Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rock'n'Blues Fest Returns With Johnny & Edgar Winter, Vanilla Fudge

Rock and Blues fans are certainly in for a tasty musical treat this summer as the popular Rock'n'Blues Fest tour returns for a third consecutive year with a run of approximately 20 dates beginning in early August.

This year's line-up features the Johnny Winter Band, Edgar Winter Band and Savoy Brown's Kim Simmonds (who all shared the RNBF stage together in 2012) along with new Rock'n'Blues Fest additions Vanilla Fudge and Peter Rivera, formerly of Rare Earth.

"I love getting together with the great players on this fantastic concert series," states legendary guitarist Johnny Winter, who followed B.B. King on stage more than five decades ago at the age of 17 and, after receiving a standing ovation playing King's guitar, never looked back.

Johnny first came into prominence in the late-sixties after releasing his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, which was soon followed by his self-titled release on Columbia Records. The music world took immediate notice, and his popularity escalated even more after his unforgettable performance on day three at Woodstock in August of '69. Twenty years and several successful solo albums later, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. In the late 70's, he collaborated with another blues legend, Muddy Waters, on three separate albums of Waters', including the Grammy-winning Hard Again (1977). Over the years, Johnny has put out approximately two dozen solo albums including his 2011 album, Roots, which he and his band performed a track from on Late Show with David Letterman. On February 23, Winter celebrated his 70th birthday, honored by Legacy with the release of a four-CD box set, True To The Blues: The Johnny Winter Story.

Edgar Winter, an undeniable fan favorite who has appeared on both Rock'n'Blues Fest tours to date, is ecstatic about sharing the stage, once again, with his brother Johnny and being a part of this year's festivities. "Hey all you Rockers and Recliners! It's musical chairs again and it looks like the Rock'n'Blues Fest is becoming something of a tradition. 'How so,' you ask? Well, HE'S BACK! My brother, the legendary Johnny Winter, is closing the show again this year. We really missed him last time and it's always a special occasion getting to jam with Johnny. I would like to thank all you fans who have followed us throughout all these years. We can't do it without YOU. We just want you to know how much it means to be doing what we most love, and see you out there rockin' and having a good time."

A multi-instrumentalist (keyboards/sax/percussion) whose music encompasses many different genres including rock, blues, jazz and pop, Edgar first entered the national spotlight with his early recording of "Tobacco Road," featured on his 1970 debut album, Entrance. He would soon form the band White Trash and release two hit albums in '71 and '72 titled, Edgar Winter's White Trash and Roadwork. Hot on the heels of the certified gold album, Roadwork, Edgar would put together an entirely new outfit called The Edgar Winter Group that would originally feature guitarist Ronnie Montrose. In 1973, the band's first effort, They Only Come Out at Night, would spawn the hit singles, "Free Ride," and the monster, chart-topping "Frankenstein." The album, itself, would remain on the charts for an incredible 80 consecutive weeks. The pivotal album would eventually reach double-platinum status, selling more than two million copies. With over 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar Winter has not been satisfied to ride the wave of popular music stardom. His music has been featured in several major national television, radio and advertising campaigns. In addition, his music can be heard in no fewer than fifteen film and television projects.

Next on the bill is the unmistakable Vanilla Fudge, which currently features original members Mark Stein (vocals, organ), Vinny Martell (guitars, vocals) and Carmine Appice (drums, vocals). Formed in 1966, the original band (with bassist Tim Bogert) would have a huge hit the following year with a revival of the Supremes classic, "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Featured on their debut album, the song displayed the key elements of their style and would be a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Known for their psychedelic covers, the album would also feature two Beatles songs along with a rendition of the R&B number, "Take Me For a Little While," which would be a Top 40 hit. Between 1966 and 1969, the band would release five studio albums before disbanding in 1970. In 2005, the original members reconvened for a tour with Riders On The Storm (featuring Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors) and Steppenwolf. A year later, they were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame along with Billy Joel, Joan Jett and the producer of their debut album, George "Shadow" Morton. In March of 2011, during what was announced as their "farewell tour," the band performed their biggest hit, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Since that time, the band has consistently toured all over the world.

Vinny Martell looks forward to hitting the road this summer. "Hendrix toured with us... Joplin jammed with us... Zeppelin opened for us... We thank all our fans for helping to make Vanilla Fudge a piece of music history. Music has always been, and still is, the timeless language of peace and hope and unity in this turbulent world... Keep rockin' with us in the twenty-first century and come out to this summer's Rock'n'Blues Fest!"

"The last time Vanilla Fudge played with Johnny Winter was when he jumped up on stage with Janis Joplin and jammed with us at the West Palm Beach Pop Festival in Florida," reflects Vanilla Fudge singer Mark Stein. "I'm looking forward to playing with him and brother, Edgar... two rockin' bands! And I know Pete Rivera will be singing some of his great hits from Rare Earth. It should be a great show!"

Any connoisseur of seventies rock will certainly remember Rare Earth. Their funky, good-time, music is still played on classic rock stations across the country and their place in music history is firmly cemented. Peter Rivera is the original drummer and lead vocalist behind all of the hits. Rare Earth has sold over 25 million albums and had Top Ten hits with the songs, "Get Ready," "I Just Want To Celebrate" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You." Two other songs, "Born to Wander" and "Hey Big Brother" would enter Top Twenty on the charts. The albums Get Ready (1969) and the two-record set, Rare Earth in Concert (1971), both achieved double platinum status. Peter Rivera has been called the premier rock drummer/vocalist of the seventies and his vocals have been featured on countless radio and television commercials over the years. In addition, his voice has been heard in several movies and television shows including A Knight's Tale, Three Kings, Arthur, Tropic Thunder (trailer), Six Feet Under, Chicago Hope and Beverly Hills 90210 among others. He continues to tour the world with The Classic Rock All-Stars and looks forward to his trek with this year's Rock'n'Blues Fest.

"I'm really looking forward to the rock and blues tour and can't wait to get started," remarks Peter. "I hope we can all rock it out!"

Considered one of the architects of British blues, Kim Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid-60's after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother's blues records as a teenager. As leader and founder of the legendary blues rock band, Savoy Brown, he has 49 album releases currently available and continues to tour all over the world with the band as well as a solo acoustic act. In 1967, the band would help propel the UK blues boom movement that brought blues music back to the United States, invigorating the style forever. In the process, Savoy Brown became part of the framework that launched the rock and roll music of the 1970's, with their vast influence stretching into modern rock as we know it today. In 2011, the band celebrated its 45th anniversary by releasing a new CD titled, Voodoo Moon. Later in the year, Kim would release his most recent effort, Out Of The Blue, a collection of varied material that placed him in a new setting as both singer and songwriter. Among the most loved, most respected and longest running of its genre, Savoy Brown is one of the magical names in blues rock. Kim Simmonds -- who was on the 2012 Rock'n'Blues Fest bill with the Winter brothers, Rick Derringer and Leslie West -- will be performing the best of the best on this year's tour.

"Once again, I'm touring with the Rock'n'Blues Fest and, once again, I'm excited to do so. I am a fan of all the other artists on the bill so it will be a pleasure for me to participate. I thrive on the atmosphere, playing among my peers and I know the tour will bring out the best in me!"

Come out and experience the very best combination of rock and blues that you might ever have a chance to see!

As Edgar Winter says, "See you this summer and get ready to Rock 'n' Roll!"


August 1 - Theatre at Westbury - Westbury, NY
August 2 - Rockland's Harbor Park - Rockland, ME
August 3 - Count Basie Theatre - Red Bank, NJ
August 5 - Keswick Theatre - Glenside, PA
August 6 - South Shore Music Circus - Cohasset, MA
August 7 - State Theatre - New Brunswick, NJ
August 8 - Bergen Performing Arts Center - Englewood, NJ
August 13 - King Center for the Performing Arts - Melbourne, FL
August 14 - Florida Theatre - Jacksonville, FL
August 15 - Broward Center for the Performing Arts - Fort Lauderdale, FL
August 16 - Ruth Eckerd Hall - Clearwater, FL
August 21 - City National Civic - San Jose, CA
August 22 - City National Grove of Anaheim - Anaheim, CA
August 23 - The Cannery - Las Vegas, NV
August 24 - Snoqualmie Casino - Seattle, WA

*Additional dates expected to be announced soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Singer Says Reports of AC/DC's Death Greatly Exaggerated

Lead singer Brian Johnson has shot down rumors that the band is retiring with an interview in the Daily Telegraph.

"We are definitely getting together in May in Vancouver," he said. "We're going to pick up some guitars, have a plonk, and see if anybody has got any tunes or ideas. If anything happens, we'll record it."

 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that founding member, Malcolm Young, 61, was ill and could no longer perform. Australian radio personality Peter Ford also reportedly said, “We may not hear them perform or record ever again,” and their record label had not been answering calls or emails.

 Johnson would not confirm that Young was ill, but did allow that a band member was having health issues. 

"One of the boys has a debilitating illness, but I don't want to say too much about it," Johnson said. "He is very proud and private, a wonderful chap. We've been pals for 35 years and I look up to him very much." 

However, Choirboys frontman Mark Gable, a close friend of the band, confirmed Young's illness in an interview with ABC Radio. "Malcolm is sick," he said. "From what I understand, and it's even been confirmed in part by his son Ross, that it would appear Malcolm is unable to perform anymore. It's not just that he is unwell; it's that it is quite serious. It will constitute that he definitely won't be able to perform live. He will probably not be able to record."

It was confirmed that Young was the sick member in question in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. "After 40 years of life dedicated to AC/DC, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young is taking a break from the band due to ill health," the post says. "Malcolm would like to thank the group’s diehard legions of fans worldwide for their never-ending love and support. In light of this news, AC/DC asks that Malcolm and his family’s privacy be respected during this time. The band will continue to make music."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Freddie Mercury's Life Told In New Comic Book

Queen singer and front man Freddie Mercury is honored in full color in a new tribute comic book from Bluewater Productions.

From his childhood to his untimely death, Queen Tribute: Freddie Mercury covers the rocker's life from beginning to end.

In a statement, writer Mike Lynch said: "Mercury's story is a fascinating one, from his birth in Zanzibar, being forced to flee his homeland at an early age to his rise to Rock royalty in the UK and then onto global conquest. His work has gone on to inspire generations of musicians. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest performers in music history and it was an honor to have worked on this biography."

Mercury died from complications from AIDS in 1991. His journey with the disease is detailed in the issue.

Tribute: Freddie Mercury will be released digitally and in print tomorrow (April 16th).

Monday, April 14, 2014

Steely Dan Announces North American Tour

This summer, Steely Dan fans in North America will be able to buy a thrill.

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen will set off on the 47-city Jamalot Ever After tour July 2 in Portland, Ore., and tour through September.

The duo, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, will be backed by an eight-piece band: drummer Keith Carlock, bassist Freddie Washington, keyboardist Jim Beard, guitarist Jon Herington, trumpeter/keyboardist Michael Leonhart, trombonist Jim Pugh, saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg. Three backing vocalists — La Tanya Hall, Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery and Cindy Mizelle — also will be part of the ensemble.

The Jamalot Ever After tour dates follow:

7/2 - Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, Ore.
7/3 - Les Schwab Amphitheatre, Bend, Ore.
7/5-6 - Marymoor Park, Redmond, Wash.
7/8-9 - The Mountain Winery, Saratoga, Calif.
7/10 - Concord Pavilion, Concord, Calif.
7/12 - The Forum, Los Angeles, Calif.
7/13 -Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, San Diego, Calif.
7/15 - Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, Ariz.
7/16 - Route 66 Casino Legends Theater, Albuquerque, N.M.
7/18 - Global Event Center at WinStar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Okla.
7/19 - Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, Mo.
7/21 - Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Okla.
7/23 - Brady Theater, Tulsa, Okla.
7/24 - Walmart AMP, Rogers, Ark.
7/26 - UNO Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, La.
7/27 - Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center, Birmingham, Ala.
7/29 - Township Auditorium, Columbia, S.C.
7/31 - Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.
8/1-2 - Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.
8/4 - War Memorial Auditorium, Greensboro, N.C.
8/6 - Musikfest, Bethlehem, Penn.
8/8 - Seneca Niagara Events Center, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
8/9 - City Fest, Erie, Penn.
8/11 - Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.
8/12 - Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio
8/13 - Palace Theatre, Columbus, Ohio
8/15 - Illinois State Fair, Springfield, Ill.
8/16 - Overture Hall, Madison, Wisc.
8/17 - Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, Ind.
8/19 - Fox Cities PAC, Appleton, Wisc.
8/20 - Kresge Auditorium, Interlochen, Mich.
8/22 - Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, Windsor, Ont.
8/23-24 - Sony Centre for Performing Arts, Toronto, Ont.
8/26 - National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Ont.
8/27 - Théâtre St-Denis, Montreal, Que.
8/29 - Darling's Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, Me.
8/30 - Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, Gilford, N.H.
8/31 - Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
9/3-4 - Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, N.J.
9/6 - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, Mass.
9/7 - Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, R.I.
9/9-10 - Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown, N.J.
9/12 - Caesars Atlantic City, Atlantic City, N.J.
9/13-14 - Paramount Theatre, Huntington, N.Y.
9/16 - Toyota Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, Conn.
9/17 - Pier Six Pavilion, Baltimore, Md.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Welcomes Its Class Of 2014

From the New York Times

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its new members at a full-scale arena concert on Thursday night at Barclays Center, with its largest live audience by far. It would have been an ideal setting for the band that didn’t perform: Kiss, the hard-rock arena-spectacular showmen in makeup who, until this year, had been snubbed by the hall since becoming eligible in 1999. After Kiss was accepted, its members, past and present, had squabbled with the Hall of Fame and among themselves over which of its lineups, original or current, would perform; no one did.

The guitarist Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine and currently a guest with the E Street Band, praised Kiss for “impact, influence and awesomeness” and called their induction a vindication for both the band and its fans. Paul Stanley, the band’s lead singer, gloated, “Here we are tonight, basically inducted for the same things we were kept out for.” He called for more public participation in choosing the members of the Hall of Fame, insisting that fans did not need to be “spoon-fed” a rock canon.

The other new Hall of Fame members are Nirvana (in their first year of eligibility), Peter Gabriel (already a member with the band Genesis), Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens (whose name now is Yusuf Islam) and Hall & Oates. Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band joined the hall in its “musical excellence” category, for sidemen, and performed with the band’s leader, Bruce Springsteen, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1999.

For its first decades, the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a music-business banquet: a black-tie affair for executives and musicians that gradually reshaped itself for broadcast as a cable-television special. Since 2012 the induction has been a full-scale concert; Barclays holds about 19,000 people; tickets cost $67 to $576.

Fans also have joined the hall’s decision-making process, at least symbolically. An online poll, which drew 1.3 million responses, added votes from fans to those of the musicians, executives, historians and critics who had previously chosen hall members. Kiss and Nirvana led that poll with over 200,000 votes each.

Nirvana was inducted by Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who described the band’s music as “a sweet and beautiful but fed-up fury coupled with howling vulnerability.”

“This is not just pop music,” he added. “This is something much greater than that.”

The surviving members of Nirvana with the guitarist Pat Smear, who still bashed with controlled brutality, brought on female lead singers: Joan Jett rasping “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Annie Clark (also known as St. Vincent) switching between the calm and howling of “Lithium,” Kim Gordon flinging herself around the stage for “Aneurysm,” and Lorde singing “All Apologies.”

More than an hour of the ceremony was devoted to the induction of 10 longtime members of the E Street Band. Springsteen detailed how he had met each one, noting that the keyboardist, David Sancious (now in Mr. Gabriel’s band), was the only member who actually lived on E Street. With a band, Springsteen said, “the narrative you tell together is bigger than the one you could have told on your own.” The guitarist Steven Van Zandt thanked Springsteen for writing songs “at an unnecessarily high level of quality” for so long. Soon afterward the band, with current members and alumni together, charged into, of course, “The E Street Shuffle.”

The surviving members of Nirvana were set to perform with a very different lead singer: Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent.

Gabriel was praised by Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer, for creating a “cathedral of song.” Gabriel’s acceptance speech offered advice to aspiring musicians. He urged, “Think big and let your imagination guide you even if you end up dressing as a flower or a sexually transmitted disease” — as he had with Genesis — and “surround yourself with brilliance.”

He had collaborators: Martin trading verses on “Washing of the Water,” the Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour for “In Your Eyes” and, pointedly, Leo Nocentelli of the definitive New Orleans funk band, the Meters, playing guitar on “Digging in the Dirt.” The Meters have been repeatedly nominated for the Hall of Fame, but have not yet been added to it.

Linda Ronstadt also did not appear; Glenn Frey of the Eagles, inducting her, said she had retired and no longer traveled. He praised her for “always reaching, always stretching,” and added, “She has been a shining example and a true inspiration to every woman who ever stood in front of a microphone and sang her heart out.”

Other voices took up Ronstadt’s hits: Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris cooing “Blue Bayou,” Sheryl Crow vowing “You’re No Good,” Stevie Nicks belting “It’s So Easy,” Carrie Underwood singing “Different Drum” and all of them sharing “When Will I Be Loved?”

Daryl Hall, of Hall & Oates, noted unhappily that they were the first Philadelphia act in the Hall of Fame, citing Todd Rundgren, the Stylistics and Chubby Checker as omissions. In a video-clip interview, Oates described himself as “the most underrated and highly paid backup singer in the history of music.”

Islam, the former Cat Stevens, left pop stardom for a life of abstemiousness and Islamic study. “I never thought I’d be on the same stage as Kiss, to be honest,” he said. He was inducted by Art Garfunkel, who offered some musical analysis and said, offhandedly, “He’s better than Paul Simon.” Mr. Islam, his voice still hearty, sang “Peace Train,” “Wild World” and “Father and Son,” a young man’s idea of an old man’s advice, with the predictive line, “I know I have to go.”

Brian Epstein, who managed the Beatles in the 1960s, and Andrew Loog Oldham, who then managed the Rolling Stones, were inducted as nonperformers. Mr. Epstein died in 1967; Oldham skipped the event, criticizing it as a “television spectacular” rather than a rock and roll party. This year’s ceremony is to be telecast on May 31 on HBO.