This year’s Riverfest festival in Little Rock, Arkansas, will feature one of the strongest music lineups in years! The headliners are Hank Williams Jr., Jamey Johnson, Cee Lo Green, Chicago, Lee Brice, The Wallflowers, and many more! In past years, Riverfest has had fairly decent lineups, but hasn’t always had the best. A lot of it depends on who’s touring when. Most routing for these bands probably hasn’t worked out well in the past few years. I went to Riverfest in 2009, to see Buddy Guy. That year, Heart also played the festival. The year before, ZZ Top and .38 Special were the big headliners. Shooter Jennings and Merle Haggard were supposed to play the night before, but Merle canceled. Shooter stayed on the bill, and Merle was replaced by Sawyer Brown. Since then, Riverfest has had 2 or 3 great acts a year, that are rare to this area. Last year, they had Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton. This year’s lineup received great responses from Facebook fans, and many retweets on Twitter! Despite Hank Williams Jr.’s publicly known political views and commentary, I expect a huge crowd for him, as the ultimate headliner! We’ll see how it all turns out. It should be a great festival! Now, only if it were in a better area than downtown Little Rock, a very dangerous part of Arkansas, I might consider going again.
A few months ago, Yngwie Malmsteen kind of tested, or leaked, an announcement about a possible, in the works, upcoming, unconfirmed tour. It’s called the “Guitar Gods Festival.” He said that Uli Jon Roth and Gary Hooey would be involved on the tour. This past week, the official announcement was made. Sure enough, Uli Jon Roth and Gary Hooey were on the bill, along with Yngwie, but also, Bumblefoot, known for being a current member of Axl Rose’s Guns N’ Roses, will be on the bill for the tour. I was puzzled by this tour announcement, because, it’s advertised almost as if there’s never been a tour like this before. Of course, the G3 tour, started by Joe Satriani, featured all-instrumental “shredders,” such as Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and even Yngwie Malmsteen, himself. Joe hasn’t done a G3 tour in a year or so, the last of which was held in South America, with no U.S. dates. There was a tour called the “Guitar Heroes Tour” a couple of years ago, that was to feature Leslie West, Michael Schenker, and Uli Jon Roth. It was canceled, following Leslie West’s health trouble, so this seems to be a great way for Uli to tour the U.S. It’s hard for instrumental shredders to tour. There are only select markets that have enough fans and venues to succeed. Hopefully this tour will come a little closer. All of Yngwie’s tours stick to the West coast, and sometimes the East coast. Never in the South, except for occasional Texas House of Blues shows. We’ll see.
It was announced today that Judas Priest would be back with a new album called Redeemer of Souls! The title track was released online today for streaming. Really, it seems that Judas Priest should’ve called this album “Redeemer of Ourselves!” It’s their first album since Nostradamus, which was a two disc concept album, all about the life and prophecies of Nostradamus. It was received with very mixed reviews. Personally, I didn’t care for it. There were a few tracks that I felt were solid rockers, such as “Prophecy.” If the track, released today, is any indicator of the rest of the album, it should be a good rocking album! Hopefully it’s a return to their classic sound! It’s the first album to feature new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, who replaced K.K. Downing, after K.K. announced his retirement from the band, to pursue golf. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this! Only time will tell, and I’m not one for jumping to conclusions, but I think this is a great redemption for Judas Priest!
A few years ago, after a long hiatus from the band, Jack Russell announced that he was leaving Great White. In the same press release, he also announced that he was starting a new version of Jack Russell’s Great White. Shortly after his press release, the rest of Great White made a press release, blaming Jack Russell for everything, and making outrageous accusations of Jack! They also blamed Jack’s medical problems, which they described in great detail, for the problems in the band. The legal battle began afterwards for the name and trademark of Great White. Now, a little over a year after the decision was made in court, Jack Russell is allowed to use the name Jack Russell’s Great White, and the rest of Great White is allowed to continue using that name. Both have been on tour, and honestly, Jack’s version has had more success, it seems like. Most concert promoters have realized that Jack’s voice is the recognizable element, so they book him. Jack’s getting better and better every year!
This is an interview I did with Jack a couple of years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL1xbm2QmTA
Jack Russell’s Great White playing “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” at M3 this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDxGVSmcSL0
Well, it seems to have now become an annual event: The Breakup of Ratt! That’s right. Once again, the band is finished. Stephen Pearcy announced this week that he is leaving the band. The basic story is that Stephen and Bobby have been going at it, mostly through social media it seems, with Bobby Blotzer doing the biggest majority of the slamming, arguing, and complaining. Stephen has been booking many solo shows, to take place this summer. It’s unknown if they band will continue without him, although Stephen did say that a new Ratt record could still possibly come out, with him on vocals. What’s the biggest problem with this? Although Stephen is the voice of the band, and the most recognizable element, will people do the homework to figure out who’s in the band? How will they know that Ratt won’t sound anything like how they remember it? As much as I would like to see all those guys together, Stephen, Warren, and Juan are the sound of that band, and Stephen more than others. Stephen should do alright.
Buddy Guy is probably one of the most important artists to Blues music today. He started out his career by being the second guitar player for Muddy Waters’s band. Afterwards, Buddy began his own career. At first, he had some moderate success, playing on festival shows, such as the Festival Express. That was a train that toured Canada, with some of the biggest stars of the 60’s. Buddy was on that tour, although he was Blues, and everyone else was in the 60’s rock vein. Buddy’s real success came in the 80’s and 90’s, when his most successful solo records were being released, like “Damn Right I Got The Blues,” and “Steppin’ Out Steppin’ In.” Buddy was helped back into the spotlight, thanks to guitar players that he heavily influenced, such as Jonny Lang and Eric Clapton. Buddy’s sound, unlike electric players before him, was, and still is, unmistakeable! He’s one of the only Fender Stratocaster players to get a thick, heavy, sustained sound out of his guitars. He’s in his late 70’s now, and he’s still putting on energetic performances, running around the stage, and even through the crowd, while playing, due to a wireless guitar connection. No disrespect meant towards his peers, but many of them sit down while they play, and they’ve lost some of their style. Buddy hasn’t slowed down at all. He’s preserving the legacy of electric blues. He is one of the most important artists going, and certainly one of the most important for Blues!
Yup. You read that right. The Hillbilly Heavy Metal Honky Tonk Bluesy Rock N’ Roller is about to talk about Rap music. That’s almost an irony. A contradiction. Some weird trick from the English language that’s easily and commonly misused, as I probably have here. But, anyway, let’s get right down to it. Yeah, even though it’s way different from what I play, I do listen to Rap music, but really, just the Old School Rap. To me, that’s the best, heaviest stuff! Granted, I’m not very knowledgeable in modern rap. Rappers like Lil’ Wayne and Jay Z, although he’s not exactly new, are dominating the modern rap scene. Although I have heard Lil’ Wayne, and I do admit, he’s very lyrically creative, and I heard he adlibs his lyrics in the studio, which was even more impressive, but there’s nothing like the classic rap. Groups like Run DMC and Public Enemy are still #1, in my book, but after seeing Flava Flav on Celebrity Wife Swap, I lost a little respect for him. The fact that Run DMC can come back and play to huge crowds now shows how much of a long lasting impression was made by rap! Many musicians try to discredit rap, by saying it’s not music. Granted, there’s rarely singing or much instrumentation in it, but it’s still rhythmical and rhyming, so it counts, in my book.