All photos by Cindy Goldman
by Cindy Goldman
Rob Thomas played his annual three night benefit show for the Sidewalk Angels foundation, at the Borgata Music Box January 18-20th. Sidewalk Angels Foundation (sidewalkangelsfoundation.org) is a New York-based, not-for-profit organization established in 2003 by Rob Thomas and his wife, Marisol. This charity provides money to no-kill shelters and animal rescues to help them build facilities, do rescue work, adoptions and fighting against animal cruelty. They also work with homeless shelters to help displaced people with animals.
The sold out crowd was treated to an intimate evening where he stripped to basics using only two guitars and occasionally a piano. Thomas regaled the crowd with wonderful stories about his life and songs during the 2 hour show; his voice never failing as he added a touch of soul to his pop classic hits. He also sang two new songs from his new album, which has not been released yet.
He will also be doing this benefit on the west coast at the Chumash Casino in Santa Vera, CA on March 29, 2019. Details can be found on his official site: https://www.robthomasmusic.com/.
Falling to Pieces
If you’re gone
Ever the same
Man to hold water
You won’t be mine
Lonely no more
by Lisa Schreiner
Labor Day weekend on Long Island is generally reserved for end-of-summer Hamptons parties and last-minute trips out to the twin forks before the pumpkin patches and apple-picking fields set up. This year, however, some opted to ditch the east end for a slightly less refined and — in this editor’s opinion — a more appropriate send off to summer. Shinedown and Godsmack played the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on September 2nd, 2018, giving Long Islanders the best of both worlds: taking in that famous Long Island salty, summer air while experiencing a solid, good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n roll show. Nothing pairs quite as well as an outdoor beach venue and good, live music.
Shinedown kicked it off with the heavily-rotated “Sound of Madness” that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Pyros and laser lights illuminated the hazy night sky, while singer Brent Smith’s powerhouse vocals completed a perfect rock marriage with the band (Zach Myers – lead guitar/backing vocals, Eric Bass – bass/backing vocals and Barry Kerch – drums) that was nothing less than stellar. Shinedown has been around for a number of years; however, the Jacksonville, FL-based band became more prevalent on the rock scene after their powerful acoustic cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” hit the airwaves. There aren’t many times where vocals in a cover song either match or surpass the original singer’s; Smith is one of the exceptions (no disrespect to the late, great Ronnie Van Zant, but he would likely agree). Of course, the popular rendition was performed — prompting a resounding crowd sing-a-long — along with “Second Chance”, “Get Up” and closing out with “Devil.” Shinedown had first opened for the Godsmack and Rob Zombie tour in 2006 and it’s a pleasure to see such a solid hard rock band gain the momentum and appreciation they have over the years. Rock ‘n roll has become somewhat of a nostalgic genre, with reunion tours more prevalent than ever. Shinedown is a band that can bring rock out of it’s rut.
Twenty years after their self-titled debut album was released, Godsmack shows that they have no plans to slow down. Opening with “When Legends Rise,” off of their latest album of the same name, the Boston band had the crowd on their feet immediately. Although pyros were present here and there throughout the show, it appears that Godsmack has toned down the “rock show” aspect in favor of letting the music be the star. Frontman Sully Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin performed their now setlist-staple drum duel, which had been first seen in their touring DVD Changes. While the duel has somewhat changed with covering different artists that have been influential to the band (they now perform interludes of Beastie Boys, Metallica and Queen, in place of Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC), the choreographed battle remains the highlight of the show.
During the performance of their first single “Whatever”, Sully decided it would be a good idea to rile up the New York crowd by praising the New England Patriots and shunning the New York Giants. As expected, a wave of booing rolled through the amphitheater, and some seemingly very angry New Yorkers displayed their disdain towards the singer. In the end, however, the crowd’s anger resulted in exactly what Erna wanted: a loud back-and-forth sing-a-long. Shinedown’s Zach Myers joined Godsmack on stage for a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” before the band closed with their iconic “I Stand Alone”.
Throughout the past twenty years, Godsmack has remained virtually unchanged, and that’s not a bad thing. While some bands will change their style to appease newer generations and trends, Godsmack has always stayed true to their hard rock persona.
Attention Attention Intro
Sound of Madness
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Cut the Cord
I’ll Follow You
State of My Head
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
When Legends Rise
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Say My Name
Batalla de los tambores (drum duel)
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover with Zach Myers)
I Stand Alone
by Larry Kaiser
On Sunday, September 2nd, Pearl Jam began the last of their “Away” shows with the first of two shows at Boston’s Fenway Park. With the Boston Red Sox sitting atop baseball with the best record, it is fitting that arguably America’s greatest band play Fenway this year.
Pearl Jam’s Home and Away show tour is a brief four-city, seven-show trek with previous stops at home, in Seattle, as well as Missoula, Montana and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. With the Fenway shows being the only east coast shows, fans come from far and wide to see the band.
For the days leading up to the show, communication from Fenway Park indicated that the band was going to hit the stage at 6:30 PM due to Fenway’s strict 10:30 PM curfew. As most fans know, the band would not start at that time and security was informing the fans that the show would start at 7:30 PM. As the band hit the stage at 7:56 PM, the 30,000+ crowd was growing impatient. Once the show started though, the Pearl Jam faithful were singing along word for word and clearly having a blast.
For a band that has been making music for almost 30 years, their fan base has aged with them. When you’re waiting in line for merchandise or to get into the venue, you meet all sorts of people who share stories and become friends. The most typical question usually is, “How many shows have you seen?” For this contributor, the answer is 34, and I love those conversations. What is great to see is how many people are now bringing their kids to shows. Sharing it with them, the music that means so much to them. There was even a couple who had an infant with them, who was wearing large headphones. The child was smiling, but probably had no clue what was going on and more than likely won’t remember his first Pearl Jam show.
The band opened with ‘Sometimes,’ the opening track from the 1996 album No Code. This was a fitting opening song as this album just recently celebrated its 22nd anniversary. The 18-song opening set featured many crowd favorites such as Release, Low Light, Given to Fly, Evolution, Lukin, and more. Fans were treated to the rarity, Army Reserve, off the 2006 self-titled album, Pearl Jam., which fans refer to as the “Avocado album.” Before playing the song, lead singer Eddie Vedder paid respect to recently deceased US Senator, John McCain. Eddie spoke fondly of the band’s respect for those that have or are serving while calling McCain a true American hero.
The first set also featured an English lesson of sorts for fans as Vedder talked about the word “fuck” and proceeded to go through a conjugation tree as he explained a conversation with his daughter. An entertaining lesson for those in attendance. The lesson concluded with Eddie suggesting the crowd uses “Fuck” as a verb and to say “Fuck You” when they vote in November. Vedder then dedicated ‘Given to Fly’ to an old friend named Dick from Boston who has worked many shows as security and was recovering from a health issue. The opening set ended with a raucous version the Ten cut Porch, which has been a staple as the first set closer this tour.
The second set began as most do for Pearl Jam – with Eddie Vedder alone on stage to start a run on slower songs. Vedder discusses how Red Sox owner John Henry’s favorite band was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and that Petty played Fenway back in 2014. Eddie mentions how the guitar he is about to play has only left his house two times and was a gift from Tom Petty. Petty had told him that there were a few songs left in it and Eddie agreed. Eddie asked the crowd to help him connect with Tom and then started into Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down.’
The first encore featured a song to which Eddie referred to as a request for something romantic. He referred to a sign in the front row that said ‘The last time we saw you, we got pregnant, and we want to get pregnant again!’ The band then played a moving version ‘Just Breathe.’ Also played in the first encore is the fan favorite, but not often played Vitalogy track, ‘Tremor Christ.’ Eddie mentioned that if they screw it up, it’s his fault since they rarely play the song. The encore finished with a great run of songs featuring ‘Taillights Fade’ by the legendary Boston band, Buffalo Tom. Guitarist Bill Janovitz joined the band on stage as the night’s only guest appearance to play one of Eddie’s favorite songs. The band closed the encore with ‘Blood.’ Amazingly, Pearl Jam is probably one of the few bands that can weave George Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’ into one of their songs and get the reaction they did from the crowd.
With curfew approaching, the band was quickly back on stage for another encore starting with the super rarity ‘Out of Mind,’ which had only been played three times before. Vedder stated that he didn’t have lyrics when they wrote it originally and that he was going to make it up along the way tonight. The band closed the show with ‘Alive,’ from Ten, and Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World,’ a song that Pearl Jam has made into their own that took them past the curfew by a few minutes.
Because of the late start and the curfew, the band was forced to scratch four additional songs from their set. As the crowd dispersed to the streets around Fenway, there were mixed reviews of the show. While almost everyone enjoyed the show and the set list, others were complaining about how late the band came out and that they ‘only’ played 30 songs. At just a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes, this was the shortest concert during this run of U.S. dates. But with 30 songs played, the crowd got their money’s worth.
The band has one more show at Fenway on Tuesday, September 4th, and then presumably heading into the studio to put the finishing touches on their next album.
Sunday’s Full Set List
03. Low Light
04. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town
05. Why Go
07. Mind Your Manners
09. Given To Fly
10. Army Reserve
11. Even Flow
12. Amongst The Waves
13. Daughter / WMA / It’s OK
14. Got Some
15. Do The Evolution
16. I Am A Patriot
Encore Break 1
19. I Won’t Back Down
20. Just Breathe
21. Present Tense
23. State Of Love And Trust
24. Tremor Christ
- Taillights Fade-(Buffalo Tom) with Bill Janovitz
- Blood / atomic dog
- Out Of My Mind
30. Rockin’ In The Free World
by Lisa Schreiner
photos by Kevin Wilson
On Wednesday, June 18, 2018, Billy Joel marked his 100th lifetime show at Madison Square Garden; his 54th consecutive show during his MSG residency that began in 2014. Long Island’s hometown hero (Joel grew up in Hicksville, a suburb located in Nassau County) played his first show at the Garden on December 14, 1978 and has been playing to sold-out crowds all over the world since.
What’s more impressive than Joel’s stamina as a performer is his incomparable songwriting talent. Within the first few lyrics of any Billy Joel song, you’re hooked into a story, be it about two high school sweethearts who eventually split or the harrowing experiences of war.
At a press conference held in front of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday afternoon before the record-setting show that evening, Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo declared July 18, 2018 “Billy Joel Day” in the state of New York in honor of the Piano Man’s contributions to the music industry and New York State.
“Billy Joel is not only one of the greatest entertainers of our time, but also a leading advocate for protecting the environment, honoring first responders and improving the lives of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to congratulate Billy on his remarkable milestone, and I look forward to seeing him perform for many years to come.”
Joel’s piano was also unveiled for display at The Garden as tribute to his legacy. Actor Chazz Palminteri, chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Compay Jim Dolan, and local classic rock station Q104.3’s Jim Kerr were also present for the press conference.
“Billy Joel’s incredible achievement will set a standard for the entire music industry that may take generations to eclipse,” said Dolan. “One-hundred shows by a single artist at a single venue is a remarkable testament to the strength of an artist’s connection to his music and his audience. Since Billy first graced The Garden stage in 1978, more than two million fans have heard Billy live at The World’s Most Famous Arena. It is only fitting that we commemorate this extraordinary achievement with the display of his piano, which will serve as a tribute to his unparalleled legacy.”
Billy Joel’s music continues to transcend through generations from baby boomers to millennials. Among his expansive catalog of songs, one can find at least one that they can relate to. Tickets continue to sell out for his legacy residency performances at Madison Square Garden. Billy, you are The Entertainer of entertainers. You are the musician of musicians. And, you are the pride of New York.
by Lisa Schreiner
If you’re one of the millions of fans of the television show Impractical Jokers, the hidden-camera show where four lifelong friends pull pranks on the public (and each other), then you know who James “Murr” Murray is. If not, then it’s suggested that you turn on TruTV right now, as it’s likely that an episode or a marathon of Impractical Jokers is running at this very moment. Enjoy a few episodes and get to know Murr, along with his three best friends (Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto), laugh until your sides hurt and tears roll down your cheeks. Then forget everything you learned about Murr in those episodes. In his debut as a published author, James S. Murray shows a completely different side from his charming, funny and silly personality that we’ve gotten to know in the over 8 years the show has been on the air.
“Awakened”, which Murray wrote along with Darren Wearmouth, a novelist from Manchester, England, is a perfectly executed Sci-Fi novel that brings the reader right into the action from the beginning. Taking place in present-day New York City, “Awakened” delves into one of the more uneasy urban legends of Manhattan: what lurks underneath the historical streets of the greatest city in the world. We’ve all heard the stories about alligators in the sewers and those who dwell in empty subway tunnels; what if a variation of the two were true?
The excitement of a brand new, revolutionary subway line, that brings New Jersey commuters into New York City in the matter of minutes, is palpable. Politicians including the mayor and the president of the United States are in attendance for the inaugural ride…along with some uninvited guests. Chaos ensues when the doors to the subway cars open and reveal a scene straight out of our nightmares. Blood covers nearly every inch of the interior of the cars, windows are shattered, and the 65 passengers that were on board are nowhere to be found. In a post 9/11 world, everyone’s immediate reaction is fears of terrorism, and rightfully so. But, what created this unthinkable sight is a form of terrorism no one had ever seen before.
Wearmouth and Murray’s passionate description of chaotic scenes, impossible decisions and terror bring the reader right into the thick of it. The “terrorists” are presented in such a way that make you feel truly horrified.
“Awakened” is guaranteed to keep the reader captivated from cover to cover…as well as reluctant to take a subway ever again.
On June 26th, the day of the in-store release of “Awakened”, Murray and Wearmouth dropped by Book Revue in Huntington, New York to talk about the book, do a little q&a and sign copies for the packed crowd.
“I wrote this book 14 years ago,” Murr told the crowd. “I have a degree in English from Georgetown and I always dreamed of being a fiction writer. I had this idea; my friend dared me to write a short story. I had been talking about this tale of a creature in the subway. So my friend said ‘write the damn thing!’ so I wrote the short story and I sent it to him. Twenty minutes later, he calls me and says ‘You have to write the book around this story. What is this story?’ And that story is in the book almost untouched from 14 years ago. So I spent a year of my life writing the book. I sent the manuscript out and it got returned to me, unopened, by hundreds of agents and publicists. It sat on my computer for 14 years. When you feel rejected in some way, you start to internalize that and start to think ‘Maybe the book wasn’t good, maybe all this time was for nothing’, and you start to internalize that rejection. So fast forward to to 14 years later, I send the manuscript to Harper Collins and one day later, they bought it.”
Darren Wearmouth was on a list of accomplished authors that had been sent to James, to help polish “Awakened” and make it ready for publishing. On Wearmouth, Murray had this to say:
“I interviewed all these guys and girls, amazing writers in their own right. And, I met Darren and we just hit it off immediately. We liked the same things. It was like an instant love affair. He would take a chapter and polish it up and then I would take it back and polish it up some more. It worked really seamlessly. It’s a really great partnership. And I have to say, it’s been such an honor and pleasure to work with him for the past year.”
You can purchase “Awakened” now through the links listed below, as well as your local book store.
by Tracey Ann Exner
What an amazing night of dark and haunting musicians to fill The Paramount in Huntington, NY on April 19, 2018.
Ministry, an industrial metal band, has been around since the early 80’s and is still going strong. People of all ages and walks of life filled the venue. The energy singer and founder Al Jourgensen showed from start to finish lifted the crowd to another level. The playlist started with newer music that included “Twilight Zone” and “Wargasm” and ended with some of their all-time classics “Just one Fix”, “ Thieves” and “So What” that had the audience dancing and forming a mosh pit.
Opening bands The God Bombs and Chelsea Wolfe were a good fit for the arrival of Ministry. The God Bombs were heavy and loud, the right headliner to start off this show. Chelsea was very witchy and serpent like. During songs, Wolfe had a maneuver where as she screamed, she covered her mouth to muffle the sound, creating a very realistic look of horror. It was most definitely a very dark, loud and energetic show that kept the audience’s attention.
by Heather Botta
All photos by Wayne Herrschaft
Buckcherry made another appearance at The Paramount in Huntington, NY, playing to an elated and energetic crowd on March 9th; marking a fifth return to the venue for the band. With singer Josh Todd as the only true original member since the band’s inception in 1995, the present line up of the band: Kevin Roentgen (lead guitar, 2017), Stevie D (rhythm guitar, 2005), Kelly LeMieux (bass, 2013) and Sean Winchester (drums, 2017) seem to have gelled well in their short time together.
Prior to the show, Josh Todd visited the studio next door to The Paramount for an interview with Orlando and Rob Rush, local rock DJs for 94.3 The Shark. When asked about playing a venue seemingly annually and providing a good setlist each time, Todd said “I need to log setlists so I don’t play the same thing. I kind of remember. I like to mix it up a bit but with all the usual suspects too because people want to hear the hits.”
Playing a mix of old and new, highlights of the night included ‘Tight Pants’, lighter than Buckcherry’s signature hard rock sound (but still fun), also the only song they played from their newest album, Rock n’ Roll released in August 2015. The set list was dedicated mostly to crowd pleasing favorites like “Lit Up”, “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry”, along with a cover of Icona Pop’s “Say Fuck It” and The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” as the final encore. Noticeably missing was one of their biggest hits “Next 2 You”. Even with that omission, Buckcherry played a tight setlist and fans were not disappointed.
Buckcherry is playing a few more shows here in the States, then head to Europe for the spring/early summer. Tour dates can be found on their official site.
Say Fuck It
Tired of You
by Lisa Schreiner
Blues Traveler is one of those bands that appeals to your 10 year old niece as well as your 60 year old father-in-law. They have no specific kind of fan base, which makes going to a show not only fun, but exponentially refreshing. Their music dips into multiple genres providing a limitless supply of poignant, yet fun music. Singer John Popper’s unmistakable voice is a perfect match for the guitar (Chan Kinchla), bass (Tad Kinchla), drums (Brendan Hill) and keyboards (Ben Wilson) that make up the iconic blues-rock-reggae inspired band.
On January 27th, Blues Traveler made a stop on their 30th Anniversary tour at The Paramount in Huntington, NY. Coincidentally, this was also the 1,000th show for the venue since it’s opening in September of 2011. The sold-out crowd was a sea of every kind of person, making up a community of young and old(er) music lovers. If a Blues Traveler fan had to be categorized, it would be just that: a total music lover, for that is exactly what makes up this iconic band. The joy that these five guys find in creating and sharing their music was palpable as they tore through their setlist that included “Stand”, “Run Around” and a beautiful cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”.
Popper’s incomparable harmonica playing is nothing short of awe-inspiring when witnessed in person. He is the Jimmy Page/Jimmy Hendrix/Eddie Van Halen/Kirk Hammett/Mike McCready of harmonica players. When John Popper is ripping through a harmonica solo, it stops you in your tracks and you’re left shaking your head in amazement once he’s finished.
You don’t have to be a Blues Traveler fan to appreciate the music they make. But, it is highly suggested that even if you aren’t a fan, you should attend a show at least once; though once you do, you’ll find yourself going back for more.
Blues Traveler is currently on tour through February. Show dates can be found on their official site.