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Ron Balducci

Posted January, 2012

robbalducciIn my feeble mind, there are three kinds of professional guitarists.  There are the straight, by-the-numbers rock and rollers who play some memorable rock and roll (or its various and sundry cousins).  Then there’s the kind that are “all hat and no cattle” as they say here in Texas.  They’re the kind who, while infinitely more proficient than I’d ever hope to be on the guitar, they’re primarily flash and show without a lot of real expertise involved with their craft.

The third category of professional guitar slingers is where those who are so proficient and so knowledgeable at and of their craft as to be almost otherworldly.  Well known players who I believe fall into this category are guitar blazers like Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Tommy Emmanuel and Steve Lukather esily come to mind.  These are the kind of players who, when heard by other players, provoke feelings of giving up and selling their gear because these guys are in another universe all together as far as their guitar playing abilities are concerned.

While the names I just rattled off are by no means all-inclusive, there is one name that I wish to add to that list: Rob Balducci.

I feel like a musical dunce in that I’ve only recently discovered Balducci’s work.  Rob is on Steve Vai’s label, Favored Nations Entertainment, which is no small accomplishment.  Vai does not suffer “musical fools” and only invites to his label those who command his respect musically.  Listen to Balducci’s last album, Violet Horizon, and you’ll see why Mr. Vai has him on his label.

I recently spoke with Rob about his work, where he’s been and where he’s going.  I have to be honest (as I usually am): I kind of expected a solemn, brooding, hard-to-talk-to musician.  What I experienced was the polar opposite.  Balducci is a warm, friendly and engaging conversationalist with whom I quite enjoyed chatting with.

When Rob called me from his New York digs, I hated to, but I started off by asking the very basic question of who his musical influences were and are.

“It depends on when and where. So, if you’re talking about when I first started out, it goes back to having three older sisters who were into all types of music. That’s what really turned me on to music.  So, right away at an early age I was turned on to the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards. Sympathy For The Devil was one of the first solos that I learned - and, of course, Jimmy Page. It was really that first record, you know what I mean?  Good Times Bad Times, I love the solo in that song! And Communication Breakdown – there’s so many things to like! Oh, and Angus Young! I remember borrowing my sisters Powerage album. All the songs on that record – he’s amazing, know what I mean?

{mprestriction ids="*"}“Then it changed to some other stuff that I liked. As a kid, even before I started playing guitar, I was into Chuck Berry. I remember seeing Chuck Berry doing that duck walk and playing Johnny B. Goode while watching TV with my mother. I remember the first album that I bought – I think I was ten years old – was one of those TV records that you buy. I still have it. It’s like a double record of all these hits. My mother ordered it for me.  So that’s really what turned me on to music and the guitar. Other players, of course, at that time – KISS was kind of big so I was into Ace Frehley.  So, that’s that era. Then you start changing and you start listening to other stuff. I was turned on to Jeff Beck by my sisters.  The Wired record was one of my favorite records.

“I started taking lessons and my instructor turned me on to the Thunder and Lightning record by Thin Lizzy. I heard John Sykes and I started listening to other guitar players in the band like Gary Moore.  So that was my early foundation. Of course, Eddie Van Halen was in there and stuff like that.

“Then, as you move and your ears grow, you start to gravitate towards other stuff. I think that’s the same way now. After all of that, you have the Steve Vai’s and the Joe Satriani’s.  I was always into him but recently in the last couple of years I had some opportunities to do some shows with a guitar player by the name of Richie Kotzen. He started influencing me more around the last couple of years. So, it all depends.”

From a listener’s perspective, when I listen to instrumental music, my feeble mind tends to create it’s own mental/video accompaniment to the music – almost as if it’s part of a movie soundtrack, TV show or commercial.  I asked Rob what he envisioned in his mind as he writes his music.

“What I try and do with my music as far as writing songs – this is how I see it: I see it as my music being a little bit more – even though there’s guitar playing and instrumentals and there might be some crazy stuff, if you’ll notice that the song structures are somewhat like how a vocalist would be singing so it is very melodic. There’s a melody and there’s another section and there’s a solo break. So, when I’m writing I tend to think more in the sense that the guitar is the vocal.  It’s singing but it’s playing the melody.

“What I do is – I really don’t think in the musical context of saying, ‘I’m going to write a song and I want it to be this way or I want it to be in this key signature or I want it to be a crazy, odd time meter” or stuff like that. I tend to throw away all of my musical knowledge as far as – I don’t use musical knowledge to write. I think writing should come from within – from your heart and from some sort of emotion or feeling. That’s really what I go with. I’ll come up with an inspiration first of what I want the song to be about and I’ll try to come up with a title first.  This way it gives me some sort of picture of what the song would be about. And, then, I come up with a melody and a lot of times I’m not even using a guitar. It would be just trying to come up with what it’s sounding like in my brain and humming it and then putting it onto the instrument. So, that’s sort of the process. In the beginning it took awhile. But as you keep doing that kind of thing, it sort of became my process.”

As to whether his music has been used in movies or TV, Balducci says that, “It’s something I really want to get into. I recently got hooked up with a catalog agency that uses stuff for that.  I’m hoping something like that works out.  I just recently hooked up with the Lowry agency and we created a partnership together so that is probably some of the things that David (Lowry) will try and work on, as well. So I don’t think it’s explored enough and I agree with you, I think it would be something that would be really good to do.”

Some artists prefer just recording and releasing music, others prefer performing in front of a live audience and still others get off on doing both.  What are Rob’s preferences?

“I like doing it all, you know what I mean? I really like the recording process and seeing what you write and seeing the result of what it’s going to sound like.  I do love performing. With the way the music industry is, it is getting harder to do but, as much as I can I get out there and perform.”

When I mentioned about the YouTube video I saw of his performance at the Granada Theater here in Dallas, Rob’s reaction was genuinely enthusiastic.

“Oh, yeah, that was great! I would like to come back. To tell you the truth, that was probably one of my favorite places to play – the Granada Theater. We did a night there with Andy Timmons.  I opened up for him and it was really cool. I would love to maybe to try to do something with him again or, if not with him, I would love to get out there. It’s definitely a possibility!”

Because of Balbucci’s reputation as a top shelf guitar talent and the space he shares with other great guitarists at Favored Nations Entertainment, I was curious as to who all he had jammed with and who he hopes to jam with at some time in the future.

“I played with Andy Timmons (check out a video of that jam here). We did a jam together. I did some shows with Richie Kotzen and we ended up jamming together, which was fun. That was in the UK. I did open up for Peter Frampton at one point and I would’ve loved to have jammed with him but I wasn’t able to. So that’s one on my that I would like to jam with. Two of guitar players did a guest spots on this record (Violet Horizon). One of them is Dave Weiner. He and I jammed together. Dave is the second guitar player in Steve Vai’s band and he’s also a solo artist. That was a lot of fun. Me and Dave became really good friends and we try and tour together. I’ve also played with Guthrie Govan (Asia, GPS, and the Young Punx). He did a guest spot on my CD – a new guitar player that’s been out. He’s quite a musician and that was a lot of fun.

“People that I would love to jam with if possible?  I would love to do something, of course, with Eddie Van Halen. I met him one time and I would love to be able to able to jam with him!”  Then, putting his thoughts into concise perspective, he adds, “You know, it really would be all of my guitar players that I like so much. I would love to do something with Jeff Beck. I really like Jeff Beck. I think a really good paring and it hasn’t happened yet - and I’m on Steve’s label – I would love to do an opening spot for Steve and Joe Satriani. So there are a lot of things that I would like to do and to try and do. Whether they happen or not is in the stars, I guess” Rob concludes with a laugh.

I’m always interested to hear what was the first guitar owned by highly talented players like Balducci so I asked him what his was and if he still owned it.

“The first guitar that I played actually used to be my sisters acoustic guitar and I think I still have that. I think it was a Sokovia or something like that. Then, the first electric guitar I ever received was actually bought for me by my godmother and it was a Gibson guitar. It’s a guitar called ‘The Paul’ which is like a tamed down version of a Les Paul. It was made out of walnut wood. It had no crazy finish on it. It was just natural wood, ebony neck and I still have that guitar. I think that they stopped making it so it’s pretty cool.”

Most guitar slingers have quite an arsenal of guitars that they lean on while honing their craft.  I asked Rob how many he owns.  I also was curious if there was what he considered to be the “holy grail” of guitars and does he own it.

“I know guys who have been playin’ like me and they have friggin’ hundreds – 150.  I have about twenty guitars. The first one is that Gibson and, after that, basically, it was Ibanez guitars. I’m fortunate enough to be endorsed by Ibanez Guitars. I think it’s been something like twenty years now. So a lot of my guitars are Ibanez guitars. I have some old vintage ones that they made. They originally made copies of Strats and Les Pauls so I have one of each of those. They basically do a custom guitar for me. It’s not sold in stores but they do a custom model that they do for me and I have a couple of them and that’s really what I use all the time.

“The holy grail of guitars? I think that I like the A Series of those Ibanez guitars. They had one called an ‘RG’ and they actually did a re-issue of them. They’re these yellow and road-flare red – I think they’re called the 550. I would like to own an original one of those which I definitely don’t have and it’s hard to find one that’s not beat to shreds for some reason. And I think just for the sense of the collectability factor, just to have an old Les Paul like a ’59 or something like that but they’re so expensive, it’s ridiculous!”

So, with the new born babe of 2012 still wrapped in swaddling clothes, I asked Balducci what does he have planned for the new year.

“What I have going on right now is, just recently – this past December – I came out with an instructional DVD. That’s through The Rockhouse Method and if you go to my website, RobBalducci.com, there’s some links on there on how you can purchase it. Some of the Guitar Centers carry it and Sam Ash’s. You can pick it up through Amazon and places like that.

“It’s geared towards intermediate to advance players. It’s a two disc set and I’m pretty excited about it. I didn’t want to do an instructional DVD where it’s like, ‘Here’s my little power riff and how fast I can play it’. There’s a lot of those out there. It covers warming up, it covers how you should hold the guitar, how you should hold the pick. So it starts out at that level and it goes up to songwriting and I talk about some of those things we were talking about before about having an inspiration and trying to get that into your music. There are some exercises to do that. I cover vibrato, which I think is important. When I teamed up with Rock House, I said, ‘Listen, I would love to do one but it has to be done a certain way and this is what I want to do’ and they were really excited about it and we worked it out. It’s pretty cool!

“I go in to start recording – I’m in a pre-production phase now – so I go in to start recording some basic tracks the end of January for a new CD, so I’m excited about that. In the mean time, while that’s happening, I’ll still be doing some shows. I’m going to be at NAMM, which is going to be January 19th through the 22nd. There’s a software company called ‘Studio Devil’ and I’ll be at that event, playing at their booth and demoing.  There’s a couple of shows that I just recently started to book on the east coast. One is in Queens on February 17th at Dublin Pub and another one is May 18th on Long Island at a place called Morelli’s. I’m going to be working on some clinics involved around the DVD.  I’m definitely going to be busy and out there. The best place for folks to keep in touch on those things would be to check out my website – you can see the updates, where I’ll be playing and what’s going on.”

Did he say he’s working on a new CD?  I had to ask when he expected it to be out because I definitely what a copy.

“My plan is for later this year. I have five tunes basically done that I’m going to record with the trio that I’ve been playing with for a little bit. In the mean time, I’m writing the second half of the record which I think that I’m going to be doing with other players. It’s the first time that I’ve done that.  It mixes things up and it’s a little interesting. I think it should be pretty cool.”

Many artists have an unspoken dream of producing an album of work that’s different from what they’re known for.  I asked what he would produce if he didn’t have to think about the marketability of an album.

“That’s really what I’m doing now.  I don’t know if you can say that there’s two types of musicians but people look at music in different ways. I see music and guitars as an art form and I’m doing this because I love it. This is what I want to do in the sense that I’m not following a trend. I’m doing instrumental guitar music which is not the way to go if you want to be a millionaire in any way, you know what I mean?  If I was doing it for that, I think that I would have quit a long time ago.

“I’m doing what I want to do now. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to do something else. I wouldn’t mind getting a band together with a vocal project. If the right people come along – you need to surround yourself with good people – people who are positive. It depends. That could be in the future as well but right now this is what I want to do and I’m happy with what I release.”

While Rob can look forward to many more years of living, he’s lived enough life for me to ask him what he hopes his legacy will be after he’s no longer rockin’ and rollin’ on this planet.

“That’s a tough one, eh?  I would say first of all that I would want to be remembered as a good songwriter; someone who was able to translate positive vibes out there with their music and that I was a good person. This business is full of people who are not genuine and I think that I’m a genuine guy and I think that that goes a long way. I don’t think it’s really the ‘nice guy finishes last’ type of thing . . . hopefully!”

I somehow know in my knower that this nice guy by the name of Rob Balducci is not going to finish last. 

As was stated earlier in this piece, you can keep up with Rob and what all is going on with his music by visiting RobBalducci.com.  If, like me, you’re a connoisseur of great guitar work, then order or download the CD’s listed on this page.  If you’re a guitar player who is in the intermediate to advanced range in your abilities, then definitely order a copy of the DVD also shown on this page. 

And, of course, somewhere out there on the violet horizon, you’ll definitely want to catch Rob in the act at one of his clinics or gigs.  That is definitely in my plans.  See you there!

Emily Armstrong

Posted September, 2011

DeadSara1Like many of you, my listening habits often quickly wind up in a rut. I'll listen to the same handful of albums over and over and over again. In doing so, it's easy to forget that one must swim out of that musical vortex and into the rest of the melodic ocean to discover all sorts of great, new music by up and coming artists.

Exactly that happened to me a couple of months ago when I received an advance copy of the debut CD by the hot, new L.A. band, Dead Sara (read the Boomerocity review of it here).  Baby boomers will enjoy the band if for no other reason than the fact that the band brings back memories of the musical energy and excitement that the bands of our youth fostered.

Ever since hearing the disc and catching a few of their video’s on YouTube, I’ve become quite the evangelist for the band.  There’s just something about Dead Sara that keeps the listener coming back for more.  So, when the opportunity presented itself to interview the band’s lead singer, Emily Armstrong, by phone recently, I naturally jumped at the chance.

I know that most of you have never heard of the band so my first question to Emily was one that I know she and the band has had to have been asked a zillion times:  What’s behind the name, Dead Sara?

“It’s really funny. It’s actually from Fleetwood Mac’s Sara – the song, Sara. She says, ‘Said, Sara . . .’. Siouxsie and I, back in the day, we listened to Fleetwood Mac incessantly and we just loved the thought that it said, ‘Dead Sara’, or, sounds like it.  So we were, like, ‘Yeah! Let’s go with that!’  It was the one thing that we could agree on, too.”

There you have it folks:  Unlike Alice Cooper, the name wasn’t inspired by an axe-wielding murderer or from a séance. Nor did the band’s name come from combining the name of a sex symbol with the name of a famous killer, like Marilyn Manson.  The origin of the band’s name is really as simple misunderstanding what the lyrics of a song was saying.

In my review of Dead Sara, I said that I thought I heard a lot of influences like Melissa Etheridge, Joan Jett and Janis Joplin. Since I had the opportunity to find out for sure, I asked Emily yet another question that I’m sure she’s been asked a bajillion times in the band’s new career:  Who were your biggest musical influences?

“Well, it’s pretty much all over the spectrum. As far as singers that I sound like are concerned, there wasn’t that one singer – or even a couple – that I was like, ‘I want to sound like them’. It was more what I liked at the time because I went through a lot of phases growing up. But what really stuck out to me was the 60’s and 70’s, for sure – a lot of those singers such as Stevie Nicks; such as Janis, Melanie Safka, Robert Plant and stuff like that.  There’s a lot during the 90’s, of course, too. Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, say, like the bigger ones that people would know.  There was a lot. Like I said, just whatever I was feeling at the time is what was influencing me."

 As for the other band members, “They’ve been in five bands before, from electronic to all sorts of others.  Siouxsie was into a lot of punk rock. So, it’s kind of all over the spectrum.”{mprestriction ids="*"}

Mick and Keith.  Paul and John. Robert and Jimmy.  Daltry and Townshend.  These legendary, musical couples, as well as others, were paired up partly through the introductions by mutual friends.  Such was the case with the ladies of Dead Sara.

“Siouxsie and I had met through a mutual friend.  We had various line-ups when we were about 16 or 17.  It wasn’t until about two years ago when we met Sean (Friday, drummer) and Chris (Null, bassist) that it just clicked. We had known them for awhile from here in L.A.  The first song that we wrote together was Weatherman.”

Whether it is bands, businesses or other careers, they are often planned with one thing in mind and wind up as something completely different.  I asked Emily what she and Siouxsie envisioned the band being like, if it turned out differently than they envisioned as well as what their goals were then as compared to now.

“At the beginning, it was just all over the place. We didn’t know what we wanted. We were just having fun. As far as vision is concerned and going the way we wanted it to go, it was only about two years ago when we decided, ‘Okay, let’s hone in on this. What do we gotta do?’  Then we found these two (Sean and Chris) and it’s been going perfectly – exactly the way we wanted it to go.”

 “The goals change all the time. Once we achieve them, we just make new ones for the next six months or whatever. So, yeah, it’s been going exactly the way we wanted it to go. We have the bigger ones, too, like selling lots of records, being on the radio, things like that. We want to be a really big band so we’re working towards that and it’s going very smoothly.”

Since reviewing the band’s debut  album a couple of months ago, the buzz has been palpable and the traffic reading the review has represented a large percentage of Boomerocity’s traffic since it posted.  For those of you who haven’t heard it yet, I asked Emily to share how her insight into the album, how it all came together and what she hopes you get from it.

“What I would want them to get from it is something inspiring like I do when I write music – when I’m inspired by something. So, I would definitely want a listener to be inspired to do something. Not necessarily to do music but just feel like they have somebody to relate to, if anything.

“So, how the record happened, to give you a little background, we kind of went in when we just met and just started writing and writing and writing.  Then we talked with our good friend, Noah Shain, the producer, and then things clicked. We started the pre-production then went into a studio in Texas – Sonic Ranch - and cut most of the live album then finished it here in L.A.

“I was scared to do it because it was the first record. I didn’t know what to expect. I had it so hyped up in my head like, ‘Oh! It’s gonna be like this’ after reading so many things as a kid. You read about your favorite bands and how they did it so I really had it worked up in my head. But it was easier than I expected.  The way everything moves is very smooth. I thought, ‘Oh, god, I’m going to be running into a rut here soon!’  You think there’s certain things that you’re going to run into because what people had said to you or what you’ve read before.  I just built it up into my head and I was, like, ‘Wow! It’s actually pretty easy and fun!’”

I never get a straight answer when I ask an artist what their favorite song is on their album so I didn’t bother asking Emily that question. However, I did ask her which song on the album she most closely identified with.

“That definitely changes but, right now, and what’s been the most frequent for me is Weatherman just because it’s the first song that we did together. It’s the one always feels really good live – not that the other ones don’t.  This one’s just like we just let loose.  It’s really fun to play live. It’s our first single, too, and a lot of people are responding to it.”

And how has the response been from the audience and fans been?

“Well, during a show, in between songs, we’ll get a lot of different reactions from different places we play. If we’re opening up for somebody or if we’re headlining a show, it’s always great. People are singing along, that’s what we get more and that always feels amazing! But, afterwards, when we get feedback, it’s ‘it was awesome!’ or ‘you completely rocked it!’ and that’s great. We’re doing our jobs then.”

Dead Sara are already quite the road warriors and will likely be hitting the stage in a town or burg near you.  Since  you’ll definitely want to catch their show, I asked Emily what you might expect when you see them on stage. With a laugh, Emily says, “Just some good rock and roll. A fun, intense live set.  We do start our residency at the Viper Room on September 8th. Then  we start on the 13th with Bush in Montana and work our way back down to L.A. then we finish off our residency at the Viper Room.  Busy month!”

As to what’s on the band’s radar in the foreseeable future, it’s lead sing tells me, “More tourin’.  Nothing confirmed yet. We’re looking for other bands to possibly tour with.”

I challenged Ms. Armstrong to polish off her crystal ball so that she can peer into the future a bit and tell me where she see’s Dead Sara 2  to 5 years from now?

“Definitely established, having toured lots of places; having a few records out.  I’d love at least one of them to have gone platinum or more.  Oh, and headlining our own tours.”

I usually ask this question of the folks that are more closer to my age than hers but I asked it of her anyway:  When your life is over and you step off the tour bus for the final time, what do you hope to have accomplished and how do you want to be remembered?

“Hmmm. I would’ve loved to have made my mark in a really big way in rock and roll history; to have inspired a lot from that – for keeping music alive.”

If what I’ve heard and watched so far is any indication, Emily, Siouxsie, Sean and Chris are well on their way to accomplishing exactly that.

Dead Sara and the band are currently touring with Bush and other great match ups are in the works so watch their tour schedule for those.  Also happening next month is the release of the band’s debut album. You’ll want to snatch it up immediately to see what all the buzz is about.  You can also track the band's march into rock and roll history by visiting www.deadsara.com.

Ringo's All Starr Band 2010

Posted June, 2010

This month will witness the latest tour and incarnation (the 11th, to be exact) of Ringo and His All Starr Band.  This will be one of those special and rare opportunities to see the “lovable Beatle” performing many of the hits from his impressive solo work as well as from the Beatles’ extensive catalog.  Ringo also will be sharing the spotlight with each of All Starr band mates as they sing some of their hits, as well.

Ringo kicked off his first All Starr band back in the summer of 1989.  The band consisted of Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead), the late Rick Danko (The Band), Levon Helm (also of The Band), Dr. John, legendary session drummer, Jim Keltner (who worked on many of the greatest classic rock albums ever recorded), Nils Lofgren (Neil Young, E Street Band), the late Billy Preston and the incomparable Joe Walsh.

Over the next twenty years, other big names such as Burton Cummings, Dave Edmunds, Randy Bachman, the late John Entwistle, Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren, Billy Squier, Greg Lake and Eric Carmen, to name just a few, joined Ringo band of merry men, delighting audiences everywhere.  Who wouldn’t want to see Ringo perform not only the great Beatles tunes but his many great songs from his long solo career? I mean, really!  Who wouldn’t?

The eleventh All Starr Band is made up of another impressive group of some of the best artists in rock and roll history.  The multi-talented Edgar Winter returns for his third tour of duty with Ringo as well as Gary Wright for his second stint.  On their maiden voyage with Ringo are Rick Derringer (Hang On Sloopy, Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Wally Palmar (the Romantics) and Gregg Bissonette (Maynard Ferguson, David Lee Roth, Carlos Santana, Toto).

This tour is, in part, in support of Starr’s 15th solo album entitled Y Not that features ten great new tunes crafted, sung in the signature Ringo Starr style. You can read more on Y Not by clicking here to read the Boomerocity review of the album.

To find out more about the latest All Starr Band tour, I tracked down Rick Derringer and Gary Wright.  I chatted by with Derringer first, as he was in route to a sound check before a show with Pat Travers.  Derringer shares that, “ . . .basically, Ringo’s agent has been a big fan and he tried to do it a couple of years ago but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. This year, they had the slot to fill and I was the perfect guy to do it.”

{mprestriction ids="*"}After breaking my heart by telling me that Dallas isn’t on the tour’s list of stops, I asked Rick what he thought can people expect from a show from the tour?

“Well, they get to hear all the songs that Ringo sang with the Beatles and all of his solo hits. And then, everybody in the band is required to have had at least two hits that they’ve sung. So, you get to hear two songs from Gary Wright and two from Edgar Winter; two from Wally and the Romantics and two from the guy who sang lead from Mr. Mister and two from me! It’s a big show.”

Having watched Derringer perform several times, I can personally tell you that you’re in for a real treat that you’ll not want to miss.

During my recent interview with Gary Wright, I asked him what it meant to him, from a career fulfillment standpoint, to be part of Ringo’s All-Starr Band not just once but twice.

“Let me preface it by saying that I was a huge Beatles fan.  I saw them when they first appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1962 – whenever that was.  I was a huge Beatle fan. I played on all of George Harrison’s solo albums and to have been a close friend of his and I met Ringo through George because he played on George’s first solo album, All Things Must Pass.  So, I’ve known Ringo over the years.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, to get a call two years ago to join him – well, first of all, I was overjoyed. 

“He’s a great drummer – a fantastic drummer. He’s got an incredible feel.  And, he’s a wonderful, wonderful human being! He’s giving; he’s very kind; he’s funny; he’s just a great person to be around.  He treats the musicians really wonderfully. And, it’s a joy!  It’s like touring at its best.  It can’t hardly get any better than that!”

In discussing Ringo’s line-up for this tour, each band member is mentioned with accolades by Gary:  Edgar Winter as a great keyboardist; Rick Derringer and his phenomenal guitar work, Gary goes on by adding, “ . . . Richard Page from Mr. Mister – he’s got great songs like Kyrie, Eléison and Broken Wing. And Wally Palmer from (The Romantics’) Talking In My Sleep and That’s What I Like About You – they’re all great songs.

“The thing about the Ringo show is that it’s hit after hit after hit and the audience loves it, which is good.  It’s like those old doo-wop shows from the 50’s when there’d be ten artists on the bill and each group would come up and sing one, two or three of their big songs and everyone would people would go crazy.  It’s that identity factor that people love to hear their favorite artist.”

Ringo’s All Starr Tour kicks off June 24th in Niagra Falls, Ontario, and concludes at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 7th.  Click here to see if the boys are coming to a city near year.  If they are within a couple of hours driving distance or a good, quick flight from where you live, I would highly encourage you to take this opportunity to catch Ringo and the boys in concert.

While you’re at it, why not pick up or download Y Not?  If you’re waffling about buying it, again, you can read the Boomerocity review of it here.

Sam Andrew

 

 

 

 

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December, 2009

Pearl Aday

Posted June, 2010

During my late teens, one of my favorite songs at the time was Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meat Loaf.  That song seemed to dominate the air waves as it should have.  Like many of you who listened to the songs of our rock idols, I wondered what Meat Loaf was like in “real life”. What did he do in his spare time?  Where did he live and did he have a family?

Fast forward over thirty years to today.  I finally had the privilege of having some of those questions answered during an interview with his lovely and incredibly talented daughter, Pearl Aday.  Pearl, whose biological father was the drummer for Janis Joplin’s band, Full Tilt Boogie, was adopted by Meat Loaf after he married her mom.  In my book, this is the epitome of being a father.  My hat is off to you, Mr. Aday.

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If there’s anything to pre-natal learning, and I do believe there is, then Pearl had her musical Masters by the time she was born.  While Pearl was forming in her mother’s, Leslie, womb, she had to be hearing some of classic rock’s greatest music being recorded or performed back in the day.  Add to that the fact that, after she was born, she was surrounded by great music and the musicians who played it as well as getting used to huge crowds as she took on various roles as part of her dad’s act. She started as a toddler, running out on stage in a gold lame jump suit to bring her father a new scarf after every song.

As Pearl got older, she was a back-up vocalist in her dad’s band for nine years as well as working with Motley Crue, even contributing lyrics to their song, Man of Steel.  As if all of that isn’t enough, she caps it all off by being married to Anthrax guitarist, Scott Ian.

With all of that fire power in her DNA and in her life, it’s no wonder why Pearl’s debut release, Little Immaculate White Fox, has classic rock screaming from every note and syllable. Whether on that CD or in her performances, she exemplifies a naturalness and ease in delivery that gives the most seasoned entertainer a run for their money.

With all of that as a back drop, I asked Pearl if her performance is innately easy as it she makes it seem.

“You know, I’m still learning every time I go up on stage.  I mean, I sang back up for my dad for nine years and also he’s my dad so my entire life I’ve been able to watch him perform.  I really do think he’s – as far as performers go - he’s at the top of the list because he gives it his all every single show no matter what.  One of the things he taught me, actually, and I’ve always agreed with him is, having an audience to perform to and a stage to stand on is a privilege, it’s not a right. The audience is there to see you.  They’ve paid their money and taken their time.  They’ve travelled. They’ve driven, whatever the story is, they’re there to see you and you are an entertainer. You’re a performer.  It’s your job to entertain. It doesn’t matter if it’s five people or five million people in the audience, you always give your all – a thousand percent. That’s what I learned from and I always take that into account every time I step on stage.

“Coming from being in the background – a backup singer to actually moving to the front, it’s a hard job. I don’t think people realize, if you haven’t done it before, what it actually takes to keep energy moving and to be the main focus on stage.  It’s a tough job and it takes a lot from your guts, which it should. People want to see your guts when you’re up on stage. That’s one of the main things that’s so compelling, in my opinion.

“But, like I said, I don’t do it perfectly.  I don’t have it down pat.  Every time I go up on stage, I learn something new. I’m still finding my footing. I think I’m doing a good job when I go up there now. I’ve come far enough to where I trust myself and my own instincts. But, yeah, I think it’s constantly a learning process. Always.  You never stop learning about it.”

Pearl name came from Janis Joplin’s nickname.  I asked Ms. Aday how much of an influence has Janis’ work been on her work even though the icon was already gone before she was born.

With a laugh she says that “It’s funny that you mentioned that I was born after she passed away.  I just had an interviewer ask me if I ever got a chance to see her perform.  NO-O-O! That would’ve been weird. She would’ve been a zombie! Ha! Ha! But, anyway, Janis – of course, I grew up with Janis’ music playing all around.  The album, Pearl, the last one that she recorded, as far as influence, sure, I could sit with the greatest hits album or the Pearl album or the other various live recordings, I know it forward and backward!

“I definitely remember sitting down whether it was with a cassette tape or a vinyl, or later, CD’s, sitting down in front of my stereo, right in front of the speakers, and listening to her over, and over, and over again, studying, trying to hear the vocal gymnastics that she was displaying. I don’t know about you but she was one of a kind. No one before her, no one after her.  She was one of a kind.

“I just remember being marveled, sitting and playing her songs in a loop and being marveled with the stuff that she could do with her vocals.  The beginning of Cry Baby, when she starts it off with ‘Wah-ah-ah!’ (doing a great Janis Joplin wail). It’s like harmonics!  It’s like what’s happening right now?  What are you even doing?!

“So, I grew up unbelievably impressed by her as I’m sure everybody else is, as well. I’ve only met a few people who think her voice is an acquired taste and they haven’t found it yet”, Pearl says, chuckling. “But, you know, she’s undeniable.  So, as far as influence, I don’t know.  I was definitely influenced by her.”

I mentioned to Ms. Aday that it would be worth double the price of admission to see her perform some of Joplin’s hits with Big Brother and the Holding Company and asked her if she does any covers of Janis’ songs in her shows?

She responds very humbly. “I don’t. Not right now.  I don’t know. I would love to but I’m such a purist with her in the sense that I want to hear anybody sing her songs except for her”, she says with a laugh. Continuing on, she adds, “I like them the way she did them.  I think they’re perfect the way she did them.  I don’t think anybody really needs to do them with the exception of, say, Kristofferson’s, Me and Bobby McGee. I think some people have taken a stab at that and done it well.

“Early in my touring life with my dad, he would give me the spotlight in the middle of his show and I used to do Mercedes Benz – just me, a cappella, the way that she did it. That was fun for me. But, as far as doing her songs the way that I know them and the way that I feel that they were meant to be sung, I don’t want to try that because I wouldn’t be able to sing it the way that she did!”

With her debut album out for about a year now, I asked Mrs. Ian what the receptivity of the project has been like.

“So far, so good. I’m getting great reception from everywhere – from all sides. I don’t often do this but I did it once: I went on and searched for reviews and I couldn’t find a bad one, if I do say so myself”, she says with a laugh that betrays surprise. “That’s just the truth! That’s just the truth!  People are just liking it.

“I think that my band did a great job. I think my producer did a great job and I think that to be able to write these songs with – the main bulk of the songs – with Jim Wilson and Marcus Blake from Mother Superior, I’m secure and happy with the lyrics that I’ve written. I think we just couldn’t go wrong with it. It just feels really good – it’s just rock and roll, you know what I mean. It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel!  But I think it’s a genre that is kind of lacking right now. I think that people are wanting their rock and roll and they’re wanting it straight up and they’re not getting it. It’s not really out there, you know what I mean?”

I have a few favorites on your album (Mama, My Heart Isn’t In It, Anything).  Could I get some stories behind a some of the other songs like Lovepyre and Broken White?

“Lovepyre.  Well, actually, I wanted that title to be one word instead of two – like ‘vampire’.  Long story short, I wrote that song about a girl I don’t talk to anymore. She ended our friendship – well, I ended our friendship. She acted like a total jerk and I had just not the day before gone and had a writing session with the guys and I had this music on my recorder – that’s the process I go through. They put down the idea and I plug in the words.  It was like a bar room rockin’ tune.

“We (Pearl and her friend) had our falling out and those words just came to me. I’m telling someone off, you know?  In Lovepyre, I came to the chorus and – a term I always use, like ‘funpyre’, a vampire sucks the blood out of you, someone who is a funpyre is someone who sucks the fun out of a room, you know what I mean? So, she’s a lovepyre.  She sucks the love out of a friendship. That’s just my own made up term but it made sense to me.  It was just me trying to put a little twist on it because ‘pyre’, funeral pyre, death of love, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was just taking some artistic license with that title.”

I knew that her tune, Broken White, was inspired by some art she saw featured in New Yorker Magazine.  I asked Aday to shed some more light on the song.

“That was just a story that I wrote about this painting I saw in the New Yorker, where it made my brain go and what I was thinking. I have a BA in creative writing so fiction, poetry and stuff like that have always been my interest. I looked at this piece of art and that’s what it made me feel. It’s basically this story of this woman who has been attacked. She’s rising up and haunting her attacker. She wins in the end. Her spirit is rising and she’s haunting him from above. She gets the last word.

“I also took some ideas from the book Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I had read that not to long before that song started to get fleshed out.  It’s a story told from the perspective of a 14 year old girl who was raped and killed and she knows who did it. But, of course, she’s dead and she’s trying to help her family with clues to find out who the perpetrator was. With the exception of Mama, that is probably the heaviest subject matter on the album” she concludes with a laugh.

Pearl’s album opens with the blazing Rock Child, which is obviously biographical in nature.  As a child of a rock icon, I asked her what she thought the biggest misconception is of being the child of a rock star.  She answers in a matter-of-fact manner.

“My dad’s always had, and my family’s always had, a really good balance between persona and what goes hand-in-hand with that and the ‘home dad’. Growing up, my dad – of course, he goes on stage and he’s this big, sweaty, screaming, beer can eating monster and he’s screaming his heart out and singing and taking control of arenas full of audiences. Then, he comes home and he’s in his pajamas with his glasses and his baseball cap, playing some fantasy football.

“We were always taught – not specifically taught but shown that there’s difference between the two.  We very much had a home life where my dad coached my softball team from when I was nine years old into high school. He took a losing, Bad News Bears team in my high school and took us to state championships. So he’s really into that sort of dad stuff.

“Christmas was always a huge deal – the trees and the presents. We had to leave cookies. Of course, Santa Claus in our house really wanted Diet Coke and Vienna Fingers!” That story brings a laugh to her voice as she concludes, “Santa apparently loves Diet Coke . . . and so does my dad!  It’s very strange.”

Pearl continues her story: “On the same note, he’s doing five sold out nights at Radio City or five sold out nights at Wembley Arena and we can’t walk outside without being chased down the street. But then we always had the home to come home to so that didn’t exist there too much – aside from people recognizing him in the grocery store or at the movies. We actually went to the Baseball Hall of Fame once on vacation and we literally got chased out of there. My dad was holding our hands and we were running with this mob behind us.  That was during (the time of the album) Bat Out of Hell 2.

“There’s a funny story from when I was little. I grew up in Connecticut and New York mainly and we always had an apartment in Manhattan.  We would go across the street to Central Park and he would push me on the swings or I would watch him play softball – he was the pitcher.  One day, we went out and we were going to have Daddy/Pearl day and he was going to push me on the swings.  He just kept getting approached for autographs and I’m on the swing going, ‘Daddy, push me!’

“When the day was done, we went back home and my mom asked ‘How was the day’.  I think I was five years old, maybe. They say it’s one of my favorite lines where I went, ‘Meat Loaf! Meat Loaf! Meat Loaf! It’s ALWAYS Meat Loaf!’ And I stomped off and ran to my room.

“So, I don’t know. I have a lot of friends,  not a lot but a good number of friends whose dads and moms are performers as well and some of them – their parents took the craziness from the stage and brought it home and it was always like that, 24/7.

“I’m not going to say that we were the Cleavers because we’re not. We screamed at each other just like any other normal family. But, we didn’t have the debauchery and the backstage antics and all that crap. It never came home with us, really.”

Meat Loaf was born and raised in the Dallas area.  His mother was the positive influence in his home.  His father was an abusive alcoholic.  I asked Ms. Aday how, from her perspective, that positively affected how he raised you and your sister?

“I don’t know. I know that my dad’s dad was a real violent alcoholic. I don’t know. I don’t know. I can tell you that my dad was real big on respect. When your dad is talking to you, you don’t roll your eyes and you don’t walk away. You don’t walk away!  You DO NOT WALK AWAY!”, she laughingly emphasizes. “You don’t roll your eyes! He taught us about respect and about chores. I think that he did with what tools he had because he didn’t get to learn a lot of that good stuff from his upbringing.  My mom, as well. They did the best with us with what they had. I think I turned out pretty well!”, again concluding with her infectious laugh.

Meat Loaf has a new 2 disc CD set out entitled Hang Cool Teddy Bear, replete with lots of great live cuts to enjoy.  I asked Pearl if she contributed to the album.

“I did sing on a fun track for dad’s album. I don’t think it’s actually on the album.  I don’t know. There was a track called Bone Yard that I went in and I went to (legendary producer) Rob Cavallo’s house and recorded some vocals for it. I don’t know if it’s going to be a special B side for iTunes. I don’t know where it went or what’s happening with it but it was a lot of fun. It’s always great to be asked to be a part of Dad’s projects. I’ve done it a few times and it’s always a lot of fun.”

What future plans does Pearl have?

“As far as future plans, we’re just really working to try and get out there and stay out there playing live. We don’t have any ‘money loaf’ from the record company at all. So every bit of touring, everything that we do comes right out of my pocket or Scott’s pocket. It ain’t cheap! We have to forget about flights, the van and gas and food and pay each band member. And, oh yeah, there’s hotel rooms on off days. To get out to everywhere is virtually impossible without losing your shirt and being left out on the street when you’re done.

“We’ve gotten offers for a few summer festivals which are quickly coming up but we’re trying to work it out and make it make sense for us, economically. But that’s the goal, to keep moving forward; to keep playing live when we can and doing everything that we can do to just let people know that this even exist.  It’s tough.  There are a lot of people out there to get the word to!”

Well, the Boomerocity readers have now gotten the word on this new, incredible talent.  Read about the Boomerocity review of her CD here.  You can also keep up with the latest happenings in Pearl’s career by checking out www.cheersloverock.com .