Scott Allen: “Find Your Dance!”

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Scott Allen’s life has been anything but cake. Yet, through all his trials and tribulations, this Northern Colorado musician has taken his pain—along with his passion and joy—and made them into works of art. It’s one of the reasons that makes Scott such a popular entertainer. With an extraordinary depth of soul in his voice, Scott’s songs—which he dubs a mix of Folk, Country Rock, Indie, and Americana—are sometimes guttural, sometimes tender, and sometimes lighthearted. I would personally define him as a combination of Johnny Cash and James Taylor: “black leather bad-boy meets gentle poet” or “rushing waters run deep,” because Scott is anything but “still.”

SONY DSCDuring our interview, Scott was open, honest, and confident, but he explained that that hasn’t always been the case.

“I was always a very sensitive and caring person, but after some life-changing events, I found myself growing more numb, disconnected, angry, and lonely,” he confessed. “So I learned quickly how to put on a disguise of being together, secure, and confident. But when I’m present in the music, in the flow of it, there’s no past anymore. It’s almost like realizing that the timid little boy never knew how powerful he really is.”

SONY DSCAfter working for a large company for years, Scott knew he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life working for someone else, so he decided to pursue his dream of being a singer/songwriter; and it was through music that he healed himself and grew as a person.

“Music broke me apart,” Scott explained. “It made me feel raw and exposed to the world because I didn’t have the answers. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with music because the generation I grew up in, didn’t want guys that had feelings, so it was difficult to deal with all the emotions on the table. And though I have made peace with much of my past, the journey of self-discovery is life-long. Music continues to teach me new things I never knew about myself.”

SONY DSCPerforming also offers a lot of other rewards.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m a conduit to something greater than myself,” Scott added. “Sometimes it’s everything: the smiles and laughter, the connecting to others, the unpredictable when-life-happens moments, the crazy insane moments, the unique and interesting people I meet, the appreciation I receive from others.  When someone tells me, ‘You told my story!’ and I see hope in their eyes, that makes it all worth it to me.”

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And what about song-writing?

“My favorite part about that is the creative flow and the uncertainty of where a song is going to lead. There were times when I felt like writing some cry-in-your-beer broken-heart song that turned into something like: ‘I’d like to think I was a man who was spiritual, a man of high calling, I’d like to think I was a man so brave who could save the world from falling. I’d like to think so but she’s stuck inside my head. I wanna take her clothes off and lie her naked on my bed.’ And I don’t even like beer!”

SONY DSCWhat are his goals for his music?

“I try to write songs that are honest,” grinned Scott, his deep blue eyes sparkling. “The [new] music I’m writing is going to break normal tendencies I’ve had, but they’re all reflections of me. I care about bringing a light of hope into this world because I’ve been in a dark place for a long time and music brings me a lot of joy. I also want people to know that the friends I‘ve made in my life, I hope they know through my music and the way I treat them, that they matter to me. And I want to be more present in the beautiful things of this world, to truly know in my soul that none of us are alone.”

Besides music, Scott’s spiritual beliefs have helped see him through some tough times “by tapping into my version of the creator and not asking—but expecting—that the Universe is my friend and that it will take care of me and that there’s a reason for my life.”

Great advice for all of us.

Scott also plans to write a book about his experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the meantime, there are many opportunities to hear what he has to say. Besides his regular performances at various venues across Colorado, in the near future, he plans to release a ten song CD titled “Sweet Life.”

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Most importantly, Scott wants to tell people to “find your dance!” Do what you love. And he certainly serves as a shining example of that. For more information, or to book Scott for your event, please see www.scottallenmusic.com or his Youtube channel at Scott Allen Music 100. And stay tuned for the release of his new CD.

Photos courtesy of Mike Barry and Fort Collins Photo Works. Used by permission.      Please visit www.fortcollinsphotoworks.com.

Sammy Hagar Wows Loveland

Budweiser Events Center
Loveland, CO
August 20, 2013:

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I cannot write an objective review of Sammy Hagar’s concert in Loveland because well, I am a little biased. He not only endorsed my book, “Dance of the Electric Hummingbird,” but I’ve seen so many of his concerts now, I can’t even count them all. However, I can tell you that he freaking ROCKED the Budweiser Events Center last month—even though there was a less than full house.

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Said Sammy, “Well, it’s not a full house tonight, but you sure SOUND like a full house!”

Indeed; the audience loved him—and why wouldn’t they? At nearly 66 years old, Hagar had more energy than many men half his age, as he went from one fast song to the next. Only near the end did his voice begin to sound a bit scratchy—from the altitude no doubt, but his energy, and that of his band, The Wabos, (Vic Johnson on guitar, Mona on bass and David Lauser on drums) never waned. They killed it with four decades of Hagar hits, even giving a teaser of Hagar’s new album, “Sammy Hagar and Friends,” which was just released this week.

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The show opened with a Montrose medley, then the band went into “Red,” “I Can’t Drive 55,” “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” “I’ll Fall in Love Again,” and “Three Lock Box,” from Hagar’s early years, followed by a series of Van Halen greats: ”Right Now,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “When It’s Love,” and “Finish What Ya Started.” Then came “Heavy Metal” and “Mas Tequila,” and the new song “Knock Down Drag Out.”

IMG_4687-1Mona on bass

For the encore, they performed “Winding Down,” another song from his new album, followed by an emotional rendition of “Eagles Fly” and another new song, “Bad on Fords.”

Sammy Loveland

As usual, Hagar interacted with fans who threw banners, shirts, hats and other objects onstage for him to sign. It seemed he did his best to make everyone in the audience feel as if they were part of the show–it’s one of the things that makes him such an entertaining performer. He also displayed the message captured in the photo below, as in each town he played, he donated money to the local food bank.

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I’m not sure many entertainers would do such a thing, but Hagar knows what it’s like to come from humble beginnings–his early life was anything but easy.

Perhaps part of the reason there weren’t more people in attendance at the show was because Heart and Jason Bonham were playing the same night in Denver, and B.B. King and Peter Frampton were playing Redrocks.

No matter.

“We’ve never played in Loveland before,” Hagar said. “But we’ll be back!”

If the audience’s approval was any indication, I’m sure he will be.

Photo Credits: Dee Walker. All rights reserved. Please do not copy without written permission.

 

 

KID ROCK Lights Drenched Denver Crowd On Fire!

August 3, 2013
Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater
Denver, CO

Kid Rock by Baja Rock Pat

Kid Rock, (real name Robert James Ritchie) hailing from Detroit, Michigan, is an artist that people either seem to love or hate, and since he’s such a highly-controversial “bad boy,” it made me want to check him out for myself and see what the fuss was all about. I could then base my personal assessment on how his voice, the beat, and the music made me feel.

Plus, if famous artists were going to offer tickets at a mere $20 each–for THREE bands–I figured, what did I have to lose? What did that say about the artists? Maybe that they were trying to make a statement that it’s not okay to charge $200 for a ticket to see a concert. Barry Fey, Denver’s most famous concert promoter, would have concurred. He once told me that the only way to lower concert ticket prices was for fans to refuse to pay exorbitant prices. Not sure if that’s ever going to happen, but at least Kid Rock, ZZ Top, and Uncle Kracker are making an attempt. It’s also a great marketing tool: make the concert affordable and more people will attend, thereby bringing the artist more fans who will buy his or her music and T-shirts and hopefully attend future shows.

IMG_0324There were three bands in the lineup in Denver that day—Uncle Kracker, ZZ Top, and Kid Rock. Due to a torrential downpour, it took us a while to get to our seats, so we missed the first band. I’m not talking about a nice, summer shower here, it dumped on us for hours, and there were a lot of people in the audience who hadn’t prepared for adverse weather conditions, giving the term “wet T-shirt contest” an even more “interesting” connotation. Oooo—middle-aged women in beige, cotton shorts should perhaps think twice about wearing black thongs when the sky looks like it may open up at any moment.

In any case, it was difficult to see ZZ Top through the tiny crack between the bottom of my umbrella and the top of my plastic rain poncho. Still I could hear them well enough, and the boys from Texas put on a great show—they always do—with their fluffy guitars, long beards, and gravelly voices. Uh how how how how…

By the time Kid Rock took the stage, the downpour had ceased and instead of the sky exploding, the stage did; Kid‘s performance blasted my bones right out of me.

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First, they played videos in five minute intervals stating: “15 minutes until show time!” “10 minutes until show time!” on the giant screens on either side of the stage, and before Kid came onstage, they played another video with an eagle rising from the bottom of the screen against a forest background with Kid‘s voice-over thanking God for allowing him this opportunity and asking God to help him deliver a great show to all those who came to the concert that night.

Nice touch, and although I know very little about Kid, I’d heard enough about him to know that this concert was not going to be a G-rated, Christian-rock-based show.

Oh boy.

IMG_0313Kid burst onto the stage, singing some hip-hop song laced with obscenities and cannon balls (his). The more I heard, the more I loved it. I had to ask myself, “Where have I been?” Well, perhaps where I’d been was that I’d heard that his music was more country laced with rock and rap. I was partially correct. However, I had no idea he could do it so well. There was a man a few rows ahead of us wearing a T-shirt that read “You’ve never met a motherf–er quite like me” and at first I thought, “Wow, that guy has some nerve!” Then Kid sang that in one of his songs, and later my husband produced the same T-shirt from under his soaked fishing jacket! I guess if I had to sum up my impression of Kid’s performance in one sentence, that would be it. I’d never heard anything quite like what he delivered that night. I apologize for not being familiar enough with his music to report the song he opened with, but it knocked my soaked socks off.

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Rock‘s band, Twisted Brown Trucker, and backup singers were top-notch too. Shannon Curfman, clearly not a novice, (she’s released quite a few albums herself) was so fantastic when she sang “Picture” with Kid, I would have liked to have heard her sing even more. She is truly a star!

Kid Rock and Shannon Curfman by Baja Rock Pat

I love music that challenges my sense of what is right and wrong in the world, music that challenges my sense of who I am as a person–brazen music that exposes the soul of the artist and makes no apologies. Kid spilled his guts on his drug use, sex, his faith in God, and his pride in being an American, among other things. No doubt, I’d never seen a motherf–er quite like Kid and next time he comes to Denver, I’ll be sure to be in the audience!

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Some of the songs from the setlist:

Wasting Time
Cowboy
Let’s Ride
Rebel Soul
Redneck Paradise
All Summer Long
Forever
What I Learned Out on the Road
Cocky
You Never Met a Motherf–er Quite Like Me
Picture
3 Sheets to the Wind (What’s My Name)
Bawidaba

(All photos and content property of Baja Rock Pat. Please do not copy without prior written permission.)

Concert Review: Bob Seger with Special Guest Joe Walsh

Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
April 2, 2013

The incomparable Joe Walsh opened the show to a packed house. What’s not to love about Joe? Dressed in a dark red leather jacket and black pants, his hair down to his shoulders, he looked great. He sounded great. My only criticism was that he didn’t play long enough!

Being a fan since his James Gang days, I loved “Walk Away” and “Funk #49” but the first big cheer from the audience came during “In the City.” The entire crowd was on its feet and singing along to “Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way.” Walsh quipped that if he were president, he’d make that the new National Anthem. When Bob Seger took the stage, he said what a treat it was to hear Walsh perform “Rocky Mountain Way” in Denver. Indeed. Hearing and watching Walsh perform is always a treat for me. “I used to live here,” Joe said as he introduced the song. “But I don’t remember much about it. They tell me I had a good time.” I personally recall those days—hearing about how Walsh recorded and lived at Caribou Ranch and wishing I would have been able to drive up there and hang out with the masters as they worked their magic. If I’m not mistaken, both ”Barnstorm” and “The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get” were recorded there. Superb albums. I’d love to hear Walsh perform “Turn to Stone” again. In any case, Walsh never disappoints and I’ve seen him live many times.

Come back again, Joe, and next time, play longer!

Joe’s Setlist:                                                                                                                 Walk Away                                                                                                                 Analog Man                                                                                                                 Funk #49                                                                                                                            In the City                                                                                                                    Life’s Been Good                                                                                                       Rocky Mountain Way

(There was one more song in there, but I didn’t write it down!)

 

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

I love many different types of music, but there are times when nothing else will do but the familiar arms of good old rock ‘n’ roll.

The one and only Mr. Bob Seger. You know how great musicians have the ability to make time go in reverse for a few hours? Bob did that the other night. As he sang, his gentle melodies and beautiful voice transported me instantly back to my late teens/early twenties and held me there for the duration of the concert. Seger has a touch that reassures my soul, even when he’s screaming “Rock and roll never forgets!”

My first impression was that if I were to run ito him on the street, I wouldn’t have recognized him. That’s probably because I haven’t seen him in concert since the ‘80s. Back then, he still had dark hair. Now his hair and beard are completely white (or grey) and he wore rectangular-shaped glasses. “I’ll be 68 in May,” he said, explaining why he needed to sit down for a few of his songs. Hard to believe, because although he didn’t look like the Bob Seger I remembered, when he opened his mouth and sang, he was STILL the Bob Seger I knew. I hate that great musicians like Bob, who have brought so much joy and enriched the lives of so many, have to get old. People with that much talent ought to live forever. I guess in a way they do, through their music, but it just seems so unfair. I got the impression that there was a bit of a farewell tone in his stage presence but he still kicked it like there was no tomorrow, so I hope he never quits.

One of my favorite moments was during “Main Street,” when several white spotlights lit up Alto Reed and his silver saxophone. I felt like stars were leaping from his horn, gently bouncing off the walls and entering my heart, and I asked my husband to take a picture, but all he had was his cell phone, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. I noticed that even while I was there, when I watched the large screens on either side of the stage, it felt surreal–it was somehow so removed from what was really going on live.

There many were extraordinary performances that night, and the Silver Bullet Band was just as outstanding as they’ve always been, but the song that really stood out for me was “Like a Rock.” There was so much emotion in Seger’s voice that it brought me to tears and forced me to step back from my ordinary self—out of myself almost—and I breathed in the vibration surrounding me with all my senses—the purple, green and blue lights, the fantastic music and vocals. “These are the moments that make me a wealthy soul…” Bob sang and I felt it and believed it with all my soul.

“Roll Me Away” was so magnificent that I never wanted it to end. Sometimes there are no words to describe music, and all I managed to jot in my tiny notebook was “FREAKING MAGNIFICENT!” I couldn’t even tear myself away from the experience long enough to put my feelings into words. Anyway, it seemed like a travesty to waste time taking notes when there was so much great stuff happening.

Bob talked candidly about the origins of some of his songs, including a new song he’s recording called “California Stars” which he said was written by Woody Guthrie. “We’ve Got Tonight” was inspired by the movie “The Sting” and was originally titled “This Old House.” Seger played piano as he sang “We’ve Got Tonight”, as well as “Turn the Page,” another of my favorite Seger hits.

If I had to sum up the evening using Bob’s lyrics, it would be: “We’ve got tonight. Who needs tomorrow? We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”

Thank you, Bob. I hope you’re not planning on going anywhere for a long, long time… (Why do I have a lump in my throat just writing this?) Love ya, Bob.

Silver Bullet Band Musicians:
Bob McMillan – guitar
Chris Campbell – bass
Don Brewer – drums
Jim Moose Brown – guitar and piano
Craig Frost – piano
Alto Reed – saxophone
Horns: Motor City Horns: Keith Kaminski-sax, John Rutherford-trombone, Mark Byerly-trumpet, and Bob Jensen-trumpet

Setlist:
Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You
Fire Down Below
Main Street
Old Time Rock and Roll
All the Roads (New song)
Like A Rock
Travelin’ Man
Beautiful Loser
Roll Me Away
Come to Poppa
New song
We’ve Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Sunspot Baby
Katmandu

Encore:
Against the Wind
Hollywood Nights

2nd Encore:
Night Moves
Rock and Roll Never Forgets

Zeppephilia “Brings It on Home” Heart and Soul with Kick-Ass Rock and Roll Part 2

In this final segment of our interview, Zeppephilia discusses the spiritual aspect of music and what entertaining means to them.

Interview by Patricia Walker with photos by Mike Barry

Band Members:
James Songfield – (Robert Plant) vocals
Eyal Rivlin – (Jimmy Page) guitar
Chad Coonrod – (John Bonham) drums
Michael Mitchell – (John Paul Jones) bass, mandolin, harmonies

“There’s something about music,” Eyal explained. “The way it enters your ears and it literally moves the bones in your ears. The bass frequencies will shake your body and if you’re in that field, you’re affected by that field. That’s a really powerful tool.”

“So would you say it is similar to having a mystical experience?” I asked him.

“One thing about the mystical world that I can say is that trying to capture it in words can actually take away from the ineffability of it. By definition, it’s beyond words. Poets like Rumi point to it with metaphors. They find backdoor entryways into it. But typically, as you try to hold it or catch it with words, it slips away!”

Eyal Rivlin

 

 

 

 

He did, however, say that it “feels like a state of being in complete bliss or complete presence… [that] it’s a natural way to get there; it’s an ecstatic way. It’s a healthy way; it’s a communal way. It’s a cathartic way. There are many paths to the One. You can dance yourself to ecstasy; you can fast. Some people get it from extreme sports, or drugs, or sex, and music is another path to it that is so in the moment, so natural in a way. There is a learning curve to get there. It takes a little bit of practice and skill to get there but I do think it is accessible to everyone.”

Michael Mitchell

I asked Mike’s response to a quote by the late classical pianist, Arthur Rubinstein who said: “When I play, I make love. It is the same thing.”

“That really captures the visceral part of music and what you get from it because it is,” replied Mitchell. “Like I said earlier, when I’m playing bass, it feels right in my hands. One could venture to say that from your hands you get this energy or you’re channeling through your hands. You feel the sweat and the vibrations and the fact that you can be exhausted [but] when you’re playing music, suddenly you’ve got all this energy … It’s not like your typical mental acuity process where you’re thinking very hard and you’re focusing very intently; there are so many aspects of your physiological being going into it. It is like sex, when you stand back and look at the actual operation, there are only certain areas that are being stimulated [yet] there’s this massive stimulation; it’s a matter of experience.”

“And there’s just something so sensual about that, isn’t there?” I asked.

“Definitely!” Mike said. “Music is emotional, and when you bring that passion to a performance the audience feels what you feel.”

The author was unable to interview Mr. Songfield, but I’m sure he would whole-heartedly agree with these statements.

James Songfield

As I spoke with Zeppephilia, another comment I heard repeatedly from them was how much they love to entertain.

“As a musician, it is very satisfying when people are right up front dancing and singing. There is something magical in that interaction where there is an energetic exchange—a give and receive,” said Eyal.

Mike concurred. “We do it because we love doing it. And [when] we play in front of people and they like it, [it’s] even better. It’s not really about making money. It’s not because we worship Led Zeppelin either. And that’s a very important part of it: one should offer one’s own interpretation. It’s something we view in such high regard; it’s great music, and we’ve been heavily influenced by it but [we also] add our own to it.”

Michael Mitchell & Chad Coonrod

Said Chad, “I love to see the crowd having a good time—dancing, having fun [while] I’m playing. That’s when I’m in my sweet spot!”

With this kind of heart and soul behind it, it’s no wonder Zeppephilia is such an extraordinary tribute band. They’re not just going through the motions; they’re feeling it with every part of themselves and doing their damnedest to make sure you feel it too. And believe me, you do.

Zeppephilia recently played the Boulder Theater in January and they’ll be playing The Soiled Dove in Denver, in March, and this summer, they’ll be performing at outdoor festivals across Colorado. For more information, videos, photos and upcoming appearances, please visit the band’s website at www.zeppephilia.com or check out their Facebook page.

With a grin in his voice, Chad concluded, “We’re going to continue to work on marketing and continue to build our Zeppelin song base and who knows what the future holds? Rock and roll! Come out and see Zeppephilia!”

(Photos courtesy of Mike Barry and Fort Collins Photo Works. Used by permission. For more information, please visit http://www.fortcollinsphotoworks.com/).

***The author would like to extend a huge thank you to the members of Zeppephilia for granting me this interview and for allowing me to peer into your lives for a brief moment and to experience your incredible talent once again.

I enthusiastically encourage everyone to go and see Zeppephilia                                     –the BEST Led Zeppelin tribute band there is!

 

Zeppephilia “Brings It on Home” Heart and Soul with Kick-Ass Rock and Roll Part 1

Interview by Patricia Walker with photos by Mike Barry

Band Members:
James Songfield – (Robert Plant) vocals
Eyal Rivlin – (Jimmy Page) guitar
Chad Coonrod – (John Bonham) drums
Michael Mitchell – (John Paul Jones) bass, mandolin, harmonies

Halfway through their first set at the D-Note in Arvada, Colorado, Zeppephilia’s drummer Chad Coonrod, stood up from behind his drum kit and, dripping in sweat, shouted into the microphone, “Let’s get dirty!”

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about—Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song”—down-and-dirty blues. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Zeppephilia perform several times now and they always ooze with energy and skilled craftsmanship—so much so that you won’t find yourself sitting in your seat for long.

As the lead guitarist of this Led Zeppelin tribute band, Eyal Rivlin wants his audience to know that “the name ‘Zeppephilia’ is a combination of the words ‘Zeppelin’ and the Greekword ‘philia’ which means ‘the love of,’ and so Zeppephilia could be translated as ‘the love of Zeppelin.’”

Can’t argue that. Their love for the music comes through in every song they play.

“It’s a cathartic outlet,” says Rivlin, who’s been playing guitar for over 25 years. “I feel like it’s my prayer too. To be able to channel that is just an absolute joy … When I was a kid, it just seemed like the cool thing to do. Playing guitar always made sense to me. Over the years, it’s been a voice, an outlet whenever intense emotions are going on, to be able to let them out in a healthy way. It’s also been a way to connect with people and share on a more intimate level.”

That’s certainly evident in his music. Besides guitar, he also plays bass and sitar, has released over a dozen CDs, a DVD, and several music books and is in demand as a session guitarist and teacher.

 

Eyal Rivlin

 

 

 

 

Since Rivlin also writes his own music, (as do Chad and Mike on occasion) I asked what inspires him.

“I think the muse is us letting ourselves become creators. There’s something about creating from the void—out of nothingness you pull out an idea or a sound or a phrase. And there’s awe in that, and there’s discovery in that; there’s magic in that. Almost like you’re stepping aside and it’s coming through you. Where does it come from? It’s a mystery; it’s The Source. Now, that said, still there’s a language that it comes through. I mean, we’ve all grown up listening to certain scales, to certain notes; we’ve been influenced … I grew up listening to Zeppelin a lot, so in a way, Zeppelin comes through me—that sound, that vibration comes through me … I think that’s part of my color palette so to speak.”

Eyal attended an elite performing arts high school in Israel which he described as “a bit like Julliard in this country.” He said that was where his love for the guitar and music in general, formed. From there, he played primarily rock and jazz, but after a trip to India, he also got into the world of kirtan. “That opened up a whole new door because it was such a different experience. The line between performer and audience was erased. Sure, I was holding an instrument, [but] I was part of a community singing together.”

James Songfield

 

Chad Coonrod

Chad started playing drums at age ten, in 1981, when Mötley Crüe released their “Shout at the Devil” album and subsequent videos, and he saw Tommy Lee play drums. “I was going ballistic. I thought, ‘This guy is so cool,’” recalled Coonrod. Shortly after that, he bought a pair of drumsticks for fifty cents at a garage sale and went home and set up boxes, pots and pans, lids, trash can lids and all kinds of noise-makers. He didn’t stop playing on his makeshift drum set for six months. So, on his 11th birthday, his parents bought him his first real drum set. After that, he started listening to music and playing it by ear, he said. “I learned all the beginning techniques, and before I knew it, I had kids coming over to my house to listen to me play drums.”

Over the years, he’s played in bands and covered every genre of music from hard rock to funk to blues and country and just about everything in between. He’s also toured all over the United States. The only time he took a break was from 2004-2006 to earn a degree in finance. He also plays acoustic guitar in his spare time.

Michael Mitchell

Mike’s first instrument was the violin. “As a kid, I [also] played clarinet and saxophone and later in high school, I played a lot of percussion in bands.” he said. He went on to say that he played drums for a while, but after his drum kit grew to be too much of a pain to haul around, he took up bass. Now he says it’s his favorite instrument to play. “It’s what feels most right in my hands,” he explained. However, when I asked his favorite type of music, he said “Jazz.” “You can look at rock and roll; you can look at opera; you can look at more traditional classic music and there’s so much structure in it, where jazz is sort of a distillation of the structure. You can map it out and make variations in all these little spots… You bring your creativity to it by saying ‘This is a piece and I understand it like this but I’m going to offer an alternative that’s going to work in the key. Watch me do it!’ That’s how it really speaks to me. ”

Like Chad, Mike is primarily a self-taught musician and he traveled all over the country personally experiencing life on the road as a professional. Now, with his day job is as an IT project manager and his role as a volunteer firefighter, husband and father, his membership in another band besides Zeppephilia, he still lives a busy life. “It’s a good balance because I wouldn’t want to live as a professional musician anymore. It’s very hard not to do the overindulgence thing and string together an income on just gigs.” Now he enjoys playing music on weekends while at the same time, having an income he can depend on—the best of both worlds.

Lead guitarist Rivlin described the goal of Zeppephilia as “to share that love [of Led Zeppelin’s music]. As a band, their catalog is just unbelievable… and forty years later, it’s just as fresh and just as exciting. Kind of timeless in that sense. They embodied something that wasn’t quite there before, the supreme ‘rock star,’ almost superhuman persona, it is quite something to channel that amount of energy. They played arena shows for over 55,000 people. That’s like plugging into The Source.”

The author was unable to interview Mr. Songfield, but I’m sure he would wholeheartedly agree with that statement.

One thing that has always fascinated me is the way some musicians appear to tap into a higher energy when they perform, as if they’re so engrossed in the sound that the world around them seems to disappear, leaving only the performer and the music. I asked Eyal about this. How does he feel when he performs? What goes through his mind at times like that?

His answer was golden. “One of the reasons I came to this country [he was born and raised in Israel] was to get a Master’s Degree in transpersonal psychology. That field studies and researches all states of consciousness as part of the healing process. That quest has also lead me to India and meditation. So for me, music is a spiritual practice. And performing is a way to enter what modern psychology calls a ‘state of flow.’ And in a state of flow, [it’s] what athletes or musicians sometimes describe as entering “the zone.” In reality, any skill that you’ve put your ten thousand hours into, in a sense, you can become that skill. There’s something magical that happens at that point, something where the mind stops and you’re completely present and you’re playing but also being played. That might not happen for the whole two hours of performance, but even if it happens for a moment, that state, that taste is so sweet and so nourishing and so life-affirming.”

I asked Chad the same question.

“There’s a dynamic in that,” explained Chad. “There are times when I really need to concentrate on certain parts. It may be a difficult time signature or a very dynamic section, and there are other times where I just let it GO. ‘Stairway’, ‘Dazed and Confused’, and ‘Song’ come to mind when I want to let it go; it’s so much fun! Bonham never played with a click track.  He was an emotional drummer.  He recorded live, hard, and full of vigor!”

“So would you say that you become something other than yourself when you perform?” I asked him.

“I’ve been playing so long, that I am who I am when on stage. There’s times when you’re just on fire and everything is in perfect harmony. Those moments are the best! [When I] get behind my kit, it just feels so right … Maybe having that universal language [of] music is why a band like us with four different backgrounds resonates so well together. Because when we perform, we are putting our heart and soul out there. It is very fulfilling to know my bandmates have my back when putting on a show! This [Zeppephilia] is an amazing project. I am blessed to have met three of the best guys. After two and half years [we’re] just as excited about it as we were when we first started. There is a peace of mind knowing that, after all the time we’ve put in, it is still fun and going strong.  So in a sense, that helps me grow as a person because when you marry your life with your passion, it’s the ultimate satisfaction.”

Rivlin expounded on that. “If you look around, music is the fundamental carrier wave for all religions and spiritual paths. “There’s something when we, as a community, as a congregation, whatever you want to call it, when we all connect around a beat or around a pulse or around a vibration or a frequency, it gets everybody on the same wavelength. As a group, it aligns the energy or the state of consciousness of the audience. And that’s powerful! That’s a lot of energy to hold and to carry. It’s often the musicians who are the prophets or messengers of every generation. They create the soundtrack for the message. There would be no ‘60s without the ‘60s music. John Lennon, Bob Marley, Bono, etc… The music literally changes our brain as we get entrained to the beat or groove and move our body. It enters our soul.”

“There’s something about music,” Eyal continued. “The way it enters your ears and it literally moves the bones in your ears. The bass frequencies will shake your body and if you’re in that field, you’re affected by that field. That’s a really powerful tool.”

(Check back next week for the short conclusion of my interview with Zeppephilia and hear their comments on how playing music is like making love and what entertaining means to them.)

 

For more information, videos, photos and upcoming appearances, please visit the band’s website at www.zeppephilia.com or check out their Facebook page.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Barry and Fort Collins Photo Works. Used by permission. For more information, please visit www.fortcollinsphotoworks.com).

Song List for “Dance of the Electric Hummingbird”

Here are the songs mentioned in DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD and the links to purchase them:

“Dreams” – Van Halen

“Pages” – 3 Doors Down

“Nothing Else Matters”  – Metallica

“Crush” – Dave Matthews Band

“Love Walks In” – Van Halen

“Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” – Van Halen

“Rock Candy” – Montrose

“Looking For Your Face” – Jared Harris from “A Gift Of Love: Deepak & Friends Present Music Inspired By The Love Poems Of Rumi”

“Imagine” – John Lennon

“Eagles Fly” – Sammy Hagar

“Poundcake” – Van Halen

“Top of the World” – Van Halen

“Live: Right Here, Right Now” – Van Halen

“Open” – Sammy Hagar**

 

 

**This song was released only on iTunes as a single. It is no longer available, however, there may still be some videos of it on Youtube.

 

Jonny Lang Concert Review – Loveland, Colorado

August 31, 2012
Thunder Mountain Amphitheater, Loveland, Colorado

Why is it that after I’ve just experienced a live concert that is so kick-ass amazing, I’m left feeling beat up, exhausted, and yet, indescribably invigorated?

Friday night, blues musician Jonny Lang performed at Thunder Mountain Amphitheater in Loveland, Colorado, and the phenomenal Mr. Lang, who never fails to blow his audience away, did it again.

With two local bands, Over the Rail and the Lindsey O’Brien Band opening for him, when Lang took the stage, he quietly picked up his guitar and with his long fingers stretched across the strings, began coaxing it into “Don’t Stop (For Anything).” Joining him onstage were Jim Anton on bass, Barry Alexander on drums, Dwan Hill on keyboards, and Akil Thompson on guitar.

I’ve watched Jonny change and grow over the years, taking the blues and playing them just as well as the old-time greats, (if there is such a thing as reincarnation, Jonny must have been one of the original blues masters–you just can’t manufacture that kind of soul) but he also turns them inside out and upside down and weaves them with different genres, such as gospel, R & B, Christian, soul, funk, and hard rock, as he did Friday night.

     Akil Thompson on guitar

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Anton on bass

 

 

I would be hard-pressed to find anything to criticize about the show, but if I had to name one, it would be that I would have liked to have heard “Still Rainin’” and “The Levee,” but that’s just me.

One cannot deny however, that Lang is a master not only of the guitar, but also of vocal ability. He captures his audience and grips them with each note like talons piercing unsuspecting flesh and we never want those talons to release us. A shining example of this was the intro to “Red Light.” Lang took us on an emotional rollercoaster with just his voice. What a treat. I’d like to ask him what goes through his mind when he’s up there performing because it seems like he’s in his own little world and yet, he gives two hundred and fifty percent every time, getting so deeply into the music that it’s hard to tell where his identity ends and that of the music begins. Maybe it doesn’t.

“Forty Days and Forthy Nights,” an old Muddy Waters tune, showcased Lang’s incredible guitar work–exceedingly impressive–without the use of a pick.

“Lie to Me,” always an audience favorite, began almost as an acoustical tease, then exploded in a metaphorical wall of fire and power until it consumed the entire amphitheater. It doesn’t get much better than this.

“Breakin’ Me” was performed with so much emotion that there was hardly a sound from the audience, and “Turn Around” had a funky R & B feel to it, as well as Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ for the City.”

 

 

 

Barry Alexander on drums

 

     Dwan Hill on keyboards

The final song was “I Am,” another emotional piece, in which all the band members performed solos. At the end of the show, Lang stepped up to the mic, and with a boyish grin on his face, quipped, “I just don’t want it to end!” and we knew he meant it. I didn’t want it to end either.

Thanks to the fine people at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson and Clear Channel Radio (107.9 The Bear), I got to meet Jonny backstage. Again, he did not disappoint. He was warm, down-to-earth and comfortably chatting with his admirers—signing everything they offered, then happily posing for pictures. Someone said to him, “Jonny, you have more talent in your little finger than most people have in their whole body!” Jonny smiled and replied, “It’s practice, just practice.” I beg to differ. I could practice until my fingers fell off and never get close to what comes so effortlessly to him.

       

Backstage with Jonny Lang

Discovering what a gracious person he was only deepened my respect for him and my appreciation of his music.

This man does have more talent in his little finger than most people will ever have, and he’s happy to share it with you; just don’t be fooled by his soft-spoken manner and humble nature—when he opens his mouth to sing and moves his fingers across the strings of his guitar—he will swallow you whole. And you will love every minute of it.

 

Setlist:
Don’t Stop (For Anything)
A Quitter Never Wins
Turn Around
Red Light
Livin’ For the City
That Great Day
Breakin’ Me
Angel of Mercy
Lie To Me
Forty Days and Forty Nights
I Am

Photo Credits: ©Dee Walker

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hell is Heaven

Aug. 11, 2009

Aerosmith stage curtain

Author’s note: I wrote the following over a week ago. It has since become news that Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, fell off the stage at the Buffalo Chip Campground during their concert in Sturgis, SD on August 5, 2009. According to www.rapidcityjournal.com, Tyler was reported to have broken his shoulder and sustained stitches in his head.

Godspeed and healing, Steven!

(Aerosmith stage curtain photo by maduarte)

* * * * * * *

My sons say I’m out of the loop and that may be true to some extent. During the late ‘70s and most of the ‘80s when others were enjoying rock ‘n’ roll, I was busy trying to survive as a single mom, so I missed out on a lot. But I’m making up for it.

I guess there has to be a first time for everything, and Aug. 1 was the first time I’d seen Aerosmith in concert.

They played with ZZ Top at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. The ticket price was outrageous, but I’d been reading a lot lately about the many injuries the members of Aerosmith have sustained during the past few months so I figured I’d better go and see them. It may be my last chance to experience one of the legendary rock bands of my generation.

Lead singer Steven Tyler had recently had a bout with pneumonia and pulled a muscle in his thigh, warranting the cancellation of several scheduled stops on this tour. You can’t very well replace a lead singer with a voice and face like his. Bass player Tom Hamilton survived throat cancer a few years ago and is currently recuperating from “non-invasive” surgery. David Hull, who played with Aerosmith in the past, is now covering for Hamilton. Guitarist Brad Whitford hit his head and had to have emergency surgery, requiring him to sit out several shows. Lead guitar player Joe Perry had to have knee replacement surgery twice.

See what I mean? So I paid the $150 per seat ticket price and went. A man sitting next to me said that his friend had done sound or something for them years ago. “Even the Grateful Dead said they’d never seen anyone who did as many drugs as Aerosmith,” he told me. I guess it’s a miracle they’re still kicking.

Aerosmith Denver

Anyway, I won’t critique each song or style because I’m not intimately familiar with their music. However, I will give you a first-timer’s perspective.

ZZ Top opened the show and they always rock. I’ve seen them before and it never ceases to amaze me that a three-piece band can put out such a big sound.

Aerosmith came onstage when the sun was going down. They played most of my favorites: “Sweet Emotion,” “Dream On,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk This Way,” “Dreamweaver,” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” They sounded great although Tyler and Perry seemed winded much of the time. It was the altitude in Denver, I’m sure. Not an out-of-state singer’s best friend.

Every live show I’ve seen recently has had one aspect that really stuck out for me. This time it was Steven Tyler. He has to be the consummate rockstar—the very embodiment of the word. At 61, he still looked and sounded fabulous. He was dressed in silver, glittery tight pants that accentuated his tight ass and his lean, toned body. He wore a black tank top with the Aerosmith logo on it in rhinestones and had about 10 bracelets on each wrist. His fingernails were painted with a strip of black down the center of each one.

Now I’m not normally one who thinks men who wear makeup and nail polish are sexy, but I have to admit, Steven Tyler is sexy.

He knows how to hold his body and his long thick hair just right to create maximum effect. He has all the rockstar moves down to a science—perfect spins, suggestive poses, hip thrusts, and a special mic stand which he hauled everywhere. It had his initials painted on it and was decorated with sheer and glittery scarves that hung to the floor. He used them to slide back and forth between his open legs or wrap around his face throughout the show. Several times, he demonstrated his proficiency on harmonica and once on drums.

Aerosmith Denver2

The lighting was the most elaborate setup I’d ever seen. No wonder this concert cost so much! Colored lights on huge sections moved up and down above the band, there were smoke machines and fans to blow the performer’s hair and clothing just right, even a fake fire flaming around Joe Perry during one solo. Above the stage were four large screens that moved up and down and played various scenes or showed close-ups of the concert. My favorite was when each screen had huge moving flames on it. Combined with the music, the smoke and the red and orange bars of lights and single lights whose beams crisscrossed across the stage, I felt like I was in rock ‘n’ roll hell and it was heaven!

Joe Perry did an amazing job. Like Tyler, Perry is another consummate rocker—he has that refined, rock star attitude. The tour was called “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Presents Aerosmith,” and was a combination of the game and Perry playing live. He had a duel with his Guitar Hero caricature after which, he asked the audience: “Who won the match—me or the cartoon?”

Of course there was no comparison.

At one point, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons came out for a jam session. It seemed that touring with Aerosmith has affected “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” because they brought out an extra amount of spice from one another. And Gibbons’ voice, well, like Tyler’s, is legendary. Uh hm, hm, hm…

From the opening blast, where the stage curtain dropped to the floor, revealing thousands of shooting lights, the sparkling performers and the thunderous music, I was so glad I went. These boys may be getting up in years, but you’d never know it to see them; they still have it. And they’re doing it up in a big way—rock ‘n’ roll that pounds the “Sweet Emotion” out of you the way it should be!