Big, Rough, And
On The Run
By Timo Hulett Photos By John Grafman
Is smaller better? We’re talking venues here, not, well let’s not go there.
In arenas with 10,000 or 20,000 people, or mega-stadiums, the masses create their own energy. But, in dinky, hole-in-the-wall bars, bands make it own on their own talent! You either got it, or you don’t.
Both the Stones and U2 are showing that they can still rock hard without mega million dollar displays. It’s back to the music. On the Sunset Strip, just up the street from where U2 electrified The Roxy, a lesser-known group is reminding us that classic rock music isn’t something from a prior generation only to be rolled out for historical purposes or flashback trips.
Alex Cole and the band are the saviors of the genre! The band is part of a new breed of musicians. This new crop is eager to reflect back on the heritage of rock, and then take the next step forward. And, it comes not a moment too soon.
Taking stage after a few other magnetic bands, Alex Cole and his band mates have their work cut out for themselves. Not a moment is lost; the trio immediately shows us just why we came to the Whiskey A Go-Go.
Alex on lead guitar can be compared to some of our favorite artists in their prime. He’s one-half Ted Nugent, one-half Angus Young of AC/DC, and one-half Sammy Hagar. And yes, I can add. Alex is 150% of what one expects. The band is on target musically, and is fully engrossing with a kick-ass performance, connecting with each guest at the show.
The boundless energy is not necessarily the “secret sauce” of Alex Cole and the band, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt either. We can’t help but feel the energy as well via induction, or something like that. We’ll have to ask Elon Musk exactly how that works. Suffice to say, Alex Cole gets everyone pumped up!
The band covered several of their songs during the mid-week performance. If you are looking for a standout “Anthem” for a new generation, that’s still on the drawing board. Nevertheless, all the other elements are at work, so it’s only a matter of time.
The tunes, like those you can find on their web site - Born To Fight, Burning Down In Flames, and Bad Wild And Rough, do hit the mark. No over-arching political statements, or sappy ballads, just hard charging rock and roll. But, this is one band you need to see live for the full-effect!
Personally, it makes little difference whether or not I’ve heard these songs before; right now the band is dialed-in. It feels like you’ve known and loved these songs for ages.
Bare chested and bouncing about the stage, Alex appeals to all ages. The band members interact with each other like a well-oiled machine. If sparks fly with the Alex Cole band, it’s not due to gears grinding, but an overabundance of energy!
The band is comprised of Harley Duggan on bass, Robert Platz on drums, and Alex handles guitar, vocals, songwriting duties, and even a little harmonica. This is not a one-man band, or a group where everyone is in it for himself. The performance at the Whiskey hums along, figuratively speaking. The fun that Alex, Harley, and Robert have onstage is definitely contagious.
Perhaps the only downer is their work schedule. The problem with being this good is everybody wants you. So, after a romp around L.A hitting up The Mint, The Viper Room, and the Rainbow, it’s back off to Switzerland. Be it the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, or rocking in Milano, Como, Torino, or Luzern, this band is on the run. But, it’s only a matter of time before heading back to California, as well it should.
We’ll be waiting!
Vince Neil Band
Long Beach Grand Prix
By Timo Hulett Photos by Deborah Drab
It was a very rockin' end to a fantastic race day. I was expecting to be a little disappointed as I have been to the 'elders of rock' venues before and they are almost always painful. This time it was less painful and almost enjoyable.
It was very obvious that Vince was on his game from all the Motley Crue shows over the last few years.
I will start with the playlist which consisted of Motley Crue classics for the most part and speckled with some covers.
Vince sounded good while other band members were just ok. The drummer, Zoltan Chaney, was a faint shadow of Motley Crue's Tommy Lee. The bassist Dana Strum, held his own while guitarist Jeff "Blando" Bland, completed the formula. Overall a fun show, but still a reminder that we all grow old.
Jeff "Blando" Bland
Vince Neil of Motley Crue to Perform at Saturday Night Concert!LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 3, 2015) - Vince Neil, the legendary voice of famed rock and roll band Mötley Crüe, will star in the Saturday, April 18 "Rock-N-Roar Concert" at the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The concert, free to race ticket holders, begins at approximately 6:45 p.m. on the concert stage adjacent to the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
Neil will be playing all the Mötley Crüe favorites, which include some of the greatest rock songs of this generation: “Home Sweet Home,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart” and “Same Ol’ Situation.”
Coming to Long Beach will be nothing new for Neil. In 1992, he got a taste of professional auto racing, competing in four Indy Lights races including a 17th-place finish in Long Beach.
Raised in Compton, Vince Neil fell in love with music as a child, developing a broad vocabulary that ranged from classic Motown to hard rock. As a teenager, he performed with local bands and fronted the popular band Rock Candy before reuniting with high school buddy Tommy Lee in 1981, sealing rock and roll history with the formation of Mötley Crüe.
“Being raised in Southern California and being a race fan, this has always been my favorite race,” said Neil. “I am very excited to be a part of it, this is going to be ‘bad ass.’”
When not performing, Neil oversees a number of entrepreneurial efforts as well as The Skylar Neil Memorial Foundation (www.skylarneil.org), a tribute to his daughter whom he lost to cancer in 1995, which has raised more than $2 million to help combat childhood cancer.
Ticket prices for the April 17-19 Grand Prix range from $50 for a Saturday General Admission ticket, which grants access to all the day’s race events plus the concert, to $135 for a three-day ticket that includes Sat./Sun. reserved seating in grandstand upper levels. Pre-paid parking packages are also available, along with handicapped seating, Verizon IndyCar Paddock access passes, Super Photo tickets and a wide variety of Hospitality Club packages.
Fans can select and pay for their 2015 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach seats, parking and paddock passes online at gplb.com. Ticket orders can also be placed by calling the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 827-7333. A printed ticket brochure that includes a circuit map, ticket prices, order form and other information can be obtained by calling the hotline.
Fans can also follow the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Facebook at GrandPrixLB, Twitter @ToyotaGPLB and Instagram at ToyotaGPLB
A Sound Business
By Timo Hulett Photos by John Grafman & Timo Hulett
Since 1901, a group of piano makers came together to create NAMM, which now proudly claims a membership of over 9,000. While the backbone of the association is to advance the $17 billion global music products business, it also serves as a hub for other related facets, such as music education, PR, legislation, and more.
The core belief is that everyone should have the opportunity to make music. A channel to release that pent up creativity and energy is a fundamental human need. NAMM is striving to create a world where making music is a part of each and every life.
Most would agree that music is about being able to share feelings, concepts and ideas. Music is about a mood, be it classical or hard rock. Each nuance and line an artist creates, is there to provoke a response in our brain.
THE CREATIVE MIND -
Creativity takes many forms, and gives rise to inspiring music of all types. A common trait in the arts is the ability to share ideas and communicating those, as well as several of the processes being used to bring those to life.
The NAMM Show in Anaheim oozes with opportunities to explore, to be inspired, and to innovate. The show is a chance for members to exhibit the goods, buyers to shop, and professionals to network.
The show has major galas and presentations with super stars, like the Peavey Electronics 50th Anniversary Celebration. There’s also little known musicians that are dazzling the thousands of show attendees that are meandering the hallways. Plus, numerous performances with a broad diversity of talent are creating a civilized version of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - meaning, far less drugs and booze. Nevertheless, it’s never a dull moment.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus residing just in front of the convention center makes a big impression. The massive blue bus with a sketchy, white self-portrait of John Lennon is attracting NAMM guests like groupies to the Beatles, yet it’s what’s inside that really makes this special.
Along similar ideological lines as NAMM, the bus is providing middle and high school, as well as college students an opportunity to express their ideas, and write, record and produce original music and videos, and learn about broadcasting.
Numerous artists work with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, as those musicians also feel this is their chance to give back and inspire the next generation.
At the show, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic share many years of experience inside of the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. As if that isn’t enough, P Funk put on a brilliant performance on the NAMM GoPro Stage once the convention center closes down for the day.
The NAMM Show is nothing if not expansive. Roaming the massive Anaheim Convention Center and the adjoining Marriott and Hilton Hotels where the show is held is just shy of running a marathon. Every nook and cranny is filled with one company or another, both local and from abroad, for 31 hours spread out over four days (not including the after-show performances and events).
BUILDING BLOCKS -
The exhibitors are more than companies that sell instruments, although that makes us the bulk of the show floor. Wandering through one can find suppliers of raw materials, like Bradford Dimension with beautiful specialized wood that’s often used on quality musical products. On the other end of the spectrum are companies with production machines. Haas Automation, as an example, stops show-goers in their tracks. The company’s fully operating milling machines are nothing less than astonishing, displaying how complex shapes like guitar bodies and necks can be replicated over and over again.
Poking around there’s plenty of finely crafted products, such as the guitar straps. One such company, Rali from Poland, has a vast assortment of colors, patterns, styles, textures, and applications it produces that will enhance any axe.
There’s a vast assortment of knobs for customizing guitars. Various designs allow any guitar player to personalize his or her instrument, and call it their own. Yes, if these companies weren’t in the music industry, they’d fit right in with the hot rod crowd.
Zymöl, a premium car wax and car care company, also has a presence at NAMM. A few years back, the owner’s son mentioned his friends were using the car care products on their guitars. While flattering, he knew that those products are formulated for automotive finishes, not musical instruments. So, Zymöl went back to the lab and created an entirely new product line for the music industry. Brilliant!
Pioneer has a large floor presence at NAMM, focusing on DJ equipment. Clearly, the company is carving out this niche as its own. Basically, Pioneer wants consumers to find DJ equipment indispensible, almost in the same way the public was captivated with the Sony Walkman products. But, instead of just listening to the music, consumers can create it.
PLUGGING IN -
While we often overlook some of the basics, some of those products are as essential to music biz as the air we breathe. Take Monster as an example. Cables are a vital part of amplified music. However, the average man on the street would probably recognize Monster in terms of high-end home or car speaker wires. The cables from Monster, a California company, are more than just wires, insulation, and metal. These are quality products, and look the part.
John Diaz, Product Area and Brand Manager mentions, Lamborghini contracted with Monster to provide assistance in creating the very limited production, $4.5M Veneno Roadster, showcasing audio clarity and best-in-class dynamics. This model features Monster's breakthrough technology Pure Monster Sound™. The point being made, if Monster is good enough for Lamborghini, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us.
Of course, the ultra-rare Lamborghini Venenos are hard to come by, so Monster wisely opts to bring with several rock-gods to satisfy the masses at the show.
NAMM is all about the music business, from business insurance to guitar picks. But, without the creative minds this wouldn’t exist at all.