Thunder on the Rocks

Redrocks Amphitheater
Morrison, CO
September 5, 2016

img_1966You can say what you want about Sammy Hagar—that he’s a god, that he’s a clown, that he’s amazing, that he’s egotistical, that he’s washed-up, that he’s an incredible person… we all have our own opinion, and I’m going to try to remain objective here, but having had the immense pleasure of seeing Sammy and his latest band, The Circle, perform at Redrocks recently was such a delight that I just had to share my thoughts.

It had been the culmination of a super crazy week for me, having worked 12-hour days for the Labor Day weekend and, not being a spring chicken myself anymore, trying to deal with the agony of my vehemently protesting knees, but when The Circle exploded onto the stage with “There’s Only One Way to Rock”, where I could barely walk just moments before, I found myself dancing (as best I could) and wishing I’d had more space in which to move. Oh my God! The music blew the roof off the building! Oh wait—there was no roof. Or building.

I’ve seen Sammy perform with Van Halen, The Wabos, Chickenfoot and others, and while I never got to see Van Halen in their prime, (I saw them in 2004 during their reunion tour—don’t get me started) and although I love all his previous bands, I have to say that I think I enjoyed The Circle the other night most of all. Maybe it’s because I’m also a huge fan of Led Zeppelin.


Jason Bonham & Sammy Hagar

With Sammy on lead vocals, Michael Anthony (former bassist of Van Halen) on bass, Vic Johnson on guitar and Jason Bonham (son of the illustrious John Bonham from Led Zeppelin) on drums, how could this band be anything but spectacular? And they were. Tight. Loud. Sounding like thunder on the rocks.

I expected to hear some Zeppelin tunes and was thrilled with what they chose to play. I loved “Good Times Bad Times,” but “When the Levee Breaks” and “Rock and Roll” are two of my all-time favorite Zeppelin tunes and when The Circle performed them, I was swept up into a state of bliss and wonder that matched the fog machine’s ambience, and I don’t mean stoned. There was just something magical about all of it—Redrocks—with the stars overhead in the warm summer night’s sky combined with the towering red-hued boulders on either side of the venue like two giant hands holding audience and performers in an intimate setting of sound and soul and rock and roll so mesmerizing that you just had to experience it to believe it.


Hagar seemed to feel it too. “This is the most beautiful venue on earth!” he said, extending his arms. “I wish I could have gotten here while the place was empty, climbed to the middle and just sat there in awe and taken it all in.”

Indeed. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a live show at Redrocks, I urge you to go sometime. You won’t be sorry. There is nothing like it.

Michael Anthony was as talented as always—with his high pitched, irreplaceable backing vocals that helped make Van Halen great, and his seemingly sheer joy at performing with his buddy Sam.


Michael Anthony on bass

And although he’s not Eddie Van Halen, on guitar, Vic Johnson, who hails from Colorado Springs, CO, never disappoints. He hammered out those songs as easily as if he could do it in his sleep.


Vic Johnson on guitar

There was a moment during the show that really stood out for me though—Sammy’s guitar solo during “When the Levee Breaks.” I remember talking to Vic years ago and he told me that he’d mentioned to Sammy that he needed to play guitar more, that his fans loved it when he did so, and when I heard that solo during “When the Levee Breaks,” that’s what came to mind—Damn! Sammy! You need to play guitar more! What a treat!

Although I’ve seen Sammy in concert more times than I can count, and yes, I suppose I’m a little biased, I am still impressed that he can perform with as much energy as he does. I leaned over to my son, who was there with me, and said, “Can you believe he’ll be 70 next year? 70!” You’d never know it. Hagar made it look effortless, and it was obvious that he enjoyed every minute of it.


Sammy Hagar on lead vocals

There was a moment during “Runaround” when Mickey’s mic quit working, but it was only a minor distraction. And toward the end of the show, Hagar’s voice grew a bit hoarse, but I’m sure it was due to the altitude. I’ve seen many performers in Colorado have to take hits of oxygen between songs for this reason.

But they didn’t let up. Quipped Hagar, “We’re not going to go offstage and come back on because I don’t want to walk down all those steps to the dressing room and back up them again! So we’ll just do it like we’re in Cabo. We don’t go offstage; we don’t do encores in Cabo. We just keep playing until we’re done playing.”

And they did. The crowd went crazy with applause.


Jason Bonham on drums

The show ended with an etherial rendition of “Dreams,” which is one of my all-time favorite tunes. One year in Cabo, as Sammy was getting ready to perform “Dreams,” he announced to the audience about how I had made my dream come true—to be a writer (the video is on the home page of my website, you can see it here) so this song will forever have special meaning for me. And although he’s lowered the key, with the magic of the evening overpowering my angry knees, it was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen Sammy do. Then to close with “Rock and Roll”… Give me more!


There’s Only One Way to Rock
Rock Candy
Good Times, Bad Times
I Can’t Drive 55
Right Now
Little White Lie
When the Levee Breaks
Why Can’t This Be Love
Finish What Ya Started
Heavy Metal
Mas Tequila
When It’s Love
Rock and Roll

**All photos property of Patricia Walker, 2016. No unauthorized duplication, please.

Scott Allen: “Find Your Dance!”


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.”


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.”


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 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

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 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

***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 or check out their Facebook page.

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