Category: Entertainment

Guitar hero Gary Hoey, coming to ArtsQuest, talks about touring with Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani

Photo: David Brow

With a career spanning 22 albums in a multitude of styles ranging from rock, surf, blues, and metal, Gary Hoey is one of the prolific guitarists in music.

His unique style and popular “Ho! Ho! Hoey” series during the holiday season brought him legions of fans. Hoey has toured with guitar legends like Jeff Beck, Brian May, Ted Nugent and Joe Satriani. And as a producer, he’s worked with artists like Lita Ford, as well as scoring the soundtrack to the film, “The Endless Summer II.”

On Saturday, March 13, fans will be able to experience a unique taste of Hoey’s musical legacy when he brings his intimate Retrospective Solo Show to ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem.

The high-energy performance will feature Hoey along with backing tracks from his original albums. Fans can expect to hear songs including “Mass Hysteria,” “Drive,” and “Peace Pipe,” as well his cover versions of the Focus hit “Hocus Pocus,” and War’s “Low Rider.”

Hoey will also entertain the audience with a Q&A session and share behind-the-scenes stories, which will likely include his 1987 audition with Ozzy Osbourne — an experience that inspired his move to Los Angeles and launched his career.

ArtsQuest’s Musikfest Cafe will be following CDC guidelines for the show, including temperature checks prior to entry, mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing. SteelStacks also has upgraded and expanded its cleaning and disinfecting procedures before, during and after all events to ensure patrons’ safety.

I recently spoke with Hoey about his upcoming Lehigh Valley performance.

James Wood: As an artist, what’s it been like for you adjusting to the lockdown requirements?

Gary Hoey: “It’s been quite a year navigating … but like everyone else, we’ve been dealing with it one step at a time. Early on, I decided to go online and do more livestreaming to try to connect with the fans in a different way. It worked out well because it exposed me to a whole new fan base. I also do a coffee time with my mom where we hang out live on Facebook and have coffee. I also do a ‘Hang Out With Hoey’ where we play songs and do whatever we can to keep people engaged.”

What can fans expect from your upcoming SteelStacks performance?

“In this business, it’s about reinventing yourself and finding ways to take a difficult situation and make it better. The thing about doing these limited capacity shows is that the venue doesn’t make as much money and neither do I, but what’s important to me is to support these venues. So I decided to put together a solo tour. It’s an intimate show where I’ll do a little bit of storytelling and a retrospective of my 22 albums. There will be early stuff, surf, blues, metal, shred and acoustic. I want to give everyone a taste of my career and make it an interesting night.”

Read The Rest of My
Interview with Gary Hoey by Clicking Here!

‘Finding The Sun’: Steve Lukather Discusses His Ubiquitous New Solo Album

Photo: Alex Solca Photography

You’d be hard pressed to find someone with a music career more indelible than Steve Lukather. Best known to fans for his guitar work in the band Toto, Lukather has performed on thousands of albums as a session musician, including Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all-time.

Luke’s new solo album, continues his legacy as the quintessential guitarist. Co-produced by Ken Freeman, Luke brings a rawness and energy to the eight-track collection. With original compositions like the ethereal title track, the jazz-infused “Journey Through,” the rocking “Along For The Ride,” and the slitherly “Serpent Soul,” Luke showcases the guitar prowess and versatility that made him one of the most in-demand session players. Also included in the new set is Luke’s take on obscure but powerful covers by Traffic (“Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” ) Joe Walsh (“Welcome To The Club,”) and Robin Trower (“Bridge of Sighs.”) The result is an album of one or two-take performances, raw production and jam fades tastefully reminsiceint of 1970s recording.

Special guests on I Found The Sun Again include Gregg Bissonette (drums), Jeff Babko (keyboards), Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce (bass), as well as Toto bandmates David Paich (piano and organ) and Joseph Williams (vocals). One of Luke’s idols, Ringo Starr, also appears on the album, performing on the fun and hook-laden track, “Run To Me.”

I recently spoke with Lukather about I Found The Sun Again, his writing process, session work and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would describe I Found The Sun Again in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

It’s the most honest and real thing I’ve ever done. It’s different in the fact that it’s under-produced and everything is played live. I purposely kept the song forms loose so that there would be room for improvisation and longer fades for the jams that happened. There are all sorts of moody things on this record: jazz elements and a lot of rock, second line Little Feat, the [Jimi] Hendrix vibe and a few pop songs on there, because I just love a good pop song. There’s also a piece where I get to do my Jeff Beck impression. We ran through the songs one time, and the second take was the record.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Steve Lukather by Clicking Here!

‘Thanks For Coming’: Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum’s Michael C. Hall, Peter Yanowitz & Matt Katz-Bohen Discuss Debut Album

With disparate influences ranging from the glam, experimental music of David Bowie to the poetic sounds of The Velvet Underground and bands like 8 Eyed Spy and Sonic Youth, Thanks For Coming is the debut album by Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum. The band features vocalist, lyricist, musician and actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), drummer Peter Yanowitz (The Wallflowers, Morningwood) and keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen (Blondie).

There’s a heightened sense of awareness and romanticism that exists in the band’s songwriting, as exhibited in tracks like “Armageddon Suite.” Then there’s the fun but deeply dark and disturbing undertone in songs like “Eat An Eraser.” There’s also material which began as subliminal inspiration on vintage instruments, as was the case in the groove-ridden “The Deeper Down.” Thanks For Coming also includes the band’s unique spin on Phantogram’s “Cruel World,” a song which has since become a staple of their live show.

While eschewing traditional rock instrumentation in favor of theatrical sensibility and a colorful, stripped-down synth/drum approach, Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum combines the best elements of glam, pop, new wave and theater, as well as the noisy, art rock vibe of the New York City scene. The result is a welcomed debut that’s both ethereally melancholic and hauntingly brilliant.

I recently spoke with Michael C. Hall, Peter Yanowitz and Matt Katz-Bohen about Thanks For Coming and much more in this exclusive new interview:

How did Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum come together?

Peter Yanowitz: The three of us met in the most unlikely of places for a rock band — on Broadway doing Hedwig [and the Angry Inch]. Mike was Hedwig and Matt and I were also part of the show. It started with us just being in the band playing someone else’s music. After we’d finished the show Matt and I kept jamming and Mike heard some of the instrumental ideas we’d started and offered to sing on them. One thing led to another and three years later, here we are.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Matt Katz-Bohen: I think we would all agree that [David] Bowie is someone we can really get behind. Then there’s a lot of the noisy art rock of New York City, starting with The Velvet Underground, No Wave, 8 Eyed Spy and Sonic Youth. There’s a lineage there we can all appreciate, just getting into that vibe from hanging around the East Village.

What’s the band’s approach to songwriting?

Michael C. Hall: There’s no set formula. We’ve written songs in every way possible. There have been instrumentals that have been the beginning of things. Then there’s melody ideas and songs with structure but no musical accompaniment. Most of the lyrics on these songs were written in the past few years. It’s been a pleasant surprise and welcome exercise to find myself in a situation where I’m called upon to write words.

Read the rest of my
Interview with the band by clicking here.

Live concerts at ArtsQuest start making sense for Talking Heads tribute band leader and friends

When Jon Braun — vocalist for (Lehigh Valley-based) Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense — was asked about doing a residency at ArtsQuest, the multitalented artist had a perfect idea: Gather a bunch of musical friends for a run of shows featuring not only hits from Dave Byrne’s ‘80s New Wave pioneering band, but also to rock out tributes to Tom Petty and Jane’s Addiction.

The aptly titled Start Making Sense & Friends, begin their Bethlehem/ArtsQuest residency with the music of Petty’s seminal “Wildflowers” album on Feb. 5, and will follow this up with full album shows of alt giants Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking” and “Ritual de lo Habitual” on Feb 12.

Braun will then bring the original three-piece rock project, Ruby Dear, to the Musikfest Cafe on Feb. 19 for a record release performance. The residency will culminate on March 5 with a unique and special Start Making Sense concert.

ArtsQuest says all shows are being presented with a safety layout designed to follow CDC guidelines and health measures. This includes mandatory mask requirements, capacity and social distancing measures, limited table reservations (2-6 guests with chairs spaced 6 or more feet apart), as well as regular cleaning of facilities, including major touchpoints.

The venue’s HVAC system has also been reconfigured to allow more fresh air to circulate within the building and HEPA filters have also been upgraded.

I recently spoke with Braun about the upcoming residency and more.

James Wood: As an artist how has it been dealing with the lockdowns imposed by COVID-19 this past year?

Jon Braun: “I assume it’s very similar to everyone else whose work has been restricted. We normally do more than a hundred shows a year. Last year we did 10. Fortunately, a lot of us also teach music throughout the year so that’s given us a little sense of normalcy. We’ve also had a lot of time to put together things like this residency, which is something we’d never have time to do in a normal year.”

What were those first shows like for you after being away for so long?

“We’d already done a few livestreams but the first outdoor show we did was odd because it wasn’t the normal set up, and the crowd size was limited in capacity. At the same time, the first time we finished a song and heard people clapping and cheering was just amazing!”

Read the the rest of my
Interview with Jon Braun by Clicking Here.

Interview: Singer/Songwriter Bill Champlin Discusses His New Album, ‘Livin’ For Love’

Bill Champlin has had an illustrious career as a singer, songwriter, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. Although he’s perhaps best known for his twenty-eight-year run with Chicago, where he sang on numerous hits like “Hard Habit to Break”, “I Don’t Want to Live Without your Love,” and “Look Away,” he’s also an acclaimed ensemble arranger on hits by Elton John and Donna Summer, as well as a two-time Grammy winner for his work on songs like “After The Love Is Gone” (Earth Wind & Fire) and “Turn Your Love Around” (George Benson).

Now Champlin is back with his first solo album in nearly ten years — ‘.’ An introspective, sixteen-song compilation that’s filled with personal anecdotes and honest vulnerability.

I recently spoke with Champlin about the new album and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would you describe Livin’ For Love in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

Bill Champlin: I’ve done numerous solo albums over the years and, in terms of writing, I always thought of them as a little bit craft-oriented. I’d read somewhere recently that if it’s not personal it’s not art, so I decided to put my heart and soul into this one a little more and dug a little deeper. I also had a few years where I was dealing with a medical issue as well as my oldest son passing away. It changed my whole view of the world. At some point of the game you realize that your list of what you care about gets shorter, and the list of what you don’t care about gets longer. I realized that what I care about is love, music, family, and friends. That’s what I wanted to establish here. This album is a little more personal and vulnerable.

What was the songwriting process like?

BC: I write with my wife, Tamara, and between the two of us, she may come up with a premise and then I’ll come up with a way to have it fit the music. I’ve been writing for a long time and always feel better about writing a song when there’s something personal about it and I took that to heart for this album. I’ve got some great people on the record that really helped me put a groove on it.There are three songs I did with Greg Mathieson: “Especially Me,” “Losin’ Ground” and The Truth Has Begun” that are right in the pocket.

Let’s discuss a few other tracks on the new album, starting with “Reason To Believe.” What can you tell me about it?

BC: That was a track sent to me by Bruce Gaitsch that Tamara and I dug right away. It had George Hawkins playing bass on it. George passed away a few years ago but this track came from when he was still living in Nashville. I asked Bruce to play guitar and keyboards on it, I played organ and Vinnie Colaiuta played drums.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bill Champlin by Clicking Here!

‘The Best Is Yet To Come’: Indomitable Songstress Bonnie Tyler Discusses Her Uplifting New Album

Photo: Tina Korhonen

Read the rest of my
Interview with Bonnie Tyler by Clicking Here.

1000

My customary ritual every January 1st is to start each year by sharing the very first blog article I ever wrote. Regular followers of this blog know the one I’m talking about. That wonderful day when I almost burned the house down making pierogies.

This year I decided to change that because of something I noticed the other day after posting my most recent interview. So, instead of posting something on the first of the year, I’m going to post something on the last day of the worst year ever.

Here’s the big announcement:

The post you are reading right now is my 1,000th article on WordPress! That’s right – one thousand. What makes this monumental achievement even more special is that tomorrow, January 1st, 2021, also marks the 10th anniversary of the following resolution I made to myself:

Who would’ve guessed that over the course of these last ten years I would have achieved such a mind-boggling statistic, and that number doesn’t even include the interviews I’ve done for sites like Yahoo! Examiner and Technorati.

In addition to the articles and interviews I’ve posted over the past decade, I’ve also co-authored three children’s books with a dear friend, traveled as far away as Los Angeles for interviews, wrote my very first novel and contributed four interviews to Guitar World magazine and several features for a major newspaper.

Among these one thousand articles are some pinch yourself moments, like the time I interviewed REO Speedwagon in the dressing room at The Greek Theatre in L.A. and was given a side-stage personal tour of Dave Amato’s guitar rig while Don Felder [formerly of The Eagles] stood thirty feet away performing “Hotel California” to a screaming, sold-out audience. Or the time filmmakers invited me to the Hollywood premiere of their horror film, and I actually got the chance to walk the red carpet with a legend of the genre.

I’ve interviewed Colonel Oliver North in his hotel room while he was nursing a bum foot. I chatted with Ozzy Osbourne on the phone and actually understood every word he said. I even talked to Ace Frehley of KISS and thanked him for being the one who inspired me to pick up the guitar. The truth of the matter is I will interview anyone – from artists about their new projects to porn stars about their unfortunate #MeToo experience – because everyone has a story that needs to be told.

But perhaps the greatest thing that’s happened to me during these last ten years of writing has been getting to meet so many amazingly talented people: independent artists, actors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers. All who’ve inspired me with their own creative works. People who’ve gone from being just another interview to lifelong friends.

Like many of you, 2020 was the absolute worst year of my life, but I’m optimistic about the future. Some of the things I’ve done recently include taking up watercolor painting as a form of mental therapy. I even sold one of them to a friend who generously donated the money to the local animal shelter [just like I did with my children’s books]. I’ve also begun the process of going back to college to finally finish my degree. Next year will be the release of my brand-new novel. One that’s been in the works for a very long time. There is something very cool, and music related with it that I hope I’ll be able to pull off. Will require some approval by the artist but fingers crossed.

I hope that by reading this blog, or any of the other 999 that have come before it, has inspired you to make a similar resolution to the one I made on January 1st, 2011, and that is to make a promise to yourself for 2021. A resolution to do something you’ve always dreamed about doing. Just take the first sentence of my resolution and change the word “writing” to something you’re passionate about. Then go out and make it happen.

Here’s wishing you peace, love, music, art, writing….and all the best for the New Year.

‘Beacon of Hope’: Journey’s Arnel Pineda Discusses His Timely and Relevant Single, ‘This Christmas’

The year 2020 has brought about many challenges for the world. Whether it’s the ongoing Covid crisis, the loss of wages and homes, or the devastating effects of volcanic eruptions and typhoons in places like the Philippines. Every one of us has been affected this year but has also played the hero or given hope to someone else in their time of need.

In the spirit of the holidays Arnel Pineda, lead singer of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee band, Journey, has unveiled his timely and poetic single, “This Christmas — A Beacon of Hope.” The track, originally released in 2016, has been given new life by Pineda, with a fresh arrangement that includes the addition of the singer’s daughter joining him on vocals.

Pineda has found other ways to give back. The Arnel Pineda Foundation, Inc. (APFI) is a non-stock, non-profit, and independent Philippine foundation that provides underprivileged children quality education, health services and medical attention. Pineda’s ongoing tenure as frontman Journey has allowed many individuals with shared goals to join him in helping children rise above their circumstances.

I recently spoke to Pineda about “This Christmas — A Beacon of Hope” and more in this exclusive new interview.

What made you decide to release a Christmas song?

Arnel Pineda: I first released the song in 2016 but decided to release it again this year because it was very timely. It’s a song about being Santa to our friends in need — mother, father sister, brother, or strangers who are homeless or in despair. It’s about making a choice to step out of the dark and into the light and telling you that it’s all going to be ok. I changed a few lines and included my daughter in the song. It’s the older and younger and a song for everybody.

Do you find it easier to write a Christmas song as compared to a rock song?

AP: I think it’s easier to write a rock song. A lot of hits are usually just a few chords with the bass and drums steady and the singer carrying the melody. With “This Christmas” I went through a lot of process with the lyrics and arrangements. I was fortunate to be able to tap into others who helped shape the song into how I wanted it to be heard.

What inspired you to start The Arnel Pineda Foundation?

AP: It was back around 2009, shortly after I started touring with Journey. I was hanging out with friends and some of my old classmate from high school. I didn’t finish school but told them about the idea of forming a foundation. It could be our way to help people turn back to education instead of doing things like begging for money, scavenging for things to sell, or becoming a small-time criminal or prostitute. That was the start. As of today we have thirty-four scholars that we support and I’m so thankful to our sponsors for supporting us for such a long time.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Arnel Pineda by Clicking Here!

‘Bloom’: Jim Ivins Discusses New Ivins Single, Quarantunes Solo Project

 

The year 2020 was set to be a monumental one for loud-alternative rockers, The Ivins. The band, still riding the wave of success from their acclaimed album, The Code Duello, had spent the last two years working on the follow-up, Conditions, when the whole world came to a screeching halt.

Once the lockdown began guitarist Jim Ivins tapped into what would become one of the most creative periods of his life. He began writing songs in earnest, without any direction or limits in mind. It began with a new Ivins single, “Bloom.” An infectious musical jaunt with guitar-driven groove and an Ivin-esque signature, hook-laden vocal.

The song was soon followed by Jim Ivins’ new solo album — the aptly-titled, Quarantunes. A 12-song collection of material covering the spectrum of rock, pop, r&b and punk. For this project Ivins recruited an arsenal of Nashville heavyweights to lend socially-distant performances, including renowned players from the area and bands like Florida Georgia Line, Daughtry and Three Doors Down.

Fans can also expect a future release of The Ivins’ Conditions album as well, which was engineered by Michael Zuehsow (Colt Ford, Cherub) and mixed by Robert Venable (Kelly Clarkson, Twenty One Pilots)

I recently spoke with Ivins about “Bloom,” his new music and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would you describe The Ivins sound? Is there a way you can put into words what your music is all about?

Jim Ivins: I’m trying to make loud-alternative a genre classifier. When I was growing up alternative meant powerful guitars with deep, introspective lyrics. Today it’s more melody-driven and almost dance/pop. I’ve taken the position of taking the music I grew up with and bringing it into the now.

What can you tell me about the band’s most recent single, “Bloom?”

Jim Ivins: Bloom” came out of what ended up becoming one of the most creatively fruitful periods of my life. The Ivins had just finished an album we’d be working on for almost two years, and the week it was mastered was when the lockdown happened and everything came to a halt. With the unfortunate reality of 2020 I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and no distractions. I started writing anything that came to me. I wrote the music for “Bloom” as a nostalgia-driven track and brought it to the guys. They all liked it and put their own stamp on it. Lyrically, I wanted to write a song about my longtime girlfriend and what she means to me. It’s a song about a lost person meandering through life, and how it only takes one person or connection to change things around.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Jim Ivins by Clicking Here.

Interview: Carol Lewis Discusses Tony Lewis’ Posthumous EP, ‘More Than I Dared’, The Outfield

Photo: Carol Lewis

Following his unexpected death last October, the family of Tony Lewis, lead singer and bassist of the 1980s rock band The Outfield, as well as accomplished solo artist, posthumously released his sublime new EP, More Than I Dared.

The EP follows Lewis’ acclaimed debut solo album, 2018’s Out Of The Darkness, and is rich with the spirit of The Outfield; particularly on songs like the hook-laden “Gonna Make You Love Me,” and “I Feel Alive.” Other highlights from More Than I Dared include the guitar-driven “One By One,” and the colorful “Then There Was You.” The latter of which an intriguing departure from Lewis’ signature style.

There’s a magical element to More Than I Dared that’s undeniable. A showcase of elements in Lewis’ musical arsenal as songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. With music by Lewis and lyrics contributed by his wife, Carol, More That I Dared is a welcome treat for fans and a fitting honor to the legacy of a man who’s music will live on for generations to come.

100% of net proceeds from the initial release of More Than I Dared will be donated to MusiCares, an organization Lewis was very fond of.

The Outfield [which also featured Lewis’ friend and longtime collaborator, John Spinks, who passed in 2014] took the 80s by storm with their 1985 debut, Play Deep, and songs like “Your Love,” “All The Love,” and “Say It Isn’t So.” More than thirty-five years later, “Your Love” and Lewis’ signature vocal opener: “Josie’s on a vacation far away…” continues to be featured in compilation albums and commercials as well as streamed nearly a million times a week.

I recently spoke with Carol Lewis about More Than I Dared, Tony, The Outfield and more in this exclusive new interview.

What inspired the new EP?

Carol Lewis: The EP was inspired by Tony’s newfound solo career. He wanted to show that he had grown in confidence as a composer and producer and was keen to show another side to his talent.

How would you describe More Than I Dared in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of Tony’s previous solo work or with The Outfield?

Carol Lewis: A lot of people thought Tony just sung the songs but he was so much more than just a vocalist. He was a very accomplished musician who could play lots of instruments. He had a vision of how he wanted to sound, and although there would always be Outfield influences he wanted to add a different dimension to show where his own personal influences and style came through.

What was the songwriting process like for the two of you?

CL: Tony was always producing backing tracks and working on new ideas. He would sometimes spend all day in his studio and then play them for me. Then I would ask him what he was trying to say, and he’d say something like: “I have no idea, but it should go something like this….” Then he’d sing me something that made no sense. So I’d sit and think about scenarios from life and words would generally follow. The best time for me was while I was out running. It gave me clarity to make sense of things and what he wanted to say.

Read the rest of my
With Carol Lewis by Clicking Here