Tag Archives: Events

Phoenix Drive CD Release Party Live Music Review – Hard Rock Café 8/7/12


I was really looking forward to this CD release party as I have seen Phoenix Drive twice before and have been very impressed both times. I have to say I was blown away this time. Phoenix Drive took the stage with an energy that I had not witnessed from them before. I am not sure if the was the excitement of the night or the chemistry with new drummer David Rollins but it was a welcome sight to behold. I am a big fan of high energy and bands that realize that part of their job is entertaining the crowd.

Phoenix Drive in my estimation has always had impeccable vocal harmonies and this night was no exception. The blend of both lead vocalist Jon Scott and Felicity Combs along with bass player and background vocalist Brian Powers are smooth, melodic and always sound just right. Jon and Felicity both have beautiful voices and compliment each other so well and they both share the stage without either one overshadowing the other. Jon Scott has a fresh voice that I feel separates Phoenix Drive from many other acts out there that all sound the same. Scott’s shining moment to me is his live performance of “She Ain’t Coming Home.”  Felicity Combs vocals are sweet and melodic with a rich tone that brings it all the voices together. You can really hear her on my favorite “live” Phoenix Drive song “Trouble Down,” a sexy, swampy slow groove tune where Felicity really shines.

Guitarist Chris Combs is very capable player with an incredible sense of melody and top notch chops. Chris was the most-welcome surprise last night as for the first time I saw him really energized on stage. Watching him rip into the songs was a delight and made me want to pick up my guitar and play, which very rarely happens to me at a live music event unless the player is simply amazing. New drummer David Rollins fits well into his new role and really solidified the night. Rollins is a very tight pocket player that added a nice intensity that really showed through during the performance. Bassist Brian Powers is the “entertainer” and brings the “show” to the stage. Powers is a well rounded bass player who locks up perfectly with drummer Rollins to drive the bus like no other. A solid vocalist in his own right, Powers is a crucial fixture in the band and brings a ton to the live performance.

The thing about a Phoenix Drive performance is you are always in the “moment” with them. Their music is so good that you aren’t distracted by anything else. Their songwriting is very strong, the vocals are amazing and their performances are flawless.

This “CD” Release Party was the best performance I have seen at any CD Release Party and I would give it a 9 out 10 stars with the only knock is it wasn’t long enough. It certainly left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next Phoenix Drive performance.

Phoenix Drive is a must see band and dare I say, no matter what genre of music you like. You will love this band.

You can find out more about Phoenix Drive here:

http://www.phoenixdrive.net

http://www.facebook.com/phoenixdrive

http://www.twitter.com/phoenix_drive

http://www.reverbnation.com/phoenixdrive

Advertisements

Making the Most of Every Opportunity


In this crazy entertainment business there are so many people who are working at it, trying to make it as a musician, actor, model, voice over talent etc…. and there so few really good paying gigs. It’s a dogfight to get noticed and grab the attention of those decision makers with all those other entertainers competing for the same jobs. But here is the real truth, there maybe millions of entertainers going for it, but there are very few that go the extra mile every time to make sure they bring the best of what they got to each individual project and make it the best it can be. This makes it a little easier to stand out and develop a reputation for yourself so that when someone like a promoter, producer, agent or whomever brings you to the table, they can rely on you whenever they need you. This will allow you to demand payment down the road by having proved what you can do for them on many different levels.

What won’t work is this sense of entitlement that many artists seem to have developed. Many feel that since they are “this popular” or “that they aren’t getting paid for this” they aren’t going to put in the extra effort. Trust me, people can see this coming a mile away and I can pretty much guarantee you that you won’t be called on again if this is how you represent yourself. If you agree to do something, then you are giving your word that you are professional and you had better bring your best effort each time. Everyone is relying on you. Just remember, more than likely everyone at this event is probably in the same boat you are.  They are all trying to make something big happen so they can make it to the next phase of their career as well as make money too. Don’t blow it for them because you can’t be professional.

One of the ways to avoid not being able to do what you signed up for is to not over commit yourself to too many projects. If you want to make the most of your opportunities, you will be so busy you can’t take on very many. This happens all the time with artists of all types so try and be very careful about your reputation and work ethic because word travels fast if don’t deliver, you are difficult to deal with or are unprofessional for any reason.

With each opportunity, not only do you need to be punctual, be responsible and know exactly what’s going on when it’s going on, you need to be able to see the big picture or vision of what this can do for you. To see every angle that you can capitalize on not just for yourself but the opportunity you are working on. In any major production, no one is going to baby sit you. It’s your job to know who, what, when, where and why or least to know where to find out.  Don’t expect them to contact you the way you desire because it’s what you prefer. They have many people to contact and they don’t have time to email 20 people here, text 10 here, Facebook 8 there. You are there to be professional, so make sure you check daily at least whatever system they use to communicate. It’s your responsibility to find out what is going on as long as they are consistent and you know where to look.

If it’s your event then you need to get as much out of it as possible whether it be your sales numbers, new video possibilities, gathering email addresses, acquiring new fans, future ticket sales, new opportunities and new contacts. There is so much you can do to maximize these opportunities and that can be staggering to think about but it is the business minded entertainers and that see these things and ACT on them. Most entertainers don’t do this no matter how many times they are told. They are stuck in such a rut and instead of focusing on business they are more interested in partying, drinking or whatever. It’s quite disheartening sometimes to be at an event and watch them just stand around not working and missing every potential opportunity as it just passes them by.

So here are just a few thoughts for you to think about. For every opportunity you get involved with, take the time to really think it out and how you can best take advantage of this moment to shine. Even if you do it for free, you gave your word and accepted the gig so you need to be professional and treat it like a paying gig. Do your absolute best and then some. Go above and beyond what you were brought in to do, promotion, connections, networking for new opportunities, creating content etc….

Remember, those that shine and bring the most to the table are the ones that come away with the most from each opportunity. They are the ones that get remembered, called back next time and most important talked about recommended to others. They become first call for other opportunities and that also puts you in a position to help others next time as now your opinion will matter and in many cases you will be asked whom you know to help out in some sort of manner.

Work as hard as you can and bust your ass each and every time and great things will happen for you!

Good luck!

Note: You can also find this article on Metalholic Magazine here: http://metalholic.com/making-the-most-of-every-opportunity/


Queensryche with Blackwater James at The Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN November 2nd, 2011.


By David Lowry

Queensryche recently performed in Nashville, TN for their 30th Anniversary Tour at the Wildhorse Saloon. What impresses me is that after 30 years, Queensryche haven’t lost a step. It can be easy for a band to rest on their laurels after having major success – to just tour to make a living instead of always trying to raise the bar for themselves. In the case of Queensryche, they go out of their way to make sure each show is a flawless performance. Although 30 years into their career, fans can still expect a top notch live show from Queensryche.

Queensryche played a good mix of the new and old songs that defined their progressive metal sound. Geoff Tate, considered by many to be one of rock/metals greatest singers of all time, brought his theatrical showmanship and legendary vocals front and center like a great front man should do. His pitch was excellent as always and his distinctive vocal tone truly separates him from all the other vocalists out there. Geoff is always fresh sounding, inspiring and makes us wish we could all sing like him. He carried the audience through a journey of classics that brought back memories of better times and the days of our youth – cranking “Operation Mindcrime” on our stereos. Drummer Scott Rockenfield continues to impress as he has always been a great showman fueled by creativity, vitality and an uncanny sense of what to play and when to play it. His drumming has always been original and had it’s own voice within the songs. In a day when so many musicians over play and step all over the songs or vocalist, Scott brings a maturity to be admired and appreciated. Eddie Jackson was as solid as ever, bringing up the rhythm section with Scott. His playing is tight, vocal harmonies solid and he was able to interact with the crowd when able to get out from behind the microphone. Guitarist Michael Wilton played perfectly with that great “aunch” tone that Queensryche has always been known for. Watching Michael play those great chord voicings is a reminder to strive to not use power chords every second of a song. It was great to see Michael’s fingers flying around the fret board dialing in those solos we all love to hear. Parker Lundgren is a very under-rated and impressive guitar player. He plays effortlessly with great flair and filled the shoes of those before him very admirably. Parker is a great fit for the band with great harmony vocals; good stage presence and he nailed all the parts perfectly.

The Wildhorse Saloon was filled almost to capacity, which is a major achievement in Nashville for a rock band. It’s another feather in the cap for Queensryche as I have attended many shows where the venues isn’t even half full. The audience proved well versed in the new material as well as the old as they sang along with the words of every song proving that Queensryche fan base is as solid and rabid as ever. As I arrived early for the show, the line was already a block long going in both directions, another rarity in Nashville.

All in all, Queensryche is a band that has earned its reputation for being a completely unique, adventurously innovative and amazing live band. It’s well deserved and the amount of detail in their sets is something up and coming bands should aspire to. Queensryche’s sound is crystal clear, their performance and image are always top notch. The professionalism they project should be the rule for all bands and the level at which they perform should be the benchmark. Rarely will you find a band as well rehearsed as Queensryche nor as serious as bringing you a show you will never forget. They always leave you wanting more, which is a sign of an experienced band who have written a catalogue of songs that never get old.

Opening for Queensryche was the local band Blackwater James. Blackwater James came out on stage unfazed by the fact they were opening for such legends. They brought an energetic show and for the most part won over a crowd that was eager for Queensryche. As Blackwater James played, fists were pumping, heads were bobbing. From my point of view as I walked the room watching the band and the crowd, the audience really liked what they saw and heard in Blackwater James.

Singer Christopher James brings an energy and intensity that is refreshing. The twin pairing of guitar players Christopher James and Deanna Passarella are a lot of fun to watch. Both are capable guitarists with great stage presence.  Bass player Josh Burns helps drive the bus with steady grooves, passion and a great vibe on stage. Drummer Todd Schlosser is an in the pocket drummer with a sense of presence that makes him extremely fun to watch. This band has potential and is getting better every show they do.

At the time of this writing, The Lowry Agency has no affiliation with Queensryche or Blackwater James.


What Makes A Good Front Man?


One of the biggest and most important things in live performance is the strength of the person fronting your band. This is a major area where lots of bands trying to make it need the most help. Take a look at the most popular front men/women of all time and ask yourself, “What is it about them that the audience connects with?”

Legendary front men or women like David Lee Roth (arguably the best front man ever), Mick Jagger, David Coverdale, Anne Wilson, Paul Stanley or Steven Tyler can give you great insight into what it takes to get your band to the next level. Doing your research into the greats and implementing what you learn can help make your band “larger than life” and allow you to capture the attention of the crowd you are playing too. Not all front men are electrifying or great looking but are still incredibly successful, just look at Ozzy Osbourne. Some front men/women are quirky or odd like Mick Jagger but there are two things they all have in common, they all have a very distinct style and presence and they all live for being on that stage. They revel in it. There is no doubt in their mind that they are where they belong. This allows them to own the stage like no one else. This is critical for successfully drawing in a crowd, creating unforgettable live shows and growing your fan base. It also means they work like dogs to keep their music out their and in front of peoples faces. Depending on the genre of music you are in, the front man or woman attributes my need to vary to certain style, but one thing always is constant, they always command the stage.

Let’s take a look at a very talented front man as an example. Gary Cherone has fronted the hit rock band Extreme and the legendary Van Halen. He is also currently fronting a band called Hurtsmile with his brother Mark. Gary has a very theatrical, animated and energetic stage presence. Gary’s style isn’t for everybody but it doesn’t have to be, as a matter of fact not one front mans is. Gary owns the stage and because of that, he has been able to front two major bands, one of the biggest rock bands of all time actually. Some people may not think Gary was a good fit for Van Halen but I completely disagree. Gary did his job and he did it well. Go back with an open mind (forget David and Sammy) and watch the live videos from the Van Halen 3 tour concert clips or any Extreme show. Trust me, he wouldn’t have gotten the most coveted front man job in the world if he wasn’t very good at what he did. Gary has captured audiences for years and has a strong fan base having sold over 10 million albums and a #1 hit single with “More Than Words” in Extreme alone. He has an incredibly compelling style and if you listen to the many different genres of songs he did with Extreme or on his solo album you can see how much a of a provocative singer and front man he is.

That charisma that Gary brings to the table is high energy, raw at times very intimate with the slower songs. You can see his theatrical background (he was in “Jesus Christ Superstar”) with his over the top stage presence, which always gives the audience something to look at. He allows them to see that he is completely into and lost in his “zone” during his performance. There is no doubt as to where Gary belongs when he is on stage. You know how much he loves his job every minute of every performance. Watch closely what he does when he isn’t singing such as during guitar solos. Notice how he doesn’t distract from or sing over the other musicians but yet he either adds to the moment or keeps the energy up while waiting for his spot to sing again. Watch how Gary interacts with the crowd and keeps them involved and how he makes them feel each performance is just for them. Watch what he says at the start of the show, in between songs and the end of the night as well. Gary gives it everything he’s got every performance and isn’t worried about the people in the crowd with their arms crossed. By the time the show is over Gary has left everything on the stage and he wins them over with a very honest and real performance. He doesn’t worry about the audience members who are negative. He let’s the people who love the show spread the word. He let’s the system work for him. Gary gives the audience what they want, a real powerful, energetic and professional show. He is a thankful performer and in return, he and the band develop a devoted international fan base and Gary is able to create opportunities very few front men have been able to do.

To many times front men or women don’t really take their jobs seriously or maybe are unfamiliar with everything it really takes to “bring it” to the show. Many are just lazy about preparing for a show. Don’t let this happen to you ever. Take a cue from Firehouse front man C. J. Snare and always be professional and prepared. Treat every show like it’s the most important show you have ever done. You have to learn how to own that stage and work the crowd. You have to “flip the switch” when you get on stage and become that “rock star.” Know what city or venue you are playing in. You should know the names of the bands playing with you that night. Engage your crowd and invite them to your party. You are the host. Bring them in and entertain them. Learn to lead them especially on a night that is tough or there are not very many people in the room and there is not an “energetic” atmosphere. You have to bring the crowd that energy and get them “into” the show.

Go back and do a study of not only your favorite front men or women, but also the ones who are very successful at being that leader. Your job is to constantly improve not only your singing skills but also your stage presence, charisma and speaking skills. Don’t let genres or eras prevent you from learning from the best. You can learn as much from a classical/pop artist like Lara Fabian as you can from a rock star like Brett Michaels.

Just remember that being a great front man or woman continues when you are off the stage as well. It is a 24 hour a day job. We will dive into that next time so stay tuned.

Good Luck!