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Concert review - Johnny Winter - The Tralf, Buffalo, NY - Jan 31, 2013

Review/photo by Mike Suicide

Buffalo, NY - Some years back, a friend of mine suggested that we go and see Ray Charles in concert, as we had gone to countless concerts together over the years, so it was no great surprise when he asked me to go see Ray Charles. For whatever reason, at the time, I brushed off the idea and never ended up buying tickets. The last thing my friend said about the subject is that it would only be a matter of time before he (Charles) wouldn't be alive to see perform anymore, and that might have been our last chance. Sure as shit, three months later, he died. It wasn't until the "Ray" movie came out (starring Jamie Foxx), that I was reminded how absolutely stupid I was in dismissing the show. I swore I wouldn't squander the opportunity again when an old legend rolled into town. This past Thursday, another true legend, Johnny Winter, performed at The Tralf in downtown Buffalo, NY, and this time, I was not so foolish as to miss the show. Magic Slim, who is another legend in his own right (and recently featured in the film "Queen City"), had been touring with him, up until a few nights prior, when he ended up hospitalized, and was unable to perform at this show.

It can be argued that some of the best music ever written was penned between the late sixties and seventies, and Johnny Winter is one of a long list from that era. His brand of blues is heavily influenced by the old blues greats, like Muddy Waters. Johnny Winters not only was a big fan of Waters, but he also produced three Grammy winning albums for Waters. Unfortunately, Winters is looking frail these days, with his crooked posture, thinning hair, and a slow step, but he still plays the guitar with remarkable skill.

I was excited to be at the show, and so were the folks who came out to see the show (in great numbers I must add), as the venue was packed to the walls. From the first song of the night, the crowd swiftly harkened back to their glory days. I joked to my one friend that I felt like I was standing at a convention for auto parts counter help. Johnny played some of his signature covers which included two Rolling Stones songs - "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Gimme Shelter," and Bob Dylan's "Highway 61." Being a lengthy show, I would love to tell you the full list of songs, but I was a bit lost in the blues to recall. My only complaint about the show, was the lacking volume of Winter's vocals, a simple board adjustment that was neglected through the entire show.

I was impressed overall with the competency of his band, and the fluency in which they rolled through their set. Johnny Winter is reaching the twilight of his life and won't be touring much longer. I would suggest no one make the mistake I did with Ray Charles. My advice would be, get to the show when it rolls through your town, or you just might miss out on seeing one of the few true legends that are still with us today.


Interview - Testament - Chuck Billy

The legendary, Thrash Metal band - Testament (whose original lineup re-formed in 2005), will kick off their first major heading tour in years, today. Riding high off of their critically acclaimed, brutal and intense 2012 release, "Dark Roots of Earth," Testament is ready to take the next step on their incredible journey back. The band, which features original classic line-up members: Chuck Billy (vocals), Eric Peterson (guitar), Alex Skolnick (lead guitar), Greg Christian (bass), along with Gene Hoglan (drums), are out to prove that they are not only better than ever before, but also one of the top hard rock/metal bands out today.

In addition to Testament, the "Dark Roots of Thrash" tour will also feature thrash metal veterans Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam and newcomers 4Arm. This must see winter, early spring tour will give metal fans, much bang for their buck. All four bands have great reputations as killer live bands, who are amped up to sonically assault everyone in sight. And to make it fresh and exciting, they all have new material out or coming out soon.

What follows is an exclusive interview with Testament lead singer, Chuck Billy. During this chat, we discuss the upcoming, "Dark Roots of Thrash" tour, his battle with cancer(germ cell seminoma), and much, much more.

For full interview, click here.


Concert review - Stone Sour/Papa Roach - Rapids Theatre, Niagara Falls, NY - 01/22/2013

Review/photos by Mike Suicide

Having been a big fan since their 2002 self titled debut album, I was pretty stoked to hear that Stone Sour would be rolling through my area. In case you have been living under a rock, Stone Sour members Corey Taylor and Jim Root are members of the phenomenon known as Slipknot. Taylor actually started the band with former member Joel Ekman, but went on to join Slipknot with Jim Root. Slipknot were the ones who ended up with a record deal, so Stone Sour took a back seat. These days, the line up of Stone Sour consists of Corey Taylor on vocals, Jim Root and Josh Rand on guitar, along with Roy Mayorga (formerly of Soulfly). Their bassist, Shawn Economaki, just recently parted ways with the group, leaving the band to enlist Rachel Bolan (Skid Row) to record their latest release, "House of Gold and Bones - Part 1." Rachel didn't end up touring with the band, which left Stone Sour still in search of a bassist. Buffalo, NY native Johny Chow was chosen as the touring bassist for Stone Sour's current tour cycle. Chow is an accomplished bassist, who is also an internationally established street artist and sculptor. Chow has played in Souls of We (George Lynch), Systematic, Fireball Ministry, Soulfly and most recently, Cavelera Conspiracy, as well as being one time manager of the famed Viper Room on Hollywood Blvd.

For full review, click here.



Interview - YES - Alan White

Prog-rock pioneers, YES will embark on a late winter/early spring tour this year that promises to be one of the most ambitious and unique tours in the band's glorious, 40 plus year career. The band will be performing three of their most popular albums, "The YES Album," "Closer to the Edge" and "Going for the One" in their entirely. YES, who have sold over 13 million records in the USA alone, currently consists of classic core members Chris Squire - bass, Steve Howe -guitar, Alan White - drums, along with Geoff Downes - keyboards and vocalist, Jon Davidson. Over their career, Yes has established themselves as one of the most brilliant live bands ever. When Yes performs it's more than a concert, it's a musical journey. The level of virtuoso musicianship of Yes is breathtaking. The complex and sophisticated interplay between world class musicians, Howe, Squire, White and Downes is truly stunning and unlike any other.

What follows is an exclusive interview with YES drummer, Alan White. During this interview we discuss the upcoming YES tour, the future plans of YES and also White's time in the John Lennon band.  For interview, click here.



Year in review - RMS's Top 5 "Rock" releases of 2012


1. Van Halen - "A Different Kind of Truth" - Perhaps the best "Reunion" album to be released by a band and it doesn't even feature the original lineup.  Van Halen proved to the music world that the chemistry between Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth is as potent as ever by creating a record that picks up right where "1984" left off.
2. KISS - "Monster" - Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer find their footing, as they continue to explore the musical chemistry of the current lineup of the band, which is clearly the driving force behind the rejuvenation of their musical inspiration.  "Monster" draws from their roots (ie: Led Zeppelin, Mountain & Humble Pie), culminating in a number of great songs written solely within the confines of the band.
3. L.A. Guns - "Hollywood Forever" - The Andy Johns produced CD shows there is still L.A.T (Life after Tracii) for L.A.G.  For most bands, when losing your lead guitarist becomes the death knell for a group, for L.A. Guns, it seems to have had the opposite effect.  Since Tracii Guns (the band's namesake and founder) left the group in 2002, L.A. Guns seem to be more inspired than ever, and have produced 2 great records in his absence.  2005's "Tales from the Strip" was an amazing effort, and 2012's "Hollywood Forever" is just that much better.  Great production and cool tunes underlining the fact that Phil Lewis & Steve Riley and co. still have the mojo.

4. John Corabi - "Unplugged" - Coming in under the radar as always, John Corabi released his "Unplugged" CD this past November on Rat Pack Records.  One of Hard Rock's hidden treasures, Corabi has one of the best smokey, 'whiskey' voices you will find, which really shines on this all acoustic outing.  Featuring five new original tracks, along with seven re-recorded acoustic versions of classic songs from John's musical past, "Unplugged" successfully delivers these awesome songs in a bare bones approach, without becoming a tree hugging, earth muffin in the process.
5. Sister Sin - "Now and Forever" - The female fronted "old-school" band out of Sweden continues to carry the flag for Euro-Metal with their latest 2012 release.  Taking elements of what made the early Motley Crue records great, and adding the cutting edge, powerhouse vocals courtesy of Liv Jagrell, Sister Sin lives and breathes the raucous spirit of true 80's Heavy Metal and Rock 'n' Roll, without any of the retro, retread hype.  "Now and Forever" continues in the tradition of their previous releases, giving the listener 10 more reasons of why Sister Sin is the real deal.