25th Jun2014

Interview with Singer jMarie – Singer with “Michael Jackson Immortal” Tour

by rockchicago


Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime electrifying production combining Michael Jackson’s music and choreography with Cirque du Soleil creativity to give fans worldwide a unique view into the spirit, passion, and heart of the artistic genius who forever transformed pop culture. The show was written and directed by Jamie King, the leading concert director in pop music today, and features more than 60 international dancers, musicians, and acrobats.

Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour is a riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music, and fantasy. The audience is immersed in Michael’s creative world as his artistry unfolds before their eyes in the show which captures the essence, soul, and inspiration of the King of Pop, celebrating a legacy that continues to transcend generations.

Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour takes place in a fantastical realm as the audience discovers his inspiration and wellspring of his creativity moving through various scenes representative of Michael’s long and storied career. Along the way the audience will be treated to more than 30 of Michael’s songs (performed by Michael), in addition to numerous bits and pieces of songs that have been used for soundscapes and transitions. A stellar group of musicians have been assembled, many of them who have had direct contact with Michael.

A hallmark of Cirque du Soleil is spectacular stagings and this show does not disappoint. Props and scenic designer Michael Curry, who was one of the designers on Michael’s THIS IS IT concert tour, has developed props that serve as storytelling devices. It took more than 9,000 hours to create all the props and puppets used in the show.

Few stage performers have created iconic looks which were directly related to specific songs like Michael Jackson did. In Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour, there are references galore to Michael Jackson’s legendary outfits. The costume designer, Zaldy Goco, was also Michael Jackson’s exclusive designer for the THIS IS IT concert series. The production brims with imaginative costumes and outfits. There are more than 250 costumes in the show and more than 1,000 pieces total, including accessories, shoes, hats, and head pieces.

Then of course there is the dancing. Outstanding choreography and amazing acrobatic feats are synonymous with Cirque du Soleil. The fusion of the characteristic wonder of a Cirque du Soleil production and the music/dancing of Michael Jackson is absolutely breathtaking, truly something to behold!

The video projections in Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour not only act as storytelling devices, but play a key role in making Michael’s presence palpable. Production Designer Olivier Goulet integrated video content such as footage of Michael’s performances and real-time projections of the performances on stage. The total video projection surface is more than 5,300 square feet, larger than a basketball court.

I got to chat with Atlanta singer jMarie, who sings in the show, and how she feels about being apart of this huge show.

Interviewed by Kevin Pollack


RCM: How does it feel being asked to be part of “The Immortal Tour”?

JM: Like a dream come true. I was just reflecting on the whole experience the last couple days, being on break from the tour, and all I could do is thank God, this is definitely a dream job. To be able to work and share the stage with incredible musicians that actually worked with Michael (Don Boyette, Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, Jon Myron Clark, Bashiri Johnson) it’s such a blessing.

RCM: What does Michael Jackson’s music mean to you?

JM: Everything! Michael was a genius at what he did. His vocal ability, his writing, his ability to manifest what’s in his head musically, and execute that vision fearlessly, he is the type of artist a lot of us look up to now and for generations to come.

RCM: This is such an elaborate production. Are there any obstacles you face with this show?

JM: Yes! Trying to make sure I stay in my zone during the shows. I always experience something new in the show from the Cast/Dancers, or hear something different from the Musicians, and I’m in awe every time. However, I’m making sure my head is in the game, so to say, there’s so much to see. I love that! Never a dull moment.

RCM: Who are your influences as a singer?

JM: Michael, for sure. Whitney Houston.  I’m loving Jessie J and Coldplay. They’re incredible.

RCM: Have you seen “Michael Jackson: One” in Las Vegas? What do you think compared to “The Immortal” Tour?

JM: I haven’t! I’ve caught performances on TV here and there, but I can’t wait to check it out on my next break!

RCM: What was it like working with Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5 and Kelly Rowland?

JM: Both Kelly and Kelly are such amazing, down to earth human beings. To follow their music and then have the opportunity to help out with their work vocally was an honor to say the least.

RCM: What is your favorite Michael Jackson song to sing in the show?

JM: I Just Can’t Stop Loving You…I get to sing Siedah Garrett’s part alongside Michael’s vocals, and it’s an awesome feeling every time …I used to sing along to it as a kid, in my room, and so when they told me I would have the opportunity to sing it for the show, I freaked out a little bit.

RCM: Do you think this show is different than the other Cirque du Soleil shows?

JM: Yes. Some of the Casts get to interact with the audience in this show. We see people on their feet, dancing and singing along, which I think is so cool because it fuels our energy even more, so we love that. This show still has the awesome Cirque vibe with the Acrobatics, Flyers, contortionist, nonetheless it has a party, concert vibe.

RCM: What is your favorite moment in the show?

JM: There are so many moments, and a lot of it happens in between sets, behind the scenes. However during the song Beat it…there are moments that occur between the Dancers and Musicians that has me in tears every time we perform it, and the dance/fight sequence in that performance has me laughing so hard that I can’t even sing some of my parts sometimes.

RCM: What can fans expect at this show?

JM: Expect to party and have fun. The dancers, acrobatics, lots of colors and lights combined with his music, it’s contagious so expect to dance and sing with us all night long… and expect to be moved, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some tissues;)

Michael Jackson: The IMMORTAL World Tour will perform at the Sears Center 6/27 and 6/28 both at 8pm.

For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/michaeljackson.

13th Feb2014

Interview with Damian Darlington of Brit Floyd

by rockchicago

Brit Floyd are the world’s greatest Pink Floyd tribute and this year marks the 2nd anniversary of this group being together. I recently spoke with Damian Darlington, lead vocalist and guitarist to talk about what will be happening on the new tour.

Interview by Kevin Pollack

RC: How has the touring life been for you lately?

DD: Very busy as ever, it’s taken me all around North America and most of Europe and a few other exotic places over the last 12 months. It’s a lot of touring, but its lots of fun getting to play this music in front of so many people and in so many exciting and iconic places.


RC: Tell me about Acoustic Unlimited. How did that start?

DD: Acoustic Unlimited is project I’ve been doing on and off ever since I started playing the guitar. It reflects my love for the acoustic guitar and gives me an opportunity to play some of my own music and compositions. It’s evolved over the years from a trio purely playing jazz and classical instrumental music inspired by artist such as Al di Meola, John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny, to the more diverse repertoire of music that we play now, including acoustic celtic, roots, and pop music. There are now songs in the mix too and not just instrumental pieces.


RC: Do you see Acoustic Unlimited getting as big as Brit Floyd in the future?

DD: No, it’s not the sort of thing that I think will ever play shows as big as Brit Floyd does, but it’s a really good opportunity to play more intimate gigs and play a very diverse range of music with other members of my family. I hope in the not too distant future to be able to dedicate some more time to it and record a new album and take it out on tour at least in the UK.


RC: Have you ever gotten to play with any of your influences?

DD: I would say that getting the opportunity to play on stage with Rick Wright some years ago at David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party counts as playing with one of my influences. Although Rick Wright was keyboard player as opposed to a guitarist, he helped create much of the music of Pink Floyd and was part of the group that has had the biggest influence on my musical life and career.


RC: Did you ever think you’d be where you are today?

DD: When I first joined a Pink Floyd tribute show 2o years ago I had no notion that I would be here all these years later playing Pink Floyd music all around the world to so many fans and in so many amazing places. When I look back it’s really quite surprising and incredible.


RC: Why did you choose to name your new tour after the box set name?

DD: We wanted to represent all eras of Pink Floyd’s music in some way on this tour, from the early Syd Barrett period, right through all of Pink Floyd’s albums up to and including the Division Bell. Basing the tour on The Discovery box set gives us a chance to do this in an appropriate and relevant way. It gives us the opportunity to introduce fans to a few of those early Floyd gems, but at the same time still have all the classic tracks that fans love so much and want to hear live from albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall.


RC: What makes this show different than your debut tour last year?

DD: Last year we had the concept of playing whole sides of albums and presenting the music in the order and context that Floyd originally intended the tracks to be listened to in. This year we’ve increased the scope and breadth of the set list and brought in tracks from Pink Floyd’s entire catalogue. We’ve also improved the lighting design and introduced brand new video content in the show so that it’s an even greater spectacle than before.


RC: Do you think the band has developed more since last year?

DD: The band is always developing. We never become complacent about what we do and are always trying to improve the way we play these songs and we’re always improving the equipment that we use to perform the music with. It’s a real labor of love for all of us.


RC: You recently aired a “Live at Red Rocks” special on PBS. What was that show like for you?

DD: It was very exciting and great feeling for us to get to play at such an iconic venue. It’s a very beautiful and impressive setting to play in and you can really sense the music history literally echoing out of the rocks there. Anybody who is anybody has played there over the years, so for us to join that list of artists is something very special indeed.


RC: What can your fans look forward to at your show?

DD: All the ingredients that go into reproducing a genuine Pink Floyd concerts experience. A spectacular show that is a feast for the ears as well as the eyes.


Make sure to check out Brit Floyd when they will be performing at The Chicago Theatre on March 19th. Get tickets here: http://www.thechicagotheatre.com/events/2014/march/brit-floyd-at-the-chicago-theatre.html

06th Jan2014

Interview with Bobby Flavin from Chicago Band Align Orion

by rockchicago


Maxim Chubin (Flynn) of Albireno Film Co. Interviews Bobby James Flavin of Align Orion at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago.

(Align Orion Is in the final stages of post production of their debut album “Fly” at Joyride Studio Chicago)

You can view the interview here: http://youtu.be/xELEQB5naq4

Align Orion (www.alignorion.com) is an American pop/rock band formed in 2013 and based in Chicago, Illinois. The band consists of vocalist, guitarist, and pianist Bobby James Flavin, lead guitarist Keith Carmack, bassist Sam Liston, and drummer Darrin Luginski.

The band is currently awaiting the release of their debut album entitled “Fly”. After recording in a number of different locations including a cathedral in Chicago, the projects finishing touches are being completed at Chicago’s own Joyride Studios with the independent production team of Brian Leach and Stephen Wright from WTM Chicago (www.wtmchicago.com)

You can follow along with the progress of the album by checking out Align Orion at www.alignorion.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AlignOrion, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlignOrionOffic, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/AlignOrion.

Align Orion is both proud and humbled to be able to feature an associate between their music and critically acclaimed Montreal based Peruvian visionary artist Chris Dyer (www.positivecreations.ca)

More information coming soon!

24th Dec2013

Interview with Chris “Hambone” Cameron from JamBon

by rockchicago

JamBon is the brainchild of long time Sonia Dada keyboardist Chris “Hambone” Cameron. The group unites former members of Sonia Dada, Liquid Soul, and Weather report. As Cameron says, “It’s wildly eclectic, and really funky. Drop the Meters, Rufus, and AC/DC in a blender, then stand back and pull the switch.” This is an amazing group of very talented musicians who were handpicked for this band. They are all studio/session musicians who have played on innumerable albums and toured with the greats of rock, soul, funk, and jazz. In addition to Cameron’s work on Sonia Dada, many of you readers from Chicago may be familiar with his work with the bands the Chicago Catz, and Chevere.

They will be playing at Evanston SPACE, Friday December 27th. This is a show not to miss as it is a special treat to hear such a group of accomplished musicians at the top of their game performing together. It will a twelve piece band including a superb horn section.

You can visit jambonband.com to get more information about the band, listen to excerpts from their new album, see the trailer from the DVD and see the band in action, get concert/tour information, and purchase the CD and DVD.

I had the great pleasure to interview Chris “Hambone” Cameron and we engaged in an hour long conversation where the time just flew by. He has had a wide ranging and an amazing career.


RC – I listened to the CD and it is outstanding. What prompted you to finally release a CD.

CC – I had tunes that had been in a movie but never released on a record. I had a pile of tunes for Shawn (Christopher) and Michael (Scott) too. It was just time to do it and like I said, once I did the DVD, it was the first show we ever did in Chicago with the horns on board. Once we did that everyone said, “Oh man, the horns are so cool.” So I started the world’s largest band and put a horn section on top of it.

RC – As I was listening to your CD I was trying to figure who the band sounded like and you are kind of indescribable, to put it mildly.

CC – My blurb on the web site says you put the Meters, AC/DC, and Rufus in a blender then hit the switch. It’s just a record we needed to make. It’s all R & B to me I suppose, I have been fortunate enough to be a studio rat and get to work with a whole bunch of different people, people I grew up with making records with and listening to. I didn’t feel compelled to get the thing to fit. You could take half of the record and stick it on Alligator (laughing). The other half of the record, Bruce wouldn’t know what to do with. But that’s the part of the fun of it for me and so great about the band. I have these wonderfully versatile players and singers. Everybody is all studio rats. The collective resumes are ridiculous. Jose (Rossy), the percussionist who basically talked me into starting the thing, in addition to being with Weather Report, he was the band after Jaco, so Victor Bailey and Omar Hakim did a few, two, three records in the mid-eighties, but before that he (Jose) was with Robert Palmer for a few decade, Labelle, and he’s on a million records; with Chic, he’s on all those records, he’s recorded with Cameo, and Talking Heads, he’s just a great record maker and a positive energy source.

RC – When did you start getting interested in music and starting in music?

CC – I was an obsessed tennis player until maybe freshman year of high school and then the “boogie woogie bug” bit. I still don’t know what happened. I grew up in Libertyville, which is not exactly a hot bed of R & B. I was drawn to it. There was a used to be a juice bar on Wrightwood, called “Alice’s Revisited,” where a lot of the blues cats would play. I would be down there when I was 15 or 16 and all I wanted to do was play Chicago Blues for years. Otis Spann was really my guy, who was Muddy’s (Waters) piano player. I remember the day I heard that record. He made that record with James Cotton , the James Cotton Blues Quartet, which was on Vanguard. Had a great version of Rocket 88, an Ike Turner tune. It was a quartet Otis Spann, S.P. Leary, PeeWee Madison, who played a teeny bit of guitar, and James Cotton, so no bass player, and the piano was just roaring on that record. I was just, man.…that still kills me if I put that on now. That was the genesis of it.

I got the nickname Hambone in Mobile, Alabama. So the nickname was born in the Deep South. My brother is a guitar player, who went to little liberal arts school, a Jesuit College in Mobile called Springhill. And I would go down and play in a few of his bands over the summer when I was in high school. This nickname mutated out of a few other names and the next thing you know I was stuck with it. Born in Libertyville, and Chicago Hambone, born in the Deep South. It wound up sticking and one thing led to another and my first record date was when I was 22 at Curtis Mayfield’s place on the North side, at Curtom. And actually Shawn Christopher, who sings in JamBon, her brother is Gavin Christopher, and Gavin wrote some of the early Rufus hits. That was my first record date, Gavin’s second solo record for Curtom. I was overdubbing clavinet with the Tower of Power guys, after that I basically never looked back. And after that, Harvey Mandel, you know Canned Heat, he had an amazing band called Pure Food and Drug Act, with Sugar Cane Harris, an electric violin player who played on all the early Zappa stuff. A real phenomenal band, I used to go see those guys when I was 16 and then I was playing with Harvey a couple years later. Once John Mayall came into town and it was cheaper for him to hire Harvey’s band to do this Midwest run of dates, so we did these shows, and he loved the band so much we became the new band. A couple months later, Sugarcane, a colorful character, to say the least, got out of jail and got his gig back. We were playing Old Chicago, a giant shopping center with an amusement park inside in Bolingbrook, which eventually went down the tubes, with somebody taking a gazillion dollars loss. I played there with Chuck Berry and also we were out there with Mayall. And unbeknownst to Harvey, Mayall had thrown Sugarcane in. So we’re playing a set and out walks Sugarcane with a fiddle and it was an amazing moment because there was a lot of history there. So it was a crazy thing because I used to see these guys when I was sixteen and think why aren’t they bigger than the Stones and then I was twenty two and I was playing with all of them. It was very, very cool.

RC-How did you develop your talent on the piano?

CC – I always really worked since I’ve been fifteen. I was playing professionally, playing gigs, that’s what I did. I went to Eastern Illinois University for a year, I played in the jazz band. But I wasn’t really destined to be a classical player or a teacher, although now I am adjunct faculty at Columbia College. Years of working and you play with people that can kick your butt at something and you learn. I have been playing in Chevere, the Latin jazz band I am in, since 1978. I didn’t know a lot about playing Latin jazz until I hooked up with Alejo and those guys. You learn what makes a given style of music work. That was one of the things I loved about being a studio musician, the variety of it. That aspect of it was very cool. The learning aspect of things never stops. I always say my ongoing jazz education is 35 years of being in a band with Howard Levy, who is the music director for Chevere, and is an amazing cat. I am definitely the R & B rat on that bus.

RC – I am pretty amazed by all the varied things that you have done in your music career, you are an accomplished musician, performing and writing music, played with some musical greats, written movie scores, and even had roles in movies .How did all that happen, how did you diversify so much?

CC – I was lucky, number one. I don’t know there is a quick capsule answer, other than I was fortunate enough to hook up with people who liked what I did. You cultivate relationships and if you are a studio player that’s what you have to draw on. Making the most of the opportunities that you get and finding out what it is that makes a given style of music work or what you can bring to a project or record to make it work. A lot of the film stuff I have done, I have been fortunate to work on a lot of Andrew Davis’ movies and that is a family connection, because his brother Richie, is a great, great R & B session guitar player in Chicago, has a band called the Chicago Catz. Richie and I worked together for years and wrote stuff together and gradually over time we got the opportunity to do a lot of cool stuff in Andy’s films. Under Siege was the first one that I did for him, and we’re on camera in that. You’re on a battleship in Mobile, where I got the nickname. Hanging out with Tommy Lee Jones and the band, which was the Big Twist rhythm section, which was Wayne Stewart and Tony Brown on bass and drums, Richie on guitar, Gene Barge, “Daddy G” who was the house tenor player for Chess, and produced a lot of “We’re Gonna Make It for Little Milton,” he did “A Quarter to Three” for Gary U.S. Bonds, he has worked with a gazillion people. Gene is on the gig, and Hiram Bullock, who is gone unfortunately. He was the original guitar player on David Letterman. He’s on a lot of the great Steely Dan records, David Sanborn, just really wonderful, funky, he could play anything, he could do Hendrix, straight up jazz. That was the band. Tad Robinson was a wonderful harp player. Andy is a music lover so we were basically a means to get the bad guys on the battleship. So I had the hollowed out Rhodes with the gun rack in it. The ex-CIA guys were showing me how to hold the rubber guns. “We’re B flat right?” “OK and this is going to rifle up and out, so you have to hold it like this.” “OK, thanks, man.” You wonder what these guys were up to before they became movie consultants. Don’t ask!

I’ve been very fortunate get to play with a lot of people I grew up listening to. To record with Mavis Staples was amazing. The list is long. Dave Mason was a gas. I did Letterman with Dave Mason. Sonia Dada did about fifty shows opening for Traffic, which was great fun. When I was growing up, my stuff, I loved Booker T. and the MGs, which is what got me into the Hammond, I loved Traffic, and I loved Otis Spann. That was my stuff. So pretty much everything I do comes from that R & B starting point.

RC – What was your most satisfying musical experience or, said another way, what are you most proud of?

CC – Boy, that is difficult, I suppose the tunes that I’ve written and have got out there. The Commodores cut one of my tunes, “Solitaire.” We’ll be doing it at the show at SPACE in Evanston (12/27). I’ve waited twenty five years to play that live. We finally did it at the last gig and it really was a gas. It’s really hard for me to pick…I love JamBon. I love the band, because it’s really a wonderful bunch of players…it’s my band. I’m partial, there is no avoiding that now. It sort of worked out to the point that I hit critical mass. It’s something I had to do. They’re a really great bunch to play with. I work with these guys in a variety of contexts and they’re real versatile and they get it. I don’t have to legislate a lot of stuff. It’s just you hire the right people and let them be who they are and let them play. That just what I try to do. It’s like you got a garage full of Maseratis, you got to let them burn the carbon off their pistons a little bit.

RC – I am always interested in the creative process. As a songwriter what seems to inspire you when you are creating new songs?

CC – Well, it’s all over the place. My old line was I always try to write with somebody that has a deal. I’ve always written. Some of the tunes, the ballad, “Sands of Time,” which is a track I love. That was in A Perfect Murder, the Michael Douglas movie. It was written as source music, so it’s in there and was mixed far back. Tad Robinson who I co-wrote it with did a wonderful take on it. But I thought I just loved that song, I wanted to play it and put it on a record. I thought Shawn could do a thing with this. It was like it was made for her. That was a situation where that gig they wanted something sort of “Otis Redding-esque.” They didn’t want to license Otis so that was like we need something with that kind of a feel. In that the case you were writing to fit the scene that it fits into. But it’s really all over the place. “Too Much Barbeque” I wrote for Big Twist, and that’s the one tune I sing on the record. If you watch the DVD, Barb (Cameron) says that’s your “Ringo song.” You know where they let Ringo sing one tune. I wrote that for Big Twist in 1981, but I was out of the band by the time they finally got around to cutting it. I said I can do that one. Having Michael, Shawn, and me in the vocal garage is like you got two Lamborghinis and a VW bug. They’re so good, it’s like I’m gonna sing (laughing). “Barbeque,” the kids like that one. That is the medley of my hit. We did that first take. No punches, played, and sang it in one piece, the only overdubs are the horns and a little bit of percussion. On the record we did all the basics in two days at CRC, everyone singing and playing at the same time, like the old days. It took the better part of a year to finish it. I was calling in my coupons all over time. A lot of the lead vocals and solos are on the track, live when you did it. That is the way I grew up making records. Now it gets done, everyone passing the cake around, one guy does the strawberries then you put it on the internet and this guy’s doing this, it’s not the same as having a roomful of musicians playing at the same time and the singer singing. I love that ensemble energy. It’s doesn’t happen that way much anymore. The facilities to allow that to happen are sort of going away. Just because you can endlessly fiddle with something after the fact does not necessarily mean you’re improving it. I like to capture a performance from the point of view of being a producer. I’m happy to say that is why that record feels the way it feels.

RC – Shawn really blew me away with her performance of “Soul Deep” on the CD.

CC – I’m glad. I can talk long and hard about this. The ongoing marketing of this venture is an education in itself for me. I love that one. It was written for her specifically. I cannot speak highly enough of her and Michael. They are both great R & B singers. As a writer to be able to write for those voices, it is a great thing. She just has a natural sense of who she is, how to interpret a song, how to interpret a lyric and not over sing things which a lot singers do on the Star Search/American Idol shows. Here’s a melody, here is what the melody is, and you respect the melody. When you vary it counts for something…it counts for something. I get goose bumps when she does it. It’s like working with Mavis, she’s at that level and so is Michael. Alan Burroughs (AB), the second guitarist sings the third part and he had never sung background until we did the record. Shawn and Michael said let AB have a go at it. He had done phenomenally at it and that it is a great thing.

RC – I have one more question here and then a bunch about the upcoming show. Do you have any interesting stories/anecdotes about working with some of the greats?

CC – Oh, God! How much time do you have? Who do you want to know about? Chuck Berry story? The Letterman story? That’s a good one. I had been recording with Dave Mason from Traffic, of course I’m pinching myself through the whole process. I can’t remember who we hooked up, but he had been living here (Chicago) for a while. He was being managed by Jim Tullio, who’s been a buddy of mine for many years ago who I had met when he was producing Big Twist. They had a management thing with him and I had recorded in three or four different studios. He’s doing Letterman and he had a record out on MCA. Stevie Winwood had guested on his record, doing that sort of “Arc of a Diver” soprano sax synthesizer type thing, which was more prevalent on his (Winwood’s) solo records. That is one of the things I know how to do, and so I was hired. I had to cop verbatim the solo in the middle of this tune and I could do my thing in the other places. So it’s me, Jimmy Kreiger, and Dave. Jimmy Kreiger wrote “We Just Disagree.” He’s passed. I think Phoebe Snow was on that too. It was us and the Letterman Band. Basically you come in, you do it once, the Band has a call. It’s like a live show, even though they’re taping it. We do the run through and it’s going great. The NBC stagehands, in between performances have to move my synthesizer, I am only playing the featured number, Dave Mason is sitting out there with the band all night. They have to move my synthesizer which I had flown out, it is a Memory Moog, a specific one that I am using. You can’t touch anything because it is all union guys. They don’t unplug it, they drop it on its face on the concrete, about 45 minutes before we’re supposed to hit. And I’m like, Oh, God where am I gonna get another of these in that amount of time. So I put it back on the stand, plug it in, and it’s still working. So they’re counting down the tune, “we got two minutes” and I’m looking over and they have me on the wrong tape marks. All I see are guitar players’ asses in the distance and the twelve strings. I say, no guys, I am supposed to be over there on the other tape marks. So they move it over to the other side and they’re counting down. Now when you’re doing this thing you need the pitch wheel and the filter pedal. Those are the two essential components of doing that sound. So as they are counting it down I realize that the filter pedal is out. I reach around the back and the jack breaks in my hand. At this point there are two inputs on the Memory Moog so if you are not using them together you can theoretically use either one, so I decided that I would try the other input. I quick slam the jack in and the tune starts with the camera an inch from my nostril. So it’s like, pow, have a nice day, enjoy the show. And of course, everyone back in Chicago has their VCR rolling, it’s not a gig you want to screw up. So the things working; we’re into the tune, and my teeth are chattering for the first half of the song. It went fine, we are back home, watching ourselves on TV the same night. I am at a recording session in Streeterville Tuesday and everyone is going “Mr. Letterman” so I punch up the patch put a few licks on it and the whole machine goes down. Open it up and there were $500 of cracked circuit boards. Their management had to go after NBC to get the money. So that is my Letterman story, relax and enjoy your NBC experience.. That moment when the jack breaks off in your hand, I love live performance….that was a Meister Brau moment. I live to tell the tale.

RC – Let’s talk about the upcoming show at SPACE in Evanston, Friday December 27th. I understand you will have 12 musicians performing at this show. How did you all get together? It’s like herding cats to get all those people together.

CC – It is basically it was time for me to make a record. Purely at a creative level, I was at a point where Sonia Dada had run its course. Dan (Pritzker), the leader had mothballed it and was off working on movies. It was natural for me to keep working with Michael and Shawn, because I love what they do and I had a bunch of material there. It went back and forth and finally, I just had to do it. I told my wife, I’m chopping off the front of the house, making records and starting a band. I got everybody together. The first gig we played was a private party that somebody wanted me to put a band together for. It was very fortuitous how the guitar chairs came together. Tommy Sanchez, the Liquid Soul guy, had just moved back from the West Coast. We had played together a bunch and I had a Grammy nomination with him in 2000 with Liquid Soul. I pretty much came in with them and did the records. I did not tour with them as it was logistically impossible. Tommy is great, he is a very versatile guy, is a studio musician, but he can really rock. Alan Burroughs I had met through Richie Davis. Alan is just a really soulful cat. He has a great, old school sound and is also a fine jazz guitarist. It also turned out he was our third voice. We did this gig, and I was able to multi-track record it and as I was listening to it back, the chemistry was just undeniable. It was like everyone had been playing together forever. So it was like Geez, how do I not make this record. We played up at Northwestern. They had a B3 summit night and they had a choir guy from the South side, a jazz trio from the Green Mill, and I was like the R & B guy. I asked if I could do it with a little bigger group. That was the first ever live public performance. A chunk of that is on the website, under JamBon TV. There was just no way getting away from it, the CD was something that needed to happen. We went into CRC and made the record and I cashed in my coupons all over town. It took two days to do the basics and a year to finish it. I mixed it at my buddy John Ovnik’s studio at “Deaf Dog,” back when he had one of eight Focusrite consoles ever made. That board is now in Barcelona. The last gig that was done on it was mixing my band. A really wonderful console. I took my time with it, did it with the people I wanted to do it with and the rooms that I wanted to do it in. And the rest of the marketing thereof is an ongoing adventure. I’m wearing a whole lot of hats. I pretty much spent my whole career focusing on writing and playing. And now given the state of the music business infrastructure it is a whole other deal. We put it out and all the old Sonia Dada fans really dig it. They appreciate that it’s where the roots are, but it’s very much its own thing. We do a little bit of the old band stuff, three or four tunes in a set, but JamBon is very much its own entity. It’s just really fun. I’m hoping we will be able to play more. I get lots of emails, ‘when are you coming to Denver and when are you coming back to the Fillmore in San Francisco?’ It’s big and cumbersome. It’s very cool and it is a great joy to get to be able to do and I am hoping we will be able to do it more.

RC – Your music is so unique. I have seen you described as a combination of AC/DC, Metallica, Rufus. Is that how you describe yourself, just kind of a mishmash of things? Indescribable?

CC – I just love music. I have made almost every kind of record there is. I am not a classical musician, I love listening to it, that’s not what I do. I am an improviser by nature. I didn’t have any criteria other than it had to be a song I felt good about, that it sounded like the band. That is one of the great joys of it; is that it can go to a lot of places. And that is what is great about having this bunch of musicians. It’s hard to find guys that are like really skilled R &B, jazz , funk, “fusion-y” kind of cats that also get, hey, sometimes Rolling Stones eighth notes. Like “Soul Deep:” if you look at the difference between “Soul Deep” and “Wrecking Ball.” It’s the same band. If you look at the DVD, there is no auto-tuning, no fancy pro tools sneaking around. Just here’s the band and a couple of cameras. That’s what is so much fun about it. For me, it was always the business that tried to compartmentalize everything. They want to make a record; everything needs to sound like this. This is your pigeon hole, these are your radio stations, this is your marketing segment, this is your demographic. I like a lot of different kinds of stuff. I am fortunate to have put together a band of guys that get it all. It’s a real privilege for me to get to play with these guys and have them play my stuff. I hope there is a life ongoing and I would love to make another record, doing more stuff. There is a lot of untapped creative power.

RC – The musicians in the band are extremely talented, you have written the music, so how do you let them express themselves in the band? Is the song just the framework and they say let’s try this, let’s try that?

CC – It varies. Part of it is that is what is so cool about it. It is the right bunch of guys. In certain cases, I have a pretty good idea of how I want people to function. But you also look at it that I have been a sideman on a million projects, hundreds and hundreds of albums. These guys come from a similar background, the song is the thing. Khari (Parker) and these guys can play a ton, but they are about playing songs. That was one of the things I was thinking about, about this interview, what is my philosophy. Part of it is I am an improviser, but also I love songs. I love a great lyric and a great melody in a great song, I also like having that as a jumping off point for improvisation too. I don’t like having every show be a carbon copy of the show before. I like giving people room to play. I like being in the moment. I like not having a net. That is the way I try to create the environment for all these players to populate. Put people in a situation where they feel they fit and let them do their thing. Over the years when I have worked with other artists, I like being able to bring my whole game with me to the ballpark. Where you walk in and you go, what is the perfect way to frame this song? It’s just a great bunch and it was like that just from the beginning. I have to credit Jose Rossy, he’s the one guy I bring in from out of town, and he had talked me into starting the band, he’s the percussionist. He knew some crew guys in Denver, and Sonia Dada was out there. One of the singers had some personal situations that took him out of the equation so there was an open bunk on the bus. So Jose came and sat in and just was uncanny with his ability to fit into to what was going on. So the next thing you know he played his way onto this gig. We did the last couple of tours together and after that we were back and forth. He had some friends that were working on a song label and I sent him some song demos. He said, “What are you doing with all these songs, man? Start a band.” One thing led to another. I have been lucky to work with a number of great percussionists and he is a very unique cat and he is a master record maker. You don’t hold onto the gigs he has had, you don’t play with Robert Palmer for ten years, Labelle for ten years or Weather Report for four or five years unless you have the whole thing. He has an orchestral background, but he plays songs. He’s uncanny in his ability to enhance something, And sometimes it is not what you play but what you don’t play. He is great at that and the same really holds true for everybody in the band. What draws me to people is people who sound like themselves but also have a sense of ensemble. If you are a studio player, that is really what matters. It is not how much great stuff you can play. Can you play the perfect thing for this record? Can you frame this song? Can you bring out all the emotion inherent in what something somebody wrote. It’s a skill that they all have. I’ve likened it to having a Lamborghini in the garage under the blanket, you don’t get to drive it that often. But when you take the blanket off, put the key in and whoosh. It purrs, let me adjust my leather seat. It’s a cool thing. I am hoping we can get a bunch of people out and do this all the time. I think it’s worth pursuing….so I am! I have 56, 000 other things going, thank God we have some shows, cause the record is the tip of the iceberg for me; there’s so much more that can happen there. I’m just looking forward to playing. On the basic, fundamental, that is what I got involved in music stuff for.

RC – I have always enjoyed horn bands, especially funk rock, such as Cold Blood and Tower of Power. I noticed on the CD and DVD that you have a killer horn section, which I understand will be with you at the SPACE show on the 27th. Can you tell me a bit on how you formed the horn section?

CC – (Laughing) Like I said, I fought it, as hard as I could. I already knew the core unit of the band; I have two guitar players, both of them can rock and both can do the R & B thing, I got the rhythm section, and if I put horns on the whole record, everyone is going to want to know where are the horns on the gig. So fine, I put them on five tracks. We did the first show finally where I had a budget to put the horns on. It was then like the napalm on the cake, once you do it that way, it’s ‘Oh Man!” .Especially after we did the DVD; that was the second show. That was the second time we ever played together, it’s a lot of my charts. I have a few other guys who contributed chart-wise. My horn orientation is coming from two places, the Memphis Horns and Tower of Power. That’s my stuff. King Curtis Live at the Fillmore with the Memphis Horns, that record, and Tower, I love that stuff. Steve Eisen and Mark Ohlsen have played with me in Chevere for years. But Mark was in Big Twist with me in 1981 and Steve is probably the most recorded tenor sax player in town. He’s the sax player on “The Super Bowl Shuffle” by the Chicago Bears. He’s recorded with Styx, he’s recorded with Mavis, he’s playing with the Ides of March now. He played the solo on “Solitaire,” on the Commodores track that I had, which was 1988. He’s great. Andy Baker is playing trombone on the gig; he’s on the DVD too. He runs UIC’s jazz program. He’s like the hard core English jazz trombone player, but he’s been perverted by my evil rock band. And he loves it. So that’s totally cool. I wrote him that now you’re the Grand Poobah of jazz at UIC, the evil specter of my rock band is creeping in. Jerry DeMuzio is playing barrie (baritone sax) on these gigs. He’s just coming off the road with the Tonight Show Band, Doc Severinson’s old band, which is still out there. Jerry is another studio rat; he’s done a million sessions. He’s going from playing alto in the Tonight Show Band and he’ll be playing barrie on our shows. Steve Eisen played barrie on the record in addition to the tenor. And on the DVD, his daughter Maria played barrie, and she’s a monster. That’s actually my favorite part of the DVD, is Maria, because I have a great shot of them. We had a great cover of “I’ll Take You There” by the Staples. I put a barrie solo in the middle of it. Steve is great, I liken him to the “Randolph Scott” of the saxophone, he’s not very demonstrative, but an amazing player. So Maria is blowing the barrie solo and the whole place goes nuts and you see Steve crack a big smile. It’s great, two generations in the horn section. The thing with the horns is that once we did it with them I have yet to be able to do it without them. That’s the name of that one.

RC – What’s the deal with you wearing those crazy hats while playing? How and why did that start?

CC – The hats! The hats! Somebody gave me one, I forget. Ah, my wife got me the first little dragon hat, it just sort of became a thing with Sonia Dada for a while. That was a great band too. Dan, the leader, was very much a Grateful Dead fan and that was his aesthetic. I come much more from the James Brown school; if you’re not playing somebody should be talking to the audience. It just sort of became a thing. Then there were some cute little kids in Philadelphia that found the same hat. I’ll toss one on every once in a while and I think part of it is because if you are a keyboard guy you’re kind of in a static universe. Especially if you bring as much crap out to play a show as I do. You’re basically behind a space shuttle’s worth of gear. To have any kind of visual impact you have to go sort of overboard.

RC – Maybe you could put a cape on like Rick Wakeman.

CC – (Laughing) No, I don’t do that! That’s my line, you’re stealing…..I say no cape, no fog machine, no Rick Wakeman. I didn’t have any of those records, although I loved “Fragile.” That was a record. No, Traffic was always my English band. Although I do have another humorous side, I do a project called “Riser Rock”, which was totally arpeggiated versions of old R & B songs. The occasional silly hat may enter the fray. There’s nobody policing it but me anymore. There are a few in the bag.

RC – What can the concert goers expect from the show?

CC – Man, well it’s gonna be a unique event. It’s gonna be funky, that much I can say. It will go everywhere we like to go. It will be hopefully a good soulful experience with some songs that they can dig into. Then there will be a healthy portion of ‘no net blowing’. I like to get everybody out on the end of the diving board and push them off. We’ll do a lot of the stuff off the record and I got a couple of new ones that I have in the hopper that I’m bringing out. We also try and toss out the occasional old soul chestnut. We’ll probably do three or four Sonia Dada tunes too. It will be a fun night. I’m very much looking forward to it.

RC – If the readers want o learn more about you and the band, where can they go to get more information?

CC – The best place to go to is JamBonband.com (the band’s website). There are pieces of the record up there, and there is a link to the DVD trailer, which is a good energy snapshot of what the band is into. If you really want to go poking around there is a link to my side and you can see all the people I have been lucky enough to work with.

RC – They can also order the CD “JamBon” from this site as well?

CC – The CD is on there, the DVD is on there. The DVD has been great as I can get it to people, just in terms of marketing the thing, here it is. There’s not a lot of fancy…..it’s just the band. It’s a live performance, warts and all, as I said, no auto-tuning, no sneaky pro tools editing, it’s a show. I’m really happy with both of those, I am hoping we can do more. It’s kind of like steering a blimp as it’s a little cumbersome to move it around. But it’s a great thing. We love playing together and I think that energy radiates out to the audience any time we do stuff. We want to be doing it more. It is one of the big frustrations for me is everybody digs the record they just want to know when we are coming to New York (for example). OK, it’s getting seventeen people across town takes doing. But it’s ongoing, but the key to it is that we have to play, that has to be what drives everything. I’m hopefully going to get some other booking people on board with the thing.

RC – You keep the upcoming gigs updated on the website as well?

CC – Yeah , we do. The Acorn is a real cool room, it has an amazing old Barton Theater organ. I have played there a few times. It is very different than SPACE but there are parallels as the place is cool, it caters to music lovers. It’s a great room, very quirky and cool. Just getting the band out of state is a big deal. We’re hoping that we will get people out there and we can do it more.

RC – There’s a link on the website where they can purchase tickets to the show?

CC – There are links on the front page of the website. You can click on it and it will take you to the websites of both venues. Go to the website and anything going on with the band that is the place to find out.

The marketing side is an ongoing education for me. The music business is being reinvented as we watch. I got flown out by ASCAP (American Society of Composers And Publishers), I have been a member since around 1976. They flew me out to be part of their legislative lobby a couple years ago. They needed people from specific legislative districts. My name kept popping up on the radar as I have done so many things. It was a cool couple of days where they had a big concert with all of the ASCAP writers performing their music in the Library of Congress. You had Dion and the Belmonts, JD Souther playing some of the Eagles songs he had written, Hal David (Burt Bacharach’s lyricist) singing “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and he’s like ninety…..very cool. But then we went around and meeting with the various legislators about intellectual property rights and the new media. The steelworkers are in from 11:15 to 11:30, then it is the ASCAP folks. . Very interesting. It is kind of like the wild west out there. You’ve got iTunes now, it’s a different age. I do my best to adapt. As for as the band is concerned we made the record we needed to make, we need to play more, and hopefully we will get to do another one.

RC – You’re so right, the best thing about concerts is where the band stretches out and improvises on their tunes. If they play a note by note replaying form the album you might as well be home listening to the record. You want energy and excitement the shows.

CC – That’s the thing. For JamBon, part of it is the aesthetic, it is a live thing. We do a little bit with loops as there are couple things I use those on. I want people playing; I don’t want machines doing stuff people should be playing. The level of musicianship in this band is something. I will go to battle with these guys anytime, anywhere. It’s just fun, we love playing together and people get that. I like to blow, when I get done with the show, especially with my band…..I’m not leaving any bullets left in my gun. I want the others of the bandstand to feel the same way. I’ll just turn the bus left at any moment and turn somebody loose. That is the fun of it. You keep everybody on their toes.

RC – Any final comments?

CC – I have so many more stories in the hopper. I can’t speak too much about this. I couldn’t be more creatively or emotionally invested in something.

RC – I can see the passion you have about your music and this band, it is just great.

CC – This is all I would be doing, but I have 27,000 other things going on all the time. As difficult to mount, as cumbersome as it is, everybody’s there, it is so gratifying. I can’t tell you how much stuff other people have going on, but they are there. The band is the Spruce Goose of rock and roll (Howard Hughes’ 7,000 ton monster balsawood plane)…how does it fly? Well just watch it. It’s like the 1927 Yankees of R & B. It’s the guys on the record. They’re hand picked, I am glad we are just able to play. As far as the record, I would not swap anybody out. It’s a really stellar bunch of musicians.

(Interview by Peter S. Sakas)

(Photo by Paul Edmisson)

06th Nov2013

Interview with Eddie Brigati & Gene Cornish of The Rascals!

by rockchicago



01 Interview with Eddie Brigati & Gene Cornish

Click the link above to listen to Rock Chicago Magazine correspondants Joe McMichael and Chris Minardi interview The Rascals’ Eddie Brigati & Gene Cornish about their brand new show called “Once Upon A Dream starring The Rascals” that is playing at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago through Sunday. The show will eventually end up on Broadway. To buy tickets, go to www.broadwayinchicago.com

18th Mar2013

Interview with Hailey Rowe

by rockchicago

Interviewed by Editor Alex Kluft

Hailey Rowe is a singer songwriter from Chicago. She started singing at the young age of 5 five, and started writing and recording songs when I she was just thirteen. Hailey’s songs have been d in TV shows overseas in countries Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK. In the US her songs have been used on Live to Dance and Nick’s Halo Awards. Her latest video “My Boyfriend Is Gay” has hit nearly 95,000 views on YouTube since its release February 1st. You can find Hailey’s music on iTunes and Spotify.

RC: At what age did you discover you wanted to be a singer?

HR: At age 5


RC: Who are you favorite artists?

HR: Madonna, Abba, Katy Perry, Imogen Heap, and Michael Jackson


RC: How many songs have you written?

HR: I’ve recorded about 6 songs that I’ve written, but have a whole journal full of songs I have not recorded yet.


RC: How many recorded songs do you have?

HR: 13


RC: If you could open for anyone who would it be?

HR: I’d be honored to open for any strong female artist… Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Adele, etc.


RC: What is the biggest crowd you have performed in front of?

HR: About 8,000?


RC: What do you  think of the Chicago music scene today?

HR: Gotta love it


RC: How many shows a year do you do on average?

HR: It varies. Summer is my busiest time of the year.


RC: Your latest video has 85,000 views in just a week, what do you think contributed to this success?

HR: The amazing people who shared it with their family, friends, co-workers, etc. It was all about word of mouth.


RC: Was “My boyfriend is Gay” based on something that happened to you or a friend?

HR: No. Just an idea I had. A lot of girls have told me that they can relate to the song.


RC: Your rock covers are great. Have you thought of fronting a rock band?

HR: Thank you. I sing with a wonderful guitarist and want to keep it that way. I sang in a full band a few years ago. It was fun. I’d do it again.


RC: What’s your biggest success as an artist so far?

HR: The music video for “My Boyfriend is Gay” because it has reached such a large audience and gotten a great response.


You can find out more info on Hailey Rowe here:





18th Mar2013

Interview with YES’ Alan White

by rockchicago

Yes will be performing at the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, Saturday evening March 16, 2013 at 8:00 PM. The band consists of Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitar), Alan White (drums), Geoffrey Downes (keyboards), and Jon Davison (vocals).

Rock Chicago was able to secure an interview with Alan White, the long-time drummer (forty years) with Yes. The interview was conducted by staff writer Peter S Sakas. Alan White was a pleasure to interview as he was pleasant, engaging, interesting, and forthcoming during the entire interview process. We sincerely thank him for his willingness to take part in the interview.

RC: You have always been one of my rock idols. I am a 60 year old prog rocker from the good old days.

AW: There you go.

RC: Actually my real profession is that of a veterinarian, believe it or not.

AW: You are? I’ve got three Jack Russells (terriers).

RC: You must like to keep busy. Those dogs are hyperkinetic. They are great dogs, I love them.

AW: They run the household. They are too smart for their own britches.

RC: I write for Rock Chicago online magazine as a side job. I will be at the concert Saturday with my wife and also be attending the “Meet and Greet” event, so we will get to meet you in person. I am very excited about that.

AW: Yeah, that’s cool.

RC: I have a series of questions for you. Hopefully they are not like the ones you usually hear and will find them interesting. The first question is that I know you started playing the drums at an early age and played with a number of local bands. So could you tell me how it came about that John Lennon called you asking you to join the Plastic Ono Band?

AW: Yeah, that’s going back a long ways. I was with my band and we were trying to play new music, we were a bunch of adventurous young guys. It was pretty much out of the blue. We were doing gigs around London, we lived in Wembly, London. We had a gig to do that night. We played a gig the night before, and I guess he came into the club with Yoko and I didn’t even know he was there. Everything seemed to go pretty well and he obviously saw me playing, then he kind of left. Somebody later told me that John Lennon had popped through. I must have left some kind of impression upon him because I got a call the next day saying, “Can you do a gig with me, I have a gig lined up. I saw you play last night and you are a great drummer. I’d like you to play with me if you want.” I was only twenty years old at the time, young and naïve, gunner musician. He said he was John Lennon and I put the phone down on him. He called back in ten minutes, I had thought it was a friend of mine. He said, “No man, this is John Lennon,” and I nearly fell off my chair. Saying, “Oh, oh my God”. He said, “I got this gig and I will send a car for you in the morning and pick you up.” I said, “Sure, no problem.” The only problem was my band had a gig that night and needed the money. They got annoyed with me because I was going to do a show with John Lennon and not them.

RC: I think you made the right move, that’s for sure.

AW: Well, yeah. I said, “Sorry guys it’s John Lennon. Listen I will call the guy and change the date.” I managed to do that. Then I took off and went to the VIP Lounge in the London airport, met Yoko and John, and Klaus Voorman. While I was waiting he said, “By the way, I forgot to tell you, Eric Clapton will be playing guitar.” I thought like wow, this is like the big time. But I was pretty naïve as I was twenty at the time. I didn’t really realize what was going on, I just kind of kept my head down and said see you after the show kind of thing.

RC: You played with him (John Lennon) for a while?

AW: Yes, for a period of about a year and a half, I think. He called me back and I played on “Imagine,” spent the whole time in the studio for ten days. He just liked what I did. He would turn around to me and say, “Alan, whatever you are doing, keep doing it.”

RC: Well, I liked what you did and do, and that is from a humble veterinarian.

AW: Thank you.

RC: How did you originally hook up with Yes?

AW: I was still working in London, doing a lot of sessions around town. I was getting the reputation of being a session guy, but I was playing in bands too. I ended up eventually playing with Joe Cocker, stuff like that. I was doing a tour with Joe Cocker and I was living in London with Eddie Offord; he had an apartment and we were friends. It was his father’s apartment and I paid him rent. It was one of those things. We hung out together, we were having fun. I went down to see Yes when they were rehearsing “Siberian Khatru.” Bill Bruford (the current drummer at the time) had played with King Crimson then left one day and I said, “I can play this kind of stuff.” My band had been playing all kinds of stuff, different time signatures and jazz, all kinds of influences, so I was kind of set up for this kind of music. I sat in, played “Siberian Khatru.” When Bill left the band they then came and asked me to join. I must have left a good impression.

RC: Obviously so. An interesting question I have is, England was the hotbed of progressive rock in the seventies, Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis, Camel. My favorite bands were these English prog rock bands. What was the reason that this type of music flourished in England then? In my opinion the English prog rock bands were the best in the world.

AW: I think everyone was tired of playing the regular old, mundane kind of rock and roll. Not twelve bar so much but the same chords. Everyone wanted to experiment not so much only with chords, but time signatures and lots of different things in that area. It was kind of like, anything to be different. All these bands did seem to come up with a thing that was different, which was an identity in of itself which was associated with that band. You don’t really hear many bands that sound like Yes or Crimson or that kind of stuff. They all had their own particular stamp. It was pretty difficult to play, quite a lot of it. You don’t get many of those tribute bands, unless somebody is so dedicated as a musician.

RC: That music holds up today. I tell people that music took great musicianship and it was so unbelievable that music that came out of that era. You guys are still holding up great.

AW: It is pretty amazing. Last night, after the show, we sign autographs for that VIP thing, take photographs; we had a large numbers of teenagers in the line and some ten year olds. They must have come with their parents and been brainwashed over the years. We have three generations of people now.

RC: I have always say, good music endures. They said punk music killed prog rock in the late seventies, but what is your opinion as to why it happened and why did Yes endure through that era and for all these years?

AW: (Laughing) I guess the band is just pretty stubborn. We enjoyed what we were doing and we were still selling out concerts. So the interest was still there, even though the punk rock thing still existed. There were a certain amount of people who got involved in that but there was a group of people who were diehard kind of music fans who liked that progressive rock type thing.

RC: I was always buying your albums. I did not go over to the dark side with that punk music. I had seen Yes on the thirty fifth anniversary tour and you still looked great and played the drums with boundless energy. How do you keep your enthusiasm up for the touring after all these years?

AW: The best part of the day is going on stage and playing. It is so very satisfying, seeing so many people with smiles on their faces and happy. The thing that gets harder is the traveling. Traveling everyday. We’re almost in the middle of our tour; we have four more gigs to get to our halfway point. But the people themselves keep you going. I have toured America and the world, I have friends in a lot of big cities and some smaller cities. They come to the gig, I get to see them and it is quite satisfying.

RC: Well, you have a veterinarian in Chicago who is a huge fan.

AW: Chicago has always stayed in my heart because I have spent a lot of time there because of my association with Ludwig drums. In fact, Will Ludwig is coming to the show tomorrow.

RC: Oh, wow. That’s terrific. Do you have any special training regimen or secrets that help keep you in such good shape?

AW: Not really. Playing the drums along, because the show is touching on two to three hours. We just move a lot and we are traveling all day. I am not exactly sitting around and keeping my feet up. I am not a couch potato. Even when I am not on the road I am very active. As I told you, I have three Jack Russells; they keep me going.

RC: Now with this tour, I am really excited because you will be doing three whole albums on the tour. Why were the three particular albums chosen? “The Yes Album” “Close to the Edge” and “Going for the One.”

AW: I don’t know, it seems like those albums just popped up before our eyes, and it became pretty obvious those are the ones we should be doing. They are all successful albums in a kind of way.

RC: I thought you would be doing “Fragile” as one of the albums.

AW: That could be in a future tour, who knows. “Fragile” is a little bit more of a fragmented album. It has a lot of iconic songs, but it has a lot of little solo type things on it, too. It is kind of different somewhat in that kind of way. It’s got the little “Five Per Cent for Nothing,” Bill’s (Bruford) thing, a little Jon thing, material which was very identifiable with the person who was in the band at that time. A little bit harder to vary, I guess. And the iconic songs, obviously.

RC: I met Geoffrey Downes when Asia was touring Chicago last fall. I was really impressed with his keyboard work and seems like a great guy, as we met him at a “Meet and Greet.” What type of dynamic does he bring to the band?

AW: Geoff is great. I hang out a lot with Geoff on the road. We are good friends. I think Geoff has a modern sound to him, he doesn’t exactly rest on his laurels. He plays all the parts Rick Wakeman played but he plays it with a bit more of a modern flair. It generates from his time with the Buggles.

RC: When we went through the Asia “Meet and Greet” he was one of the most engaging people, my wife adored him. He was so nice and friendly and gave her a big hug. Ok, Another question here. Replacing an iconic lead singer is difficult. How did you decide upon Jon Davison and make him a member of the band?

AW: Benoit David was not satisfied with his voice with the band because singing the Yes songs, a lot of them are very, very high. He could make the notes but they were in rapid succession so it but a strain on him. Benoit was good with what he did but he just said, “I can’t do this anymore.” He went back to his family life in Montreal. Jon Davison…I actually live in Seattle…Jon Davison lived in Seattle for quite awhile. He was with a band called “Sky Cries Mary.” He moved to LA and his name came up when we were looking for a singer and ended up with Benoit. Jon had left a message on my machine, but left no number so there was no way to get in touch with him. So things might have been different earlier. Taylor (Hawkins), from the Foo Fighters, a friend of Chris’ (Squire), said if you ever need a singer, contact Jon Davison. He pretty much knew all the material and had a voice very similar to Jon Anderson’s. We tried him out and it was written in stone he was the one.

RC: What is the greatest influence of the Yes experience on your life?

AW: Last summer was forty years since I joined the band, so it was a big part of it. I do a lot of other things, I have my own band in Seattle, do a lot of charity work, but it has been basically non-stop all the time. There have been some times where Jon went off and did his thing and Steve went off and did his thing, but we always seemed to surface in a different form again, like a chameleon.

RC: Do you like Seattle, because it is kind of like England with the rainy weather?

AW: We only tell people that to keep them away. I like all the seasons and have had a house there for about thirty years.

RC: I was out there years ago and loved it. It was eighty five degrees and sunny. The locals were complaining.

AW: Oh yeah, you can get a good summer in Seattle.

RC: When you are not touring or recording, what do you like to do with your spare time? Spend time with your dogs? Any other things you like to do?

AW: I pretty much walk the dogs. I have a forty foot boat and a twenty eight foot boat, and will take the dogs out with me.

RC: Well thank you very much. There was a great deal of interesting information. I am looking forward to seeing you and the band at the show at the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino Saturday night.

AW: Come and saw hi.

RC: I will definitely do that.

18th Feb2013

Interview with Sum 41 Drummer Steve Jocz

by rockchicago


Interviewed by Alex Kluft

Alex Kluft: Is this the first time Sum 41 is doing Does This Look Infected live?

Steve Jocz: Ya, I think so. When the album came out, we didn’t play everything. It’s not a particularly long album so were going to try to rip through all that stuff then were playing stuff like Fat Lip, and songs from the new album. Our fans liked Does This Look Infected the most. That’s why were doing it.
AK: Did you think 10 years later it would be just as big as when it came out?

SJ: One of the things I think is funny with music in general now with YouTube, a lot of the videos from that album and before have millions of hits. Kids can go watch the “Still Waiting” and “Hell Song” videos. They’re still fresh and cool so it kind of gives it new life. Our fans still love that album, so it will be a fun thing for us to do.
AK: Do you have a favorite song to play live?

SJ: Regardless of the Does This Look Infected tour, I always like to play “Still Waiting.” The ones that we like playing are the ones that really get the crowd going. We’ve probably played “Fat Lip” more than any other song, because we’ve played it since our first album. Its still fun to play. There’s stuff from the new album that’s fun to play, but that’s relatively new so it’s the old stuff that shows we still really like it after playing it for 12 years.
AK: Will the set change each night after playing Does This Look Infected?

SJ: Were probably going to change it up. Were going to do the Does This Look Infected Stuff then once that’s over we’ll switch it up and do a bunch of different songs.
AK: How did you get into playing drums?

SJ: Wow, that is a long time ago. My dad played guitar when I was a kid. He bought me a guitar when I was really young. He was like “Boy, this a G-String” and he strummed it and every string on the guitar broke so my career as a guitar player was shot in one go. A few years later someone we knew had  a drum kit then there was a guy that moved in next door around when I was 11 that offered drum lessons. I took lessons from him for a bout a year then started getting into bands. I met Deryck when I was 14. We started Sum 41 shortly after that. It jus kind of happened when random things fell into place.
AK: Sum 41 started when you guys were still in high school.

SJ: I had met Deryck and played in another one of his bands. Then we dissolved that group and started Sum 41 when I was either 15 or 16. Jason [McCaslin, Bass] joined when were 18, and Dave [Baksh] our old guitar player joined early on. Now we have a newer guy Tom [Thacker] whose in the Canadian punk band Gob. In the early Sum 41 days we brought Gob on tour all the time and now he’s in the band. I’ve been in the same band for 16 years now. It’s lasted a lot longer than we thought it would.
AK: Who are some of your influences?

SJ: Early on it would have been Dave Grohl and John Bonham, all the rock music you grow up listening to. Then we got into the southern California punk scene so Erik Sandin from NoFx, Byron McMackin from Pennywise, Josh Freese from the Vandals, and Brooks Wackerman all of the guys helped develop that style of fast playing. I couldn’t really point to anyone specific. I was also into heavy metal so Lars Ulrich and Clive Burr. I’ve actually met all of those guys I just mentioned and know them to a certain degree. Its cool to have grown up listening to these guys then kind of know them whether or not you talk about drumming at all which we never do. When were on an early warped tour back in 2001 I got to watch Wackerman and Freese and see how they do things. That was a great opportunity to see people that are that good everyday. Then you get to become friends with them and ask how to play certain things.
AK: How many Warped tours have you done now?

SJ: We’ve done a lot, but from beginning to end of the tour only once or twice. Maybe 8 times altogether including the times we did a few shows. It’s a great tour to get on especially back a few years ago. When we first started it was all bands we were into and grew up with that were major influences on our band.
AK: What’s your drum set up going to be for the upcoming tour?

SJ: It’s usually the same kit 1 rack tom, 2 floor toms with Zlidjian cymbals. I think it’s a brand new one, because when we toured in Europe it was all rentals. This is going to be the first time I play on it.
AK: Do you do any backup vocals live?

SJ: Not really, Jason and Tom do that. It just sounds like sh*t for the sound guy if theres has a bunch of drum sounds blending in with the mic, and Toms a better singer than I am anyway.
AK: How did you become a director for music videos?

SJ: I haven’t done that in a while, but it’s really fun to do. In all of our videos I’ve been really involved and the guy that did all the classic Sum 41 videos. His name is Mark Klasfeld. I was doing videos in Toronto, and when I moved to California he hit me up. He asked if I wanted to videos for his company.  I did a bunch with him. It was something I enjoyed doing that was fun. Because I knew him he helped me to do. I never went to film school.  I don’t really know how that stuff works, that’s we have a director of photography. I like coming up with the ideas.
AK: Are the Sum 41 videos a collaborative effort among you and the other members?

SJ: Not necessarily, whoever is directing will come up with the idea, then all of us agree on what the idea is. Everyone has a say in editing. For the actual filming that’s more of the director’s job. The guys trust me not to f$%k it up. When someone else is doing it we do the same thing. As far as coming up with the idea or at least accepting the idea, we’re kind of involved in the stages of how it’s going to look. Each video is very different. Sometimes we might be very involved, other times less involved. With the most recent video “Blood In My Eyes”, we were part of the beginning stages, but on the day of the shoot, we just showed did the performance part and left. It was the easiest shoot we’ve done. In earlier videos like “In Too Deep,” it was like filming a movie. We did it over 2-3 days in different locations.

15th Feb2013

Interview with Rival Sons’ Lead Singer Jay Buchanan

by rockchicago


Interviewed by Alex Kluft

Alex Kluft: I saw you with Rival Sons at Rock On The Range last Summer, that was a great performance.

Jay Buchanan: We had come down that day from Toronto. We drove straight down, and we didn’t really have any sleep. We showed up there, played, did a bunch of press, a couple photoshoots, and then we took off and drove right back up to Canada to play some more shows up there. It was quite a day though.
AK: You just came back from a big European tour, how did that go?

JB: It was 40, 41 days, something like that and 36 shows. It was pretty grueling. Things are getting pretty crazy out there for us. We have a lot to be thankful for. We had a great crowd each night, and there was a lot of press. The fans are just incredible.

AK: How did become so big in the U.K.?

JB: The label that we ended up signing with is based out of Nottingham in the U.K. All of the connections like our publicist were already involved with the European and U.K. market. For us in Europe, we can tour 19 countries in a month. In the states you could do in Texas for a month alone, and that would be a whole different tour. It’s like Texas then head up north towards you guys and hit more states. Were planning hitting the states really hard in January and February. The record came out last September in Europe and the U.K. I think it just came out in Canada.
AK: It seems like the albums doing very well overseas.

JB: Ya, its doing well. We have a lot of great fans. That makes everything a lot easier. The crowds are doubling and were selling out all over the place, you feel like you’re in a movie or something.
AK: How was playing the Download Festival?

JB: It was fun. We played a sh*tload of festivals in Europe and the U.K. in the past year. Its always a trip being on a bill with all of these different bands, hanging out with them in catering and backstage. It’s really something. You realize what a small world it is.
AK: Do you get watch any of the bands you want to see?

JB: Absolutely, if you got the time. If our tour routing allows us to. Sometimes it doesn’t. It could be play your time slot then leave because we have a 9 hour drive. It’s like show up, play your set, do 1.5 hours of press then get back in the van and hit the road. It’s really nice when you get to check out the other bands. We’ve gotten to see some great bands. This past summer we got to see Soundgarden, the Refused, Queens of The Stone Age. It’s inspiring to see these bands nail it. They’ve been around a lot longer than us. You get to see how it gets better.
AK: How did you get into the blues in the beginning?

JB: It really came from hearing Robert Johnson when I was 8 or 9. I was always a music freak. I had a bunch of vinyls. He sounded like a ghost to me. It had that feel. From there I heard Blind Willie Johnson, you want to talk about sounding ghostly. Then you get other artists like Blind Willie McTell who don’t sound scary at all. I fell in love with it. It’s the blues, it’s the truth, that’s what it always felt like. They’re singing about their troubles, and singing about their girls. Whatever there singing about, they could be telling stories it always sounds true.
AK: Would you site blues/rock bands like The Yardbirds and Cream as influences?

JB: Absolutely. For me I grew up on the blues, I never really got into the British Invasion. The one bad I did like as a kid was the Animals, because I liked Eric Burdon’s voice so much. It was so commanding. People never talk about Eric Burdon, or Van Morrison for Rock. Van Morrison could crush all those guys with one hand vocally.
AK: What was it like opening for Judas Priest?

JB: About a year and a half ago we toured with Priest, that was really interesting. It was cool, but I was never really a Priest guy. It’s pretty far away from the Blues. The other guys were like “Priest, ya! Living After Midnight!, Breaking the Law!” We didn’t know what was going to happen, because we don’t play metal we play Rock N’ Roll, and we were put on this tour. We were thinking “Were going to get in front of all these heavy metal fans opening up for metal royalty, what is going to happen?” “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but lets do it.” Rob Halford and everyone in the band was so cool and nice. They were really complimentar. Priest’s audience was incredible and supportive. At that point I wasn’t familiar with heavy metal at all. We’ve played Hellfest and Sweden Rock Festival where it’s all metal. These are the nicest, coolest, and most understanding people.
AK: What was your key to success?

JB: I don’t man, I really don’t know.  I took this band on as a side project when we got together. I thought we were just going to play some shows around L.A. I had never been in a Rock N’ Roll band before, I never wanted to be. For me it was “just have some fun,” because I was doing other things. Out of nowhere everyone started losing their sh*t, everyone started getting crazy about us. The thing I always try to tell people is just try to be yourself, and be as hard on yourself as possible when it comes to songwriting, and your technique, and It’s what you do. Don’t worry about your clothes or any of that stuff, just try to tell the truth, that’s all people want to hear. When they come to see you to play, they’re not just there to be entertained, they came there for a f#$%ing crucifixion, they want blood, they want everything you have, and you gotta give it to them. Always give everything.
AK: Do you have anything else coming up?

JB: We just released a video last month. Our album Head Down is coming out in the States in March. We don’t have anything going until January as far as a tour.
Don’t miss Rival Sons at Schubas This coming Monday the 18th.

03rd Jan2013

Interview with Actress/Comedian Sandra Bernhard

by rockchicago


Sandra Bernhard is an American comedienne, singer, actress and author. She first gained attention in the late 1970s with her stand-up comedy in which she often bitterly critiques celebrity culture and political figures. Bernhard is number 97 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest standups of all time.

I recently spoke with Sandra regarding her new one-woman show called I Love Being Me, Don’t You?

Interviewed by Kevin Pollack


RCM: How did you get into comedy?

SB: I went to LA when I was 18 to become a singer. People said “You’re hysterical! Do stand-up and add the singing in.” Before I knew it, I was doing showcases all over town and getting my chops together.


RCM: What was being on The Richard Pryor Show like for you starting out?

SB: Well, Paul Mooney, who discovered me, was the head writer and producer for Richard and cast all the young talent. So, it was like a party and Richard loved being around the up-and-comers. It was one of the great experiences of my early career.


RCM: Martin Scorsese discovered you in 1983 and cast you in The King of Comedy. Getting to work with so many legends in that film, what was the experience like for you?

SB: Again, when you work with the best, you only get better and better. Talent elevates talent and these people want to see your best.


RCM: What was the Roseanne experience like for you?

SB: Everyone on Roseanne was top-drawer theatre people; great actors who made it a lesson in brilliance whenever I walked on the set. Funny, kind smart and cutting edge.


RCM: Who are your influences as a comedian and an actress?

SB: Carol Channing, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbra Streisand, Julie Christie, Catherine Denueve, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, Cher, Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Laura Nyro and the list goes on and on.


RCM: You’ve had many one-woman shows. Which one are you most proud of?

SB: “Without You, I’m Nothing…And I’m Still Here Damn It.” But I love them all in different ways.


RCM: What keeps you going after all these years of being in the business?

SB: The need to tell stories and give love to the crowd.


RCM: Where did you come up with the title and concept of your new show I Love Being Me, Don’t You?

SB: From the same place as all of them. In my life travels, my loves, heartache, madness, parties, walks down the street; like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up ideas and turning them into entertainment.


RCM: What do you like most about performing in Chicago?

SB: Chicago is one of my favorite american cities; sophisticated, smart people; great food; a real original point of view.


RCM: What’s next for you?

SB: Great roles in film and TV. My own shows, producing, singing, writing. These are all the things I am in the midst of right now!


Make sure to check out Sandra Bernhard performing her new one-woman show I Love Being Me, Don’t You? At City Winery for 2 shows on January 4th & 5th. Show starts at 8pm. Click here for more details and to buy tickets: http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/sandra-bernhard-i-love-being-me-don-t-you-1-4.html