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Entries by Thomas (393)


Concert Review - Jeff Beck - UB Center of the Performing Arts, Amherst, NY - 04-22-2011

Jeff Beck – Paganini with a Strat
By Guitarist/Composer Alyn Syms

There are guitarists, and there are great guitarists, and then there is Jeff Beck, in a class of his own. In my opinion, the best there is. An innovator and virtuoso , like Paganini, he is the most celebrated guitar virtuoso of his time, and has made his mark as one of the pillars of modern guitar technique. He did it all with style, class and cool. And if you’re not cool, you have no business playing the guitar to begin with.
I’ve always admired Jeff Beck’s approach to guitar playing and his fundamental dedication to prowess on his instrument. I listened to his earlier albums with a good set of headphones on and played with the balance control to isolate his guitar work and was struck by the clarity of his sound and skillful attack. It was said about him that he didn’t play faster than others but further. Speed for speed's sake is for hacks anyway, if a listener can’t hear what you’re playing, then both you and what you are playing is meaningless, just an ego trip, at their expense. What Jeff Beck plays and the way he plays it is Composition, the medium of Masters, not ordinary musicians.

for full review click here


Interview - Graham Bonnet

Graham Bonnet, the 63 year old vocalist, who has played in bands with the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai, has plans to bring his current version of the resurrected lengendary group, Alcatrazz, into the spotlight once again.  Bonnett first gained notoriety in the world of Heavy Metal in 1979, when he joined Ritchie Blackmore’s band, Rainbow.  While with Rainbow, he toured the world and recorded one album, which contained the hit single “Since You’ve Been Gone.”  

After Rainbow, Bonnet hooked up with MSG, which featured guitar god Michael Schenker.  With MSG, Bonnet recorded one album “Assault and Attack.”  However, it was once again, "one and done," as Bonnet only lasted one gig with the band (details of this can be read in the following interview).  

In 1983, Bonnet decided to start his own band.  His goal was to form a band that was similar in style to that of Rainbow.  He recruited 2 members of the band New England, snagged Alice Cooper’s drummer, and discovered an upcoming Swedish guitarist in the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen.  Dubbed Alcatrazz, the group released their debut album, “No Parole for Rock n’ Roll."  As they began to gain a loyal following, Yngwie’s inflated sense of self worth caused havoc within the ranks of the band, and as a result, they had no choice but to terminate his employment.   

Alcatrazz didn’t miss a beat without Yngwie.  They soon after recruited another guitar star-Steve Vai.  With Vai, Alcatrazz recorded “Disturbing the Peace,” a record that Bonnet is still very proud of to this day.  Unfortunately , Vai only lasted one record and tour with the band, as he was recruited by David Lee Roth for his solo band.  

Currently, Bonnet is once again in Alcatrazz, with a line-up consisting of Howie Simon - guitar, Tim Luce - bass and Jeff Bowders – drums.  After playing a handful of shows in Russia last year, the band just played a great gig last month at Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den, in Connecticut.   Alcatrazz has plans to do more touring, and record a new CD in the near future.  

What follows is an exclusive interview with Graham Bonnet.  During this conversation, we discuss his time with Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz and what lies ahead.

For interview click here


Interview - Guitar Shorty

There are hundreds of great blues/rock artists around, but if you want the real deal, the man who inspired everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Buddy Guy, you must check out Guitar Shorty.  At 71 years of age, the Texan born legend shows no signs of slowing down.   Born as David William Kearney, 'Shorty' has been electrifying rock halls and blues bars, across the nation, since he was just 17 years old.  In 1957, Blues legend Willie Dixon, who was in the audience for a show by Guitar Shorty, was so impressed with Shorty’s blazing guitar style, and his ability to “electrify” the audience, that he demanded that he take him into his Chicago studio and record him.  The result from that session was Guitar Shorty's first single, "Irma Lee" b/w "You Don't Treat Me Right," for Cobra Records.

Soon after, Shorty found himself as the featured guitar player in the Ray Charles band.  During this time, Shorty took his high energy performance to another level, by doing back flips, during his live performances.   Shorty relocated to New Orleans, during this time period, and soon after, the highly in-demand guitarist was recruited by Sam Cooke, to be in his backing band.  

In 1962, Shorty moved to Seattle, and started dating Marsha Hendrix, who was the step-sister of Jimi Hendrix.  During a Hendrix family re-union years later, according to Shorty, Jimi had admitted to borrowing some of Shorty’s guitar “tricks.”  Shorty approved, and told Hendrix "take whatever you want. "

During the next couple of decades, Shorty struggled to achieve the notoriety that he deserved.  Because of this, Shorty had to pick up additional jobs.  He started driving tractor trailers, and working as an auto mechanic, to earn extra money to survive.  And he even appeared on the hit TV program, “The Gong Show,” in the 70’s, and won top prize for playing guitar, while standing on his head.  

In the 90’s, Shorty’s career started getting back on track.  But it wasn’t until 2004, when he was signed to Alligator Records, that Shorty started receiving all of the accolades that he deserved.  Since then, Guitar Shorty has released three brilliant, hard hitting records, that rival any other Blues/Rock artists on the planet.  

What follows is an exclusive interview with the music legend, Guitar Shorty.  During this interview, Shorty proved to be one the nicest musicians that I’ve ever interviewed.  I hope you enjoy reading this, as much as I enjoyed the conversation.

For interview click here


CD Review - Cake - "Showroom of Compassion"

by John Jeffrey
When I heard Cake was on tour, and coming to the Western New York area (they will be coming to Lewiston's Artpark on May 20th), I was actually shocked to hear that the group was active again.  The last CD they released was in 2004 ("Pressure Chief") and this past January, they quietly debuted at No.1, on Billboard's Top 200 album chart, with "Showroom of Compassion."  They made a World record of being the lowest selling #1 record in history, in selling only 44,000 copies during the first week of it's release.

For full review click here


KIX - Mohegan Sun Wolf Den, Uncasville, CT - 4-9-2011

For photo gallery click here