The rise of Blackberry Smoke, a hard-working, heavy-riffing quintet of southern-fried road monsters, hasn’t exactly been meteoric. For the past 14-plus years, the Atlanta-based rockers have been enjoying what frontman Charlie Starr calls a “slow build,” playing more than 250 shows a year, touring with ZZ Top, releasing a handful of studio and live discs and, most importantly, forging a legion of rabid fans.
Julian Lage is much more than just a jazz musician. While his musical foundation is rooted firmly in the world of bebop and swing, his playing encapsulates the full breadth of 20th-century American music. The ghosts of Eddie Lang, Skip James, Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotton haunt his vintage Martin 000-18, with which he creates a sound that is distinctly modern yet deeply indebted to the American folk music tradition.
Matt Sorum is perhaps best known as the drummer for such bands as the Cult, Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. But in addition to his musical success stories (that now include Kings of Chaos), the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inductee also is an advocate for the arts.
It’s a beautiful Indian Summer day, and I’m standing on Queens Gate Road in London, England, a stone’s throw from the legendary Royal Albert Hall, where Led Zeppelin played in 1970, a performance immortalized on 2003’s Led Zeppelin DVD.
Fans of Alex Skolnick’s shredding in Testament might be shocked by his new album, Planetary Coalition, a collaborative world-music project driven by Skolnick’s crystalline, beatific acoustic guitar and assimilationist composing skills. But it’s not a case of a metal jaguar changing his spots; Skolnick is simply displaying all of them for the first time.
Guitar fans might remember seven-string guitarist the Commander-In-Chief from her “Zigeunerweisen Op. 20" guitar-duel video, which she made with classically trained guitarist Thomas Valeur. That video, which was premiered on GuitarWorld.com, was one of the site's 10 most-watched videos of 2013.
The first concert I ever attended was a Scorpions show in 1984. I remember this event because, at the time, I was excited about checking out the openers, a young, up-and-coming band called Bon Jovi. Little did I know I'd also be bearing witness to what would become one of rock’s biggest juggernauts.