I went to the Viper Room to support my friend’s band, Great White Buffalo. Unbeknownst to me, I would also be witnessing rock royalty shred the axe the same night. The Dirty Knobs? Heard of the them? Neither had I. How about the name Mike Campbell? Does that name ring a bell? No? Well it should. Continue reading
THOUGHTS: Chris Robinson, the Black Crowes frontman, has been recording and releasing music “solo” since 1993 and has at least 10 albums since 1993. Founded in 2011, Chris started the Chris Robinson. Though I don’t have all of the band’s albums, I do have “The Magic Door” (released in 2012) and that album is a solid album that jams with the best of them. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood didn’t let me down. It was a great, mellow vibe that I can only imagine audience would have experienced at a Grateful Dead show back in the day.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a club with a friend and we were talking about bad ass bands, and the name Rival Sons came up. I had never heard of the band previously, so I had I a lot of questions. Where are they from? What kind of music do they play? How many albums have they released? The only I answer I got?
“Dude. Just check them out. They will blow your mind.”
Considering that my friend plays in a bad ass band as well, I didn’t take the blunt statement of approval lightly. I surfed the web the following day and started doing some “research”. My friend was right. My mind was blown.
I really got into rock and roll when I purchased my first Led Zeppilin album, “House of the Holy”. I must have played that CD a hundred times during my four years of college. It shaped the way I listen to music, and has since shaped my sensibilities. Needless to say, I’m a pretty big fan of classic rock.
Rival Sons are classic rock revivalists, and they are, quite simply, bad ass. They’ve been releasing records since 2009 with 4 studio albums under their belt, and I’ve been kicking myself in the ass for not having heard of them until recently. The fact that they are based out of Long Beach, California and I hadn’t heard of them until now? Yes … shame on me.
I wanted to see them at The Troubadour, but that show had sold out. Though I hardly ever travel outside my comfort zone (Los Angeles) to see bands play, they were embarking on a world tour that’ll basically run through till the end of the year, and I knew that I couldn’t wait until next year to see them perform live. So I sucked up the prospect of an hour long commute, and made my way to a new venue in a foreign territory: The Observatory in Orange County.
Thankfully, I had company for the trek, but when I got to the Observatory, I found it to be quite a terrific venue. It was set up so that there was a pretty decent view from anywhere in the audience (unless you had an extremely tall patron in front of you). It wasn’t overpacked and the crowd, at least for this show, was extremely friendly. Enough with the venue … let’s get to the music.
In my opinion, they’ve got everything a killer band needs. A charismatic frontman with killer pipes? Jay Buchanan has it in spades. A bad ass guitar player? Scott Holiday and his Dali-esque mustache looked and played as badass as it gets. Dave Beste (bass) and Mike Miley (drums) complete the music puzzle capturing a huge, guitar-driven classic rock sound that many try to copy, but fail to achieve. These guys nail it.
These guys nail it, but they aren’t imitators. They take the music that’s influenced them, and create a fresh, rocking sound that, though revivalist, is current and edgy. God damn, it was good. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to catch them live again. It’s a good thing I’m a patient man. I just hope that the LPs I purchased don’t get worn out before they get back into town.
I love the Hotel Cafe. It’s a classy and intimate performance venue that has a great sound system and they always seem to find great local (and touring) talent to perform on their small stage.
I was excited when I heard that Illumination Road was playing there (full disclosure, I know a couple of the guys in the band), but truth be told I was actually more excited to test out a new 50mm lens with a low aperture that I recently purchased.
The band was great. Their set was more mellow than the last time I saw them at the Troubadour. By incorporating an upright bass and keys, their sound was definitely a bit more subdued, but they still rocked it out and performed with the same rock and roll intensity that I remembered from earlier this year. I was particularly impressed with their cover of Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien”, which you can check out a clip of below. So killer.
Because the Hotel Cafe is generally really, really, really dimly lit, I was actually pretty pleased with how my photos came out. I think I’ll need to save some money on a better camera body (something that can take non-noisey, high ISO shot better than my T2i), but I think that these, for the time being, will suffice.
Wanda Lavonne Jackson is known to many as the “Queen of Rockabilly” or the “First Lady of Rockabilly”. An accomplished singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist, the success that she had during the 50s and 60s paved the way not only for women, but also for rock and roll and country music genres; and she is duly recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “Early Influence”.
I was able to get up front for her performance, joining a mixed-age crowd. It didn’t surprise me that she was able to pull kids who couldn’t have been out of their teens to her show. After all, one of her more recent albums, 2009’s “The Party Ain’t Over” was produced by Jack White (which, by the way, was her first album to break into the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number 58.
When the lights dimmed, and the band started playing, I could see a small woman in a flamboyant, pink top make her way downstage. The crowd cheered loudly as their heroine took her steps forward, and when she addressed the crowd with a, “Hello,” the concert hall within the Queen Mary erupted.
Though in her mid 70’s, Wanda Jackson, like Ray Campi, gave a performance with such attitude and passion, that I could only imagine what she would have been like back during her hey-day. She yodeled, she growled, and she punched out notes like a pro, and the audience ate up every second of it … as long as they weren’t singing along with her.
In between songs, she would tell some stories as a segue into what she would perform next. She spoke adoringly about her brief time “dating” (“If you called it that,” as she noted) Elvis before vamping into Heartbreak Hotel. She reminisced about her experience making music with Jack White and the “disagreement” she had with the uber producer about covering Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” before singing it.
I loved watching Wanda Jackson perform. I loved the way she interacted with the audience, marveling at their youth, and even joking about their hair color and body piercings. I loved watching the look in her eyes when the youthful crowd sang along to her classic tunes.
Towards the end of her set, she reached out to those of her fans that were lined up at the front; shaking/holding whatever outstretched hand that was reaching out to her. I reached out as well, and when she grasped my hand, and mouthed, “Thank you,” while looking into my eyes, it was a moment I’ll not soon forget.
I couldn’t find a setlist of the songs that she performed online, but I did take a picture of it (which I know isn’t the correct order, as the “You Know I”m No Good” isn’t even listed, which is included in the photographs below. If you were there, and know the order of the songs performed, please let me know and I’ll add it here.
Ray Campi is often called The King of Rockabilly. At 80 years old, at Ink-N-Iron, he proved it.
Ray’s legacy in music started in 1944 and has touched numerous genres. From folk to country to rock and roll, Ray has had his trademark double bass sound immortalized on recordings with legends like Bill Haley, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent.
I was amazed with his vitality on stage. He plucked his double bass with the kind a youthful fervor reserved for young rockers in their early twenties. The passion in him truly left an indelible impression on me.
In between songs, he would sprinkle in some stories about his life in music, but he really opened up when he talked about his other career … as a high-school teacher. He joked that we could all be his students (the crowd seemed relatively young, with an average age being- my best guess- in the mid to late twenties). Truth is, he wasn’t that far off. I think I can speak on everybody’s behalf when I say that we all learned this: Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. Ray Campi is proof of that.
I couldn’t find a setlist of his performance at Ink-N-Iron, so if you happen to know what he performance, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it later. Thanks!
At 12:30 I walked over check out the first band on the Main Stage; an Alternative rock band from Australia named The Preatures. The lead singer, Isabella Manfredi, exhibited “rock-and-roll charisma,” performing with a confidence that was hard not to be captivated by. To be performing on the largest stage at Coachella, and to have such a command over the performance and audience, it’s easy to see why Australia loves them. I think with the right type of exposure in the U.S., they can leave their mark here too.
I couldn’t find a setlist online, but I happen to stumble across it, I’ll add it here. If any of you The Preatures fans know the names of the songs that they performed that afternoon, please let me know.
Opening for Cody ChesnuTT at The Troubadour was a band billed as Madd Vibe. Now, I usually do my due diligence before I go to a concert when there’s a band performing that I’m unfamiliar with. In this instant, for whatever reason, I didn’t. When I got to the venue and the band took to the stage, I noticed that the frontman of the band looked familiar to me. I quickly pulled out my iPhone and Googled “Madd Vibe” to discover that Dr. Madd Vibe is the solo project of Angelo Moore, the founder and frontman of the seminal, Los Angeles based ska/punk/rock/funk band Fishbone! For those of you who don’t know who Fishbone are, they’re just one of the most influential, cult bands of the 1980s, influencing huge bands like No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alice in Chains. And guess what? … they’re one of the acts set to perform on Sunday at Coachella this year.
With the same type of energy that he used while fronting Fishbone when I saw them perform April 2010 at the now closed Air Conditioned Supper Club, he brought his punk-ska fused musical stylings to the Troubadour for a solid set that revealed the strength of his musical ability. Though his music is vastly different than Cody ChesnuTT’s, I think that the seemingly odd pairing was made because the talent bookers thought that anybody going to see Cody perform would appreciate Dr. Madd Vibe’s performance because of the legacy of Angelo Moore and what he has contributed to musical history.
A consumate performer, the energy he and his band had was infectious. I started to get my ska juices flowing at points, and reminisced of the days I rocked khakis, combat boots, a white t-shirt and suspenders. The set times for Coachella haven’t been released yet, but hopefully, I’ll be able to relive some more of my youth in Indio.
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The last, and first, time I got to hang out with the fellas from The Weeks, I got drunk, rocked my face off and got late night taco-truck tacos with some of them after the gig. This time, I decided to take a more professional approach.
I had asked for permission to take some pictures during their sound check and show using a DSLR camera a buddy loaned me, and the day before the scheduled event, Alex “Admiral” Collier (the keyboardist), texted me letting me know that I was good to go. Making the hour and a half long drive in traffic, I thought that I had arrived too late for sound check, but luckily the band was still setting up. Upon retrospect, I’m glad that the band let me come early to snap some pics because the lighting during the show was extremely low. Even with a decent camera, you still need light.
A couple of the fellas seemed to have remembered me from their last L.A. gig, and that was a pleasant surprise. What was even more of a surprise was that they let me hang out with them and their friends after the sound check, before the show. Admiral got me an “all-access” sticker, presumably left over from their international touring dates with the Kings of Leon, and I slapped it on my chest with pride.
The guys treated me like one of the crew and it revealed to me how down to earth and gracious they were. They included me in their group conversations, lit my cigarettes and had me laughing with some of their observations about California living. While waiting in line for tacos at the taco-truck parked outside with Dee Bone (the bassist), I found out that my after-show taco excursion with them the last time out was not an anomaly, since Dee Bone truly loves tacos and gets them whenever he has the chance. I found out that Admiral’s hand was in a cast because of a car accident he was in (not his fault), and only recently joined the band on tour as he was recouperating. I wished Uel-Dee (the guitarist) a happy birthday as he autographed my vinyl copy of “Dear Bo Jackson” (their latest album) and I found out that Shelly Colvin was getting into town to perform with the band coming from a gig she had in San Diego the night before, making me giddy with the possibility that she’d perform her duet with the Weeks titled “Bad Enough”, which is one of my favorite cuts from the album.
By the time the band got on stage for their set, I was glad that I had staked out, and stood in, my spot up front. The packed crowd was tipsy with eager anticipation for the southern rockers to take the stage. A girl, and her friend, squeezed in next to me, as she professed her love of the band’s music to me with her alcohol tinged, warm breath watering my eyes. The couple right behind me told me that they had travelled from Ohio to catch the band play in Los Angeles.
Most of their set came from “Dear Bo Jackson”, but they did include songs from their critically lauded album “Gutter Gaunt Gangster” and “Rumspringa”.
- Lawman’s Daughter
- King-Sized Death Bed
- The House We Grew Up In
- Gobi Blues
- Brother In The Night
- Bad Enough
- Slave To The South
- Ain’t My Stop
- Wo Is I
- White Ash
The music rocked big and loud, with everyone in attendance throwing up their hands and dancing in what space they could find. The vocal mix could have been a little louder, at least from where I was standing, but it really didn’t matter all too much since the concert-goers around me seemed to know all the lyrics to the songs anyways, singing along when they could. Funky, steady and thumping, once again, like that night at the The Three Clubs, I was particularly impressed with Dee Bone’s bass playing. Equally impressive was Admiral’s playing on the keys with essentially one hand. His work on “Slave To The South” sounded superb.
After the set, I snagged a setlist from the stage, and shmoozed a bit with some of my friends that had attended the show. On my way out, I had the band members, and Shelly, sign the setlist. I had a long drive ahead of me, so I stepped outside to take off when I noticed that the taco-truck was still parked out front. I wasn’t drunk, so I wasn’t in the mood to eat, but I decided to buy an assorted plate of tacos for Dee Bone. When it was presented to him, his eyes widened with joy.
So I didn’t get taco’s with the band after show, but my parting words to them was, “Next time.” And I certainly hope there will be a next time sooner rather than later. The taco-trucks are waiting.
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Last June, I went to go see Illumination Road at The Roxy; a band that writes and performs music with a distinctly classic rock edge. Now, I don’t usually go out on Mondays, but when I heard that they were scheduled to open for another band at The Troubadour, I had to suck it up and check them out. I’m glad I did.
I got to the venue early, and having not eaten anything for dinner, decided to grab a bite from the grill behind the bar. I ordered a grilled cheese and fries, and sat on a stool at the bar closest to the grill while waiting. While waiting, I noticed two things: (i) There was a female-fronted rock band on stage, and (ii) I was sitting next to Darren Criss. I’m not going to deny it, I’ve watched, and enjoyed, his covers of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, so I told him that I liked his work, and asked him who he was there to see. It turned out that he was at The Troubadour to support his girlfriend’s band Mad Moon Riot, who happened to be playing at that moment.
“Cool,” I said, and I let him be. I ordered a beer, and started to eat my grilled cheese when a buddy of mine arrived. He had brought his camera to take pictures of Illumination Road as well, so I asked him to sneak a picture of me eating my grilled cheese with Darren in the background. I tried to slyly make the picture funny, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was terrible. By the time I had finished my grilled cheese and beer, Mad Moon Riot had finished their set, and I made my way to the front of the stage to snap some pics.
When Illumination Road started their set, it was loud, glorious and hard-rocking. I enjoyed their show at The Roxy, but there was something this time around that was particularly more impressive. Whether they were inspired by the history of the venue, or whether they had just had more time to polish their live performance since the last time I saw them, it was an inspired set that I’m sure gained them some new fans. Chris Ayden, the lead singer, had a certain swagger and a commanding stage presence that night, that, truth be told, pleasantly surprised me.
If you’re looking for a new band reinvigorating the “classic rock” genre/sound, I suggest that you “like” them on Facebook and catch them live when they’re in your neck of the woods.
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