Tag Archives: Guitar

The Winery Dogs CD Review by David Lowry


The Winery Dogs

 

To call The Winery Dogs a supergroup would be a injustice in my mind. Sometimes supergroups are set up to sell CD’s not that is a bad thing and certainly not all did that with that intention in mind, but sometimes it just seems like a ploy and most don’t last very long. Even though The Winery Dogs consist of three of the most world renowned musicians especially in the rock world, this doesn’t feel anything like a super group. The three piece power trio of bass legend Billy Sheehan, world renown drummer Mike Portnoy, and guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen who is also the ridiculously talented singer brings us the biggest wall of sound sings King’s X burst on the scene back in the 1980’s. If for some reason you are not familiar with these musicians, just click on their names to view their website and history. You won’t find a more accomplished 3 piece on the planet.

Anyone who knows me knows that these three musicians are probably my top three favorite in the world so when I heard they were coming together to put out a CD I was excited beyond belief to say the least. Anyone who knows me also knows that my favorite musician in the world is Richie Kotzen and it is about time the world finally hear him on a platform that show cases more than just his guitar playing which is what he has long been considered one of the best players in the world. Richie Kotzen’s vocalizations are reminiscent of the Philadelphia soul last really heard by Daryl Hall. If you ever go back through Richie’s solo catalog and listen, you will be amazed at how this guy has remained under the radar for so long. Having interviewed Richie twice on my radio show “Live From Music City,” I can tell you this guy is as humble as they come and more talented than just about everyone who thinks they are God’s gift to music.  Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy are no stranger to the musical limelight as they are widely interviewed for their well known virtuosity and have transcended their instruments in the mainstream to become household names in the music world.

The Winery Dogs are a classic rock trio that brings back the art of songwriting, melodies and bursts of virtuosity at just the right moments in songs which of course is a sign of musical maturity in their songwriting. Musicians like this could easily blow are minds with their virtuosity as it is specifically what all three are know for, but The Winery Dogs aren’t about that. This is rock at it finest level and one of the most poignant examples of how to be  incredibly creative, have a completely unique sound, using virtuoso talent and musical knowledge to showcase all of it and put out one of the best rock CD’s in years let alone 2013.

The first single  and track “Elevate” is an up tempo rocker with an incredibly hooky chorus that captures you right away with it’s charm and attitude. Richie and Billy have doubled instrumental lines that add something that in today’s rock that you don’t really hear anymore as well a very cool break down section again another lost art in todays rock songwriting. The versus are a nice contrast to the chorus as they have a slow, bluesy, slightly darker feel before bursting into the chorus which brings the song up to another level. Great rock song and great feel with of course amazing playing and a smoking melodic guitar solo by Richie.

The second single and also track “Desire” is another smoking rocker that opens with Richie vamping chords and then settles into a sexy groove pushed by just the bass and drums. The chorus drives the song into a new gear and rings with a simple catchiness that keeps you singing the song all day long in your head. The bridge really separates the rest of the song like a bridge should followed by a break down that showcases Billy and Richie again and keeps the song very fresh. The solo is a simple statement by Richie that is melodic with a slow build to a frenzy finish.

The CD’s fourth track “I’m No Angel” is my personal favorite on the CD and starts with a very sexy bluesy guitar line and by Richie that sets a mood that really allows the lyrics to stand out. The broody feel of the verse is highlighted by an up lifting pre-chorus and chorus. The way that the band highlights the parts of their songs with their melodic lines and creativity really shine in this song. Richie’s voice brings a haunted quality to the lyrics that make this song so relatable to many of us I am sure. Richie’s solo’s are melodic, phrased beautifully and as always tell a story within the story itself.

The sleeper track is “We Are One” a blistering rocker that strikes out on its own and screams single! The CD closes out with two ballads “The Dying” and “Regret.” Both songs are beautiful, haunting and show incredible depth in the songwriting.

Bottom line: This CD is what every musician who is serious about songwriting and learning to play should aspire to. Being able to play your instrument only allows you be more creative, add colors, textures, melodies and lines to enhance each songs “experience” for the listeners. Being able to create soundscapes should be the goal of every musician. The songwriting is top notch and this CD should not only reinforce the musical abilities of these musicians but showcase their songwriting in a new way that garners respect from the public as a whole. The Winery Dogs allow Richie to stand out and radiate his immense talent and this should solidify him as one the best all around musicians in music today as he does all the lead vocals, guitars and keys on this CD. He singing is among the best in rock today and let this be a statement to the world at how incredibly talented this man is. Take note world, this is simply one of the top 3 rock CD’s of 2013 besides Steve Lukather‘s “Transition” and Maragold ‘s (featuring guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and new vocal powerhouse Meghan Krauss) sef-titled CD . No where on the planet will you find a more talented, musical and gifted band than this. Go buy this now or forever miss out on one the best CD to come out in years.

Find out more about The Winery Dogs here:

www.thewinerydogs.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs

https://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

 

 

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Maragold Has Something Most Bands Don’t.


Maragold

Earlier I was looking at my numbers for this blog and was completely amazed at how well it was doing the last couple days based on one CD review for the band Maragold. Yesterday when I released it it was already doing double it’s average daily but then around 11:00pm CST the band posted it on Facebook and holy crap did it explode. It his had more views by 10 times the amount of any other CD review or musician spotlight I have written. Here is the key, each one posted it pretty much on their personal and band page on Facebook. Most bands don’t do this. They maybe post it once on their band page and not on their personal pages and they interacted with their fans about it. When I released it in the morning two of the band members and the band twitter account RT’d it once and that was it. For further reference on this please read my blog “Creating The “Buzz,” It’s Your Responsibility.”

What does this mean? It means that Maragold has found a way to reach it’s audience like no other band I have reviewed for or spotlighted. It means “true” fans not Facebook likes are extremely excited about them. It means they have actually offered up something the public wants. They did this in spite of having never released a CD and the only member of the band with a real name is was co-founder Greg Howe who is a well known guitar instrumentalist. Well known being relative in the world of music. Yes most guitar players know who he is, but the world doesn’t. Please note that Maragold didn’t ask me for a review. I just did it because when I listened to the CD it was so good I really had no choice.

Everyday on Facebook I see bands complaining about how hard it is or how the industry keeps people down etc… That is complete bunk. Is it hard yes but most bands don’t work hard enough, give the public something they want to buy or shoot themselves in the foot with poor promotion and bad social media skills. Is it anyone else’s fault you can’t make it? No. For whatever reason, Maragold has touched an audience with no prior CD, no real history of gigging, nothing but the past success of guitar player Greg Howe and each other individuals past endeavors. They made it happen without anything other than hard work, determination, incredible talent and most importantly at this stage knowing how to build up a release. Now because of this, hopefully with continued hard work, the songs which are amazing,  will be the deciding factor in their long term success.

This audience interaction is what every band should be striving for, for without it, you have nothing.

Pre-order the Maragold CD here: http://www.maragoldband.com/


CD Review “Maragold” by Maragold


maragold_albumcover

Maragold

Maragold is a rock band founded by guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and bassist Kevin Vicchione. For those not in the guitar community, Greg is a world renown player  and has played with such artist as Justin Timberlake, N’Sync, Christina Aguilara, Michael Jackson, Rihana, Lady Antebellum, P Diddy, T-Pain, Salt and Peppa not to mention jazz fusion legends like Victor Wooton, Dennis Chambers and other world reknown players like Richie Kotzen and Stu Hamm. Actually Greg’s song “Jump Start” is my favorite guitar instrumental of all time. So needless to say I had high expectations when I heard about this project and holy shit does it deliver. Greg has the very rare ability to be a virtuoso and still play for the song. His solo’s are so amazing and vintage Greg but sound completely original in a sea of completely unoriginal players who all sound the same in today’s scene. You will never hear a “typical” lick or sound from Greg but you will be amazed and wonder why more players don’t strive for a unique voice like his.

First let me tell you about the other musicians on the project. Singer and relative newcomer Meghan Krauss is the best female rock singer to come out since Sass Jordan. This lady can sing with the best of them and evokes that excitement from inside you that you so rarely hear from singers anymore, as they are all canned and predictable. Meghan will knock you on your ass and remind you why you listen to rock in the first place.

Bass Player Kevin Vecchione is a SOLID player. Kevin is obviously capable of so much more and that is the beauty of his playing here. He plays exactly what is needed for the song, never anymore and drives the buss with drummer Gianluca Palmieri so that the pocket is strong and every song leads you like it should. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more about Kevin in the years to come as opportunities arise to showcase his immense talent.

Drummer Gianluca Palmieri is the epitome of a “pocket” player on this CD. It’s so great to hear players that know how to play for the song no matter how good a musician they are. It can be very tempting to play too much or show off and while Gianluca plays some incredibly fresh grooves to allow you to see his true talent without showing off, it’s never over stated and is truly a part of the songwriting as opposed to just being a drum track. The rhythm section of Vecchione and Palmieri is as good as it gets and something all players should listen to and learn from.

The single “Evergreen Is Golder” is a straight out knock you on your ass “Hello world I am Meghan Krauss and I am going to kick your ass!” statement. A great rock song with a blistering solo and incredible hook. Written by Greg, Kevin and Greg’s brother Al Howe, this song is a hit single through and through. I hope to God someone gets behind this for radio. Hell I’ll push it myself.

“Saturday Sun” and “Lullaby” are other rockers that shine, no pun intended. Another high point for me was “Paradigm Tsunami.” This CD is not your typical rock record by any means. It has blues, jazz, rhythmic displacement and all kinds of cool elements that really bring out the color and flavor of the songs. Meghan takes advantage of every opportunity is now in the “best singer you have never heard” of  category along with Richie Kotzen.

“Maragold” is a must buy CD and one of the top 2 CD releases of 2013 along with Steve Lukather’s new CD “Transition” and the best rock CD since “Forty Deuce” featuring Richie Kotzen. You can no longer say there aren’t any good rock bands anymore. Maragold may be just what the hurting rock genre needed, a good old shot of in your face, kicking your ass rock n’ roll. Thank God for Maragold.

Five out of Five ass kicking stars.

Go buy it now here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/evergreen-is-golder-single/id619283574 NOW!


CD Review – “Tapped In” by Don Lappin


TappedIn

I came to find Don Lappin through facebook and even though I follow guitar players, I wasn’t aware of Don’s playing until recently although being a fan of Michael Sweets (Stryper) I had probably heard Don before and didn’t realize it. Don is currently an Assistant Professor at the Berklee School of Music specializing in rock techniques for the guitar. Don has also played with musical greats such as Jon Finn, Chad Wackerman, Guthrie Govan and Jonathon Mover to tell you how talented he is. Don’s approach to the guitar incorporates a lot of tapping and 4 note-per-string playing which is slightly out of the norm and about as technical as I am going to get for this blog. This about the music and not his technique. You can contact Don for more information on that for you guitar nerds.

“Tapped In” is Don’s second solo release and it is full of stellar guitar work by this modern day guitar virtuoso. From the intro straight in the first song “Lappin it Up,” you know you are in for something very different for a guitar instrumental CD. I have done a few reviews of guitar instrumental CD’s and having listened to hundreds if not thousands of these guitar players, it is very hard to find one with their own distinct voice. The kind that once you hear them anywhere on any CD you know it’s them. Don has that unique voice. His playing is extremely fluid partially due to his tapping technique but also his mastery of his instrument of choice. Don is very melodic and his vamps are not your the tired typical power chord vamps that guitar players love to play over. After being sent so many bad CD’s to review, you almost dread getting another wanna be guitar shredder CD in the mail. Thankfully this is NOT one of those CD’s. There is a lot of creativity in every part of the songwriting on “Tapped In”.

The highlights on “Tapped In” for me are the songs “Lappin it Up, Captain’s Lady and A Song for Robert.” The first song “Lappin it Up” could possibly be the most original sounding guitar song I have heard in a long time, especially during the verses. It’s a fast paced groove with a different sonic texture then you’d expect and moves into some nice melodic lines and an uplifting chorus that is hooky. Laden with some tension coming out of the chorus to bring you back to earth, Don creates melodic passes that always keep the song fresh and interesting.

“Captain’s Lady” is a “pretty” song in the way Don constructs the melody from the opening. Although it’s a rock song, it has a light quality that brings you to a feeling of taking off in the chorus. One of the great things about artists like Don is you never know where the song is going to take you because they have so many tools in their arsenal. This keeps the songs fresh and invigorated which is great for longer instrumentals and can really show you that you don’t always have to have a typical ABABBABB type song to have a listener friendly tune. Great songwriters will keep you engaged at all times and Don does this very well.

“A Song for Robert” is a slow song that reminds me of the feeling I get when listening to an Eric Johnson composition. Don and Eric are completely different players and writers, but here Don achieves that same ability to create a musical picture that takes you away and creates that sonic landscape you can picture in your mind’s eye. It’s a beautiful song that will pass without you realizing it’s 9:29 long. That is effective songwriting when you get lost in the music and forget about time altogether.

“Tapped In” being Don’s first full length CD is an amazing effort with a great sense of melody phrasing and songwriting ability that is already very strong and I am sure will only get better as he puts out more CD’s. For fans of instrumental music, “Tapped In” should appeal to those that like listener friendly songs and tunes with a slight fusion feel for lack of a better term. You never really get thrown by anything here even though there are parts that shine with sparks of jazz influenced lead lines that drift from the main melody motif which again is another sign of solid songwriting.

I give “Tapped In” a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The only thing missing is that break out “Cliff’s of Dover” type song that just amazes your ears but also knocks you on your ass like nothing you have heard before.

You can purchase “Tapped In” here: http://donlappin.bandcamp.com/

You can find out more about Don Lappin here:

http://www.donlappinmusic.com/fr_home.cfm

https://twitter.com/DonLappinMusic

http://www.facebook.com/tappinlappin

http://www.youtube.com/user/TappinLappin?feature=mhee


CD Review – “Transitions” by Steve Lukather


CD Review – “Transition” by Steve Lukather

transition

For many of you, TOTO is a household name; for those of you born after 1985, maybe not. There is no denying TOTO is still a huge act internationally and world renown guitar player Steve Lukather is a huge part of their sound – from songwriting, singing, and, of course his legendary guitar playing. Steve is one of the most recorded guitar players in history – playing with the likes of Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Larry Carlton, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Eric Clapton and George Benson to name a few. A total of 602 album credits to date which by anyone’s standards is amazing.

“Transition” produced by Steve and CJ Vanston is Steve’s 6th solo record to date, not including a couple that are more Steve and friends releases. Having all these CD’s personally and being a huge fan, I was really looking forward to the release of “Transition” and let me tell you it doesn’t disappoint. Steve lets it all hang out on here and deals with some tough subjects such as all the criticism that artists (himself included) receive on a daily basis now that anyone can post anything on the internet.

The CD features an all-star cast of musicians such as Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers/Chicken Foot), Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Tal Wilkenfield, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Nathan East, Leland Sklar, Greg Bissonette and Lenny Castro. The CD’s hot spots for me are “Judgment Day” and “Creep Motel.”

The first track is “Judgment Day” and the bright point in my opinion. This song is a four on the floor rock song with a blistering solo. It has it’s laid back moments of Steve finger pickings a simple rhythm, but very melodic lines are inserted throughout with a nice bridge/pre-chorus build ups to add weight to the chorus. The song is a message to all the Internet haters out there so take head all you-who-love-to-comment-online about your opinions of other peoples work.

The second track “Creep Motel” deals with the same issues and to me has a slight hint of a Steely Dan vibe in spots. This is a solid rock song with another amazing solo by Luke. As the title would indicate, it has a slinky feel with huge background vocals.

Steve has an uncanny ability to really evoke different moods with his music and does so again here well. Luke’s voice and playing are in fine form and show no signs of slowing down. His sense of melody and playing are something all musicians can learn from. He is definitely someone that knows when to play and when not to which is more important.

The song “Transition” is a great instrumental song written in 7/4 time that adds vocals late into the song. “Right The Wrong” and “Last Man Standing” all have great hooks and are definitely radio capable. All in all, this is a solid CD with not one filler song in its ranks. Well written, well produced with a great energy, and a more organic sound from the Steve Lukather.  Songwriting is at the forefront of this CD, which as we all know, is something very lacking in today’s music scene.

I give this 5 out 5 stars.

You can purchase “Transition” here – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/transition/id584478886

View the EPK Video for Transition here. Transition EPK

Social media sites for Steve Lukather:

www.stevelukather.net

www.twitter.com/stevelukather

https://www.facebook.com/SteveLukather

http://www.youtube.com/stevelukathertube


For the Fans… How You Can Best Help on Social Media


I know, I know… There are a million bands, authors, actors, small businesses asking for you to spread the word about them, “like” them, vote for them and so on and on. Sometimes we feel like we have to because we don’t want to create trouble because we are friends with so many local talents and if like one but not the other then the drama starts and some times we don’t support at all because we don’t want the drama or we don’t have the time or something similar. With this blog I am not asking you to do anything but support your favorites and only your favorites.  It is not your responsibility or obligation to support anyone except those you chose and no one should get mad at you if you don’t support things you chose not to for any reason at all.

In order for your favorite artist (insert entertainment medium here) to spread the word and create the “buzz,” they need people spreading the word about them as much as possible. Social media is the easiest and cheapest way to do that. So this blog is about that and how you as a fan, friend or family member can do this to maximize their efforts and actually yours as well.

It is very important to the success of any type of entertainer be it musicians, authors, bloggers, actors etc… that their content reach the masses. Since many of you already click like on so much of their stuff would it really take that much extra time to share it? Comment on it on the actual page and not just on Facebook although that does help. All these sites rates posts popularity by how much attention it gets and for it to reach the masses, it needs your attention. So please read this and if you are able to help these people out, please do the extra little bit for your favorite artists etc…

Facebook – With Facebook all these artists should be using a fan page to track their metrics and not a personal page although many haven’t figured this out yet. Facebook recently made it harder for the Fan Pages to get attention by limiting the amount of people seeing posts so they could attract revenue dollars by having people with pages pay to advertise their posts to the audience that had already requested to see the posts by “liking” they page. I know ludicrous but it is Facebooks right to generate revenue so let’s just leave it at that for now. As a fan you need to go to the artists page, hover your mouse over the “like” button and select “show in news feed” to make sure you are getting the info they put out. When you do see the info, please “like” each post, share each post and comment on each post if you can. Remember that statistically only 7% of your audience sees your posts so you are not going to be annoying anyone with these posts and even if you do, so what. It’s your wall and you can choose to support what you wish with out fear of reprisal from others saying you post to much about something or someone. It’s not their business nor is it their wall.

In respect to this, if someone shares a post from a blog or other source, please if you can take the time and do the same on the original post, not just the Facebook one. There are share buttons for Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and loads of others. Please share this on your accounts and also comment on this page. It will help drive up the rankings for Google and on what ever other social media site it is on to further increase their exposure.

Twitter – Retweeting is the key here, if you have a twitter account please RT and share any content you can. Learn how to use #hashtags if you are posting on your own about your favorite artist and RTing something.

Pinterest – The latest social media spot. You can keyword on Pinterest to have your pins pop for people looking for things to find or discover such as #music, #movies, #authors etc… You can use any word to describe your pins and hopefully help people discover that artist you think is amazing. You boards also are coded to post in certain categories to which you chose when you create them.

Youtube – Obviously probably the most influential for music and movies so please again “like” the video, share them from the available links and comment on them. Youtube videos go viral from you emailing them to your friends. This especially happens from the teenagers and young adults. Don’t forget to help out with that. Maybe you can help create a viral campaign for your favorite artist.

Blogs – With people who blog, it is important to realize that like with WordPress, the more views, comments and star ratings a blog gets the more likely it is to be featured on the home page. This is a big deal for bloggers or artists using blogging sites for their main web pages. Please take the time to make sure you comment, rate with the star system, like and share from here as well. You can cut and paste your comment from Facebook to here to make it easier. It’s not that hard or time consuming and is a huge help to the author of the blog. Please make sure you also follow the blog. This way you can get all the updates to better help you spread the word and keep on top of the latest news.

Because of all the social media coming at you, the requests, the endless number of bands, singers, authors, writers, radio shows etc… asking everyone to do these things, it is important for you as the fan to really chose whom you want to support and help them stand out from the rest of the white noise out there on social media.

Everyone is trying to get noticed and draw attention to themselves, their show, their blog or whatever. That is fine. That is what they are supposed to do and there are many great ones out there, but you individually can’t do it for all of them. Chose your favorites and help make a difference for that artist. They need your support now more than ever as there is so much out there now, it is very hard to get people to notice you.

From the bottom of all of our hearts as entertainment people, THANK YOU for all that you do. None of it is worth it without you and no one could do it without you either. So again thank you for all of your past, present and future support from all of us.

Regards,

The Entertainment World.

P.S. A special shout out to Michelle Holland for being the embodiment of this message in her support of Richie Kotzen.


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