That time I told Gene Simmons that I saw Kiss in a club on the Hotter Than Hell tour

By Steve Newton Some concerts experiences are just seared into memory--if you're lucky--and one of the most unforgettable for me was seeing Kiss at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom in January of 1975. They were on the Hotter than Hell tour, and they were still hungry. They hadn't earned untold riches yet, hadn't become masters of marketing, … Continue reading That time I told Gene Simmons that I saw Kiss in a club on the Hotter Than Hell tour

That time I asked Steve Morse if winning readers poll awards in guitar mags meant anything to him

By Steve Newton There's a good reason I dragged the world-famous Ear of Newt Guitar to Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom one night back in 1991 when the Dixie Dregs were playing on a bill with Ronnie Montrose. It's because Steve Morse was the guitarist in the Dixie Dregs, and I really wanted to score his autograph, … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Morse if winning readers poll awards in guitar mags meant anything to him

Chillin’ with blues legend Buddy Guy backstage at the Commodore

By Steve Newton Here's me hangin' with one of my fave all-time bluesmen, Mr. Buddy Guy. It was backstage at the Commodore Ballroom, one of the top concert venues in Vancouver. I remember this meeting well, because the former proprietor of the Commodore, local legend Drew Burns, also showed up to say hi to Buddy. … Continue reading Chillin’ with blues legend Buddy Guy backstage at the Commodore

Meeting with the Alien: hangin’ with Joe Satriani backstage in Vancouver

By Steve Newton Went and saw Joe Satriani at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver last night, and holy crap was he smokin'! I must have seen Satch live around 10 times over the years--including on various G3 tours--and I don't think he's ever played better. Having such a wicked backing band--guitarist-keyboardist Mike Kenneally, bassist Bryan … Continue reading Meeting with the Alien: hangin’ with Joe Satriani backstage in Vancouver

That time Robin Trower told me that most of the pop music in England was “rubbish”

By Steve Newton Robin Trower is one of my fave guitarists of all time. His string of wicked albums in the seventies--in particular Twice Removed from Yesterday, Bridge of Sighs, and For Earth Below--were a major part of the soundtrack to my teenage existence. He's never gotten the cred he deserves, partly due to the … Continue reading That time Robin Trower told me that most of the pop music in England was “rubbish”

Jorma Kaukonen’s distinctive vocals help Hot Tuna get tasty in Vancouver

charles campbell photo ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 4, 1988 By Steve Newton An acoustic concert can be quite a scary thing to those people, like myself, who thrive on raunchy guitars and rock-steady rhythms. But you've got to be brave sometimes, and realizing that I headed down to the Commodore last Thursday (February 25) to see an … Continue reading Jorma Kaukonen’s distinctive vocals help Hot Tuna get tasty in Vancouver

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers slay Vancouver with smokin’ guitarists Montoya and Trout

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 6, 1987 By Steve Newton John Mayall knows blues guitarists. And it's no wonder since he's played with the best of them--guys like Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor. But the two lead players he brought with him to the Commodore last Thursday (October 29) were so hot that they literally stole … Continue reading John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers slay Vancouver with smokin’ guitarists Montoya and Trout

Remembering Kiss before the reunion tour got Gene Simmons back in diapers

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 29, 1996 By Steve Newton If you were a rock-loving teenager in the ’70s, you probably have some kind of Kiss story to tell. Maybe you made your own outfits and played in a Kiss air-guitar band (“I wanna be Ace!”), or painted a black star around one … Continue reading Remembering Kiss before the reunion tour got Gene Simmons back in diapers

David Gogo drinks “anything that’s liquid” and uses the empty glass for a slide in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 19, 1991 By Steve Newton Does 22-year-old David Gogo have what it takes to become Canada’s next blues-rock guitar hero? Can his name be mentioned along with the likes of Jeff Healey, Colin James, and Tony “Wild T” Springer? That question could be on a few minds these … Continue reading David Gogo drinks “anything that’s liquid” and uses the empty glass for a slide in Vancouver

Ronnie Montrose and Steve Morse jam for the first time on the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 29, 1994 By Steve Newton What do ’60s British rock pioneers the Yardbirds, ’70s fusion greats the Mahavishnu Orchestra, instrumental southern-rockers the Dixie Dregs, and cult guitar hero Ronnie Montrose have in common? Not that much, really, but at the Commodore on Wednesday (September 21) the musical legacies … Continue reading Ronnie Montrose and Steve Morse jam for the first time on the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things”

The Age of Electric kicks off Canadian tour with killer Vancouver gig

jeff sutherland photos By Steve Newton Everybody's favourite Canadian guitar-rock band from the '90s--well, mine anyway--kicked off its 15-date Canadian tour with a show at the Commodore last night. Last April all four original members of the Age of Electric--singer-guitarists Todd Kerns and Ryan Dahle, bassist John Kerns, and drummer-vocalist Kurt Dahle--reunited for their first … Continue reading The Age of Electric kicks off Canadian tour with killer Vancouver gig

NRBQ tars-and-feathers Vancouver, leaves the Cabbage Patch Kids alone

photo by John Scully ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 6, 1987 By Steve Newton Not a lot of people showed up for NRBQ's Commodore Ballroom date last Thursday (January 29), but of the 500 or so who did, few went home disappointed. In fact, it's fair to say that you'd be hard-pressed to … Continue reading NRBQ tars-and-feathers Vancouver, leaves the Cabbage Patch Kids alone

That time Jeff Beck told me that John McLaughlin was “the greatest player around”

me 'n Jeff By Steve Newton In my 35 years of writing about rock musicians I've never been as psyched as I was back in January 2001 when I got the chance to interview Jeff Beck. He was heading to Vancouver for a rare club appearance at the historic Commodore Ballroom, and I contacted him in … Continue reading That time Jeff Beck told me that John McLaughlin was “the greatest player around”

The Age of Electric reunites in a blaze of guitar-rock glory and brotherly love

adrian o'brien photo By Steve Newton Let's face it: straight-up, melodic, guitar-driven rock 'n' roll has been taking a shit-kicking of late. In the age of evil EDM and the dreaded DJ it's hard to find a guitar-bass-drums combo that'll knock you out with a show that's electrifying from beginning to end. It happened at the … Continue reading The Age of Electric reunites in a blaze of guitar-rock glory and brotherly love

When Foghat were the Kneetremblers and Roger Earl played to the cheap seats

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 11, 1986 By Steve Newton Have you ever heard of the Kneetremblers? Didn't think so. How about Foghat? Now that name should ring a bell, because Foghat were one of the top boogie bands of the seventies. They released 14 hard-driving albums, although only one of their songs, … Continue reading When Foghat were the Kneetremblers and Roger Earl played to the cheap seats

Dan Hawkins still remembers that time the Darkness lit up the Commodore in Vancouver

rebecca blissett photo By Steve Newton See that wicked concert shot by ace Vancouver photographer Rebecca Blissett of the Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins standing at the edge of the stage, ripping it up on his cream-coloured Les Paul to the obvious delight of the crowd? See that "Oh my god, this fvckin' rocks!" look on … Continue reading Dan Hawkins still remembers that time the Darkness lit up the Commodore in Vancouver

Buddy Guy gets pissed at Junior Wells and walks off stage in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 27, 1985 By Steve Newton Buddy Guy and Junior Wells brought their hearty brand of Chicago blues to the Commodore last Friday and Saturday (September 20 and 21). Buddy's backup musicians warmed things up with the Stones' "Miss You" before Guy himself stepped out and tore into a … Continue reading Buddy Guy gets pissed at Junior Wells and walks off stage in Vancouver

Long John Baldry on Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Bowie–and Dale Martindale of Images in Vogue

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 13, 1985 By Steve Newton Long John Baldry is a giant among British blues-rockers--and that's not only because he stands 6 feet 7-1/2 inches tall. In his 26-year career the singer has played with stars such as Mick jagger, Rod Stewart, and Elton John, among many others, and … Continue reading Long John Baldry on Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Bowie–and Dale Martindale of Images in Vogue

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”

My first interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan, when he sang me three lines of an Earl King song

photo by Mila Geran ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 6, 1985 By Stevie Ross Newton Texas blues guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan was in town last Saturday, for two sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom. Prior to his appearance the Straight caught up with Stevie, and asked him about his upcoming LP … Continue reading My first interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan, when he sang me three lines of an Earl King song

The Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer snarls “this ain’t no fucking punk concert!” at the Commodore in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 20, 1982 By Steve Newton Talk about fun! I never thought I'd have such a bursting-out-laughing good time at the Commodore as I did in '75 when Kiss was there, but last Friday (August 13) at the Ballroom Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker--the Stray Cats--had … Continue reading The Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer snarls “this ain’t no fucking punk concert!” at the Commodore in Vancouver

The Cramps borrow Loverboy’s barricade to keep crazed Vancouver fans at bay

chris cameron photo ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 20, 1990 By Steve Newton What do squeaky-clean teen idols Loverboy and the crude 'n' demented Cramps have in common? Sweet-bugger-all, you say? Pretty close, but the Cramps did borrow Loverboy's barricade to use in front of the Commodore stage last Thursday (April 12). With … Continue reading The Cramps borrow Loverboy’s barricade to keep crazed Vancouver fans at bay

Laid-back legend J.J. Cale tells me “there’s no hurry”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 1990 By Steve Newton Eric Clapton has a lot of admirers, most of them appreciative of the fine music the British guitarist has delivered over the years. But J.J. Cale has another reason for feeling indebted to Clapton, and you spell it with a dollar sign. If Clapton … Continue reading Laid-back legend J.J. Cale tells me “there’s no hurry”

The Blasters’ Dave Alvin wants to search the Commodore for lost brain cells

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 5, 2002 By Steve Newton Back in 1985, the Blasters were building a reputation as one of North America’s premier roots-rock acts. Then one cold November night in Montreal, the ongoing quarrels between guitarist Dave Alvin and his older brother, vocalist Phil, boiled over. After a particularly disastrous … Continue reading The Blasters’ Dave Alvin wants to search the Commodore for lost brain cells

Delbert McClinton once taught John Lennon a few harmonica tricks

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 5, 2002 By Steve Newton To get a good idea of how admired Delbert McClinton is by today’s top country and roots artists, one need only check out the centre spread in the booklet for his new CD, Room to Breathe. It’s a black-and-white shot of McClinton in … Continue reading Delbert McClinton once taught John Lennon a few harmonica tricks

Buddy Guy brings me down in Vancouver when he forgets to just be Buddy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 3, 2002 By Steve Newton Buddy Guy spent a good portion of his concert at the Commodore last Friday (September 27) paying tribute to the legends of the blues, performing in the various styles of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was … Continue reading Buddy Guy brings me down in Vancouver when he forgets to just be Buddy

Little Feat goes DIY and still comes up with twists and turns

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 15, 2002 By Steve Newton Bill Payne has been singing and playing keyboards in Little Feat since the band’s inception in 1969, but he’s still learning new things about the music biz—like how to do the business yourself. Recently the group launched its own label out of North … Continue reading Little Feat goes DIY and still comes up with twists and turns