You won’t find any bright yellow or purple guitars on stage with REO Speedwagon. That’s because the band who’s sold millions of records and is synonymous with some of the biggest, most infectious guitar riffs in classic rock history likes to stick with tradition. It’s a big reason why guitarist Dave Amato wanted his new Gibson Custom Shop Dave Amato Les Paul Axcess Standard to be modeled after his favorite guitars.
Amato’s new Axcess Les Paul is sure to appeal to historic Les Paul enthusiasts. It features a two-piece figured maple top with a beautiful “Boston Sunset Fade” finish that pays homage to the guitarist’s hometown. It also boasts the latest in Axcess construction elements, like swept nickel plating and an extra-chunky, contoured heel and Apex headstock. And where Amato’s original Signature HD-TV Axcess model had only one pickup, this new beast offers-up a ferocious pair of ’57 Classic Plus humbuckers as well as a uniquely designed White Ebony fingerboard and Floyd Rose tremolo.
You can currently catch Dave Amato using his new Signature Les Paul Axcess Standard on tour with REO Speedwagon. I recently spoke with him about his new guitar and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did your new Signature Axcess Les Paul come about?
For me, the most popular guitar has always been a Sunburst Les Paul. So when Gibson approached me about doing a two-pickup model, I told them we needed it to be a cool, flaming Sunburst model. Phillip Wharton, the Custom Shop manager who worked with me on my first guitar, also did this one. It’s an upgraded Axcess with a lot of “historic” components and features the best parts that Gibson makes. It has dual ’57 Classic Plus pickups in the bridge and neck with CTS volume pots and Bumblebee capacitors. We did a lot of research to make the best guitar we could and I’m really proud of it.
What’s your ideal set up using this guitar on tour?
I run it through my mid-80s JCM 800 2210 Marshalls and 4×12 cabinets with 35-watt Celestions. Those ’57 Classic Plus pickups just roar. It can get down and dirty with a lot of sustain and then you can back it off and it’s really clean. I actually start the set with it and play the first four or five songs. I have traditional Les Pauls I use on a few songs but I love to sway a little bit with the Floyd Rose on songs like “Back on The Road Again” and “Ridin’ The Storm Out.” I can lay on the bar and it just locks in and stays completely in tune.
You can read the rest of my
Interview with REO’s Dave Amato by Clicking Here!
“The Romeo & Juliet Project,” a new musical featuring the music of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, with the book by Bradley Bredeweg, will present a free concert-staged reading in Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, NY on August 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. as part of Bay Street Theater and Guild Hall’s “Under the Stars.”
Produced by Jamie Cesa and Bel Chiasso Entertainment and directed by Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater’s Artistic Director, “The Romeo & Juliet Project” re-imagines the story of the star-crossed lovers using the power of Benatar and Giraldo’s music to remind us what happens when we forget the impact of love, equality, and acceptance.
The show brings the audience into the modern, war-torn metropolis of Verona and weaves Benatar’s and Giraldo’s arsenal of deeply emotional rock anthems and new songs, all while exploring the question — what does it take to regain a world where peace is possible?
During their four-decade career, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have forged one of the most successful and iconic partnerships in music history. A career that spans thirty million in album sales, four Grammy awards and monster hits like “Love Is A Battlefield,” “Invincible,” “We Belong,” “Promises In The Dark,” and “Hell Is For Children.”
Writer Bradley Bredeweg (book) began his career by partnering with Madonna and her Maverick Films. Together, they developed and wrote his first passion project, Alyx. Bredeweg is also one of the creators and executive producers of the critically-acclaimed new television series, “Good Trouble,” a spin-off of the award-winning Freeform series, “The Fosters.”
I recently spoke with Bredeweg about “The Romeo & Juliet Project” and more in this exclusive new interview.
What inspired “The Romeo & Juliet Project”?
As a writer, what I tend to do is pick up the old classics and read them from time to time. I hadn’t read “Romeo & Juliet” since high school and about eight years ago I decided to read it and fell in love with it all over again. A few days later I found myself driving from L.A. to San Francisco and was listening to a Best of compilation of Pat and Neil. Because “Romeo & Juliet” was still in my head I realized that every song that came over the speakers related to the story, and if you put their songs in a certain order it perfectly tells the tale.
Years later, I was back in L.A. watching a show at The Rockwell and pitched the idea of a mash up of Shakespeare and Pat and Neil’s music. They gave us the space and a few months later we tried it out and it was massively successful. That’s when Pat and Neil heard about it and invited me to New York. Turns out, they had been developing a show about their lives and music and we struck up a friendship. That’s when we started talking about creating something that was timeless.
What was it about Pat and Neil’s music that appealed to you?
It was iconic. I grew up on all forms of eighties pop, but there was something special about their partnership and her incredible voice. It pierced my heart in a way that most pop music didn’t do. It was so passionate and epic.
How did you merge Pat & Neil’s music into the classic story of “Romeo & Juliet”?
We’re updating the tale by setting it in a war torn, much more modern world. It’s a tale that blends the modern tone of the theater with the epic musical. This version was inspired by Pat & Neil’s story. Their life and relationship was the real Romeo & Juliet of their era. The industry was constantly trying to keep them apart. They always wanted Pat on one side and Neil on the other, but Pat & Neil have an incredible passion and love for each other, and they weren’t going to let anyone deny it.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Bradley Bredeweg by Clicking Here!
For the remastered version of his trio’s groove-laden and hit-filled “The Body and Soul Sessions,” renowned maestro Philippe Saisse teamed up with Grammy-winning engineer Colin Leonard for a package that’s nothing short of an over the top listening experience.
The acoustic jazz trio’s eclectic, 12-song collection of pop, R&B and jazz covers spawned no less than four singles when it was originally released in 2006, including #1 interpretations of “Do It Again” (Steely Dan) and “September” (Earth, Wind & Fire). With this fresh update on Saisse’s spirited piano, Fender Rhodes and keyboards, along with David Finck’s probing acoustic bass and Scooter Warner’s percussive rhythm, The Body and Soul Sessions Remastered is an even more fun and enjoyable ride, and the perfect soundtrack for summer.
The Body and Soul Sessions Remastered contains the following songs:
“Do It Again”
“Fire and Rain”
“Comment Te Dire Adieu”
“Body and Soul”
“We’re All Alone”
“If I Ever Lose This Heaven”
I recently spoke with Philippe Saisse about The Body & Soul Sessions and more in this exclusive new interview.
How did the trio come together?
The genesis of the trio was something that happened organically. I had met the bass player, David Fink, when I was working on a George Michael session twenty years ago. I was doing a lot of work for Phil Ramone at the time and David was also in the studio. I’d never heard of him before, but once I heard his sound I knew that if I ever wanted to do a trio he would be the guy to call. Scooter had already been with my electric band for years and I thought it would be an interesting mix to put someone like Scooter, who’s an urban, street drummer, with David. I remember as soon as I counted off and heard that groove for the first time that it was going to be fun. It felt so good.
Do certain songs lend themselves better to jazz interpretation?
The only real trick is that the melody has to be moving and not too repetitious. Melodic songwriters like Michel Legrand, Boz Scaggs and Leon Ware quickly come to mind. Most modern pop music is more lyric-oriented and rhythmic. Those songs don’t translate well. You have to a have song that has a wide range and is harmonically interesting.
Let’s talk about a few tracks from The Body & Soul Sessions, starting with “Do It Again.”
I used to be part of the house band for David Sanborn’s “Night Music Show” and every night we’d play all of this super-complex and great music. Then, for the encore, we’d always play Crusader’s “Put It Where You Want It.” It was such a simple song with a great groove and every time we played it the crowd was jumping off their feet and dancing. I had it in my mind that I wanted to include a song that would have that same feeling and “Do It Again” has exactly that same vibe.
I grew up listening to Earth, Wind & Fire so that was always one of my favorite songs. The beat is so great. A lot of songs in those days were more guitar-oriented. So it was interesting to hear the piano/keyboard. I knew it would be a great song to feature. Scooter just nailed that groove, and when you hear David’s upright bass it takes you to a completely different dimension.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Philippe Saisse by Clicking Here!
AXS TV’s original series, “TrunkFest” returns for a second season beginning Sunday, July 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT. The show airs as part of AXS TV’s Sunday Night Rocks lineup, which includes the talk and rock series “Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar,” and the hilarious and heartfelt reality series “Real Money” starring Eddie Money and his family.
The new season kicks off with Trunk visiting Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party and Car Show, where Trunk takes in all the sights and sounds at one of summer’s ultimate beach bashes. He’ll also spend time with a slate of musical heavyweights, including The Red Rocker himself, along with Eddie Money, Vince Neil and Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon).
Future episodes of “TrunkFest” include Trunk experiencing Vail Snow Days with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats; hanging out with Judah and the Lion and lovelytheband at Gulf Shores’ Hangout Music Festival, and visiting Country Jam for a weekend of tricked-out trailers and interviews with Jon Pardi and Craig Campbell.
What makes the new season even more exciting is the addition of several special events which include the Monsters of Rock Cruise (featuring Tesla and Extreme), the NAMM festival—with guitarists Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon) and Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard), a visit to a Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, and a celebration of the 50thanniversary of Woodstock.
With such wide variety of festivals and events to choose from the stage is set nicely for the second season to connect with its existing audience and give even more people the chance to discover it for the first time. Unlike his radio show and work on his previous series like “That Metal Show,” “TrunkFest” takes host Eddie Trunk out of his comfort zone, which is what really excites him the most.
I recently spoke with Eddie Trunk about the new season of “TrunkFest” music and more in this exclusive new interview.
What can fans expect from the new season of “TrunkFest” on AXS TV?
It picks up where first season left off. It’s the same format of me going to various music festivals and events. The difference this season is the diversity. We’re getting a little wider in what we cover. There’s one episode in Las Vegas at a Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. Then there’s another where I’m at NAMM, which is the biggest gathering of music merchandisers in the country. Then there’s one from The Monsters of Rock Cruise. So in addition to the regular traditional festivals, this season also features a wider variety with a trade show, cruise and a rock camp.
What were some of the things you did this season that took you out of your comfort zone?
Skiing in Vail, Colorado was pretty cool. I’d only ever skied once and to get out in one of the most beautiful locations in the world and get a lesson was a lot of fun. I also went to Gulf Shores, Alabama and a festival called Hangout. It’s not something I’d normally go to as a fan but it exposed me to a completely different world. That’s what the show is really about. Me going into the festival and having that first time experience right along with the audience.
How much work goes into filming an episode?
Traditionally, most festivals happen over the course of a weekend. My shooting is normally a day or day and a half and then the crew spends an extra day shooting footage of different things going on that can be cut into the show. I have to give a big shout out to the crew because they put a lot of work into it. You have to deal with the elements at a lot of the places we go. I’m only there for a short time but they’re carrying around heavy gear and sound equipment for days. It can be grueling and not always in the most comfortable conditions. People who watch the show know it’s not glamorous. Since there’s no make-up or wardrobe, I can look rough, hammered and sweaty at times [laughs]. But that’s me. I don’t try to fake it. I’m out enjoying the festival and bringing the experience to the people as best I can.
Were there any cool revelations you learned in doing the interviews this season?
A lot of what I do during the interview segments is talk to the artists about the day and what’s going on. One of the cool things this season was an episode we did on the 50thanniversary of Woodstock. One of the most well-known guys from that day was John Sebastian, who told me a great story about how he had no intention of even going. He just stumbled upon it and got roped in to help out and it became one of the event’s most legendary performances. That was really revealing.
You’ve interviewed some of the all-time greats in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. Is there one person you haven’t interviewed that you’d like to?
After so many years in the industry I’ve checked off a lot of boxes as far as that’s concerned. Jimmy Page would certainly be one along with Howard Stern (who’s not really music}. I interviewed Eddie Van-Halen briefly over the phone once but I’d also love to do an in depth interview with him.
Speaking of Van-Halen, there’s been a lot of rumors circulating again about a reunion. Do you think one will ever happen?
It’s funny you mention that because Michael [Anthony] was on my radio show recently and told me he wasn’t doing anything at this time because they [Van-Halen] were supposed to be rehearsing for shows this year. The plan to go out was real but it was aborted. Michael’s technically not in the band and doesn’t know why. It just kind of went away. I think they just have a hard time getting everything in line and deciding what they want to do with who and how. They’re very quiet and no one really talks. It’s a band I’m asked about daily and the reality is no one really knows but them.
You’re a big Dio fan so I wanted to get your thoughts on the Dio Returns show with the hologram. Have you had a chance to see it?
I haven’t had a chance due to scheduling but many of the people who go say that they enjoyed it. Others aren’t so sure. Something that people may not realize is that the guy produced the show, Jeff Pezzuti, is a huge Dio fan. People think this is being done just to make a cash grab but that’s not the case at all. Jeff built his business around his love of Dio and trying to keep his music and legacy alive. I think that’s important for fans to understand.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
My daily radio show has been my main thing. It’s like sports talk for rock fans on Sirius/XM Channel 106. We do a live show from 2-4 with a replay every night, 9-11 E.T. I also do a monthly show from The Rainbow in L.A. and it’s been a blast to do. Outside of that, I’m doing a bunch of hosting and speaking engagements. I also recently found out that my publisher wants me to do a revised edition of my first book, “Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal”, with updated sections on the bands along with a new forward. Every day is a different adventure.
What excites you the most about the new season of “TrunkFest”?
The thing I’m looking forward to the most is watching the show grow and connect with new people. In season one we only had eight episodes. Now, we’ll have about eighteen in total and my hope is that more people will get to see it and talk about it. We have more music festivals in this country now than we’ve ever had, including a lot that most people don’t even know about. This show is the eyes and ears to these festivals and what goes on. We still pay attention to the genre of music and who’s playing, but it’s also about seeing what goes on in the ultra-VIP areas, backstage, on stage and in the audience. It’s a travel and experience show. People who loved season one will love the new season and we’re looking forward to getting some new people on board as well.
Season Two of AXS TV’s original series, “TrunkFest” premieres Sunday, July 7 at 9:30pE/6:30pP on AXS.
Originally intended to be part of double-compilation called Blood Red Viral Black, The Alarm’s infectious new album, Sigma acts as the sequel to 2018’s critically-acclaimed Equals and features contributions from such musical giants as original Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp and Billy Duffy from The Cult.
Sigma, as well as its predecessor, mark a creative change for Peters, who crafted most of the songs from lyrics he’d written while he and his wife, Jules, were going through cancer treatment. The result is a second volume of material fueled by heartfelt emotion, angst, and revelation.
In addition to the new album The Alarm will soon embark on one of summer’s most highly-anticipated tours, where the alternative British rockers will join post-punk auteurs Modern English and the charismatic Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel on what’s being hailed as The Sigma LXXXV Tour.
Peters’ Love Hope Strength charity will also host bone marrow drives at each concert aimed at finding finding donors for people suffering from blood cancers. To date, the charity has registered in excess of 200,000 people, with more than 4,000 potentially lifesaving matches.
Sigma will be released on Friday, June 28.
I recently spoke with Mike Peters about the new Alarm album, touring and more in this exclusive new interview.
How does the new album compare with some of The Alarm’s previous work?
Mike Peters: It’s very much a sequel from our last record, Equals, which came out last year. The music of both albums was conceived at the same time. Originally, it was going to be a double-album called Blood Red Viral Black, but on the eve of release we decided to switch focus and release a single album, Equals, with the knowledge that a sequel would be released twelve months later. There’s a lot of connection between the two records.
The material for these two albums came about a little bit differently than what you’ve done in the past. Can you talk a little about the songwriting process?
In times gone by I’d usually start at the top of the mountain. Where you’d have that initial expression, phrase or chorus, and then you’d work your way down to find the bridge, verse and finally, the lyrics. With this set of music I started at the bottom of the mountain with lyrics first. A lot of songs came out of the turmoil of the situation when I found myself relapsed from the leukemia I’ve carried most of my adult life. At the same time my wife, Jules, was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it was a double whammy. I put everything on hold while we faced this challenge together. There were lot of places where I found myself threatened, emotionally, and I’d write down my feelings. It was only after we came through the worst of these times that I showed my wife all the things I’d written down. That’s when she said to me “This is the start of a new Alarm record. Then I printed all the lyrics out and laid them on the floor around me and started looking for the music in the lyrics to go back up the hill. These albums are very different from how I’ve worked in the past. It’s been quite liberating.
Although Gabrielle Stone has never considered herself an author, the accomplished actress and director has always been an avid storyteller. But it wasn’t until a series of failed relationships — one which included a nightmarish divorce and another that ended with her traveling to Europe alone — that she decided to put pen to paper. The story of the events of her trip, the inspiration and thought processes are chronicled in her amazing new book, “Eat, Pray, #FML”
Told from the perspective of a woman seeking to find inner strength and resolve, Stone has documented a journey unlike anything she’s ever experienced. One that was not only personally cathartic for the author, but a story that’s sure to give others the inspiration they need to perservere.
In its truest form, “Eat, Pray, #FML” is an inside, pull-no-punches look at Stone’s personal diary, but it’s also a book that reads like a mystery novel and flows like a female-empowered Lifetime drama. Pulling you in from the start with its honest writing and heartfelt emotion. Better still, it leaves readers with the tools they can use to overcome any personal obstacle.
“Eat, Pray, #FML” is available in paperback and e-book exclusively through Amazon. Click here to order!
I recently spoke with Gabrielle Stone about “Eat, Pray, #FML” and more in this exclusive new interview.
What was the writing process like?
Everything was written in real time as it was happening. It just happened to be a crazy trip where some interesting things took place. This book will connect with any female who’s ever been in love, felt betrayed, or isn’t sure how to live with herself. I don’t embellish anything that happened on the trip and I wrote the book as if you were having a conversation with me. Yes, I slept with some people; I drank, and I smoked in Amsterdam. But I tell these things so that when I get to the golden nuggets of what I learned and how I found ways to heal, it will resonate that much more.
A lot of what happened in your relationship with your ex-husband and your discovery of his infidelity almost doesn’t seem real. Did you notice any warning signs?
I want everyone to know that I have no hate, resentment or anger toward my ex-husband. Having said that, I’m so happy to be out of that situation and being where I am now. The warning signs were there, but I always turned a blind eye and thought that we’d eventually fix things down the road. The truth is, he’d never been ok with my career, and whenever I’d go off to shoot a film with a kissing scene, or just be with male co-stars, there was a lot of jealousy. I went through a lot of hurt during that time because I was getting roles that were exciting professionally but then had to combat it with the berating and heartache from someone who was supposed to be one of my biggest supporters. It wasn’t as if I was working some other job and then decided to be in movies. He met me as a working actress. This is who I’ve always been. From an outside perspective, it’s hard to believe how he could’ve been so sloppy, but once I started finding things it all unfolded like it would in a movie.
Read the rest of my
Interview with Gabrielle Stone by Clicking Here!
Singer-songwriter Jean Watts’ music can best be described as an eclectic combination of beautiful but dark. But the alluring songstress also proves she’s a force to be reckoned with. Case in point, her ethereally charged single, “Feel The Same,” which is equally as evocative as it is addicting. With a hauntingly infectious groove, soulful vocals and an accompanying music video that’s one part symbolic metaphor (complete with car explosion) and one part action film, Watts sings of taking back control in times of deep despair.
In addition to “Feel The Same” Watts is currently preparing to release even more new music that will be followed by a proper round of touring.
I recently spoke with Jean Watts about “Feel The Same”, her creative process and much more in this exclusive new interview.
To those who might not be familiar, how would you describe your sound?
Jean Watts: I’d describe it as beautiful but dark. Anthemic, but also real and inspiring. I want it to touch a lot of sensitive areas in a special way. That’s what I strive for with every song.
What attracted you to the song, “Feel The Same?”
I was in a session, working on my own tracks, one day when my producer showed it to me. Usually, I don’t partake in tracks that I didn’t write or have a hand in producing but I loved this track so much and felt it was a perfect fit with everything else we’re about to put out. I love the meaning behind it.