Written By Christy Lee

The world desperately needs musicians, artists, poets, writers, painters, film makers, photographers, sculptures, ect.

Without these artistic souls who have the ability to express the beauty they see, feel and hear our existence would be considerably bleak. Kind of like watching an old black and white silent film. Its cool and artsy to an extent but we live in a world thats vivid, beautiful, intense, scary, loving and cruel. Its not just black and white, its many different shades.

Artists open themselves up to the whole world in a daring vulnerability and share their pain, happiness, love and all types of experiences through their art.

They have the ability to expose ugly truths that no one really wants to see. They share intimate experiences, heartache, happiness and great despair. All of their memories in a dazzling and unique display in such a personal way.

The whole world is invited inside an individual psyche to share what each person has experienced and everyones perception is a remarkable journey thats one of a kind.

A song can have an unparalleled ability to resonate with each of us on a very personal level which goes to show all humans share the same experiences at one time or another.

Music is a universal language that has always disseminated with me. When I hear a great song It has the power to transcend. It can take me to another time. Music has the power to evoke emotion.

Music is the life blood that fuels me and fills me up.

In conclusion I would not want to live in a world without music or any other form of art. To me that would be no kind of life worth living.

This is dedicated to all the artists of the world and with special thanks to the incredible members of our Vinyl Lair team, Joe Evin, Braddon S. Williams, Winder Marin, Corie McGuigan and Brian Auer with whom none of this would be possible.

Music = Life

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “ The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 11/2/2019, Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago hosted a superb triple bill show featuring John 5 And The Creatures, Jared James Nichols, and Reverend Jack. The Invasion Tour 2019 was packed with amazing performances and featured one big time surprise guest artist.

First things first…Reggie’s Rock Club is a really small, intimate and nicely set up place to witness live music, complete with top notch sound and lights. The visibility was excellent and contributed to the entire crowd being treated to that wonderful feeling of energy exchanged between performers and audience.

Reverend Jack started the night with an absolutely KILLER set of original bluesy Southern hard rock. These guys have so much potential to really break big. They are young, have great songs and energized stage presence, but most of all they have this singer named Eric Harmon, and he has one of the best set of pure rock vocal pipes I have heard in years. I knew before the first song was over that this guy has a special gift, and the fact that the lead guitarist and bassist add strong harmony vocal support just adds to the magic.

Near the end of their set, they played a cover of Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band and made it a streamlined muscular slab of modern rock, complete with 3 part harmony a capella vocal intro…Bravo, guys! I expect them to do big things for a long time to come.

Next up was Jared James Nichols and his fiery blues based hard rock. Performing as a power trio, Nichols and company wasted no time in keeping the momentum going with tight playing and Nichols’ passionate vocals. His voice was a pleasant surprise for me, because I had only heard his guitar work prior to this show. I follow him on Instagram and knew he was a blazing lead guitar player, but his voice fit perfectly with his larger than life soloing. Nichols is a tall guy with a great head of hair that brings to mind the lion’s mane of Robert Plant in Zeppelin’s heyday, and between the hair and the animated faces he makes when he is soloing makes him super entertaining to watch.

At the midpoint of his set, Nichols brought out a young man named Peter to play a song and it was a beautiful thing to see the joy radiating from Peter’s face. He proved to be a pretty good player, too, trading leads with Jared James and receiving a thunderous ovation from the appreciative crowd. This simple gesture of kindness, coupled with his obvious talents gained Jared James Nichols a big fan (me), or possibly a whole room of them.

John 5 And The Creatures finished the night with a jaw dropping display of musical muscle, navigating through a dizzying myriad of styles including metal, country, bluegrass, funk, and even a little jazz.

John 5’s playing is breathtaking, full of precision, flash, and passion…and always emanating the man’s obvious love of the guitar featuring lots of Halloween themed stage props and a properly sinister light show.

The insanely tight trio kept the pace moving at a breakneck pace. Midway through their show John spoke to us in several humorous song introductions and proved himself to be the humble and likeable person that could give Dave Grohl a run for his money in the Nicest Guy In Rock Music Category.

To our delight, Charle Benante, the supernaturally gifted drummer from Anthrax was at the show and joined the guys on stage for a crusher of an improvised jam session.

John 5 delivered a fun filled medley of classic song intros featuring songs by Rush, Van Halen, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Kiss, Megadeth, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, The Police, PanterA, and even The Knack (remember My Sharona? lol).

The band came out for an encore, and apparently had run out of songs, resorting to having to do one they hadn’t rehearsed (of course they nailed it!). I love shows like this one, with new discoveries and new venues.

I first saw John 5 back in 1999 when he was with Marilyn Manson, and have seen him many times with Rob Zombie, but it was incredibly satisfying to see him stretching his wings and demonstrating his full potential as a guitarist and band leader. I will definitely be back for more of all three of these bands if I get the chance.

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

UFO Band Circa 1970

On this date in history, 10/24/2019, I finally got to see UFO again! It had been 41 years since I saw the venerable English hard rock stalwarts open for Rush back in 1978, at the old Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis.

This time around, they played a fantastic show at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN. Opening the show was Last In Line, featuring songs from the late Ronnie James Dio, as well as originals from the band’s 2 albums.

Last In Line is comprised of Vinnie Appice on drums, Phil Soussan on bass, Vivian Campbell on guitar, and Andrew Freeman on vocals.

I was impressed with the songs that they composed together, and blown away by the Dio songs, particularly Holy Diver, We Rock, Rainbow In The Dark, and the song the band got their name from, The Last In Line. One minor criticism; I felt that Freeman spent too much time getting the audience to sing the songs, especially considering the fact that the guy has a really strong voice that does ample justice to the legacy of the great Ronnie James Dio.

All three of the musicians delivered outstanding contributions; Campbell’s lead guitar work was blazing, Appice’s drum sound was huge and his playing was right in the pocket, and Soussan sang some nice backing vocals in addition to his solid bass guitar style. All in all, I was thrilled to have such a great opening band for UFO’s final tour.

As I mentioned before, it has been a long time since my 16 year old self saw UFO from the 10th row at what was only my 9th concert ever, and I was curious to see if they still had that magic I remembered so fondly. It took mere seconds to confirm that they did indeed retain that signature sound that made me an instant fan upon release of their magnificent live album, Strangers In The Night. Over the course of their set on this most satisfying night of music, UFO served up song after song of powerful riffs, tantalizing melodic hooks, singalong choruses that get stuck in the listener’s head for days, absolutely glorious guitar solos, and the charming presence and still fantastic voice (at 71 years old) of Mr. Phil Mogg, who has fronted the band since its formation in 1968. Pretty much all of my favorite songs were on display…Too Hot To Handle, Cherry, Hot ‘n Ready, Mother Mary, Only You Can Rock Me, and Rock Bottom (complete with Vinnie Moore’s display of guitar wizardry). UFO returned for an encore of Doctor, Doctor and Shoot Shoot and wished us a Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas, never making a big deal of this being their final tour, but for me and many others it is definitely a major event.

As I told my friend on the way out, “They just don’t make bands like that anymore!” Thanks for the music UFO…you were great when I was 16, and you’re still amazing to me at 57. Respect!

On This Date in History

Rolling Stones Circa 1964

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

With a trippy, playful sound, this song wasn’t typical of The Rolling Stones, but it endured as a fan favorite. It is a rare pure love song by The Stones, whose songs about women tended to be much more libidinous.

The distinctive string section was arranged by John Paul Jones, who was doing session work two years before he joined Led Zeppelin.

This was one of the first songs The Stones produced without manager Andrew Loog Oldham. They wanted to get rid of him, so they angered him away by going against his wishes in many aspects of Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Apple used this in 1999 commercials for their colorful iMac computers. Over the next few years, the company would change the dynamics of the music industry with the introduction of iTunes and the iPod. Nicky Hopkins played piano on this song. Hopkins, along with Ian Stewart and Billy Preston, played on Stones albums from Between The Buttons in 1967 until Black And Blue in 1976. Preston usually played on the more gospel-sounding songs where an organ was required; Stewart played boogie-woogie on the fast songs, and Hopkins played on the ballads.

Psychedelic Lunch

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 10/12/2019, I saw a trio of bands for the first time at a venue I had never visited before. Jinjer, The Browning, and Sumo Cyco performed at Riverfront Live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Riverfront Live was pretty impressive, with great sound, lights, and overall visibility. It had a friendly atmosphere and provided a high level of intimacy between bands and patrons.

Sumo Cyco kicked things off with a high energy attack full of movement and punk/metal riffs. Led by the dynamic Skye “Sever” Sweetnam. The Canadian band utilized their limited stage space and set time to the fullest extent, opting to get the crowd participating early. Sweetnam went into the crowd several times and at one point got everyone in the pit area to get down on the floor and wait for her cue as the band vamped away on a mosh inducing riff. When she gave them the sign, the eager fans knew what to do and the singer was suddenly back on stage as the circle pit swirled in front of her.

On a critical level I felt that their guitar player had a tinny tone to his amp, but that may not have been his fault. The opening acts are sometimes prone to not getting the full use of the PA. I also got the impression that their stage moves were a little contrived at times, as if they had practiced hard to look spontaneous. At least they were constantly moving…the effort paid off as their crowd response testified.

Next up were The Browning, from Kansas City, Missouri. I had to do a little research on them to see what musical style they were described as playing. They are listed on Wikipedia as Metalcore, Electronicore, Deathcore, and Crunkcore. That’s a lot of cores, but I must admit I hated their sound within the first 20 seconds they were on stage. The EDM stuff just didn’t seem to fit with the metal stuff, and then there was the super annoying visual aspect of the spinning guitar player. I have to hand it to the guy; he had stellar equilibrium without a doubt. But his playing was monotonous and tedious. If he practiced his instrument as much as he practiced his stage moves, perhaps the band’s music would be more interesting. I found the singer’s constant hype attack pretty pointless, too. The crowd was into it, though, and they had some great pit action going.

I’ve been to enough shows to know that when an audience is in the mood they will mosh to Justin Bieber (just kidding…or am I?) so crowd response is not always synonymous with the quality of the music.

Speaking of quality music, Jinjer saved the night with an electrifying, outstanding display of talent, confidence, and inspired song craft. Jinjer hails from Donetsk, Ukraine, and features a blend of many different styles, making their music both progressive and unpredictable. Front woman Tatiana Shmailyuk possesses a set of seemingly indestructible vocal chords, and uses them to alternately sing beautiful melodies and switch to demonic gutturals in nearly the same breath. Jinjer’s musicians (guitarist, bassist, and drummer) all provide enormous amounts of dexterity on their respective instruments, weaving emotional landscapes that change in subtle and sometimes jarring combinations to suit Tatiana’s flights of vocal fancy.

From the opening blast of Teacher, Teacher to the final chords of Cloud Factory, Jinjer had the place bouncing.

They played a song called On The Top for the first time live and from the sounds of the response, it will become a regular fixture on their play list. Several other songs that really impressed me were Judgement (And Punishment), I Speak Astronomy, Retrospection, and Outlander. Jinjer returned for an encore, playing Pisces and Captain Clock, leaving the stage to a huge and well deserved ovation. Like the time I recently saw Avatar for the first time, I left this show feeling like I had just witnessed a band on the verge of blowing wide open.

Jinjer is poised on the brink of some huge success…mark my words!

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/20/2019, Willie Nelson brought his Outlaw Music Festival to Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN for a diverse night of musical magic.

Nelson has used the Outlaw Music Festival format for the last couple of years, bringing a package of artists on tour that fluctuates from city to city. On the night of our show, the lineup included Katie Pruitt, Jamestown Revival, Allison Krauss, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, and Willie Nelson And The Family.

By the time I arrived at the venue, Katie Pruitt had already finished her set, and I listened to only a small portion of the Jamestown Revival’s performance, which was pleasant sounding old fashioned country music.

Allison Krauss continued the laid back and stripped down approach during her time on stage. Her band all sounded fine, but Krauss herself sang like an angel; a really glorious voice that is undeniable. I make no claims to being any kind of expert on this more purified country music, and Krauss only performed one song that I recognized, “I’ll Fly Away” from the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but I recognize quality in any style of music and I have to say that Willie Nelson had nothing but high quality acts on this tour.

I was thrilled that Indiana got the one tour date featuring Robert Plant, as it made our show even more special and unique, and because Plant fronted my favorite band of all time, the legendary Led Zeppelin.

Plant and his band (the aptly named Sensational Space Shifters) kicked off their set with Zeppelin’s What Is And What Should Never Be, but they tweaked the arrangement to make it more country influenced, and it was a spectacular effect. This rootsy gumbo approach found most of the songs crossing all sorts of genre boarders, including rock, blues, cajun, jazz, electronica, and of course, country.

Several other classics from the Zeppelin catalogue, including Black Dog, The Battle Of Evermore, and Gallow’s Pole, all were transformed into fascinating new shapes, and Plant’s vocals were simply incredible. Like a baseball pitcher who no longer has a reliable fastball, but has developed a wicked change-up and a deadly curveball, Plant has transformed his vocal style to match his age. The high notes are still within reach (as he dramatically proved conclusively on several key moments), but Plant is a cagey veteran who knows when to strike hard and when to remain subtle. Adding to the majestic vocals were his charming anecdotes and insights into the influence that country music had on his musical taste while growing up in Wales. The capacity crowd ate it all up and gave Plant and his band several thunderous ovations.

Willie Nelson is a national treasure, and so is his guitar, Trigger. This was my first time to witness these legends, and I was in awe of the man’s vitality at the venerable age of 86. Nelson’s singing voice literally sounds like it hasn’t changed or aged since the 1970’s…and that wonderful tone that Trigger produces when Willie plays it is magical and makes me smile just remembering how great it was to experience. I was thrilled that Willie paid tribute to some of his peers, fellow legends like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams during his set. All the iconic songs were played; On The Road Again, Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die, Georgia On My Mind, and the Family played excellently throughout.

The shows at Deer Creek are supposed to end at 11:00 pm, but Willie played until 11:30, because although he is old, Willie Nelson is still a badass! In conclusion, I was thrilled to be at this show.

It was the first concert I’ve ever attended where there were not one, but two vendors selling cowboy hats, and for less than $30 I heard an angel (Krauss), a golden god (Plant), and a national treasure (Nelson)…not to mention witnessed the most legendary guitar outside of B.B. King’s Lucille. Thanks, Willie!

On This Date in History

There is absolutely no way that when Suaka drummer John Mollusk took teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s recent UN speech and turned it into a death metal song that he knew how popular the track would become. But the thing has truly taken on a life of its own, going viral not just in metal circles, but in the “real world,” too (i.e. friends who don’t care about metal have asked me about it). Why, Thunberg herself gave it the thumbs up!

Swedish teenager and climate change activist Greta Thunberg has become a divisive figure in, of all places, the metal scene. Days after her furious speech to the United Nations, which led Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale to call her “our modern day Joan of Arc”, one musician decided to set her speech to death metal — a move that Greta supported with good humor, even as droves of psychos used it to call her a crisis actor. Now, not only is the death metal version of Greta’s speech available for purchase as a digital single, but all proceeds go to Greenpeace.

Mollusk is putting the track’s popularity to good use, too: he’s teamed with Despotz Records to release the song, now called “How Dare You,” under the moniker G.T (which I assumed stands for “Greta Thunberg”), with all proceeds going to Greenpeace. You can get it on all the various platforms here, with some sweet cover art (above) to boot.

And here’s the original viral video, if you missed it:

The cover was created by John Merideth of New York City-based metal trio Suaka. “When I saw her speech, I was very impressed by her passion and outrage,” John told Rolling Stone. “And the words she chose just evoked the darkness of the metal music I love: Entombed, Gojira, At the Gates, Sepultura…I guess I didn’t really have a specific intent other than to turn her brutal words into a metal song. My personal stance is that individuals need to do their part to strive to conserve and preserve our environment…

“Teen angst can be a powerful and important driving force in society, for instance the Arab spring,” he continued. “But there is an element of satire and levity regarding the tone and the music.”

The Greta Thunberg Death Metal Song Is Now Available for Purchase, With All Profits Going to Greenpeace