ZZ Top goes heavy on the ’70s with Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton In 1987, blues-rockers ZZ Top released a three-disc compilation of their early work titled The ZZ Top Sixpack, which included such stellar mid-’70s albums as Tres Hombres, Fandango, and Tejas. If you own that collection, you’ve already acquired most of the trio’s best … Continue reading ZZ Top goes heavy on the ’70s with Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box

Bob Rock on the Payola$ reunion and the influence of Mick Ronson as a producer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 27, 2003 By Steve Newton At one point during the exceptional Blackie & the Rodeo Kings show at Sonar a couple of weeks back, guitarist-vocalist and former Junkhouse member Tom Wilson casually leaned into the mike and said: “Roll out red carpet, here come China boys.” His group … Continue reading Bob Rock on the Payola$ reunion and the influence of Mick Ronson as a producer

Anders Osborne says that, when it comes to songwriting, “there’s not much to it”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 27, 2003 By Steve Newton Anders Osborne is not the type of singer-songwriter who’s easily categorized. The Sweden-raised, Louisiana-based bard is described in the liner notes for his 1999 Living Room CD as “a guitar wizard whose multifaceted grooves and soulful vocals evolve the link between second-line funk, … Continue reading Anders Osborne says that, when it comes to songwriting, “there’s not much to it”

B-movies and true tragedies inspire Canadian guitar wizard Don Ross

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 13, 2003 By Steve Newton Acoustic-guitar wizard Don Ross isn’t much of a Lennon/McCartney kinda guy. As a Beatles-crazed youngster growing up in Ontario, Ross originally wanted to be Ringo Starr—if only because he always drummed on things. But when his sister brought home a guitar from boarding … Continue reading B-movies and true tragedies inspire Canadian guitar wizard Don Ross

Bay Area guitar great Will Bernard says Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani are tough to beat

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 23, 2003 By Steve Newton Will Bernard may be one of the best guitarists you’ve never heard of, but they sure know about him down in San Francisco. He was nominated for outstanding guitarist at the California Music Awards the past two years running, and the competition was … Continue reading Bay Area guitar great Will Bernard says Carlos Santana and Joe Satriani are tough to beat

Danny Michel sticks with the DIY route on Tales From the Invisible Man

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 2003 By Steve Newton Danny Michel is a DIY kinda guy. For the most part, the Ontario tunesmith wrote, produced, recorded, engineered, edited, programmed, and mixed his new CD, Tales From the Invisible Man. He did it at his home studio and played guitar, bass, drums, and … Continue reading Danny Michel sticks with the DIY route on Tales From the Invisible Man

B’z guitarist Tak Matsumoto speaks little English, lets his signature Les Paul to the talkin’

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 2003 By Steve Newton Up until a few weeks ago, my knowledge of popular music in Japan was pretty slim. About all I knew for sure was that Cheap Trick used to cause a big stir over there in the ’70s when they played a place called … Continue reading B’z guitarist Tak Matsumoto speaks little English, lets his signature Les Paul to the talkin’

Sloan goes to town, ’70s guitar-rock style, on Action Pact

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 2003 By Steve Newton When Sloan headed into an L.A. studio with producer Tom Rothrock earlier this year, diehard fans of the Halifax-bred power-pop quartet might have had cause for concern. The last two projects Rothrock had helmed at that point were Badly Drawn Boy’s Have You … Continue reading Sloan goes to town, ’70s guitar-rock style, on Action Pact

Steve Vai on cocky G3 tourmate Yngwie Malmsteen and tormented “genius” Devin Townsend

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 9, 2003 By Steve Newton I was a tad taken aback when the press release came in announcing the lineup for Joe Satriani’s 2003 G3 Tour. It wasn’t a surprise to see long-time G3er (and former Satch student) Steve Vai’s name on the bill. But I didn’t expect … Continue reading Steve Vai on cocky G3 tourmate Yngwie Malmsteen and tormented “genius” Devin Townsend

Interviewing Kings of Leon before they took the throne

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 25, 2003 By Steve Newton There’s a real buzz happening right now about Kings of Leon, a scruffy Tennessee quartet consisting of three brothers and a cousin who are winning praise for their garage-y brand of Southern-flavoured guitar rock. England’s prestigious NME put the band on the cover … Continue reading Interviewing Kings of Leon before they took the throne

Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues, says Willie Dixon was her right arm

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 25, 2003 By Steve Newton When Koko Taylor was a youngster, living with her poverty-stricken family on a sharecropper’s farm in Tennessee, she used to find joy in her meagre existence through the music B. B. King liked to play. It wasn’t King’s own soulful blues that caught … Continue reading Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues, says Willie Dixon was her right arm

Jonny Lang’s dream came true a long time ago

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 23, 2003 By Steve Newton In the bio that came with Jonny Lang’s new CD, Long Time Coming, the singer-guitarist describes the album as “a journal of my life for the past two years”. Since one of the song titles is “Happiness and Misery”, you might assume that … Continue reading Jonny Lang’s dream came true a long time ago

Coco Montoya was transformed by the sheer soul of Alberts Collins and King

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton Many guitarists can pinpoint a moment in their youth when they knew they were destined for a life in music. For blues-rocker Coco Montoya it happened in 1969, at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. He’d gone there to see Creedence Clearwater Revival and … Continue reading Coco Montoya was transformed by the sheer soul of Alberts Collins and King

“Our hair was no bigger than Zeppelin or Sabbath,” declares Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton A lot of bands that were big in the ’80s are now having trouble getting booked into bowling alleys, but Def Leppard’s not one of them. The British melodic-rock quintet—which hit its commercial peak in 1987 with Hysteria, which has sold 16 million … Continue reading “Our hair was no bigger than Zeppelin or Sabbath,” declares Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott

Link Wray licks led to Los Straitjackets’ Supersonic Guitars in 3-D

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton Guitarist Eddie Angel was playing at a Nashville club in 1986, opening up for underrated roots-twang merchants Webb Wilder, when his future bandmate, Danny Amis, showed up. During the set, Angel caught the attention of the instrumentally minded Amis with a Link Wray … Continue reading Link Wray licks led to Los Straitjackets’ Supersonic Guitars in 3-D

The Hangmen’s Bryan Small is done pawning guitars for drugs

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 2003 Here’s a happy little comeback story for ya. Back in 1989, singer-guitarist Bryan Small led a rowdy, punk-inspired L.A. rock act called the Hangmen that was hoping to establish itself beyond all the hair bands of the day. The group scored a deal with Capitol Records … Continue reading The Hangmen’s Bryan Small is done pawning guitars for drugs

Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” chosen as the top heavy-metal song of all time

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 2003 Toronto-based music writer Martin Popoff is Canada’s top expert on heavy metal. Senior editor of metal mag Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and author of The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal, the Trail, B.C.–raised Popoff certainly knows his stuff when it comes to raunchy rock. The … Continue reading Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” chosen as the top heavy-metal song of all time

Beppe Gambetta has been a Zeppelin guy and a Doc Watson guy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 28, 2003 Beppe Gambetta has been opening new doors for American traditional music in Europe since 1977, when he founded the acclaimed Italian bluegrass group Red Wine. In recent years his output has included Serenata, a 1997 CD of works by turn-of-the-century Italian string virtuosi, which he recorded … Continue reading Beppe Gambetta has been a Zeppelin guy and a Doc Watson guy

Jack Johnson doesn’t mind being called “the Jimmy Buffett of the millennium”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 21, 2003 Jack Johnson has spent a large part of his life riding the waves in his native Hawaii. He was only 12 when he started surfing the universally revered stretch of beach known as the Pipeline, and before he was out of high school he scored a … Continue reading Jack Johnson doesn’t mind being called “the Jimmy Buffett of the millennium”

Joe Jackson thinks about 10 percent of music is really good stuff

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 21, 2003 By Steve Newton If you liked catchy, hook-infested pop-rock back in 1979, there’s a good chance you tapped a toe or two to Joe Jackson’s debut album, Look Sharp!. From the cynical hit single “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” to the postpunk rave-up “Got … Continue reading Joe Jackson thinks about 10 percent of music is really good stuff

George Thorogood, no longer a dick, says you gotta have songs about the women

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 14, 2003 The last time I interviewed George Thorogood over the phone, back in 1993, he acted like a real dick. I realize the guy’s “Bad to the Bone”, but I wasn’t expecting him to be quite so surly and defensive. In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t have … Continue reading George Thorogood, no longer a dick, says you gotta have songs about the women

Nebula’s Eddie Glass doubts that Hendrix’s acid would still be good

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 14, 2003 By Steve Newton While preparing to interview Nebula guitarist-vocalist Eddie Glass, I honed in on his band’s Web site and came across a 1998 write-up from a concert at the Tattoo Bar in Forth Worth, Texas. In it, a reviewer named Jeff Downing raved that “Eddie … Continue reading Nebula’s Eddie Glass doubts that Hendrix’s acid would still be good

Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 7, 2003 By Steve Newton Two years ago the Drive-By Truckers took the music world by surprise with Southern Rock Opera, a sprawling, two-CD concept album about ’70s rock and southern U.S. culture that focused on the legend of doomed Dixie rock act Lynyrd Skynyrd. The independent release … Continue reading Drive-By Truckers tone down the Skynyrdisms on Decoration Day

Big Dave McLean got pointers from John Hammond as a teen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 7, 2003 By Steve Newton When he was just a teen, Dave McLean attended the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario, and got pointers from John Hammond on how to play some basic blues progressions. A couple of weeks ago the now 51-year-old Big Dave performed with Hammond … Continue reading Big Dave McLean got pointers from John Hammond as a teen

54•40 walks the walk with first indie release since the ’80s

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 31, 2003 By Steve Newton Although they started out in the early ’80s as indie artists on MoDaMu Records, local guitar-rockers 54•40 have been signed to major labels since 1986, first with Warner Bros. and then with Columbia/Sony. But with its 10th studio album, Goodbye Flatland, the band … Continue reading 54•40 walks the walk with first indie release since the ’80s

Colin Linden says that Rockpile and the Clash influenced Blackie’s BARK

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 31, 2003 By Steve Newton There’s a handful of CDs that have pretty well guaranteed placement in my personal top 10 of 2003. By the Grace of God, the stunning riff-fest from Swedish hard rockers the Hellacopters, has already copped a spot; likewise Trouble No More, the bare-bones, … Continue reading Colin Linden says that Rockpile and the Clash influenced Blackie’s BARK

Delta bluesman Big Jack Jackson says you can’t hardly tell the rap kids nuttin’

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 24, 2003 By Steve Newton When the Straight contacts Big Jack Johnson—the veteran bluesman, not the youthful chart-topping surfer dude—at his home in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he’s just gotten back from Milan, Italy. To hear him tell it, the blues is definitely alive and well in Europe, and has … Continue reading Delta bluesman Big Jack Jackson says you can’t hardly tell the rap kids nuttin’