’s brother Steven founded Viva Saturn with fellow Rain ParaderJohn Thoman in the ’90s. Those two joined Piucci in reviving Rain Parade in 2012. Between 1982-89, the Dream Syndicate put out a quartet of acclaimed albums. After years of solo or short-term group projects, Steve Wynn reconstituted the Dream Syndicate in 2012 with original drummer Dennis Duck, long-time bassist Mark Walton, and guitarist Jason Victor.

3 x 4: The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade winds up not just only celebrating these bands’ shared past but also celebrating how the musicians are today. As Steve Wynn puts it: “I’m glad we’ve kept this thing going. I’ll go on a limb here and say that we all like and respect and admire each other as much as we did back in 1982, maybe even more. We’ve lived lives and learned a few things and know how important and lucky it is when like-minded souls find each other and collide on something really exciting. It’s all still happening!”
CD Track listing:

1. Getting Out Of Hand (The Bangles) - The Three O'Clock
2. That's What You Always Say (The Dream Syndicate) - The Bangles
3. You Are My Friend (Rain Parade) - The Dream Syndicate
4. As Real As Real (The Three O’Clock) - Rain Parade
5. Tell Me When It's Over (Dream Syndicate) - The Three O'Clock
6. When You Smile (The Dream Syndicate) - Rain Parade
7. Talking In My Sleep (Rain Parade) - The Bangles
8. Hero Takes A Fall (The Bangles) - The Dream Syndicate
9. Jet Fighter (The Three O’Clock) - The Bangles
10. Real World (The Bangles) - Rain Parade
11. What She's Done To Your Mind (Rain Parade) - The Three O'Clock
12 She Turns To Flowers (The Three O’Clock) - The Dream Syndicate

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Tom Petty retrospective coming next month

On Nov. 16, Geffen Records/UMe will release The Best Of Everything, the first career-spanning collection of all of Tom Petty’s hits with The Heartbreakers, his solo work and Mudcrutch.

The 38-track set also features two previously unreleased tracks: “For Real” and the collection’s lead single—an alternate version of the title track, which restores a never-heard second verse to the song that was originally recorded for the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ 1985 album, Southern Accents. Listen/share “The Best of Everything (alternate version)” HERE. The song is also available today with album preorder: https://TomPetty.lnk.to/TheBestOfEverything

The Best of Everything will be released simultaneously as a 2-disc CD, featuring deluxe packaging, and in all digital formats. LP editions—in both black and clear vinyl—will arrive on December 7. The collection also features an essay on Tom Petty written especially for this collection by Academy Award-winning screenwriter, director, author and journalist Cameron Crowe.

All 38 recordings on The Best of Everything have been re-mastered for this collection from pristine transfers of the original studio multi-track masters.

Track listing:

Disc 1
1. Free Fallin’
2. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
3. You Wreck Me
4. I Won’t Back Down
5. Saving Grace
6. You Don’t Know How It Feels
7. Don’t Do Me Like That
8. Listen To Her Heart
9. Breakdown
10. Walls (Circus)
11. The Waiting
12. Don’t Come Around Here No More
13. Southern Accents
14. Angel Dream (No. 2)
15. Dreamville
16. I Should Have Known It
17. Refugee
18. American Girl
19. The Best Of Everything (Alt. Version)

Disc 2
1. Wildflowers
2. Learning To Fly
3. Here Comes My Girl
4. The Last DJ
5. I Need To Know
6. Scare Easy
7. You Got Lucky
8. Runnin’ Down A Dream
9. American Dream Plan B
10. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (feat. Stevie Nicks)
11. Trailer
12. Into The Great Wide Open
13. Room At The Top
14. Square One
15. Jammin’ Me
16. Even The Losers
17. Hungry No More
18. I Forgive It All
19. For Real

Joe Jackson news

I reviewed Joe's show a few years ago in Riverside, Calif. (see it elsewhere on this blog) and put his last album on my year's best list. I look forward to hearing the new material...

Following the 2015 release of the critically acclaimed Fast Forward, legendary songwriter Joe Jackson has announced the release of his new studio album, Fool. The record, which is the 20th of Jackson's career, was the fulfilment of a career-long dream: to finish a tour and head straight into the studio with the band firing on all cylinders. So, on July 29, Joe wrapped up his 2018 summer tour at The Eqyptian Theater in Boise, Idaho -- and the following day set up shop at Tonic Room Studios in town. 

When asked to reflect on the recording Jackson had this to offer:

"When it looked like I'd be recording in late July and mixing around my birthday, in August, it struck me that the only other occasion that had happened was while making my first album. It still took a while for it to sink in: this would be 40 years on... The road to this album is littered with the wrecks of songs and half-songs that didn't make the grade. There are eight survivors, which I think is enough. How significant the resurgence of vinyl is, I'm not sure, but I did think of this as an album, with two complementary sides of about 20 minutes each...

I never have an overall theme in mind when I start trying to write songs for an album, but sometimes one will develop. In this case it's Comedy and Tragedy, and the way they're intertwined in all our lives. The songs are about fear and anger and alienation and loss, but also about the things that still make life worth living: friendship, laughter, and music, or art, itself. I couldn't have done this in 1979. I just hadn't lived enough."

The album was co-produced by Jackson and producer Pat Dillett (David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard, etc.). The band in question was the same group that Jackson has played live with ever since the release of Fast Forward: Teddy Kumpel on guitar, Doug Yowell on drums, and long-time collaborator Graham Maby on bass (Maby was on that first recording session 40 years ago as well). The Fast Forward Tour saw the band playing 103 shows together.

Starting February 2019, Jackson and the band will embark on a new world tour, playing shows throughout North America and Europe. In his own words: "So, here comes a big tour. We want to celebrate the fact that this is happening after 40 years -- anything else, would be like sulking in a room by yourself on your own birthday party. Looking for some way to organize a show out of 40 years' worth of material, I decided to draw on five albums, each representing a decade: Look Sharp (1979), Night And Day (1982), Laughter And Lust(1991), Rain (2008), and Fool (2019). We'll also throw in a couple of songs from other albums and some new covers. I can't wait. Let's party."

Tickets go on-sale to the general public on Friday, Oct 12 at 10am local time at JoeJackson.com. Each North American concert ticket includes a digital download of Fool.

The first new song from the album, "Fabulously Absolute" sees it premiere with an accompanying live performance video found on earMUSIC's official YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Bnc1EasHvZg

LISTEN TO "FABULOUSLY ABSOLUTE" HERE: https://joejackson.lnk.to/FabulouslyAbsolute

Fool is going to be released as CD Digipak, 1LP+download and Digital on Jan. 18, 2019 on earMUSIC.

PREORDER THE ALBUM HERE: https://joejackson.lnk.to/fool

Track list:

1. Big Black Cloud
2. Fabulously Absolute
3. Dave
4. Strange Land
5. Friend Better
6. Fool
7. 32 Kisses
8. Alchemy

Tour dates:

Feb 5 / Bijou Theatre / Knoxville, TN
Feb 7 / Center Stage / Atlanta, GA
Feb 9 / Lincoln Theatre / Washington, DC
Feb 10 / The National / Richmond, VA
Feb 12 / Scottish Rite Auditorium / Collingswood, NJ
Feb 13 / Shubert Theatre / Boston, MA
Feb 15 / Town Hall / New York, NY
Feb 16 / Town Hall / New York, NY
Feb 18 / Danforth Music Hall / Toronto, ON
Feb 21 / Thalia Hall / Chicago, IL
Feb 22 / Thalia Hall / Chicago, IL
Feb 24 / Paramount Theatre / Denver, CO
Feb 27 / Aladdin Theater / Portland, OR
Feb 28 / Neptune Theatre / Seattle, WA
March 2 / The Masonic / San Francisco, CA
March 3 / Crest Theatre / Sacramento, CA
March 6 / Balboa Theatre / San Diego, CA
March 8 / Orpheum Theatre / Los Angeles, CA
March 9 / Orpheum Theater / Phoenix, AZ

March 16 / De Roma / Antwerp, Belgium
March 17 / De Oosterpoort / Groningen, The Netherlands
March 19 / Auditorium della Conciliazione / Rome, Italy
March 21 / Teatro Auditorium Manzoni / Bologna, Italy
March 22 / Teatro Dal Verme / Milan, Italy
March 23 / Teatro Colosseo / Torino, Italy
March 25 / Kaufleuten / Zurich, Switzerland
March 28 / Admiralspalast / Berlin, Germany
March 29 / Fabrik / Hamburg, Germany
March 31 / Liederhalle / Stuttgart, Germany
April 1 / Muffathalle / Munich, Germany
April 3 / Gloria / Cologne, Germany
April 4 / Theatre Sebastopol / Lille, France
April 5 / La Laiterie / Strasbourg , France
April 7 / Paradiso / Amsterdam, The Netherlands
April 8 / Paradiso / Amsterdam, The Netherlands
April 10 / Muziekcentrum / Enschede, The Netherlands
April 11 / Concertgebouw De Vereeniging / Nijmegen, The Netherlands
April 14 / Olympia / Paris, France
April 15 / Ancienne Belgique / Brussels, Belgium
April 17 / Palladium / London, UK
April 18 / O2 Birmingham Institute / Birmingham, UK
April 19 / City Halls / Glasgow, UK
April 21 / O2 Ritz / Manchester, UK
April 23 / Cork Opera House / Cork, Ireland
April 24 / Olympia Theatre / Dublin, Ireland

High Tide Beach Party w/Sammy Hagar & the Circle, REO Speedwagon, Reel Big Fish, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers concert review: Huntington Beach, Calif.

photo courtesy: Kelly Swift
Few musicians can throw a party quite like Sammy Hagar.

Each October, the veteran singer, guitarist and entrepreneur marks his birthday by performing in Cabo San Lucas. The shows at Hagar’s flagship Cabo Wabo Cantina nightclub/restaurant have a legendary reputation among diehard fans.

High Tide Beach Party and Car Show, held last Saturday at Huntington State Beach, was envisioned as a much bigger extension of those bashes. It drew an estimated 13,000 people and ran nearly eight hours. Unlike the smaller-scale Like Totally ‘80s Festival, which I attended in the same location last spring, this one was located right on the sand (with classic autos lined up on an adjacent parking lot).

Once the gates opened, people could take photos in front of Hagar’s black Ferrari from the 1984 music video to “I Can’t Drive 55” and marvel at a few dozen other eye-catching cars, sample grub and drinks from the Cabo Wabo pop-up, enter cornhole or limbo contests and more.

Introduced by deejay and television personality Eddie Trunk, Hagar and the Circle put on a spirited and powerful 100-minute set that encompassed The Red Rocker’s days in VH (“Poundcake,” “Right Now,” “Why Can’t This Be Love”; bassist Michael Anthony provided plenty of lead and harmony vocal assists), Montrose (“Rock Candy”), Led Zeppelin (“Rock and Roll,” “Good Times Bad Times”; drummer Jason Bonham did his late father John proud) and solo hits (“Heavy Metal,” “I Can’t Drive 55,” “There’s Only One Way to Rock”; Hagar displayed his electric guitar prowess.

The band also debuted “No Worries,” a laid-back new song from the forthcoming Circle album due in early 2019 that had scene appropriate lyrics about “crashing on the beach” and “not a care in the world.”

Special guest Vince Neil was shaky at best during his own “Kickstart My Heart,” “Girls Girls Girls” and “Wild Side” (REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato enthusiastically joined in), but the Motley Crue singer still moved energetically around the stage. The latter part of the show dragged when Joe Satriani appeared for a flashy instrumental and then he and Hagar performed their minor lumbering rock hits from Chickenfoot, “Oh Yeah” and “Big Foot.” Hagar was in fine vocal form throughout the night.

photo courtesy: Kelly Swift
REO Speedwagon’s solid 70-minute set went down a storm. Kicking off with the tribal “Don’t Let Him Go,” it featured crowd singalongs galore, all the hit singles from 1980’s multi-platinum album “Hi Infidelity,” many of their classic rock radio staples and longtime concert faves.

Affable frontman Cronin recalled the band’s “rich history” in SoCal and how they first came here in ‘72 to play the Whisky. “Rock ‘n’ roll will keep you young forever,” said the singer/guitarist, celebrating his 67th birthday.

Standout moments included some sunny group harmonies during “In Your Letter,” Dave Amato’s wicked guitar solos amid “Take it On the Run” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” original member Neal Doughty’s shining piano and organ work during “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Roll with the Changes,” respectively, plus Cronin’s passionate vocal delivery on “Time for Me to Fly” and “Keep on Loving You” (where he described how it was written). REO backed guest Eddie Money for a perfunctory take on his 1978 hit “Two Tickets to Paradise” with daughter Jesse on backing vocals. I really thought the Money Man would do more than a single tune and possibly reappear with Hagar, but no.

Reel Big Fish is always a joy to watch, especially with leader Aaron Barrett’s sarcastic banter and antics. Even obvious classic rock fans seemed to warm to the Orange County ska/punk band. Starting with the popular cover of A-ha’s “Take on Me,” the exuberant 11-song set went by in a flash. Alt-rock hit “Sell Out,” “Ban the Tube Top,” a quick tease of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ and full cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” and “She’s Got a Girlfriend Now” (with a guest female singer) were all performed with whimsical fervor.

Having several songs that reference alcohol and being South of the border was a boon for Arizona’s Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. They got a hearty reception, especially when the Reel Big Fish horn section helped elevate “Mexico” from Clyne’s 1990s alt-rock band The Refreshments, as well as “Flowerin’” off last year’s “Native Heart” album (kudos for keen lyrical nods to David Bowie and Paul McCartney and Wings). Other set standouts in the engaging set included The Refreshments’ hit “Banditos,” the insanely catchy newer tune “Hello Tiger” and “Counterclockwise.”

(Diehard Clyne fans should check out "Live from the Belly Up," a nearly two-hour, 24-song download taken from a show in Solana Beach, Calif. on November 2016 as part of the venue's ongoing series via www.bellyuplive.com.) 

Tre Cool and his satirical “Icelandic” metal band Dead Mermaids were good for a few laughs. The Green Day drummer was out front on vocals and looked as if he just stepped off a Sunset Strip curb circa 1988. At various points, he threw rubber fish into the small crowd, banged on a gong and did a not-too-awful cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

My review originally appeared at ocregister.com