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Classic Rock News And Views
February 23, 2013
Story by Jason Kane
Some rock bands burst onto the scene and then fade away. Others endure and maintain fan followings for decades. Lovers of classic rock music are in luck this year. Many great bands are embarking on exciting new tours. Here are five classic rock bands that are touring in 2013.
The Beach Boys
With a history stretching back fifty years, The Beach Boys music is renowned for capturing California culture. Their fun, carefree songs about surfing, girls, and hanging out at the beach have attracted generations of fans. Although the band has gone through many changes since the ’60s, the spirit of their music remains the same. The Beach Boys are starting their 2013 tour in Westerberg, New York, on April 4. It ends on October 12 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
This legendary ’70s band is known for “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Free Bird” and other favorites. Their music has been featured in many films and they are considered one of the most popular bands of the 1970′s. They are also one of the most iconic southern rock bands in history. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tour starts in Chicago on March 15 and concludes on September 21 at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino.
Over three decades after their famous “Rumours” Album, Fleetwood Mac is back. The band traces its origins back to the late ’60s. Despite many lineup changes, Fleetwood Mac continues to gain fans. They are embarking on a new tour that is sure to please fans of one of the bestselling rock acts in history. The tour begins on April 4 in Columbus, Ohio. The finale occurs in July 6 in Sacramento.
The unique style and incredible endurance of ZZ Top has made them a rock favorite for four decades. ZZ Top still has the exact same lineup that it did when it started, an extreme rarity in rock music history. The band has sold 25 million albums in the United States alone. They have been members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2004. ZZ Top’s members are known for their long beards and hats. This classic band is embarking on a tour that starts in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 2 and concludes May 25 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Enormously popular in the 1980′s, Foreigner continues to attract a significant fan following today. The phenomenally successful band has sold nearly forty million albums in North America and an incredible eighty million worldwide. Their tour starts up in San Antonio on April 15th and finishes June 29 in Hampton, New Hampshire.
Jason Kane is a vinyl record collector and avid music blogger. Jason writes for SoundStage Direct, an online vinyl record distributor.
January 9, 2013
By Jason Kane
Classic Rock fans used to cringe when they heard the word Bonnaroo – it conjured images of hippies gathered in mass quantities dancing and listening to their favorite jam bands. The festival is typically associated with acts like Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Keller Williams, etc… However in the past 5 years there have been a lot of classic rock bands nuzzling their way into the once jam band exclusive set list of Bonnaroo. On top of that there are rumors circulating the internet that ZZ Top and Tom Petty will play this year’s 2013 festival. Here is a look at two years where classic rock bands rocked Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo 2010 was a great year to attend the festival for classic rock fans. Interestingly enough the festival saw many collaborations where classic rock met newer rock. For starters The Flaming Lips along with Stardeath and White Dwarfs did a complete cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Some old school rockers considered it blasphemy but all in all it was a pretty cool tribute to one of the most iconic classic rock bands that has ever existed.
The collaboration between Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates and the more contemporary band Chromeo also saw classic rock being fused with today’s rock. The two had played together two years back after getting together for a jam session at Hall’s house.
To top the festival off there were also separate performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck – not exactly the hippie fest that rockers once thought it was.
Last year’s 2012 Bonnaroo really embraced classic rock in a big way. There were solo performances by big names like Colin Hay of Men at Work, and 80’s rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Danzig played amazing sets as well. There was also the Van Halen tribute band “Unchained” that played the festival as well, and although there was a bit of controversy surrounding their coveted 2am slot on the “That Tent” stage, it was still great to hear some classic Van Halen tunes echoing through the park.
Saturday June 9th was the night rockers didn’t want to miss as rock legend Alice Cooper took the stage and turned the festival upside down. A few months before his set Cooper was quoted as saying, “If you’re in the first 20 rows, you’ll probably get some blood on you.” Although the 64 year old didn’t rock the place THAT hard, it was still a high energy show that definitely turned a few younger souls onto classic rock.
And speaking of turning younger souls onto classic rock, The Beach Boys played a set the following night. You’ve got to give it to Bonnaroo for not just completely selling out and booking all pop acts and house music – after all they probably could and they might just sell more tickets that way.
The Bonnaroo Music Festival has come a long way from being the 3-day hippy jam fest that it used to be, and rock fans are beginning to realize that. If you really love rock music then the occasional annoying 20-something you’ll run into on the concert grounds won’t be enough to stop you from seeing a great show.
Jason Kane writes about rock concerts and his vinyl album collection that keeps growing thanks to www.SoundStageDirect.com
August 8, 2012
For many of us, the immediate reaction to a question like that is: Nobody! Yeah, I’m with ya, and classic rock will probably remain at the top of my favorite genre list until the day I die. The question above isn’t so much about the music as it is about the classic rock artists themselves. These people are still packing venues, and there are some folks in the live music business who are wondering about the ability of up-and-coming artists to pack these venues like the classic rockers do.
I read an interesting story in the Kansas City Star that touched on some issues that I hadn’t thought about before. We’ve got acts out there touring that have been around for upwards of four decades. Aerosmith is currently on tour and the reviews I’m seeing say that these rock veterans still have the energy and stamina to put on a kick-ass show.
Let’s consider a few other veteran rock groups who are still out there working the live stages: U2, Rush, Van Halen, Springsteen, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey. The list goes on, but you get the point. The point of the story from the Kansas City Star is who can, or who will take their place? Thanks to recordings, the music of these classic rock legends can theoretically live on forever, but we know that the people who created that music will not. That has some folks in the live music business a little concerned.
Since the “elder statesmen and women” of the music world are pretty much carrying the live side of the music biz, can the next generation step up to the plate and hit it out of the park? Obviously, the music scene has changed over the years and with the internet available to bring the next great thing to the masses at the speed of YouTube, the life expectancy of rock band popularity may have taken a hit.
Back in the day we had the radio and we had the record store. Those were two places music fans went to get their fix. MTV came along sometime in the 1980’s and I spent my share of time watching music videos, but it was just radio with pictures.
Attention spans are shorter these days and I can see that first hand just by hearing what comes out of the PC speakers of my own two kids. They got off to a good start (Dad’s classic rock!) but they’ve branched out and it seems like I hear the sounds of another new band I don’t recognize coming from their rooms every other week!
That is what people in the live music industry are concerned about. Back when I started getting interested in music and I found a group I really liked, I became a fan for life most of the time. There were only so many groups that FM radio could put on the air and since that was the primary way we discovered new talent, the pool was quite limited compared to what’s out there today.
With all that in mind, it’s no wonder there is some doubt about who will pack venues when the classic rockers are no more. Take it from an industry insider like Brett Mosiman of Pipeline Productions who was quoted in the story saying, “I’ve been saying for 15 years that the amphitheaters have been filled with mostly ’70s acts, and that’s going to come home to roost sooner or later. Over the past 10 years, that still hasn’t changed.”
Due to the changes in the music industry and the speed at which new groups can become popular, there is also the danger that they fizzle out before they get their act in front of a sufficient number of fans to build the numbers needed to sustain a music career for the long run. The outlets bands have for getting their music out to potential fans and without the same dependence on record company star makers is both a blessing and a curse it seems.
There are, of course, huge stars from other genres who seem to be hanging in there pretty well. That’s a point that was made by Jeff Fortier, president and promoter with Mammoth Productions who said, “And don’t forget Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye West, Drake. The list is longer than you think. I think there will always be acts at that level, there will always be a place for those venues.”
The day will come when there is no more Van Halen and no more Rush to fill large venues. Will there still be rock acts popular enough to take over or are we nearing a time when seeing a live rock show at a major venue is just a memory?
May 24, 2012
For any Rush fans who have been living under a rock for a while (hey, I get it, work and life in general tends to get in the way!) the Canadian progressive rock legends will be releasing a new album on June 12th and embarking on yet another tour starting right here in New Hampshire on the 7th of September. It’s clear that these guys are no slouches when it comes to hard work! Once you start working your way into your late fifties, touring is bound to be a lot more difficult than it was in 1981. As someone who has eased into his early fifties, I can tell you that it’s significantly easier to get hurt and takes longer to heal so the only thing I have left to say on that subject is rock on, fellow geezers!
In a recent interview, front man and unofficial band spokesman Geddy Lee sat down to talk about the group’s new album and subsequent tour. After noticing that one of the topics of conversation was supposed to be about “steampunk,” I became a little more excited about reading the interview. As a Rush fan of many years, I should probably not admit this, but I don’t have any idea what steampunk is! I guess I’ve been too lazy to look it up and I had hoped this interview would help explain it. Not so much.
So, in order to put this to rest once and for all, I decided to look it up. I knew it had something to do with the design elements that have been incorporated into the group’s equipment and such, but I finally reached the point where I want an explanation of this!
OK, a quick visit to the all-knowing Wikipedia has me up to speed on this whole steampunk thing. I’m fairly sure I got it, but in case you have been as negligent as I was regarding your understanding of it, check it out here since I really don’t think I’m up explaining it any better than Wikipedia did, and they even have pictures!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way and hopefully minimized the impact of my ignorance somewhat, let’s consider what Geddy Lee had to say about the new album, Clockwork Angels.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Clockwork Angels is that it is another concept album, or as they are framing it these days, “a narrative.” Don’t ask me what the difference is because I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’s roughly akin to the difference between album and record. You get the point. Whether or not I do is subject to scrutiny, I suppose.
What’s different about this new concept album (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) is that the group worked hard to ensure that each individual track could stand on its own outside the context of the album in its entirety. This is something that resulted in some occasional frustration on the part of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart which seems understandable given the insistence that each individual song have the ability to be pulled off the album and listened to while still making sense.
Being someone who obviously has a deep love for writing, this may have been a bit of a challenge for Peart since he has authored a few books and is probably more accustomed to having the chapters flow together nicely and not worrying about crafting each one into a story that would hold up outside the confines of the entire book. I have not heard the album but for the two songs they released early, but if I’m going to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, it would be Neil Peart. After all, he’s got a reputation to uphold! Look up sarcasm if you missed my point on that one!
Another interesting new element to this album is improvisation. Rush fans – if they’re anything like me – have great respect for the group’s ability to stay true to their own music. Whether it’s a live show or a TV appearance, when Rush performs one of their songs, what you get is usually exactly what you expect to get. As Lee himself points out, “…we are very much creatures of structure.” He then adds that it may have been something that hindered their records. I’m not so sure, but the new album should help put that argument to bed.
Rush may throw a little improvisation into the mix from time to time but it isn’t all that much compared to how a lot of other bands cut loose when performing live. I never had a problem with that, in fact I always kind of preferred it. I suppose it might be more of a “How the hell are they going to improve on that?” kind of thing for me.
Anyway, it seems they may have broken their own rules a bit with Clockwork Angels and have revealed that they allowed some improvisation to make its way into the creation of the album. They allowed themselves to exercise a little more musical freedom during the writing process and worked themselves into more of a jamming mindset to unleash some of that spontaneity that they feel they have been lacking. It will be fun and interesting to see how this manifests itself when we get a chance to sit down and give the new album a good listen.
Getting back a bit into the whole “steampunk” thing, Lee says they’re sticking with it and going to expand on it. He says that they plan to, “…have fun with that whole kinda machinery and we’re designing rear-screen things and have a fun little movies. Hopefully it can all tie together in some ludicrous way.”
Having viewed my share of Rush DVDs, there’s no question about their willingness to take ludicrous to new levels! There’s no doubt that they are fun-loving guys and although their brand of humor doesn’t always tickle my funny bone, I love their willingness to be silly and poke fun at themselves. And look like they’re having one hell of a good time while they’re at it!
Like the rest of the fans out there, I’m anxious to hear the new album in its entirety. On the other hand, I’d forego listening to the album for a year in exchange for a chance to hang out with those guys for a little while. I don’t say that about every rock star or celebrity, in fact, there are many I’d go out of my way to avoid, but I’m pretty sure an evening hanging with Rush would be intellectually stimulating, educational as hell and just plain fun. A guy can dream, right?
May 18, 2012
Oh no, not again! Those may be the words of some Van Halen fans after learning that the group has abruptly postponed a boatload of summer tour dates. Just weeks after announcing that they had extended their tour by adding 18 new dates, Van Halen fans are left wondering if the new shows and a number of the originally-scheduled shows will ever become a reality or whether the group is done for good.
As we all come to expect under these circumstances, there are rumors circulating that suggest possible reasons for the postponements. The lack of any official word from Van Halen or their spokespeople makes for very fertile ground in the land where rumors are cultivated. There is some speculation that in-fighting has gotten the better of them and that “they hate each other” and are constantly arguing. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth have some history that makes this kind of speculation inevitable.
If the above rumor turns out to be factual, perhaps the group should be nominated for an Emmy Award considering the recent reports from concert venues that describe a group that appears to be getting along wonderfully, displaying more than enough smiling and good will for everyone in attendance. I suppose I should not be jumping to conclusions, but let’s face it, this is the kind of stuff people want to hear about.
Other, less sensational rumors suggest that ticket sales have been a bit disappointing for the group and perhaps even more so for the fans, with the cost of some tickets running as high as $160. Then there are the reports of fans who are disappointed by the lack of energy present in the live show. Like anything else, I’m sure VH has their good nights and bad nights, but either way, these guys aren’t spring chickens any more (with the obvious exception of Eddie’s son Wolfgang) and perhaps they just can’t rock the house like the did in the old days.
With the group’s history, it’s a given that speculation about in-fighting and other things will emerge quickly under these circumstances. When fans find out that a show they were holding tickets for has been postponed, I would expect the that the first question on their mind is “why?”
The band’s web site shows live dates that extend only to June 26th, leaving the fate of 31 dates up in the air. The sooner the band comes out with an official announcement about their change of plans, the better chance they have of shutting down the rumor mill, which has a tendency to churn up nastier and nastier speculation as time passes.
Currently there is no indication on either the band’s official website or their Facebook page that any shows have been postponed. There’s plenty of info to be had regarding the group’s new album, A Different Kind of Truth, which may leave fans wondering just how the truth that’s evident on-stage compares to the truth of what goes on behind the scenes. After all, this isn’t the first time a Van Halen tour has applied the brakes abruptly.