Queensryche hit Tempe again on "The Verdict" tour
Photo Credits: Fred Kuhlman
There's one thing that is fairly certain about veteran progressive hard rock band Queensryche: they love playing Arizona.
After all, their show at Tempe's Marquee Theatre on Tuesday Jan. 28 marks the second time in under a year that they've visited us on their current tour supporting their latest album, 2019's The Verdict.
"We've been touring this album since March of last year", said lead guitarist and Queensryche founding member Michael Wilton a few hours before showtime.
"We've worked hard over the past few years successfully rebuilding the band with our current lineup", which also includes original bassist Eddie Jackson, guitarist Parker Lundgren (since 2009), lead vocalist Todd La Torre (since 2012), and touring drummer Casey Grillo (since 2017).
When Queensryche hit the Marquee stage with Prophecy for a 90-minute, 17-song set, there was no stopping them. They meant business, and their loyal Arizona fans couldn't have been more welcoming.
Although the band utilizes video to enhance the music onstage, it's never a distraction. With Queensryche, the music always does the talking.
Fun fact: Prophecy was originally written during sessions for their 1984 album The Warning.
However, it wasn't recorded until 1986 during the Rage For Order sessions. It was eventually released as a bonus track on their self-titled 1983 EP that was re-issued on compact disc for the first time in late 1988. Confusing, isn't it?
Next up was the title track from 1988's landmark album Operation: mindcrime, widely considered Queensryche's finest creative achievement on record. Walk In The Shadows followed, while deep cut Resistance (from Empire, 1990) returned to their live set after a lengthy hiatus.
Speaking of deep cuts, the undisputed surprise of the night had to be No Sanctuary off The Warning. Truth be told, it hadn't been played at any Phoenix-area show since the Rage tour in Oct. 1986. That was also the first time they headlined here in the Valley of the Sun.
With momentum building onstage, it wasn't until the seventh song in the set when the current lineup was represented. Man The Machine, from The Verdict received respectable applause. La Torre was in fine form vocally, especially on new songs Bent and Dark Reverie.
Interestingly, on this night there were no songs represented from the band's two previous albums, 2013's Queensryche and 2015's Condition Human.
I asked Wilton if he could ever envison an entire live set with "La Torre-era" material, especially considering the demand from many fans online to feature more of it live. Not to mention they're already looking forward to writing the next album later this year.
Would a Queensryche show be the same without any material from the original lineup that also included guitarist Chris DeGarmo, drummer Scott Rockenfield, and vocalist Geoff Tate? I'll let "Whip" tell you.
"Ummm....no", Wilton said after a brief pause.
"The albums (from the original lineup) are the band's legacy", he continued. "We wouldn't want to stop playing those songs, no matter how many more albums we do in the future", Wilton stated proudly.
"Having said that, we wouldn't mind splitting new and old material 50-50 eventually. It's very gratifying that people are enjoying what we're doing today, so that would be the ideal scenario."
If there's one criticism I have of the current lineup live, it would have to be the length of their set. Considering the amount of albums they have, it would be nice if they would play 20 songs minimum.
As strong as the current lineup is, I know they could pull it off with ease.
Back onstage, Queensryche winds down the main set with a blistering version of Screaming In Digital. By all appearances, that's one song where one can tell they have a blast playing, and rightly so. It's nothing less than quintessential Queensryche.
Next, La Torre asks the crowd if they're ready to "go old school"? They immediately tear into Queen Of The Reich (which concluded the main set), from the aforementioned debut EP.
The crowd wasn't quite ready to head home yet, so the band happily obliged with a three-song encore of Light years (the fourth new song played from The Verdict), Empire, and the mandatory Eyes Of A Stranger to close out the night.
I couldn't help but notice that Wilton seemed to be the proud papa onstage. When it comes to delivering the goods onstage, there's no question that Queensryche intend to continue doing just that for the forseeable future. Don't miss them when they pass through town.
Author's note: On Jan. 10, 2020 the music world received the sad and shocking news that Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart had passed away on Tues. Jan. 7 after a three-year long battle with brain cancer.
Knowing that Rush was a prime influence on Queensryche in their formative years, I asked Wilton to share his thoughts on this.
"Yeah, we definitely lost one of the greats in Neil", Wilton said somberly. "The music of Rush is just so amazing, it's so hard to pick a favorite memory."
"I will say that I really loved Clockwork Angels though. I missed that tour unfortunately, which I really regret now", Wilton continued.
"They truly went out at the top of their game. He'll definitely be missed."
With a relative resurgence in pop culture, new generations are being turned on to the sounds of bluegrass and traditional music. Bluegrass in its modern form is capturing those seeking out both its traditional and a more modern jamband style of the genre. Enter Songs From The Road Band.
Songs From The Road Band is an Asheville, NC based band whose members each have an impressive musical background. In their current form, the bands members are Charles Humphrey III, Sam Wharton, Mark Schmick and James Schlender. Their roles are as follows: Charles Humphrey III (bass), Mark Schimick (mandolin), Sam Wharton (guitar), James Schlender (fiddle) and Ryan Cavanaugh is a guest on the album playing banjo.
Waiting On A Ride is their fifth studio album. They say “every good story has a good beginning, middle and end”, well Waiting On A Ride has a great beginning, middle and end! From the moment I started listening to their new album, I knew this was something new and fresh yet at the same time familiar and comforting. Waiting On A Ride begins with the track Any Highway. This song sets the scene for the album and draws you into the music without delay.
To me this is the mark of great music, when you hear new songs yet it’s as if you’ve been familiar with them for years. The composition and arrangements bring bluegrass and Americana into the present without abandoning the traditional roots of this great music.
The lyrics are smart, witty, easy to relate to and thread a constant theme throughout the whole album. Whether you are or have been a musician playing out on the road or not, I believe you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with the heartfelt lyrics and delivery of these songs. The album also contains some instrumentals, of which “Thunderstorm Serenade” is nothing short of brilliant and could easily be a memorable cinematic score.
In addition to picking up this album, I’d highly recommend catching a show if you find Songs From The Road Band anywhere near your town. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find them delivering tight, seamless jams and improv.
To me it’s a pretty safe bet that Songs From The Road Band and Waiting On A Ride, will surely fill in some spots on your favorite playlist.
Buy Waiting On A Ride
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of his playing at Woodstock, Davis Crosby and the Sky Trails Band put on a memorable performance at the 58th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival.
The crowd at the Philadelphia Folk Festival was eager to see the two time Grammy winner perform. Crosby was engaging and offered up conversation as well as his signature sound for all to enjoy. Crosby and the band mesh well and deliver a sound that to long time listeners and fans is both familiar yet fresh.
Crosby treated everyone to a classic setlist of songs. You can check out the setlist here - https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/david-crosby/2019/old-pool-farm-schwenksville-pa-b9fcd26.html
Musicians Reveal Their Weirdest, Wildest, Most Embarrassing Gigs
Drew's book features never-before-told stories, No Encore! takes you on tour with over sixty iconic musicians as they relive their weirdest, wildest, most embarrassing gigs.
No Encore! is an unflinchingly honest account of the shows that tested the dedication to a dream—from Alice Cooper’s python having a violent, gastric malfunction on stage to Lou Barlow’s disastrous attempt to sober up at Glastonbury, from Shirley Manson’s desperate search for a bathroom to the extraordinary effort made to awaken Al Jourgenson as Ministry was taking the stage. As Hunter S. Thompson famously wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
You can pre-order Drew's book now on Amazon - https://amzn.to/2N3rQNE
With Opioid addiction at an all time high, the Massachusetts community and over 20 Music Legends banned together Wednesday night to raise awareness of and funds for opioid addiction, treatment and recovery programs in the heavily impacted town of Cape Cod
Substance abuse and death by overdose is at epidemic proportions throughout the United States. The most impacted states are in New England, the Midwest and Appalachia. According to The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Barnstable County, which overlaps with Cape Cod, experienced a 340 percent increase in the annual opioid overdose death rate between 2000 and 2015.
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
The Hope Music Festival brought 20 Rock'n Roll Legends together to perform under the famed Cape Cod Melody Tent -- all to benefit Cape Cod Healthcare and address the opioid addiction and overdose issue head on.
Legendary artists lending their support included Grammy Award-winners Rick Derringer (Hang on Sloopy fame), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Barry Goudreau (former Boston guitarist) and The Uptown Horns (The Rolling Stones); Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter), drummer Marty Richards (J. Geils) Jeff Howell (Foghat), bluesman James Montgomery, Charlie Torres, Charlie Farren, Sandy McDonald, Grace Kelly (saxophonist, Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and more.
The brainchild of Brian Serpone, Brian Serpone Productions and his partners John Ippolito and Linda Apsey, who set out to use music and the arts to revitalize Cape Cod and combat drug abuse.
“The vision of the Hope Music Festival as a single event is to raise money and awareness to fight a national epidemic in one region — Cape Cod and the surrounding area — as a starting point.” -- Brian Serpone
The benefit concert continued to entertain and raise funds with the Red White and Blues After Party across the street at the Cape Cod Resort & Conference Center. An artist meet & greet, cocktails, food and more rock & roll music featuring the NY-based Red, White and Blues Band -- who rocked the late night with many of the artists from the Hope lineup.
A special bonus was a memorial to those members of the community who had lost a loved one to addiction. They were asked to submit photographs of their loved ones in advance of the show so that their memories could be honored at the festival’s after-party.
EPIC CONCERT FUNDRAISER RAISES OVER $250,000.00
In its inaugural year, The Festival raised $250,000 dollars for the new Hope Foundation to combat the opioid abuse epidemic in the area. The concert fundraiser benefits Cape Cod Healthcare, which operates two hospitals in Cape Cod and runs programs to help combat addiction under its Substance Use Disorders Initiative.
The Hope Music Festival initiative is Community Activism at its best. While just a starting point addressing one small region of the country, wouldn't it be great to see them take this show on the road to address the national epidemic in all regions? -- Abbe is SOCIALLY SPARKED™!
[Submitted by Abbe Sparks]
Kim So Ra performing at the 58th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival
Kim So Ra is the first Korean ever to perform at the Folk Fest. The crowd really appreciated the performance today and will have an opportunity to see another amazing set tomorrow at Noon in the Culture Tent at the Folk Fest #PFF58
Mr. Charley Pride Still Delivers The Goods…After Five Decades.
What can I say about Charley Pride that hasn’t already been said before by countless musical artists over an astonishing 53-year recording career? One thing is certain though: Pride still enjoys performing on stage for his legions of fans worldwide…. at 85 years young, mind you!
Still touring behind his 2017 album Music In My Heart, Pride and his tight-as-nails band have their work cut out for them as far as creating a set list at this point. To their credit, they manage to pull it off with a majority of the audience in attendance.
Kicking off their 90-minute, 25-song set with an instrumental Big Mamou, Pride takes the stage for the night’s second song The Snakes Crawl At Night (from Pride’s debut album Country, 1966) to roaring applause from the Chandler, AZ. crowd on June 14th at Wild Horse Pass Casino.
And the classics kept rolling: songs like The Happiness of Having You, A Whole Lotta Things To Sing About, and Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone? are just as viable today as they were upon their initial release.
Next, Pride took a minute to welcome and thank the audience for “spending your Friday evening with us.” As the show progressed, you get the sense that Pride comes off as authentic and appreciative for what he’s achieved.
Combine that with a great (and dry) sense of humor, it’s no wonder why he’s been able to sustain the career he has for so long.
Musically, Pride also proved that he doesn’t have to write every song himself in order to make them his own. Throughout the night, several covers found their way into the set such as Kris Kristofferson’s Me and Bobby McGee and Dolly Parton’s God’s Coloring Book.
Two of the covers played were in medley form, unfortunately. Still, he did justice to the late Merle Haggard (I’m A Lonesome Fugitive) and Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues). I’m sure both were grinning from ear-to-ear.
Interestingly, only one song was played from his latest release, Music To My Heart, that being New Patches. Still, it’s good to see that he feels strongly on recording new music when the opportunity arises. Word has it that he’s working on another album this year, which hopefully we’ll hear sometime in 2020.
If there was a “moving” moment in the show, it would have to be when Pride introduced Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town (from Pride of America, 1974) as “a song about slaves.” It shows that, while we’ve come a long way in history, there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done yet.
The night concluded with Pride’s biggest pop hit Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’, followed by Hank Williams’ Kaw-Liga, and Cotton Fields. I was surprised that I’m Just Me wasn’t played. However, he still found a happy medium of various material that pleased longtime fans.
The significance of Charley Pride’s music can never be overstated. Do yourself a favor and go see him while you still can. I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed.
Four out of five stars.
Charley Pride Set List:
The Snakes Crawl At Night
The Happiness of Having You
A Whole Lotta Things To Sing About
Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone?
Just Between You and Me
Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger?
All I Have To Offer You (Is Me)
Me and Bobby McGee
Wonder Could I Live There Anymore
Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town
Wings of a Dove
Burgers and Fries
You’re My Jamaica
Medley: Your Cheatin’ Heart, Love Sick Blues, Roll on Mississippi
Mountain of Love
Medley: Together Again, I’m a Lonesome Fugitive, Folsom Prison Blues, He Stopped Loving Her, Good Hearted Woman
God’s Coloring Book
Gospel Medley: I’ll Fly Away, Church In The Wildwood, I Saw The Light, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, I’ll Fly Away (reprise)
America The Great
Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’
Val Tapia is a self-appointed critic and fan of music commentary and criticism. He’s a contributing music writer for online media site US Press Association.
You can also find his work in print and broadcasting on his blog, Music According To…ME! (https://musicaccordingtomeblog.wordpress.com).
Travelin' Bluesman Tinsley Ellis
Travelin’ Man Tinsley Ellis‘ Total Recall tells the inside story of how his career began plus future predictions for the blues as a genre. The prolific southern blues-rocker is on top of his game today. But it wasn’t always that way.
Known as one of the best next generation blues-rock guitarists around, this busy southern man releases a new album annually. His latest Red Clay Soul, debuted as #1 on the June Living Blues Radio Charts
.On the road over 200 days per year includes a mix of criss-crossing the country as well as overseas. Taxing for some; impossible for most, this journeyman actually thrives on touring.
We caught up with Tinsley at the Iridium in New York for a one-on-one chat on his early years.
The Inside Back story
Tinsley started playing the Blues way before the resurgence of Blues music in the late ’70s to early ’80s. He was among the first of new generation musicians to come on the scene. This new crop of Blues cats included his friend Stevie Ray Vaughn, as well as Blues faves Robert Cray and The Fabulous Thunderbirds — to name a few.
I first met Tinsley in college in Atlanta, Georgia. He would play at our Fraternity House parties with a band called The Alley Cats (1979-1981), that included Preston Hubbard (The Fabulous Thunderbirds). We’d follow him around Atlanta at the local joints like Little 5 Points Pub and Moonshadow Saloon. I should point out that the drinking age was 18 back then, so no laws were broken.
Tinsley left The Alley Cats in 1981 to form his own band called “The Heartfixers (1982-1988). He was joined by veteran Blues singer and harp player Bob Nelson, a/k/a Chicago Bob, who remained in the band through 1984. Like The Alley Cats, Tinsley and The Heartfixers were mainstays on campus and a fixture at all the Frat parties; even the Frat Formal off-campus. They were also fixtures at all the clubs around Atlanta, too.
First Racially-Integrated Blues Band in the Georgia Area
What most people don’t know is that during that time, Georgia and Atlanta, too, were still very much old south. According to Tinsley, “All the black bands were playing at their clubs, and the white bands were playing at their designated clubs.”
“Chicago Bob had a pedigree which no one else had and still has,” says Tinsley. “He’s played with so many of the great Blues legends as Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters.”
Tinsley and Chicago Bob made kick-ass traditional southern blues music together and made significant inroads in Atlanta and the entire Georgia area; despite the obstacles put in front of them.
“We turned a whole generation of college kids onto the blues dating from the late ’70s to early ’80s. Now, there’s a whole lotta’ people doing it.” — Tinsley Ellis
Ever since, Tinsley puts out one new album a year. “I notice the people who do it, seem to do better. I figure if I keep hammering the fans with new information and new material, it will work for me, too,” he says.
A personal highlight of his 40 year career of electrifying blues — joining the Blues at Crossroads 2013 Tour: A Tribute to Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. As the young southern rock guy on the tour, he strummed out licks with the likes of Bob Margolin, James Cotton, Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Jody Williams.
Tinsley Ellis on The Future of the Blues?
Socially Sparked News: There seems to be a resurgence and escalating interest in Blues music. Do you think the Rolling Stones Blue and Lonesome album has something to do with this?
Tinsley: It always helps when a band like the Rolling Stones give lip service to blues albums so that’s gonna help it. Kinda’ thing happened when the Blues Brothers did their movie and all of a sudden the blues spiked up in pop culture.
Socially Sparked News: What’s your take on the Stones’ blues album?
Tinsley: To me, they did it right. The first time, they were like kids. Now, they sound like old blues guys.
Socially Sparked News: The future of the Blues?
Tinsley: Compared to Muddy & Howlin Wolf, the new generation better step up to the plate, ’cause those guys are still unsurpassed. I understand why those guys still play Muddy Waters, Willy Dixon & Howlin Wolf songs…’cause it’s still so much better than what we’re doing now. We’re all really good, but those guy are like WOW.
Socially Sparked News: Their are rumblings that Shemekia Copeland is primed to be the next Koko Taylor, queen of the blues. What’s your take?
Tinsley: In my opinion, Koko, BB King and Muddy Waters — they came up from a whole different era. When they passed away, they kind of retired the title, ’cause those guys — especially BB and Muddy — they were undisputed. Whereas if anybody would lay claim to that, it would probably be Buddy Guy and Shemkia Copeland. But, nobody’s come out and pronounced that, ’cause that’s a big claim.
Socially Sparked News: Maybe it’s Tinsley Ellis?
Tinsley: NO. (emphatically no). I am a Southern Blues-Rocker with Georgia Roots at my core. That’s my pedigree and how I prefer to be known.
Socially Sparked News: The future for Tinsley Ellis?
Tinsley: More songwriting & touring. Maybe getting some other acts on Heartfixer Music. Get some young’ins starting out and help get them produced. I’d like to try to find somebody who is good enough to play with me; somebody I can mentor, and polish up my production skills, too. It’s a delicate balance. If I really liked an artist and want them to do well, I’d probably call Bruce (Iglauer) first and give it to Alligator rather than trying to do it myself.
Tinsley Ellis’ blues highway continues. — Abbe Sparks is Socially Sparked. @sosparkednews #SociallySparked
[Submitted by Abbe Sparks]