Category Archives: Interviews: House Of Blues – N. Myrtle Beach, SC

Interviews with artists appearing at House Of Blues in N. Myrtle Beach, SC

Get A Dosage Of Collective Soul At HOB May 13

Collective Soul (L-R): Will Turpin, Ed Roland, Dean Roland, Joel Kosche (not pictured, Johnny Rabb).

By Brian M. Howle

As a music writer, nothing burns my butt more than seeing some fluff piece or hit piece, where the personal agenda is so blatant that even a blind man could see it.

Well, if you’re a writer with the same outlook – prepare to be burned – but, in a good way.

Because ever so often, there are bands that come along who are just good in every known interpretation of the word, in the application of it to all aspects of their being. As musicians, as performers, as professionals, and most importantly, as people.
So if you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure to get your tickets early for this one, as Collective Soul returns to the stage at House Of Blues Myrtle Beach at 4640 Highway 17 S.,  North Myrtle Beach, S.C., on May 13.

Hailing from Stockbridge, Georgia, founder and creative tour de force Ed Roland (lead vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar) fronts a unique group of guys who have found that magic elixir of charisma, talent, and damn good music that will stand on its own regardless of your place in the space-time continuum. Along with brother Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), Joel Kosche (lead guitar, backing vocals), Will Turpin (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Johnny Rabb (percussion), he leads a well-tuned musical machine that cranks out massive amounts of positive energy and killer tunes.

One thing about being at a Collective Soul concert that I really enjoy, is hearing the inevitable comment of “Man, I forgot they did this one, too!” over and over again during the course of the show.  They aren’t just prolific, kids; their content is chock full of quality tunes, with thoughtful, insightful lyrics and some of the bestest killer hooks to ever grace a master tape.

From the breakout hits “Shine” and “Breathe”, to the MTV monster “The World I Know,” “December,” “Gel,” “Better Now,” “Hollywood,” “You” and “Understanding;” their body of work is impressive in anyone’s book.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Beatin’ Crowes Feet: An Interview With The Black Crowes’ Steve Gorman

Steve Gorman
Steve Gorman (Courtesy Nashville Public Television)

By Brian M. Howle

In advance of their upcoming Sept. 14 show at House Of Blues in N. Myrtle Beach, I had the good fortune to catch up with The Black Crowes’ drummer, Steve Gorman, on Sept. 2 prior to their show that night in Boise, Idaho. With a reputation preceding him as being one of the real joys to interview (or just to shoot the breeze with if you know him personally), Steve spoke to me from his hotel room and was more than graciously accommodating as we covered a wide range of topics in an effort to encapsulate the 20-year fun ride that we all know as The Black Crowes.

Howle: So, tell me – how’s the tour going, buddy?
Gorman: The tour’s great, we’re having a great time. In a blanket statement, the fact that we know we’re taking a definite break; that we’re wrapping up almost a 20-year “experiment” at not planning anything (both laugh) … I mean, we haven’t had group discussions about this fact, but it’s pretty apparent to me that everybody feels … it just makes it easy to see how much we love the band and how much we care about each other and how much we love playing together, ‘cause every show has just been a great deal of fun. And we’re all very aware that there’s an expiration date right now … it takes away the pressure; there’s always been a feeling of “God, it never ends!”; even when the tours end we’re looking at the next thing we’re gonna do. And knowing that we’re not going to do something next year has made it very special for us, and I think it comes across in the shows … we’re pickin’ up on that from a lot of the fans, too, and it’s been it a very nice tour so far. We’re two and a half weeks in; God knows, the whole thing could explode at any minute (both laugh), but so far, so good.

Howle: How long is this tour?
Gorman: It’s runs until, um, let’s see, Dec. 19 is the last show right now, but it could conceivably run into next year; but whenever this tour ends, the band is shutting it down for a few years for sure.

Howle: Well, that was the next thing I was going to ask, because I wasn’t sure how long the hiatus was going to be …
Gorman: Well, we don’t know either; but, knowing all of us .. everyone puts everything into what they’re doing, and usually that’s The Black Crowes; and I know everybody goes away and gets busy with other things. It’s just that every day, much less every month, it’s harder and harder to get everyone turned back around to the same page, so I imagine it’s going to be quite a while.

Howle: And I think that’s understandable. For those who don’t know much about you, how did you get started in music?
Gorman: I started in music listening to records in my basement, pretty much.  I didn’t even have a drum kit until I was 21. I wanted to; in my head I was drumming my whole life. I was probably in 8th or 9th grade the first time I saw a drum kit at a guy’s house that I could sit down behind. And the first time I sat down I started playing it; I’m not saying I was any good or anything, but I knew what to do. And I had some stuff I had to get out of my system immediately … I always wanted to play to see if I could play this or that. But I was a jock, you know, and for a lot of different reasons that never happened at the time.
So when I got to college, I met a couple of guys who were drummers, and I would sit on their kits; and not even hours, for ten minutes I’d play and say, “O.K., cool!” … and every time I would play the itch would get worse, but I never really had a way to scratch it. So I dropped out of school my senior year with a buddy who had wanted to start a band; he lived in Atlanta at the time, so I moved to Atlanta and started a band with him. And his roommate was Chris Robinson; so pretty much the day I moved there in 1987 I met Chris, and within a couple of months, he and his brother (Rich) had been playing and they said, hey, play with us for awhile; so I was playing in two bands and then ultimately started playing only with them, full time.

Howle: Well, when the band made their national TV debut on “Late Night with David Letterman” in ‘92, there were only three members who played onstage – what was up with that?
Gorman: Actually, it was 1990 … but at the time, for whatever reason, a band’s rhythm section wasn’t allowed to play. You had to use the house band (Paul Shaffer, Sid McGinnis, Will Lee and Anton Fig). So it was Rich, Chris and Jeff Cease, our other original guitarist, and the house band backed them up. By the time we came around to Letterman again, it was our third album, and it had changed by then, and the whole band played. We did “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday Night Live” a few times with the whole band in the meantime, but with Letterman, for whatever reason, they didn’t do it that way. I’m sure it was just logistics, you know, it was just easier not to bring in a whole band.

Howle: Well, that answers a nagging personal question I’ve had for years, so thanks for that! Now, the band’s internal conflicts (most notably between brothers Chris and Rich Robinson) and eventual personnel changes are well-documented. What’s it like for a drummer, when you have that sort of unspoken connection with the bassist within the rhythm section .. what was that like for you?
Gorman: You know, it’s funny, because when I moved to Atlanta in 1987, I started that other band with my other friend, and the bass player was Sven Pipien. So the first time I was ever playing on my own kit, in my own band, he was my bass player. Well, when I went on with Chris and Rich, Sven stayed in that band. So when Johnny Colt quit TBC in 1997, we were all like, you know, “Who do we call?” … and I said, “Let’s call Sven,” and everyone was like, well, yeah, of course, if he’s still around … he was the first and only bassist we called to take Johnny’s place. And there’s something about those early days, I mean, it was only three or four months and the very first time I was playing in a band; but even then – although we didn’t know that much about what we were doing – at least we felt like we really clicked together. So ten years later when we needed a bass player, there was really no one else that I was interested in playing with, so that was the easiest call we’ve ever made.

Howle: Well, that was certainly a convenient little deal for you!
Gorman: Yeah, it just so happened that the guy I tried to play music with back in ‘87 had a friend who was a spectacular bassist .. and looking back, that was a very good thing to have happened.

Howle: Hey, everything happens for a reason, and in this case it really worked out well for everyone involved. Now, in this tour, the split format – one set acoustic, one set electric – have y’all done this before?
Gorman: We’ve never done it like this before. We’ve done a handful of shows that were completely acoustic; and we’ve done shows where in the middle of a set we’ve done four or five songs acoustically. But we’ve never done an entire set acoustically – this is the first time.

Howle: Do you feel like it makes for a better show?
Gorman: I think so. I mean, I like playing it a lot better – it’s much more interesting, and it keeps everyone very focused. Some of the shows we’ve been doing lately, they’re going beyond three hours; and by the end of the show, everyone’s not so much physically drained but mentally … you know, everyone’s very focused, and the acoustic shows – at a certain level – aren’t as taxing, you know, physically for everybody; but the focus to play quietly, well, you’ve got to really be paying attention.

Howle: Well, shows that have used this format before at our House Of Blues are always just a joy to attend, because it’s such an intimate venue to begin with …
Gorman: Well, not all of our shows have the two sets … for some of the venues, it’s logistically difficult and at those some are just one really long electric set although we may not hit three hours, but it’s announced well in advance if that’s how the show will be.

Howle: Fair enough. Now, on the new CD, “Croweology;” was this re-mixes of original old recordings or completely new recordings, and if so, how long did it take you guys to finish?
Gorman: Oh, it’s a completely new recording. You know, this being the 20-year anniversary of our first album, we wanted to do something to mark that; we didn’t want to do a ‘Greatest Hits’ album and we didn’t want to re-release the first album because we’re not the most nostalgic guys in the world – we’ve never looked back lovingly at our past. We’re always super focused on today and then tomorrow and that’s about it, we’ve never been master planners … you know, the 20-year thing; as much as that’s a rarity – and as a rarity for bands that are still making new music, certainly – it’s kinda unbelievable for us when I look at it, because we never did, we don’t plan out – we never had the big picture sort of mapped out, like, “Well, if we do this, that will lead to this, and then we’ll get to here and then to here” … we essentially operate the way we did back in 1987, which is as a day-to-day band. And that’s just how we are – for better or for worse – and yeah, certain things would have probably have been easier for us if we’d thought more big picture all the time but we’re just not that way. So to hit 20 years for us is pretty astounding, actually … and it was the first time we all looked at each other and thought, “Hey, you know, we did all right here, this is pretty cool!” So, keeping with being the kind of band we are, to re-release old recordings is just not that interesting to us, and I think with having a couple of new guys in the band over the last four years, we wanted to do something not to celebrate the first album being 20-years old, but that the band is 20-years old in the eyes of people. And in trying to commemorate that, we thought, well, why not take 20 of the old tunes and re-record them … we’ve been doing some acoustic shows and we like that template, so why not go in and record these songs for the most part acoustically, and come up with different versions and see if we come up with something we like. That was the plan, to do something that covers 20 years, because some of those old songs, you know, we don’t play them necessarily the way they used to be played. And the way the band is right now, we love it – we love The Black Crowes as it’s been the last four years … it’s been, for me, the easiest and happiest time to be in this band, and I think the most cohesive band we’ve ever had. And we wanted to sort of put our stamp on those old songs, so the recording of this album was – subconsciously – was as much for us as it was for our fans.  You know, like this is who we are now and these are still our songs and here’s what they sound like at this given time.

And so, with all that said, to answer your second question, it didn’t take that long to record. We went in right off the tour last year, in December. We were in a good place, we were playing well and the vibe was great, and we felt very productive. All told, the basic tracks we knocked out in a week or so, and then we did overdubs and vocals and all the things you do in mixing to finish up and that was a two-month process; but the initial burst of the whole band in there putting the tracks down was a week or two.

Howle: Does it ever overwhelm you when you look back – like I do – and say, “Wow – 20 years – it’s just a blur!”? And I can’t believe it’s been 20 years – but as you said, the band now is like when you started out.  And that’s what really got everyone’s attention back then; the energy, the freshness, the love of what you were doing that came across on vinyl, and especially at the live shows … that’s what really came across, instead of, “Hey, look at us, we’re the cool rock band and you should worship us,” like so many bands end up doing.
Gorman: Well, if you look at us in 1989 when we made our first album, you know, nothing was like us … rock radio and MTV didn’t have anything like that going on. We were never trying to be big; we were trying to be good. And then we got big, and it was kind of bewildering and confusing, actually. Because, you remember, everyone in the south back then … REM was the blueprint for what you would want: put out a record that people like, the next one sells a little bit more, the next one even more, and you build it slowly and you have control over everything. At least, it seemed that way from the outside. And then we came out and our first record just went crazy, and it set things off in a way that we’d never seen. But we were also the guys, too, who always said, “If a door opens, run thru it!”

Howle: And then you usually have the record company saying, “OK, give us another one just like that!?
Gorman: Well, the truth is, we didn’t have that problem because we were signed to a small label; it had distribution through Geffen but we weren’t signed to them, we were signed to Def American. And when we made our first record, we were such an afterthought to them – they had mostly metal bands. Well, when we finished our first album it was mastered and in the can before they even offered us a contract. So we were hardly on their priority list – and it was when the people at Geffen heard it, and they said, “OK, we can take this to radio.” And I can still remember having that conversation on the phone – we all looked at each other and said, “Radio? Really?” I mean, we were just a club band trying to get six weeks of a tour down, and then maybe we could make another record. I mean, we listened to Shake Your Money Maker and loved it, but we couldn’t believe they thought everyone else would.

Howle: Well, I always fall back on the old saying, “Good music is good music and it will always stand up.” And that has to be extremely fulfilling to you guys, to know that not just for these 20 years, but in 120 years from now The Black Crowes are going to be a standard for bands from which to be measured. So you can put that little feather in your hat and be proud of it.
Gorman: Well, you know, that’s true … it’s funny, it’s called a record because it is a permanent record of something.  And I worked at a used/new record store in 1990, and the day Shake Your Money Maker came out I was still there. So there I was putting our record in the bin, and it was cool, because there was Bad Company, Bad English, Beatles, Black Sabbath … OK, I’m lookin’ at all the “B’s” going, “Holy shit, we’ve got a record right along with these guys!” That was the most overwhelmed and stunned I’d ever been in my life, to realize that the record store that I worked in – that I thought was the coolest place I’d ever been in my life – now had my record in it.

Howle: What was it like to actually hear one of your songs on the radio for very first time?
Gorman: Oh, well, it was cool, because we knew it was coming; it wasn’t a surprise or anything. Because Rich went to the radio station in Atlanta, after Geffen went to them first and said, “Hey, here’s a local band you should play,” so he went to the big 96 Rock mega-station that, truthfully, none of us ever listened to because we were far more into listening to the local Georgia Tech station and stuff like that. And we had just gotten a manager, and they said they’d play it and Rich wanted to do an interview. So we wanted to hear it in a car, you know, and the rest of us stayed in the van and listened to him talk and then they played it, and the other four of us just looked at each other and went, “Holy shit, that’s cool!”

Howle: Man, that’s just so great, because people who aren’t in bands will never fully understand what that’s like for a musician! So, anything else you would like to say to your fans here before the big show at HOB on Sept. 14?
Gorman: Well, I hope folks will check out Croweology. I mean, most people will hear that it’s an acoustic record and they probably think it’s moody or slow or introspective.  But it’s actually a pretty thumpin’ rock record – it’s a big drum record. And you know, there’s a lot of great acoustic rock like Led Zeppelin 3, and Rod Stewart’s old records and the Stones have made a lot of great acoustic stuff, not to mention a lot of more recent things. It’s still very much a rock record; it’s not like the MTV “Unplugged” early ‘90s thing where everybody came in and, you know, stuck their nuts in a jar and tried to get “sensitive.” (Both laugh)

Howle: Well, I think that’s a perfect note to end on, Steve. You guys have a great week and we’ll all be looking forward to seeing you here!
Gorman: Sure thing, Brian. We look forward to seeing you, too. Thanks!

So there you have it, kids. If you’ve never seen The Black Crowes in person, this may be not only the perfect time to catch them in full stride and in their best incarnation, but quite possibly the last time for some time to come. But whether it’s your first or 20th Black Crowes show, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be one of the best shows you will ever have the pleasure to catch. Get your tickets now at House of Blues in N. Myrtle Beach, for the Sept. 14 show.

And later on, you can repeatedly tell your foolish friends who didn’t attend all about it, and take joy in knowing each time that you do, they’ll be – forgive me – jealous again.
This review also appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, Sept. 9, 2010.


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HOB Interview: Black Stone Cherry – Give These Boys A Cigar

BSC Group 2

Young Guns Possess Old Souls – And Bring Back Real Rock

By Brian M. Howle

Well, some say real rock – you know, with great melody, ball-busting riffs and rich, textured vocals that blend into sonic audio nirvana – is dead. Fortunately, there’s a new band that will kick that crap right out of your system. Black Stone Cherry anchored a strong support bill – along with Finger Eleven – for Hinder on February 17, 2007.

This band has a deep musical lineage, including a founding member of the Kentucky Headhunters as father of their drummer. Each member brings boundless talent and energy to the table, and they scale all of the usual rock obstacles in a manner that belies their collective young ages.

Earning the nickname, the “southern Wolfmother” by Spin Magazine, Black Stone Cherry brings intensity to their music and live show that is absent from their American rock contemporaries.

In the dry county of Edmonton, Ky., there was little to do growing up and the band members relied on music as an escape. Music was handed down from family members to the band. Drummer John Fred Young’s father, Richard, is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Kentucky Headhunters, while bassist, Jon Lawhon’s great uncle was a jazz drummer. Singer, Chris Robertson received his first guitar from his grandfather, who built instruments by hand, and learned his first chords from his dad. And it wasn’t just his family encouraging him to play. Whenever Chris got into trouble at school, he would end up in the principal’s office, jamming with the principal himself.

Incorporating bluegrass, gospel, and blues, Black Stone Cherry absorbed the sounds of the regional music being heard in their homes and and folded it into a southern rock style of their own.
Black Stone Cherry released their self-titled first album for Roadrunner Records (July 2006) that debuted at #90 on the Top 200 Albums Chart.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with BSC’s guitarist, Ben Wells, last week, and he took a few minutes to answer some questions for their fans here in Myrtle Beach.

Howle: So, tell me .. how did you guys get together, and how did you come up with the name, “Black Stone Cherry”?
Wells: Well, you know, all the guys grew up in the same town, and I’m from the next county over, about 10 minutes away. We got together one day and talked about forming a band, and then we started practicing the next day.
As for the name, well, we wanted something that would stand out and not sound so lame like some of the bands that are out there now. At the time, some of the guys were smoking cigars, and the brand name was Black Stone, and they came in flavors, like cherry, and we sorta said, ‘hey, that sounds good’, and it stuck.

Howle: Tell me about your practice house. What’s the story on that place ?
Wells: It’s just a little ol’ farmhouse with three rooms, covered in rock ‘n’ roll posters and all that. It belongs to John Fred’s dad, and it’s just an awesome place to practice. We’d get out of school and practice every single day, and during the summers that’s all we did, was practice.

Howle: Well, all that practice and hard work paid off, because you really have a great, honed, signature sound.
Wells: Oh, well, thank you, man. We didn’t want to just be another band with the same sound, you know. So we just kept at it and got our sound, and picked up stuff from all over the place – musically – and we put all of our ideas together.

Howle: What’s the learning curve been like for a new band on tour, like you guys opening for Hinder?
Wells: Oh, it’s been incredible, man. We started touring back in May. Our first tour was with Saliva, and that lasted a month and a half; and after that we toured with Buckcherry, and man, that was really incredible …

Howle: Oh, seriously, that had to be great!
Wells: Oh yeah, and then we toured with Staind – really nice people, we went camping with those guys on our days off – and then we met Hinder. It’s fun because going into this tour we already know all these guys.

Howle: What’s the best part about touring?

Wells: I guess getting to play with different artists all the time, and being on stage and watching people sing our songs with us. Every night we go out to the merchandise table and hang out with people and give them something back, because our fans are very special, man.

Howle: On the flip side, what’s the worst part about touring?
Wells: Hmmm … well … I guess being stuck on the road without having your mom to take care of you! (laughs)

Howle: Yeah, we can all relate to that, too!? So when is your next CD coming out?
Wells: Oh, we’ve got a ton of stuff we wrote growing up, you know. And on the road, it’s harder to write, but we’re always working on stuff. And the good part is when we do go back in the studio after this tour, it’s in our hometown, so nobody drifts off somewhere doing their own thing like a lot of other bands. We’ll get right back to it.

Howle: What’s in the future for Black Stone Cherry, and what do you want to tell folks in Myrtle Beach?
Wells: Well, we just want to keep making great music and playing hard every night … and thanks to everyone who comes out, and hopefully, the next time we come here, we’ll be the headliner!

Thanks, Ben. I really, really feel bad for those who missed getting a ticket to this show. Make a note to yourself to look for Black Stone Cherry when they come back – but you’d better get your tickets early, then, too … they probably will be the headline act next time around!
The previous interview was originally published February 15, 2007.


HOB Interview: Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey In Your Living Room


By Brian M. Howle

Much like the searing memory when JFK was shot, or when Neil & Buzz landed on the moon, those of us – who were a certain age in the mid-to-late ‘70s – remember exactly where they were the first time they heard Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. It wasn’t just a hit album; it permeated the pop culture’s consciousness and burned a deep, long track on the ol’ internal hard drive. My personal file consists of tearing down Hwy. 378 between Sumter and Columbia with a friend in his VW Scirroco at about 105 mph, the tape deck pounding out “Go Your Own Way” as the S.C. Highway Patrol tagged along behind us just for contrary fun.

And now, one of the driving forces behind that band, Lindsey Buckingham, brings his much-anticipated Under The Skin tour to House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, March 13, 2007.

I had the good fortune to catch up with Lindsey via telephone , and here’s what he had to tell me:

Howle: So, tell me Lindsey, how is the tour shaping up so far?
Buckingham: Well, you know, it’s going great! I’ve been waiting to do this for awhile, and it’s very gratifying … I’m having a ball.

Howle: How long has it been since you’ve done a tour like this, as a solo act?
Buckingham: Well, I’ve only done one tour like this, and that was supporting Out Of The Cradle, and that was, I believe, ‘93 … and it was really short, you know, in like six or eight weeks we were done. I’ve given myself a pretty large window for this one. We’re starting out March 7, and then most of April, and then we’re gonna be out June and July, and I think that’ll be it. (Palpable mischievous overtone begins) …And then we’ll put out another solo album, and we’ll do the whole thing again.

Howle: (Same tone) Well, that’s what we want to keep happening! So, what’s your writing process like? Do you sit down and approach it businesslike, or does it come to you “on the fly”?
Buckingham: Oh, well, you can’t really control that much. I have to say, I haven’t written anything in a while. I had intentions to put a solo album out for a few years, and a couple or so times that got shelved. And then some of that material got to the Fleetwood Mac album, and then it finally got a home and I felt like, unstopped as you might say, and after we came off the road I started writing like crazy again. There’s different ways of writing .. I mean, if you’re in a band, you bring it in and pitch it to everyone and the group finds their parts. If you’re writing alone, it’s sorta like painting, you might say, because you’re playing most of the stuff yourself … and then the writing and recording process tend to mesh together a little more.

Howle: Do you ever get into the studio, when you hear something and then go in that direction; or does someone suggest something to you; or do you pretty much set in your head when you go in there what you’re going to do?
Buckingham: Well, you’ve got to keep an open mind to whatever. I mean, it’s gonna be a process where all the elements bring their influence to bear on what your preconceptions may have been. If you’re working with a band, people are going to play things and it’s going to take on a certain life which has its own thing that you have to be open to. The difference is, that process tends to be more conscious and a little more political, and when you’re working alone, it is like painting … you’re slapping colors on the canvas, and you’re more meditative. You don’t even have to go in with a complete song, you can have a notion for what you think you might want and at some point, the work will lead you in the direction you need to go. When you’re working alone, you tend to go a little more on the experimental side, I guess.

Howle: Okay … this is from one guitarist to another: Where did you get that acoustic/electric guitar that you’ve had for so long – the one you tend to play the most? And how did you learn your finger-picking style?
Buckingham: Ahhh … well, that guitar you’re speaking of was made by Rick Turner from up in Santa Cruz, California. Rick was around in the early days of Fleetwood Mac, and he was making bass guitars for John McVie. Now, I had a problem when I joined Fleetwood Mac, because I had been playing a Fender Telecaster, which was well suited for the style that I had. But Mac had a sound that pre-existed before I joined … a fat sound, with fat drums, and Christine’s keyboards, and everything was pretty much on the “tubby” side. But the Telecaster just didn’t fit into that, and I ended up playing a Gibson Les Paul for a while, and I wasn’t too happy with that because it’s not the best guitar for someone who has a more orchestral-finger-picking style like me. So I asked Rick, ‘Can you build me a guitar that has the properties of cleanliness that a Telecaster has, but with a fatter sound – you know, lean and percussive?’ And that’s what he came up with, and that’s the guitar that I’ve used onstage ever since .. it’s served me very well.

Howle: Yeah, and it’s such a beautiful sounding instrument, and it suits your playing style so well ..

Buckingham: Yeah, it’s one of those ‘happy accidents’ that just happened. As far as my style of playing, there’s really nothing too unique about it. When I started playing, I never had lessons … I learned out of a chord book and by listening to my Warner Brothers rock ‘n’ roll records. When the first wave of rock hit back in the day, I was playing folk music, and a lot of people were using the basic Merle Travis 3-finger picking style. It started with that, and then I listened to some classical guitar, and added the third finger and just sorta took it from there. I can’t analyze it, I can’t be too objective about it …

Howle: It’s just so natural for you?
Buckingham: Yeah, that’s pretty much it!

Howle: Is there anyone out there you’d like to work with at some point?
Buckingham: Hmmm … well, there’s always someone out there, but; no, not any one person, I don’t think.

Howle: OK … what’s the material like on this new album?
Buckingham: Basically, even though it’s been ten years since I’ve put out a solo album, I’ve gotten married and had children for the first time, so you get a different perspective not only on the present, but on the past 25 years, so it’s answered some questions for me. So I was interested in doing something kind of intimate. There are certain songs that I have been doing six or seven years that started off as ensemble pieces on record, that have made their way on stage as single guitar and voice. The impact with audiences was so obvious to me, I thought, what would it be like with someone sitting in your living room. There’s no drums, no real bass; there’s a very intimate feel to it.

Howle: And what else is in your future? Is Fleetwood Mac a done deal, or what’s going on with that?
Buckingham: (That tone again) Well, Fleetwood Mac is never a done deal! (Both laugh) That would be nice, at some point. My plan right now is to tour to support Under The Skin, and then I’ll go finish up the second solo album, and have that out 1st quarter of 2008, and then do this all over again. I’m giving myself a large window of time to do this – two albums in a row – and then when we’re done with all of that, I think that Fleetwood Mac will be hitting the road once again.

Howle: Well, whatever incarnation you choose, I think your fans will be out there for you, looking forward to seeing you no matter what. So get on out there and just have a good time, and thank you so much for your time … Everyone in Myrtle Beach is looking forward to seeing you.
Buckingham: Oh, it’s been my pleasure, Brian … we’re looking forward to it, too.
This article was originally published in the February 28 – March 15, 2007 issue of Alternatives NewsMagazine in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Aftershow: The Review
Lindsey Buckingham wails
Lindsey Buckingham wails on a lead of “Go Your Own Way” at House Of Blues. (Photo by Brian M. Howle)

By Brian M. Howle

Rating: ¶¶¶¶¶ 5 Lighters Up
There were probably some folks who thought about attending the Lindsey Buckingham concert at the North Myrtle Beach House Of Blues on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, and then somehow talked themselves out of it for a littany of foolish reasons.

If you did, now’s the time to kick yourself in the butt – repeatedly.

Out on tour to support his latest solo release, Under the Skin, Buckingham showed up loaded for bear. And as a result, the large crowd in attendance was treated to one of the greatest shows to ever grace the HOB music hall’s storied stage.

Lindsey opened up the show by himself with several great tunes, “Not Too Late,” the impish “Trouble” and “Never Going Back.” His formidable band – Neale Heywood (guitars/vocals), Brett Puggle (guitars/ keyboards/vocals) and Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (percussion/vocals) – backed him up with a constantly changing array of guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion and sequenced rhythm tracks that created luscious, thick walls of sonic nirvana.

To appease those who may only know of the man through Fleetwood Mac, “Second Hand News” drew thunderous applause. Attired in leather jacket, black T and jeans, Buckingham has a smattering of gray in his hair, but the talent and ebullient, infectious enthusiasm endures, making him the consumate performer. Following with “Castaway Dreams,” the cynical “Red Rover,” “It Was You,” and “Big Love,” with sound reverberating thru the venue, as strong, deep vocals were immersed in chorused effect to compliment Lindsey’s rich, aural stylings.

The popular “Go Insane” was next, followed by the new CD’s title track, “Under the Skin,” as three acoustics rained down an etheral jaunt into self-discovery. Austere but with a full-stage setup, “World Turning” featured a hand-triggered percussion solo, with sequenced vocals. “So Afraid” slowed down the pace and featured killer dual guitar leads.

“Know I’m Not Wrong” was next, and if you thought four guys couldn’t reproduce the huge marching band sound of “Tusk,” well, think again. This was like spending a couple of hours in a studio that serves refreshing beverages to a couple of thousand friends, offering up only the very best
takes. The crowd finally exploded with glee as the opening riffs of “Go Your Own Way” echoed through the hall. The encores were the delightful “Holiday Road” (from the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation), “Turn It On,” “Show You How” and “Shut It Down.”

Many thanks to Lindsey and the guys for a great show, and special thanks to Nikki Herceg of Warner Brothers Records Publicity for her much-appreciated assistance.

Live Performace Rating Legend:
¶¶¶¶¶ 5 Lighters Up – Dude, Ya had to be there; Killer set
¶¶¶¶ 4 Lighters Up – Great show, you don’t leave feeling there was more they could have done
¶¶¶ 3 Lighters Up – Not necessarily bad; not necessarily good; had its moments and I didn’t feel ripped off
¶¶ 2 Lighters Up – Someone’s got an addiction problem or needs way more practice, but hey, the beer was cold
¶ 1 Lighter Up – I laughed; I cried; I want my money back, bitch

This article was originally published in the March 29 – April 12, 2007 issue of Alternatives NewsMagazine in Myrtle Beach, S.C.


HOB Interview – Ed Roland: A Uniquely Collective Soul

Ed Roland
Ed Roland (Photo by Ben Rose/ ©2004)

By Brian M. Howle

Stockbridge, Georgia’s Collective Soul is in the midst of switching PR agencies, as they await the fall release of their new CD. The new agency was most gracious in accommodating Alternatives with a telephone interview of the group’s founder, songwriter and guitarist, Ed Roland, prior to their July 22, 2004 show at the House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.

Howle: How is your summer going? What are you up to in preparation for the upcoming tour?
Roland: Well, it’s kind of hard to hear you … I’m at Sea World (Orlando), and Jimmy Buffet is blaring in the background! ….

Howle: Okay, I’ll give you time to find a quiet spot …
Roland: There, that’s better … Well, I’m doing a sort of hybrid of a week of shows and vacationing with my little boy.

Howle: Well, that’s what’s really important when it comes down to it, huh?
Roland: Oh yes, it is, most definitely.

Howle: So, have you started the new tour yet?
Roland: Well, these are more like … this isn’t really a tour; we’ve just finished recording our new CD (Youth), and we start mixing it next week in LA. In between that and this, we decided to get out and do a few shows. But we really won’t kick the tour off until the record comes out, and that won’t be until the fall.

Howle: What’s your writing process? Are you a disciplined writer, or do the tunes just sorta come out of your head at will?
Roland: I’m not disciplined, that’s for sure. I can’t wake up, have a cup of coffee, and then put pen to paper by 9 a.m.; that’s definitely not me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t write in the morning – my life, it fits around wherever I am, so wherever it happens, it happens. I really don’t know the secret … if I truly knew that, I would have done it a long time ago. (Laughs) I’ll just keep going like this, and probably do it that way for the rest of my life. A lot of times it’s just me goofing off. During warm-ups between shows, I’ll be sitting in the back of the bus, warming up – I don’t have a regimented warm-up, I just have my guitar and I’ll start making things up as I go. And that’s how a lot of songs came out, over the years, because I have to write on the road so much.

Howle: So does it refine down into a collaboration with the band, or do you have finite ideas of how you want the parts to go?
Roland: Well, I’ve been writing longer than anybody in the band, so they sorta look to me for the writing. We work together on the songs, I think there’s one song on the new CD that I co-wrote with the producer, Dexter Green, who’s on a couple of songs. But for the most part, they look to me to write. And I present it to them, and it’s not always like, “Oh yeah, that’s great, Ed!” Sometimes it’s like, “Hey man, you need to come back in here with something else!(Laughs) But that’s good, because it’s the way it should be. They’re proud of what we do.

Howle: How do you guys think “Dosage” (their previous release) turned out?
Roland: Dosage? Hey, I think it’s the best one we’ve done. Really, I’m very proud of that one.

Howle: Alright, here’s where we delve into that Barbara Walterseque question, sort of like “If you could be a tree?”. If you were reincarnated as a show venue (auditorium, amphitheater, etc.), which one would you most want to be – based on the experiences you’ve had playing there, or as a fan attending a show? I mean, is there any particular, favorite one, or one where there’s the best ambiance for the crowd, or the sound?
Roland: Wow … Tough question. … Wow … I can’t even remember the names of the venues, much less a favorite one. (Both laugh) Plus, I’m still trying to walk around a find a place where Jimmy Buffet isn’t blaring in my ear – man, they’ve got him playing everywhere! Um, what’s the one … Oh, I can’t think of the name, the one in San Francisco …I love that venue, it’s a great venue. And for all those bands that were there in the ‘60s … [Tom] Petty did a whole string of shows there about three or four years ago. It’s where all that underground music started …

Howle: The Filmore?
Roland: Oh, the Filmore, the Filmore! That’s it! Yeah, it’s a great sized venue, and it’s just a great vibe every time we go there. I love that!

Howle: Well, there just seem to be some places that have that vibe, that palpable vibe, and you can feel it.
Roland: Yeah, you can feel the history. I guess that’s what makes it, you know? You can be in any room, and if the people have the energy, that’s great and all. But in that place, you walk in and go “Wow, man!”, and look at all the posters on the wall, and it’s a pretty impressive place.

Howle: I know what you mean. So, what’s in the future for you and Collective Soul?
Roland: Just look for our new CD that’s coming out in the fall, entitled Youth. And we’re really excited; we had more time to record this one than any other, so we feel like we did it justice, having that time off to do it. And then we’ll be back on turn by then.

Howle: Alright, and you enjoy your stay with the family, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing Collective Soul here in Myrtle Beach.
Roland: Thank you, Brian, and you enjoy your summer, also.

There is one characteristic about Ed that is inescapable. His demeanor is that of the most positive, energetic and happy types of people you would ever want to meet. The kind of feel-good vibe that leaves you feeling better than before this person spoke to you. And anyone who has every attended a Collective Soul concert knows what I’m talking about. Ed is the consummate frontman, a blend of charisma, charm, extreme talent, unbridled energy and passionate performances. Discover the diverse musical styles of Collective Soul at, and look for their new release, Youth, in stores this fall.
The previous article appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, July 29, 2004.


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HOB Interview – Bassist Billy Sheehan Appearing With Fretboard Wizards Vai, Weiner & Sardinas At HOB March 18, 2005

Billy SheehanBy Brian M. Howle

Revolutionary bass player Billy Sheehan is releasing his second solo album, Cosmic Troubadour, through Favored Nations in February and will be holding down the groove for his longtime band-mate and now label President Steve Vai on March 18, 2005 in N. Myrtle Beach, SC at House of Blues. Joining Sheehan and Vai onstage will be guitar/keyboard virtuoso Tony MacAlpine, fellow Favored Nations artist David Weiner, and drummer Jeremy Colson. Eric Sardinas will open the show, showcasing his signature dobro/slide/blues/rock/fusion style that will simply blow you away.

Produced by Pat Regan, Cosmic Troubadour again sees Sheehan handling multi-instrumental duties and writing all of the material, as he did on his 2001 debut Compression (Favored Nations). The tracks cross a multitude of genres while still remaining true to his hard rock roots. Beginning with the prog-rock syncopation of “Toss It To The Flame,” to the pulsating bass line of the instrumental “The Suspense Is Killing Me” to the closing King Crimsonesque polyrhythm of “A Million Tears Ago,” Sheehan is able to juxtapose elements of funk and blues with a foundation in metal.

Sheehan was voted the “Best Rock Bass Player” 5 times in Guitar Player magazine’s Readers Poll, and has also had his rock n roll legacy cemented, literally, on the Hollywood Rockwalk at Guitar Center in 1999.

I had the good fortune to speak with Billy Sheehan about his career and the upcoming HOB show last weekend via telephone, as he granted Alternatives an interview to promote the show.

Howle: So, how’s the current tour going for you guys?
Sheehan: Well, it’s going great, actually. We’re having a really good time, and the shows have been just been fantastic so far.

Howle:: OK, go back to the beginning for me. What was the catalyst for your involvement in music, and who influenced you at the start?
Sheehan: Oh, man, that’s easy … I saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and I saw all those girls just going absolutely insane over the lads, you know (laughs) … and I was shy around girls, and I knew I loved music, so it all just made perfect sense to me!

Howle: Hey, seeing and hearing those boys on the Sullivan show is what got me into bands, too!
Sheehan: Hey, they seemed to have that kind of impact on guys at the time (laughs).

Howle:: What’s your writing style? Do you write from a lead line or a bass line perspective?
Sheehan: Well, both, actually … but it starts from a main line of melody, and then works from there. There are some songs, of course, that evolve from bass riffs that you play around with. Those might be bass-lined, but most of it is from normal writing, and then a bass line works itself into the song.

Howle: What do you feel has been the greatest innovation in music since you began – say, your favorite gear, or toy, that you use in recording and playing?
Sheehan: Well, kids now have the ability to record at home unlike anything we ever dreamed about. I mean, what would cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars just a few years back – multi-track recorders, special audio effects and the like – you can now have all that on a home computer. It’s really leveled the playing field, and I think that’s a great thing; it’s really been a revolution. I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of results from it yet, but I think that’s coming.

Howle: Hey, I’ve always maintained that if I could have had this technology back when I was a kid, I’d rule the world now! To be constrained only by the limits of one’s imagination? My head would have exploded!
Sheehan: Oh, it’s the perfect thing for musicans who know what they’re doing, but even for those who are just starting out; having a studio in a box for what was the equivalent of several million dollars just twenty years ago. I think we’re in a great time for music’s evolution and change. I think the pendulum’s swung back the other way now, and it’s a very positive time for music.

Howle: Any new artists of interest that you’ve encountered or heard lately? Anyone out there catch your ear?
Sheehan: Well, with our touring schedule, it’s sometimes hard to catch a lot of new stuff. But I do have time to catch something on the radio or download some I-tunes now and then. Some of the bands I enjoy are, let’s see – As I Lay Dying, My Chemical Romance – they have some interesting stuff. As far as my own library, I’ve been attempting to get everything on CD. My collection is an eclectic mix of stuff, but it’s all the great music that had an affect on me throughout the course of my life. I thought it would be a hundred CDs or so; right now I’m at about 700 and looking at probably another 500 (both laugh) … but everything in my collection is something that had a personal affect on me.

Howle: So, what’s on the immediate horizon for you? What’s the feedback like for your latest CD, “Cosmic Troubadour?”
Sheehan: It’s been amazing. I’ve gotten some great e-mails from all over the world. It’s been out in Europe, and in Japan a little be longer – but people are diggin’ it, and that’s great to hear, because I worked really hard on this record. I always try to do my best – I always try to push the envelope, and out-do myself. And I never take the path of least resistance (both laugh again) … I always want to do more than what my capabilities are, and people have responded to it in a positive way, and I’m very, very pleased with that. And so far, right out of the gate, the shows on this tour are fantastic, and the crowds have been great. I’m very lucky, very thankful, and very happy about it.

Howle: Well, just so you know, Myrtle Beach has a knowledgable little rock culture that’s looking forward to seeing you guys onstage.
Sheehan: Oh, I have a couple of musician friends in Myrtle Beach, and they’ve told me it’s quite the place for music, so I’m looking forward to coming there and playing for you guys. It will be very, very cool.

There you have it, kids. For an incredible night of guitar (and bass) virtuosos – who will, individually and collectively, simply amaze you – be sure and catch the amazingly talented Steve Vai and his buddies – Sheehan, MacAlpine, Weiner & Colson – at House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on March 18, 2005. And make sure to get there early, because the opening act – Eric Sardinas – just may be the best thing you’ve never seen. Believe me, as Billy said – it will be very, very cool.
The previous article appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, March 10, 2005.


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HOB Interview – Johnny Winter: The Definitive Texas Bluesman

Johnny Winter
By Brian M. Howle

The working theory has always been: the blues was the American black man’s initial contribution to an original musical style, an impetus that precluded rock ‘n’ roll. No one would dispute it, mainly because you can’t fight facts – and the truth. And while many white men have sought the Holy Grail of bluesdom acceptance, only a select few are admitted to the “Legends in Their Time” blues club. The dean of this group is, without question, Johnny Winter.

Born in Beaumont, Texas on Feb. 23, 1944, Johnny Winter had learned to play clarinet, ukulele and guitar by age 5. He formed his first band, Johnny & The Jammers in 1959 at age 15, along with 12-year-old brother Edgar on keyboards. His first records were two original songs, recorded by Dart Records in 1960, and as his legend spread, he would sit in with his heroes – Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland and B.B. King – whenever they came to town. The true measure of his ability came in 1962, when B.B. King was playing a Beaumont club called The Raven. Folks were asking B.B. to allow young Johnny to play. So B.B. asked him for his union card (which he had), and after continuous requests, finally capitulated and called Winter up on stage. Johnny played his song, got a standing ovation, and then B.B. took back his guitar!

Brought to national prominence by a 1968 Rolling Stone article about blues artists on the Texas scene, Johnny became the object of a heated bidding war by various recording labels. In 1969, Columbia Records won out, and his self-titled Johnny Winter was released to rave reviews and massive sales. In the 35 years that have followed, he has recorded over 17 albums of his own music, and has performed on and/or produced another nine for other artists.

Johnny’s latest release is I’m a Bluesman, on Virgin Records, and is his first new CD in eight years. The band on the CD is his road-tested touring band, consisting of ace harmonica man James Montgomery, bassist Scott Spray, drummer Wayne June and guitarist Paul Nelson. The CD features guest appearances by such friends as keyboardist Reese Wynans (from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s celebrated backing group Double Trouble) and guitarist Mike Welch. A question of finding the time and the right material, plus a long recuperation from hip surgery, I’m a Bluesman contains 13 tracks. From three tunes by his friend, Paul Nelson; to songs by blues men Hop Wilson and Lazy Lester, who inspired Johnny during his early days in Texas; to his own compositions “Sweet Little Baby” (a slide drenched song he wrote during a tour stop in Central Europe’s picturesque Prague); the electrifying “Lone Wolf” (the album’s first single); and the finale of “Let’s Start Over Again,” composed with harmonica player James Montgomery. Pulse! reviewer Ted Drozdowski notes: “Winter is living the blues cliché that music players improve with age.”

In preparation for his appearance at House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, SC on July 20, I had the tremendously good fortune to speak with Johnny via telephone earlier this week.

Howle: Well, Mr. Winter, I must admit – I’m a musician first and a writer second, and right now I’m in a dual-world nirvana! It’s an honor to speak with you.
Winter: Ahhhhhh … well, thank you very much.

Howle: So, what’s the basis for the new CD, “I’m A Bluesman”? What’s on it?
Winter: Well, some really good blues.

Howle: Alright, I guess that’s a classic example of an understatement! How did you go about picking the material for this record?
Winter: Oh, we had all kinds of material. We had to go through it all, and decide what was good, and what was bad. The songs I picked were the ones I was going to sing, so they were the ones I was in tune with.

Howle: And what kind of gear are you using these days – guitar, amps, etc.?
Winter: I’ve got a Lazer guitar, and a Gibson Firebird that I use for slide work. I use a Music Man 4-10 amp.

Howle:: How did you hook up with harmonica player, James Montgomery?
Winter: Well, we just called him up and asked him if he’d be interested – and he was real interested! Oh yeah, I’ve loved working with James.

Howle: And how has the musical landscape changed over the course of your career? What do you see new that is coming up?
Winter: Hey, the blues … it comes and goes. I mean, it will hit it big for a time, and then it gets where it seems like no one is listening to it. You just have to stick with it.

Howle: Is there anyone out there who has caught your ear, any young artist you like?
Winter: Well, Derek Trucks is really good.

Howle: And finally, is there any message you’d like to extend to your fans here?
Winter: Well, I don’t have much to say, really … just please buy the CD and come see us at House Of Blues.

Ah, if only our politicians were as succinct and to the point. Johnny is a man of few words when describing himself, but his guitar and his music speak volumes when he and his band perform.

For anyone who loves the blues, or anyone who wants to find out what the blues is really all about – come see Johnny Winter at the House Of Blues on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 at 8:30 p.m. Your extra bonus for this show is opening act, the D.B. Bryant Band from Sumter, S.C. A regional favorite, no one enjoys performing for an audience more than D.B., who can hold his own with just about any blues guitarist. Whenever he picks up his natural finish Strat, grabs a Bud bottle and starts playing slide, that smile never stops. For tickets or information, call (843) 272-3000 or visit the website:
The previous article originally appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, July 15, 2004.

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