Thursday, August 27, 2009

Walter Trout to headline benefit for Guitar Doctor

This email was sent to me earlier this week and I am sorry I didn't get it posted sooner. If you are a fan of singer-songwriter-guitarist Walter Trout, Social Distortion or just into helping out a great guy, read on:

"Hey Robert I was given your contact info from Walter Trout's publicist. I want to inform you about the benefit for The Guitar Doctor that Walter will be performing at on Saturday night, Sept. 5th at The Galaxy Theater.
You may have heard about the accident at the Guitar Doctor shop in Fountain Valley on July 25th. An illegal alien with no drivers license drove his Astro van through the front of the shop, nearly killing the Doc and damaging a lot of vintage instruments, and a few customers' instruments. Lots of twisted metal and broken glass, and a tremendous disruption in business.
Walter and Doc have been friends for 30 years, and Walter has been so gracious as to give up his time to play a benefit show for his friend. Unfortunately, our notice of the Galaxy becoming available was so quick, that I have not had nearly enough time to advertise the event. I know you have written about Walter in the past, and your paper (Orange County Register) did a story on the accident. I just want to get the word out about this appearance so as to make it as successful as possible." Stacy Walker

All the information is on the flyer published on this post too. Or check out for more details.

Friday, August 21, 2009

'Sgt. Pepper Live' is returning to the stage

No doubt, the Hollywood Bowl show where I saw Cheap Trick and a number of guests perform The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 2007 was one of my most memorable concert-going experiences. It ranks with unforgettable shows by U2, Paul McCartney, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen where I have simply been blown away.

If you couldn't make one of those shows (if memory serves me well, Cheap Trick offered another performance of the Beatles' classic album last year too), make plans to go to Las Vegas next month!

"Sgt. Pepper Live" Featuring Cheap Trick at the Las Vegas Hilton Announces Special Guest Artists Joan Osborne, Ian Ball and Rob Laufer

More Guest Artists to Be Announced in Coming Weeks

"Sgt. Pepper Live" featuring Cheap Trick will be performing an exclusive engagement Sept. 13-15, 17-19 and 21-23 at the Las Vegas Hilton, joined on stage by special guest artists Joan Osborne, Ian Ball and Rob Laufer. The Bill Edwards Presents, Inc. production will also feature several other guest artists who will be announced closer to the show dates.

Joan Osborne's major label debut, "Relish," stormed the charts in 1995 with the runaway smash hit "(What If God Was) One of Us." The whirlwind that followed included a top five hit, multi-platinum album sales, five Grammy nominations and "(What If God Was) One of Us" was tapped a decade later for the critically acclaimed CBS series "Joan of Arcadia." Since then Osborne has recorded numerous albums, performed with artists such as Taj Mahal, Luciano Pavarotti, Spearhead, Bob Dylan, The Dixie Chicks and sat in on lead vocals with The Dead (formerly The Grateful Dead). Osborne also joined Cheap Trick on stage during the 2007 40th anniversary celebration of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Her most recent album, "Little Wild One," was released in 2008.

As one of the principal singer/songwriters in the acclaimed British rock band Gomez, Ian Ball has shared in the band's great success since inception, including the UK's prestigious Mercury Music Prize for the group's 1998 debut album. Gomez earned its biggest U.S. commercial and critical success with the 2006 album "How We Operate," featuring the hits "See The World" and the album's title track. In October 2007, Ball released his solo debut "Who Goes There," which began as a spontaneous jam session and turned into a full length album. That same year, Ball was a guest performer at the Hollywood Bowl's 40th anniversary celebration of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Earlier this year Ball completed another successful Gomez album titled "A New Tide."

Rob Laufer has written songs for and performed with numerous prominent artists including Johnny Cash, Frank Black, Fiona Apple, George Martin, BB King, Peter Noone and Shawn Colvin, among others. He released two critically acclaimed albums in the mid '90s, and his latest release, "The Iron Age," contains the song "In the Frame," which was used in Hewlett-Packard's award-winning "Frames" television campaign. Additionally, Laufer was the featured vocalist at the 1999 Hollywood Bowl Tribute to the Beatles with George Martin and also performed in the 2007 40th anniversary celebration of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Cheap Trick is best known for its classic singles, "I Want You To Want Me" and "Surrender." The American power-pop progenitors recorded the album, "All Shook Up," in 1980 with Sir George Martin and Geoff Emerick, producer and engineer of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Emerick will continue to be in charge of the audio production for "Sgt. Pepper Live." He received Grammy Awards for the engineering of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Abbey Road."

Tickets for "Sgt. Pepper Live" featuring Cheap Trick, Sept. 13-15, 17-19 and 21-23 (all at 8 p.m.) are priced at $65, $80 and $95 plus tax and fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Las Vegas Hilton box office or by logging onto,, or phone at 702-732-5755 or 1-800-222-5361. For more information on "Sgt. Pepper Live" featuring Cheap Trick, please visit, or

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ringo Starr traces legacy with Soundstage DVD release

Can't wait for this one everybody! Fans of the Fab Four, Ringo's wonderful solo career and Men At Work will all find something to enjoy with this upcoming DVD release!
Captured in High-Definition with 5.1 Surround Sound, This Unforgettable 14-Song
Concert DVD Features A Guest Appearance By Colin Hay of Men At Work


With 24 studio and live albums and seven Top 10 hits since 1970, Ringo Starr has certainly carried on the musical tradition of his former band The Beatles. In 2005, Starr and his band revisited his musical career with a performance recorded in High-Definition with pristine 5.1 Surround Sound for the acclaimed PBS music series, Soundstage.
On September 15, 2009, E1 Entertainment makes this rousing concert available on DVD for the first time as SOUNDSTAGE PRESENTS: RINGO STARR AND THE ROUNDHEADS. The 14-song set includes classic Beatles’ tracks “Yellow Submarine,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” and “Octopus’s Garden” as well as the infectious “Memphis In Your Mind” and the sing-along “Photograph.” Special guest Colin Hay of Men At Work joins Starr onstage to perform “Who Can It Be Now.” A welcome addition to any rock music or Beatles’ library, the RINGO STARR AND THE ROUNDHEADS DVD will be available in stores everywhere for $19.99 SRP.

Preorder Date: August 18, 2009 Genre: Music
Street Date: September 15, 2009 SRP: $19.99
Rating: N/R Catalog #: E1E-DV-6696
Running Time: 56 minutes Screeners: Avail. Upon Request
Format: DVD Single


It Don’t Come Easy
Octopus’s Garden
Choose Love
I Wanna Be Your Man
Who Can It Be Now
Don’t Pass Me By
I’m The Greatest
Give Me Back The Beat
Memphis In Your Mind
Back Off Boogaloo
Yellow Submarine
Act Naturally
With A Little Help From My Friends

Michael Ubaldini to perform tonight in San Juan Capistrano

Photo credit: Jesse Navarro
This story was originally posted on The Orange County Register Web site on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009.
Michael Ubaldini blends '60s rock with today's sounds
Although Michael Ubaldini's forthcoming album "Portable Record Player" won't have its official release until Aug. 25, the Fountain Valley-based rocker's new disc will be celebrated with a full-length show at the Coach House on Aug. 20.
Fans attending the concert will be able to purchase copies of the album that night, as well as catch the acclaimed singer-songwriter performing many of the disc's choice songs with his top-notch band.
"Most of the songs were written in 2008," Ubaldini said during a recent interview.
The undeniable rock gem "Scandal" was the first song recorded for the album, and is already familiar to many listeners due to a television profile of Ubaldini by Time Warner Cable director Glenn Ross that was aired via CNN Headline News earlier this year.
"It was also included on the IPO ('International Pop Overthrow: Volume 11' collection) CD released last year," Ubaldini said.
Since issuing his Lee Rocker-produced debut "Mystery Train" in 1994, Ubaldini has proved to be one of rock 'n' roll's most prolific and gifted artists, blending rockabilly, blues, folk and alt-country into his own winning blend of Americana.
"Portable Record Player" continues to showcase Ubaldini's flawless songwriting front and center, but brings new sonic elements into the mix.
"I just added some different things to make it broader. I wanted to use more vocal harmonies and fuzz guitars and things like that," Ubaldini said, adding that while he was inspired by old '60s records he clearly avoided making a retro-sounding album.
"I was kind of marrying Americana with '60s garage rock and harmony groups."
While songs such as "The Final Curtain" and "Not a Heart Left to Steal" will please fans of his previous rock releases, "Memories of Belgium," "Got Money on Ya" and the aforementioned "Scandal" masterfully mirror the magic of some of rock's earliest masters courtesy of vocal flourishes and artful arrangements.
Ubaldini contributed vocals, guitar, piano and other musical touches across the album, but he also used the talents of a number of key players to complete his wide-ranging sonic vision. He brought in Hope Easton to play cello, while engineerJerry Adamowicz added bass, keyboards and violin to the project.
"All the basic tracks were done live. The only thing that we really had to do (in terms of overdubs) were the strings and the pedal steel," Ubaldini said. "Even some of the vocals were done live."
The fact that some of the earliest vocal performances ended up on the finished CD also undoubtedly add to the energetic and spontaneous power displayed across "Portable Record Player."
Ubaldini wanted to perform at the Coach House, in part, because listeners who order his new CD from Kool Kat Musik get a bonus disc ("Tears of a Lonesome Train") that features a dozen live tracks he recorded at the Coach House last year.
"It's the kind of record I always wanted to make. I've been carrying it around in my head a few years," Ubaldini admitted.
"The mix of twangy stuff and old rock 'n' roll with the energy of punk …I knew something original would come out of it.
"I don't think there is anything like it; if playing rock 'n' roll from the heart is dead, so be it. But I'm still playing it."

Daughtry rocks the house in Hollywood

This review was posted on The Orange County Register earlier today

Daughtry more relaxed but no less fiery at Hollywood show

When I caught Chris Daughtry in January 2007, it was the opening night of his national club tour at a packed House of Blues in Anaheim on the heels of the release of his self-named debut two months earlier. He displayed solid songwriting skills and always impressive vocals at that show, yet he was still somewhat hesitant as the high-profile leader of a hard-charging rock outfit. Daughtry was so serious, at times it was unclear whether he was actually enjoying his newfound fame.

What a difference 30 months makes.
Performing Wednesday night before an enthusiastic capacity crowd at the Music Box at the Fonda in Hollywood, the North Carolina native proved that while some things have remained the same now that his second album is out -– his soaring vocals and melodic hard-rock approach are constants throughout Leave This Town –- his skills as a performer are now equal to the rest of his arsenal.

Daughtry (also the name of his band) played a mere 11 songs when he headlined at the Mouse House several years ago, but his set at the Music Box featured 15 originals, many of which the audience (bundled close to the stage) were more than happy to sing along to while capturing photos and video with their digital cameras. The longer, 80-minute set allowed the singer-guitarist and his supporting players to deliver a set showcasing their engaging blend of successful radio rock (“Home,” “Feels Like Tonight,” “No Surprise”), neo-grunge (“Crashed,” the night-ending “You Don’t Belong”) and arena-ready ballads (“Open Up Your Eyes”).

What impressed most, however, were some of the creative rearrangements of several of his earliest songs, and how he reworked those by utilizing the skills of his band. With Daughtry, Brian Craddock and Josh Steeley all on electric guitar, “Breakdown” was launched with haunting, layered texture. Then Daughtry roared forth emotive vocals over that artful soundscape before bassist Josh Paul and drummer Joey Barnes came in with the heavy approach of the original recording. “Over You,” also from the first disc, benefited from a similar reworking.

What also struck me was how much Daughtry has grown into the role, interacting with audience members squeezed near the front and playing forceful rhythms on his Gibson guitar as Steeley unleashed an impressive solo during the hard-edged “There and Back Again.”
He even smiled.
Times being what they are, that was a good thing.

Singer-songwriter-keyboardist David Hodges, a member of Evanescence from 1999-2002, delivered a solid 30-minute opening set. With a sound that draws natural comparisons with Jack’s Mannequin, the Little Rock native’s best song was the infectious “Another Red Light.” A reworked cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run” was also effective.

Main set: Every Time You Turn Around / It’s Not Over / Ghost of Me / No Surprise / Breakdown / Crashed / Open Up Your Eyes / September / Over You / Life after You / Supernatural / Feels Like Tonight / There and Back Again
Encore: Home / You Don’t Belong

Friday, August 14, 2009


Allen Shellenberger in 2004.

Allen Shellenberger, drummer for Orange County rock band Lit, lost his battle with brain cancer Thursday, August 13, 2009 surrounded by his loving family, the band, and close friends. He was 39 years old.
In May 2008, Allen was diagnosed with a malignant glioma brain tumor and immediately underwent clinical trials, chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute. Allen was a founding member of Lit over two decades ago and was able to perform with the band until last fall.
In a statement from Kevin Baldes, Jeremy Popoff, and A.Jay Popoff, the band had this to say of their longtime friend Allen: "To know Al was to know laughter. He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. Words cannot begin to express how much he will be missed. This was our brother and not a day will go by that we won’t think about him. Right now we’re trying to find the balance of mourning his loss and celebrating his life. Allen has experienced more in his 39 years than most people dream of in ten lifetimes. This is a tremendous loss for us, our fans, and also for Allen's family who took such good care of him during his battle with cancer."
Allen is survived by his daughter Giovanna Mackey, his mother Connie James, and his father Paul Shellenberger. Lit and Allen's family wish to thank everyone who supported the benefits for Allen. Funeral services will be private for family members only. Memorial event for Allen Shellenberger is pending. A tribute video to Allen can be seen at:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three Dog Night plays it safe at Pac Amp

This review was first posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Monday, August 10, 2009.

Three Dog Night plays safe, pleases fans at Pacific
The band delivered all of its '70s hits during a brief yet well-performed set.

Special to the Register

While Three Dog Night closed out the 2009 OC Super Fair's Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre (on Sunday night, Aug. 9, 2009) with plenty of sure-fire hits from the L.A. outfit's 1970s heyday, the show ultimately proved to be a mixed bag.
The group's modern-day lineup includes original lead vocalists Cory Wells and Danny Hutton (but not Chuck Negron), as well as keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon and guitarist Michael Allsup. In a set that stretched a mere 75 minutes, there were moments that rekindled the magic of classic gems (Harry Nilsson's "One," Hoyt Axton's country-styled "Never Been To Spain") and commercial hits that haven't dated nearly as well (Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" and the 1972 No. 1 "Black and White" penned by David Arkin and Earl Robinson).

The mix of things that worked well (the blending of soulful vocals courtesy of Wells and Hutton) and things that didn't (Allsup's extended lead guitar solo in "Liar") killed the kind of sweeping momentum that can make an oldies concert work.
One of the highlight moments in the show came outside of the parade of big hits, when Three Dog Night played several blues numbers. Performing "It Ain't Easy" and "Heart of Blues" (the latter being the sole newer song played this night), it seemed to be the one extended segment in the show where the musicians broke out of the well-rehearsed, Las Vegas-styled approach and connected more fully with the music. I thought the ensemble also delivered a strong version of the R&B-minded "Sure as I'm Sittin' Here" later in the set.

The good news for the crowd was that both Wells and Hutton – now both in their sixties – have strong voices that only occasionally strained at the top of their ranges. This was a crowd that wanted to enjoy the night of big hits, and without fail, Three Dog delivered.
So when Three Dog Night performed its encore, a joyous and upbeat "Joy to the World," it's not surprising that just about everybody was on their feet and singing "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" at the top of their lungs.

I would guess that Three Dog Night sticks to pretty much the same set list and similar approach at every show. Perhaps a release of new material might push Three Dog Night out of its oldies circuit comfort zone and get aging "Jeremiah" to recall what it was like to be a tadpole.

Les Paul Passes Away at 94

I am sad to hear of the passing of the legendary Les Paul, but happy to see his passing has not gone unnoticed by the world. A giant in the music industry throughout the 20th century and the first decade of this one, here is the media release from Gibson Guitar:

The World Has Lost a Remarkable Innovator and Musician: Les Paul Passes Away at 94

June 9, 1915- Aug. 13, 2009

New York, NY August 13, 2009 Les Paul, acclaimed guitar player, entertainer and inventor, passed away today from complications of severe pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plain, New York, surrounded by family and loved ones.

He had been receiving the best available treatment through this final battle and in keeping with his persona, he showed incredible strength, tenacity and courage. The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks for the thoughts and prayers from his dear friends and fans. Les Paul was 94. One of the foremost influences on 20th century sound and responsible for the world’s most famous guitar, the Les Paul model, Les Paul’s prestigious career in music and invention spans from the 1930s to the present. Though he’s indisputably one of America’s most popular, influential, and accomplished electric guitarists, Les Paul is best known as an early innovator in the development of the solid body guitar. His groundbreaking design would become the template for Gibson’s best-selling electric, the Les Paul model, introduced in 1952. Today, countless musical legends still consider Paul’s iconic guitar unmatched in sound and prowess. Among Paul’s most enduring contributions are those in the technological realm, including ingenious developments in multi-track recording, guitar effects, and the mechanics of sound in general.

Born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 9, 1915, Les Paul was already performing publicly as a honky-tonk guitarist by the age of 13. So clear was his calling that Paul dropped out of high school at 17 to play in Sunny Joe Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis. As Paul’s mentor, Wolverton was the one to christen him with the stage name “Rhubarb Red,” a moniker that would follow him to Chicago in 1934. There, Paul became a bonafide radio star, known as both hillbilly picker Rhubarb Red and Django Reinhardt-informed jazz guitarist Les Paul. His first recordings were done in 1936 on an acoustic—alone as Rhubarb Red, as well as backing blues singer Georgia White. The next year he formed his first trio, but by 1938 he’d moved to New York to begin his tenure on national radio with one of the more popular dance orchestras in the country, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. Tinkering with electronics and guitar amplification since his youth, Les Paul began constructing his own electric guitar in the late ’30s. Unhappy with the first generation of commercially available hollowbodies because of their thin tone, lack of sustain, and feedback problems, Paul opted to build an entirely new structure.

“I was interested in proving that a vibration-free top was the way to go,” he has said. “I even built a guitar out of a railroad rail to prove it. What I wanted was to amplify pure string vibration, without the resonance of the wood getting involved in the sound.” With the good graces of Epiphone president Epi Stathopoulo, Paul used the Epiphone plant and machinery in 1941 to bring his vision to fruition. He affectionately dubbed the guitar “The Log.” Les Paul’s tireless experiments sometimes proved to be dangerous, and he nearly electrocuted himself in 1940 during a session in the cellar of his Queens apartment. During the next two years of rehabilitation, Les earned his living producing radio music. Forced to put the Pennsylvanians and the rest of his career on hold, Les Paul moved to Hollywood.

During World War II, he was drafted into the Army but permitted to stay in California, where he became a regular player for Armed Forces Radio Service. By 1943 he had assembled a trio that regularly performed live, on the radio, and on V-Discs. In 1944 he entered the jazz spotlight—thanks to his dazzling work filling in for Oscar Moore alongside Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, and other superstars —at the first of the prestigious Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts. By his mid-thirties, Paul had successfully combined Reinhardt-inspired jazz playing and the western swing and twang of his Rhubarb Red persona into one distinctive, electrifying style. In the Les Paul Trio he translated the dizzying runs and unusual harmonies found on Jazz at the Philharmonic into a slower, subtler, more commercial approach. His novelty instrumentals were tighter, brasher, and punctuated with effects. Overall, the trademark Les Paul sound was razor-sharp, clean-shaven, and divinely smooth. As small combos eclipsed big bands toward the end of World War II, Les Paul Trio’s popularity grew. They cut records for Decca both alone and behind the likes of Helen Forrest, the Andrews Sisters, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Dick Hayes, and, most notably, Bing Crosby. Since 1945, when the crooner brought them into the studio to back him on a few numbers, the Trio had become regular guests on Crosby’s hit radio show.

The highlight of the session was Paul’s first No. 1 hit and million-seller, the gorgeous “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.” Meanwhile, Paul began to experiment with dubbing live tracks over recorded tracks, also altering the playback speed. This resulted in “Lover (When You’re Near Me),” his revolutionary 1947 predecessor to multi-track recording. The hit instrumental featured Les Paul on eight different electric guitar parts, all playing together. In 1948, Paul nearly lost his life to a devastating car crash that shattered his right arm and elbow. Still, he convinced doctors to set his broken arm in the guitar-picking and cradling position. Laid up but undaunted, Paul acquired a first generation Ampex tape recorder from Crosby in 1949, and began his most important multi-tracking adventure, adding a fourth head to the recorder to create sound-on-sound recordings. While tinkering with the machine and its many possibilities, he also came up with tape delay. These tricks, along with another recent Les Paul innovation—close mic-ing vocals—were integrated for the first time on a single recording: the 1950 No. 1 tour de force “How High the Moon.” This historic track was performed during a duo with future wife Mary Ford. The couple’s prolific string of hits for Capitol Records not only included some of the most popular recordings of the early 1950s, but also wrote the book on contemporary studio production. The dense but crystal clear harmonic layering of guitars and vocals, along with Ford’s close mic-ed voice and Paul’s guitar effects, produced distinctively contemporary recordings with unprecedented sonic qualities. Through hits, tours, and popular radio shows, Paul and Ford kept one foot in the technological vanguard and the other in the cultural mainstream. All the while, Les Paul continued to pine for the perfect guitar. Though The Log came close, it wasn’t quite what he was after. In the early 1950s, Gibson Guitar would cultivate a partnership with Paul that would lead to the creation of the guitar he’d seen only in his dreams.

In 1948, Gibson elected to design its first solidbody, and Paul, a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool Gibson man,” seemed the right man for the job. Gibson avidly courted the guitar legend, even driving deep into the Pennsylvania mountains to deliver the first model to newlyweds Les Paul and Mary Ford. “Les played it, and his eyes lighted up,” then-Gibson President Ted McCarty has recalled. The year was 1950, and Paul had just signed on as the namesake of Gibson’s first electric solidbody, with exclusive design privileges. Working closely with Paul, Gibson forged a relationship that would change popular culture forever. The Gibson Les Paul model—the most powerful and respected electric guitar in history—began with the 1952 release of the Les Paul Goldtop. After introducing the original Les Paul Goldtop in 1952, Gibson issued the Black Beauty, the mahogany-topped Les Paul Custom, in 1954. The Les Paul Junior (1954) and Special (1955) were also introduced before the canonical Les Paul Standard hit the market in 1958. With revolutionary humbucker pickups, this sunburst classic has remained unchanged for the half-century since it hit the market.

“The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being today. I cannot imagine life without Les Paul. He would walk into a room and put a smile on anyone’s face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his techniques unmatched anywhere in the world,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “We will dedicate ourselves to preserving Les’ legacy to insure that it lives on forever. He touched so many lives throughout his remarkable life and his influence extends around the globe and across every boundary. I have lost a dear, personal friend and mentor, a man who has changed so many of our lives for the better.” “I don’t think any words can describe the man we know as Les Paul adequately. The English language does not contain words that can pay enough homage to someone like Les. As the “Father of the Electric Guitar”, he was not only one of the world’s greatest innovators but a legend who created, inspired and contributed to the success of musicians around the world,” said Dave Berryman, President of Gibson Guitar. “I have had the privilege to know and work with Les for many, many years and his passing has left a deep personal void. He was simply put – remarkable in every way. As a person, a musician, a friend, an inventor. He will be sorely missed by us all,” With the rise of the rock ’n’ roll revolution of 1955, Les Paul and Mary Ford’s popularity began to wane with younger listeners, though Paul would prove to be a massive influence on younger generation of guitarists. Still, Paul and Ford maintained their iconic presence with their wildly popular television show, which ran from 1953-1960. In 1964, the couple, parents to a son and daughter, divorced. Paul began playing in Japan, and recorded an LP for London Records before poor health forced him to take time off—as much as someone so inspired can take time off.

In the 1977, Paul resurfaced with a Grammy-winning Chet Atkins collaboration, Chester and Lester. Then the ailing guitarist, who’d already suffered arthritis and permanent hearing loss, had a heart attack, followed by bypass surgery. Ever stubborn, Les recovered, and returned to live performance in the late 1980s. Even releasing the 2005 double-Grammy winner Les Paul Friends: American Made World Played, featuring collaborations with a veritable who’s who of the electric guitar, including dozens of illustrious fans like Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Joe Perry.

In 2008, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute to Les Paul in a week-long celebration of his life which culminated with a live performance by Les himself. Until recently Les continued to perform two weekly New York shows with the Les Paul Trio, at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, for over twelve years where a literal who’s who of the entertainment world has paid homage. It has been an honor to have Les Paul perform at The Iridium Jazz Club for the past twelve years hosting such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and others and is a tragic loss to owner Ron Sturm both personally and professionally. Iridium intends to celebrate Les Paul's music and legacy every Monday night. Les Paul has since become the only individual to share membership into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Les is survived by his three sons Lester (Rus) G. Paul, Gene W. Paul and Robert (Bobby) R. Paul, his daughter Colleen Wess, son-in-law Gary Wess, long time friend Arlene Palmer, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A private Funeral service will be held in New York. A service in Waukesha, WI will be announced at a later date. Details will follow and will be announced for all services. Memorial tributes for the public will be announced at a future date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Les Paul Foundation, 236 West 30th Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10001.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Neil Young to be honored as 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year

Most of my regular readers know that Neil Young is one of my favorite singer-songwriters on the planet. So hot off the electronic wire, this media release is welcome news and I wanted to share it with all of you. Have a great week and keep on rocking in the free world!


Gala Benefiting the MusiCares Foundation® Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary and
Will Be Held Jan. 29, 2010, During GRAMMY® Week

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Aug. 11, 2009) — Legendary musician Neil Young will be honored as the 2010 MusiCares® Person of the Year at its 20th anniversary gala, it was announced today by Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the MusiCares Foundation and The Recording Academy®, and Paul Caine, Chair of the MusiCares Foundation Board. Proceeds from the annual GRAMMY® Week gala dinner and concert honoring Young — to be held in Los Angeles on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, two days prior to the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards — will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music people have a place to turn to in times of financial, medical and personal need.

The incomparable singer, songwriter and performer is being honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his exceptional and influential artistic accomplishments as well as his philanthropic work, which has included many generous charitable activities over the years.

"It is an honor to celebrate the extraordinary legacy of Neil Young at our 20th Annual MusiCares Person of the Year tribute," said Portnow. "Neil has set a standard of artistic integrity and iconoclastic creativity for more than four decades, and his achievements have been matched by his unwavering humanitarianism. He is a shining example of how music people offer their creative gifts to the world, and how they also give back through their commitments to charitable endeavors."

"Throughout his career, Neil has stood out as an exceptionally talented performer, and he has stood for causes that are both noble and close to his heart." said Caine. "We look forward to paying tribute to him at this signature GRAMMY Week gala."

The 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year gala will begin with a reception and silent auction offering an exclusive and unparalleled selection of luxury items, VIP experiences and one-of-a-kind celebrity memorabilia for bidding guests. The reception and silent auction will be followed by a dinner, the award presentation and a star-studded tribute concert. The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute ceremony, co-chaired by Warner Bros. Records Chairman Emeritus Mo Ostin, Lookout Management President and Founder Elliot Roberts and Warner Bros. Records Chairman/CEO Tom Whalley, is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The celebration culminates with the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles . The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Young's career began with his earliest recordings as a member of the Squires in Winnipeg , Canada , in 1963. He rose to prominence with classic albums such as 1970's After The Gold Rush and 1972's Harvest, and through work with bands such as Buffalo Springfield (Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again); Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (American Dream, Déjà Vu); and Neil Young With Crazy Horse (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere).

He has directed films and released them through his production company Shakey Pictures, including Rust Never Sleeps (1979) and the documentary CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008).

Young continues to push artistic boundaries and has recently released Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 1963–1972 in a variety of formats including Blu-ray, allowing fans to continue to receive new Neil Young archival content as it becomes available.

He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career including an Oscar nomination in 1993 for his song " Philadelphia " from the film Philadelphia. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982, and has twice been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — in 1995 for his solo work, and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.

Young's philanthropic work is as renowned as his musical heritage. He was one of the original founders of Farm Aid in 1985, and continues to be an active member on the organization's board of directors. Each October, he and his wife Pegi organize and host the Bridge School Concerts, a benefit for the Bridge School that he and Pegi helped found. The school ensures that children with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of assistive technology and the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative educational strategies. These weekend concerts have drawn an international array of musical artists and have raised significant resources for the school.

Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy, MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, please visit

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization's social networks as a follower on Twitter at and a Facebook fan at, and a YouTube channel subscriber at

Great White coming to The Coach House

Great White will play at the Coach House on Thursday night, Aug. 13.
This story was originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Monday, Aug. 10, 2009.
Southern California-based Great White will celebrate the release of the band's latest album, "Rising," with a headlining show Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
The hard-edged blues rockers' 2009 commercial release is a follow-up to 2006's "Back to the Rhythm." Across the group's new 11-song album, singer Jack Russell, guitarist Mark Kendall, drummer Audie Desbrow, guitarist-keyboardist Michael Lardie and bassist Scott Snyder show that Great White is one of the most overlooked rockers to emerge in the 1980s.
Sadly, a fire that killed 100 people in a Rhode Island nightclub in 2003 during one of Great White's concerts thrust the band into the spotlight more than its music this decade. But the group's subsequent albums have built an increasingly strong case that what ultimately defines the band is rock 'n' roll played with an edge.
From the funk-tinged "I Don't Mind" and hard-rocking "Situation" to the confessional blues of "All Or Nothing" (in which Russell sings "I'm dyin' to live, yeah, livin' to die/Honey, listen to me sing the blues/No, no you can't judge me until you've lived my life/Till you're walkin' in my shoes"), the band continues to mine a wealth of classic rock and blues influences.
At the upcoming Coach House show, Great White will likely feature new material off "Rising," as well as favorites such as "Face the Day," "Save Your Love," "Rock Me" and the Grammy-nominated remake of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy."
For more information, call the Coach House at 949-496-8930.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Philip Vandermost completes 'The Long Path'

This story was first published on Tuesday, Aug. 4 when it appeared on the Orange County Register Web site.
When it comes to crafting rock music for the ages, singer-songwriter Philip Vandermost is already a master.
The Laguna Niguel resident celebrated the release of his sophomore album "The Long Path" with an appearance as part of the acclaimed International Pop Overthrow (better known as IPO) festival in Huntington Beach on July 25, and also performed a full-length encore via an afternoon set at the OC Fair in Costa Mesa the following day.
"The Long Path" is a triumph, filled with propulsive power-pop ("New Way," "Trying Again"), articulate guitar rock ("Barefoot," "Miles to Go") and classic rock-styled songcraft ("Turn Me Around," "Alone"). Across the 11-song disc, Vandermost's skills as singer and guitar virtuoso shine, building on the promise he displayed on his 2008 debut, "Automatic August."
Vandermost and his band will perform a free full-length show at Mahé in Dana Point at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, Aug. 8, while he will perform a solo acoustic show at the same venue on Thursday, Aug. 20.
"The Long Path" was produced by Andrew Alekel, who is credited with engineering and producing albums for Foo Fighters, No Doubt, Queens of the Stone Age, Matt Costa and others.
"Andrew sent me an e-mail and asked if I was interested in doing a CD," recalled Vandermost in a recent interview.
"I had just finished home demos for the next CD so the timing was perfect."
Vandermost, bassist Scott Vonkaenel and drummer Nick Hoffman spent 11 days recording and mixing tracks at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood.
"I knew I would have to have the arrangements down," explained Vandermost, noting Alekel's studio expertise helped every step in the recording process.
"To me, this (album) is light years beyond what I did last time," Vandermost said.
His favorite track is the title track, which boasts an immediately-luring vocal melody wrapped around a lush rock soundscape.
"'The Long Path' is especially significant; musically, it's inspired by classic rock I listen to and new rock too – it brings old and new together. (Lyrically) It's about my journey (through life) – it looks at appreciating each other and not to lose hope," Vandermost said.
The song also features plenty of Vandermost's virtuoso guitar work, which is always unleashed in the service of the songs.
"I love performing too. It has been a wonderful development in the way that I express myself," said Vandermost, a celebrated lead guitar player who was a member of Greenwich Meantime, the Kelly Bowlin Band and the George Fryer Combo before embarking on a solo career in 2008.
Vandermost has been embraced by leaders of the regional music scene, with IPO founder David Bash among his growing number of supporters. In addition to picking up both his albums at his live performances, listeners can purchase his album via iTunes, and other well-known online music distributors. He also wrote a melodic pop-rock gem, "Again and Again," that is included on the newly-released "International Pop Overthrow: Volume 12" collection available via Not Lame Recording Company.
"IPO is a great community, and a great umbrella for promoting independent music," Vandermost said.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pet Shop Boys Break Billboard Record

I thought this media release was worth noting, especially since the Pet Shop Boys' latest album titled Yes is one of my favorites releases of 2009. The group will perform in Los Angeles on Sept. 24. Here is the media release from EMI:

Over 25 years after the release of their worldwide hit 'West End Girls', Pet Shop Boys return in grand style, setting the record for the most number 1’s on Billboard Magazine’s Dance/Club chart among groups with 'Love Etc.' the first single off their acclaimed album Yes. It's the ninth time the band has hit the top spot, vaunting over fellow electro-pop veterans Depeche Mode. Yes, the band's first album on Astralwerks and tenth album overall, debuted at an impressive No. 32 on the Billboard 200, achieving the act's highest position on that chart since 1993's Very debuted at No. 20.

Earlier this year the duo performed at the Brit Awards, sharing the stage with admirers Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers (The Killers), and receiving an outstanding contribution to music award. The band will be bringing their celebrated stage show to the states this September. Dubbed the 'Pandemonium' tour, the dates will be filled with wild surprises and extravagant fun, in which 'every night is Friday night' according to Pet Shop Boys keyboardist Chris Lowe. A recent poster contest for the tour garnered nearly 700 entries.

The London Financial Times have noted that Pet Shop Boys 'pride themselves on mounting artful visual spectaculars: previous tours were co-designed with the likes of Derek Jarman, Zaha Hadid and Sam Taylor-Wood.' And in the words of the Guardian UK, 'this extraordinary show both consolidates and extends the Pet Shop Boys' multifaceted appeal...It's an art gallery, musical, gay disco and pop concert in one...This show is a triumph of staging and pop's ability to entertain, move and subvert.'

8/29 Montreal , Metropolis
8/30 Toronto , V Fest
9/1-2 New York NY , Hammerstein
9/3 Washington DC , Constitution Hall
9/5 Boston MA , HOB
9/6 Atlantic City NJ , House of Blues
9/9 Miami FL , Fillmore
9/10 Tampa FL , Tampa Bay PAC
9/11 Orlando FL , HOB
9/12 Atlanta GA , Chastain
9/14 Chicago IL , Chicago Theater
9/15 Milwaukee WI , Pabst Ballroom
9/16 Minneapolis MN , State Theater
9/19 Vancouver, Vancouver Centre of the Perf Arts
9/20 Seattle WA , Moore
9/22-23 San Francisco CA , Warfield
9/24 Los Angeles CA , Greek
9/26 Las Vegas NV , Joint

Monday, August 03, 2009

KC and the Sunshine Band bring boogie fever back to Pacific Amphitheatre

This story was posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009.

Some artists continue to challenge themselves long into their careers, writing and recording new music, often selecting young producers to help bring their sound into the modern era.
Then there’s KC & the Sunshine Band.

The group was more than happy to simply celebrate all things ‘70s at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on Friday night, July 31, 2009. With the large video screens showing a gigantic mirror ball before KC and company even hit the stage, the disco heroes gave the nostalgic crowd exactly what they wanted. For the mostly middle-age audience (with more than a few perplexed kids in tow), this was a time-traveling experience, during which a few beers and dance hits brought plenty of smiles and memories back for 90 minutes of good times.

Harry Wayne Casey (his surname became “KC,” while “Sunshine Band” is a nod to his home state of Florida) has gained a few pounds since he rose to fame in the mid-’70s, and his thin voice was often obscured Friday by the ensemble of players around him. Yet their parade of hits kept the party going from start to finish.
From the first strains of “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” to the evening-ending medley that fused “Get Down Tonight” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” together with all the bombast of a Las Vegas revue, KC proved to be a gracious and personable host with a single aim: to please.
KC blended a mix of his hits with winning humor, often introducing songs with lines such as “this is 1976, isn’t it?” or self-effacing humor: “I’m 58 years old. Get a good look at me: this is what Justin Timberlake is going to look like in 30 years.”

In the music-making department, it was best when the band, featuring backing vocalists and dancers as well as horns and a top-notch rhythm section, stuck to upbeat disco smashes. When KC sat down to deliver a tender R&B version of “Please Don’t Go,” the chatting crowd stripped any emotion out of the ballad.
But when the group stuck to funk- and disco-fueled material like “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “That’s the Way (I Like It)” and “Give It Up,” well, everyone hit the dance floor like it really was ’76.

Although Evelyn “Champagne” King didn’t have as many hits as the Sunshine Band, she made every minute of her half-hour opening set count. A strong singer best known for “Shame,” her Top 10 single from 1978, King showcased a fine blend of R&B, disco and funk courtesy of extended takes on “Love Come Down” and her signature tune. Backed by a strong band, including husband-guitarist Freddie Fox, her set got the party started early.

A chat with Susanna Hoffs

Susanna Hoffs, left, with Matthew Sweet.
I've seen The Bangles a number of times since the early 1980s, and even met Susanna Hoffs at NAMM in January of this year. However, I never had the chance to interview her until last month, in connection with her latest collection with Matthew Sweet.
This story was originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Thursday, July 30, 2009.
Susanna Hoffs, Matthew Sweet go 'Under the Covers' again
The duo revive their side project, this time focusing on songs of the '70s.
When power-pop heroes Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs released "Under the Covers Vol. 1" in 2006, the collection of more than a dozen classics from the 1960s proved to be one of the best albums of the year.
When I interviewed Sweet in early 2008, in connection with the release of his 10th studio album "Sunshine Lies," the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-guitarist revealed that work was well underway on an equally-ambitious sequel to "Under the Covers Vol. 1" that would feature the duo playing a collection of reworked '70s songs.
Released by Shout! Factory on July 21, "Under the Covers Vol. 2" finds Hoffs (still active as a member of the Bangles) and Sweet (best known for his classic 1991 album "Girlfriend") revisiting more than a dozen gems from the 1970s, including material penned by the Grateful Dead, Derek & the Dominoes, Todd Rundgren, Big Star and the Raspberries.
In a recent interview, Hoffs was enthusiastic and eager to discuss this celebrated side project that has renewed interest in both her and Sweet, as well as some of the more unlikely artists covered on "Under the Covers Vol. 2."
So, while it may come as little surprise to hear Sid & Susie shine on the Raspberries' pop-rock classic "Go All the Way," notable remakes of songs from Yes, Rod Stewart and Bread are unlikely home runs on the 16-song set.
"I was very excited to take on these songs," Hoffs said in a phone interview.
"The truth is with 'Bell Bottom Blues' and 'Maggie May,' I assumed Matthew would sing those. He said, 'No Susie, you're gonna' sing them.' "
Hoffs' lead vocals on those songs work, in no small part, to how the sweet-voiced singer prepared for specific sessions at Sweet's Lolina Green Studios in Los Angeles. Her appropriately-ragged vocals on "Maggie May" may shock listeners familiar with her angelic vocals on Bangles classics.
"Finally the day comes (to record her vocals on 'Maggie May'); normally, I'm hoping for the clean sound so I can hit the high notes you know on the songs that require high notes. So he's like 'We have to do it today, so go in the other room and scream for 10 minutes.' I went in the other room and started singing really loud and warming my voice up and sure enough, the rasp came back."
Equally affecting is Hoffs' vocal triumph on Bread's "Everything I Own."
"Some people loved that stuff and other people thought it wasn't as cool as edgier stuff," recalled Hoffs of Bread's soft rock when it was on the charts in the '70s.
"Interestingly enough, it was Rick Menck – the drummer who plays on the record and who has been Matthew's long-time drummer – who said 'Well, you guys have to do a Bread song.' Wow, it struck me as so interesting that Matthew and Rick were the ones who (wanted to do that)…but it's such a gorgeous song. Just from the perspective of singing it, it's such a heartfelt, beautiful melody, so I got past that thing of wondering how it would fit in because it was more of a top 40 type of thing at the time…I remember in the '70s, loving Bread was sort of a guilty pleasure."
Surprises abound across "Under the Covers Vol. 2," including Dhani Harrison joining the duo on his father George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness," and guitarist Steve Howe performing on Yes' "I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People" and Lindsey Buckingham playing on Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News." The shimmering vocal harmonies that Sweet and Hoffs display across the disc provide the perfect element to link the collection's wide-ranging styles together.
Sweet and Hoffs recorded a total of about 40 songs, so a bonus collection of material will likely be released soon.
"We're such good friends," said Hoffs of Sweet.
"We share a love of the same kind of music; it has kind of bonded us."
Bangles fans need not fear that her work with Sweet will pull Hoffs away from appearances with Debbi Peterson (vocals, drums) and Vicki Peterson (vocals, lead guitar). Indeed, the Bangles will headline at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 16, 2009. For information on that show, visit
"I'm very actively working with the Bangles all the time," Hoffs said.