From sweet and smooth classics, to new names, to old names with new music...the focus here, is to shine a little light on some damn fine music.

I'll find it. You can listen, review, or tell me I wouldn't know good music if it kicked me in the ass. I personally don't give a shit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dick Wagner, The Maestro of Rock

He had a nondescript name. His work however, was anything but.

Today word came down of the death of Dick Wagner. Trying to place the name? A true rock & roll guitarist, Dick Wagner was first known for his Michigan based band The Frost. But it would be his collaborations with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed where Wagner would find lasting recognition.

Wagner and Cooper wrote a lot of songs together, and in 1975 Alice Cooper released a song which he co-wrote with Wagner, about a subject only talked about in quiet hushes at that time... domestic violence and living in an abusive marriage. "Only Women Bleed" went on to be covered by: Tina Turner, Tori Amos, Slash, Lita Ford, Etta James and Favorite Angel, to name a few.

Another Dick Wagner song, "Remember The Child," dealt with child abuse. But beyond the songwriting, mostly he let his guitar do the talking. His recording credits read like a Who's Who of the music industry. His musical accolades include his songs or guitar work included on over 350 albums, of which over 35 have been certified Gold or Platinum.

Heart attacks, a stroke, brain surgeries, diabetes, kidney failure, and other health issues plagued him for years. He worked back from a paralyzed arm and played guitar on the road until his most recent hospitalization a few weeks ago. Sadly, another recovery was not to be.

In 2013, Dick Wagner said "Love is in the air. Breathe deep." He did, and when he exhaled, music filled the air.

Easy Journey Maestro.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Survivor's Dave Bickler, More Than a Tiger's Tale

In the movie Rocky, Adrian asks Rocky why he wants to be a fighter. His response: “Because I can’t sing or dance.”  Dave Bickler can sing; “Eye Of The Tiger” proved that. Whether he or Survivor could have imagined that song would go to #1 all over the world, win a Grammy, a People’s Choice Award, receive an Academy Award nomination, and become one of the greatest motivational songs of all time, well, probably not.

Sometimes though, the taste of success can be bittersweet. Following an extended tour, Bickler developed vocal problems and was forced to leave the band. Memphis singer Jimi Jamison stepped into Bickler’s spot, and Survivor recorded the extremely successful Vital Signs album.

After two more albums, Survivor went on hiatus, regrouped with and without Bickler, and finally in 2013, the band toured with both Bickler and Jamison together. The experiment proved to be successful, and with the one-two punch of both lead singers, Survivor hit the road on a larger scale this year.

After interviewing original band member Frankie Sullivan during the first tour with the two lead singers, and Jimi Jamison as this tour was getting underway, I was lucky enough to hear the perspective of the Survivor journey from Dave Bickler.

Kath Galasso: I’m going to ask you a question I asked Jimi (Jamison) when I interviewed him. In your vocal process, is there a certain way you work into it, or do you just go in and sing?
Dave Bickler: Well, I do just go and sing, but singing does require some thought. You have to be sure that you have enough breath to get through it, there is some thought that goes on in my head while I’m doing it. I couldn’t explain it exactly, but you use different parts of your voice too. There’s a full voice, a falsetto that you can transition between for certain things. So I do think about that.

Going back to your first stint with Survivor, and when “Eye Of The Tiger” happened, that whole roller coaster ride, what was the most memorable thing, what stood out the most?
Obviously we had the hit record so then we went out on the road, and doing the big halls, the big sheds, that was amazing. And I do remember when the record went to #1. We were doing phoners for the record company and they told us “your record just went to #1.” That was a good moment. Cause that’s why I got into it in the first place. I wanted to be in a band, I wanted to make records, to be able to do it for my living, and all that stuff, from when I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. It’s cliché but it’s true.

For the rest of the interview with Survivor's Dave Bickler, click on the link to OnstageMagazine.
Survivor's Dave Bickler, More Than a Tiger's Tale


Monday, July 21, 2014

River City Extension @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Crossing three bridges through two states and three boroughs wasn’t nearly as stressful as it could have been. After finding that on-street parking was readily available, well it seemed like the evening was off to a good start.

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar takes place on Friday and Saturday nights in a converted warehouse in Brooklyn, New York. The surrounding neighborhood is full of similar places where people hang in bars or cafes, and the music is live and loud.

The Bazaar opens to low lights, arcade games, handmade crafts, vintage clothing, pop-up food vendors, and a stage where live music is played all night. Though the ventilation could have been better on a hot and humid night, the Bazaar was an interesting place to spend a Saturday night.

River City Extension took the stage a little after eleven. The Toms River, NJ based band has gone through some personnel changes since the release of their critically acclaimed first full length album, The Unmistakable Man, but with founder Joe Michelini still writing and fronting the band, the core sound remains the same. Defining that sound which can pull in roots, rock, calypso, folk, and other influences, is the hard part. River City Extension have been described as a band who couldn’t decide what to play, so they play everything. It’s not far from the truth.
To read the rest of the review, click on the link and head over to
River City Extension @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Santa and the Lady in Red... ho, ho, ho

It's funny how ideas can just come out of thin air. I wasn't really thinking about writing for Lance's 100 Word Song this week. I'm in the middle of a review, and there's an interview to transcribe. But for some odd reason the phrase "Christmas in July" came to mind, and boom. Had an idea.

It came all at once, wrote it, looked at the word count... 100. Read it through, didn't change a thing. So it's fresh and pretty much unedited. But nobody dies so there's that.

Ruby picked the song this week, and though you can use any part of it as inspiration, it's the title that sets it all up. It's an blast from the past by Chris De Burgh.

"Lady In Red"

He looked up from the work at hand and caught her glance. Even in the same red dress she’d worn forever, she still took his breath away.

Catching his glance, she smiled. After all these many years, he still had that twinkle in his eye. As much as she loved this busy season, the 26th could not come quick enough. She missed him, and if that sigh he let out was any indication, he missed her too.

Soon enough the gifts would be delivered, the helpers gone home, and they’d have some time alone.

And to all, a good night.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dark Sunglasses: Don't Leave Home Without Them

Nothing is worse after a late night than a beautiful sunny morning. That observation, and the prompt from Linda, who chose the Chrissie Hynde song "Dark Sunglasses" for Lance's 100 Word Song, made this week's entry relatively easy to put together.

So... when we last heard from the partners-in-crime...

As she lay on the bed lost in memories of the night before, the dark sunglasses shaded her eyes from the morning sun beaming through the hotel room window. Damn that was fun. 

Rock & Roll always is. 

Just the right ratio of music and booze. Not enough to make bad decisions, but enough for a good time.

Almost time for a shower, breakfast and the trip back to the place called Reality. A lot of shows, a lot of road trips, and a lot of laughs, over a lot of years. Wouldn't change a thing.

No retreat. No surrender.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Monday, July 7, 2014

Harmonies, Interviews, and Asking the Question

Over the past two+ years, I've had the pleasure of interviewing some interesting people. Some were easier to interview than others, some were more compelling than others, and some have done so many, it's a battle to keep the interview going in the direction you want, and not get pulled into their comfort zone.

Mostly I've done interviews with musicians because, duh... music. There is usually one question I always ask, and having read hundreds of interviews done by journalists more seasoned than I, it is one which seems to be asked in a vast majority of them. "What are your musical influences?" Sometimes the answers are predictable as to a specific genre, band or artist. But every once in a while, and this is why it's such a fascinating question, the answer just blows you away.

Saturday, as I was in the car, I caught some bits and pieces of an interview done with Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash, which took place on the Deep Tracks station of Sirius Radio. As we all know, the CS&N sound is based not only on their excellent song catalog, but on the harmonies between the three, and especially between David Crosby and Graham Nash. The whole interview was an easy back and forth, when the influence question arose. Croz and Nash talked about an album they've had for over 40 years, and how the harmonies on it continue to influence them to this day. What group could possibly impact the two singers so thoroughly? The 1954 recording of the Women's Choir of Bulgaria. Wait, what?

Yep. Go figure.

Nash went on to tell the story about how, some years back, the present-day Choir was appearing in the United States, had heard about his love for their harmonies, and was asked to introduce them at a show. Though he lived in Hawaii, there was no way he wasn't going to do it. He was told the Choir wanted to meet him, and he expected they would sing a song to him as a thank you.  What he didn't expect was the choir to gather round him and sing the end to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." You know the "doo, doo, doo, doo,doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo." Done in perfect harmony. Can you even imagine?

And that's why, even if you don't end up using it in the interview, you always ask the influence question.

So here's a taste of an old recording of the Bulgarian Women's Choir. I'm not sure if it's part of the album that influenced Crosby and Nash, but you'll get the idea.

And a little taste of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"

Absolutely love that story.