Category Archives: Music

Heart’s Nancy Wilson Talks ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ CD/DVD

Photo by: Christie Goodwin

Photo by: Christie Goodwin

Heart’s epic new CD/DVD/Blu-ray, Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, captures the band’s first performance—ever—at the legendary London venue.

The sold-out show, which took place in June, was highlighted by hit after hit—from “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda” to “Magic Man” and “Dreamboat Annie”—plus tracks from the band’s engaging new studio album, Beautiful Broken.

Besides Ann Wilson (vocals) and Nancy Wilson (guitar/vocals), the band that night included Ben Smith (drums), Dan Rothchild (bass), Craig Bartock (guitar), Chris Joyner (keyboards) and, of course, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nick Davies.

I recently spoke with Nancy Wilson about the Royal Albert Hall performance, gear and the stories behind some of the band’s biggest hits.

When and how did the idea for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall originate?
We had been pushing the concept of bringing the band over to the U.K. and doing some shows for some time. That was when someone who had been handling big shows at Royal Albert Hall got wind that we were coming over and asked if we’d be interested in doing a World Symphony show. And we were like, “Uhm, yeah! I think we could manage that!” [laughs]. It all fell together very naturally.

What was the process like in terms of putting orchestration behind the band’s iconic songs?
It was a cool thing because we already had some standard charts from Paul Buckmaster, who worked us on Beautiful Broken. But we didn’t want to give it a pastoral kind of sound. We wanted more of a rock-symphony sound. We came over and had one day with Nick Davies looking over the charts and talking them over. We perused through them together and decided what to add and what take out.

The same day as the show was the only day we actually rehearsed with the orchestra. They’re so insanely talented. Once we got out there and saw how great it sounded in the room, we knew right away it was going to work. That’s when we said, “Ok, let’s go have some fun!”

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Nancy Wilson Here!

Glenn Hughes Talks New Solo Album, Gear and Black Country Communion

glennhughes

Glenn Hughes is an elusive artist with an uncanny ability to jam with Stevie Wonder one night and rock out with Disturbed the next. But perhaps no album showcases the real Glenn Hughes better than Resonate, his first solo album of new material in eight years.

With its groove-oriented, Detroit-style sound, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has made the album his fans have been longing for. Tracks like “Heavy,” “Landmines” and “Flow” spotlight Hughes’ limitless swagger, while “Long Time Gone” is acoustic and secretive.

I recently spoke with Hughes about the new album, his gear, Black Country Communion and a some of the more memorable moments of his career.

Resonate is your first solo album in eight years. Why such a long wait?
I’ve written three Black Country Communion albums, a California Breed album and bits and pieces with others artists. As I was recovering from double-knee transplants earlier this year, I was bedridden for a while and wrote this album. But I didn’t go in to write a solo album. I did it for cathartic/therapy reasons. If you know anything about me, you know I’m always writing.

To me, this album is one long song with 12 breaks. It’s a meaningful record because I sing about the human condition and what gets us through. I’m singing about my father’s death and I’m pissed off, but I’m also sensitive and you get to hear that in the tone of my voice in certain songs.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Glenn Hughes by Clicking Here!

Guitarist John Roth Discusses Gear and the Roth Brock Project

roth-brockGuitarist John Roth first met vocalist Terry Brock in 2009 while working on Giant’s Promised Land record.

The pair immediately developed a musical bond, not to mention the songwriting chemistry that would eventually lead to their infectious debut album, Roth Brock Project.

For Roth—who gigs with Winger and Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas—and Brock (Giant, LeRoux, Strangeways), the 11-song collaboration of thundering guitars and powerhouse vocals pays homage to the inspired songwriting and style of Eighties arena rock while showcasing the talents of two seasoned veterans.

I recently spoke to Roth about the Roth Brock Project, his time with Starship and Winger, gear and more in this new interview.

How did your musical relationship with Terry Brock begin? 

In 2009, I did a record with Giant called Promised LandDann Huff was the lead guitar player of the band, but he was too busy to do the record. He knew the guitar community, and I got the call to come in and do the record. Terry was the lead singer and he and I did some co-writing for the record and really hit it off.

How would you describe the Roth Brock Project in terms of its sound?

It’s classic, arena rock and roll. It’s got an Eighties vibe but with new gear and new recording technology. I wanted to deliver a record that has the elements of Winger, Starship and Giant. It’s inspired by that kind of sound.

What’s your writing process like? 

I’ve written a few songs from musical ideas, but most are inspired when I hear a melody or lyric in my head. I’ll usually hear the chorus in my head first and then write what would go behind it and then move on to the verse and bridge. For me, it really comes chorus first.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with John Roth by Clicking Here.

Stryper Celebrates 30 Years of ‘To Hell With The Devil’ With Music, Memories in Stone Pony Performance

thwtdFirst, a little bit of perspective.

It was my senior year of high school in March of 1987 when rumors surfaced that Christian rockers, Stryper were coming to town. The band, which had already been generating a healthy buzz in both the Christian and secular/MTV worlds with the songs “Calling On You,” “Free,” “Honestly” and the title-track from their ‘To Hell With The Devil’ album, was out on tour supporting the release and would soon be rolling into The State Theatre in Easton, Pennsylvania.

My hometown.

Easton is a small town that borders the western end of New Jersey and lies somewhere in between the metropolitan cities of New York and Philadelphia. With a population of 26,000, the highlight of a night in Easton in 1987 consisted of listening to the freight trains rumble through the downtown or hanging out at the local McDonald’s on South Third Street.

Needless to say, when word got out that Stryper was coming to town it was a pretty big deal. And for a seventeen-year-old punk who had his own visions of rock stardom, it was also a dream come true. I had already worn out my cassette copy of THWTD learning it at guitar lesson, and now I had the chance of seeing the band perform it at a place within walking distance from my home. I immediately scrounged up every last dollar of lawn mowing money and the loose change from the sofa cushions and camped out in front of the venue. My reward? A single, front-row ticket to the show!

Stryper - Easton, PA 1987

Stryper – Easton, PA 1987

I remember the band’s performance that night was amazing. Stryper– Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox and Tim Gaines—wore their classic yellow and black uniforms, threw bibles into the audience and sang songs about positivity with soaring vocals and an infectious dual guitar attack. That show and tour remain one of the biggest highlights of my teenage years.

Fast-forward thirty years. I am now a middle-aged man, but still a punk-kid at heart. Dreams of rock stardom have been replaced by coffee, deadlines and a word processor. I may be a little thick in the middle now and my hairline may have receded, but my love of guitar and all things metal is still overflowing. So much so that last night I drove two hours outside the safe confines of Easton to catch Stryper performing the 30th anniversary of ‘To Hell With The Devil’ at The Stone Pony in Asbury, NJ.

Photo courtesy: Dale Wilson

Stryper – Asbury, NJ 2016. Photo courtesy: Dale Wilson

Oh sure, I’ve heard the band perform many of the songs from ‘To Hell With The Devil’ over the years –including most recently last April at the famous Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles, but never in a celebration-style format of the entire album being performed in its entirety from front to back by those same original members, and I was not disappointed.

From the opening sounds of The Abyss (which kicks off ‘To Hell With Devil’) to the title-track, “Calling On You,” “Free” and “Honestly”, it was a time capsule of youth and music. Some of my other favorites from the album included “Holding On,” “More Than A Man” and the always emotional, “All of Me”.

As if seeing the band perform their biggest album in its entirely wasn’t enough, Stryper also went into an additional set of songs from their 33-year musical arsenal. Tracks like “Yahweh,” “God,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “Caught In the Middle” were fist pumping and magical, while the band’s infectious versions of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and KISS’ “Shout it Out Loud” were met with equally enthusiastic response.

The band ended their two-hour performance with the dual encore of “Reach Out” and “Makes Me Wanna Sing”, both from their ‘Soldiers Under Command’ album and capping off a celebration that included a little bit of everything.

In fact, about the only thing missing from Stryper’s Stone Pony set was their monster hit, “Always There For You” from their 1988 album, ‘In God We Trust’. But after experiencing the band many times over these last thirty years –both from small towns to the big cities–I can honestly say that it made no difference.

For me, Stryper will always be there.

Stryper Set List (Asbury Park, NJ)

Abyss (To Hell With The Devil)
To Hell With the Devil
Calling on You
Free
Honestly
The Way
Sing Along Song
Holding On
Rocking The World
All Of Me
More Than A Man
Battle Hymn of the Republic (pre-recorded)
Yahweh
In God We Trust
Heaven and Hell 
(Black Sabbath cover)
Shout It Out Loud 
(KISS cover)
God
Revelation
Caught in the Middle
Surrender
Soldiers Under Command

Encore:
Reach Out
Makes Me Wanna Sing

Michael Sweet Discusses Stryper’s 30th Anniversary ‘To Hell With The Devil Tour’, Memorable Moments

When multi-platinum, Christian rockers Stryper donned their iconic yellow and black costumes and kicked off their 30th Anniversary To Hell with the Devil Tour in September, they were greeted by legions of fans longing for one more taste of the band’s biggest album.

For most, this was the first time they’ve seen the band’s original line-up in full gear performing deep cuts like “Holding On” and “All of Me” in nearly three decades. A once in a lifetime opportunity to be sure.

Stryper

Stryper

For metal fans who may not be familiar, Stryper’s “To Hell With The Devil” album is a masterpiece of 80’s metal. The Grammy-nominated, third studio release was also the first to achieve platinum status as well as giving the band — which consists of Michael Sweet (lead vocals/guitars), Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Foxx (guitars) and Tim Gaines (bass), crossover appeal to mainstream metal with songs like the title track, “Honestly,” “Calling On You” and “Free”.

For this tour, Stryper will be performing To Hell With The Devil in its entirely from start to finish, followed by another set of the band’s biggest and most well known hits.

I recently spoke with Michael Sweet about the To Hell With The Devil: 30th Anniversary Tour, his upcoming projects and some memorable moments of his career.

When you look back on the To Hell With The Devil album now with thirty years of perspective, what thoughts come to mind?

It was a special time and definitely the highlight and heyday of the band. I’ve always said that it was the album that took us from performing in theaters to arenas, and the song, “Honestly” literally took us from gold to platinum status. It was our biggest, most celebrated and popular album to this day, and just the fact that we’re doing it now with the original line-up thirty years later is mind boggling and I love it!

How has reaction been to the new tour?

It’s been fantastic. We start with a little video documentary of the band and its history. Then we come out and do To Hell With The Devil in its entirety. Then we take a five-minute break and come back out and do another full set after that. It’s almost a two-hour show.

What’s it been like revisiting some of these songs?

It’s been great. There are actually a few songs, like “Holding On,” “All of Me,” and “Rockin’ The World” that we haven’t played since the 80s. Playing them now every night is a reminder of just how cool those songs are and how much we missed playing them. The crowd loves them and the response has been phenomenal.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from To Hell With The Devil, starting with Honestly. Can you tell me how that song came about?

I had a Roland keyboard sitting in my garage that always inspired me to write piano ballads. I remember sitting down at it one day and playing some chords. It actually came together fairly quickly and wound up becoming the song that charted the highest of any we’ve ever released.

At the time, did you know it was going to be special?

I had a feeling about that song and the whole album actually. When we started tracking and listening back to the mixes I had a gut feeling it was going to be big and a turning point for the band.

How about the track, To Hell With The Devil?

Rob wanted to give the album that title, so I wrote the music and Rob and I wrote the words together. It’s an iconic title that a lot of people remember us for and a catch phrase people love to say. It’s a powerful statement because we believe that’s where he [The Devil] is going. The original album cover was very controversial because there was a pentagram being pulled from Satan’s neck and it upset a lot of the Christian bookstores that were carrying it. We wound up changing the artwork.

Calling on You.

That song is a good merge of pop sense and metal. It’s got this edge along with a great melody and harmonies. It was the first video we made for the album and the first that went to #1 on Dial MTV. It’s been a staple in our set since the 80s.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet

Your most recent solo album, One Sided War also received a lot of critical acclaim. Do you have plans to tour to support it next year?

Absolutely. I’m going to do some acoustic shows next year as well as ones and a full band. I’ll also be starting a new Sweet & Lynch album in February and I can’t wait to do it.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

Right now, I’m working on some songs for Joel Hoekstra / Michael Sweet super group project. I’m also thinking about another new solo album already.

You’re one of few artists from the era who continues to write, record and create new music. What’s your reasoning behind it?

You know what it is? I’m still just as excited about it now as I was when I was sixteen. And it’s not just about the touring and performance as much as it is the writing and recording. Creating. I’m passionate about it.

Of all of the highlights of your career as an artist, are there any that stand out to you as most memorable?

As an artist, the one that pops in my mind instantly is the first performance I had with Boston [Note: Sweet performed as singer and guitarist for Boston from 2008-2011]. I remember it was a very sad night because we had been celebrating Brad Delp’s life and I was really nervous because I was stepping up to the plate and singing songs for Brad. I wasn’t sure how the fans would accept it, but I just remember singing the first song and hearing the crowd roar. It was a special, emotional moment for me. Of course with Stryper, there are so many. Just the days of performing in some of these venues, traveling and seeing the world together as a band. There are so many special moments.

Groovin’ with Peter White: Guitarist Talks New Album, Gear and Al Stewart’s ‘Year of the Cat’

Photo by: Lori Stoll

Photo by: Lori Stoll

Peter White released Groovin’, his third album of cover songs, today, October 28. This time around, the guitarist puts his unique spin on timeless tunes from the late Fifties through the early Eighties.

Taking up where White’s previous cover albums—Reflections (1994) and Playin’ Favorites (2006)—leave off, Groovin’ is a nostalgic and adventurous slice of instrumental groove and playful guitar melody.

The disc, which takes its title from the Rascals’ tropical-hued 1967 hit, is chock full of White’s instantly recognizable guitar sound. He applies it the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere,” Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Sleep Walk,” a Number 1 instrumental hit by Santo & Johnny from 1959.

I recently spoke with White about Groovin’, his gear and his time working with Al Stewart on Year of the Cat, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year.

There’s a 23-year period of music you cover on Groovin’. Was there a particular theme or concept you had in mind when choosing songs?
There was never any great concept or theme, except for me to remind people that music was really good back then. For this album, I wanted to put together a collection of songs that I really like. They’re all songs with great melodies that work well on the guitar, but I wanted to approach them in a different way. I think if you can take a song everyone knows and give it a spin and make it your own, it really defines you as an artist.

Why did you choose to cover the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere”?
I grew up learning to play guitar by listening to the Beatles on the radio. There are so many Beatles songs I love, but that particular one works so well on guitar. It’s very whimsical with a beautiful melody.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Peter White Here!

Andy Timmons Talks New Album, ‘Theme from a Perfect World’

Photo by:  Simone Cecchetti

Photo by: Simone Cecchetti

Andy Timmons Band’s eighth album, Theme from a Perfect World, is an inspired, guitar-driven affair made up of 10 hook-filled instrumentals that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of guitarists.

Produced by Timmons and his longtime bassist, Mike Daane, Perfect World is the ideal balance of melodic virtuosity and inspired songwriting.

In addition to his solo work—which includes his critically acclaimed 2011 instrumental take on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandTimmons’ resume includes work with Danger Danger, Kip Winger and Simon Phillips.

I recently caught up with the busy guitarist to ask him about Theme from a Perfect World, his gear and memorable moments from his career.

How would you describe Theme from a Perfect World in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

I think it’s a bit of a departure from my last two records [Revolution and Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt. Pepper]. I remember when we recorded Revolution and I was listening to the basic tracks. I wasn’t feeling inspired, but then I remembered something Steve Vai told me; he said he loved those earlier sessions I did when I was recording songs that just had guitar, bass and drums—ones where you could hear the fingers on the frets and there wasn’t a lot of stuff going on.

That stuck in my mind, and I asked myself, what if I switched gears and did the whole record like that? Just stripping it down to a one-guitar performance and assimilating all of the important elements into one. It became fun and a challenge. That same idea spilled over to the Beatles songs.

This new album is in the direction of the last two records in that we’re still keeping things as natural and organic as possible, but we also gave ourselves the “keys to the kingdom.” It’s given it a vintage kind of feel. I’m very proud of the songwriting and the playing on this record.

Is there a different way you approach writing an instrumental album as opposed to one with vocals?

I don’t find it that much different. Things that have resonated with me a certain way are stored in muscle memory and my melodic ear will always steer me. As a writer and improviser, you’re always trying to create an “in the moment,” but with just music, you’re not confined to any limitation and can go much deeper. And the deeper your connection is to the instrument, the better your ability is to do that.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Andy Timmons by Clicking Here!

Duane Allman’s Daughter Discusses Limited-Edition ‘Skydog’ Vinyl Box Set

Duane Allmän - Photo by John Gellmn

Duane Allman – Photo by John Gellman

Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, Rounder Records‘ 2013 box set honoring the musical legacy of the late Allman Brothers Band guitarist, was a critical and commercial success.

On October 28, Rounder will offer a limited-edition vinyl version of the retrospective. Each of the 1,000 individually numbered copies will include all the music from the CD editions—129 tracks—on 14, 180-gram vinyl LPs.

The set also includes a 56-page booklet full of rare photos and essays by journalist Scott Schinder and Duane’s daughter, Galadrielle Allman, who compiled the collection with producer Bill Levenson.

This retrospective includes classic Allman Brothers Band songs plus a collector’s cache of rare singles and long-out-of-print album tracks. The songs range from Duane’s early recordings with Gregg Allman in the Escorts, Allman Joys and Hour Glass, to his studio work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs and Delaney & Bonnie. There’s even a live jam session with the Grateful Dead.

Below, check out our exclusive Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (vinyl edition) unboxing video—plus a new interview wth Galadrielle. We discuss Skydog, her father’s legacy, her career and more.

What would you like people to take away from this new vinyl package?

The real desire with this package—and also with my book—is to humanize Duane, to take him out of the pantheon of the gods and return him to the mortal world. One where you can actually fall in love with the guitar, work really hard and achieve. The albums hang together really well and there’s a story there about his growth and style strengthening and developing. If you listen chronologically, you can hear him growing and changing. By the end, you hear the full-blown master of improvisational rock guitar.

You mentioned your book, Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. What made you decide to write it?

I‘ve always been focused on writing and really had a sense of being born into his amazing story. I actually started it in my twenties but backed off because of the scale and scope of it. But when I turned 40, I said that if it’s going to happen, it has to be now. I took the better part of three years doing the research and the next two years doing the writing. It was an incredibly fulfilling and satisfying experience.

Was there a particular moment in your life when you realized the enormity of your father’s contributions to guitar and music?

There really isn’t one particular time that I remember of becoming aware. When I was a child in the early Seventies, they are at the peak of their power playing stadiums. Some of my earliest memories are of being at concerts, but the thing that’s incredible is that the legacy and admiration for my father has only grown during my lifetime. He was a revered guitar player, but a lot a people didn’t know that he played on Layla and all of the other work he did outside of the Allman Brothers Band. Just the depth of his session playing and the incredible way it goes through every genre of American music. It’s an incredible accomplishment for somehow who lived for less than twenty-five years.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Galadrielle Allman Here!

Bryan Adams Discusses Gear and His New DVD, ‘Wembley Live 1996’

Photo by: Andre W. Catlin

Photo by: Andre W. Catlin

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Bryan Adams performed to a crowd of 70,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. Adams was in top form that summer night in 1996, and it didn’t hurt that his multi-platinum album, 18 til I Die, had just reached Number 1 in the U.K.

To celebrate the anniversary, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Bryan Adams: Wembley Live 1996 on DVD October 14.

This incredible live performance is packed with Adams’ guitar-driven hits, including “Summer of ’69,” “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and “Run to You,” as well as a storming rendition of “It’s Only Love” featuring Melissa Etheridge.

I recently spoke with Adams about the new DVD, his time working with producer Mutt Lange, his gear and more.

Other than it being the 20th anniversary, what made you decide to release this performance on DVD?

Fans were asking for it. I kept saying there was no film, but then I discovered a box of tapes in my basement and remembered I had filmed it. I’d just forgotten.

What made this particular show so special?

After touring for so many years around the world, this was the high point for all of the songs and albums I’d released in the Eighties and Nineties.

What’s it like to perform at such a high level at Wembley?

It’s so hard to describe now after so long, but it was certainly daunting and quite unbelievable. In the end, your senses take over on gigs and you just get on with it. But walking out there was incredible, and leaving the stage even more so.

What was the vibe like in the band at that point of your career?

The band was in top spirits. We’d been playing a lot of other music on our “b-stage,” so we were not drawn to doing the same songs every night. There’s a Japanese bootleg somewhere out there that has 40 or 50 different cover songs that had been recorded by fans and compiled onto a CD. The quality is poor, but the collection is outstanding.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Bryan Adams by Clicking Here!

‘The Art of Elegance’: Kristin Chenoweth Discusses Timeless New Album

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

With a magical career that transcends Broadway, television, film and music, Kristin Chenoweth has firmly established herself as one of the preeminent artists of our generation.

After conquering the musical realms of country, Christian and Christmas music, the charismatic Tony and Emmy-award winning singer/actress showcases her interpretive prowess with her latest release, The Art of Elegance. A beautiful, 13-song package featuring Chenoweth’s unique take on classics from The Great American Songbook.

Songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me” (George Gershwin) and the sublime “A House Is Not A Home” (Burt Bacharach / Hal Davis) take on new life while tracks like the haunting “I’m A Fool To Want You” (Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf/Joel Herron) and the apropos “I Get Along Without You Very Well” (Hoagy Carmichael) deliver timeless sentiment.

AXS recently spoke with Chenoweth about her beautiful new album and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What inspired The Art of Elegance project?

Kristin Chenoweth: I cut my teeth at a young age hearing the music from this era. This is my sixth album and throughout my entire career, this is the music that speaks to me the loudest. Obviously, I’ve looked up to many icons, certainly Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt and Diana Krall have all been instrumental and are examples of women who have done it before me. They’re all very different and put their own stamp on their versions. That’s what I tried to do here. I also wanted to pay homage to the composers of the time.

You can read my complete AXS interview with Kristin Chenoweth Here!

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