Interview: Linda Perry Discusses Two-Day ‘Rock ’N’ Relief Concert Series & Live Stream Event’

LINDA PERRY

Legendary producer & Hall of Fame songwriter  has curated and is set to take part in this weekend’s two-day (& Live Stream) at L.A. City and mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on March 5 and 6. CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) is a non-profit organization started by Sean Penn and Ann Lee that has worked tirelessly, and without any government funding, to provide access to free Covid-19 testing and vaccines across Los Angeles.

This two-day live stream will benefit CORE’s life-saving programs as well as raise money for CORE’s mobile vaccination. A program which brings access to the vaccine directly to low-income and communities of color who need it most. Perry’s Rock n’ Relief concert aims to give the community live entertainment, in the safety of their cars, while they wait to receive the vaccine.

Hosted by DJ Kat Corbett of SiriusXM & KROQ, the lineup for this two-day concert series features live performances from artists like Miguel, Macy Gray, Scream, DJ Adam Bravin (She Wants Revenge), Macy Gray, Willa Ami, Juliette Lewis, Donita Sparks (L7 & Friends), Linda Perry, Pete Molinari, Kevin Bacon, Silversun Pickups, Jen Awad, Aloe Blacc, Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas, Troy Noka and house band Flashback Heart Attack. The series also includes digital performances from artists around the world, including Carly Simon w/ David Saw, Foo Fighters, Deadmau5, Gavin Rossdale, Pete Yorn, James Blunt, Jewel, Gary Barlow, Tracy Bonham, Deborah Cox, Shaed, Sheryl Crow, Sammy Hagar and Jenny Lewis & Blake of Rilo Kiley.

I recently spoke with Perry about the Rock N’ Relief Concert Series, her involvement with CORE, songwriting and much more in this exclusive new interview.

What’s it been like for you as an artist (and person) living during these uncertain times?

Linda Perry: I feel very focused, clear, creative, and determined to be of service in any way that I can. There’s a lot going on in the world right now. There are people who are dying and others who’ve lost stores they’ve spent their whole lives building. I’m extremely grateful to be alive and that my family is healthy and safe.

How did you become involved with CORE and what inspired this event?

LP: I first got involved with Sean Penn when I scored the documentary he made about his organization going to help Haiti to assist after the earthquake in 2010 and how they’re continuing to help them. Here in L.A, Sean’s CORE Response has been out for eight months. With zero government funding they’ve given out five million covid tests for free. Now they’ve given over 450,000 vaccinations (12,000 a day). I decided to help raise money for the mobile units they’re putting together to go across the county and in places like New Orleans and Chicago. There are a lot of people in the Latino community who are struggling to get to this sight to get vaccinated and older people who can’t sit in a two-hour line. They need someone to come to them. That’s why me, my team and the artists got involved. It’s a human cause to help each other get through this very difficult time. Seeing how people have come together to unite and take a stand to help the world in crisis has been a beautiful thing to see.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Linda Perry by Clicking Here.

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.

Pierogie Phobia

I only have two fears in my life. Oh sure, we all have aversions to familiar things: heights, creepy bugs and other slimy critters, drowning. The list goes on. But the ones I’m most afraid of are not of the ordinary nature: one of them being Coke Zero. But the one I really want to discuss with you today is my fear of pierogies. Laugh if you must, but let me explain.

Thirty years ago I was a pierogie connoisseur. My semi regular routine was to pan fry each little doughy, cheese and potato filled manna in a half-gallon of vegetable oil, drown them in salt and then make a bee line for the couch to watch TV and indulge. My average intake was between six and eight during a binge. I did my best work solo. And I was immortal. But that all changed very quickly one particular Sunday afternoon.

It was a hot summer day at my Mom’s house. I was still living with her as dead beat sons often do when home from college. She had driven with my brother and a few other people to the NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway. I decided to stay at home to watch the race and partake in Pierogie-Palooza.

I followed my customary routine of pan frying eight pierogies and drowning them in the aforementioned salt. Filling a large glass with Diet Coke (as I had not yet progressed to Coke Zero, but that is a story for another time), I sat on the couch and turned on the race.

I couldn’t tell you about the race. All I recall was the wonderful combination of carb, fat and salt as it hit my tongue. The smell of golden goodness. The taste of empty calories and the age mass that would eventually haunt me in the years to follow. I finished them all, then fell into a pierogie high. It was true Zen.

Suddenly, there was another smell that infiltrated my sacred space. It wasn’t one I was familiar with and for a second I thought about just ignoring it, but quickly realized I could not. A feeling of helplessness washed over me as I knew my world was about to change. Because that’s when I saw the smoke coming from the kitchen.

You see, in my haste to reach the ninth plane of starch and fat heaven I forgot to turn off the pan containing the half-gallon of vegetable oil that cooked the pierogies. I managed to get to the kitchen in time to put the fire in the pan out. Disaster averted. That was a close one I thought to me self, but then I looked around the kitchen…

Oh shit….!!!

The smoke from the grease fire had painted a nice black film on the white walls and cabinets in the kitchen.

Oh shit…..she’ll be home soon!!!

That’s when the humorous side of my brain made light of the situation. “Well Son, at least you’re not a young kid anymore or you would have gotten the ass beating of your life for this one”…..Ha-ha. That humorous side….I love him sometimes….But this was serious. And for a moment, I really did wonder if Mom would beat the shit out of her 21-year-old son. (looking back now, I think I could’ve taken her but at the time, I didn’t want to find out). I had to clean this up before she got home. I could do it. Clean it all up. She’d walk in and it would be like nothing ever happened.

I grabbed a bucket and filled it with water and some cleaning agent. I think it was the second or third pass on the wall when reality really hit. This shit on the wall was NOT coming off. And then I rationalized why this was happening to me. Could this be payback for the time I “accidentally” put my car in neutral and rolled it into our house on South Side? Sure, everyone was glad I was ok afterwards but I never really got punished for it. My heart started racing.

Oh yes, this one was going to be my legacy. The joke of family events for years to come… “Jimmy almost burned the house down cooking Pierogies”….Pierogies and Jimmy were going to go together forever. I thought about going on job interviews and being asked about my pierogie ordeal. Getting married and every one throwing pierogies at me instead of rice….And worst of all,  I just knew my Mom was going to have the Mrs. T logo put on my tombstone.

So, what did I do? I dumped the water bucket in the sink and opened the windows to let the remainder of the smoke out. Sat back down on the couch and finished watching the race. Haven’t touched a pierogie since. I can’t look at them without going back to the helplessness of that day. Yes, I AM afraid!

Rightly so I am still the butt of jokes at family get togethers. But I’ll never forget the look on Mom’s face when she walked in and saw the end result. There was so much I wanted to say, but all I could muster was:

“So, how was the race?”….

‘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!