23-year-old guitar star Jeff Healey says “I’ve got a lot of listening to do”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 24, 1989 By Steve Newton Now that a third show has been added to Jeff Healey’s Commodore stint (February 26 to 28), it’s pretty obvious that the Toronto guitar sensation has, as they say, “arrived”. Though not quite as impressive as the five-night stand that fellow blues-rocker Colin James pulled … Continue reading 23-year-old guitar star Jeff Healey says “I’ve got a lot of listening to do”

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1972

1972 was a year when I got introduced to a number of bands that would become all-time faves, including Blue Oyster Cult, Mott the Hoople, and Steely Dan. And as far as live albums went, the Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, the J. Geils Band, and Rory Gallagher were well represented. I wouldn’t say ’72 was … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1972

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1971

All in all, 1971 wasn’t one of the greatest years for rock in the seventies. But it was a pretty great one for Alice Cooper, Rory Gallagher, and Yes, who each had two albums on my Top 30. As before, I’ve listed the LPs alphabetically by title, and included three choice tracks from each disc … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1971

Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 11, 1983 By Steve Newton Eddie Van Halen calls him “fantastic”. Gary Moore says “he’s frightening. He’s definitely dangerous and getting better all the time.” Carlos Santana gives him “more credit than anyone for just pure expression in soloing.” Journey’s Neil Schon says: “If you play guitar and … Continue reading Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

The Sabbath Time Machine

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 18, 2013 By Steve Newton Black Sabbath (without Bill Ward) isn’t giving any interviews in advance of its show at Rogers Arena this Thursday (Aug. 22), but that’s okay with me. It just gives me an excuse to crawl back into my ’70s time machine and reminisce, home movie-style, about what … Continue reading The Sabbath Time Machine

Brant Bjork gets his music to the people

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 10, 2005 By Steve Newton When Brant Bjork calls the Straight from a Southern California town named Joshua Tree, the first thing that comes to mind is U2: The Joshua Tree was the ’87 album that made the Irish quartet tops in pop music. But apart from acknowledging that “the … Continue reading Brant Bjork gets his music to the people

Sweden’s Caesars hit it big with “Jerk It Out” via iPod commercial

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 2, 2005 By Steve Newton In the booklet for the Caesars’ new CD, Paper Tigers, there’s a photo of singer-guitarist and main songwriter Joakim Ahland in the studio, riffing out on a classic old-school rock guitar: a white Strat with a maple neck. That’s the same body/neck combo Jimi Hendrix … Continue reading Sweden’s Caesars hit it big with “Jerk It Out” via iPod commercial

Glenn Tipton says that Rory Gallagher made him pick up the guitar

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 20, 2005 By Steve Newton Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton waited 12 years for original vocalist Rob Halford to hook back up with his band. But when the Straight calls him at his room in a swanky Ottawa hotel, he can’t spare 12 minutes to talk about the reunion. Now … Continue reading Glenn Tipton says that Rory Gallagher made him pick up the guitar

Eric Clapton shown up by Doyle Bramhall II in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 28, 2007 A few days before attending last Friday’s Eric Clapton/Robert Cray show, I came across a timely TV broadcast of Taylor Hackford’s 1986 concert documentary, Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll. Both Clapton and Cray are featured in it, the former performing the smokin’ slow blues, “Wee Wee … Continue reading Eric Clapton shown up by Doyle Bramhall II in Vancouver

ZZ Top, the Pretenders, and Brian Setzer bring ’70s-rock magic to Vancouver

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 29, 2007 I saw some very cool things at the big Jack FM classic-rock triple bill at GM Place last Thursday (August 23). First off, local punk-rock legend Joey “Shithead” Keithley could be seen strolling along the mezzanine, where he was accosted every 10 paces by a wide-eyed fan who … Continue reading ZZ Top, the Pretenders, and Brian Setzer bring ’70s-rock magic to Vancouver

Joe Bonamassa has 200 guitars, says he’s “okay for guitars”

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 27, 2008 By Steve Newton In their recent autobiographies, famed British rockers Ronnie Wood and Eric Clapton hazily recall how one of their main pastimes while on tour—apart from getting wasted and rattling groupies—was cruising pawnshops and secondhand stores for cool guitars. When blues-rock virtuoso Joe Bonamassa calls from a … Continue reading Joe Bonamassa has 200 guitars, says he’s “okay for guitars”

Leon Russell and Doyle Bramhall II help pedal-steel ace Robert Randolph shine

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JUNE 16, 2010 By Steve Newton Pedal-steel virtuoso Randolph had no problem getting people like Ben Harper and Leon Russell to perform on his upcoming CD, We Walk This Road, which is set for release on June 22. His mind-blowing musicianship alone might have convinced them to offer their talents, but having … Continue reading Leon Russell and Doyle Bramhall II help pedal-steel ace Robert Randolph shine

Clean-living music-biz veteran John Mayall has still got the blues

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 10, 2011 By Steve Newton While prepping for my interview with British blues-rock legend John Mayall I browsed my trusty CD collection and came up with the remastered version of his 1971 album, Back to the Roots. This turned out to be a fine choice from a guitar freak’s standpoint as … Continue reading Clean-living music-biz veteran John Mayall has still got the blues

Carlos Santana says you get the tone with what you’re thinking

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, AUG. 24, 2011 By Steve Newton There’s a quote on Carlos Santana’s official website that reads: “When you love what you do, you don’t have to work a day in your life.” If that’s true, then anyone who’s heard Santana effortlessly channel the sound of pure joy through his instrument knows that he … Continue reading Carlos Santana says you get the tone with what you’re thinking

Buddy Guy brings fiery Chicago blues to Coquitlam, but can’t outshine opener Jonny Lang

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 29, 2012 Blues legend Buddy Guy brought a taste of Chicago to the wilds of Coquitlam last night (September 28), but the verifiable guitar legend was outshone by a “kid” 45 years younger than himself. Jonny Lang opened the show with an hour-long set that included a showstopping version of … Continue reading Buddy Guy brings fiery Chicago blues to Coquitlam, but can’t outshine opener Jonny Lang

Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray goes into his own little world on stage

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JULY 25, 2012 By Steve Newton It was 30 years ago this month that Iron Maiden played its first-ever concert in Vancouver, sharing the Pacific Coliseum stage with Scorpions on July 21, 1982. The lineup hasn’t changed much since then—four of the iconic metal act’s six members from ’82 are currently … Continue reading Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray goes into his own little world on stage

Paul McCartney leaves Vancouver’s Beatles fans with little to complain about

photo by rebecca blissett ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 26, 2012 By Steve Newton Pretty well all of the world’s biggest pop and rock acts have played Vancouver since the ’60s. The Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, U2, Guns N’ Roses—our city has played host to … Continue reading Paul McCartney leaves Vancouver’s Beatles fans with little to complain about

The Blasters’ Phil Alvin on the roots of rock, the Sex Pistols, and Queen

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 10, 2013 By Steve Newton Thirty years ago today–on March 10, 1983–the Blasters played the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Maybe you were there? The group–then composed of singer-guitarist Phil Alvin, his younger brother Dave Alvin on lead guitar, pianist Gene Taylor, bassist John Bazz, and drummer Bill Bateman–was in its … Continue reading The Blasters’ Phil Alvin on the roots of rock, the Sex Pistols, and Queen

Pat Travers in 1983: “I’m a good enough guitarist. We don’t need another one.”

By Steve Newton On January 21, 1983, Canadian rock-guitar hero Pat Travers played Vancouver, opening for a Joe Perry-less Aerosmith at the Pacific Coliseum. Ear of Newt was there, of course. There was no way I was gonna miss two of my fave acts from the ’70s. Besides, it was a Friday night. I don’t remember … Continue reading Pat Travers in 1983: “I’m a good enough guitarist. We don’t need another one.”

That time Joe Bonamassa told me to give Jann Wenner a good bashing

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 14, 2011 By Steve Newton When blues-guitar great Hubert Sumlin passed away on December 4 at the age of 80, it didn’t take long for the condolences and accolades to hit cyberspace. Within hours, ace picker Joe Bonamassa had tweeted his heartfelt sentiments, saying what a huge effect the “extraordinary” … Continue reading That time Joe Bonamassa told me to give Jann Wenner a good bashing

Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher packages bring hope for the future and proof that there is a god (for fans of Irish rock)

colm henry photo By Steve Newton With the COVID-19 epidemic causing death and economic destruction worldwide, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about in the last six months. But that all changed this week when a new double-disc collection by Rory Gallagher and a massive box set from Thin Lizzy were announced. Let’s hear … Continue reading Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher packages bring hope for the future and proof that there is a god (for fans of Irish rock)

That time Buddy Guy told me how badly he wanted Stevie Ray Vaughan’s photo on his album cover

By Steve Newton Buddy Guy is one of my favourite old-school blues guitarists, right up there with Albert King, B.B. King, and Albert Collins. I’ve been fortunate enough to have interviewed him five times, and seen him perform live many more times than that. I did my first interview with Buddy in August of ’91, … Continue reading That time Buddy Guy told me how badly he wanted Stevie Ray Vaughan’s photo on his album cover

Eric Clapton stopped the car when he heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo on “Let’s Dance”

By Steve Newton Where were you when you first heard Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s killer guitar playing on David Bowie’s 1983 hit single, “Let’s Dance”? It was definitely the type of thing that caught your ear, because you sure as shit didn’t hear much Albert King-style soloing on commercial radio up until that point. According to … Continue reading Eric Clapton stopped the car when he heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo on “Let’s Dance”

Jeff Healey jams at Vancouver’s Yale Pub before tearing up the Town Pump with a feedback-laden “Oh Canada”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1988 By Steve Newton Jeff Healey loves to play guitar. Two long, sweat-soaked nights at the Town Pump obviously weren’t going to be enough for the blind blues ace. So he could be seen down at the Yale Saturday afternoon (July 2), taking part in the pub’s … Continue reading Jeff Healey jams at Vancouver’s Yale Pub before tearing up the Town Pump with a feedback-laden “Oh Canada”

Album review: Robert Cray, Strong Persuader (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 26, 1986 By Steve Newton When Robert Cray joined blues giants Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland for last year’s magnificent Showdown! album, it was as if the young guitarist had stepped out of nowhere to join the ranks of the blues’ top veteran performers. With his new album, … Continue reading Album review: Robert Cray, Strong Persuader (1986)

Roy Buchanan lets his soul scream in Vancouver

 shoulda got Roy’s autograph when I had the chance ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 14, 1986 By Steve Newton There were some people who felt that Roy Buchanan played way too loud and not nearly enough at the Town Pump last Monday (February 10). Then there were others–like myself–who could care less about … Continue reading Roy Buchanan lets his soul scream in Vancouver

Stevie Ray Vaughan tears it up in Vancouver, says “serious trouble indeed”

mila geran photo ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPTEMBER 6, 1985 By Steve Newton Since he flew onto the international music scene in 1983, people have been raving on and on about Texas guitar wizard Stevie Ray Vaughan. After his startling shows at the Commodore last week (August 29 and 31), you can bet … Continue reading Stevie Ray Vaughan tears it up in Vancouver, says “serious trouble indeed”